By BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Student Assistant
Coughing, sniffling, sneezing, trouble sleeping, confusion, vomiting and dizziness. These are all symptoms of the flu and there’s no time better than now to start preparing for cold and flu season!
The flu can impact a lot of people. Get your shot!
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu infects 5 to 20 percent of the population each year. This means that millions of people carry the virus and that’s why it’s vital for you to start thinking about a flu shot.
“The best time to get a flu shot is early fall,” said Lori Marti, health educator with Student Health Services. “The vaccination can keep you from getting sick from the flu, keep students from missing class and work because of illness, can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, can make the illness milder if you do get sick and protects people around you, especially those vulnerable to the flu.”
Marti said students can receive the vaccination on campus from Student Health Services at any time.
“Most insurances cover the cost of the vaccination. Cash option is $40 for those without insurance.” she said.
Preparing for the worst
It’s never possible to be too over-prepared. After getting the flu shot, you can continue to brace for flu season by creating an Oh $%@*! I’m Sick! Survival Kit.
- Juice, water or sports drinks
- Cool-mist vaporizer/humidifier
- Nasal saline drops
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Ibuprofen (Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Cough drops
- Cough expectorant
- Cough suppressant
- Digital thermometer
In addition to having a kit ready to go, you can do these things to stay healthy and avoid catching the flu altogether:
- Get adequate sleep – sleep helps your body’s natural ability to fight infection and speed recovery
- Sneeze and cough into your sleeve, not your hands
- If you use a tissue when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
- Wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom and after touching common surfaces like keyboards, desks, doors, etc.
- Don’t share cups, glasses, straws or water bottles
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick to avoid getting others sick
Knowing the symptoms and knowing the resources
Sometimes you can take lots of precautions and still be unlucky enough to get the flu or catch it before you get your shot. To know for sure if you have the flu, it’s important to know the signs and to know your resources.
“Symptoms come on rapidly,” Marti said. “They include fever, chills, muscle soreness and body aches, sore throat, dry cough with little to no phlegm, fatigue and headache.”
She encourages students who think they have the flu to do a few things: stay home, stay hydrated, take the appropriate over the counter medications for symptom relief, cover coughs and sneezes to avoid spreading the infection and washing your hands frequently.
“It is not uncommon for symptoms to last up to 10 days. Serious complications can occur and students should seek medical help if they experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting and a return of the other symptoms, but with a fever and a worse cough.”
Students can get help from campus if they think they catch the flu by visiting the campus’s medical providers. They can help students to determine if a prescription medication is needed for secondary infections that sometimes occur with influenza like pneumonia or a sinus infection. Students can also purchase every day medications from the Student Health Services Pharmacy.
“The pharmacy at Student Health Services has lots of common medications, often at a reduced price compared to stores like Walgreens or CVS, so it pays for students to to buy on campus.” Marti said.
Students can learn more information about the flu and resources by contacting Lori Marti at email@example.com, by visiting the Student Health Services website at mnsu.edu/shs or by visiting Student Health Services in the lower level of Carkoski Commons.