What are the Common Side Effects of the Swine Flu?

Caitlin Kenney
Caitlin Kenney
Swine flu is a type of influenza that may pass from pigs to humans.
Swine flu is a type of influenza that may pass from pigs to humans.

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.

Headaches and fever are common side effects of the swine flu.
Headaches and fever are common side effects of the swine 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.

The effects of swine flu can be more severe for people with heart problems.
The effects of swine flu can be more severe for people with heart problems.

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.

Headaches are common for those suffering from swine flu.
Headaches are common for those suffering from swine flu.

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.

The symptoms of swine flu often mimic those associated with seasonal influenza.
The symptoms of swine flu often mimic those associated with seasonal influenza.

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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    • Swine flu is a type of influenza that may pass from pigs to humans.
      By: Anatolii
      Swine flu is a type of influenza that may pass from pigs to humans.
    • Headaches and fever are common side effects of the swine flu.
      By: gosphotodesign
      Headaches and fever are common side effects of the swine flu.
    • The effects of swine flu can be more severe for people with heart problems.
      By: forestpath
      The effects of swine flu can be more severe for people with heart problems.
    • Headaches are common for those suffering from swine flu.
      By: Mikael Damkier
      Headaches are common for those suffering from swine flu.
    • The symptoms of swine flu often mimic those associated with seasonal influenza.
      By: emde71
      The symptoms of swine flu often mimic those associated with seasonal influenza.
    • The side effects of the swine flu vaccine resemble mild flu symptoms.
      By: Ocskay Bence
      The side effects of the swine flu vaccine resemble mild flu symptoms.
    • Exhibiting symptoms of the swine flu does not necessarily indicate infection.
      By: Zsolt Biczó
      Exhibiting symptoms of the swine flu does not necessarily indicate infection.
    • Swine flu may cause a fever and stomach ache.
      By: michaeljung
      Swine flu may cause a fever and stomach ache.
    • Nausea is a possible side effect of the swine flu.
      By: Kaspars Grinvalds
      Nausea is a possible side effect of the swine flu.