Avoid the flu in 2014

Though we’re in the early weeks of the spring semester, we’re knee-deep in the winter season. Many wonderful things accompany winter: hot chocolate, cozy sweaters, and the occasional snow day.

But one not-so-wonderful thing faces us during the winter months: the flu, also known as influenza. Flu symptoms include high fever, headache, weakness, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, and occasional diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can keep you bedridden for days, or even weeks. You miss class, work, and countless social outings. Getting the flu does not a fun winter make.

In order to enjoy the winter season and perform at your best in and out of the classroom, you must take several precautions.

Amy Wongsarnpigoon, Nurse Practitioner here at Student Health, lists the top 5 ways students can avoid the flu:

1. Get the flu shot. Fortunately, you can get the flu shot at the Student Health Pharmacy. Many insurance carriers cover the cost. Otherwise, you just pay $25. The shot is typically administered from October-March. Details here.

2. Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom and before eating. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer. Also, avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose.

3. Avoid sharing drinks, utensils, and cups.

4. Avoid contact with sick people. If your roommates are sick, minimize the time you spend in shared space. If possible, your roommates should stay somewhere else until they aren’t contagious anymore.

5. Decontaminate all surfaces in your living and work space. Use antibacterial wipes.


If you happen to get the flu…

  • Don’t freak out. There are many things you can to recover without infecting your roommates or falling miserably behind in your classes.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, and consider taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve symptoms. You can get OTC medications at the Student Health Pharmacy.
  • Seek medical attention immediately by contacting Student Health or calling 9-1-1 if your symptoms improve but then return with a fever and a worse cough, or if you experience difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in your chest, fainting, or severe vomiting.
  • As soon as possible, notify your instructors that you are sick.
  • Notify the people with whom you’ve had close contact, if the contact occurred while you were contagious (1 day before symptoms and 7+days after)

The flu is serious business. But do not let fear of becoming infected rob you of a fun, productive winter season. If you follow the above suggestions, you’ll cruise through the winter months with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and an A+ paper in the other.