You may find yourself having to take care of someone who has been diagnosed with the H1N1 (Swine) flu. This influenza virus is a new strain so we have built up very little, if any, immunity towards it. Not only are the elderly, very young and those with compromised immune systems at a higher than normal risk of contracting this new strain of influenza, we all are. There are steps that can be taken to ensure recovery is as comfortable and safe as possible.
Things You Will Need
Pain/Fever relief medication
Seek medical attention as soon as H1N1 (Swine) flu is suspected. A doctor will take the cultures necessary to determine if the illness is influenza and if it is the H1N1 strain. The doctor will prescribe the appropriate antiviral medications along with medications to treat pain, fever and respiratory issues. Antiviral medications may lessen the length of time the individual is ill and may prevent complications due to the H1N1 influenza virus. Take all medications and follow treatment plan as prescribed.
Follow doctor's advice on treating the fever and pain associated with the influenza virus. Make the individual as comfortable as possible in a location where you can readily observe them. Provide them with pillows, sheets and blankets. Do not over bundle the individual with a fever as this will force the body to retain heat and exacerbate the fever. Cool, damp cloths will help but do not use ice baths or rubbing alcohol. The alcohol closes the skin's pores and prevents heat loss. Warm fluids such as tea or broth will help fight chills. If the fever can't be controlled or the individual suffers any type of seizure, seek immediate medical attention.
Provide the individual with disposable tissue and a trash receptacle. Avoid touching the used tissues or having them put on any surfaces. They should be immediately disposed of. If the individual's nose starts to become irritated from repeat use of tissues, you can smear a small amount of Vaseline on affected areas. Do not put Vaseline in the nasal cavity.
Having a sore throat is a symptom of the Swine flu, so provide the individual with methods of relief. Warm tea with honey or gargling with salt water are common remedies. Do not use any medications for relief unless the doctor has approved them.
Nausea and diarrhea are also symptoms of the Swine flu. Have the individual roll onto their left side to help fight vomiting. Because the stomach curves to the left, gravity will help the stomach contents from emptying. Have a trash can nearby in case vomiting does occur. It is vital that the individual not become dehydrated so they must take in fluids and try to eat some bland foods despite nausea and diarrhea. Encourage them to sip fluids and eat small amounts at a time.
Use proper precautions to lessen exposure to the virus for yourself and others in the home. Wash hands, wrists and at least 2 inches of the forearms often and after touching anything the individual infected with the influenza virus has come in contact with. Use warm water and soap and scrub for at least 30 seconds. Don't forget to scrub under fingernails, nail beds and between fingers. Rinse with fingers pointed down and turn off the faucets with a disposable tissue or paper towel. Resist touching your eyes, nose, mouth and facial areas.
Disinfect any surfaces the patient may have contaminated with the influenza virus. The virus can live outside of the body for up to 2 hours. Don't use spray disinfectants as these can make breathing even more difficult for the individual suffering from the flu.
Use a humidifier to help the individual breathe easier. Propping the person up on a few pillows will also help. It is extremely important to monitor the individual's respiration. Difficulty with breathing, suddenly pale lips or blue/purple tinged lips signal respiratory distress and immediate medical attention must be sought to prevent respiratory arrest. The patient must also be monitored for signs of pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia include a spike in temperature and pain upon taking deep breaths. If you observe any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
If you begin to exhibit symptoms of the H1N1 influenza yourself, seek medical attention. Arrange for a family member or friend that is willing to come in and help you to do so.