If everyone around you is falling ill, you're already spending your days dodging germs. But what if someone in the house has the flu? How do you stay as healthy as possible if you're caring for a spouse or child who's sick? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent the spread of germs and keep yourself healthy.
Know How the Flu Is Transmitted
The flu is a very contagious virus. An infected person often becomes contagious, or capable of spreading the virus to other people, even before they begin to show symptoms. Also, it's possible to spread flu germs to others for up to seven days after becoming ill.
It's thought that the flu virus spreads in the saliva droplets that result from coughing and sneezing. These droplets can travel as far as six feet, where they land in the nose or mouth, or are inhaled into the lungs of healthy individuals. The flu virus can also live on some objects or surfaces. If you touch a surface contaminated with the flu virus and then touch your own nose or mouth, you could become infected.
Learn Strategies for Staying Healthy
One of the best ways to avoid becoming sick with the flu is by staying away from people who are ill. But if someone in the house has the flu, it's not possible to avoid all contact with them. To stay healthy, follow these simple tips for preventing the spread of the flu virus:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after an interaction with the sick person. Use soap and water; if these are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub to cleanse your hands.
- Disinfect surfaces or objects that may harbor the flu virus. Use paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels you can launder easily.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes because the virus can enter your body in these locations.
- Keep your personal items separate from those of the person who's sick. This includes clothing, eating utensils, and toothbrushes.
- Wash your towels and clothing with hot water. Hot water helps kill the flu virus.
- Wear disposable gloves if you're cleaning up body fluids or contaminated items, such as tissues. Also, wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you're finished with chores like this.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough by tucking your face into your elbow or sleeve. Try to avoid sneezing or coughing into your hands.
Watch for the Symptoms
Even if you try your best to stay healthy when someone in the house has the flu, there's still a chance that you'll become infected. The flu causes symptoms that range from mild to severe, and if you live with certain medical conditions such as heart disease, getting the flu can increase your risk of complications.
Most people recover from the flu within a couple of weeks. It's important to recognize early signs of the flu so you can take steps to getting healthy as soon as possible. If you feel yourself becoming sick, look for these symptoms:
- Fever. However, not everyone who has the flu develops a fever.
- Sore throat.
- Runny nose.
- Muscle and body aches.
- Vomiting or diarrhea
It's not impossible to stay healthy if someone in the house has the flu, but it can be difficult. Taking steps to protect your own health while caring for a sick loved one can make the difference in whether you get sick. Remember these tips as you navigate flu season!