Swine Flu 411
By Kate, age 18, New Hampshire
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
What exactly makes H1N1 (commonly called Swine Flu) different from the regular, seasonal flu? How do you tell them apart? If you have any of these symptoms, chances are you have Swine Flu:
A fever or high temperature (over 38?C/100.4?F) and two or more of the following symptoms:
♥ unusual tiredness
♥ runny nose
♥ sore throat
♥ shortness of breath or cough
♥ loss of appetite
♥ aching muscles
♥ diarrhea or vomiting
Source: National Health Service (UK)
If you have any of these symptoms, chances are you just have the seasonal flu:
♥ fever (often high)
♥ extreme tiredness
♥ dry cough
♥ sore throat
♥ runny or stuffy nose
♥ muscle aches
Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur, but are more common in children than adults. Some people who have been infected with the new H1N1 flu virus have reported diarrhea and vomiting.
Source: Centers for Disease Control (US)
In short, the answer to the question is: they're not all that different. As you can see, the symptoms are the same. In my personal opinion: why are we all freaking out? Could Swine Flu just be a media exaggeration?
It would seem so, except that for about 1% of us, life-threatening illness and even death can result. In the U.S., an estimated 3,800 people have died from March through October 2009, and the "flu season" is just beginning. What's more, students of all ages are at the highest risk. 1% may not sound like a lot, but that's a classroom full of students in a school of 1,500 - 3,000 people! Could you be in that classroom? So, there are two ways to look at it.
My mother was recently in the emergency room because she had what she thought was just the flu. As the days went by, it got worse and worse. She developed headaches that kept her from working and kept her on the couch for most of the day. The medications she was taking weren't working, so she went to the hospital to get a cat scan.
Four hours of waiting and two hours of tests later, her cat scan was normal and she was given a shot. A simple shot for this supposed Swine Flu.
Whether you believe Swine Flu is the next black plague or not, you should still do everything you can to keep yourself healthy this flu season, especially girls our age - high schoolers and college students are at a higher risk. What can you do to prevent it?
Wash your hands: after you cough, sneeze, touch a door handle, shake hands, use someone else's pen, pencil, or whatever. Even a little squirt of hand sanitizer will do the trick. It might seem over the top, but you can easily get the germs from anyone and anything.
Use a tissue when you sneeze and throw it out immediately. Leaving a used tissue on a desk or table will only spread the germs around.
If you have even the smallest fever, STAY HOME. Most schools and workplaces suggest this. Don't return to work or school until you have been fever free for a full 24 hours. If you are really concerned, stay away from large social gatherings or wear a respiratory mask.
Whether it's Swine Flu or a simple cold, be sure to keep yourself healthy this winter. You will be doing not only yourself but everyone around you a favor!