What to Do When You're Sick at Home with the Flu

You can lose large amounts of fluids because of the flu, so it's essential that you take in plenty of water as well as isotonic drinks to replenish the lost mineral salts
What to Do When You're Sick at Home with the Flu

Last update: 17 November, 2018

The flu, or influenza, is one of the most frequent sicknesses around. It attacks the respiratory system and, unlike the common cold, the flu might come with high fevers.

The virus spreads directly through saliva particles and nasal secretions, or indirectly through a contaminated object.

The symptoms can appear suddenly and can range in the extent of severity depending on the capacity of a person’s immune system.

This is precisely why when we are sick at home we should follow certain measures to treat the flu even though it runs its course naturally in a matter of days.

Causes of the flu

The flu virus travels by air through tiny droplets when infected people cough, talk or sneeze.

  • The chances of contracting the virus are high when, for whatever reason, there is close contact with these droplets.
  • People can also catch the virus  if they touch a contaminated object then later touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

The influenza virus constantly changes and new strands form regularly. The constant changing nature of the virus is why we can suffer a different version of the infection even after having been vaccinated.

Patients have a high risk of suffering from complications in the case of:

  • Chronic respiratory illnesses
  • Conditions that compromise the immune system
  • Pregnancy
  • Children or the eldery

Flu symptoms

Sick at Home
Contrasting with the cold, the clinical signs of the flu appear shortly after contacting the virus. Symptoms can start to appear within 1 to 7 days  which of exposure to the virus.

A high fever is one of flu’s main symptoms. In most cases, fevers range from 38.5ºC to 41 ºC.

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Congestion and nasal secretion
  • Sore throat

How to take care of yourself when you’re at home with the flu

Most of the time, flu cases are mild and don’t require medical intervention.

While you can opt to use painkillers and fever-reducing medication to treat symptoms, the base of the treatment consists in some at-home lifestyle habits.

Prevent contagion

Prevent contagion

First are foremost, you should aim to prevent the infection from spreading to other family members.

Though it might not be easy to see, the virus can move from one body to another in a matter of seconds.

  • If and when possible, try to keep the infected person isolated or ask them to use a mask.
  • The person should use tissues to absorb the nasal fluids and particles that could escape in coughs or sneezes.
  • Wash your hands several times a day, especially if you are in regular contact with the objects that others use.

Don’t use antibiotics

Watch out! Antibiotics aren’t meant for the flu as it doesn’t arise from a bacterial infection.

Taking this kind of medication might lead to a resistance to antibiotics, which can be dangerous for your health.

  • You can reduce some symptoms with over-the-counter drugs, such as a fever-reducer.
  • If you experience complications, your doctor will decide if antibiotics are necessary or not.
  • You can use certain remedies to relieve certain flu symptoms (you can find them in almost any pharmacy).

Drink plenty of liquids

Drink plenty of liquids

This sickness can cause a certain degree of dehydration because the body has to work harder to regulate temperature and to fight the virus.

Thus, in order to prevent dehydration, you should increase your intake of water, mineral salts and isotonic beverages.

  • Soups, fruit juices and herb teas are a great option.
  • You can use homemade saline solutions or buy them at a pharmacy.

Preparing remedies at home

Preparing remedies at home

The properties or certain home remedies can treat overall discomfort, congestion and other symptoms that derive from the flu.

They can be an alternative for conventional medications or, you can choose to use them as a compliment to your treatment.

Some effective options are:

  • Echinacea, elderflower or ginger tea
  • Honey and lemon
  • Onion and honey
  • Eucalyptus steam
  • Chest massages with decongestant essential oils

Are you facing flu symptoms? You might not be able to make them disappear instantly, but these tips will make it easier for you to get back on your feet.

  • Personal de la Clínica Mayo. Influenza (gripe). Síntomas y causas. (2018).
  • Personal de la Clínica Mayo. Influenza (gripe). Diagnóstico y tratamiento. (2018).
  • San Francisco Deparment of Public Health. Guía de Cuidados para la Gripe en el Hogar.