Flu Swine Treatment

Treatment for swine flu comes in two forms: symptom alleviation and antiviral medications. Currently, the treatment modalities of swine flu are the same for any other influenza viral infection. In this article, we will cover these two forms of swine flu treatment.

Swine Flu Symptom Treatment

In most documented cases of swine flu, the patient first notices something’s wrong during the symptomatic phase of the infection. Symptoms of the swine flu can range from moderate to severe and include fatigue, fever, and respiratory problems. It is natural for your body to exhibit these symptoms as it attempts to fight off the infection. However, as many of us have experienced, these symptoms can be quite annoying, painful, and even debilitating.

Coughing, sneezing, and congestion can be reduced via over-the-counter medications. These medications inhibit mechanisms that lead to excessive respiratory secretions. For instance, antihistamines are quite effective at reducing sniffling and nasal congestion, but they may cause increased drowsiness and fatigue.

Body aches and headaches can be treated with common pain medications, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are more serious symptoms that can lead to further complications, such as electrolyte imbalances and gastroesophageal bleeding. If these symptoms become severe, you may need to see a doctor who can prescribe anti-emetics that can help control nausea and vomiting.

Antiviral Medications

The H1N1 virus that causes swine flu has a purported incubation period lasting from two to seven days.

When one is infected with the virus during the incubation period, symptoms may not be noticeable while the virus is replicating. During this replication period, the viral load can be greatly reduced with the use of antiviral medications. Antiviral treatment is most effective when initiated within 48 hours of influenza illness onset.

Two such antiviral medications are:

  • Tamiflu®, or oseltamivir phosphate
  • Relenza®, or zanamivir.

Antiviral medications can reduce the severity and duration of your illness. By avoiding prolonged infection, the risk of influenza-related complications, including death, can be greatly reduced. On average, the illness period is shortened by 1 or 2 days when antiviral medications are administered.

Tamiflu® and Relenza® are prescription drugs that only a doctor can prescribe. Due to outbreak concerns, these drugs are usually reserved for those that belong in high-risk groups, such as:

  • the immunocompromised
  • pregnant women
  • people with chronic health conditions.

A physician will need to make a clinical judgment as to whether you need the antiviral medication to help overcome the illness.

Tamiflu®-resistant swine flu has been recently reported in the United Kingdom. Resistance to antivirals and antibiotics are major concern, because it may lead to increased infection rates and severity of disease. The threat of resistance is serious, and selective treatment of patients with antivirals and antibiotics by healthcare professionals is a prudent measure.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. (2009). Questions and answers: Antiviral drugs, 2009-2010 flu season. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1flu/antiviral.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. (2009). Quick facts for clinicians on antiviral treatments for 2009 H1N1. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/antivirals/facts_clinicians.htm.

Walsh, F. (2009). Tamiflu-resistant swine flu spreads between patients. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from the BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8370859.stm.