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H1N1 Swine Flu - A Personal Account of Symptoms & Recovery Time

Updated on December 12, 2017

H1N1 Swine Flu Symptoms - A Personal Viewpoint

Tthe H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic originally broke out in the Summer of 2009, then cases died down and it seemed that this Flu Virus had fallen off the radar. Unfortunately, it seems that H1N1 is back and possibly stronger than in previous years. We've all seen a list of possible symptoms of the H1N1 virus, but what is it actually like to have swine flu, what is the incubation period, how long does it take to recover and what is the H1N1 symptom progression? I'm sharing mine and my families' experience of swine flu symptoms and recovery to try to answer these questions for you.

I've been updating this article from the first day I came down with swine flu to try and impart a more personalised view of the experience. (You'll find the updates at the bottom of the article.)The media has provided the hard facts but seems to have ignored the human side of the pandemic, so my aim is to address this imbalance and to give you, the reader, another perspective.

H1N1 Swine Flu - Symptoms Day 1

I'm sitting here with my limbs aching, a very sore throat, a swollen epiglottis, a temperature of 102, chills, extreme sweating, head ache, snotty nose and pain in my joints. I'm feeling weak, drowsy and tired and it hurts to move. I'm not sure I agree with the media's and governments description of this virus as a mild illness with mild symptoms - I haven't felt this ill since the last time I had flu in 1995.

I've been asleep on and off all day. Some other symptoms I've noticed are frequent urination (God, it's hard to get up them stairs!), numbness in my fingertips, an inability to lay still, waking frequently in the night and pain in my sinuses.

To be honest it's hard to concentrate and I doubt this piece of writing will be my finest work, but I wanted to share with others what it's actually like to have swine flu and how to diagnose yourself or your children.

Swine Flu Incubation Period

It's kind of a weird virus. My youngest daughter has had it first and I've been home from work this week looking after her. About 6 days before she got the virus proper she had a slight temperature for a couple of days.

Looking back I had the same symptom around 6/7 days ago. This must be the actual start of it and it takes that long to get really into your system. Or in other words the incubation period of the virus. No wonder it's spreading so quickly - for the first week you don't even know you've got it.

Once the H1N1 virus has incubated for it's 6 or 7 days it comes on suddenly. I went to bed last night with a slightly sore throat. I woke in the night with all the symptoms I described above. Thank God my husband is off work for two days to look after our little one! Hooray for train strikes!

Update: My husband came down with it 10 days after I did.

Anti Virals - Tamilflu and Relenza

To take them or not to take them - that is the question on my mind right now. For my little one I chose not to get them even though I did the NHS online questionnaire and got a code number to pick up some Tamilflu for her. After reading about the potential side effects of vomiting and diarrhea I decided she just wasn't ill enough to warrant that risk. I think it was the right decision. She's on day 7 now since the worst of the symptoms came on and she's pretty much better.

But for me, I'm still not sure what to do. I know I'm not as healthy as my four year old and I have a tendency to get chest infections after a cold or flu virus. I've heard that's when it can get dangerous - when it gets into your lungs. The problem is there really isn't anyone to talk to about it. The advice is not to go to your GP. NHS direct just send you through to the Swine Flu Pandemic Hotline and they're taught (as far as I know) to just hand out Tamiflu. They aren't trained medical people - it's just a call centre.

So it still leaves me with a decision I haven't got the energy to make!

Reported Symptoms of H1N1

  • High Temperature
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Lethargy
  • Aching Muscles & Joints
  • Sweating
  • Sore Throat
  • Vomiting & Diarrhea
  • Runny Nose & Catarrh
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Lack of Appetite

Updates on H1N1 Symptom Progression and Recovery

Before I go lay down and watch rubbish on the TV remember this is only day one for me. I'll come back and update you with any further symptoms I discover and what I decided to do about the anti virals.

Flu Symptoms Day 1

I did decide to take anti virals. My husband dutifully called the national pandemic flu number and then arranged to get them form a local hospital. He is known as my "Flu Friend," a term made up by the British government to stop flu infected people going out. So far I haven't felt sick or had any other side effects - hooray!

This is very, very hard to write. Right now, I am sweating profusely and experiencing what I think is the worst symptom of this Flu - continually aching muscles and joints. My hip joints have been constantly aching for hours and it's so hard to get comfy. The paracetamol barely touches it.

Flu Symptoms Day 2

I'm surprised to say that I think the Tamiflu is definitely helping. I haven't felt quite as bad today - no chills and far less aching, though it's certainly not over yet. I've been in bed all day, so still not able to be up and about doing things. The swollen throat is still there big time even through the painkillers I can still feel it.

Woke up this morning after only 3 hours sleep finding it a bit of a struggle to breathe through my massively swollen throat - a bit scary!

1/8/09 p.m.

It's late evening and while my throat is still pretty swollen and sore it's nowhere near as bad as this morning. Most of the symptoms have died down - looks like I've had the worst of it :) Fingers crossed that there won't be any secondary infection!

Flu Symptoms Days 3,4 & 5

The main symptom over the last few days has been an excrutiatingly painful sore throat. It feels like I have big lumps of glass in my throat and it hurts to swallow anything. It seemed to get better for a little while and then it came back with a vengeance! It hurt so much that I admit to having a little cry and feeling very sorry for myself!

I have been getting 2 or 3 hours sleep at a time, so my routine is all over the place. I'm up at silly times in the night and sleeping at odd hours of the day. The reason for this is that I'm waking up from the pain in my throat and it's impossible to get back to sleep - I need hot drinks! This is a bit manky but I'm waking up with green/yellow snot encrusted all over my tonsils, tongue and epiglotis (the dangly bit at the back) - it's nasty!

The aches and chills have gone. Still snotty and headachey.

My little one went back to nursery on Tuesday (my day 5, her day 11). She has a peak in temperature on day 9/10 and took her to the doctors but they said that was quite normal as your body fights the last of the virus. She's still got a bit of a runny nose, but all the main symptoms have subsided.

Flu Symptoms Days 6 & 7

Had my first good nights sleep last night in a week - hooray! My throat is still sore but no where near as bad as it was. All the snot seems to be coming out now, so I'm blowing my nose a lot. I'm going to stay off work the rest of this week and hopefully by Monday I'll be fighting fit and ready to go back. At the moment there's no sign of a secondary infection which I am very happy about - normally with flu or a bad cold I get a chest infection afterwards but my chest feels clear. I wonder if that's down to the Tamiflu? That's one of the things they say about it, is that it reduces your chances of getting a secondary infection.

Flu Symptoms Days 8,9 & 10

Still not feeling brilliant, but I have slightly more energy that I have had. Still snotty - which is bright yellow, mmmmm nice lol :) Still have a bit of sore throat and I'm getting a bit of a chesty cough now. Not sure if I'm going to be up to a full days work on Monday - I may need a few more days to recover. My little one is still very snotty as well and still not quite her normal self.

Husband has come down with Swine Flu

After having swine flu in the house for over 2 weeks we thought my husband had escaped it somehow. Unfortunately he's not that lucky. He was not feeling well yesterday evening and today he's woken up with all the classic symptoms - sweating profusely, aching joints and muscles, sore throat, frequent urination, aching teeth & ears, temperature.

I've just completed the swine flu questionnaire and been given a number so I can collect Tamiflu for him. Only problem is the collection point is 10 miles away and I don't drive!


My husband started taking the tamiflu straight away and he recovered a lot more rapidly than either myself or our daughter. He was off work for a week, though was feeling markedly better by day 4/5. It just shows you how each person's experience of H1N1 swine flu will be slightly different, as will their symptoms and recovery time.


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