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The Swine Flu and Pregnancy

The Swine Flu is increasingly becoming a concern for citizens all over the globe, but pregnant women who are trained to be overly cautious about everything are likely to be even more anxious than the average individual about contracting the disease and its implications for the baby they carry.

The Swine Flu
The Swine Flu is similar to a normal flu virus, but is comprised of three different kinds of flu making it more challenging for the body to beat off the virus naturally. The symptoms of the Swine Flu include:

  • Fever
  • Body and joint aches
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Occasional vomiting and diarrhea

Symptoms begin to appear within 1-4 days of exposure to the flu virus. The virus is believed to spread through body fluids and can live for up to two days without a human host.

The Swine Flu and Pregnancy
The Swine Flu is considered potentially dangerous and possibly fatal to those

whose immune systems can’t handle the severity of the disease or how quickly it can spread through the body. While there have been fatal cases in Mexico, there have not yet been fatal cases reported in any other county.

For the pregnant women, the Swine Flu can likely be considered a severe form of influenza. According to the CDC, pregnant women are more likely to have severe cases of flu during pandemics and even during the regular flu season which occurs every year. Pregnant women are considered to be at a higher risk during this outbreak of the Swine Flu and should be extra cautious about exposure and particularly good hygiene as there is currently no flu shot to prevent this strain of flu.

Swine Flu Risks
There is some risk of problems when a pregnant woman comes down with a severe case of any flu. The chances of complications, fetal distress, miscarriage and premature birth increase in a severe case of the flu, but this does not mean that you are at serious risk even if you do develop a case of the flu – including the Swine Flu.

Swine Flu Prevention and Treatment
The best way for pregnant women to protect themselves from the swine flu is to step up their hygiene levels. Wash hands frequently and avoid any unnecessary trips to locations where large groups might gather. Avoid touching your face without washing or sanitizing your hands and carry hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with you to keep your environment clean.

Should you become exposed to a case of swine flu or start to experience symptoms of the virus, visit your doctor immediately. Two antiviral medications, zanamivir and oseltamivir, appear to be effective against the swine flu virus, and these medications have been slated for use by pregnant women as well. Treatment should begin as soon as possible after exposure to limit the likelihood of developing the disease or to contain it as quickly as possible. (consult your doctor before any action is taken)

These antiviral medications are both Class C medications meaning there are not studies about their effects on pregnant women and their babies, but anecdotal reports show that mothers who have used the drugs in other severe cases of flu had no complications, nor did their babies. In the case of the swine flu, the good of the medication likely outweighs any possible effects.

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