Know the basics of H1N1

  • Published
  • By Colonel Keith Morita
  • 59th Medical Wing
Many people are concerned about H1N1 Influenza, and making a decision about how to care for and protect your family during flu season is easier if you know the signs.

H1N1 is like seasonal flu in symptoms and duration of illness. These symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Most often the only treatment required is the care of your symptoms. These can be treated with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, decongestants, throat lozenges, lots of fluids and rest. Most patients with the H1N1 virus do not require an anti-viral medication.

To help individuals determine if they need to see a doctor, adult and child self-assessments are accessible on the H1N1 web page at The checklists are tools that allow patients to first self-assess, if they have flu-like symptoms, and then follow the recommended actions on the self-assessment.

The checklists are based on national research conducted by the Emory University School of Medicine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of Health, testing for the H1N1 virus is no longer recommended except for hospitalized patients. Locally, 98 percent of people with flu symptoms have the H1N1 virus.

If you or your child have flu like symptoms, the CDC recommends to stay at home until the fever is resolved for 24 hours without acetaminophen, ibuprofen or other medications to bring your temperature down.

Most of the H1N1 cases are mild, however, some people are at a higher risk for contracting a severe case of the flu, such as those who are pregnant or have chronic lung, heart, kidney, blood, brain, nervous system disorders, or who are diabetic or whose immune system is suppressed by medication or HIV/AIDS. These people need to seek the advice of their health care provider if they experience flu-like symptoms.

Everyone needs to be aware of the additional symptoms that indicate a need for medical care. Adults who have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness or confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, or seizures and/or who have had flu-like symptoms that improved only to return with fever and a worse cough should seek emergency care.

Children need to seek emergent care if they are under three months old and have a fever, if they have fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish or gray skin color, severe or persistent vomiting and/or who have had flu-like symptoms that improved only to return with fever and a worse cough. Additionally, if a child is not drinking enough fluids, is not waking up or not interacting, or if he or she is too irritable to be held, then the child's caregiver should also seek emergent care.

Like the seasonal flu, H1N1 is spread mainly through coughing or sneezing by an infected person. Sometimes people may contract the flu by touching something, such as a door handle, that has the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

To protect yourself, your family and others, there are some simple preventative measures you can take:

· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and immediately throw the tissue away or cough into your sleeve instead of your hand.

· Wash your hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. Soap and water, as well as alcohol-based cleaners, are effective, so keep hand sanitizer nearby.

· Be conscious of where you put your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

· Steer clear of sick people as much as possible or, if unavoidable, be particularly disciplined in taking precautions.

For further information, visit, or An H1N1 educational recording is also available by calling 210-916-9900 and pressing option nine.