Taking care of people with the flu

October 12, 2009


Greater Ozarks Chapter Offers Tips for Caring for Someone with the Flu



Springfield, MO – With the H1N1 (swine flu) virus spreading and seasonal flu season approaching, the American Red Cross is offering important tips for people who are sick or are taking care of someone with the flu.


“It’s important to know what to do to protect yourself and others when you are taking care of someone who has the flu,” said Sharon Stanley, chief nurse and director, Red Cross Disaster Health and Mental Health Services.


The Red Cross recommends the following when caring for someone who has the flu:

·        Disinfect door knobs, switches, handles, toys and other commonly handled surfaces.

·        Use detergent and very hot water to do dishes and wash clothes; wash hands thoroughly after handling dirty laundry.

·        Designate only one adult as the caregiver and ensure this person is not at increased risk of severe illness from either flu.

·        Give the best support to the person being cared for by dealing with crisis situations calmly and confidently.


“While they are taking care of people who are sick, caregivers should also remember to take care of themselves and their own needs,” said Joann Moore, Public Information Officer for the Greater Ozarks Chapter.  “Practice healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep and rest.”


Caring for an ill loved one can be stressful.  Common symptoms of stress include sleep disturbances, headaches, muscle tension or aches, a change in appetite, skin problems, anxiety, depression, frustration and overreaction to circumstances.  When someone is dealing with a great deal of stress, trusted persons should provide an open communication channel in which that individual can express feelings or ask for help.


The following steps are recommended for those who become ill:

·        Stay in a room separate from common areas of the home and avoid contact with others as much as possible.

·        Stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without having to use fever-reducing medicine.

·        Get a lot of rest and drink plenty of fluids. 

·        Consider wearing a facemask when sharing common spaces with household members.

·        Contact a healthcare provider about whether to take antiviral medication, or if fever persists, whether antibiotics are needed.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who have become ill with the H1N1 virus are moderately ill, similar to the illness that occurs during the regular flu season.  H1N1 is affecting many young adults and children. The majority of people sick with H1N1 do not need testing or professional attention.  However if someone is severely ill and is pregnant, has trouble breathing or has an underlying condition like heart disease, lung disease (such as asthma) or diabetes, it is important to seek prompt medical treatment within the first 48 hours since symptoms develop.   


Flu viruses spread from person-to-person in water droplets of coughs or sneezes.  Flu viruses can also spread if a person touches droplets on another person or object and then touches his or her own mouth or nose before hand washing.  To prevent the spread of the flu, it is important to remember to properly wash hands and always cover coughs or sneezes.


The Red Cross offers the award-winning Family Care Giving quick reference guide with a companion DVD for purchase on www.RedCrossStore.org. In addition, the Red Cross provides a checklist with information for taking care of people who are sick available on www.redcross.org. For more information on the flu, visit www.redcross.org, www.flu.gov, or contact your local Red Cross chapter.           


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.





Joann Moore

Public Information Officer

Financial Development Assistant

American Red Cross

Greater Ozarks Chapter

1545 N. West Bypass

Springfield, MO.  65803

417-832-9500  EXT. 107

Fax 417-866-3649

Toll Free: 1-866-206-0256 EXT. 107



  October is Fire Prevention Month-The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working  smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives!

Click on the link www.redcross.org/BeRedCrossReady for more information! 



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