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H1N1 Flu Virus (Swine Flu)

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Tests for Swine Flu continued...

To test for swine flu, your doctor takes a sample from your nose or throat. You may not need to be tested. The CDC says the people who need to be tested are those in the hospital or those at high risk for getting life-threatening problems from the flu, such as:

  • Children under 5 years old
  • People 65 or older
  • Children and teens (under age 18) who are getting long-term aspirin therapy, and who might be at risk for Reye's syndrome after being infected with swine flu. Reye's syndrome is a life-threatening illness linked to aspirin use in children.
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults and children who have chronic lung, heart, liver, blood, nervous system, neuromuscular, or metabolic problems
  • Adults and children who have suppressed immune systems (including those who take medications to suppress their immune systems or who have HIV)
  • People in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

 

How Is Swine Flu Treated?

Some of the same antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu also work against H1N1 swine flu. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) seem to work best, although some kinds of swine flu are resistant to Tamiflu.

These drugs can help you get over swine flu faster. They can also help keep it from being too severe. They work best when taken within 48 hours of the first flu symptoms, but they can help when taken later.

Antibiotics won't help, because flu is caused by a virus, not bacteria.

Over-the-counter pain remedies and cold and flu medications can help relieve aches, pains, and fever. Don't give aspirin to children under age 18 because of the risk for Reye’s syndrome. Check to make sure that over-the-counter cold medications do not have aspirin before giving them to children.

Vaccine for Swine Flu

 The same flu vaccine that protects against seasonal flu also protects against the H1N1 swine flu strain. You can get it as a shot or as a nasal spray. Either way, it "teaches" your immune system to attack the real virus.

Besides a flu shot, there are other things you can do to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands throughout the day with soap and water. Sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice to make sure you've washed long enough. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid people who are sick.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on January 09, 2014
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