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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
H1N1 influenza (swine flu) is an infection caused by a virus. It is easily spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or has close contact with others. You may be able to spread H1N1 influenza to others for 1 week or longer after signs or symptoms appear.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:
- You have trouble breathing, and your lips look purple or blue.
- You have a seizure.
- You have new pain or pressure in your chest.
Seek care immediately if:
- You are dizzy, or you are urinating little or not at all.
- You have a headache with a stiff neck, and you feel tired or confused.
- Your symptoms worsen, or start to get better but then get worse.
Call your doctor if:
- You have new muscle pain or weakness.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Antivirals help fight a viral infection. This medicine works best if it is given within 48 hours after symptoms begin.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Manage your symptoms:
- Rest as much as possible. Slowly start to do more each day.
- Drink more liquids as directed. Liquids will help thin and loosen mucus so you can cough it up. Liquids will also help prevent dehydration. Liquids that help prevent dehydration include water, fruit juice, and broth. Do not drink liquids that contain caffeine. Caffeine can increase your risk for dehydration. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day.
- Soothe a sore throat. Gargle with warm salt water. This helps your sore throat feel better. Make salt water by dissolving ¼ teaspoon salt in 1 cup warm water. You may also suck on hard candy or throat lozenges. You may use a sore throat spray.
- Use a humidifier or vaporizer. Use a cool mist humidifier or a vaporizer to increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for you to breathe and help decrease your cough.
- Use saline nasal drops as directed. These help relieve congestion.
- Apply petroleum-based jelly around the outside of your nostrils. This can decrease irritation from blowing your nose.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can make your symptoms worse. They can also cause infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Prevent the spread of H1N1 influenza:
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water every time you wash your hands. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the nails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
- Cover a sneeze or cough. Use a tissue that covers your mouth and nose. Throw the tissue away in a trash can right away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Wash your hands well with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer. Do not stand close to anyone who is sneezing or coughing.
- Clean shared items with a germ-killing cleaner. Clean table surfaces, doorknobs, and light switches. Do not share towels, silverware, and dishes with anyone. Wash bed sheets, towels, silverware, and dishes with soap and hot water.
- Stay away from others if you are sick. Do not go to work, school, or other activities until a fever, cough, or other symptoms are gone.
- Get an influenza vaccine to help prevent the flu. Get the vaccine as soon as recommended each year, usually in September or October. You do not need a separate vaccine for H1N1. Flu vaccines include H1N1 protection.
Follow up with your doctor as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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