Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Swine Flu and Chronic Conditions

Experts explain the risks of swine flu for people with chronic health conditions.

What about people with chronic conditions that may be institutionalized or attending school?

The same precautions should be taken for those in institutionalized settings like nursing homes and schools.

It's also important to separate sick people from healthy people, and avoid shared resources like towels and cups. With regard to "practicing good infection control -- one cannot talk often enough about washing your hands," says Glatt. "If you're caring for someone in an institutional setting and you leave the room, wash your hands -- that's what you should always be doing anyway, but people just sometimes need to be reminded."

What type of treatment should high-risk groups with swine flu follow? Can they take antivirals?

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that can make the flu milder in those that are sick, and they may also prevent serious flu complications.

Right now the antivirals recommended as effective against novel H1N1 flu are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). These are "useful for people who have symptoms of the swine flu or any flu", says Stubbs.

Tamiflu and Relenza are most effective if given within 48 hours of the first symptoms. But the drugs still benefit patients if given more than 48 hours after symptom onset.

Glatt adds that no over-the-counter flu medications are proven to work against swine flu virus or any other flu virus. However, medications to help with the flu symptoms are available. To stay well "you really need to do all the things your mother told you to do: Eat well, sleep well, exercise, stay as healthy as possible."

What preventative measures should caregivers of people with chronic conditions take to protect them from swine flu?

"This is a very good question, and it's very important that people take proper precautions," says Glatt, who recommends that caregivers avoid taking care of people if they are sick themselves. If that's impossible -- for instance, a person taking care of a sick spouse -- Glatt suggests these steps:

  • Wear an appropriate face mask.
  • Wash your hands very, very frequently (after each contact/care episode) and avoid touching your face.
  • Be appropriately careful with secretions and body fluids.

Other preventative measures recommended for caregivers include:

  • Separate the sick person from common areas if possible.
  • Consult with a physician regarding the benefits and risks of taking antiviral medication for prevention.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat