This archived article was written by: McKenzie Hosenfield
It’s that time of year again when hand sanitizer flies off of store shelves, kids stay home from school, and everyone keeps tissues and cough drops at the ready. Welcome to flu season. This year’s influenza is particularly bad as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 3,000 people have died from the flu so far this flu season, more than twice the number of deaths reported from this time last year. They also report that although it varies year-by-year, more than 23,000 people die from influenza and pneumonia-related illnesses in the United States each year.
College students are extremely susceptible to getting sick because of close living quarters, poor eating habits, and lack of a sufficient amount of sleep. Although this sickness is widespread, there are steps you can take to reduce the likeliness of being affected. First and most important, get your flu shot! The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get immunized. The flu season usually peaks in February, so it is still beneficial to get the shot this late in the season. Flu shots are available for $23 at the Wellness Clinic in the Student Activity Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1-6pm. It is quick, easy, and completely worth staying healthy. Another simple yet effective way to stay healthy is to wash your hands frequently. Jan Thornton, Utah State University- Eastern psychologist says, “Wash your hands. It is the best way to stay safe from the flu”. She recommends singing the ABC’s or the Eagle Fight Song while at the sink to ensure that you have washed long enough. More ways of avoiding the flu is by avoiding touching your eyes and nose, resting at least seven hours a night, and exercising regularly. Studies have also shown that 20 minutes of meditation a day can reduce the likeliness of catching the flu by more than 50 percent.
Thinking you already have the flu? Some symptoms to watch for are a sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle aches, and the occasional chills. If you are experiencing any of the indications, you can quicken the recovery time by washing your hands often, drinking plenty of fluids, and gargling salt water. The best way to get over the flu quickly is by simply staying home and by sleeping it off. Many college students continue to attend classes despite illnesses because they fear missing assignments and tests. Most professors are very understanding of absences due to sickness and are grateful that their students are not putting them at risk of also getting sick.
Although the flu is taking the world by storm, you can remain unscathed by taking care of yourself and doing the small things that will make the difference. Retire from Facebook earlier and go to bed. Eat a salad for lunch instead of the regular burger and fries. Go to the gym rather than hang out with friends. Those little decisions won’t necessarily be your favorite, but if it keeps you from a week of complete misery, they will be actions you will not regret.