Cold and flu season is upon us, and it is not likely to leave soon thanks to the rapid spread of sickness in residence halls. Dorms are the perfect space for germs to spread due to proximity and population density, increasing the chance for contagious illnesses to spread.
In order to avoid getting sick, or combat an illness if one arises, students should keep hydrated and eat foods with high amounts of vitamins, rest often and wash their hands thoroughly and frequently.
Another important strategy students should use to stop the spread of illness across campus is staying home from work and class when they are sick. Illness spread in residence halls can quickly spread to classrooms, so opting to stay home helps other students stay healthy.
“If you are ill, you should try to distance yourself from others so you do not spread your germs,” according to the Center for Disease Control. “Distancing includes staying home from work or school when possible.”
Many students may resent the idea of staying home from class for fear of falling behind in class. This is valid, as many professors are not willing to accommodate absences due to sickness, but many professors also hold office hours for students to seek extra help.
Regardless, students should prioritize their health and well-being and that of their peers over attendance in class.
In the cases where student absolutely must attend class for an exam or important lab, there are precautions that can reduce disease spread.
Medicines containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen suppress fevers. To contain germs spread via coughing and sneezing, students should make sure to cover their cough in their elbow, or better yet, students can also wear a medical face mask to keep their sicknesses to themselves.
Hand sanitizer and hand washing is effective for limiting the transfer of germs when in contact with hands. According to a study documented in the American Journal of Infection Control, symptoms and illnesses decreased in groups where students frequently used hand sanitizer.
“Reductions in upper respiratory-illness symptoms ranged from 14.8% to 39.9%. Total improvement in illness rate was 20%. The group with hand sanitizer had 43% less missed school/work days.” the Journal said.
Finally, students should get vaccinated in order to prevent contracting the flu in the first place.
According to the CDC, “The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.”
Flu shots are highly effective at warding off illnesses. Coug Health Services will administer flu shots every Friday from Sept. 27 to Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Washington Building.
When sick with the flu or any other contagious illness, students should make the responsible choice and stay home. Illness already spreads quickly under the close quarters in residence halls, so students should opt out of large lecture halls and other classrooms and take care of their own well-being, as well as the well-being of their peers, and stay home.