The symptoms and signs of swine flu A(H1N1) are similar to those of seasonal flu. The most commonly reported are high temperature and dry cough, although fever may not be present, in some cases.
Other swine flu symptoms andsigns include chills, fatigue, headache, lack of appetite, lethargy, muscle aches, nausea, runny or blocked nose, sore throat and, in some patients, diarrhea and vomiting.
How does the swine flu infection develop?
Headache and feeling feverish are, usually, the first symptoms of swine flu. High fever then develops. This may reach temperatures as high as 104 °F (40 °C) within just a few hours, and is often accompanied by muscle and joint aches, cough, sore throat and running nose with sneezing.
The symptoms of swine flu and seasonal flu differ from those of bird flu A(H5N1), which also has pandemic potential.
Dr. David Hui, of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, says the majorsymptoms of A(H5N1) infection are persistent cough, high temperature, and difficult breathing. Other symptomsinclude sputum (i.e., a mixture of saliva and mucus) with blood, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. “In contrast,” he says, “upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as rhinorrhoea [runny nose] and sore throat, are relatively less prominent in human H5N1 infection when compared to seasonal inﬂuenza.” Symptoms like headache and muscle aches are usually rare.
People with swine flu can pass the virus to others from 24 hours before they show the first symptoms to up to one week after.
Experts suggest that some people develop a mild or asymptomatic form of swine flu because they have some immunity. This has probably been acquired after contact with similar H1N1 viruses during past seasonal fluepidemics.
Asymptomatic and mild cases have been reported also among individuals with bird flu, during the 1997 Hong Kong flu outbreak and, more recently, in Indonesia.
How severe are the symptoms and how long do they last?
Symptoms of swine flu vary from very mild to severe, including life-threatening respiratory illnesses requiring hospitalization, like pneumonia. Most of the swine flu cases reported so far are mild, and resolve – with or without treatment – within a week or two.
Is there a treatment for swine flusymptoms?
People with swine flu are given antiviral drugs – either Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir). These are prescription medications that attenuate the symptomsof the infection and help you feel better sooner. In order to be effective, antivirals need to be taken within 48 hours from the first appearance of symptoms. So, if you think you might have swine flu, tell your doctor right away.
What are the complications of swineflu?
Like signs and symptoms, the complications of swine flu are similar to the complications of seasonal flu. These include life-threatening conditions, such as heart failure and pneumonia. However, for seasonal flu, complications are more likely to occur in adults aged 65 and over, while for swine flu, younger people appear to be the most at risk.
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