Caring for Someone with the Flu
How do I care for the sick person?
Make sure the sick person follows any instructions given by his or her doctor and takes all medicines as directed. You can make the sick person more comfortable by following treatment advice from Flu.gov.
Get medical care right away if the sick person has:
- Problems breathing or shortness of breath
- Purple or blue lips
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Vomiting that is severe or won’t stop
- Flu-like symptoms that get better but then return with fever and worse cough
How do I keep others and myself in the home from getting the flu?
- Keep the sick person in a room away from common areas of the house.
- If you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other.
- Clean the sick room and bathroom every day with household disinfectant.
- The sick person should not have visitors other than caregivers. An email, text message, or phone call is safer than a visit.
Take these additional steps to protect yourself and people in your home from getting the flu:
You and all healthy people in the house should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often. Do this after every contact with:
- the sick person
- the sick person’s room or bathroom
- items used or touched by the sick person.
- Remind the sick person to cover coughs and clean his or her hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid being face-to-face with the sick person. If possible, have only one adult in the home take care of the sick person. People who have a greater chance of severe illness from flu should not care for the sick person.
- Hold small children who are sick with their chin on your shoulder so that they will not cough in your face.
- Ask your doctor if well people in your home—especially those who are at greater chance of severe illness—should take antiviral medicines to keep from getting the flu.
- Keep windows open in shared areas of the house such as bathrooms, kitchen, living room, etc.
Follow good cleaning practices:
- Throw the sick person’s tissues and other used throwaway items in the trash.
Keep surfaces clean by wiping them down with an approved household disinfectant. Especially pay attention to:
- bedside tables
- surfaces in the bathroom
- children’s toys.
- Clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person thoroughly before reusing. You do not need to wash items separately.
- Wash linens like bed sheets and towels with laundry soap and tumble dry on a hot setting.
- To keep from infecting yourself, do not hold dirty laundry against your body before washing it.
This article is based on information available at Flu.gov (http://www.flu.gov/symptoms-treatment/caring-for-someone/index.html) accessed November 2012.
For more information:
Go to the Cold and Flu health topic.