Health Awareness: Don’t let the ‘bug’ get you

Achoo!

Is it raining?

Nope.

Someone has just sneezed on the back of your neck!

Once again, people across the nation are entering the flu season. But not beacause it’s getting colder outside.

Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease believe that cold weather causes people to spend more time indoors, increasing transmission opportunities.

The common cold is said to be the leading cause of absence in school and at work. It is also the leading cause of doctor visits.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported 62 million cases of the common cold last year.

Again this year, flu shots will be offered for $10 in the Health Center. A student ID is required, but no appointment is needed.

Students have mixed feelings about whether the flu shot has a positive or negative effect.

“I would not get a flu shot because I have seen what it does to some people,” Brandon Izquierdo, sophomore, said. “My dad seemed to get more colds when he started taking the flu shot.”

Instead, Izquierdo finds that working out and getting enough sleep helps in preventing the virus from reaching him.

“I try to get at least eight hours of sleep; realistically, I get seven hours and try to make it up one hour during the day in class sometime,” Izquierdo said.

Izquierdo, along with others, believe the flu shot causes the flu, but this is a common myth.

“Some people will get the flu right after they get the flu shot and blame it on the flu shot, but in actuality, they were exposed to (the virus) before they got the shot,” Nancy Lenp, nurse practitioner, said.

Flu shot vital for good health

The flu shot does have an effect on how the body feels, which confuses most of its patients.

“A flu shot can make you feel kinda achy and make you feel like you are coming down with something, but that goes away in a few hours,” Lenp said.

The vaccine has a 60 percent to 70 percent success rate.

The efficiency may be lower for those with a weakened immune system.

“The flu shot is good for one year, so every year you would have to come in and get it done again.” Lenp said.

Classrooms are considered to be the environment populated with the most germs.

Ava Baldwin, speech communications professor, said she believes washing her hands frequently can help her fight off bacteria.

“I usually wash my hands about a half a dozen times during the day. I take a multivitamin and I workout regularly, at least three times a week,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin decides the flu shot may not be necessary at this time.

“If I was getting sick every year and I thought it would help me, I would. I have no problem with it,” Baldwin said.

Everyone must be re-vaccinated each year because the flu viruses change each year.

More importantly, flu shots are recommended annually for people who are 50 years of age or older, along with anyone with chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions, as well as children and young adults.

Nearly 50 percent of students are infected with the flu each year and a main cause of that is interaction of the virus within a classroom. But this does not hold students back from going to class.

“What can I do? I have to go to class,” Izquierdo said.

Contaminate the germs

Lenp said she believes it might be best for the students to stay home the days they are sick.

“Do everyone a favor and keep the germs at home,” Lenp said.

Baldwin said she feels her strict attendance policies are what keeps her students in their seats when they are clearly suffering from symptoms. She admits to allowing students to go home if they are obviously suffering from the flu.

However, if students are experiencing symptoms, they may find the Health Center comforting.

“We offer comfort measures. We offer cough drops or antihistamines, depending upon the symptoms. Not everyone has the same symptoms, but we do the best we can.” Lenp said.

There has been a fairly good turnout of flu shots for students and faculty the past couple of years, and the office workers are expecting the same results.

The common cold can be caused by more than 200 viruses.

These viruses attack and multiply in the cells that line the nose and throat.

Colds are more commonly spread by hand-to-hand contact with someone who is infected.

Also, the cold virus could be spread when you touch your nose or eyes after touching a hard surface that has been infected.

The body is more acceptable to “catching” a cold if it is under a severe amount of stress.

“I recommend that students get (the flu shot) because they always end up being sick right around finals time. They need their brainpower and they go to school all clogged up on Nyquil and everything, then they don’t do so well on their test,” Lenp said.

Keep the immune system strong

Daily exercise and eating healthy foods can also prevent a person from coming down with the flu.

The body will usually respond to symptoms three to four days after the cold virus has infected it.

If the cold does not clear up within seven to ten days of being infected, medical assistance may be needed.

Symptoms of the common cold can include, but are not limited to: sneezing, scratchy or sore throat, fatigue, tenderness around the eyes, and a stuffy nose.

Symptoms for the flu can include fever, shivering chills and loss of appetite.

Although there is still no cure for the common cold, there are precautions to take to prevent them and shorten the duration.

For more information on the common cold, students may contact the Health Center at (310) 660-3643.