February 8, 2008

Campus Prepares for Cold and Flu Season

VALDOSTA - It is that time of the year - the dreaded annual flu season. According to the Center for Disease Control, during the last two weeks influenza activity and upper respiratory illnesses have increased in the United States. Valdosta State University’s Farber Health Center has also seen an increase in the number of students with colds and flu-like symptoms.

Rita Collins, assistant director for medical services at the Farber Student Health Center explains that cold and flu symptoms are similar and are both respiratory illnesses; however, they are caused by different viruses and flu symptoms are usually more severe.

“Generally, the flu is worse and the symptoms more intense and there is a fever,” Collins said. “Your body aches and you are so tired, even though you have slept the last eight hours. You will have a sore throat and dry cough and with the cold you will usually have a runny nose and stuffy head.”

Collins emphasizes the best prevention is to receive a yearly influenza vaccine in the fall before flu season begins. “It takes several weeks after being vaccinated for the body to develop the antibiodies that provide protection against the flu,” said Collins. “Each fall Farber Student Health Center offers flu shots to students and staff. Unfortunately, when we are not in the middle of the flu season, it is sometimes hard for students to realize the importance of immunizations.”

The Farber Student Health Center offers the following good health habits to help prevent respiratory illnesses like the cold and flu:

  • Frequent hand washing - use soap and water and rub surfaces at least 20 seconds and if soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol based wipes or hand cleanser;
  • Boost your immune system- - eat healthy, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of healthy fluids such as water, juice, hot tea, and soup;
  • Do not share food, drink, or eating utensils; and
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick, including best friends. If you live with someone who is sick, wear a mask and wipe surfaces with bleach or antibacterial soap.

If, in spite of everything you do you still get sick remember the following;
  • Stay at home and rest;
  • Take acetaminophen for fever (it is not recommended that teens with fever take aspirin);
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, but if symptoms worsen or persist for a week contact a health care provider; and
  • If you have a persistent fever that is greater than 101 degrees, a severe headache unrelieved by OTC’s, a stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, or confusion then you should be seen by a health care provider.

For more information contact Rita Collins, Farber Student Health Center at 333-5886 or visit the Center for Disease Control Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/ .
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