How not to catch a bug: Staying healthy during the cold season

Ryan Haidet

It’s almost that time of year again. The coughing, sneezing, stuffiness and aches will soon be returning with the start of cold and flu season.

Although sickness may seem to be an unstoppable force because of the number of people individuals come in contact with everyday, there are things that students and staff can do to try and fight back.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site said getting the flu shot is a great precaution.

The DeWeese Health Center will hold a flu-shot clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 1 and 2. No appointment is necessary, and all students and staff are welcome. The cost is $20.

“By getting the vaccination, you significantly reduce your risk of having the flu during that year,” said Sarah Mitchell, a senior nursing major. “I think that prevention is the best way to avoid getting sick.”

Other than the flu shot, students can take other precautions to keep in the best of health.

“The most important thing to do during the flu and cold season is to wash your hands frequently,” said junior nursing major Kylene Blasiman. “The cold virus is more commonly transmitted by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose or mouth.”

And, it’s not always easy for people to get to some soap and water.

“Since washing your hands isn’t always an option for people who are on the go, an easy solution is to carry around a small bottle of Purell,” Mitchell said. “Many studies have proven that using instant hand sanitizers is more effective than using an antibacterial soap.”

Mitchell said that antibacterial soaps, over time, can lead to bacterial resistance, which makes them less effective to use.

Hand washing is the most obvious thing to do to fight off these illnesses, but there are other things to do that some may not think about because of busy school and work schedules.

“To keep our immune system functioning at the highest condition, we should make sure that we are getting good nutrition by eating well-balanced meals,” Mitchell said. “By exercising for 30 minutes a day and by getting the appropriate amount of rest each night, we are able to keep our immune system in shape and our bodies healthy.”

Some say that another way to fight off colds and flu is by taking vitamin C.

“Vitamin C technically is supposed to help the immune system function,” Paul McMullen, a senior nursing major said. “But, the research still isn’t 100 percent clear as to how it helps and how much it really helps.”

There are many reasons these illnesses invade our bodies, but one that contributes to students and staff health is stress.

“By having prolonged stress in your life, your immune system is weakened, making you more susceptible to getting sick,” Mitchell said. “In order to combat this effect, we need to learn how to manage our stress in a positive way.”

McMullen also expressed his concern with stress and sickness.

“It is important to learn to control your stress levels, late in the semester especially,” McMullen said. “High levels of stress tend to decrease the body’s normal immune response, thus increasing the possibility of infection and the cold or flu.”

McMullen said that stress is the reason many students get sick a week or two after a big exam or even finals week.

With the many ways to fight off the cold or flu, many people still come down with them for various reasons. There are things that can be done to get back to health.

“If you come down with an illness then I recommend calling your doctor’s office right away,” Mitchell said. “By waiting to make this appointment you are only getting worse.”

Mitchell said to make sure to drink a lot of fluids and get an adequate amount of rest when sick.

Contact health reporter Ryan Haidet at [email protected].