Colds & flu
Influenza and the common cold afflict millions of Americans every year. These illnesses are especially prevalent on college campuses where students are in close proximity to one another and germs can easily be spread. Within the last school year , 29% of Hoyas cited colds, flu, and sore throats as factors that affected their academic performance.
Now that we're in the peak of flu season, it is important that students take care to stay well and prevent illness. Identifying if you have the cold or flu can help you get the right treatment and learn how to avoid spreading it.
Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the mucous membranes of your nose, eyes, or mouth.
Therefore, every time you touch your hands or fingers to one of these areas, you risk infecting yourself with a virus. These viruses can also be spread from touching infected surfaces, such as door knobs, utensils, and workout equipment.
Unfortunately, influenza-like illnesses, and rhinoviruses (the hundreds of viruses that cause the common cold) share many common symptoms. Specifically, respiratory symptoms are present in each. However, an influenza-like illness will usually present with a fever and often a cough and/or a sore throat. Influenza is usually characterized by chills, headaches, extreme fatigue and body aches, so much so that many report being unable to get out of bed. A loss of appetite is not uncommon with the flu. Together, these are what are often referred to as “flu-like symptoms.”
Symptoms of a cold usually include a congested or “stuffy” or runny nose, sneezing, and a scratchy throat. It is rare to have a high fever with a cold.
• Fever over 100
• Sore throat
Symptoms can sometimes include:
• Runny nose
• Muscle aches
• Stuffy and running nose
• Sore throat
• Hacking cough
If you experience any of the following severe symptoms in addition to cold or flu symptoms, call the Student Health Center right away:
• Severe pain or pressure in the chest
• Severe headache
• Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
• Persistent vomiting
• Painful swallowing
• Persistent fever
• Flu-like symptoms that improve but return with a fever and worse cough
Wash your hands for 30 seconds with soap and warm water.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze by using a tissue or your elbow. Dispose of tissues immediately after use.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth – areas where the virus can enter your body.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Get the shot.
Get the flu shot annually. Look for emails and flyers announcing the availability of the vaccine and flu clinics or check back on be.georgetown.edu
High Risk Individuals
According to the CDC, high risk groups for the seasonal flu include:
• People age 65 years and older
• Children younger than 5 years old
• Pregnant women
• People of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are immunosuppressed (e.g., taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV).
Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any medical regimens.
It is very important to recognize the difference between the cold and flu virus. Seeking treatment for the flu within the first 48 hours can reduce the length and severity your illness.
• Plenty of fluids
• Anti-inflammatory medicines
• Plenty of fluids
• Analgesics (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WebMD, and the National College Health Assessment Survey.
Physician On Call: (202) 444-PAGE
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