beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

To find a doctor, call 800-667-5356 or click below:

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

left banner
right banner
Smaller Larger

How to Take Care of Someone with the Flu

Help Someone with a Fever

Fever is a common symptom of the flu. Here are a few ways to help someone with a fever.

You should call a doctor if

  • A person of any age has a fever for more than 3 days;
  • A person under 3 months old has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher;
  • A person 3 to 5 months old has a fever of 102 degrees or higher;
  • A person over 5 years old has a fever of 104 degrees or higher.

Other ways to help 

sick person

  • Give fever-reducing medicines that are right for the person's age, after consulting a physician, including Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and Aspirin.
  • Keep the room comfortably cool.
  • Make sure they are wearing light-weight clothing.
  • Have them drink fluids, especially water.
  • Considering sponging them with lukewarm water if they have a high fever.

Prevent Dehydration

Dehydration can occur if you do not drink enough fluids, or if you have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting. To prevent dehydration, you can

  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit or vegetable juices, soups and broths; Gatorade for adults and Pedialyte for kids.
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol.
  • Keep drinks the sick person likes close to them so they can take small sips often.
  • Continue breastfeeding a child who is nursing.

Help Reduce Body Aches and Tiredness

Body aches are also a common symptom of the flu. To help reduce body aches, headaches and tiredness, you may want to

  • Give the sick person medicine. The same medicine you give them for a fever will also help with their other symptoms.
  • Help change their position in bed when they are awake.
  • Help them get out of bed to take a short walk around the room (only two or three times each day).
  • Make sure it is quiet and calm in the room so they can relax.

Help with Stuffy Nose, Sore Throat and Dry Cough

To help with a stuffy nose, sore throat and dry cough, you may want to

  • Use a clean, cool-mist humidifier or steam from a hot shower or bath. This helps keep the nose and throat moist.
  • Ask anyone who smokes not to smoke in the house.
  • Use breathing strips for people having trouble breathing through their nose. Be sure to follow package instructions.
  • Use a saline spray or saltwater rinse in the nose. Only do this for older children or adults.
  • Have the sick person sit up or keep their head raised to help reduce stuffiness. Crib mattresses and children's beds can be raised slightly.
  • Gargle with salt water several times a day to help reduce a sore throat or cough. To make salt water, mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Contact Information

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Main Switchboard: 617-667-7000
Find a Doctor: 800-667-5356
Directions by Phone: 617-667-3000
TDD (for hearing impaired): 800-439-0183

RELATED LINKS