Public Health

What Is Cough's Connection To Swine Flu?

All around our neighborhood, people are coughing. So we weren't too surprised when a blog reader, who asked not to be identified, wrote in with a question about the hacking:

A woman coughs. i i

Any H1N1 virus there? iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com
A woman coughs.

Any H1N1 virus there?

iStockphoto.com

Is a 'cough' always present with the swine flu, or is it possible for that symptom not to be present and still have H1N1?

Most of the time a cough does go along with the swine flu, Dr. Douglas Kamerow, a family physician and former Assistant Surgeon General, says. The symptoms for swine flu are generally the same as classic influenza, which means a cough is very common.

For a few patients, though, there may be no cough. Dr. Richard Wenzel, a professor and chair of internal medicine at the Medical College of Virginia, tells us about 15 percent of people sick with H1N1 don't cough.

What if a cough is the only symptom you have? Could it still be swine flu? Kamerow says it's not likely. But, he said, if you do have a persistent cough, for more than a week or so, that's reason enough to go to the doctor and get checked out.

Kamerow says a more significant sign that you have H1N1 is nausea or vomiting. These symptoms seem to be more prevalent in swine flu than in the seasonal flu.

If you're interested in a self-check for your symptoms, try this online tool at the government's Web site flu.gov.

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