I had a flu-like illness two weeks ago, but I didn't bother going to see my GP — I simply stayed at home until the symptoms subsided. Now, however, I'm wondering if it may have been swine flu. How can I find out, and what tests do doctors do to determine this?

A Up to a week or so ago, doctors would have swabbed the throats and noses of suspected swine flu patients — that would have identified the virus — but two to three weeks after the illness the virus will have disappeared so such swabs would be useless.

However, blood tests measuring your rising antibody levels to the virus would still confirm or rule out the infection. That said, please don't bother your doctor about this now. Instead, assume that any flu-like illness at this time of year is caused by the currently dominant virus (ie, swine flu). In case you're wondering, that's a reasonable reaction in the circumstances, particularly because, for most people, this is a mild illness. Antivirals are prescribed only to those for whom the infection may lead to serious complications.

QIs there any evidence that computer ‘mind gyms’ improve brain power?

AThe best evidence comes from trials in schizophrenia, in which drug treatments do help with delusions and hallucinations, but are less successful in correcting difficulties in learning and memory. The trial subjects agreed to use a brain training computer programme that started with the recognition and identification of rising and falling musical tones, then went on to more complex memory and learning tests. Their abilities to reason and remember improved considerably more than those of similar patients who just played computer games.

The Guardian

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