Although University students have been enjoying the significant amount of wintertime weather and snow this year, students should be on the look out for one thing in particular—-flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu outbreaks can happen “as early as October, however most of the time flu activity peaks in January or later.” A peak month in flu season is described as “the period with the largest respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza virus specimen,” according to the Centers’ website. Over the past 31 years, the majority of peaks have occurred in February.
Symptoms of the flu can include “nasal discharge, obstruction of nasal breathing, swelling of the sinus membranes, sneezing, sore throat, cough and headache,” according to the University Office of Health Promotion.
The CDC suggests several tips to avoid getting the flu this year. The first is to avoid close contact, especially with those who are sick. Additionally, the CDC adds, “when you are sick, keep your distance from others who are sick to protect them from getting sick too.”
The CDC stresses the importance of covering your mouth and nose when you are sick to prevent spreading the flu, as well as washing you hands thoroughly and often. Students on campus are taking extra precaution this year to avoid the flu. Molly Purnell, a sophomore nursing student, says that the best way to avoid the flu is, “Eat fruits and vegetables and make sure to get vitamin C in.”
Vallena Lipske, also a nursing student, advises her peers to “Clean hands with antibacterial wipes and door handles of door rooms.” It can be very easy to contract the flu by being exposed to a door handle or phone that a sick person has used.
The University Office of Health Promotion notes that “the common cold is usually mild, with symptoms lasting between one to two weeks and is a leading cause of doctor visits and job and school absenteeism.”
Missing school due to the flu or any other illness is an especially scary thought for many students, particularly due to the fact that unprecedented amounts of snow have caused an unusually high number of University closures and missed classes.
“I can’t afford to get sick at this point in the year,” says junior biology major Justin Wickersham. “Many of my classes have been cancelled recently due to snow and many students are worried about how they will catch up on work. I can’t imagine getting even further behind if I were to get the flu.”
Unfortunately there isn’t a simple cure to the flu. Treatment includes bed rest, plenty of fluids, gargling with salt water, and aspirin or Tylenol to relieve a fever or headache. The Office of Health Promotion further emphasizes that “taking antibiotics just in case, to prevent contraction of the flu will not help, and strongly advises against this.”
The University encourages the continuation of healthy behaviors from students in order to avoid a widespread flu outbreak on campus. To seek more information, visit the Office of Health Promotion or set up a one-on-one appointment with a Health Promotion staff member.