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Caring for Someone Sick at Home

Photo: Boy taking temperature.Will you know what to do if someone in your home gets the flu?

This flu season, many people may get sick with 2009 H1N1 flu, as well as with seasonal flu.

  • The first cases of 2009 H1N1 flu were reported in the spring of 2009. Since the virus is new, most people are not immune to it. That means many more people may become sick than usual this flu season.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • A fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)

Photo: A woman taking medication.How long should people with the flu stay at home?

People with flu-like illness should stay at home except to get medical care or other necessities:

  • Until at least 24 hours after they are free of a fever without having taken any medicines that lower fever.

5 steps to take if you get 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu

  1. Stay at home and rest.
  2. Avoid close contact with well people in your house so you won’t make them sick.
  3. Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration).
  4. Treat fever and cough with medicines you can buy at the store.
  5. If you get very sick or are pregnant or have a medical condition that puts you at higher risk of flu complications (like asthma…), call your doctor. You might need antiviral medicine to treat flu.

Photo: A girl in bed.When caring for people who have the flu:

  • Try to give the sick person their own room. If there is more than one sick person, they can share the sick room if needed.
  • If you have more than one bathroom, have sick people use one bathroom and well people use the other one.
  • Give each sick person their own drinking glass, washcloth, and towel.
  • Avoid being face to face with the sick person. If possible, it is best to spend the least amount of time in close contact with a sick person.
  • When holding sick children, place their chin on your shoulder so they will not cough in your face.
  • Wash your hands often and the right way. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song two times or count slowly to 20 as you wash.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Make sure to wash your hands after touching the sick person. Wash after handling their tissues or laundry.
  • Give plenty of liquids at the first sign of flu. Sick people with the flu need to drink extra fluids to keep from getting dehydrated. Mild fluid loss can most often be treated at home. Yet, severe dehydration is VERY serious and must be treated in the hospital.
 

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  • Page last reviewed: December 28, 2009
  • Page last updated: December 28, 2009
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO