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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.

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