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Caring for Yourself When Someone Has the Flu

Timothy Joyce, RN, CNP , ACMC-Redwood Falls, Urgent Care

It's 3:00 a.m. and you hear padded feet as they make their way into your room and a little voice complaining of terrible muscle aches and pains. You feel her head; she's burning up. A quick temperature confirms your fears. It's 102.5. The dreaded influenza has struck your home.

Influenza can range from very mild to more severe cases. Symptoms can range from fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy noses, body aches, headaches, chill, fatigue and respiratory problems.

So what should you do to help care for everyone in the house, while staying healthy yourself? After all, who's going to take care of everyone if you get sick? Here are my tried and true tips for staying as healthy as possible while caring for those sickos, I mean loved ones, in your life.

  1. Avoid face-to-face contact if possible and, if you can, spend as little time as you can in contact with the sick person, which can be hard to do when you're dealing with a sick little one.
  2. Try to keep the sick person in a separate room from others in the house if at all possible.
  3. Keep all "sick supplies" in the "sick room" in so you aren't carting germs in and out.
  4. If you're holding your sick child, try to keep their face out of yours by placing their chin on your shoulder.
  5. Wash your hands often with soap and water particularly after contact with the sick ones in your house. Don't forget to sing happy birthday twice while you wash your hands! It's an easy way to make sure you wash your hands long enough to get rid of as many germs as you can.
  6. Try not to touch your eyes, mouth or nose. Germs are spread quickly this way.
  7. Don't share personal items like blankets, bedding or towels with the sick person.
  8. Clean and disinfect hard surfaces and objects that may have germs. Think bathroom surfaces, door handles, light switches kitchen counters, toys, remote controls, etc.
  9. Make sure you stay hydrated, eat healthy and get enough sleep!

And if someone gets the stomach flu in your household, the same tips apply to staying healthy, too!

Don't let influenza get you this year. If you haven't already received your flu vaccination, it's not too late. Make an appointment with your nearest ACMC clinic to get vaccinated today.