Never fear; despite the name, you cannot contract Swine Flu (or H1N1) from eating bacon, pork chops, or touching a live pig.
This highly contagious infection appears and spreads in ways very similar to influenza—via tiny particles in the air emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches another person with germy hands.
H1N1 swine flu is contagious usually before an infected person even shows the slightest sign of symptoms, and they can remain contagious for between seven to 10 days in length. Most people will treat and heal from swine flu before they even realize they have the illness. However, the most concerning factor about H1N1 is that, unlike seasonal flu, which mainly jeopardizes the lives of the young, senior, and those with compromised immune systems, a bout of swine flu puts the lives of young, healthy people at risk as well.
The ten main symptoms of swine flu present themselves like a seasonal cold, and include…
1. Rising Fever
A fever that starts out mild, similar to a regular cold, and rises quickly to a high fever over 38-degrees Celsius or 100.4-degrees Fahrenheit will often indicate that you have a more serious illness than just seasonal influenza. Your rising temperature may cause night sweats followed by bouts of cold chills.
2. Stubborn Cough
One of the initial symptoms of H1N1 is typically a nagging cough that sets in the chest and keeps you hacking away at night and disrupting your sleep. If left untreated, Swine Flu can quickly become pneumonia, and your cough may be accompanied by thick, yellow, brown, or green phlegm. It may also contain traces of blood. If you suspect pneumonia, go to the hospital immediately.
3. Painfully Swollen Glands
H1N1 commonly causes lymph node swelling. You will feel the glands of the neck as well as those under the armpit become swollen and quite tender to the touch. It’s common with any immune infection for the glands to become swollen as they try to fight off foreign invaders.
4. Sore Throat
Most sore throats are caused by a common cold virus or a more serious infection, such as H1N1. Your sore throat may also be exacerbated if you have nasal congestion and are breathing through your mouth.
5. Nasal Congestion
Swine flu often causes severe nasal and chest congestion, similar to a sinus cold. In fact, to test for H1N1, your doctor will collect a swab sample of mucus from your nose or throat.
6. Cold Chills
Chills are another symptom of H1N1 that may mislead you to believe you have regular seasonal influenza. Like the flu, with H1N1 you may experience bouts of over-heating (from fever) followed by cold, sweaty chills.
7. Muscle Aches
Another symptom that mimics a seasonal flu may be felt in your muscles, which can become weak and achy. Oftentimes, muscle stiffness is felt in the limbs and joints—such as the arms, shoulders, legs, knees, and feet.
8. Nausea & Vomiting
The nausea and vomiting associated with Swine Flu can come about quite suddenly and within the first 12 to 24 hours of infection. If you do vomit frequently with H1N1, it’s important to stay as hydrated as possible to avoid further weakening your immune system.
9. Respiratory Issues
Swine flu also can lead to more serious complications, including pneumonia and respiratory failure, and it can worsen the severity of chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma. Serious symptoms such as shortness of breath warrant an immediate call to your doctor or 911.
10. Severe Abdominal Pain
It’s common with H1N1, particularly if you are vomiting repeatedly, to experience digestive upset and severe abdominal pain. The act of vomiting will cause your abdominal muscles to become strained and tender and you may have difficulty keeping even light food, such as soup broth or tea, down.