What you need to know for flu, cold season on campus

Logan Raschke, News Editor

During every bustling week of cold and flu season, Eastern students are getting sick and passing their illnesses along to one another unintentionally.

Becky Ogle, family nurse and practitioner, and registered nurse Lori Icenogle from Health Services shared tips and advice for students who are trying to stay healthy despite the sickness that looms over the university community.

Ogle said cold and flu season typically lasts from October until March, but sometimes it can begin as early as April and last all year.

Colds and flus share some symptoms, she said, which is why people sometimes mistake them for one another if they do not visit their doctors.

When it comes to colds, symptoms usually include stuffy noses, sore throats, sneezing and sometimes coughing, Icenogle said.

The flu, however, “hits you like a brick,” Ogle said.

“Typically (with) the flu, you have a fever, you have the severe body aches; you generally have very severe body aches,” she said. “When I say ‘body aches,’ I mean you cannot move. You have fatigue beyond all belief. You just can’t move out of the bed, you can’t stop sleeping; it really is just terrible.”

People with the flu may also have sore throats, Ogle said, but flu symptoms can be different depending on the person.

Ogle said if anyone’s body temperature is at or above 104 degrees, they should go to the hospital.

Poor hand washing is the number one way people contract colds and flus, Ogle said. Another common factor is poor hydration, diet and sleep—all factors that college students often find themselves struggling with, she said.

When it comes to demographics, freshmen are the most susceptible group on campus to contract the cold and flu, Ogle said.

“(Freshmen) went from being very used to their environments as high school (students) and around the same people all the time to (being around) a bunch of new people from all different states (and) countries and put in a very small space, surrounded by everything,” she said. “We’re talking within the first couple weeks, we (at Health Services) have a very large influx of freshmen, almost always freshmen, who are just sick.”

Another reason freshmen college students are more susceptible is because of homesickness, Ogle said, because students sometimes eat and drink less than normal when they feel homesick.

Something important for students to keep in mind is the fact that antibiotics do not cure colds, she said, rather they fight bacterial infections and a cold is not technically bacteria.

Antibiotics do not fight the illnesses; instead, antibiotics just help decrease the length of them by about 1-2 days, she said. The only cure for the flu, Ogle said, is time and rest. People should try to eat what they can and stay hydrated to “(flush) the body with lots of fluid,” she said.

At the Medical Clinic located in the Human Services building, students can get free flu shots and buy thermometers for cheap, Icenogle said.

Students can also schedule appointments at the clinic by calling in at 581-3013, Ogle said. Walk-ins are also available, but if the clinic is too busy, students may have to wait in the lounge or schedule an appointment another time, she said.

Logan Raschke can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].