H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) Treatment & Management

Updated: Nov 23, 2016
  • Author: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
  • Print
Treatment

Medical Care

Treatment is largely supportive and consists of bedrest, increased fluid consumption, cough suppressants, and antipyretics and analgesics (eg, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for fever and myalgias. Severe cases may require intravenous hydration and other supportive measures. Antiviral agents may also be considered for treatment or prophylaxis (see Medication).

Patients should be encouraged to stay home if they become ill, to avoid close contact with people who are sick, to wash their hands often, and to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth. The CDC recommends the following actions when human infection with H1N1 influenza (swine flu) is confirmed in a community [1] :

  • Patients who develop flulike illness (ie, fever with either cough or sore throat) should be strongly encouraged to self-isolate in their home for 7 days after the onset of illness or at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer.

  • To seek medical care, patients should contact their health care providers to report illness (by telephone or other remote means) before seeking care at a clinic, physician's office, or hospital.

  • Patients who have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath or who are believed to be severely ill should seek immediate medical attention.

  • If the patient must go into the community (eg, to seek medical care), he or she should wear a face mask to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the community when coughing, sneezing, talking, or breathing. If a face mask is unavailable, ill persons who need to go into the community should use tissues to cover their mouth and nose while coughing.

  • While in home isolation, patients and other household members should be given infection control instructions, including frequent hand washing with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand gels (containing at least 60% alcohol) when soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty. Patients with H1N1 influenza should wear a face mask when within 6 feet of others at home.