We keep hearing about all the people dying from the swine flu, but is it really that much different than the regular flu? Do people really need to be that concerned about catching it and dying? Are the death tolls the same and do you really need to get shots?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 36,000 people die each year in the United States from the regular, seasonal flu. About 200,000 people are hospitalized due to the regular flu, though people older than 65 are mainly affected.
The swine flu affects mainly affects those under 25, according to the CDC. The CDC reported that so far there have been 477 deaths in the U.S. from the swine flu, as posted on August 14. Internationally, there have been 1,462 deaths and 177,457 confirmed cases of swine flu since the last update. According to the World Health Organization, the main concern with the swine flu is that it is a new virus that most people do not have immunity to (except for those older than 64, who generally are immune, as the CDC mentioned). The swine flu is contagious, like the regular flu, and can particularly harm those with pre-existing health conditions.
Basically, if you have a pre-existing condition, including pregnancy, and know you are not immune to the swine flu, it is best to stay away from sick people and have good hygiene. As with the regular flu, report symptoms to a doctor.
Symptoms of the swine flu are similar to the regular flu and can include fever, sore throat, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. There have also been reported cases of vomiting and diarrhea, according to the CDC.
Two antiviral medications have been used to treat the swine flu: oseltamivir (Tamiflu ®) and zanamivir (Relenza ®). Vaccines are being developed currently. Other types of drugs need to be checked first, since they make cause adverse reactions. For the regular flu, there are vaccines available and antiviral drugs can also be taken.