Stay healthy through flu season

By Ericka Exton

With temperatures rising and falling, high winds and no break in the everyday hustle and bustle, the flu has a home once again.

The typical time for the flu to hit is usually between December and January, though this year has been a little different, according to Christine Grady, director of NIU health services.

“The flu season started earlier this year than last year,” Grady said.

There were cases of the flu going back to October and peaking in November, Grady said.

The reason for the change is unknown but since November there hasn’t been as many reported cases of the flu, according to Sharon Emanuelson, director of Mmarketing for Kishwaukee Health System.

At Kishwaukee Hospital, 98 percent of all people who came into the emergency room complained of respiratory problems or other flu-like symptoms, but only 2 to 4 percent of those patients tested positive for the flu, according to Emanuelson.

“This year more children and young adults up to age 24 are being treated for the flu,” Emanuelson said. ”It seems to be hitting the younger population this year.”

Even though the numbers are higher, it’s been a slow starting season for the flu and that can be attributed to the fact that the flu season itself was out of tune, Emanuelson said. She also said there was a lot more activity in March last year so maybe the worst is yet to come.

Whether the flu hits in October or March, there are ways to stay protected. Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, washing hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer are all helpful tips to avoid sickness, Grady said.

One remedy used to battle the flu is a vaccine shot, but there are some who believe it’s just not for them. Sherise Garmon, senior communicative disorders major, said she has no desire to get a flu shot.

“I use home remedies when I’m sick,” Garmon said. “I have never had the flu and I have heard so many different theories about what the shot actually does, it makes me not wanna try it.”

Whichever method is chosen to prevent the flu, Grady said the three C’s are important: clean, cover and contain can help. If a person has influenza-like symptoms, he or she should stay home until he or she hasn’t had a fever for 24 hours without taking fever reducing medications, and that person should drink plenty of liquids, Grady said.