What to do when you have the Flu

Student Life

Vaccinations are key for killing germsYou’re on your way to your next class. On the way you open a few doors and perhaps take the stairs, gliding your hand along the rail on the way. You stop to chat with a friend for a moment about your visit home over winter break and cough in mid-sentence. Of course, you cover your mouth. But you don’t stop at the bathroom to wash your hands before entering the classroom.

This is how they spread. Flu and cold virus’s that is.

Assistant professor of Nursing Rhea Williams says that the flu is a droplet transmission. So, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing is only one step toward prevention. The virus can be spread by droplets any number of ways.

“If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth, and then wash your hands,” Williams said. “Realize how many other people touch the objects that you touch.”

Another option for protecting others is to cough or sneeze into your arm or the crook of your elbow, according to the St. Joseph-Buchanan County Health Department Web site.

“Above all, do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth,” the same Web site warns.

Williams, who is a nurse practitioner, also said students should not share drinks or utensils and should not leave tissues lying around.

“Be considerate of others around you,” she said. While kissing is usually a considerate act, it should be avoided if you suspect you are getting ill.

Williams said that college students and professors probably should receive a flu vaccination yearly.

“It’s a good idea because students go home and could be exposed,” she said. “One person can pick up the virus and bring it into the classroom. So, everyone who is not vaccinated can be exposed.”

However, it is probably too late to receive a vaccination for this flu season.

Public Information Officer Nancy Taylor of St. Joseph-Buchanan County Health Department said that most places, including the health department, are out of vaccinations by now.

“The middle of October to the beginning of November is when most flu clinics are held,” she said.

Because many people on campus may not be vaccinated, preventing spread of the virus is more crucial. Williams said that although it may not be a popular sentiment on a college campus, anyone who is sick should stay out of the classroom to protect those who are vulnerable to infection.

The tricky part for most students is knowing whether their symptoms indicate the flu or something else.

“Usually the true flu does not involve stomach problems,” Williams said. “The symptoms of the flu include a fever, chills, cough and a sever sore throat.”

Tammy McGuire, who is a nurse practitioner at Esry Student Health Center, said that if symptoms are not better within 72 hours, it is time to see a professional.

“Unless there is severe vomiting or diarrhea,” McGuire added. In that case, she said that 24 hours of clear liquids may clear up the symptoms, but if not, a student could be in jeopardy of dehydration and should see a health care provider.

In addition, Williams said that anyone who has a fever that doesn’t break with over-thecounter medications should see a doctor.

“Of course, anyone who has seizures or behavioral changes with a fever, such as not being able to stay awake or not thinking clearly should immediately see their doctor or go the emergency room,” Williams said.

Since the flu and colds are viral infections, the illness may have to run its course.

“The big thing now is to avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary,” McGuire said.

If you do become ill, over-the-counter medications that treat specific symptoms may help you feel more comfortable while you’re on the mend, Williams said. And both McGuire and
Williams agreed that the most important steps toward feeling better are drinking plenty of fluids and rest.

Unfortunately, the latter is something professors and students cannot afford during the semester. Cliché or not, prevention is still the best cure.

Symptoms,   complications and   cures for the flu
fever   bacterial pneumonia   rest
chills   ear infections   drink plenty of liquids
cough   sinus infections   avoid alcohol use
severe sore throat   dehydration   avoid tobacco use


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