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How to care for someone with the flu

Coming down with a cold or flu is never pleasant, but having someone to care for you during this time can help to alleviate some of the discomfort that comes with cold or flu symptoms.

If you’re in a position where you’re caring for someone with the flu, there are a number of measures you can take to bring your loved one some comfort - as well as protecting both yourself and others against infection.

Bring them lots of fluids

Preventing dehydration is important when caring for someone with the cold or flu. Symptoms cause our bodies to lose water, so making sure that they consume lots of liquid can help to stay hydrated. Water, diluted fruit juice, coconut water or electrolyte drinks are all excellent choices.

Warm liquids can be particularly comforting for someone who’s under the weather - things like warm honey lemon drink, tea, broths or soups.

Keep them isolated

People are often most contagious during the first few days, so it’s best to stay home at the first sign of cold or flu to prevent infection. If you need to take carer’s leave, your local Capital Chemist may be able to issue with a workplace leave certificate.

It may also help to move the person to a more isolated room so that they are less likely to infect other people in the household. If possible, try to get them to use a separate bathroom to other people until they have recovered.

Create a comfortable environment

Blankets, pillows and a hot water bottle on the couch or bed can help provide some comfort. If the person is congested, you may wish to use pillows to elevate the person’s head and shoulders. This can help to prevent mucus from building up in the sinuses. Popping on an entertaining movie or TV show can help to distract from the discomfort associated with their symptoms.

A humidifier can help to put moisture back in the air, which can assist with breathing. It can also be helpful to run the person a hot shower, especially in the mornings when people tend to feel stuffy through their sinuses.

Monitor their symptoms

Most people will recover from the cold or flu in a matter of days although sometimes it can last up to two weeks. It’s important to be mindful that complications can develop which may be serious or even life-threatening. If the person that you’re caring for has any unusual or particularly severe symptoms like difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, trouble walking, severe pain the chest or muscles, persistent dizziness, or seizures, seek medical attention.

Stock your medicine cabinet

Having a few treatments on hand to alleviate symptoms can go a long way to making a person feel better. Saline drops or spray can help to relieve congestion, pain relief medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help to treat a sore throat or severe headache, and lozenges can help to soothe the throat and clear the sinuses.

Visit your local Capital Chemist where your pharmacist can help you select the right treatments.

Practice good hygiene

One of the most difficult parts of caring for someone who’s ill is making sure that you don’t get sick too. Remember to regularly wash your hands, clean and disinfect surfaces, wash bed linen, and have tissues on hand to prevent the spread of bodily fluids.

If possible, try to keep your distance from the person - however, this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re caring for a sick child. When cuddling your child, try to position them with their chin resting on your shoulder, so that their cough is aimed away from your face.

Get a flu vaccination

The flu vaccination takes around two weeks to be effective, but caring for someone with the cold or flu is a good reminder to get your flu vaccination if you haven’t already done so. The vaccination is a quick and easy step that you can take to help protect you and your family against infection in the future.

You may also be interested in the following:

To work or not to work?
Common sense for the common cold. Tips to stay healthy during winter
Flu vaccinations for the 2020 season

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Acknowledgement of Country

Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.