Class attendance is dwindling. In some classes, there are more empty seats than filled seats. Everywhere on campus, people are coughing and sneezing. We know what this means: Flu season is here.
The flu, or influenza, is a virus. It’s generally not dangerous; however, symptoms often can worsen into pneumonia or bacterial infections. Symptoms are usually bad for a day, but oftentimes those infected with the flu feel exhausted many days after.
What do you do if you have the flu? The Student Health Center said to get plenty of rest and drink clear liquids. They also recommend taking ibuprofen or aspirin and a cool sponge bath to relieve the fever. To help a cough and sore throat, invest in a humidifier (not allowed in dorms without permission), take some cough suppressants or use cough drops. Unfortunately, if you catch the flu you will probably have to miss a few days of class.
The CDC also recommends being vaccinated each year with either the flu shot or nasal spray flu vaccine. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the flu shot contains dead flu virus that cannot give one the flu, but most people will feel sore where they received the shot. The flu nasal spray vaccine contains weakened flu virus that can cause a congested nose, but the Student Health Center said many people opt for that to avoid the shot. Side effects of either vaccine can include slight fatigue or a low fever, but most people don’t experience either.
According to the Student Health Center, other ways to avoid getting the flu are by eating healthy, exercising, washing hands regularly and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Avoid people who are sick, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and drink lots of liquids. They also say that smoking increases your risk of contracting the flu because it makes your respiratory tract more susceptible to infection.
However, they still recommend the flu shot as the best way to avoid catching the flu.
Walgreens is one of many places offering flu shots, which also protect against H1N1. The Student Health Center said that a flu vaccine reduces the chance of catching the flu by about 75 percent. Flu shots and nasal sprays are available at the Student Health Center for $20.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the main symptoms of the flu are:
•Fever or chills
•Suppression of appetite
•Runny or stuffy nose
•Muscle or body aches
•Vomiting and diarrhea (more common for children than adults)
Photo: Connor McCourtney