Student Health Services

Buzz Newsletter

It's Flu Season

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What You Can Do About the Flu

Please help protect your own health and that of your campus community by learning what precautions you can take to lower the risk of spreading or contracting influenza.


Precautions and Planning

  • Get your own thermometer, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and tissues.
  • Maintain your own supply of hand soap and/or gel hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content).
  • Put Student Health Services in your phone: 320-308-3191.
  • Start a good hand washing habit. Always wash with soap or hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds before eating, drinking, or preparing food; after using the bathroom; and if you cough or sneeze into a tissue.
  • Practice coughing and sneezing into your sleeve. Viruses can’t stay viable as long or spread as easily from there as they can from your hands.
  • Try to keep hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash hands more often if you smoke or bite your nails.
  • Get your seasonal flu shot now.  Student Health Services still has flu vaccine.  Make an appointment or walk in to ask about getting vaccinated.  It usually takes 1-2 weeks after vaccination to develop immunity.
  • "High-risk" medical conditions are defined as: asthma or other chronic pulmonary disease; cancer; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; pregnancy; weakened immune system; or kidney, liver, blood, or neurological disorders.  These conditions are associated with a higher possibility of complications if you do get flu.

                             COLD:                                       FLU:                                     
comes on gradually                      comes on quickly
fever unlikely                              fever probable
cough possible                            dry cough possible
sore throat possible                     sore throat possible
stomach feels okay                      vomiting, diahrrea
body aches unlikely                      body aches possible
chills unlikely                               chills possible
stuffy/runny nose                        stuffy/runny nose

If You Do Get Sick

Take your temperature. If you have a fever (100°F/37.8°C or higher), you should stay home from work and class until you have been completely fever-free (without fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours, and you feel well. For most people, this will be 3 to 5 days.

If you have a "high-risk" medical condition (listed above), call your health care provider. Antiviral medications are recommended for "high-risk" cases and should be taken as soon as possible.

Most people recover on their own without medical treatment. Drink fluids to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, eat what you can, and use ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as directed, to manage fever and body aches. (Antibiotics do not have any effect because influenza is caused by a virus.) Call a health care provider if your symptoms are not improving after 3 to 4 days. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms listed in the chart below.

Communicate. Contact your professors, TAs, and employer to let them know you have influenza symptoms and cannot return to class or work until you’re better (including fever-free). As with any illness, you will be responsible for getting assignments you have missed and making arrangements to make up work after you recover.

Self-Isolate. Try to avoid public places including public transportation until your fever and symptoms are resolving.

Flu viruses typically survive on surfaces for 2 to 8 hours, so do not share towels, clothing, eating utensils, keyboards, remote controls, etc., while you are infectious. When you recover, wash your own sheets and towels. Empty your wastebasket of used tissues, etc., and take out the trash yourself.


Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of the following:

-shortness of breath or trouble breathing              

-pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen            

-severe or persistent vomiting                                 

-confusion or sudden dizziness

-flu symptoms that improve but then return suddenly with fever and worse cough

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