Beating the flu
The flu is a contagious respiratory infection that can spread easily on a college campus. Close living quarters, auditoriums crowded with students, shared dining halls and study spaces, including the library and classrooms, are just a few of the places a virus can thrive.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of the population is infected with the flu yearly. Of the people infected, more than 200,000 require hospitalization.
The flu season typically begins around October and runs through May. However, the peak for flu season is typically around January or February — so be sure to take precautionary measures to prevent getting sick.
The flu can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks near an uninfected person. If infectious droplets are inhaled, a person can become sick. A person can also contract the flu by simply touching a surface with flu germs and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Health and human performance senior Herbert Griffin described being afflicted with the flu earlier in the school year.
“When I was sick, I was miserable,” Griffin said. “Being sick doesn’t only affect your body — it also affects your school, work and social life.”
Indeed, coming down with the flu can take its toll on many aspects of a student’s life. Political science freshman Javier Perea shared his thoughts about the recommended flu vaccine.
“In the past, I haven’t gotten the vaccine, because I never really thought I’d need it,” Perea said. “I haven’t had the flu this year, but my roommate just did, so I am a little bit concerned.”
Vaccines may be painful, and preventative measures may be a drag, but no one wants to have the flu. Nevertheless, practicing healthy habits and being mindful to avoid germs may not guarantee that you will be flu-free this season. Review the following tips to ensure that you are ready for whatever comes your way.
Prevention is easy
It is important to know what steps to take before being struck with a mentally and physically draining virus so that it can be avoided altogether. The No. 1 way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated for it and practice healthy habits.
- Keep your distance from infected individuals
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean hard surfaces that may be contaminated with germs
- If your doctor prescribes them, take antiviral flu medications
Know the symptoms
Infected people may have all or only some of the following symptoms:
- Fever (not everyone with the flu will have fever) or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
If you do get sick, know what to do
- Stay home and avoid contact with others, except for a doctor — though most people can recover from the flu without seeking medical attention.
- After fever subsides, allow 24 hours before leaving home.
- Take prescribed antiviral medications if necessary and as instructed.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Wash hands thoroughly.
- Be sure to get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids — such as water, broth, sports drinks or electrolyte beverages — to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda
- Place cool, damp washcloths on arms, legs and forehead to reduce fever-related discomfort. For chills, cover with a warm blanket.
- To ease a dry cough, try using a humidifier to increase the water vapor in a room.
- To soothe a sore throat, gargle a one-to-one solution of salt and warm water and spit out.
- Fever and body aches can be relieved with the use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin or Aleve.