Caring for someone with the flu

Published 01/02/2020

On no! You’re sick? Now what?

Sometimes, no matter how hard we work to prevent the flu, it catches up with us anyway. If you or someone you love is feeling sick, we’re sorry! But the good news is that for most people, the flu is a mild (if miserable) illness that doesn’t require any special prescriptions or trips to the doctor.

Our number one piece of advice is STAY HOME while you have a fever to try to stop the flu from spreading further. And here are some other important things to keep in mind as you’re recovering:

Stay comfortable

  • Keep the ill person as comfortable as possible. Rest is key!
  • Keep tissues and a trash bag within reach for their disposal.
  • Remember that fever is a sign that the body is fighting the infection. It’ll go away as the patient gets better.
  • Watch for complications. Complications are more common in people with health conditions like diabetes or heart and lung problems, but they may occur with anyone who has the flu. If you have any concerns at all or symptoms are worse, call your healthcare provider.

Use over-the-counter medication

  • Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen or whatever your healthcare provider recommends for fever, sore throat, and generally feeling lousy.
  • Don’t use aspirin in children or teenagers because it can cause Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening illness.

DRINK fluids! (and also eat as you’re able)

  • Drink small amounts of fluids frequently to stay hydrated, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you can’t handle solid foods (or are vomiting), include broths, soups, or sports drinks. Having to pee regularly is a good sign you’re well hydrated!
  • Don’t drink or eat anything for at least 1 hour after vomiting. After 6-8 hours of a liquid diet without vomiting, add simple solid food like saltine crackers, soup, mashed potatoes, or rice. Little by little, you can return to a regular diet.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or use tobacco.

For more details on how to care for yourself (or someone else) with the flu, there’s more great information here from King County Public Health.

Learn more

If you think you have the flu, you may be eligible to participate in the Seattle Flu Study: a city-wide effort to understand how the flu spreads and to develop innovative ways to fight it. Participation only takes a few minutes, and you can do it from home. Join us today!

Join the study

Source: Public Health – Seattle & King County

Help us track the flu in Seattle. We need you.