Student Health Center Offers Tips for Avoiding and Treating the Flu

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Just two weeks into January, the Student Health Center has been busy with more than twenty cases of the flu on campus. The staff of the Student Health Center wants to remind you of tips for avoiding the flu and ways to help treat it.

The majority of people who contract the flu will not require a doctor’s treatment. If you have been in contact with someone who has the flu, symptoms may develop up to three days later. It is recommended that those with the flu remain at home and away from other people until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

When possible, students who live on campus should arrange to go to a private home to recuperate. Students living in residence halls should stay in their own room and receive care and meals from a single person when possible. Students are asked to establish a “flu buddy” system and pair up as the identified caregiver should one or the other become ill.

Students who are ill should limit their contact with others and, to the extent possible, maintain a distance of six feet from people with whom they share their living space. If close contact cannot be avoided, the ill student should be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact.

If you begin to see emergency warning signs, including difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, immediately contact the Student Health Center. After hours, you may go to the UT Medical Center emergency room which serves as your after-hours clinic.

The Student Health Center recommends that all students respond quickly to flu-like symptoms. Typical symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, headache, and sore throat. With cases increasing during the winter months, the Student Health Center encourages everyone to take the following actions to minimize the risk of getting the flu:

  • Receive your annual flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is still being offered at the Student Health Center and at other pharmacies.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Wash your hands before eating.
  • Do not share your food, drink, or utensils with others.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

Most people with the flu will recover in seven to ten days. During that time, symptomatic treatment measures may include a number of measures:

  • For fever, the Health Center encourages the use of acetaminophen. 
  • For cough, use a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture. 
  • For relief of a sore throat, gargle often with warm or cold double-strength tea or salt water, or use over-the-counter throat lozenges.
  • For nasal congestion and runny nose, use salt-water drops or over the counter nasal sprays or oral decongestants.
  • For aching muscles, use warm compresses or a heating pad.
  • For faster recovery, plenty of rest helps your body fight the virus.
  • For a diminished appetite, you may prefer liquids at first. Then progress to small meals of bland starchy foods like toast, rice, cereal, or baked potatoes as your appetite improves.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

For more information, visit studenthealth.utk.edu.

 

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