Debra Born, Assist Features Editor
“The flu is currently widespread in our area,” said Terri Sherman, director/nurse practitioner of the Student Wellness Center.
The flu is common during the winter, and it is a sickness that some students despise the most. So, how can students protect themselves against this dreaded illness?
Even though the flu is a common ailment, it is often confused with other illnesses. The flu is not a cold; it is a contagious sickness that can range anywhere from mild to severe and affects the throat, nose, lungs and other parts of the body. One of the most defining characteristics of the flu is a deep achy feeling in muscles and bones. Vomiting is also closely associated with the flu, but is a more common symptom in children.
The flu is spread through human interaction, most directly from people touching surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
“Most people think they won’t get the flu, but it’s not selective and it’s not too late to vaccinate,” Sherman said. “The flu vaccine will not give you the flu, but is the single most important thing you can do to prevent the flu.”
Flu vaccines protect against as many as four different flu viruses.
Other effective ways to protect yourself against the flu is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands multiple times a day and as often as you come in contact with someone who is ill. Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you for when you sit next to someone in class who recently had the flu, or when you have to work with someone who contracted it.
“Flu vaccination, hand washing and avoiding people that are sick will reduce your chances of getting the flu,” Sherman said.
Students living in dorms tend to be at a higher risk to contract the flu due to their close living quarters and nearly constant contact with other individuals. However, students can eradicate some viruses before they have a chance to infect them by washing surfaces such as desks and door knobs with a Clorox wipe.
People become more susceptible to the flu when they are sleep-deprived, so during the flu season it is more important than ever to aim for the recommended eight hours of sleep each night.
Flu symptoms appear one to four days after a person is exposed to the virus. If you caught the flu, be considerate of others by being careful about the ways in which you go about your daily routine. Wash your hands frequently, and cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and cough. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to reduce and prevent germ contamination.
Students often find it difficult to block out time to recover from illnesses such as the flu, and they sometimes opt out of staying home and head to class so that they don’t miss anything important. Remember to consider the wellness of fellow classmates, teachers and friends that you come in contact with before you make this decision. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend staying home a full 24 hours after the fever is gone.
The Student Wellness Center is in place to help students stay healthy, and one of the many ways the center accomplishes this goal is by working to prevent illnesses and lessen their severity.
“We encourage students to contact us with questions about flu prevention or to schedule an appointment if you think you have the flu,” Sherman said.
The Student Wellness Center will be offering a flu vaccine clinic on Monday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon in Strebel Student Center. Call the Student Health Center at (315) 792-3094 to sign up and schedule a time for the clinic. Or you can visit your local pharmacy at your convenience for a flu vaccination.