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Posted by Julianna Klein on February 2, 2018
If you’re like me, you're heard a lot about the flu the past few weeks. This year’s strain is the worst on record, with numbers rising higher and higher each week and causing more illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. According to the Broome County Health Department, there were more than 200 reports of new cases of the flu in just the last week.
Binghamton University is getting hit hard as well -- coughs ring throughout the Lecture Hall, tissues and hand sanitizer are everywhere, and everyone is focused on staying healthy. With a lot of information out there, it can be overwhelming -- so use this guide to stay healthy this flu season.
The first step in prevention is getting the flu vaccine.
“We still encourage students to have an influenza vaccination,” said Dr. Michael Leonard, medical director at Decker Student Health Services. “Since the first week in October, Health Services has had early evening vaccination clinics on Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. We have already had 10 of these clinics and given over 1,100 vaccinations to students. There is no cost for the vaccination.”
I went to a clinic a few months ago and got my flu shot in five minutes. It was painless and free -- what could be easier than that? If you can’t make it to a clinic, you can also make an appointment with Decker Health Services online or by phone.
Another step is to disinfect everything, from your hands to your desk. In most of my classes, my professors have provided wipes or spray to disinfect desks and tables, so take advantage of it! Make sure to wash your hands as often as possible, and carry around hand sanitizer for killing germs on the go. One other thing I always make sure to do is wipe down my phone. Your phone can be one of the biggest sources of germs that you carry around on a daily basis, so make sure you’re cleaning it regularly.
We’ve all heard the last tip: eat healthy, exercise and get sleep. However, it’s amazing what a difference these things can make to your immune system. Try these immune-boosting foods.
The first step is to determine is if you have flu symptoms. These symptoms include: fever and/or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle/body aches, headaches or fatigue.
Many of these symptoms are similar to that of a cold or sinus infection, and it can be difficult to determine what you have. If this is the case, read this article on the difference between a cold and the flu.
If you have the flu, the most important thing you can do for yourself and those around you is to stay home. Many people go to class sick because they’re afraid to fall behind, but most of my professors have stressed the importance of staying home and getting healthy. According to Dr. Leonard, faculty are being encouraged to work with students this flu season.
“We also want to engage the faculty to do what they can to accommodate students who are ill,” said Dr. Leonard. “This year, Provost Nieman helped us with an announcement that went directly to faculty. The announcements also give links to self-care sites that can guide students, faculty and staff about how to both increase their preventive practices and also to treat themselves if they become ill.”
If you feel yourself getting sick, you can even communicate with your professors ahead of time and let them know that you might miss class. If you do miss class, try to connect with a classmate to catch up on notes that you missed.
If you have the flu, make sure to drink a lot of fluid and get a lot of sleep. Take medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help reduce pain and fever. You can also take medications like Tamiflu within a day or so of having symptoms to keep the flu from getting worse. Check out this remedy guide.
Make sure you stay away from public places, and if you need to, wear a mask to prevent the spread of disease.
There are also some other tips you can follow to help alleviate your symptoms. I find that taking a hot shower or using a humidifier helps to clear out my airway.
Decker Student Health Services is also encouraging students to stay home with its cold and flu packs, which are coming soon. The packs include things such as: Tylenol and ibuprofen, a salt pack, mask, peppermint tea, vegetable broth cup, vitamin C pack, cough drops and a thermometer. These packs will be available to students to order online and be delivered to their door, limiting the spread of disease and allowing students to get help without ever leaving home.
If your symptoms continue to get worse, call Decker Student Health Services at 607-777-2393.
If you experience difficulty breathing, pain in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness or confusion, and other emergency symptoms, call Harpur’s Ferry at 607-777-3333.
Julianna Klein is a senior English major who hopes to pursue a career as a writer. She spends her free time sprinting as a member of the women’s track and field team.
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