Have a Loved One Who's Fighting the Flu? Here's What to Do
Nobody wants to get sick with the flu! Do you know how to protect yourself and your loved ones? Kimberly Harris, MSN, FNP-C, shares tips for what to do if you catch the flu and how to protect yourself in the first place.
How do I know if I have the flu versus just a common cold?
If you’re experiencing common cold and flu symptoms but you’re not sure which illness you have, ask yourself how quickly your symptoms appeared. Did you start developing symptoms gradually, or did you start to feel sick very suddenly? If your symptoms appeared quickly, you most likely have the flu instead of a cold.
Symptoms of the flu typically include:
- Sore throat.
- Stuffy nose.
- Body aches.
How can I prevent the flu and protect my family members and loved ones?
The most effective way to prevent the flu is by getting your flu shot. The flu shot protects you and those around you. Additionally, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones by:
- Washing your hands.
- Using hand sanitizer if you need to clean your hands and there isn’t water and soap nearby.
- Wiping down surfaces, especially if you have a sick person in your household. If someone who is sick with the flu is coughing, sneezing and setting aside used tissues in your home, flu germs can easily settle on shared household surfaces and be transmitted to others. Cleaning household surfaces regularly helps prevent germs from spreading.
Who is at higher risk of health complications caused by the flu?
The average fit and healthy person can usually overcome the flu in about 1 week, but some people are at higher risk of experiencing serious health complications from the flu. Those at higher risk include:
- Children under 2 years of age.
- Pregnant women.
- Adults 65 years of age and older.
- Anyone who suffers from a serious medical condition.
It is important to help protect our loved ones who meet any of these criteria from flu germs.
What are the signs that I should seek help from a health care provider?
Seek help immediately from a health care provider if you have the flu and you experience:
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest tightness.
- A fever of 104 degrees that does not lower after taking ibuprofen (also known as Advil) or acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol).