Many people in the Delhi-NCR and also in Kolkata and some other states have already become victims of the seasonal influenza (H1N1) virus, commonly known as swine flu. One of the most prevalent and contagious viruses, H1N1 has three categories – A, B and C. While A and B categories need home care, category C requires immediate hospitalization and medical intervention as its symptoms and outcomes are extremely severe and could result in death.

Swine flu symptoms

  • Clinical manifestations: fever, cough, sore throat, malaise and headache, vomiting and diarrhoea
  • In children: Young children are less likely to have the usual influenza signs and symptoms such as fever and cough
  • In infants may present with fever and lethargy, and may not have cough or other respiratory symptoms Symptoms of severe disease in infants and young children may include apnea, tachypnea, dyspnea, cyanosis, dehydration, altered mental status and extreme irritability

 

High risk groups

  • Children younger than five years old
  • Adults who are 65 years and above
  • Patients who have a chronic pulmonary condition (including asthma)
  • Patients who have a cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), neurologic, neuromuscular or metabolic disorder (including diabetes mellitus)

 

Patients who are on immune suppressants

  • Patients of HIV
  • Pregnant women
  • Obese Adults
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic – care facilities

 

Home care treatment for Influenza A and B (H1N1)

  • Check with the health care provider about any special care that might be needed if the patient is pregnant or has a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma or emphysema
  • Check with the health care provider about whether the patient should take antiviral medications
  • Keep the patient away from other people as much as possible. They should not be going to school or work
  • One should watch out for the primary influenza symptoms: high temperature, runny nose, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain
  • The patient should stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides
  • To prevent dehydration the patient should rest and drink plenty of fluids such as water, broth, sports drinks, electrolyte beverages
  • Coughs and sneezes should be covered. Hands should be cleaned using
    soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub
  • A face mask should be worn at all times to prevent the virus from spreading to near and dear ones

 

(Dr DS Chaddha is director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital)