Swine flu is treated just like the seasonal flu with fever, cough and cold remedies. Some people with swine flu may need antiviral drugs or treatment for complications.
Paracetamol: Most people with swine flu recover with symptomatic treatment such as lots of rest, paracetamol or paracetamol-based cold remedies to treat fever and associated symptoms of cold. Some of the over-the-counter treatments can be given to children as well but it is advisable to contact your pediatrician before you start any treatment. Do not give aspirin containing remedies to children under 16 years of age.
Antivirals: Two antiviral medications - oseltamavir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are used for treatment of swine flu. Antivirals do not wholly cure swine flu, but aid to:
- reduce the duration of symptoms or illness by around one day,
- reduce some of the symptoms
- reduce the risk of serious complications such as pneumonia.
High-risk groups or people at high risk of complications with swine flu should take antivirals as soon as possible after the symptoms start. High-risk groups include individuals with
- chronic (long-term) lung or respiratory tract disease,
- chronic heart disease (congenital or acquired)
- chronic kidney disease (such as renal failure, end stage renal disease)
- chronic liver disease (such as cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis)
- chronic neurological disease (such as motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease),
- immunosuppression (either due to a disease, medication or treatment), or
- diabetes mellitus (type 1 or 2)
The risk is also increased in people
- who have received drug treatment for asthma in the last three years,
- are pregnant,
- more than 65 years of age
- children younger than five years.
Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat secondary bacterial infection of the respiratory tract (lungs) such as bronchitis (infection of the airways), or pneumonia. These infections are cured by antibiotics in most people but can become life-threatening at times.
Vaccine: Vaccine has been developed for swine flu. It is available in some countries like United Kingdom, US, but is still not available in India. Vaccination for swine flu in USA is recommended for
- Pregnant women: As pregnant women are at high risk of complications and it is considered that the protection is transmitted to infants who cannot be vaccinated before 6 months of age.
- Household contacts and caregivers of children less than 6 months of age: The risk of complication is higher in infants less than 6 months of age and they cannot be vaccinated. It is considered that vaccination of their close contact can possibly reduce the infant’s risk of exposure to the virus.
- Health care and emergency medical services personnel: Health care workers are at higher risk of flu infection and can potentially transmit the infection to vulnerable patients. Besides if they are infected it leads to absenteeism and can affect the function of health care system.
- Infants < 6 months of age and children up to 18 years of age: Several children have been infected with H1N1 influenza. The infection spreads easily in school and child care and is transmitted from them to their families.
- Young adults (19 to 24 years old): Young adults should be immunized as they are liable to live, work, and study together, and travel often.
- Adults 25-64 years old: Adults in this age group who have health conditions (such as heart.
- Adults 25-64 years old: Adults in this age group who have health conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease and some types of cancer) that increase their risk of complications from influenza should be immunized.
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