Winter is not the only season approaching; the climax of cold and flu season is just around the corner. There are several different ways to protect yourself from the flu and cope with your symptoms as finals week begins.
Jennifer Menon Parker, science professor, said that there are a few differences between the cold and the flu. Mortality rate and severity of symptoms were the top two.
“The flu is actually still one of the major killers of the human population and people don’t realize that,” Menon Parker said. “The common cold generally does not kill. The symptoms are a lot milder. They can, however, go untreated and lead to other things such as bronchitis.”
Menon Parker suggested staying away from the over-the-counter remedies unless you currently do not have the flu and are trying to prevent it.
“There are several cold and flu remedies you can try but usually natural remedies are best,” Menon Parker said. “The zinc in most of those medications are preventative. You don’t want to take those once you already have [the flu] because those are the materials that the pathogens use to build their own strength.”
Tiffany Chao, president of the Pre-Pharmacy Club, listed a few ways college students can receive their flu shots. Visiting a local pharmacy, clinic or your doctor’s office were a few suggestions.
“If you want to get one at the pharmacy it’s with your prescription insurance. [The drugstore] also has the side clinic where they use your medical insurance,” Chao said. “The pharmacist or pharmacy intern is the one who gives the shot. Most people can get [the vaccine] for free with insurance.”
Guileonne Tegomo, student, is a member of the Pre-Pharmacy Club. Tegomo briefly described why everyone should get a flu shot. The minimal cost and proven effectiveness of the vaccine were her main points.
“Even if you have to pay out of pocket, the maximum cost is only $30 or $40,” Tegomo said. “I think it’s worth it. It’s better to get the protection than be sick for a week.”
Candace Parker, nursing professor, described a few more ways to prevent the flu besides getting the vaccine. Changing hand towels daily and keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby were some of her recommendations.
“The number one preventative that we recommend is good hand-washing, maybe even carrying around a little bottle of hand sanitizer,” Parker said. “We recommend changing your hand towels out daily, and using a kleenex and hand sanitizer when you sneeze. If you are sick and are going to be working with people, you might want to wear a mask.”
In addition to rest and hydration, Parker added that your diet plays a part in flu prevention. She suggested staying on a Mediterranean diet because of its positive effects on the immune system.
“We do recommend anti-inflammatory foods and foods rich in vitamin C,” Parker said. “Really looking at your diet is a big piece of [prevention]. The best diet anybody can have is a Mediterranean diet — nuts, fatty fishes, green leafy vegetables, greek yogurt and low-fat dairy products.”
Parker suggested that if college students come down with flu symptoms during the school week they should visit their local healthcare provider shortly after their symptoms begin to get started on an anti-viral medication.
“The sooner [students] can get on an anti-viral medication, if it truly is the flu, the less days they’ll have to suffer,” Parker said. “You will need to see a healthcare provider within two days [after your symptoms begin] for it to be the most successful. It will cut your flu symptoms and time by almost two days.”
To learn more about the flu vaccine and the flu itself, visit www.cdc.gov/flu. To learn more about the common cold visit www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses.