Signs of cold and flu season visible on campus
From the oh-so-familiar hacking cough and runny nose to the feelings of low energy and congestion, the season for the flu and common cold is in full swing.
“We’ve just been seeing a lot of sickness on campus,” said Virginia Adler, manager of the medical clinic at Wardenburg.
Students said they agree.
“It’s the end of winter and we’ve been indoors for so long, I feel like it’s primetime for sickness,” said Kirsten Tidik, a sophomore environmental studies major.
In the first half of February alone, 210 students visited Wardenburg for upper-respiratory related issues including colds, cough, fever and the flu, according to a report released by Wardenburg.
The report stated that since November, the clinic has had over 650 visits that were upper-respiratory related.
Adler said that although two completely different viruses cause the common cold and the flu, similar symptoms are associated with both illnesses, including headache, coughing and fever.
“A lot of people come in with colds that are not the flu,” Adler said in reference to the potential confusion created by the similarities in symptoms of the two illnesses.
There have been 62 confirmed cases of influenza on campus since flu season began in early October. However, Adler said, the most common cases the clinic has seen recently are those of students who have a cold and are experiencing sore throats and a deep cough that settles into their chests.
Wardenburg and the Community Health Education department give out free cold care kits with remedies for students who are feeling sick. For both illnesses, information at Wardenburg also states that at-home treatment, including lots of rest and fluid intake, will help the body’s immune system fight off the virus.
Ann Gibson, a certified holistic health counselor, said that people should not feel the need to be bed-bound when they are sick.
“Taking time for mild exercise is actually very important for immune system because it moves lymph, a fluid in the body that retrieves and gets rid of waste from cells, around the body,” Gibson said.
Gibson also recommended that people who are fighting a virus avoid sugar, and suggested remedies such as food high in ginger and garlic, elderberries, zinc tablets and vitamin C to help support the immune system.
“Chicken soup is actually really good for the immune system as well,” Gibson said.
Both the cold and flu viruses tend to survive well in cold temperatures, so with the end of winter a ways off, preventative measures remain necessary.
Flu shots are on the top of Adler’s list of prevention methods for the virus. Although an articleon CNN.com reported that the flu shot is a good match for only about 40 percent of this year’s flu viruses, Adler promotes getting the shot, saying that the match for one type A strain of the virus was excellent.
Both Adler and Gibson said hand washing is a good way to prevent both colds and the flu. Gibson also emphasized the benefits of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle and minimizing stress in sickness prevention.
“When the body system gets run down enough, it creates an environment for the virus to take over,” Gibson said.
Aspects of the college lifestyle could also be a contributing factor to sickness.
“College students stay out later, they don’t have very good sleeping habits and they are really busy and stressed out a lot,” said Kayla Andersen, junior ecology and evolutionary biology major.
Because many students cannot avoid being busy, the coming end of winter gives hope that this season’s sicknesses will not go on forever.
“Spring is just around the corner,” Tidik said. “So we’re getting close.”
Contact Campus Press staff writer Emery Cowan at firstname.lastname@example.org.