H1N1 Flu Facts
Here are some frequently asked questions about H1N1 Flu (sometimes referred to Swine Flu).
- First: What is H1N1 Flu? H1N1 Flu is a viral infection of the nose, throat, windpipe, and bronchi. It's caused by the H1N1 virus. It started in March 2009 and by June had spread to most of the world (becoming a pandemic).
- Second: What are the symptoms? The main symptoms are a cough, sore throat, runny nose and fever. If you don't have a fever, you probably don't have H1N1 Flu. Usually, there's more muscle pain, headache, fever and chills than seen with the common cold.
- Third: How contagious is it? After exposure, 30% of people come down with symptoms in 4 to 6 days. Exposure means close contact with someone who is sick with H1N! Flu. Close contact includes kissing or embracing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, close conversation, interactions within 3 feet, being in the same child care group or car pool, etc.
- Fourth: How can you tell if your child has H1N1 Flu? If H1N1 Flu is widespread in your community and your child has flu symptoms with a fever, then he or she probably has H1N1 Flu. You don't need to get any special tests because the results won't change the treatment. You don't need to call or see your child's doctor, unless your child is High-Risk (we'll come back to that) or develops a possible complication of the flu.
- Fifth: What is the usual course of the illness? The fever lasts 2 to 3 days, the runny or stuffy nose 1 to 2 weeks, and the cough 2 to 3 weeks. So far, complications are uncommon and no higher than seen with seasonal flu.
- Sixth: How to we treat H1N1 Flu? The treatment of H1N1 Flu depends on your child's main symptoms. It's no different from treating symptoms of the common cold. Antibiotics are not helpful. Most healthy children recover readily without any anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu. The Centers for Disease Control recommends Tamiflu for High-Risk children who come down with H1N1 Flu.
- Seventh: Who are the High-Risk children?
The following children are at higher risk for complications from H1N1 Flu: those with lung disease (such as asthma), heart disease (such as a congenital heart disease), weak immune system (such as cancer), neurological disease (such as muscular dystrophy), diabetes, sickle cell disease, kidney disease, diseases requiring long-term aspirin therapy or other chronic diseases. Being pregnant is also a risk factor. Healthy children are only at increased risk if they are less than 2 years old.
- Eighth: When can my child return to school? Your child may return to child care or school after the fever is gone for at least 24 hours.
Finally: Most children with H1N1 Flu can easily be treated at home with symptom care. By all means, don't go to the ER or office unless it's indicated. That's where your child could most easily catch the H1N1 Flu or another virus.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 9/28/2009
Last Revised: 9/28/2009
Copyright 1994-2009 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.