Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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Take care of yourself and your family

Medical services may not be available during a pandemic so you may have to take care of yourself and family members. If you do get the flu, there are ways to relieve the symptoms and monitor your health at home.

  • Stay home to prevent the spread of flu to others.
  • Wash your hands properly and often. Use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds each time, or alcohol-based hand cleaners to reduce chance of spreading flu to others.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water, juice, milk and herbal teas; avoid caffeine because it makes you lose fluid from your body)
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Gargle with a glass of warm water and/or suck on sugarless hard candy or lozenges to relieve a sore throat.
  • Use a hot water bottle or heating pad. Apply heat for a few minutes at a time to reduce muscle pain but be careful not to burn your skin.
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor ahead of time about suggestions for over-the-counter medicine, especially if you have chronic health problems
  • Take basic pain/fever relievers. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are helpful. Do not give Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin) to children or teenagers as it may cause Reye’s syndrome.
  • Use saline drops, spray or decongestants for a stuffed nose.
  • Take cough medicine to help with dry cough.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  • Avoid sharing anything that may carry viruses (towels, cosmetics, cigarettes, drinks, toys)
  • Call someone to help you until you are feeling better especially important if you are alone, are a single parent or are responsible for the care of someone who is frail or disabled.

Adapted from: BC Health Files Pandemic Influenza Series – Number 94c May 2006, Self Care During an Influenza Pandemic

Don’t forget! Call your doctor if your symptoms get worse! Generally, people with seasonal flu feel better in about five to seven days but cough and tiredness can last up to two to three weeks. The recovery time for a pandemic flu is not yet known – it may or may not be longer.