We are now entering the typical winter flu season for the United States. H1N1 virus, which is the same as a new version of influenza A, is still here and still causing problems. High risk groups that have not been immunized, should definitely get the swine flu vaccine as soon as possible. It really does not matter what strain of flu you have, the symptoms and treatment are pretty much the same, so don’t be concerned about what strain of virus is affecting you.
High risk group members include all people under age 25, women who are pregnant, people with chronic medical problems, lung disease, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, and AIDS, and obese people.
The symptoms of flu are usually much more severe than those of the common cold virus. H1N1 is showing particularly harmful effects in young people below the age of 25. Cold symptoms include a runny nose and sniffles, and a general feeling of stuffiness. Whooping cough, strep throat, allergies, and asthma can all show symptoms similar to colds and flu.
Serious flu symptoms include:
- high fever and chills
- runny, stuffy nose
- sore throat
- body aches and head aches
- extreme fatigue
- vomiting and diarrhea
See a doctor for the following severe symptoms:
- trouble breathing or rapid breathing
- blue or gray skin color
- can’t keep down enough fluids
- severe or persistent vomiting
- extreme lethargy
- flu improves, but returns with more severe fever and cough
- extreme irritability in children
If you suspect you or your child has influenza, try to stay isolated and away from others to avoid spreading the virus. People are contagious for one day before and up to seven days after the virus starts to show symptoms. Carry wipes to clean door knobs, phones, and other objects that may be sprayed with sneeze droplets. Wash hands thoroughly and often. Learn the sneeze into your elbow technique and teach it to children.
The treatment for all flu viruses includes anti-viral medications like Tamiflu and Relenza which may only be prescribed by a doctor. Like antibiotics, the anti-flu medications should not be given to those with mild symptoms as they can cause the virus to become resistant. If you have a mild case of flu or just a cold it is better for your body to form antibodies naturally as it will protect you in the future.
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