Home Care for Influenza

Home Care for Influenza (flu)

Influenza Home Care flyer

Influenza is spread when a person infected with an influenza virus speaks, coughs, and/or sneezes and sends the flu virus into the air. The virus can enter the nose, throat, and lungs of another person and begins to multiply.

People can also become infected by touching a contaminated surface (e.g., doorknobs, steering wheel, counter tops, etc.), then touching their nose or mouth.

The flu comes on suddenly and causes symptoms like fever, cough, body aches, headache, and fatigue. These symptoms usually last for 3 to 4 days, after which you may have a dry cough, runny nose, and sore or scratchy throat for another week or so. In most healthy people, influenza goes away in 7 to 10 days. People with influenza are infectious and can give the flu virus to others one day before, and up to seven days after, symptoms develop.

Healthy habits can prevent the spread of flu illness in yourself and others

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
  • Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy for times when soap and water are not available.
  • Wash your hands after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, or a contaminated surface.

Cover your cough and sneeze

  • Use a tissue and throw it away and then wash your hands, or if you do not have a tissue use your upper sleeve.
  • Isolate sick individuals who are coughing and sneezing. If close contacts (i.e. family, friends, etc.) are ill, keep them at least three feet away (about one arms length) from others. Use a surgical mask on sick individuals, if they are in a common living area. Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids. After disposing of masks or gloves, immediately wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

What to do if you or a household member is sick

During a pandemic influenza outbreak, you may be asked to assist public health officials in reducing the spread of disease in our community. If you are asked by public health officials or your healthcare provider to stay home while you or someone you are residing with is ill please take the following precautions to prevent the spread of disease to others in your household:

  1. Make one person the caregiver (he or she may benefit from wearing a mask.
  2. Follow precautionary measures and avoid hand-to-face contact with body fluids to reduce the chance of making the caregiver sick.
  3. Stay home for two weeks after symptoms develop, even if you feel better. Do not have visitors and only leave your home if you have a doctor’s appointment. For the safety of others, use a mask when going out in public, even when visiting the doctor’s office.

Home treatment for influenza

Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids (i.e. water, soups, juices or sports drinks). Avoid drinking coffee, alcohol, and other beverages that may dehydrate you.

You can use over-the counter medication to relieve flu symptoms. In some cases, a doctor or other health care professional may prescribe anti-viral drugs to help treat the flu. Antibiotics DO NOT cure the flu. However, your healthcare provider may prescribe them to treat secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia.

Monitor flu symptoms

You can keep a flu home care log. Write down the date, time, temperature, other flu symptoms, medication given, and dosage. Make a new entry every 4 hours or when symptoms change.

Prevent dehydration by giving adequate amounts of liquids at the first sign of flu. Have plenty of ice, water, and light easily digestible foods (such as soups or broth) available. You can reduce a high temperature with fever-reducing medication and/or relieve discomfort by giving a sponge bath with lukewarm water.

When to call your doctor or a health care provider

Call your doctor or a health care provider if your family member has:

  • A fever greater than 103°
  • Chills
  • Coughing that produces thick mucus
  • Excessive thrist or other signs of dehydration (feeling of dry mouth)
  • An existing medical condition that has been made worse by the flu
  • Irritability and/or confusion
  • Stiff neck

Your doctor or other health care professional can tell you how to treat most symptoms over the phone.

Call 911 for any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain with each breath
  • Bluish skin
  • Inability to move an arm or leg
  • First-time seizure

To protect yourself and others in your home:

Keep everyone’s personal items (e.g., clothing, personal hygiene items, bedding, etc.) separated. In addition, household members should avoid sharing computers, pens, paper, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food, and eating utensils.

Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, toys, and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home.

Additional Resources


Contact information for Pandemic Flu

upcoming events

Dec 158:30am

The next Regular Board of Health meeting will be held on Friday, December 15, 2023 at 8:30am at 707 N. Armstrong Pl, Boise The Board Meeting schedule is posted inside CDH Headquarters and on the Board Meetings page, HERE. View past meetings via YouTube.

May 16 10:00am - 2:00pm

Make your health a priority and attend a free health screening event! Screenings consist of a single finger poke to run a full lipid panel (Total Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides, and Blood Glucose) and an A1C test. Screenings take approximately 20 minutes and participants will leave with a copy of their results. Know your numbers – Get Screened! No appointment necessary, at the Mountain Home Library.