Winter blues bring colds, coughs, flus

An estimated five to 20 percent of cases of the flu are reported each year in the United States, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The majority of flu cases are reported between January and early March during a time known as the “flu season,” according to campus health nurse Michele Kay.

According to CDC, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

CDC also outlines the risks involved with the flu, including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

On Northern Kentucky University’s campus, students are constantly exposed to other people who could be carrying the flu virus. According to Kay, the best way to prevent getting the flu is to keep hands clean.

“The best, No. 1 thing that you can do is wash your hands,” Kay said. “Touching is the easiest way to transmit the flu.”

According to Kay, another way to stay healthy is to take care of oneself to prevent the flu.

“Eat right, drink fluids and get enough sleep,” Kay said. She also warned that without these things, a person’s body becomes worn down and has a weakened immune system.

Though resting is an important part of flu prevention, Kay said it’s also a big part of recovering from the flu.

“Resting is a big key to getting well,” said Kay. She suggested to stay home from school to rest and prevent spreading the flu to others.

If someone realizes they have the flu within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms, anti-viral medications from a doctor will lessen the time it takes to recover, Kay advised.

“But it’s really hard to judge,” she said. “Most of the time you don’t realize you have the flu until days later. You really have to catch it early.”

Many flu symptoms are similar to that of the common cold, so sometimes it can be hard to tell what a person has. According to Kay, symptoms of the flu include headache, sore throat, body ache, high fever and chills. She said vomiting and a runny nose can also be seen with the flu, but it’s not as likely. The symptoms can last for seven to 10 days.

According to the CDC Web site, having some of these symptoms does not always indicate that a person has the flu. Many different illnesses have similar symptoms.

Flu vaccinations are available on campus in the fall. Flu shots are $20 and the flu mist is $25. To contact University Health, Counseling and Prevention Services about the flu or other health issues, go to University Center 300 or call (859) 572-5650.