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Everything You Need to Know About Swine Flu

Published On Apr 12, 2019, Updated On Dec 04, 2020

The swine flu or H1N1 is a respiratory disease caused by the H1N1 virus. Swine flu origin in humans is in 2009 and was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2009 and finally over in August 2010. H1N1 is now categorized as a normal seasonal flu and is included in the flu vaccine. Usually, H1N1 subtype is the cause of swine flu; however, sometimes it can be caused by other subtypes, such as H1N2, H3N1, H3N2.

Swine flu primarily occurs from pigs. However, on multiple occasions, the pigs channelize this virus to human beings. The primary recipients include veterinarians and hog farmers. Additionally, an infected person passes this virus on to his family members or friends or people around him. It is one of the highly contagious diseases and can easily transfer from one person to another with cough, sneezes, physical contact, etc. This disease involves long-lasting consequences, involving the high cost of treatment.

Swine Flu Symptoms

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to that of a common cold, regular flu or a viral infection. Swine flu symptoms first signs include headache, cough, chills, fever, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body ache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhoea, etc.

Sometimes, a person can be so severely infected that he may require ventilator support due to breathing issues and chest pain. There are chances of developing pneumonia or even seizures. Children may also develop discolouration of the skin and rash along with a high fever. The flu symptoms may disappear and reoccur as the infection advances.

Even there are complications of death of an individual from a bacterial infection in the lungs. These complications are more prevalent when an individual is suffering from pre-existing illness such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or any other chronic ailments. Also, pregnant women, an individual with AIDS or HIV and children who are less than 5 years of age, are at high risk.

The infected person generally starts experiencing symptoms in an average of two to three days from exposure. The symptoms last for about 7 to 14 days or sometimes even longer in the case of a severe infection.

Swine Flu Causes

The strain of influenza virus is the primary carrier of swine flu. This virus infects pigs throughout the year but is most common during late fall and winter. It is rarely that pigs pass the flu to the humans unless they work with them and come in contact with a surface that is contaminated with the virus, through a sneeze or cough. The humans also get infected by inhaling air contaminated with the virus. When an infected person sneezes or coughs and another person come in contact with the droplets in the air that contain a live virus or touches a contaminated surface and then rubs his eyes or nose, he becomes sick. The influenza virus infects the cells lining of one’s nose, throat and lungs.

Note: Properly cooked pork doesn’t cause swine flu.


The flu infection generally subsides within four to five days of getting infected. But if the symptoms do not subside, the doctor diagnoses whether a person is infected with the H1N1 virus by taking a swab from his nose and/or throat. The swab is sent for rapid influenza diagnostic tests to determine whether a person is infected with type A or B influenza virus. These tests are not very accurate, as a positive influenza A test doesn’t mean that you have swine flu. To have a definitive diagnosis, there are rapid molecular assays, which are more accurate and give quick results. There are also swine flu detection kits available in the market for easy detection. Sometimes, the doctor may also suggest a blood test to rule out any other infection apart from swine flu.

Treatment for swine flu

The doctors generally prefer comfort measures for swine flu treatment. The patient is recommended to rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid coming in contact with other people. Sometimes, the doctor prescribes antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, for curing the illness. These medications are generally given to the people with high-risk complications, as there is a likelihood of the virus developing the resistance to them. These medications lessen the severity of symptoms, although they don’t cure the illness altogether. If a person is suffering from asthma or emphysema, the doctor might even prescribe medication to relieve respiratory symptoms. Depending on the condition of the patient, the prescription is given for cough suppressants, anti-pyretics and analgesics. Severe cases may even require intravenous saline.

Prevention is better than cure

Vaccination is the surest way to prevent becoming infected with influenza viruses. Apart from it, there are various other methods for swine flu precautions

  • Staying away from the crowd in the swine flu season
  • Cover your nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Frequently washing hands using soap or hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching nose, mouth or eyes
  • Staying away from infected individuals
  • Staying home from work or school if sick
  • Avoid reusing the face masks

Alternative treatment for swine flu

There are also various naturopathy, Ayurveda and homoeopathy remedies suggested as treatment for swine flu. These include eating basil leaves in the morning or smelling camphor and cardamom. Taking homoeopathic medications such as Pyrogenium 200 and Inflenzium 200 are also suggested. Having citrus fruit rich in vitamin C and drinking a glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric is recommended as a preventive method to ward off the swine flu virus.

Buying a health insurance plan for swine flu cover

Even after taking all the precautions if you or your loved ones get infected with swine flu, then what’s the remedy? An appropriate health insurance plan is definitely an answer. The treatment for swine flu can cause huge financial distress with a long period of hospitalisation and health-related expenses. Also, if proper care and treatment are not given on time, even death can happen. So, to avoid the mishap from this dreadful disease, it is recommended that you stay covered with health policy. Most of the insurance companies like ManipalCigna, ICICI Lombard, Star Health, etc. offer coverage for swine flu after a standard waiting period of 30 days. Compare various plans at and cover yourself and your family members from this complicated disease.

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