By Hilarie Rigdon
Sniffling. Sneezing. Coughing. This may sound like your typical medicinal advertisement, but these symptoms become reality for college-aged students during this time of year.
“Being sick this time of the year is very common because we are indoors more,” Director of Campus Health Services Karen Newton said. “After circulating around the planet, the flu virus hits this area of the globe. People actually refer to this as the cold and flu season, it lasts from about November to early March.”
According to Newton, colds are more prevalent during this time of year because more people are indoors, thus leading to closer contact to those who could be contagious.
As stated by the Campus Health Services Web site, symptoms of the common cold include fever of over 102 degrees, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing and coughing, fatigue, headache and watery eyes.
In addition to the common cold symptoms, the flu includes nausea, chills and sweats and a cough. If caught within two days of the onset of the flu, a doctor can prescribe an antiviral medicine that will shorten the length of time of the sickness.
There are many types of viruses that cause these two illnesses, the CHS Web site continues. Unlike the common cold, there is a shot or a nasal spray that can be given in order to prevent the flu.
Unfortunately, the spray is not available for those students who live in residence halls. Sneezing after receiving the nasal spray could spread the virus to another student and actually make that person sick.
Campus Health Services is offering free flu shots during flu season. The shots began last month.
“[Scientists] see what type of the flu virus is hitting the other parts of the world so that they can predict which vaccine they will use in this area,” said Newton. “The injected vaccine is painless and has no side effects. Some people have a little muscle soreness the next day, but if you keep your arm muscle loose during and after the shot, there should be no pain.”
”It went well- it was very quick! It wasn’t painful at all but it hurts a little bit the day after,” said junior Juan Hollomon. Hollomon received his flu shot at Bettie Johnson Hall on Nov. 5 when Campus Health Services offered the free flu shots at residence halls.
Since offering the shots at the Student Activities Center and residence halls, Newton has seen a rise in the number of students receiving the vaccine as compared to years past.
According to Holloman, students become less apt to receive the flu shot during the fall months because of stress.
“Because of stress, students forget to take the necessary steps to ensure their health,” Holloman said. “They may not be used to handling the responsibility because when they lived at home, their parents always did it.”
Danae Skinner, a U of L student and a cold and flu sufferer, also believes that students become more susceptible to these viruses during the fall and winter months.
“There is an increase in germs and people do not wash their hands enough,” Skinner commented. “I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands frequently in order to prevent getting sick.”
Newton advised that there were many preventive measures students can take to stay healthy during the cold and flu season.
“Students need to make sure they eat ‘power food,’” Newton said. “These foods include oranges, tomatoes, peppers, and berries because they all contain vitamin C, which helps to strengthen the immune system. It is also very important to stay hydrated, well rested, and wash hands a lot with warm soapy water.”
If students do find themselves sick during the next few months, self-care kits are available at no cost at residence halls and Campus Health Services. These kits include a thermometer, tissues, salt for gargling, saline spray, aspirin, Tylenol and/or Ibuprofen.