Fall and winter are also cold and flu seasons.
Flu is a highly contagious disease caused by a group of respiratory viruses. It can cause missed days at work/school, doctor’s visits and flu-related hospitalizations.
There are several things you can do to stay healthy and prevent yourself from getting sick.
Get a flu shot
It is the most effective way to prevent getting the flu.
After a person receives his or her shot, little proteins called antibodies are formed by the immune system which destroy virus particles if the person is exposed to the flu. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies to form.
The vaccine can provide up to 80 percent protection, and if one does get the flu it should be milder.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone get the flu vaccine, and the best time to get it is now.
Students can take advantage of the Student Health and Counseling Center, which is sponsoring flu shot clinics this week. The vaccine will also be available for students at the health center beginning Oct. 19.
Boost your immune system
Help your immune system to operate in top condition by getting enough sleep, managing stress, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet that includes dark green, red and yellow vegetables and fruit.
Wash your hands often
This will help stop the spread of germs, especially after using the restroom, when preparing food and before eating. Lather with soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds (try singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice), rinse and dry.
Hand sanitizers that are at least 60 percent alcohol are effective in killing germs if soap and water aren’t available and if your hands are not visibly soiled or greasy.
Avoid coughing and sneezing into your hands
Use a tissue you’ll dispose of after use or cough into your sleeve if you don’t have a tissue.
Don’t touch your face since these viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean surfaces and equipment often
This includes places like your study areas at home and work. Use disinfectant, especially if they are shared by others.
It is a good idea to be prepared before you get sick by purchasing cold and flu medicines now.
The health center pharmacy has cold and flu kits that contain a variety of medicines, hand sanitizer, tissues and a digital thermometer for just $5. The average retail price for these items is $20-35, depending on which local pharmacy you visit.
Stay at home
If you get sick, rest at home until your fever (100° or higher) has been gone for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine. Limit contact with others to help prevent spreading infection.
Preparing for cold and flu season isn’t complicated or difficult but can make a huge difference in helping the campus community stay healthy.