Avoiding and Coping with Influenza (Flu)
1. Avoid transmission of and exposure to flu viruses:
- Always cover coughs and sneezes. Use your sleeve, elbow, or a tissue.
- Dispose of used tissues in the trash and wash hands immediately.
- Clean hands often with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Don’t share contaminated or personal items with others (e.g. food, drink, utensils, unwashed towels, etc.)
- Keep your living and working areas clean – wipe down faucets, door handles, keyboards, etc.
- Avoid close contact with others who are ill.
- Keep your immune system healthy and ready to fight germs by following a healthy lifestyle.
- Get the seasonal flu vaccine every year. Flu vaccine is available to SSU students at the Student Health Center at no additional charge. You need a flu shot every year. Please call the SHC or log into your My Health Portal to make an appointment.
2. How to tell if you might have influenza:
- Infection with a flu virus is typically a febrile respiratory illness. Symptoms include sudden onset of chills or fever >100˚ plus significant cough, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, sometimes sore throat, etc.
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea with no cough or other respiratory symptoms or fever and chills is most likely an intestinal virus or another gastro-intestinal problem, not the flu.
- Take your temperature with a thermometer. Fever is a key indicator of flu-like illness and of recovery.
3. What to do if you get flu-like symptoms:
- Most otherwise healthy people will recover from an uncomplicated case of influenza without needing a medical visit.
- Take good care of yourself - rest, fluids, food, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen for muscle aches or fever.
- To aid your recovery and avoid the spread of influenza to others, stay home and away from other people until you have gone 24 hours or more with no fever or need for fever reducing medicines.
- Notify roommates, housemates, and potential visitors that you are ill with a communicable respiratory illness. Don’t share personal items or eating/drinking materials.
- Wear a surgical mask covering your mouth and nose if you can’t avoid being near others while you are ill, especially if you are coughing or will be within 6 feet of other people.
- Change to a new mask daily or when it is soiled. Dispose of your mask directly in the trash after use.
- Notify professors by phone or e-mail to avoid falling behind academically.
- Antiviral medications have significant side effects of their own and are indicated only for individuals who have significant underlying medical conditions and have had the flu less than a day or two.
- If you need medical attention or have concerns, telephone the Student Health Center or another healthcare provider before appearing for care so they can provide guidance or prepare for your arrival if it is determined that you need to be seen.
4. Special Circumstances for those with flu-like illness:
- If you are pregnant or have one or more significant chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes immune suppression, obesity, chronic neuromuscular, cardiovascular or lung disease, etc.) you are at increased risk of flu complications and should contact your healthcare provider promptly.
- Urgent medical attention at a hospital or urgent care center may be warranted for patients with severe illness. Don’t delay seeking medical attention if you develop rapid, difficult breathing, pain or pressure in chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, intense persistent vomiting, several days of fever > 102˚ or if flu-like symptoms improve but then return with high fever and worse cough.
5. Get a thermometer at the Student Health Center or a drug store.
6. Follow CDC Recommendations for flu related topics.
Other helpful links:
- Cover Your Cough - How and why lessons to stop the spread of germs in this amusing video: The Story Behind the Sleeve