How does swine flu effect pregnancy

Swine flu or swine influenza is called swine flu because it regularly affects the pigs. It comes to people from those who are in direct touch with pigs. It is a very contagious disease of the respiratory system. The current outbreak of swine flu is spreading from person to person.

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Swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease. H1N1is the virus that causes the current outbreak and also affect people with swine flu. You have a greater risk of developing complications from any type of flu that is because your body, including your immune system is under strain due to your pregnancy. The risks are more during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. It can assess the risks, but most pregnant women who catch the disease are likely to make an uncomplicated recovery. Dehydration and difficulty in breathing are the possible symptoms during the second and third trimester. Of course, there is a small chance that these complications will lead to premature labor or miscarriage.

Swine flu spreads from person to person in the same way as other flu viruses like cough, sneezing by the people who are infected. It is a contagious and spread easily, that is particularly enclosed spaces where there is close contact between infected people and healthy people.

Symptoms of Swine Flu

Swine flu can have a mild effect on some people and it can develop complication in others and in some severe cases can lead to death also. Symptoms of swine flu are same as those of regular flu. These include tiredness, high fever, headache, cough, and painful muscles and joints. It can also cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Pregnancy and Swine flu

Pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications and death from any type of flu—swine flu and seasonal flu. Experts say that in pregnancy as the fetus develops, there is more pressure on the mother’s lung function. This increases the risk of developing pneumonia. The changes in the immune system of the pregnant woman also make her susceptible to infections like flu.

Pregnant women and those living with her must take the swine flu vaccine for prevention.  If vaccine is not available a pregnant lady must avoid crowded places if there is an outbreak of swine flu.

Swine flu affects your developing baby

Your baby is well protected against flu viruses within the uterus, if you find out flu in the early stages. Fever is the major sign of early pregnancy and is known to slightly increase the risk of neural tube defects like spine bifida, and it helps to control high temperature. The complications like pneumonia during pregnancy with swine flu leads to miscarriage or early born baby. These risks are mostly seen during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

Swine flu vaccine

Vaccines have been developed to protect against the virus that causes swine flu. There are two types of vaccine: Pandermrix and Celvapan. Pandermrix vaccine will need only one dose, whereas Celvapan vaccine need two doses that is at least three weeks apart. The seasonal flu vaccine is different from swine flu vaccine and it does not protect against swine flu. You are advised to have the seasonal flu vaccination that you should have it as usual.

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It is recommended that swine flu vaccine of Pandemrix is good for pregnant women as it can be given single time and only one dose. It protects more quickly from the risk of flu than if you receive Celvapan, which requires two doses.

Treatment for swine flu in a pregnant woman

A pregnant woman suspected of swine flu must immediately start medication at any time of pregnancy. A woman who is forced to be in contact should start with anti-viral treatment as there is a high probability of developing the disease. There are no adverse effects so far reported of this medicine in pregnant women. These medicines must be taken under the guidance of a physician. The patient must drink lots of water.

 Ways to avoid swine flu

  • A pregnant woman must take the anti-viral vaccine if the swine flu epidemic is on in the neighborhood.Immunity develops in two weeks’ time.
  • Hands must be washed properly before eating, after sneezing and after using the toilet.
  • Coughing and sneezing must be done with  a clean tissue paper
  • Slabs, toys, wooden surfaces, door knobs and kitchen counters must be regularly wiped with a clean towel and disinfectant. Virus and bacteria have the capacity to survive for 8-10 hours on hard surfaces.
  • Pregnant women must stay at least six feet away from people suffering from swine flu.
  •   One must eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods.  The diet must have a balance of minerals, anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin C to help in fighting  infections

Swine flu advice for pregnant women

The immune system of the pregnant woman is suppressed; hence she is at a greater risk to catch swine flu. There are more chances for to develop complications. In case a pregnant woman develops the normal symptoms of flu like tiredness, high fever, headache, shortness of breath accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, she must consult the doctor immediately. Most women recover from this condition in a week’s treatment. But sometimes, mostly in the third trimester, they develop some complications like infection of the lungs, difficulty in breathing, and dehydration.  This may lead to premature labor or miscarriage.

Pregnant women must take the seasonal flu vaccine, which provides protection against swine flu virus and also against other strains of flu virus. There is no risk of this vaccine to the mother or baby.

Special precautions for pregnant women to reduce the chances of catching the flu

  • Avoid unnecessary travel and crowded public places.
  • Sneeze and cough with nose and mouth covered with tissues.
  • Destroy infected tissues carefully.
  • Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap.
  • Keep the house free from virus by cleaning all hard surfaces with water.

Antivirals and Painkillers

A course of antiviral medication includes Relenza or Tamiflu. Relenza is inhaled with disk shaped equipment. It is highly recommended for pregnant women as it easily reaches the throat and lungs and has no effect on the blood or placenta. It has no adverse effect on the pregnancy or on the development of the baby. Tamiflu is recommended for pregnant women suffering from asthma or who have difficulty in inhaling.

There are some mild side effects of this medication, but it is much smaller than the risk of the complications of swine flu.

Paracetamol is the safest drug to reduce fever and give relief from pains during pregnancy

Hindi version ]

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