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The H1N1 flu, most accurately called the novel H1N1 influenza, is an infection of the respiratory tract, including the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. The H1N1flu is caused by the novel H1N1 virus and is highly contagious. It is the cause of the 2009 global influenza pandemic.
The effects of the H1N1 flu can vary from mild to severe to life-threatening, depending on individual factors, such as age, general health status, and the presence of coexisting chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
The H1N1 flu spreads from person to person when someone with the disease talks, coughs or sneezes. This shoots droplets contaminated with the novel H1N1 virus flu virus into the air where it can be breathed in by others. The H1N1 flu also spreads by touching an infected person or a surface contaminated by the novel H1N1 virus, such as a dirty drinking glass or doorknob.
Although the H1N1 flu is commonly referred to as the "swine flu, it actually developed from a combination of avian, swine, and human flu viruses and is different than other strains of swine flu. It is far more contagious in humans than other types of swine flu generally are.
Symptoms of the H1N1 flu include can vary greatly among individuals. They may include diarrhea, vomiting, chills, fever, sneezing, body aches, headache, fatigue, sore throat, and cough. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of H1N1 flu.
Everyone is at risk for getting the H1N1 flu. People most at risk for the disease include children, young adults, and health care workers.
Complications of the H1N1 flu can be serious, even life-threatening and include pneumonia, acute bronchitis, worsening of chronic conditions, respiratory failure, and death. People who are at increased risk for developing serious complications of the H1N1 flu include residents of long-term care facilities, hospitalized patients, and pregnant women. Other people at risk include those with an immunodeficiency disorder, a suppressed immune system, or a chronic disorder, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
The H1N1 flu can generally be diagnosed by taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam. Although testing is available to help detect the flu, it is not always accurate and cannot distinguish between the H1N1 flu and other types of flu. Because the symptoms of the flu can mimic other diseases, such as strep throat, some other forms of testing, such as a throat culture and sensitivity, may be done to rule out other diseases. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of H1N1 flu.
Protection from getting or spreading the H1N1 flu includes covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough and washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. You can also use antibacterial cleaners to clean hands and surfaces. It is also important to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, which can transmit the novel H1N1 virus from your hands into your body. Another important cornerstone of prevention of the spread of the H1N1 flu is the newly developed H1N1 vaccine.
There is currently no cure for the H1N1 flu. Treatment includes measures to help relieve symptoms and keep the body as strong as possible to minimize the risk of developing complications. This includes rest, medications to ease body aches and fever, and drinking plenty of fluids. The age-old remedy of chicken soup may actually help to break up congestion and provides easy to digest nutrients to help keep up strength.
Antibiotics are ineffective against the H1N1 flu. For some people, a prescribed antiviral drug may be appropriate to help shorten the length of the disease. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of H1N1 flu. ...more »
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