Happy New Year! and unfortunately, welcome to flu season…………
We are seeing an increase of flu cases here at Student Health, which mirrors the activity across the United States. Here is some important information about flu and what to do if you (or someone close to you) gets sick.
Signs of the flu: sudden onset of fever, body aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache. Rarely it can cause diarrhea or vomiting, but influenza and the “stomach flu” are NOT the same thing. Flu makes you feel horrible, fast. Like hit by a truck horrible.
What to do if you are sick: stay away from others until you have been fever-free for 24 hrs without having to take fever reducing medication. Take ibuprofen/tylenol for aches and fever, drink a lot of fluids, rest, and cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue that you throw away. WASH YOUR HANDS. Are you high risk for flu complications? Read this and if applies, call us at (252) 328-6841.
- Do you need a friend to pick up food for you at the dining hall? You can fill out this form and let your buddy grab you something to eat.
- Do you need to let your professors know you are sick? Log onto Pirate Port and use the “Flu Self Reporting Form”. Be advised: this is NOT an excuse. It does let your professors know you are ill and they may work with you on missed work.
What to do if your roommate or someone you love is sick: http://www.flu.gov/symptoms-treatment/caring-for-someone/index.html
If you aren’t sick, here are a few things to do to try to avoid the flu:
- get a flu shot–although the best time to get vaccinated is early fall, it is not too late. Student Health has some vaccine available or visit one of your local retail pharmacies, urgent care centers, or your primary medical provider’s office.
- Avoid sick people–if your friend says they don’t feel well, maybe you should cancel that study session or lunch date.
- Don’t eat, drink, or smoke after others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth–we don’t realize how much we introduce germs into our system just by our habits.
- Wash your hands way more than you think is necessary. Also, alcohol based sanitizers do work against flu, so get you a bottle to keep in your bag.
- Surfaces are gross–doorknobs, chair rails, keyboards, money, pens, phones, etc all can harbor flu virus particles. Remember to clean your hands often especially after touching items others have used.
A few FAQ:
- Does SHS test for flu?
Sometimes. In many cases though, testing is not helpful since the treatment for flu is based on symptoms, not test results, so your treatment is the same regardless of whether or not you have a test. Right now there is a national shortage of flu tests, but as flu becomes widespread in communities there is less need to test since we know the virus is circulating.
- Should I see a doctor?
In most cases, if you are healthy and have no underlying major medical issues like asthma, pregnancy, diabetes, HIV, heart conditions, cancer, etc, you do not need to see a health care provider since flu typically resolves on its own. However, if you have severe symptoms or feel that you are not improving, you need to call your doctor or if you have an emergency, call 911.
- Can SHS give me a note to miss class?
No. SHS can not give class excuses. While we do not want students going to class ill, decisions about class attendance policies rest solely with instructors. Students should notify their instructor when they have the flu.
- If I have flu, do I need Tamiflu (antiviral medication)?
Again, probably not. Learn more here. If you have a severe case, or are at high risk for complications, then your doctor will probably prescribe an anti-viral; however, low risk otherwise healthy people do not need prescription medication for flu. Tamiflu has side effects of its own and while it *may* shorten duration of illness by 24 hours or so, it will not take symptoms away. It is indicated for helping prevent serious complications in high risk patients, but it is not a magic bullet for making the flu go away in otherwise healthy individuals.
Still have more flu related questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, don’t forget: anytime we are not open, you always have the 24hr nurse line available to you for medical advice. Call our main number, (252) 328-6841, and listen to the instructions for speaking with a nurse.
Student Health continually monitors the flu situation. Look to www.ecu.edu/studenthealth for updates and please follow us on Twitter (@ECU_SHS) and Facebook (ECU Student Health Services) for the most up to date information for campus.