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Home I Think My Child Has Flu What is H1N1 flu? Could my child have it?

What is H1N1 flu? Could my child have it?

The H1N1 is the renamed human version of the swine flu. Initially, the virus seemed only to infect pigs and birds – where it was called avian flu, but when the virus began to sicken people,  it combined aspects of both the swine and avian flus to create H1N1 flu. This virus has spread to the extent that it has reached a pandemic level, infecting people all across the globe.

Is H1N1 flu more dangerous than seasonal flu?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the seasonal flu kills an average of 36,000 Americans and hospitalizes 200,000. Of these 90 percent of the deaths and 60 percent of those hospitalized were the result of medical complications from the flu from preexisting conditions. Of  the  amount of those hospitalized with H1N1 flu, 70 percent had preexisting conditions. The difference between those infected with seasonal and H1N1 flus is that those over 65 account for fewer H1N1 infections and even fewer deaths than younger age groups. An antibody for H1N1 has been found in some of these older adults, but this has yet to be found in anyone under 65. The antibody could help to protect those with it from getting sick.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of H1N1 mirror those of the seasonal flu: runny or stuffy nose, fever, aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat and chills. Unlike the seasonal flu, some people with H1N1 flu will also have diarrhea and vomiting. Should a parent see these symptoms in himself or his child, the first thing to do is to call a doctor for an appointment.

The physician will make an assessment of the symptoms and do a blood test. This laboratory test is the only way to determine if the sick person has the flu and what type it is. There are no other methods of  differentiating H1N1 flu from the seasonal flu.

How is H1N1 treated? What if my child has it?

Antiviral medications can be given to those who have the flu. These are given for those with preexisting medical conditions which makes them more susceptible to complications. Most people with H1N1 recover without extra medications. Since it is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not work as they only kill bacteria. Should an antiviral medication be needed, the dosing needs to begin within the first two days of symptoms. After that, the medication will be ineffective in shortening the duration of symptoms.

For parents of children with the H1N1 flu, they must keep the child at home for seven to ten days. Even if the symptoms begin to improve, the child can still be contagious to others and should not be allowed to go to school. Cleaning of the child's bedding, clothes, and utensils should be done in hot soapy water. This will kill the virus and prevent others from getting sick in the household. Other family members should not need to take antiviral medications if they do not have symptoms.

How can I protect myself and my children from H1N1 flu?

Protecting yourself and your children from the H1N1 flu should be a priority for every parent. H1N1 and the seasonal flu are spread in the same way, person to person contact. Regular hand washing, avoiding those with the flu and getting enough nutritious foods and rest will protect everyone from both the H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu.


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