Swine flu is one of the influenza (flu) diseases. Although swine flu is considered highly contagious, it usually has a mild course.
What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a form of influenza (flu disease) that can affect humans, but also various mammals. In medicine, the flu pathogen that can lead to swine flu is also known as the H1N1 influenza A virus. See beautyphoon for What is Cardiovascular Diseases.
In 2009 and 2010, swine flu spread as a so-called pandemic (an infectious disease that crosses national borders as well as continents). Swine flu is usually accompanied by symptoms such as fever, cough, loss of appetite, as well as vomiting and diarrhea.
The disease is considered highly contagious. Research assumes that the virus responsible for swine flu first appeared in 1918 in the form of the so-called Spanish flu.
Swine flu is caused by infection with the causative virus. Such an infection can, among other things, be caused by a droplet or by a smear infection. In the context of so-called droplet infections, the virus responsible for swine flu is transmitted to other people through droplets that come from the nose and throat of infected people.
This is possible, for example, while the person concerned is talking or coughing or sneezing. Since the swine flu virus can also survive outside the human body for some time, a so-called smear infection is also possible. This occurs when, for example, the virus is passed on from the affected person to another person when shaking hands.
From here, the swine flu virus can now reach the mucous membranes of the mouth or nose. After an infection with swine flu has healed, there is only limited protection against a new infection, because the pathogen can mutate and is then no longer recognized as the same virus by the immune system.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Swine flu has basically the same symptoms as common, seasonal flu. This mainly includes fever and a strong feeling of illness. This can lead to body aches, a general feeling of weakness, loss of appetite, headaches and heavy sweating. The patients also suffer from a strong cough. In addition, there is a cold and the formation of large amounts of mucus.
These symptoms usually appear within four days of infection with H1N1. In most cases, the symptoms last for about a week, during which time they become less severe. The fever in particular is high in the first few days at up to 40 degrees Celsius, but then quickly subsides.
In addition, there are gastrointestinal symptoms in the context of swine flu. Nausea and vomiting are common. In addition, there are stomach and intestinal problems and diarrhea. Abdominal pain is a common symptom.
Contrary to popular belief, swine flu is not much more dangerous than common flu. In most cases, the disease takes a very mild course and can hardly be distinguished from normal flu. However, the symptoms make swine flu highly contagious. In addition, the risk of complications is higher.
Diagnosis & History
A suspected diagnosis of swine flu can initially be made on the basis of existing, typical symptoms.
In addition to the typical symptoms of flu (influenza), such as sudden onset of fever and cough or runny nose, additional signs such as vomiting and/or diarrhea are characteristic.
In a few cases, however, swine flu can also progress without any noticeable symptoms for those affected. However, a suspected diagnosis of swine flu can only be confirmed after a medical smear test, which is taken from the mucous membranes of the mouth or nose.
Although the course of swine flu has so far proven to be mostly mild, there have been deaths related to the disease worldwide. Children under the age of four, pregnant women or people with certain chronic diseases are at higher risk of developing severe swine flu.
In most cases, the swine flu takes a mild to moderate course, so complications are rarely to be feared. However, if they do occur, it prolongs the duration of the disease. In some cases, it can even endanger life.
One of the most common sequelae of swine flu is secondary infection. The respiratory mucosa can be temporarily damaged by the triggering virus in such a way that other pathogens such as bacteria can easily penetrate the stricken organism. This in turn increases the risk of additional infections such as pneumonia, inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media) or inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis).
The degree of damage caused by the secondary infection, also known as superinfection, depends on the general health of the patient. Elderly people, pregnant women, small children or people who already suffer from chronic pre-existing conditions such as bronchial asthma, diabetes mellitus or AIDS (HIV) are particularly at risk of secondary infections. Pneumonia occurs primarily in children and young adults.
Another complication of swine flu is myositis (inflammation of the muscles). Especially in children, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) sometimes occurs. A rare but very dangerous consequence of swine flu is lung failure. The germs attack the lungs and lead to inflammation of their tissue. Because there is hardly any gas exchange within the alveoli, in extreme cases there is a risk of the patient dying from suffocation.
When should you go to the doctor?
Swine flu requires immediate medical attention to prevent further symptoms and complications. Only early diagnosis and treatment of the disease can prevent the patient from dying. A doctor should be consulted if the patient suffers from a very high fever. The fever occurs for no particular reason and lasts for a relatively long time.
Patients also suffer from severe headaches, sweating and, in general, from tiredness and a feeling of weakness. If you have these symptoms, you should always see a doctor. A cold and cough also indicate swine flu and should be examined. Some patients also have chest pains or severe diarrhea and vomiting.
If these symptoms occur over a longer period of time, a general practitioner should be consulted. Further treatment is then usually carried out by a general practitioner.
Treatment & Therapy
Appropriate therapeutic treatment of swine flu initially depends on the course of the disease; If the swine flu is mild, treatment of the symptoms that occur is usually sufficient. After consultation with the doctor treating you, this is possible, for example, with the help of medicines that reduce fever or with medicines that fight cold symptoms.
Occasionally, swine flu causes various bacterial infections, such as acute bronchitis (an inflammatory disease of the airways). If this is the case, a corresponding disease can be treated, if necessary, with antibiotics, for example. Depending on the individual case, swine flu can also be treated with targeted flu drugs; this can be necessary, for example, for those affected who have underlying chronic diseases.
If appropriate flu medication is administered quickly after the first symptoms of swine flu, the virus can be prevented from multiplying in the body. In the run-up to such medication, a risk assessment is usually carried out by the doctor treating you.
The main way to prevent swine flu is to avoid contact with the virus that causes it. Among other things, regular cleaning of the hands and not too close physical contact with those affected can contribute to this. The most important thing is not to touch your face with unclean hands. Finally, avoiding major events or wearing respiratory protection can also help to prevent swine flu.
Swine flu is an infectious disease that can permanently weaken the body. The patient often feels this clearly even after the end of the therapy. Therefore, aftercare is primarily aimed at two things: on the one hand, it aims to prevent a relapse, and on the other hand, the organism should be able to regenerate itself sustainably. Follow-up care is usually agreed with the treating Hausart.
After surviving the illness, it is important that the patient does not immediately reach his or her stress limit, but only gradually increases his or her performance again through a bundle of possible measures. Adequate and restful sleep is an important factor after recovery. A healthy diet is also important. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with vitamins.
The amount you drink is also important. About one and a half to two liters of water and/or herbal tea daily are necessary so that the metabolic processes in the body can take place physiologically and the circulation is stabilized. In return, everything that damages the organism should be avoided. These include alcohol, nicotine and drugs.
Protection against further infections is also part of the aftercare. Clothing appropriate to the outside temperature or avoiding close contact with sick people are just as efficient measures here as reducing stress in those affected.
You can do that yourself
With swine flu, self-help is the same as with classic flu. Rest, enough sleep and drinking enough are the factors that are in the foreground. Physical rest is important for regeneration and to prevent the infection from spreading to the heart muscle. Drinking it moistens the mucous membranes and makes it easier to cough up mucus from the bronchi, which is common with this form of viral infection. Still water and herbal teas with anti-inflammatory properties such as sage or chamomile are particularly recommended. Plantain and ivy preparations have also proven effective for coughs.
Inhalations can also be helpful against respiratory infections. In addition, embrocations with essential oils alleviate the symptoms and for moisture in the bedroom of the affected person, a bowl of water can be placed on the heater or alternatively a damp cloth can be hung up. Neck wraps and calf wraps are among the classic home remedies. Neck wraps work directly on the respiratory area, while calf wraps are a proven way to reduce fever and can also be used on children. Gargling or sucking on a candy can be used for swallowing difficulties.
Fresh air in the bedroom of the person affected is important in the case of a viral infection. Regular airing should be routine. Cold baths should be enjoyed with caution when there is a fever, so as not to unnecessarily burden the weakened circulation of the patient.