The flu has reached epidemic proportions in the US with 47 states still reporting widespread flu activity at this time. Given the nature of this situation, students are urged to make an appointment with Student Health Services on campus to receive a flu vaccine if they haven’t done so already. Vaccines are also available at a variety of additional locations including pharmacies and walk-in clinics. Students can utilize the pharmacy services, also located in the Student Health Center, for OTC medications and assistance with their prescriptions.
Not to be confused with the common cold, the flu can last up to seven days and is most commonly characterized by symptoms of fatigue, body aches, cough, and sore throat. Receiving the flu vaccine can reduce one’s need to seek medical treatment for their illness by 60%. In accordance with the flu vaccine, one can strengthen their immune system by eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and washing their hands often.
Prevention is key when it comes to dodging the flu this season but for those that are already experiencing flu symptoms, there are general things that can be done to help alleviate some of the discomfort that accompanies the illness.
- Anti-Viral Medications: These types of medications can be taken to both prevent and help treat the flu and should be taken within the first 48 hours from the onset of symptoms. Anti-Viral remedies can slightly reduce the duration of the flu and can help prevent severe flu complications. These medications can also be prescribed as a preventive treatment to those who are not sick but have come into close contact with someone who is. It is important to consult a physician to make sure it is safe for you to take any medication.
- Over-the-Counter Antihistamines & Decongestants: The choice of medication will depend on what your symptoms are. If you have nasal or sinus congestion, a Decongestant may help. Consult with a pharmacist when purchasing OTC medications to make sure you are a good candidate for taking them.
- Drink More Liquids: Aim for at least eight cups per day. Doing so helps keep your respiratory system hydrated.
- Breathe Aromatic Steam: To help clear your nasal passages, fill the bathroom or sink with steaming water. Add a teaspoon of Vick’s Vapo-Rub (OTC treatment) or a couple of drops of Eucalyptus oil, known for clearing bronchial passages, to the water. Drape a towel over your head and lean over the steam to help reduce congestion and nasal discomfort.
- Warm Compress: If your head is throbbing, apply a warm (not too hot!) compress to your cheeks and sinuses to help reduce the pain.
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