What You Can Do for a Friend With the Flu

When a friend or family member gets sick with the flu, you may wonder what you can do to help them. If you have ever had it yourself, you know how miserable it is and may be even more inclined to help. But you also want to avoid getting sick yourself.

Take Her Some Chicken Soup

Believe it or not, that chicken soup your mom used to give you when you were sick actually helps. The steam of the hot soup can help keep sinuses open, the extra fluids keep you hydrated and some studies have even shown that the soup itself may help inhibit some cold and flu symptoms.

Offer to Pick Up Medications

Going to the pharmacy when you are sick is miserable. You don't want to leave the house, much less walk through a store and try to figure out which medications you need. Instead of telling your friend or family member to "let me know if you need anything"—because, honestly, few people will actually do that—ask if he needs any medicine and offer to go get it. If your friend doesn't know which medications might help, you can help him figure that out too.

Buy Some Groceries

If your sick friend has all the medication he needs, he may still benefit from a few bottles of Gatorade, some saltine crackers and a can of soup. You may throw a box of tissues and some saline spray in there too. Ask him what he needs or stop by the store and pick up some of these basics and drop them off. You don't have to stay to visit—chances are good your sick friend won't feel like visiting anyway, but taking the time to bring by some essentials is always appreciated.

Take Her to the Doctor

If your friend is sick with the flu and her symptoms just started, she may benefit from antiviral medications to help lessen her symptoms and shorten the duration of her illness. But when you get the flu, you feel like you've been hit by a truck, you certainly don't need to be driving one. So offer to get her to the doctor and help her get the care she needs.

Offer to Watch the Kids

If your sick friend or family member has young children, offering to watch the kids can be a lifesaver. It is extremely difficult to try to take care of your children when you are sick and nearly impossible when you have the flu. Even taking the kids for a few hours or staying with them at her house for a little while can be a huge help that will allow her to get some much needed rest.

Something to keep in mind if you do make the offer to help care for the kids, make sure you take precautions to protect yourself from the flu. Even if they aren't sick, they might come down with it in the next few days and can transmit the virus even before they have symptoms.

The best way to avoid getting sick is to get your flu vaccine. If you had your flu vaccine at least two weeks prior (it takes two weeks to be effective), it's far less likely that you will get sick.

Of course, good health habits like washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizer when you can't wash with soap and water will also go a long way toward keeping you healthy.

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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What You Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs. Reviewed April 22, 2019.