Are You Doing Enough To Avoid The Flu?

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Flu season is here and with it comes the chance of contracting an illness that can knock you down for a week or more and, in certain cases, even take your life. The elderly and small children are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of influenza, but so are you. Even if you had a flu shot this year you may not be exempt from catching the flu: your shot covers certain strains of the virus, while another strain could still make you sick.

tissue boxThe flu virus is easily transmitted and can be sent like wildfire around campus. Most people know to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough, but not everyone does it.

“Many people don’t totally understand how colds, flu and other contagious respiratory diseases are spread. A cold virus can survive in normal household air for nearly 50 minutes under the right conditions and on household surfaces even longer. Some flu viruses remain active up to three hours in the air and survive for days on surfaces,” said Dennis A. Clements, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer at Duke University Children’s Hospital, Durham, N.C.

What happens in the home can also happen in the classroom. You could enter a room for your class and everyone there is fine, but unknown to you the previous class had a student who was coughing and sneezing, exhibiting clear signs of illness. Those germs can linger in the air and can last for many days on your desk or other surfaces.

Speaking about young children Dr. Clements says, “When your youngster wipes his nose, then opens the refrigerator and goes upstairs, he’s left some of the virus on the refrigerator door handle, the banister and everywhere else he touched. When other family members touch these surfaces, they may pick up the virus.”

Your dorm can also be a prime breeding ground for the flu. Door knobs, candy and soda machines, bathroom doors and toilet seats, refrigerators or any other surface area can hold germs. While you may not be able to get rid of what you cannot see, frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your mouth or your eyes can reduce the chance that you’ll get sick.

Yes, what your mother taught you when you were a child is still appropriate as a college student — say the alphabet or count up to twenty as you wash your hands and you’ll get rid of most germs. Just don’t let your roommate catch you saying your little ditty otherwise you’ll never hear the end of it!

Source: Alliance for Consumer Education

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Photo Credit: Sophie

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Categories: Personal Advice