7 Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy When Someone Has the Flu
It starts off harmless enough. Someone comes home from school or work feeling a little worn down with a case of the sniffles. Next thing you know, it’s nearly bedtime and they have a full blown fever, chills and nausea – the flu.
Now what? How can you keep the rest of the family from catching the flu, especially kids?
The most important method of prevention is to frequently wash your hands. Here are a few more common-sense tips that will help keep the spreading of germs to a minimum.
- Keep the sick person’s personal items separate from everyone else's. Don’t share pens, eating utensils, phones, towels, etc. Move their toothbrush and towels away from everyone else's.
- Isolate the sick person in a separate room away from everyone else. Typically, this would be their bedroom, but if the bedroom is shared, a sofa in another room will do the trick.
- Assign one person to be the primary caregiver for the sick person. Try to delegate it to the family member who is least likely to get sick. Have the caregiver wear a mask when they are in close contact to the ill family member. Make sure the caregiver washes their hands every time they leave the room.
- Clean surfaces with a household disinfectant. This includes items such as doorknobs, phones and remote controls. Use a disinfectant that kills flu germs or try a solution of one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water. Flu germs can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours.
- Be diligent about every family member washing their hands frequently.
- Ask for flu medications for those who truly need them. Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu are recommended for those 3 months and older who are at high-risk for serious complications from the flu - such as those with a depressed immune system. Otherwise healthy people do not need antivirals, nor are they recommended as way of trying to prevent the spread of flu to others.
- Check to see if prescribed medications are a necessity. You can check with your primary care provider or virtually with a phone, video or e-visit. You can also hop online and reserve a time to see a provider face-to-face at Cone Health’s InstaCare location.
When someone in your family has flu symptoms, it is important to take every precaution to keep the rest of the family healthy. It is not easy being sick with the flu and still having to manage a household and care for children. By following common-sense practices and being diligent about staying germ-free, we can try to avoid passing around the flu.
About the Author
Erica Wallace, DO practices Family Medicine at LeBauer Healthcare at Horse Pen Creek