Leave flu out in cold: Watch for symptoms

By Deborah Costello

The flu season is here and it’s time to watch for symptoms and have remedies at hand.

Common influenza symptoms include fatigue, body aches, dizziness, upper-respiratory congestion, sore throat and headaches, said Michael Haines, NIU Health Enhancement Services coordinator. Many symptoms can be misinterpreted, leading to a worse case of the flu, he said.

Precautions can be taken when symptoms are noticed early. Getting more rest, drinking more fluids and lessening stress factors in everyday lifestyles are common precautions against illness, Haines said.

The flu is spread by close contact with someone coughing and sneezing, according to Tel-Med Tape Library at Kishwaukee Hospital. A good way to prevent the spread of the flu is to stay home from work or school, Tel-Med said.

“The most common route of transmission is by not washing your hands after touching something contaminated, then proceed to touch your nose or eyes,” Haines said.

Good hygiene is essential, especially if someone living in the same quarters is sick, Haines said. Another way of avoiding the flu is to avoid public places if possible, which cuts down the chances of transmission, he said.

Immunization is also a preventive, said Marilyn Jesser, communicable disease coordinator at the DeKalb County Health Department. The flu can be especially dangerous for the elderly and people suffering from serious health problems, such as heart disease, she said.

The vaccine should be given in the fall and lasts for six months. Again, the vaccine is a preventive—not a guarantee, she said.

Once flu symptoms have set in, the virus must run its course. “The best remedy for the flu is to rest and rest and continue to rest until symptoms go away. For most college students, this may seem impossible. But a change of lifestyle is needed for a speedy recovery. Drinking plenty of fluids is also essential to avoid dehydration,” Haines said.

Over-the-counter medications help soothe the symptoms of the flu, but they will not cure it, he said.

Nobody likes to be sick, but with a few precautions, the flu may not be so bad after all.