With blasts of lake-effect snow and winds that force students to pull their hoods up, the start of the spring semester has left most students with the fear of getting sick. In fact, it is this season in particular that has made getting tissues, taking naps and eating more soup second nature: flu season.
Whether it is the chill of winter or the stress of the new semester, flu season has hit Oswego State. Between the start of December to the end of May, flu season has marked itself on the calendar for most hospitals and doctor’s offices. It is important for people to know the facts in order to prevent the flu, how to diagnose it and how to treat it.
Students at Oswego State are not the only ones who are at the battlefront for fighting flu season. According to Liz Burns, director of Student Health Services and nurse practitioner, the Mary Walker Health Center had its banner year by immunizing 1,100 students last October for the flu.
“What they say about the flu vaccine, is that it is not 100 percent protected, but it can lessen the degree of the flu if you get it,” Burns said. “What is also good to do is to keep germs contained. This can be done by coughing into your sleeve, avoid touching your face and eyes and washing your hands frequently to the timing of two ‘Happy Birthdays’.”
Practicing these routines can increase the chance of not getting the flu. Although one can never be 100 percent protected, it is important to keep germs contained.
“With all my friends getting sick, I really should start carrying around a little bottle of Purell,” freshman Ben Laine said.
Like most illnesses, the best way to prevent getting the flu is to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended that people get at least eight hours of sleep every night in order to reboot their immune system. College students have the most difficulty finding these eight hours of sleep, which is why bodies are more susceptible to illnesses like the flu.
In order to stay healthier moderate amounts of exercise and eating right can give you more energy and help your body fight off any illness.
It is commonly seen at the health center that although students seem to have flu-like symptoms, they do not have the flu. A headache, cough and runny nose can be symptoms of a common cold but can be easily mistaken or lead to a secondary infection like the flu. Flu symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a cough or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, fatigue, chills and/or nausea, and vomiting or diarrhea.
“There are certain viruses that can mimic the flu but if someone has the flu they are a lot sicker and it requires more care, more of missing school and only can be truly determined by a nasal fringil swab,” Burns said.
When diagnosed with the flu, it is important to know your body, take care of it and respect it. With prescription medication and a combination of rest and nutrition, there are ways to treat the flu. By being prepared for the unpredictable weather of winter and taking care of your health as a main priority, getting over the flu will be a lot faster than avoiding the needs of your own body.
“I definitely got sick over the stress of transitioning into the new semester,” freshman Sam Schneller, who recently got over the flu, said. “I went to the Health Center took my prescriptions and within a few days I was better.”
There are unlimited reminders and information about the health services Oswego has to offer on campus. According to Burns, Mary Walker Health Center, on average, treats 8,000 to 10,000 student cases per year. This is supported by a mandatory health fee, which paid as part of the college bill that includes counseling, lifestyle services and health.
The Center offers care with nurse practitioners, a cold clinic where students can receive decongestants and Ibuprofen free of charge.
The health center offers walk-ins from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. Appointments are needed for a visit throughout the day. Mary Walker promotes healthy habits and their services through word of mouth and signage, but mainly through Lifestyles and their “Toilet Talk” fliers and their red wagon runs.
Despite the cold weather and the stress of the spring semester, it is important to protect yourself against the flu and stay healthy. For more information about Student Health Services or Mary Walker Health Center, please visit the health center.