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

 

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:

Help for the "Stomach Bug"

For the first 24 hours, try to drink plenty of clear liquids.  Drink slowly as much fluid as you can to fight dehydration and rest your system.  Clear liquids include:

  • Gingerale, Coca-Cola, or Pepsi (sip it "flat"- without the carbonation)
  • Broth, bouillon or clear soups
  • Clear juices such as cranberry or grape. (Drink apple juice only if you are not experiencing diarrhea.)
  • Jell-O™
  • Popsicles
  • Tea

Gradually increase your diet as tolerated, to soft and bland foods:

  • Toast
  • Crackers
  • Soup (avoid heavy/creamy soups)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Yogurt (avoid fruit flavors)
  • Applesauce
  • Poached or scrambled eggs
  • Sherbet, ice cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Banana
  • Fruit juices
  • Boiled or broiled meats

Most milk products should be avoided until nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are completely resolved.  Avoid alcoholic beverages, heavy desserts, coffee, and fatty/greasy or spicy foods.  If these foods are ingested too early, they may irritate the stomach and intestinal system, causing more diarrhea and discomfort.  If nausea, vomiting or diarrhea continue or if abdominal discomfort persists, please call the Health Services at ext. 5135 to make an appointment.


 

Travel Immunizations


Health Services provides travel immunizations to students going abroad. Immunization requirements vary depending on the student's itinerary, past medical history and previous immunizations. Students should prepare for travel vaccines at least 3-6 months before your date of departure.

Prior to your travel visit you'll need to be prepared by following these simple steps:

1.  Stop by the Health Services to receive your travel packet which includes a "Travax" report specific to your travel destination(s).

2.  Complete the Travel Questionnaire.  You must bring this completed questionnaire with you to your appointment.

3.  Schedule your appointment with the doctor or nurse practitioner.

HIV testing and physical exams may also be required for some travel destinations and are available at the Health Services. Additional information about travel immunizations can be obtained by contacting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) either by phone (1-404-332-4565) or the Internet http://www.cdc.gov/ The CDC will provide you with the most current immunization recommendations, as well as disease prevention information.