Health and Wellness Corner: Flu season has begun

Erin Hohol, Staff Writer

Why worry about the flu in the fall? No one gets the flu until the middle of winter.  Wrong!  October is actually the first month of what is considered “flu season.”

The “season” usually spans from October to April, with January being the peak month, said Diane O’Brien, director of health and wellness services, and family nurse practitioner.  So now is the time to keep your immune system strong.

Flu shots usually give immunity spanning around 6 months, and most of the flu season can now be given by pharmacists at Rite Aid and other drug stores.

One myth that many believe is that the flu shot gives you the flu itself.  Anthony Scarnato, a P4 pharmacy student, explained that the shot is not active until 3 weeks after its injection.

For those who don’t plan to get the shot there are some important things to know about the flu.  As many students live or study in group environments, they are more at risk for the flu.

First and foremost, the flu is spread by droplets such as mucus and saliva. O’Brien and Scarnato could not stress enough that washing your hands is key to avoiding the flu.

Both also suggested avoiding the common practice of sharing drinks with a friend, sharing towels with your bathmate and coming in close contact with someone you think may be sick.

O’Brien and Scarnato said you will be able to tell that you have the flu and not the common cold when you experience the following symptoms:  fever exceeding 100 degrees, chills, muscle aches, headaches, and chest discomfort.

Many people believe the flu is a hyped-up version of the cold. O’Brien said that the symptoms are much worse, and patients have told her, it is “like you got hit by a truck.”  Because of the severity, victims of the flu could miss anywhere from five to ten days of their regular schedule.
Although the flu is a common illness, it should by no means be taken lightly when it comes to prevention and treatment.