With the onset of winters, one thing which becomes fairly common, especially in urban cities, is the occurrence of swine flu. Take Delhi for instance. Swine flu in Delhi has been on the rise for the past few months. According to news reports, the number of cases have gone up to 1,669 with 7 reported deaths till now.
In such cases, the question that revolves around everybody’s minds is what is swine flu and how exactly is it caused?
Swine flu in Delhi – What is it and how is it caused?
“Swine flu is a viral respiratory infection in humans caused by H1N1 virus which is occasionally transmitted from pigs who act as a reservoir for this virus to humans like farmers and veterinarians who may have close contact with these animals. The infection is then transmitted from person to person through droplet infection,” says Dr. Mayank Uppal, Internal Medicine Consultant at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital in Delhi.
“When the H1N1 virus enters our body, it infects the cells present in our nose, throat and lungs creating common cold/influenza-like symptoms.”
Swine flu causes – How can we identify swine flu?
But how does the virus enter our bodies?
“The H1N1 virus can enter our body quite easily when we inhale the contaminated droplets from an infected person when they sneeze or cough. The virus can also be transferred to us through an exposed surface via our eyes, nose or mouth. That’s why swine flu is considered to be a highly contagious disease,” explains Dr. Mayank.
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of common influenza.
People affected by swine flu often experience the following symptoms:
- Fever and chills
- Cold or cough
- Sore throat
- Watery, red eyes
- Body aches
- Fatigue and nausea
“Swine flu symptoms usually develop within 1 to 3 days of the virus entering the body. But it must be noted that not everybody who has been exposed to the virus experiences the above symptoms. At times they may not present with any known flu symptoms at all,” says Dr. Mayank.
How is Swine flu diagnosed?
“Generally we carry a physical examination for the people who present with common flu symptoms. But a rapid influenza diagnostic test (throat swab) is conducted to detect the H1N1 influenza virus,” says Dr. Mayank who comes across many patients with swine flu-like symptoms especially during the peak winters in Delhi.
What is the proper course of Swine flu treatment?
Swine flu is a highly contagious disease but in most cases, it is not deadly. Complications arise only in the case of high-risk patients which include –
- Pregnant women
- People above 65 years of age or children younger than 5 years
- People who have chronic medical conditions like asthma, emphysema or diabetes
In the absence of any chronic health condition, most people affected by swine flu are prescribed medications to relieve the symptoms.
“In case of high-risk patient who have swine flu, we usually prescribe them antivirals to reduce the severity of the symptoms and to prevent further worsening of the condition.”
Home remedies to help with swine flu
Apart from medication, people can follow some simple steps at home to accelerate the process of recovery from the illness.
Follow the steps below for a faster recovery from swine flu –
- Rest as much as possible. Sleep more to allow your immunity system to fight the infection.
- Increase your fluid intake by drinking more water and juices to prevent dehydration.
- Take paracetamol when you have high fever or body aches.
According to Dr. Mayank, “Swine flu is a seasonal illness which happens mostly when the temperature drops. But if we stay careful and take some precautionary measures along with maintaining hygiene, we can prevent the infection.”
Swine flu in Delhi – Some measures to protect yourself from swine flu
Watch this educational video and know some simple measures you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe from swine flu –
This blog post is written with editorial inputs by Dr Mayank Uppal. The doctor has over 7 years of experience and is known for his patient and reassuring nature.