A glass of water and piles of tissues next to the bed, the shades pulled, the remote at hand, and cough drop wrappers on the floor – that’s a situation no one wants to be in.
It’s the time of year when the flu and common cold make their appearance on campuses all over the country.
[singlepic id=848 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Tiffany Mathews, coordinator of Wellness Education for Keene State College, explained the Center for Health and Wellness hasn’t seen any cases of the flu this year, but has most commonly seen students with the cold.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains on its website the common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses; however, they are caused by different viruses.
The CDC states both illnesses have similar symptoms, but the flu is much worse.
The CDC explains, “Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense [with the flu]…People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.”
According to the CDC website, the flu generally peaks in January or February in the United States.
So, if Keene State College students haven’t already gotten sick this year, they’re still not in the safe zone.
Tiffany Mathews explained the cold season happens most often in the winter because people aren’t getting as much fresh air.
“People are indoors more often during the winter – they are in close contact more often, and this promotes transmission from person to person,” Mathews explained.
One way students can help prevent getting the flu is by getting the influenza vaccine each year.
The CDC states on its website, “Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.”
One student, sophomore Mary Wingate, said she doesn’t get the flu shot and has gotten sick four times this school year.
“First it was the cold, then I got a sinus infection, then I had a stomach virus, and then I got the cold again,” Wingate stated.
Another KSC student has had better luck with not getting a flu shot.
Dan Kuhn said he doesn’t get the vaccine and still hasn’t gotten sick this year.
When asked what he thinks is helpful in not getting sick, Kuhn responded, “Don’t share drinks and make sure you always wash your hands.”
Mathews agreed with Kuhn; washing your hands often is important. Mathews also suggested the following to avoid getting sick: get at least eight hours of sleep, eat a nutritional diet to keep your immune system strong, and sneeze into your sleeve to prevent the spreading of germs.
It’s important to understand and recognize the symptoms of the seasonal influenza so students can take care of themselves before the illness develops complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
According to the CDC, people with the flu often have the quick on-set of some or all of the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.
As mentioned, symptoms of the common cold are similar to those of the flu, but are much more mild.
Students with the cold may have some or all of the following symptoms: sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, coughing, watery eyes, mild headache, and mild body aches.
There are certain steps to take if a student does get sick, whether it is influenza or the common cold.
The CDC explains on its website to stay at home and rest, avoid contact with well people so you don’t get them sick, drink a lot of water and other clear liquids in order to prevent dehydration, and treat fever and cough with medicines that you can buy at the store.
KSC junior Christine Smigel said she hasn’t gotten sick this year, and credits her healthier lifestyle as the cause of that.
“I try really hard to eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis – I think having a healthy lifestyle builds your immune system and keeps you feeling good and helps fight off those viruses,” Smigel explained.
Smigel said in previous years she avoided getting sick while her roommates came down with illnesses.
“It’s kind of weird, I never get sick,” Smigel added.
It’s hard for students to not get sick when one of their roommates has the cold or flu.
However, Mathews reminded students there are ways to help prevent themselves from getting sick as well.
Mathews stated, “Again, wash your hands often, circulate fresh air in the room, sanitize door knobs and all common areas, and get outdoors.”
Kim Borkowski can be contacted at email@example.com