Monday, October 15, 2012

Tips for Being Prepared for Cold and Flu Season

Whitney Barnett, Outreach Coordinator

It is that time of year again when the weather is colder, sometimes rainier, and when we may start to see snow. That’s right: it is cold season in Kentucky! Classrooms will soon be filled with the sounds of the sniffles, sneezes, and the dreaded mucus cough. Do yourself a favor — be informed about how to stay healthy and avoid getting a cold or even worse, the flu.

Here are a few helpful tips for flu and cold prevention:

Apparel: It is time to put away the shorts and flip-flopsBring out your coats, hats, gloves and scarves so that you stay warm walking to and from class.

Weather: Always pack an umbrella with you so that you can stay dry if it happens to rain or snow. Also, having a good pair of waterproof boots to keep your feet dry is a good idea.

Sleep: Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 8.5 to 9.25 hours per night for adolescents (11-24 years old).

Wash Your Hands: Hand washing is one of the most effective and most overlooked ways to stop disease. Wash your hands multiple times throughout the day for at least 15 seconds. Disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers also work well.

Avoid close contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth: Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Even if you are precautious, you still might get sick. Here’s some helpful advice from recent medical literature:
  •  Get plenty of rest, in addition to the recommended number of hours of sleep per night. Your body needs it in order to fight off the illness.
  •  Drink hot liquids. They can help to soothe your throat, ease your congestion, and help to keep you hydrated.
  •  Take a steamy shower. This can also help with congestion and to relax your body.
  • Sleep on an angle. Put an extra pillow under your head at night to help with nasal drainage.
  •  Sneeze onto your elbow or shirt sleeve instead of sneezing into your hand or into the air.
  •  STAY IN to reduce the chance of spreading your illness to others.

If you have to miss class due to illness, take the necessary steps to catch up on your homework and assignments. Your college professors will expect you to contact them to get the missed assignments or to get class notes from a classmate. In most cases, professors will not accept anything you turn in late unless you have a doctor’s note. Make sure to review your syllabus for the absence policy.

The University of Kentucky has a great health care program for students. The University Health Service (UHS), which is across the street from Speedway and Shell.
  • Appointments are required at UHS and can be made at 859-323-2778 or online at Make sure you have your student ID available when you make your appointment.
  •  UHS is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  •  Full-time students have access to UHS once they have paid tuition and mandatory fees.
  • Part-time students may use UHS by voluntarily paying the health fee or being seen on a fee-for-service basis.
  • Throughout the month of October, students can get a flu shot for $10.00. You must have your student ID. Check out the UHS website for specific times and locations:

Remember, getting sick with the cold or flu will likely disrupt your everyday life, including your studies and class attendance. Even with careful attention and effort, you may not be able to prevent your body from being subject to the cold or flu. However, you can follow the tips listed above to reduce the severity and duration of these illnesses, which will help you to recover and get back to your daily activities.

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