Cold & Flu Prevention

The Health Center wants you to be healthy during cold and flu season. Follow these tips to help avoid the cold and flu this year.

The Cold and Flu

The cold and flu are respiratory infections caused by different viruses. Both have very similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell them apart. Usually flu symptoms appear suddenly and can include:

  • fever over 100.4°F
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • coughing or sore throat
  • nausea, fatigue, muscle aches
  • chills and sweats

Regardless of the similarities and differences, prevention of both cold and flu is important.

Prevention

There are many ways to stay healthy and avoid the cold or flu. Follow these tips to lower your risk of coming in contact with these viruses:

  • the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated — schedule an appointment to receive the flu shot at the Health Center
  • avoid close contact with sick people
  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based cleansers (like hand sanitizer)
  • cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth -- this is how germs spread

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no quick cure for the flu, and traditional antibiotics don't work against the viruses that cause the flu. The best way to start feeling better is by:

  • getting plenty of rest to help your body fight infection
  • drinking lots of fluids, such as water, juice, tea, and clear soups (this helps loosen mucus and prevent dehydration)
  • taking Mucinex 1200 mg or Mucinex D 120/1200 mg twice daily can break up chest or head congestion
  • gargling with warm salt water a few times daily to relieve a sore throat (tea with honey or throat sprays and lozenges may also help relieve the pain)
  • taking Ibuprofen 600 mg every 6 hours or Aleve 2 tablets twice a day or Tylenol 1000 mg four times a day can help with fever and aches
  • quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, which can make cold symptoms worse
  • avoiding alcohol to prevent dehydration

If you have a cold or flu, help keep others healthy! The best way to prevent passing the cold or flu on to others is to stay home until you are fever-free (your temperature is 99°F or below) for 24 hours. 

When to call the health center

Most people will recover without needing to see a medical provider. However, you should visit the Health Center if any of the following apply to you:

  • a fever above 100°F lasting more than two days and associated with fatigue and body aches
  • symptoms that last for more than 7 days, or are getting worse instead of better
  • trouble breathing, wheezing, or shortness of breath
  • pain or pressure in the chest
  • fainting or feeling like you are about to faint
  • severe or persistent vomiting
  • severe sinus pain in your face or forehead lasting more than 5 days
  • very swollen glands in the neck or jaw
  • if you have other chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, renal failure, or are immunocompromised