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Home > Clerc Center > H1N1 Flu > What to do if you have the flu

Someone in my household is sick. What should I do?

If you live in an area where people have been identified with new H1N1 flu and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to seek medical care. If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed.

If you or others in your household are sick, there are some things that can be done to reduce the risk of transmitting the flu to other people and help the sick person recover. One important thing to do is to limit the sick person's contact with other people as much as possible.

The sick person should:
  • Stay home for 7 days after the symptoms begin or until the person has been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer.
  • Cover his or her mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Used tissues should be put in the waste basket.
  • Clean his or her hands, and do so after every cough or sneeze.
Everyone in the household should:
  • Wash his or her hands often. Wash with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
  • Consider staying home. The Department of Health and Human Services also encourages that if a household member is sick, all children in the household should stay home from school and early childhood programs for 5 days from the time the first person in the household became sick. Parents should monitor themselves and their children for fever and other symptoms of the flu.
You should seek emergency medical care if the sick person experiences any of the following warning signs:

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Information on this page has been taken from the www.flu.gov website, an official U.S. government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.