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How To Care For a Family Member With Swine Flu

Nurse a loved one back to health from H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, with these instructions.


  • Step 1: Emphasize the need for them to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw it in the trash right away. Like other flus, H1N1 spreads when respiratory droplets propelled by coughs and sneezes end up in other people's mouths or noses. Have them wash their hands with soap and water often, and use hand sanitizer in between.
  • Step 2: Give them lots of clear fluids – like water, broth and sports drinks – so they don't get dehydrated. If the infected person is an infant, ask your doctor about giving them electrolyte beverages.
  • TIP: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after each contact with the infected person.
  • Step 3: Look for worsening symptoms, like difficulty breathing; chest pain; purple or blue lips; vomiting; inability to keep liquids down; signs of dehydration like dizziness when standing or lack of urination; seizures; or an infant who cries without shedding tears. If you observe any of these signs, get them emergency medical care right away.
  • FACT: The new swine flu lacks genes that made the 1918 pandemic strain so deadly.
  • Step 4: Make sure they get plenty of rest.
  • TIP: Wearing a disposable surgical face mask or N95 respirator around an infected person, and having them wear one, too, can reduce your chances of catching the flu.
  • Step 5: If you suspect a loved one has swine flu, have them tested. Do not give them antiviral medication without a doctor's orders. Follow the doctor's instructions regarding all over-the-counter and prescription medicine.
  • TIP: If the infected person is pregnant or has a health condition like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or emphysema, ask their doctor about any special care they might need.
  • Step 6: Keep them home for seven days from the start of the illness, longer if the fever is not gone.
  • Step 7: Keep your distance from them as much as possible; the Centers for Disease Control recommends six feet. Keep other family members away.
  • : Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have the flu. It can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye's syndrome.

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