Showering When Sick With the Flu: Benefits and Precautions

Shower safely when sick with the flu by taking precautions like using proper ventilation, staying hydrated, and sanitizing surfaces to avoid worsening symptoms or spreading illness.

When you’re sick with the flu, taking a shower can be a soothing experience. But, it’s key to know the good and the bad of it.1 Stepping into a warm or steamy shower helps moisten nasal passages and unclogs mucus. This eases that stuffy feeling.1 It can also relax a sore throat and calms coughing. Yet, really hot showers might make you dizzy or more dehydrated. This is not good when you’re already feeling under the weather.1

To make sure showering helps instead of hurts while you’re recovering from the flu, there are a few steps to follow. Keeping the bathroom well-ventilated, drinking plenty of water, and cleaning surfaces can stop germ spread.1 Remember, taking showers should also be balanced with getting enough rest. Knowing what showering can do for you, good and bad, is essential. This way, you can use showers to feel better without overdoing it.

Key Takeaways

  • Warm, steamy showers can relieve flu symptoms like congestion and sore throat.
  • Hot showers may cause dizziness or dehydration in those who are already ill.
  • Proper ventilation, hydration, and sanitization are crucial when showering with the flu.
  • It’s important to balance showering needs with the body’s need for rest and recovery.
  • Consulting a doctor is advisable if flu symptoms worsen or you need to travel.

What is the Flu?

The flu is a very contagious illness caused by different influenza viruses.1 It brings a wide range of symptoms, from mild to very serious. In some cases, it can be deadly.1 The main way the flu spreads is when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.1

Causes and Symptoms

Flu symptoms often include fever, cough, and sore throat. You might also have a runny or stuffy nose.1 Other symptoms are muscle aches, headaches, and feeling very tired. Pneumonia and other serious diseases can happen, especially in people at higher risk.1

High-Risk Groups

Some groups are more likely to get very sick from the flu. This includes kids, older adults, and pregnant women. People with heart issues, diabetes, or a weak immune system are also at risk.1 They might need more care if they get the flu.1

Showering When Sick With the Flu

Benefits of Warm Showers

Showering helps people with the flu feel better. Warm showers make breathing easier.1 They reduce stuffiness in the nose.1 Wet heat soothes a sore throat and eases coughs.1 Warm water in the air comforts and relaxes.1

Precautions for Hot Showers

Very hot showers might make you dizzy if you’re already sick.2 They could also dry you out more.2 Instead of a cold shower or ice bath for a high fever, it’s better to use warm water to sponge off.2 Make sure the room is not steamy, drink plenty of fluids, and keep things clean to stop spreading germs when bathing with the flu.

showering when sick with flu

Preventing Dehydration

It’s vital to stay hydrated when fighting the flu. Fever, sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea are common symptoms. These can all cause a lot of fluid loss.3 Surprisingly, about 75% of Americans don’t drink enough water every day. This leaves them more vulnerable to getting sick.3 Men should aim for about 15 cups of water per day. For women, the goal is around 11 cups.

Staying Hydrated During Illness

Drink a lot of water and clear fluids like broths and herbal teas when sick. They help replace lost fluids and keep the body hydrated.3 But, be careful not to drink too much water. More than the recommended amount can cause harm.3 Stay away from alcohol during illness. Alcohol dehydrates you and might not go well with your medicine.3 When sick, water is the top choice to drink. It’s very good for helping you heal and stay hydrated.

3 A study at Texas A&M University showed that sugary sports drinks like Gatorade are not ideal for dehydration from illness. They lack enough sodium or potassium.1 Hot drinks can ease a stuffy nose and help avoid dehydration. Remember to check your urine and skin to make sure you’re drinking enough during flu recovery.

Creating a Sick Room

When someone has the flu, it’s smart to have a special “sick room.” This helps stop the flu from spreading in the house. The flu spreads easily and can make anyone sick, but it’s especially risky for older adults, young kids, and those with health issues.4

Supplies for the Sick Room

You should fill the sick room with important things. Include tissues, trash cans, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer. Having a humidifier and drinks is also a good idea. This stuff helps the sick person feel better and keeps others from getting sick.4

Sick Room Rules

To stop the flu from spreading, there are specific rules for the sick room. These rules say to not have lots of visitors. The sick person should always cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze. Only one person should take care of them. Also, the room should always be well-aired.45 Keeping the air moving is key. Fans in the bathroom can help by taking out damp air.5

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If a family uses a sick room and follows these rules, they can stop the flu from spreading at home.4

Sick Room EssentialsSick Room Rules
TissuesLimit visitors
Trash cansCover coughs and sneezes
Hand sanitizerDesignate a single caregiver
DrinksKeep the room well-ventilated
ThermometerMaintain cleanliness
HumidifierPrevent reinfection

Cleaning and Sanitizing

It’s very important to keep the sick room clean to stop flu from spreading.5 Germs can stay on surfaces we touch for a long time.5 By cleaning hard surfaces often, you can make the room safe and stop germs from going around.5

Cleaning Hard Surfaces

Every day, clean things like doorknobs, nightstands, and toilets with water and soap or a disinfectant.6 OxiClean™ Daily Disinfectant wipes out 99.9% of germs, even the one that causes COVID-19, if the surfaces are hard and not porous.65 Gadgets and apps that don’t need to be touched make it easier to keep your bathroom clean.5 Bathrooms with special materials can stop mold and bacteria from growing.5

Laundering Linens and Clothing

Wash all bedding, towels, and clothes from the sick person alone in hot water.5 Make sure to wash hand towels and bath towels every time they’re used to keep germs away.56 OxiClean™ Sanitizer gets rid of bacteria and viruses when you use it as you should.6

Disinfecting Dishes

Dirty dishes should be cleaned well by hand or in the dishwasher.6 OxiClean™ Disinfectant works great on hard surfaces against germs.65 Make sure there are plenty of bins for dirty laundry and trash.5 A bathroom fan and air purifiers keep the air cleaner, which stops germs from spreading.5

Caregiver Tips

When looking after someone with the flu, it’s vital for caregivers to safeguard themselves. They should avoid being close to the sick person. This means no direct contact and as little time near them as possible. Especially if a caregiver is pregnant or has a health issue, it’s wise to let someone else take over. This step is crucial to prevent any serious health problems from the flu4.

It’s smart for caregivers to keep their hands clean and consider using a face mask. These actions help lower the risk of getting sick. By doing these simple things, caregivers can stay well while taking care of their loved ones4.

Medication Safety

When dealing with the flu, watch out for over-the-counter meds. They advise against giving cough medicine to kids. It isn’t very good at stopping coughs.2 Remember, antibiotics don’t work for the flu virus. Only use them if a doctor says so.2

Fever Reducers

For fevers, reach for acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Keep the daily dose under 4,000 mg to protect your liver.2 Don’t mix different fever reducers. It could be risky. Always check the labels and stay safe.

Avoiding Medication Interactions

The flu poses bigger risks to some of us. This includes kids under 5, adults over 65, pregnant women, and those with certain health problems.4 A 2014 study found that in adults, some fever reducers might slow recovery and up infection spread chances.2 So, caution is key with over-the-counter flu fixes to steer clear of problems.

Managing Fever

Fevers often signal you have the flu and can be tough to handle. Trying to bring down a fever with a cold shower or ice bath doesn’t work. It can actually make your body temperature go up.

Sponge baths using lukewarm water work better. You can also use medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to lower a fever. But, make sure not to take too much. It’s key to watch your fever and drink plenty of water to cope with this flu symptom.

Using the right medicine to treat your fever is crucial. Taking aspirin might not be the best idea. A 2014 study found it could make the infection last longer and spread easier.2 Instead, go for acetaminophen. Just remember, don’t take more than 4,000 milligrams a day. Too much can hurt your liver. With good care and drinking lots of water, you can feel better and stop the flu from passing to others.

The CDC recommends not going back to work until you’ve been without a fever for a whole day. This rule should be followed without using fever medicines. It helps keep the flu from spreading at work.2 This way, your body gets the time it needs to fully recover, and you lower the risk of giving the flu to others.

Cough Remedies

The flu often leads to a persistent cough that’s hard to handle. Using over-the-counter cough medicines that include opioids or suppressants may not work well. It’s best to avoid them, especially for children.7 Instead, drink plenty of water, use a humidifier, and remember to cover your mouth when you cough. These steps can help lessen the cough.1 Also, try sucking on lozenges with menthol or honey for a little bit of relief.7

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There are other remedies that can help with flu-related coughing.7 Gargling with salt water can be done up to four times a day to soothe and reduce throat swelling.1 Also, using ointments with ingredients like camphor and eucalyptus at night may lessen your cough.7 Some people find that taking elderberry supplements can ease their flu symptoms.7

While regular cough medicines might not be the best choice, simple steps like drinking lots of water and using a humidifier can really help.1 Natural ways to suppress a cough are worth trying as well. These methods often bring relief from the bothersome flu cough.1

Cough RemedyPotential Benefits
Gargling with salt waterMay help moisten sore throat and reduce inflammation17
Menthol or honey lozengesCan provide temporary soothing relief for coughing7
Ointments with camphor, eucalyptus, mentholMay help reduce nighttime cough7
Elderberry supplementsMay help relieve upper respiratory tract infection and flu symptoms7

Following these steps can make it easier to deal with a flu-induced cough. This way, anyone battling the flu can start feeling better and focus on getting well.17

Treating Other Flu Symptoms

The flu brings more than just fever and cough. It also can cause muscle aches, headaches, and more. Over-the-counter meds might help a bit. But, resting, drinking lots of water, and letting your body’s defenses work are key.1

Warm liquids, like tea, can soothe a sore throat. Adding soups and broths helps loosen mucus.1 You can also find relief by gently using warm or cool compresses on painful muscles. Using a humidifier adds extra comfort too.

4 Signs of the flu are fever, cough, and more. Those at risk for complications include babies, older adults, and people with some health conditions. Pregnant women and those with asthma are also at higher risk.

Sore ThroatWarm liquids like tea, soups, and broths
Nasal CongestionSteamy showers, humidifier, saline nasal sprays
Muscle AchesWarm or cool compresses, over-the-counter pain relievers
HeadacheOver-the-counter pain relievers, hydration, rest

For cold and flu symptoms, lozenges with Echinacea or elderberry can help. So can steamy showers. Look for hot or cold packs at the drugstore for extra relief.1 Adjusting your pillows to help nasal passages drain is useful too.

4 If you feel sick, stay home until you haven’t had a fever for 24 hours. If you have trouble breathing or other serious symptoms, seek medical help.4 Those caring for someone sick should keep their distance, choose one main caregiver, and follow proper hygiene to stop the flu from spreading.

When to Seek Medical Care

Most people can get better from the flu by resting at home.4 But, it’s important to know when to see a doctor.4

Kids with the flu might breathe quickly, look blue, seem really thirsty, or be very upset.4 Adults should go to the hospital if they find it hard to breathe, can’t stop throwing up, or feel dizzy.4 People who could get really sick from the flu must see a doctor fast if they show any symptoms. This includes babies, older folks, moms-to-be, and anyone with serious health problems.4

Emergency Warning Signs

For most, the flu is something you manage at home. But, it’s vital to keep an eye out for dangerous symptoms.4

Kids showing rapid breaths, a blue tint, not wanting to drink, or having ongoing symptoms should be seen by a doctor right away.4 Adults should head to the hospital if they can’t breathe well, have chest pain, feel dizzy, are confused, throw up a lot, or their flu keeps coming back.4 Getting medical help as soon as you spot these signs can stop things from getting worse. It also makes sure you get the care you need.4

Preventing Flu Transmission

To stop the flu from spreading, people who are sick need to be careful. They should cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze8. It’s also important to wash hands often8 and wear a face mask outside of the sick room. Staying away from others in the house and not going out until you’re fever-free for 24 hours helps. Having just one person care for the sick and keeping their room clean and fresh is good too.

Hygiene Practices

If a sick person touches something, the flu or cold could spread easily. Germs from coughs or sneezes can reach others over 6 feet away8. Some of these viruses can stay alive on our skin or things we touch for up to 8 hours8. That’s why washing hands well is crucial after being near sick people or their stuff. To wash right, sing “Happy Birthday” twice. It should take about 20 seconds8.

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Limiting Contact with Others

A sick person should have their own room if possible. This keeps the virus from spreading8. If you share a house with them, only one bathroom should be used by the sick person8. Before you touch anything, make sure to clean things like doorknobs. Use soap, bleach, or other cleaning products to kill germs8.

Before the flu season, getting the flu shot is the best defense. Also, staying healthy with enough sleep, good food, lots of water, and being active helps prevent getting sick8.


Showering can help with flu symptoms, but it’s important to be careful. You should shower but also rest a lot and drink plenty of water. It’s key to clean surfaces to stop spreading germs.2

Use medicine and doctors’ advice to handle the flu and its symptoms. Keep your fever down and avoid close contact.2 This way, you’ll be more at ease as you get better.

Listen to experts like Dr. Whitley-Williams, Dr. Safdar, and the CDC. They know how to fight the flu.2 Focus on staying clean, hydrated, and rested for a quicker recovery and to keep others safe.


Can showering help when I’m sick with the flu?

Sure, showering when you have the flu can make you feel better. It helps with a blocked nose and makes you relax. But be careful not to make your symptoms worse or spread the flu.

What are the benefits of warm or steamy showers when I have the flu?

Hot showers help by adding moisture to your nose and throat. This can loosen mucus and make you breathe better. They also ease a scratchy throat and stop coughing.

Are there any risks with taking hot showers when I have the flu?

Taking a shower that’s too hot might not be good if you’re already feeling sick. It can make you dizzy or more dehydrated, so avoid scalding water.

What precautions should I take when showering while sick with the flu?

Keep the bathroom air fresh, drink plenty of fluids, and clean the bathroom well. Doing these things will help prevent spreading the flu to others.

How can I prevent dehydration when I have the flu?

To avoid dehydration, drink water and clear liquids like herbal tea or sports drinks. These fluids replace what you lose from being sick.

What should I do to create a “sick room” when caring for someone with the flu?

Set up a room just for the sick person. Provide what they need, limit visitors, ask them to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and keep the room well-aired.

How do I properly clean and disinfect when someone in my home has the flu?

Clean and wipe down surfaces daily. Wash the sick person’s things separately. Make sure to wash the dishes they used well.

What precautions should a caregiver take when attending to someone with the flu?

Caregivers should not get too close to the sick person’s face. Try to be near them for the shortest time necessary. Always clean your hands and wear a mask.

Are there any safety concerns with taking over-the-counter medications for flu symptoms?

Over-the-counter drugs can be risky if not used properly. Follow the directions and be careful not to take too much. Watch out for how they might mix with other medicines.

How should I manage a fever from the flu?

Be careful with cold showers for a fever; they might make it worse. Instead, use lukewarm water for a sponge bath and take fever-reducing medicine as directed.

What can I do to help relieve a persistent cough from the flu?

Cough medicines might not work well. Instead, drink lots of water, use a humidifier, and cover your cough to help stop coughing.

How can I manage other flu symptoms like aches, headaches, and sore throat?

Rest and drink plenty of fluids to feel better. Use warm packs and humidifiers to ease aches. Eating warm foods like soup and drinking tea can also help.

When should I seek medical care for the flu?

Get medical help right away if you see severe signs, or if a child does. And if you’re high risk, see a doctor quickly if you suspect you have the flu.

How can I prevent spreading the flu to others in my household?

To protect your family, cover your cough and wash your hands often. Also, stay home and away from others until you’ve been without a fever for a day.

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