Swine flu: The facts

What are the signs?

The most common symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu, including fever, weakness and fatigue and aching muscles and joints, although, these could be more severe.

Certain people are most at risk, including pregnant women, the elderly and young children and people with underlying health conditions.

What is swine flu and how serious is it?

A new strain of Influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, was confirmed in the UK in April 2009.


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Roughly 200 countries around the world also reported cases of swine flu.

Although symptoms have generally proved mild, a small number of patients will develop more serious illness.

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Many of these people have other underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that put them at increased risk.

Symptoms

Patients with swine flu typically have a fever or a high temperature (over 38�C / 100.4�F) and two or more of the following symptoms:

unusual tiredness

headache

runny nose

sore throat

shortness of breath or cough

loss of appetite

aching muscles

diarrhoea or vomiting

As with any sort of influenza, how bad and how long the symptoms last will depend on treatment and the patient’s individual circumstances. Most cases reported in the UK have been relatively mild, with those affected starting to recover within a week.

Who is at risk?

Some groups of people are more at risk of serious illness if they catch swine flu. It is vital that people in these higher risk groups get anti-viral drugs and start taking them as soon as possible – within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

Health authorities are still learning about the swine flu virus, but the following people are known to be at higher risk:

pregnant women

people aged 65 years and older

young children under five years old

People suffering from the following illnesses are also at increased risk:

chronic lung disease

chronic heart disease

chronic kidney disease

chronic liver disease

chronic neurological disease

Immunosuppressionwhether caused by disease or treatment)

Diabetes

Diabetes mellituspatients who have had drug treatment for asthma within the past three years

If you think you have swine flu symptoms, stay at home and contact your GP. They will be able to assess you and decide what treatment is appropriate.

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