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Swine Flu Symptoms in Adults

Swine Flu Symptoms in Adults

The symptoms of swine flu are no different than those caused by seasonal flu. However, they vary from mild to severe depending upon the overall health of the affected individual. Here is more on the common symptoms of swine flu.
Chandramita Bora
Last Updated: May 11, 2018
Swine flu refers to the swine influenza, or the viral infection caused by any of the several types of swine influenza viruses. Presently, this term is commonly used for the H1N1 swine flu virus, which is also known as the 2009 H1N1 virus. Normally, swine flu viruses do not infect humans, unless an individual has direct contact with pigs, which is the case with pig farmers and veterinarians.
The 2009 H1N1 virus, however, is a new strain that contains a mixture of genetic elements from swine, avian, and human influenza viruses. Similar to other influenza viruses, this virus gets transmitted from person to person, through direct contact with the respiratory secretions of the infected individual, and not by the consumption of properly handled and cooked pork products.
Common Symptoms of Swine Flu
Symptoms of H1N1 swine flu in adults are quite similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu, and these symptoms can appear all of a sudden. Swine influenza symptoms can be broadly classified into two categories, the early symptoms and the serious symptoms. The early symptoms of swine flu are usually mild, and they include:
Fever with Chills
Fever is one of the most common swine flu symptoms in adults and children alike. Patients usually experience a fever of 100° F or higher, which can increase for a few hours, and then slowly decrease in the next few days. The fever caused by H1N1 swine flu can be accompanied by periods of chills and sweating.
Muscle Aches
Individuals infected with the swine flu virus can experience body or muscle aches, especially in the legs, arms and the back, but sometimes also throughout the entire body. Body ache may last for a day or two, and then gradually subside. Along with muscle aches, one can experience pain in the joints as well.
Respiratory Symptoms
The H1N1 virus can cause infection of the respiratory tract, and produce symptoms like cough and a sore throat. This viral infection usually produces a dry and hacking cough. Sneezing and nasal congestion are some other respiratory symptoms associated with swine flu. Nasal congestion is caused by the increased production of mucus, which indicates that the body is trying to get rid of the flu virus from the nasal passages.
Extreme Fatigue
Tiredness is experienced, and it does not go away even after taking adequate rest. This is very common with this viral infection. It is quite natural to experience fatigue and sleepiness when the body is fighting an infection.
One can also experience a splitting and intense headache when suffering from swine flu. Taking adequate rest can help get some relief from such headaches. If the headache is very severe, you can talk to your doctor regarding the use of over-the-counter analgesics like acetaminophen.
Gastrointestinal Symptoms
An upset stomach and loss of appetite are the common gastrointestinal symptoms that one can experience with a swine flu infection. These symptoms are usually absent in adults in the case of seasonal flu, and so, this factor can help distinguish swine flu from seasonal flu. Other gastrointestinal symptoms that can be associated with H1N1 are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Severe Symptoms of Swine Flu in Adults
Untreated swine flu can gradually progress and produce the following severe symptoms:

» Shortness of breath
» Fast breathing
» Persistent vomiting
» Hacking cough
» Pain in the chest and abdomen due to coughing
» High-grade fever
» Dehydration (less or no urine output)
» Blue or gray lips
» Dizziness and confusion
» Seizures
The symptoms of swine flu can sometimes improve for a while, only to return with a worse cough and fever, which could be a sign of pneumonia. The respiratory symptoms of swine flu such as cough and chest congestion can slowly progress into some serious complications like pneumonia, asthma attack, and bronchial spasms, especially in the elderly and those individuals with a weakened immune system.
Who's at Risk?
Swine flu appears to be a mild illness, just like seasonal flu, for an otherwise healthy adult. But it has been observed that some people are at a higher risk of getting infected with the H1N1 virus, and developing severe complications. Individuals who are at more risk of developing a serious illness due to swine flu are:

» Pregnant women.

» People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung diseases.

» Individuals suffering from asthma.

» People with heart, kidney, and liver diseases.

» Those suffering from diabetes and neurological diseases.

» Individuals with a weakened immune system, either due to an illness or the treatment received for an underlying condition, such as chemotherapy.

» People aged 65 years or older.

» Children younger than 5 years old.
Treatment Options
Most of the time, treatment is mainly required to manage the symptoms of swine flu. People infected with the swine flu virus are usually advised to stay at home, take adequate rest, and increase their fluid intake, until the infection clears up. However, some people may require the use of over-the-counter analgesics and antipyretics to alleviate symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, and fever. Medications to relieve chest congestion may also be required at times. However, be sure to take any medication only after consulting a health care practitioner.

There are mainly two antiviral drugs that are used for reducing the severity of swine flu symptoms. These two antiviral agents are known as, zanamivir (Relenza) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu). They are effective in preventing the complications associated with swine flu, if taken within 48 hours from the onset of the symptoms. However, it has been observed that the flu virus can develop resistance to these drugs, and hence, their indiscriminate use is discouraged. In addition to these, antibiotics are also used to treat the secondary infections that can develop as a result of swine flu. Several vaccines are also available for the prevention of swine influenza. Though, you can talk to your doctor to know more about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.
Precautionary Measures
This virus can be contagious a day or two before the symptoms develop and show, and up to seven days after the symptoms appear. The H1N1 virus spreads through direct contact with the respiratory secretion of the infected individual. In other words, contact with the droplets caused due to coughing or sneezing can transmit the virus from one individual to another. Therefore, maintaining good personal hygiene is a must for the prevention of the spread of swine flu.

✔ Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use a hand sanitizer, and cover the nose and the mouth while sneezing and coughing.

✔ It is better to stay away from individuals exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Similarly, you should also stay at home and get immediate treatment if you experience any of the symptoms of swine flu.

✔ Wearing a mask can be considered safe, if you are coming in direct contact with the infected person. But you need to change the mask on a regular basis, as it can become contaminated.
Usually, healthy adults are likely to get the mild form of swine flu infection. But this does not mean that the condition should be left untreated. Recognizing the symptoms at the earliest is crucial to ensure proper treatment and recovery, and avoid the serious complications associated with this viral infection. In general, it is difficult to differentiate the symptoms of H1N1 from those of common flu. Therefore, one should seek medical attention even on observing any of the normal flu symptoms.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.