Family Health Guide

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H1N1 Swine Flu: Signs and Symptoms

Indicators of swine flu are not unlike those for regular old run-of-the-mill flu. What makes this virus different from typical flu is that more serious complications, like pneumonia, might occur more often. Also, says Dr. Bocchini, this is a new strain of flu, and only people who have already contracted swine flu would be expected to be immune. Your job is to know how to spot the signs. If you or your child is experiencing any of the following, call your doctor. 

• fever (above 100.4 for babies 3 months and under and 101.1 for everyone else), plus  
• cough  
• sore throat  
• intense body aches 
• headache  
• chills  
• fatigue

Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting, too. 

Pregnant women are at extra risk for complications even with regular flu, according to Dr. Bocchini, and small children have a higher rate of hospitalization. Both expectant women and moms of kids under 2 should be extra careful about taking action quickly. 

When to Head to the ER

If your child demonstrates any of the following symptoms, it's time to seek emergency care: 

• Fast or troubled breathing 
• Bluish skin color 
• Refusal to drink fluids 
• Difficulty waking up and/or interacting 
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held 
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough 
• Fever with a rash, especially one that does not blanch 

In adults, the following symptoms deserve an ER trip as well: 

• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
• Pain or pressure in the chest 
• Abdominal pain 
• Sudden dizziness 
• Confusion 
• Severe or persistent vomiting