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What are the Common Side Effects of the Swine Flu?

The side effects of the swine flu, or H1N1, resemble the symptoms of conventional flu. These symptoms include fever, coughing, headaches, general achiness throughout the body, sore throat, fatigue, and nasal congestion. Some people also experience stomach systems and develop a secondary bacterial infection that causes pneumonia, but this is much less common. In rare cases, this virus can cause death, usually as a result of secondary pneumonia. Though the mortality rate attached to H1N1 has gone down since its outbreak in 2009, it is still more deadly than conventional flu.

The term “swine flu” refers to any influenza virus that impacts pigs, but the swine flu that had humans in North America worrying so much in 2009 was a subtype of influenza A, called H1N1. This strain of H1N1 is special because it contains the genetics of four different viruses, allowing it to infect pigs, birds, and humans. The virus has caused thousands of deaths since the initial outbreak, leading the US to call a state of emergency in October of 2009. A vaccine for the virus has since been developed, and H1N1 has died back to the point that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus is in post-pandemic period.

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It may be difficult to tell whether one’s symptoms are just seasonal flu, or the side effects of the swine flu, because the signs are about the same. The symptoms include coughing, sore throat, headaches, fever, runny nose, muscle aching and weakness, and fatigue in more severe cases. Fever is generally only considered a medical problem when it gets over 100° Fahrenheit (37.8C). The virus most impacts morbidly obese people, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, people with respiratory problems, people with neurological or neuromuscular disorders, young children, those with heart issues, and those with diabetes. The side effects of the swine flu can be particularly severe for elderly people, but those over the age of 65 are far less likely to contract the disease.

Being exposed to swine flu, or even exhibiting its symptoms, does not mean that one has it. People who do get swine flu may be prescribed antiviral drugs to help the body fight it off, but these medications are used with caution, as the virus can build up drug resistance if it is overused. There is a test to diagnose swine flu, but most people are not tested, as the virus is no longer considered an emergency and diagnosis does not change the treatment program.

There is also a vaccine to help prevent swine flu. This is often recommended for those most at risk of the flu, especially pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and young children. The side effects of the swine flu vaccine resemble mild flu symptoms, including fever, fatigue, and weakness. In rare cases, people may have more severe reactions, usually because of an allergy to the vaccine.

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