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Cold and Flu Prevention for College Students

Posted on Jan 21, 2013

Cold and Flu Prevention

Just like the changing of the weather, this time of year can signify cold and flu season is upon us.

College students know that coming down with a nasty cold or a raging case of the flu often affects their academic performance - so what steps can you take to stay healthy?

College lifestyle habits and living situations, as well as exposure to germs, play a role in colds and flu on a campus. Although most of us have heard those common prevention and treatment tips more than once, it bears repeating, perhaps with a few more suggestions to consider.

Stay healthy

Follow these tips to stay healthy and prevent the spread of colds and flu:

-Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20-30 seconds.  Alcohol based hand cleaners are also effective, unless your hands are visibly soiled or grossly contaminated.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs spread this way.

-Perform routine cleaning. The flu virus can survive on surfaces and can infect a person for 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.  Clean items and surfaces likely to have frequent hand contact.

Try boosting your immune system with a few strategies:

1.   Sleep hygiene -7 to 8 hours of sleep is optimal for most people.

2.   Stress management - Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can be helpful in managing stress. Chronic stress can make you more inclined to colds and/or the flu.

3.   Physical activity -Aerobic and strength building exercise several times a week builds long-term immunity against viruses.

4.   Healthy diet --Include plenty of fruits and vegetables a day, as well as whole grains and healthy sources of fat and protein.

-Know the signs and symptoms of the flu.  In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, headache, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense.  Some people who have been infected with the influenza virus also have diarrhea and vomiting.  Colds are milder than the flu, and people with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, often accompanied by sneezing.  Sore throats can be common.  Colds generally do not lead to more serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations, but the flu can.  For more information, visit the CDC Seasonal Flu page.

-Protect yourself with seasonal flu vaccinations every year as recommended by the CDC.

-Practice respiratory etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.

-Stay home if you have flu or flu-like illness until 24 after resolution of your fever and respiratory symptoms.  Your fever should be gone without the use of fever reducing medicine.  Don't go to work, class; socially distance yourself from others.  Ask a roommate to check up on you and to bring you food and supplies, if needed.

   

Home flu and cold care

-Drink clear fluids.  Water, soup broths, and herbal tea can help you stay hydrated.

-Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen-Take to reduce fever and relieve body aches; use as directed.

-Antiviral medication- Antibiotics won't work for viral infections (such as the flu or cold).  Antiviral medication may help for specific strains of the influenza virus, but only when given within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

-Avoid smoking and alcohol use- Smoking may increase your symptoms, especially cough, or make you more prone to develop bronchitis and pneumonia.  Alcohol dehydrates the body.

-Sleep- Get enough sleep to feel completely rested.  Allow your body to heal.

-Sooth sore throat- Gargle warm salt water (1/4 to 1/2 tsp in 8 ounces of water).

-Decongest- Use camphor or menthol rubs to clear nasal passages.

-Inhale- Breathe the steam from hot beverages, and also take deep breaths when in the shower.

For more information about homecare, visit these CDC pages: www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm and http://www.cdc.gov/flu/homecare/

Seek medical attention if...

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

Severe headache

Very stiff neck

Sudden dizziness

Confusion

Severe or persistent vomiting

Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

 

Off-Campus Health Services

Mariner Medical Clinic, Superior WI (Located next to the Mariner Mall)

Call 715-395-3900 for appointment

Identify yourself as a UWS Student

News Contact: Kristy McGiffert | 715-394-8543 | kmcgiffe{atuws}
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