Influenza: Everything You Need To Know!
Influenza ("the flu") is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The virus we usually face is referred to as Seasonal Flu.
Influenza-like-illness (ILI) is defined as fever (temperature of 100°F or greater) and a cough and/or sore throat in the absence of a KNOWN cause other than influenza. Other symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea.
The flu usually spreads through the air from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. When these viruses enter the nose, throat, or lungs of a person, they begin to multiply, causing symptoms of the flu. Unlike the common cold, the flu can cause serious illness and can be life-threatening, especially for certain people with chronic health conditions. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm)
- The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot.
- Drink plenty of fluids every day.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This is a common way that germs are spread.
- Exercise regularly – this strengthens your immune system.
- Eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Avoid or limit alcohol which weakens your immune system.
- Seek help at Parton Health or Parton Counseling if you're unable to manage stress.
To help prevent the spread of illness from person to person:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often and well. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
Visit the links below for further information about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of ILI:
- Prevent The Flu
- Is It A Cold or The Flu?
- What To Do About The Flu: Guidelines For Deciding About Care
- What To Do If You Get The Flu
- Information For People With Chronic Health Conditions
- CDC Flu Prevention Guide
If you get sick:
Bed rest is critical if you're diagnosed with the flu. Not only will you avoid transmitting a highly contagious illness to others, you'll help your immune system fight the infection.
Adequate fluid intake is one of the most important aspects of fighting influenza. Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration. Most individuals will need at least 3-5 liters (1 liter = 32 oz.) per day of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluid when ill.
Take medications according to package instructions. If you have questions about dosing or medication interactions, call Health Service at 802-443-5135.
Fever and Body Aches
- Acetaminophen (ie. Tylenol)
- Naproxen Sodium (ie. Aleve) or Ibuprofen (ie. Motrin, Advil)
- You can take acetaminophen with either ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, but you should not take ibuprofen and naproxen sodium together because they are similar types of medication.
- Afrin & Sinus Rinse (Use Afrin for 3 days only - see package insert)
- Drinking lots of fluids, gargling with salt water (made by combining a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of salt), sucking on throat lozenges and hard candy can often be helpful for easing the pain of a sore throat.
- Cough associated with colds may be caused by nasal obstruction or postnasal drip. Clinical trials have found that most cough medications are no better than placebo in treating an acute cough. Medications with dextromethorphan may help somewhat, but treating nasal congestion (see above) may yield greater benefit. You can also try to avoid sleeping completely flat. Sleeping propped up on two or three pillows may do a great deal to help make breathing easier.
Antiviral Drugs (i.e. Tamiflu)
- Influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics don’t work to cure it. Tamiflu is approved for treatment of the flu, but requires a prescription and typically must be started within two days of the start of symptoms.
Hand Hygiene & Cough Etiquette
Keep your germs to yourself by covering your cough and cleaning your hands after coughing or sneezing.
Call the Health Services (or Dept. of Public Safety if the Health Services is closed) if:
- Your fever or symptoms are severe despite taking self-care medications
- You cannot self-hydrate due to nausea or vomiting
- You have medical questions
Call your Commons Dean if you need help with:
- Roommate issues
- Class Absences
- Non-medical questions