Avoiding the Flu
We at Health Services would like to give you the information you need to keep yourself healthy and advise on what to do if you do come down with the flu.
PLAN BEFORE YOU GET SICK!
If in fact you get the flu, think about whom you will need to notify – roommates, AC’s, professors, family. Health Services will notify the registrar if you get an “Influenza Like Illness” who will then notify your professors. Please email them yourself also. Stock up on basic supplies – Advil or Tylenol, fluids, crackers, Kleenex, etc. Pick up a thermometer if you don’t have one already. If you need assistance and Health Services is not open, visit our website for locations of our Urgent Care facilities.
AVOID THE FLU!
· Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough either with a tissue or into your elbow.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough sneeze or touch shared surfaces. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
· Clean shared surfaces (doorknobs, phones, etc) with disinfectant.
· Do not share cups, eating utensils, lip balm, etc.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
· Get the Seasonal Flu Vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine (when available).
· Strengthen your immune system – eat well, exercise, rest; find healthy ways to deal with stress.
LIMIT CLOSE CONTACT WITH SICK PEOPLE Close contact includes any contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets: sharing eating or drinking utensils, kissing or hugging, etc. This does NOT include activities such as walking by an infected person or sitting across from someone in an office or waiting room.
FLU AND ITS GENERAL SYMPTOMS
There are several different kinds of flu virus, and even the same flu virus can affect different people in different ways. However, symptoms usually include the following:
· Fever (temp of greater than 100 F)*
· Body aches/chills
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Occasionally diarrhea and/or vomiting
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Not all influenza viruses are the same. Some can make you very ill while others cause milder symptoms. People often use the term “flu” to describe a variety of mild illnesses, such as a cold or a stomach virus that has symptoms like the flu. But real flu is different. Flu hits hard and fast; its symptoms are usually worse and last longer than a cold.
What’s not the flu?
The common cold & strep throat are both respiratory illnesses that can make you feel terrible, but neither one is caused by the influenza virus. Intestinal “flu” is not really flu either. It can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites.
IF YOU ARE ILL WITH THE FLU
As soon as flu-like symptoms develop, call or come to Health Services for diagnosis. You will be instructed to move to the apartment that has been set up for those who are sick, stay in your room, or the best option is to go home until you are recovered.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
· Rest up! Sleep is the best thing you can do to heal and recover.
· Monitor your temperature. (Be aware that you are most contagious when you have a fever.)
· Drink plenty of clear liquids (water, broth, herbal tea, Gatorade, etc.) to avoid dehydration.
· Take in adequate nutrition to support your immune system (soups, juices, applesauce, etc.)
· Use over-the-counter medications to treat symptoms: Tylenol for aches and fever; lozenges for sore throat; decongestants for runny nose.
· Understand that antiviral medications (like Tamiflu) are recommended only for those at greater risk of complications or those seriously ill (Antibiotics do not work against viral illnesses)
· Do not rush your recovery. Going back to class before you are well puts you at risk for setback or making your illness worse.
· Limit spread to others by following the self-isolation guidelines. Do not go back to class or job until you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications). A cough may linger, but is not considered a reason to stay out of circulation.
· Careful hygiene – cover coughs and sneezes; dispose of tissues; wash hands often. You can transmit virus for several days after symptoms are gone, so continue to use goo hygiene and avoid close contact.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What should I do if I have symptoms to think I have been exposed to the flu virus? Closely monitor your health for symptoms and continue to take good care of yourself. Tamiflu, the antiviral medication, is not recommended for those with mild symptoms or those in close contact with someone with the flu.
- When do I seek further medical attention? If you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in your chest or abdomen, persistent vomiting, sudden dizziness, confusion, fever greater than three days, flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worsening cough after 12-24 hours, unusual symptoms like stiff neck or rash. Seek medical attention early if you have an underlying illness that makes you at higher risk of developing complications with the flu. Call 911 if needed.
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