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Diagnosing & Treating Swine Flu


Swine flu or H1N1 flu is a viral infection of the respiratory tract, including the lungs, throat, and nose. It caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009, but is now one of the standard seasonal flu (influenza) viruses.

The influenza experts at Dignity Health are here to help with our trusted emergency treatment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We provide quick and efficient care for swine flu in the Bay Area at our state-of-the-art hospitals.

Use our Online Waiting Room to select your estimated arrival time if you need to go to the ER for swine flu symptoms.

What Causes H1N1 Flu?

Swine flu is caused by the H1N1 virus, which is an influenza virus. It is called swine flu because it is similar to a virus that normally infects pigs. However, it is not possible to contract H1N1 from properly handled pork products.

Swine flu is spread the same way as other types of flu — through contact with someone who is already infected. It is mainly spread by droplets released when people talk, sneeze, or cough. These droplets can infect someone as far as six feet away from the person with swine flu. You can also catch swine flu by touching contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs and handrails, and then touching your mouth or nose.

People become infectious about one day before symptoms appear. So, you can spread swine flu to others before you even know you are sick.

The most effective way to prevent swine flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. Also, wash your hands regularly and take care to avoid sick people.

Swine Flu Symptoms

Swine flu symptoms are the same as any other type of seasonal flu. They include:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever 
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat 

Seek medical care at a Dignity Health emergency room for severe symptoms as soon as possible. Swine flu can worsen existing medical conditions and cause serious complications, including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections. Complications related to swine flu are most common in:

  • Adults 65 and older
  • Children under two, but up age five 
  • People with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease
  • People who are morbidly obese
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes 

Treatment of Swine Flu in the Bay Area 

Treatment focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing the flu from spreading to others. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicines to treat symptoms along with fluids and rest.

Sometimes antiviral medicines are prescribed to treat swine flu. These medicines work best when you start them within 48 hours of becoming sick.

Look to Dignity Health’s four Bay Area hospitals to help you address your swine flu symptoms and provide personalized treatment.

Dignity Health doctors diagnose and treat swine flu in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.