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Oak Leaves



April 22, 2016

Warmer Weather Arrives, Students Get Colds

Erin Fralick

Students around campus are coming down with a nasty case of the cold. Symptoms of this cold include nausea, vomiting, fever, sore throat, body aches, headaches, exhaustion, congestion and a cough.

Most students assume that this virus is a 24-hour stomach flu; however, if after 3 to 4 days the student starts to experience congestion and coughing, they may have caught the cold.  The cold is a virus, so there is no antibiotic the student can take to make it go away. Likely, the cold will run its course of 7 to 10 days.

Campus Director of Health Services Anna Richison is seeing about 2 to 5 students a day with the cold, a trend that has continued for about 3 to 4 weeks. With such a large amount of the student population falling ill, Richison recommends some measures to ensure students’ health.

In addition to getting rest, the best thing that ill students can do is wash their hands frequently. “In the medical field, you say ‘the first line of defense is good hand washing,’” Richison said.  Other ways that sick students can prevent the spread of germs and get better quickly are similar to the steps to avoid getting sick. These include sneezing or coughing into the crook of the elbow to avoid spreading germs by touch, and drinking plenty of fluids.

Some other preventative measures include not sharing glasses, eating a proper diet and keeping dorm areas sanitized.  The last measure is especially important for those living in a suite setting if one of the suitemates has fallen ill.

If the student has experienced vomiting, Richison recommends what is called a “B.R.A.T diet,” which includes bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. The most important thing is that the diet is bland because spicy and greasy foods will irritate the stomach and cause more vomiting.

One problem with this strain of cold is that many students are mistaking it for a 24-hour stomach flu; however, the vomiting for a 24 hour stomach flu should only persist for 12 hours, and there will be no fever. A person with a 24 hour stomach flu may experience diarrhea as well. If a student has the stomach flu, they should avoid eating anything for two hours after vomiting, and avoid drinking anything for 15 minutes after vomiting. When they student does drink, they should have sips of room temperature water.

Students have also confused allergies with what they assumed was a cold. While students may not be able to diagnose the problem, they might want to take note if they experience the symptoms more around open windows or outside.

“Some students don’t realize they can come (to the health services) to get medicines,” Richison said. “I have over-the-counter medicine.”

Richison is available from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. If a student needs to reach her, they can call 260-982-5306. On the weekends or after hours, students can go to the student health assistant, who can be contacted at 260-901-3123. Student health assistants can’t give out medications like Richison, but they can offer tips on how to get better as soon as possible.

Students are advised to see a doctor if a fever persists for 48 hours, if sinus drainage is yellow or green or if they have difficulty breathing.