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How to Treat the Flu on Campus

October 15, 2012

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It’s that time of year again—the time when a chorus of coughs and sneezes seems to accompany every class you attend.  The course attendance sheets start having more students marked “absent”, and there seems to be at least one person in every circle who’s sick.  Try as you may to prevent getting sick this flu season, sometimes it seems almost unavoidable.  Getting sick is never fun, and getting sick at school, even less so.  Without the comforts of home, trying to recover from the flu isn’t as easy, especially when you’re sharing a room and you have homework and classes to consider.  But if you find yourself coming down with the flu, try not to worry.  College and the flu go way back, and there are things you can do to help treat the flu while you’re living on campus.

Check in with your campus health center.
When in doubt, call your college health center.  They’ve seen it all before, and can offer proper advice for how to best treat your symptoms.  Don’t expect any quick-fix medications though.  Influenza is viral, and as such, it can’t be treated with antibiotics.  However, talking with someone from your health center, or seeing them in person for a quick appointment, can help you rule out other illnesses, and give you a better sense of what you’re up against.

Communicate with your roommate.
If you have roommates or suite mates, make sure to let them know that you’re sick.  Good communication between roommates is especially important when any kind of sickness is involved.  Let them know when you’re feeling under the weather so that they can give you the quiet time that you need.  It’s also good that they know so that they can take measures to prevent themselves from catching the flu too.

Stock up on the essentials.
When you have the flu, you should have some items on hand to make your life easier.  It’s important to have a thermometer so you can keep track of your temperature over the course of a few days.  If you have a high fever that won’t go away, you’ll need to let a doctor know.  Make sure you have at least a couple boxes of tissues by your side, and also consider using saline sprays if your nasal congestion is strong.  If you have a sore throat and can’t stop coughing, cough drops can be a real blessing.  As mentioned before, there is no miracle drug for the flu, but if you feel you need to, look into over-the-counter medicines to help with the symptoms that are hitting you the hardest.  Decongestants, cough syrups, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can be useful things to have in stock.  Everyone in a college dorm should have a first-aid kit with some of these items, but if you find yourself without, ask a friend or roommate to help you out by running the quick errand to get some of these supplies.

Eat, drink, and sleep!
Although we can lose our appetite when we feel sick, it’s important to try to eat at least a little something to get your body the nutrition it needs to get healthy again.  Stick to bland foods like toast, applesauce, crackers, and broth.  In addition, make sure you are drinking plenty of water in order to avoid dehydration. If you have the flu, odds are that you’re feeling pretty tired, so listen to your body and sleep!  Rest as much as you can so that your body can heal and get you back on your feet sooner.

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