How to Know if You Have H1N1

Three Parts:Checking Your SymptomsGetting TestedTreating and Preventing the Flu

Even though the days when H1N1 (Swine Flu) was rapidly spreading across the world have passed, isolated outbreaks of this virus are still occurring. While there are basic precautions to take in preventing this disease, no one is guaranteed immunity. The most basic way to know if you have H1N1 is to determine if it is more severe than the typical seasonal flu. However, since both are treated similarly, and as they both are dangerous to vulnerable populations, unless you a member of one these populations (very young children, elderly, pregnant those with weakened immune systems), you should stay home while you recuperate from the flu.[1]

Part 1
Checking Your Symptoms

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    Note the rapidity of the onset of symptoms. One of the key ways to distinguish between H1N1 and seasonal flu is in the rapidity of symptoms. In seasonal flu, symptoms typically develop over several days. In contrast, with H1N1 symptoms tend to develop in three to six hours.[2]
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    Check for fever. Use a thermometer to assess your temperature. If you have a temperature of over 101 degrees and some of the other flu-related symptoms, you may have H1N1. It is important to note that sometimes people with H1N1 do not have a fever.[3] About 80% of cases of H1N1 involve fever.[4]
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    Keep an eye out for upper respiratory symptoms. If you are coughing, have a sore throat or a runny or stuffy nose, you may have H1N1. Chest discomfort can also be more severe with H1N1 than with seasonal flu.[5][6]
    • Sneezing is more common with seasonal flu than with H1N1.
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    Watch out for aches or fatigue. As with any flu, body aches and headaches are common, as is fatigue. The only real difference between the seasonal flu and H1N1 is the severity of the aches and fatigue. With H1N1, the aches and fatigue will typically be more severe than the regular seasonal flu.[7][8]
    • If on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst you've ever felt, you feel like you have pain levels from four to six, it is likely moderate pain. If it is above that range, it is likely severe.[9]
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    Expect chills. Chills are common with both the seasonal flu and H1N1. If you are experiencing chills along with other symptoms of H1N1, you may have H1N1. These are not readily distinguishable from the chills associated with seasonal flu.[10][11]
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    Be aware of gastrointestinal symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms are common with both the seasonal flu and H1N1. Such symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. If you have these symptoms, along with other symptoms, you may have H1N1.[12]

Part 2
Getting Tested

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    Get tested at the doctor. Only people who are hospitalized with H1N1, are pregnant, or have weakened immune systems should get tested for H1N1. Because the type of flu you have does not usually change its treatment, there is little need for the test. Additionally, around 99% of cases of the flu during the 2009 season (when H1N1 was at its height) were H1N1.[13][14]
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    Wait for results. Unfortunately, most rapid test results are unable to distinguish between H1N1 and the seasonal flu. For more accurate results, it is necessary to wait for the lab test that takes several days. However, unless you are hospitalized, you may be well before you get the results.[15]
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    Stay home while you’re sick. Unless you are pregnant, elderly, a young child, or have a weakened immune system, you should stay home when you’re sick. Going out can spread the disease to vulnerable individuals, who could be hospitalized or even die. H1N1 isn’t unique in this: the regular flu harms the same vulnerable populations.[16]

Part 3
Treating and Preventing the Flu

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    Get the vaccine. The more people who get the vaccine, the more immunity in the human population. So in other words, your vaccine helps prevent you and others from getting sick. It's best to get the vaccine early in the season if it is available, but even if you eventually get it toward the end of the season, it still helps.[17]
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    Wash your hands. Use warm water and antibacterial soap. This is especially important before you eat and after you sneeze or cough. Again your actions help keep you and others from getting sick.[18]
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    Drink plenty of fluids if you get the flu. It is important not to get dehydrated if you have the flu. It can lead to complications. You should stick to beverages that are easy on the stomach like water or herbal tea.[19][20]
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    Get plenty of rest. Make sure you take it easy while you are healing. You will need your strength to get better. Don't push yourself to work while you're sick with the flu. It will likely extend the period of time you're sick.[21][22]


  • Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. It can go a long way in preventing any sort of flu.
  • If you think you are sick, stay home unless you are elderly, a young child, pregnant, or have a weakened immune system, in which cases you should go to the doctor.
  • Get plenty of rest and fluids.


  • This information is not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Colds and Viruses