Swine Flu: Symptoms, Prevention & Risk Factors

Swine flu also called H1N1 flu is mainly caused by influenza A virus. The H1N1 flu is a very contagious disease and has the same symptoms as the seasonal flu.

In the year 2009, scientists identified a strain of influenza virus known as H1N1. The virus is a hybrid of pig, bird, and human viruses that causes sickness in people. At the time of the 2009-10 flu season, H1N1 infection produced the respiratory virus known as swine flu in humans.

As this virus affected many people around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the H1N1 flu to be a pandemic in 2009 and WHO declared the outbreak over in August 2010. After the outbreak the H1N1 flu virus transformed into one of the strains that causes seasonal flu.

The H1N1 vaccine can now help guard against it (swine flu). This virus strain is incorporated in the seasonal flu vaccine, which includes the 2020-21 vaccine.

Symptoms of Swine Flu

The H1N1 infection symptoms are similar to those of other flu infections, and may include:

  • Fever is not always present.
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • a stuffy or runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and nausea

Flu symptoms appear one to three days after being exposed to the virus.

Adults may experience the following emergency signs and symptoms:

  • Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Constant dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Existing medical problems deteriorate
  • Muscle ache or severe weakness

The emergency signs and symptoms in children may include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Blue lips
  • Chest ache
  • Dehydration
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Seizures
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions

When to see a doctor?

If you have flu symptoms for a long time such as fever, cough, and body pains, you need to consult a doctor. However, if you have flu symptoms and are pregnant or have a chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma, emphysema, or heart problems, call your doctor since you are at a higher risk of flu complications.


Swine flu is caused due to H1N1 influenza viruses, which invade the cells that line the nose, throat, and lungs.

Swine flu is a contagious respiratory infection, and it spreads similar as seasonal flu. When infected people cough or sneeze, they release tiny drops of the virus into the air. If anyone comes in contact with these drops or touches a contaminated surface containing this virus, the person can catch swine flu.

Risk Factors of Swine Flu

Few individuals are at higher risk of becoming seriously sick if they get infected with swine flu virus. Those groups are:

  • Being over 65 years of age
  • Young children under 5 years old
  • Youngsters and children below age 19 on long-term aspirin therapy.
  • People with weak immune systems
  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with chronic diseases such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, or neuromuscular disease.
  • Dieting - eating only selected foods
  • Being undernourished as a result of poor care
  • Frequently avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Smoking
  • Eating disorder

Complications of Swine Flu

Influenza complications include:

  • Chronic diseases such as heart problems, cancer and asthma get worse.
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficulty breathing

Prevention of Swine Flu

Swine flu vaccines are safe and can prevent this disease. It is advised to take the annual H1N1 flu vaccine for kids over the age of six months.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three or four influenza viruses that are common during the flu season.

The flu vaccines can greatly minimize the risk of the flu, its complications and hospitalization. Because the flu and coronavirus disease (Covid-19) produce similar symptoms, H1N1 vaccination is especially crucial during the flu season.

These precautions also aid in the prevention and control of the flu:

  • Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water or else can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. After that, wash your hands.
  • Try not to touch the face. Keep your hands away from the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Surfaces should be clean and also clean the frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis to avoid virus transmission.
  • Avoid crowds or avoid anyone who is ill.


The doctor will conduct a medical examination, check for signs and symptoms of influenza, also H1N1 flu (swine flu), and mostly recommend a test that detects influenza viruses such as H1N1. A swab sample collected from the nose or throat is used to help identify the flu virus.

In many hospitals and labs, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is becoming more widespread. This test may be performed while you are in the doctor's office or a hospital. PCR testing is more sensitive than other tests and may be able to determine the strain of influenza.


Most flu patients, particularly those infected with H1N1 (swine flu), merely seek symptom alleviation. Drinking water, taking pain medicines for fever and headache, and taking rest may be beneficial. The doctor may prescribe extra medications to help relieve the flu symptoms if you have a chronic respiratory disease.

Antiviral medications are occasionally provided within the first or two days of symptoms. They have the potential to lower the intensity of symptoms as well as the risk of complications. However, flu viruses can acquire resistance to these medications.

Doctors reserve antivirals for patients at high risk of complications to reduce the likelihood of drug resistance and to keep supplies of these medications for those who need them the most.

Do's and Don’ts

Swine flu is a contagious disease and is also known as H1N1 flu. Its symptoms are similar to seasonal flu, they include chills, cough, body pains, runny or stuffy nose, etc. Its diagnosis includes swab sample collection and physical examination.

Do’s Don’ts
Get your H1N1 vaccination done. Interact directly with your family members.
Stay at home once you get diagnosed with swine flu. Depend on face masks.
Cover your nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing. Smoke and drink alcohol
Take doctor-prescribed medicines for swine flu on-time Go out in crowded places
Inform your doctor if you have breathing problems. Drink less fluids

Swine flu treatment consists of taking rest and medications, drinking fluids, etc. This infection can lead to many other lung problems, therefore follow the above tips to prevent its severity and complications.

Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover Hospitals, we have the most trusted team of medical experts who are experienced in providing best healthcare services to our patients. Our diagnostic department is equipped with modern technology and equipment to conduct the tests required for the diagnosis of swine flu. We have an excellent team of doctors who diagnose and treat this condition with utmost precision that brings successful treatment outcomes.


Find Swine Flue Specialists Here

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