Treating flu at home
Jan 17, 2013 | 433 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As under-the-weather Americans cough, sneeze and wheeze their way into the surprisingly early start of a new flu season — which some are already billing as an epidemic — we’ll repeat our appeal from Wednesday’s edition: Get a flu shot!

Although we believe it to be sound advice, the fact is for those whose flu-like symptoms have already relegated them to the bed or the living room couch, such warnings are now a moot point. But it’s not too late for others whose good fortune of good health has kept them on their feet, at work and at play.

The fewer who receive flu shots, the more the dreaded winter bug will spread.

Common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose or both, and on occasion vomiting and/or diarrhea, the latter two symptoms of which are most common in children.

And that brings us to today’s subject; that is, proper techniques for caring for a flu patient within the home. These tips are provided by the East Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross.

Following these suggestions might aid in stemming the spread of the illness within a household and subsequently into the community. They include:

- Designate one person in the household as the caregiver and have other family members avoid close contact with the patient.

- Make sure the person stays at home and rests until 24 hours after the fever is gone.

- Designate a sick room for the person if possible. If a household has more than one sick person, try to have them share one room and one bathroom, if doable. Each sick person should be given his own drinking glass, washcloth and towel.

- Keep these items within easy reach in the sick room: Tissues, trash can lined with plastic trash bag, alcohol-based hand rub, cooler or pitcher with ice and drinks, thermometer and a cup with straw or squeeze bottle. A humidifier will help the person breathe better, especially at night, and the sick should wear a face mask, if available, if they leave the room.

- Give patients plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.

- Treat fever and cough with medicines that can be purchased at the store.

- If the person’s condition worsens, the person is pregnant or has a medical condition (like asthma), see a doctor for an examination and possibly antiviral medicine.

- Avoid sharing pens, papers, clothes, towels, sheet, blankets, food or eating utensils unless properly cleaned between uses.

- Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other common surfaces.

- Dishes should be washed with extremely hot water and soap.

- For washing clothes, also use very hot water and detergent.

- Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.

Granted, some of the above suggestions might sound a little over the top, but some extra care might go a long way in preventing a flu bug’s spread within a home. And when the illness is stopped in its tracks there, it stands to reason fewer cases will make their way into the surrounding population.

Treating flu-like symptoms is not rocket science, and curtailing their spread is mostly common sense.

The reality is, people sometimes get sick regardless of their good-faith measures of prevention. And when it happens, the next two steps are the most important: Get well and don’t share your germs.