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H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): Overview, Symptoms, Risks, Diagnosis & Treatment



In 2009, the H1N1 flu or Swine Flu virus was responsible for a pandemic. It is a respiratory disease caused by the H1N1 flu virus. It spreads mainly from person to person and is transmitted in the same way as seasonal flu. H1N1 is also known as swine flu because it is believed to be spread initially from humans to pigs. It causes fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches. However, H1N1 flu may cause severe illness in certain people, especially young children and the elderly. 

H1N1 flu has many symptoms similar to other types of flu. Hence it is essential to diagnose and treat it at the right time. This blog will help you understand the symptoms of H1N1 and how to diagnose it correctly.

What is The H1N1 Flu?

The H1N1 flu virus is a subtype of the Influenza A virus. It is also known as swine flu or novel H1N1 flu virus. Humans can contract the H1N1 virus by breathing in or possibly by direct contact with body fluids or secretions of infected people. Children, young adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to H1N1. The symptoms of H1N1 vary from person to person. Some people may develop mild flu symptoms or no symptoms at all. 

What Are The Symptoms of H1N1 Flu?

The H1N1 virus causes infection in the upper and lower respiratory tract. The symptoms of H1N1 infection are identical to seasonal flu and can develop about one to three days after exposure to the virus. 

Some common symptoms of the H1N1 flu are:

  • Chills, sore throat, cough
  • Fever (In some cases)
  • Congestion in the nose
  • Watery and red eyes
  • Headache 
  • Body ache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Children may experience some different symptoms than adults.

  • Trouble breathing
  • Fever and rash
  • Trouble waking up
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Confusion

When Should You See a Doctor?

If you are healthy and are experiencing symptoms of flu then resting and intake of fluids can help. But if you or your loved ones experiencing the flu are pregnant, adults older than 65 years or have conditions like asthma, emphysema, diabetes or heart conditions, then you should be aware of these emergency signs which cannot be ignored. 

If you experience the following signs and symptoms then you should see a doctor right away:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling faint and lightheaded
  • Seizures
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions
  • Severe weakness or muscle pain

Emergency signs that children may experience could be different than those seen in adults.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lip colour changes to blue
  • Pain in the chest area
  • Dehydration
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Seizures
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions

Who is at Risk of The H1N1 Flu?

The H1N1 flu is contagious and can spread through human contact. Therefore, many people are easily infected with the H1N1 virus. However, children (especially those below 2 years of age), pregnant women, adults above age 65 and chronically sick people (asthma, heart disease, diabetes etc) are at a high risk of H1N1 infection and possible complications. 

How to Diagnose H1N1 Flu?

The best way to diagnose H1N1 flu is to consult your doctor. 

The doctor will check your signs and symptoms and if they suspect H1N1 flu, they will perform the following examination for accurate diagnosis.

  • Physical examination to check symptoms
  • Since H1N1 affects the respiratory tracts, your doctor might suggest you take a PCR test. The test will require a sample of nose and mouth swabs. 

The real-time Multiplex PCR test is the easiest, quickest and most effective test for identifying the type of flu. One sample can help diagnose the most common types of flu - Influenza A, Influenza B, H1N1, H3N2 and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).

How to Treat The H1N1 Infection?

The treatment for H1N1 flu depends on the severity of the symptoms. Some people just need symptom relief such as medicines for fever and headache and body pain. People with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema and pneumonia etc require additional treatment. Your doctor will guide you to the best treatment plan. They may prescribe antiviral drugs to help treat you. You must also focus on liquid food intake (water, juices, soups etc.) and get plenty of rest. 


The H1N1 virus is contagious and severe. You should visit your doctor immediately if you are experiencing symptoms and suspect that you may be suffering from the H1N1 flu. 

Most types of flu have similar symptoms. Therefore it is crucial to get diagnosed right in time to avoid severe complications of the infection. 

You can book a test with Metropolis Labs for an accurate diagnosis. The Flu-Xpert Viral Panel test uses real-time Multiplex PCR technology to get an accurate diagnosis of all types of flu - Influenza A, Influenza B, H1N1, Influenza, H3N2 and RSV. It is a one-time sample test and you will get the results in less than 12 hours. So book your test here today. 

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