Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Patient Education

The novel influenza A (H1N1) virus is spread from person to person through droplets from coughing and sneezing. You also may get the H1N1 virus if you touch something with the virus on it and then touch your nose or mouth. Close contact (within 1.8 meters) of an infected person increases your risk of getting the virus. Symptoms of the H1N1 virus include fever, cough, sore throat, and a runny nose. You may feel very tired and have body aches and a headache. You also may have a decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Ways to help prevent getting or spreading the H1N1 virus and other infections include:

Ø  Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Ø  Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand cleaner often. Always wash your hands after coughing and sneezing, or after touching sick people or their personal items.

Ø  Use paper towels to dry your hands after washing when you are sick, and throw the paper towels away. If cloth towels are used, each person in a household should have his own towel.

Ø  Get plenty of rest.

If you have the H1N1 virus, do the following:

Ø  Stay home for 7 days after your symptoms begin, or until you no longer have symptoms. Wear a surgical mask if you must leave home before your symptoms go away. 

Ø  If you live with others, stay in one room away from common areas in your home. Keep the door closed to your room.

Ø  If possible, use a different bathroom than others in your home. The bathroom you use should be cleaned daily with household products that kill germs.

Ø  Avoid close contact with others. If you need to leave your home or be near others, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

Ø  If you have a fever, diarrheas, or vomiting, drink plenty of liquids to help prevent dehydration.

If you are caring for someone with the H1N1 virus, do the following:

Ø  Avoid close contact with the infected person. Always wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when entering the room. Wearing gloves and eye protection also may help decrease your risk forgetting the virus.

Ø  Do not allow visitors into the sick person’s room. Only those people who are caring for the sick person should enter the room. If possible, only one adult in the home should be the caregiver.

Ø  If possible, keep the windows open in common household areas.

Ø  When caring for an infant or child with the H1N1 virus, use a bulb suction to help clear any mucus from the nose. A cool mist humidifier also may help decrease the amount of mucus the infant or child has. 

Ø  When holding sick children, hold them with their chin on your shoulder so that they do not cough in your face.

If you have the H1N1 virus, or are caring for someone with the virus, seek immediate care or call 120 for the following symptoms:

Ø  Trouble breathing or breathing faster then what is normal for you or the sick person.

Ø  Chest pain.

Ø  Sudden dizziness.

Ø  Confusion.

Ø  Vomiting and being unable to keep any food or liquids down.

Ø  The symptoms you or the sick person had get better but then return with a fever and a worsening cough.

If you are caring for an infant or child with the H1N1 virus, seek care immediately or call 120 for the following symptoms:

Ø  Their skin becomes blue or gray in color.

Ø  They are refusing to drink liquids.

Ø  They are urinating less than normal, have fewer wet diapers, or have a decreased amount of tears when crying. 

Ø  They are not responding to others or not waking up from sleep.

Ø  They are acting very fussy or irritable and do not want to be held.

(From the DrugNotes™ and Detailed Drug Information for the Consumer™ patient education documents on “Oseltamivir” and “Zanamivir”, updated on May 21st, 2009.)



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