When should I wash my hands?
What else can I do to stay healthy?
Do I have the flu or a cold?
Which students are at risk for the flu?
What if I get sick?

The cold and flu season is here! Are you Ready????

What is my first course of action to prepare for cold and flu season?

Handwashing ... Handwashing... Handwashing.

This is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.

When should I wash my hands?

  • When hands are visibly dirty
  • After using the bathroom (including changing diapers)
  • After blowing your nose or after sneezing into your hands
  • Before and after eating, handling food, drinking or smoking
  • After touching raw meat, poultry or fish
  • After handling garbage
  • Before and after visiting or caring for sick people
  • After handling pets, animals or animal waste

What else can I do to stay healthy?

  • Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
  • Exercise regularly and get sufficient sleep.
  • STAY HOME from school or work if you have a respiratory infection.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Wipe your nose using disposable tissues in a way that secretions are contained by the tissue without contaminating the hands.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes with dirty hands.
  • Avoid nail biting (especially important for infections that are transmitted orally).
  • Clean surfaces you touch frequently, such as door knobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.
  • Avoid direct contact with someone who has the virus: shaking hands and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
  • Avoid sharing objects (towels, cups, etc.) with someone who has the virus.

Do I have the flu or a cold?

Influenza is different than a cold. Here are some differences:

Fever Rare in adults and older children Usually 102° but can go up to 104°; Lasts three-four days
Headache Rare Sudden onset; can be severe
Muscle Aches Mild Usual; often severe
Fatigue & Weakness Mild Can last two or more weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Sudden onset; can be severe
Runny, Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can become severe
Complications Sinus and ear infections Bronchitis, pneumonia; can be life-threatening

Many people incorrectly use the term "flu" or "stomach flu" to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. The flu (influenza) is not a stomach or intestinal disease, but rather a respiratory disease

Which students are at risk for the flu?           

  • Pregnant women
  • Teenagers taking aspirin on a regular basis
  • ONLY those health care workers who provide direct patient care
  • People who live in the same household with children under six months of age
  • People who provide care to children under six months of age outside the home

Should I get a flu shot?

See www.cdc.gov/flu for recommendations.               

What if I get sick?

If you do get sick, there are a number of self care actions you can take (from MayoClinic.com).

For either cold or flu:

  1. Drink lots of fluids -- avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoke.
  2. Get some rest. Consider staying home from class or work if you have a fever or a bad cough. This will give you a chance to rest as well as reduce the chances that you will infect others.

For cold:

  1. Adjust your room’s temperature and humidity. Keep your room warm, but not overheated. If the air is dry, a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds.
  2. Soothe your throat. Gargling with warm salt water several times a day or drinking warm lemon water with honey may help sooth a sore throat and relieve a cough.
  3. To help relieve nasal congestion, try saline nasal drops. You can purchase these drops over-the-counter.

For flu:

  1. Try chicken soup. It’s not just good for your soul- it really can help relieve flu symptoms by breaking up congestion.
  2. Take pain relievers. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol & others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others) cautiously, as needed. Remember, pain relievers may make you more comfortable, but they won’t make your symptoms go away any faster and may have serious side effects. Ibuprofen can cause stomach pain, bleeding and ulcers. If taken for a long period of time or in high doses, acetaminophen can be toxic to your liver.

When should I seek medical advice?
(from MayoClinic.com)

If you have flu symptoms and you’re at risk of a sever case of influenza or complications of the disease, talk to your health care provider right away. For some people, there are prescription drugs that may help shorten the flu’s duration and intensity. To be effective, antiviral drugs need to be taken no later than 24 to 48 hours after you first notice symptoms. Also seek medical help if you have trouble breathing, a severe sore throat, a cough that produces a lot of green or yellow mucus, or you feel faint. See your health care provider immediately if you think you might have signs or symptoms of pneumonia. These may include a sever cough that brings up phlegm, a high fever and a sharp pain when you breathe deeply.

A common cold generally goes away in about a week. If your signs and symptoms last longer than a week, you may have a more serious illness. Seek medical attention if you have: fever greater than 102°; high fever accompanied by sweating, chills and a cough with colored phlegm; symptoms that get worse instead of better.

Check out www.cdc.gov/flu for more information.

Help! I don't have the flu, but I'm vomiting.

  • Do not eat solid food.
  • Take sips of water or suck on ice.  Begin with a teaspoon every 15 minutes.
  • If you can tolerate water, you should begin drinking 7UP that is warm and somewhat decarbonated (do not drink Diet 7UP.  Your body needs sugar as you recover from your illness).  Ify ou can tolerate 7UP, you may begin eating small amounts of applesauce, bananas or dry toast.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods and acidic liquids.
  • REST - listen to your body. 

If you cannot hold down water for 8-10 hours, call a physician. You may or may not have a fever. However, if you have a fever that continues to rise, you are vomiting, and/or are feeling more sick as time goes on, call a physician.