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)

 Prevention:

  • 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:

If you get sick:

Rest

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.

Hydrate

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.

Medicate

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.

Congestion

Sore Throat

  • 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

  • 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.

Getting Help

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:

  • Meals
  • Roommate issues
  • Class Absences
  • Non-medical questions

 

What should I do while I'm sick with the flu?

Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making them sick.  If you must leave home, for example to get medical care, wear a facemask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.  And wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others.

MiddTags:
MiddTags: 

What Is The Flu or Influenza-Like-Illness (ILI)?

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 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.

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.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot.

To help prevent the spread of illness from person to person:

  • Cover your cough.
  • Wash your hands often and well.
  • Keep  yourself healthy with rest, exercise, and eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods.
  • Drink plenty of water and other healthy fluids.
  • Stay home if you get sick.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

Visit the links below for further information about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of ILI:

MiddTags:

Respiratory Illness (includes Sinus Rinse instructions)

 

Symptoms Cold Flu
Fever Rare

Usual; high (100F to 102F)
occasionally higher; lasts 3-4 days

Headache Rare Common
General aches/pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, weakness Sometimes Usual; can last up to 2-3 weeks
Extreme exhaustion Never Usual; at beginning of illness
Congested nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, cough Mild to moderate
hacking cough
Common; can become severe
Treatment
  • anti-histamine
  • decongestant
  • pain/fever reliever such as: ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Sinus Rinse® 
  • Anti-viral medicines (see your doctor)
  • Pain/fever reliever such as: ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen
Prevention
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with a cold




  • Annual vaccination; anti-viral medication (see your doctor)
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has the flu
Complications
  • Sinus congestion
  • Middle ear infection
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
Bronchitis, pneumonia (can be life threatening)

MiddTags:

Self-Isolation Guidelines

 

Students with influenza-like-illness (ILI) are being asked to isolate themselves.Influenza-like-illness (ILI) is defined as fever (temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) and a cough and/or a sore throat in the absence of a KNOWN cause other than influenza.

Isolate:

Go home for a few days if possible, or stay in your room except to use the bathroom or visit the Health Center.

Wear a facemask to prevent spreading your germs whenever you are out of your room.

Maintain isolation until you do not have a fever x 24 hours without using fever reducing medications. You must have a thermometer to take your temperature.

Notify your Commons office. You will receive information about available support for meal delivery and class absences.

If you have asthma or a chronic medical condition, notify the Health Center.

Rest:

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 better fight off the infection.

Hydrate:

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.

Medicate:

Take medications according to package instructions. If you have questions about dosing or medication interactions, call the Health Center at x 5135.

Fever and Body Aches:

  • Acetaminophen (ie. Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (ie. Motrin, Advil) or Naproxen Sodium (ie. Aleve)

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.

Congestion: Afrin and Sinus Rinse

Sore Throat: 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: 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.

Keep your germs to yourself. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze!

Getting Help:

Call the Health Center (or Dept. of Public Safety if the Health Center is Closed) if:

  • Your fever or symptoms are severe despite taking self-care medications
  • You can not self-hydrate due to nausea or vomiting
  • You have medical questions.

Call your Commons if you need help with:

  • Meals
  • Roommate issues
  • Class Absences
  • Non-medical questions

 

Roommates of Students With Influenza-like Illness

 

 

If your roommate needs self-isolation because they have an influenza-like-illness (ILI - defined as fever (temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) and a cough and/or a sore throat in the absence of a KNOWN cause other than influenza), they will need to go home or stay in the dorm room until they no longer have a fever for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications.Pertinent information for non-ill roommates includes:

Plan to stay with friends who are not sick for a few days as long as you are feeling well:

Influenza is easily spread, and 1current CDC guidance recommends that “ill students limit their contact with others and, to the extent possible, maintain a distance of 6 feet from people with whom they share living space. If close contact cannot be avoided, the ill student should be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact.”

Since this will be a significant challenge for most roommates, finding an alternative place to stay is advisable, particularly if you have a condition that puts you at high-risk for complications from influenza. 2

Contact your Commons Office if:

You are having difficulty finding a place to stay with friends.

You have any conditions that would require special housing consideration, including conditions considered to put you at high-risk for complications from influenza. 2

 

If you need to get things in your room:

Call in advance and ask your roommate to wear a facemask while you quickly retrieve the things you need.If a facemask is not available, ask your roommate to cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue.Avoid face-to-face contact whenever possible.

You may have been exposed:

Sick individuals may start shedding the flu virus 1 day before their symptoms started.This means that roommates may have been exposed unknowingly, but does not mean that roommates will become ill.The best thing to do is to avoid contact with sick individuals, monitor your own health, and start thinking about what you would do if you became ill.

If you become ill:

Even though your roommate is also sick, if you have influenza-like-illness you should self-isolate by either going home if possible or returning to your room.

You can help your roommate:

  • Deliver meals
  • Drop off any necessary supplies such as medications or fluids
  • Call to see how they are doing and if they need anything

 

Going back to your room once your roommate is out of self-isolation:

Once your roommate no longer has fevers x 24 hours without using fever reducing medications, the likelihood of transmitting flu virus decreases, and according to CDC guidance, self-isolation is no longer necessary.

Many people with influenza illness will continue shedding influenza virus 24 hours after their fevers go away, but at lower levels than during their fever. Shedding of influenza virus can be detected for 10 days or more in some cases. Therefore, people who have had influenza-like illness should continue to practice good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene and avoid close contact with people they know to be at increased risk of influenza-related complications.

Studies have shown that the influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for 2 to 8 hours after being deposited on the surface.Please work with your roommate to clean surfaces in your room with standard household disinfectants before returning.CDC guidance suggests:

  • Throw away tissues and other disposable items used by the sick person in the trash. Wash your hands after touching used tissues and similar waste.
  • Keep surfaces clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
  • Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first.
  • Wash linens (such as bed sheets and towels) by using household laundry soap and tumble dry on a hot setting. Avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating yourself. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub right after handling dirty laundry.
  • Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Influenza viruses typically spread from person to person when:

  • droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby, or
  • when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own mouth or nose before washing their hands.

You are considered at high-risk for complications from influenza if:

  • you have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders.This includes students with asthma;
  • you have immunosuppression (caused by medications or by HIV);
  • you are pregnant;
  • you are less than 18 years old and are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection.