Influenza Care For Adults

How to care for adults with influenza

General self-care tips

    drawing of woman resting in bed
  • Drink extra fluids.
  • Gargle with warm salt water. Mix together:
    • One teaspoon (5 ml) of salt,
    • One teaspoon (5 ml) of baking soda,
    • Two cups (500 ml) of water. Mix well.
  • Use throat lozenges.
  • Use saline nose drops or sprays.
  • Use a clean humidifier with the following conditions:
    • Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for the use and proper care of your humidifier to reduce growth or spread of mold and bacteria that can grow in the water tank.
  • Don’t smoke. Avoid second hand smoke.
  • Talk to others about concerns and ask for help if needed. Keeping in touch by phone or email can help with feelings of loneliness when sick.
  • Eat healthy foods. Find out more at HealthyU.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.

Note: If the above suggestions do not work, review the guidelines for over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications.

Over-the-counter medications

Before using a product you should know:

  1. How to use it (e.g., how much to use and how often);
  2. How long to use it;
  3. The possible side effects; and
  4. When to seek medical attention.

Note: Over-the-counter medications treat symptoms only, and are not a cure for the illness. Call Health Link Alberta or speak with your health care provider if you have questions.

Prescription medications

Antiviral medication:

  • Can decrease the length and severity of the illness;
  • Must be started within 48 hours after the first symptoms appear in order to work;
  • May be prescribed by physicians for treating influenza in people with severe illness or as prevention for those at risk of developing severe illness from influenza infection.

Antibiotic medication:

  • Is not usually prescribed for influenza but your doctor may prescribe these medications for complications such as pneumonia.

When to seek medical care for adults

Seek medical care if you or people in your care:

  • Have heart or lung disease;
  • Have any other chronic condition that requires regular medical attention;
  • Have a weakened immune system;
  • Are pregnant;
  • Are frail;
  • Are obese.

Seek emergency medical care if you, or someone in your care, have any of the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath while resting or doing very little;
  • Difficult or painful breathing;
  • Coughing up bloody sputum (spit);
  • Increased wheezing;
  • Chest pain;
  • Fever for three or four days without improvement;
  • Feeling better then suddenly having a high fever or becoming ill again;
  • Extreme drowsiness and difficulty awakening;
  • Disorientation or confusion;
  • Severe earache;
  • Sudden inability to function in a normally independent, elderly person;
  • Constant vomiting or diarrhea, especially in an elderly person or young child.