Taking care when you have a cold or the flu
Winter is the season for getting the cold or the flu, which causes many students to take better care of themselves while they’re sick, but according to McLachlan Student Health Center’s registered nurse (RN) Elaine Hughes, it’s usually better to let the illness run its course.
“There are many things that you can do to help yourself feel better when you’re sick,” Hughes said. “If you don’t do anything though, the illness will leave your system faster than if you take medicine, you’ll just be in more pain by not taking anything.”
Hughes has been an RN at SRU’s medical center for eight years, and an RN for a total of 27 years.
She explained some of the things that students can do when they come down with a fever, as well as how your body usually reacts to a fever.
“Hydration is the most important thing no matter what you’re sick with,” Hughes stressed. “If you have a fever, isolate yourself from everyone for at least 24 hours, so you don’t pass it on. Dress lightly, you want to let that heat out as much as you can tolerate, which is hard because many people get the chills when they have a fever and they tend to put layers on. Your body is trying to fight off what is going on, that’s why it heats up to kill the virus. Your body does what it should to fight it off.”
Karey Bartlett, a senior elementary and special education major, said she knows how to handle herself when she has a fever and she uses some of Hughes’ suggestions.
“I usually only get a fever when I have the flu,” Bartlett said. “I take Tylenol and just try to sweat it out.”
Bartlett, 22, said she knows what to do when sick with any illness, being that she gets sick quite often.
“I would say I get sick probably once or twice a month with a cold or worse,” Bartlett laughed. “When I do get sick, it usually lasts for a week to a week and a half. It’s all one big blur anymore though. I get sick so much that I’m getting my tonsils out during winter break and that’s supposed to help me not get sick as often as I do.”
Senior park and resort management major Kelsey Barbiaux, 22, said she doesn’t get as sick as compared to Bartlett, but she still knows how to take care of herself while ill.
“I only get sick once or twice a year with the cold and the flu,” Barbiaux said. “My symptoms usually last about a week. I get some blankets, orange juice, mint ginger ale and Gatorade. I drink orange juice because it has Vitamin C in it, which rids your body with whatever bad is in it. I drink Gatorade, which replenishes the electrolytes that you lose when you’re sick. The mint ginger ale cures a queasy stomach and the blanket makes you all snuggly and warm, ridding the cold spells you might get.”
Barbiaux explained the symptoms that she goes through when she has the flu.
“I will get dizzy whenever I get hot, then I start to get queasy,” Barbiaux said. “When I start to expel my insides, that’s when the flu actually hits me.”
When dealing with cold symptoms, such as a sore throat or runny nose, Hughes said rest is the best thing to do, but there are many other options to feel better.
“If you have a sore throat, it’s good to gargle salt water, use throat lozenges, take ibuprofen and Tylenol,” she said. “For a runny nose, take a decongestant. You should treat the symptoms accordingly, depending on the virus that you have.”
Bartlett explained some of the symptoms that she gets when she gets the common cold and what she does to make herself feel better.
“I normally get a headache, a stuffy and runny nose and I feel achy,” Bartlett said. “When I get a cold, I carry tissues with me and I drink Emergen-C to give me extra vitamins. I also stay in bed and get plenty of rest, even if that means I have to skip some classes.”
Bartlett recommended some things to help other students who are trying to fight off the cold or the flu.
“Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, try to stay out of the cold and pick out some good movies to watch,” Bartlett said.