Flu season defined

At the time of submission for this edition of SaintsNews, the Minnesota Department of Health has reported 1,842 people have been hospitalized with lab-confirmed cases of influenza (the flu) in Minnesota since the onset of the flu season.  The media continues to inundate us with headlines about the flu.  As a result, keeping the facts straight can be overwhelming. This article is intended to help parents be more informed so you can help your CSB and SJU students take care of themselves this semester.

First, it is imperative to know the difference between the symptoms of the common cold and the flu - Influenza:

  • Cold: The common cold is a more gradual onset (typically developing over a few days) respiratory illness with milder symptoms that tend to stay in the head and sinuses.
  • Flu: Influenza is a rapid onset (typically within a few hours) respiratory illness with symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, stuffy-nose and body aches which primarily last only a few days.

Second, many myths regarding influenza are transmitted during the flu season.  The transmission of these myths often results in students failing to take action preventing the flu.  Here are some facts to assist with combating myths and misunderstandings about the flu. 

  • Fact - The flu shot will NOT give you the flu. You may experience mild symptoms for 24 hours afterwards as your body is creating immunity to the virus.  Please continue to encourage your son or daughter to get their flu shot if they haven't already.  The vaccine only takes two weeks to provide protection from the virus.
  • Fact - Even healthy people can get the flu.  People can be contagious with the flu for one to two days before they develop symptoms, thus contact with others during this timeframe can spread the virus.
  • Fact - It is not too late to get the flu vaccine.  Flu season runs from October to May with typically the highest onset occurring in January and February. Therefore, contact your on-campus health care provider:

                     CSB Students: CSB Health Center (320-363-5605).

                     SJU Students:  HealthPartners - SJU Campus (320-203-2430).

 Finally, here are some tips as to how to help your daughters and sons take care of themselves this semester:

  1. It is imperative that if your student is already sick to encourage them to stay home and cover coughs and sneezes.
  2. Make an appointment to see a provider if your symptoms are not improving.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. Avoid excessively touching your face as this can expose you to viruses and other germs (WebMD). 
  5. Have a varied diet - phytochemicals (found in different colorful foods) boost your ability to digest and use certain vitamins.
  6. Cut out alcohol consumption - alcohol suppresses the immune system.
  7. Frequently wash your hands. Washing your hands often is the number one way to prevent the spread of the flu (and colds).