H1N1 Flu Virus (Swine Flu)
How Is Swine Flu Treated?
Antibiotics, which treat bacterial infections, will not work against swine flu because it is a virus. However, some of the same antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu also work against H1N1 swine flu. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) appear to be the most effective antiviral drugs against the swine flu.
These drugs can shorten the duration and lessen the severity of swine flu. They work best when taken within 48 hours of the first flu symptoms, but still offer a benefit when taken later than 48 hours after onset of symptom.
Over-the-counter pain remedies (Tylenol, Motrin) and cold and flu medications can help relieve aches, pains, and fever, but they won't actually treat swine flu. Avoid giving aspirin to children under age 18 because of the risk for a serious condition known as Reye syndrome. Check to make sure that over-the-counter cold medications do not contain aspirin before giving them to children.
Vaccine for Swine Flu
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three strains of influenza including the H1N1 swine flu strain. It is available as either a dead virus particle (flu shots) or a weakened form of the virus (nasal spray flu vaccine) to "teach" your immune system to attack the real virus.
Besides vaccination, there are other ways to help protect against catching flu:
- Wash hands throughout the day with soap and water (sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice to make sure you've washed for long enough) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Avoid people who appear to be sick.