Avoiding the flu may be especially difficult for college students in constant contact with other germy people in cafeterias, residence halls, shared bathrooms and cramped classrooms. Chills, sore throats, headaches and a runny nose are indicators of the flu, which is spread through water droplets emitted from coughs and sneezes. With October marking the beginning of flu season, here are five tips to help you avoid the aches and agony of this year’s scourge.
Tip #1: Don’t forget to get vaccinated
Get a flu shot! Chapman’s Student Health Center, located at 402 N. Glassell, offers free flu shots to students to help combat the disease. Walk-ins are accepted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and students with appointments may visit the Health Center until late afternoon. You should be vaccinated before November, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tip #2: Turn up the music
Excessive stress reduces the immune system’s ability to fight off disease, according to the American Psychological Association, but taking the time to listen to some of your favorite tunes may help strengthen your mind and your body. Music is a natural destresser that boosts your immune system’s defense mechanisms and reduces stress, according to a 2013 study done by McGill University.
Tip#3: Work out at your own risk
Sweat isn’t the only thing being shed at Chapman’s Fitness Center: While daily exercise helps build immunity to illness, the flu virus can live on nonporous surfaces such as steel for up to 24 hours, according to a 2011 study published in the Public Library of Science. Disinfect machinery and mats with wet wipes before and after using gym equipment to maintain a clean environment. And reconsider how you greet your workout – and other – buddies. You can catch the flu just by shaking hands with an infected person, who can be contagious even before they begin to exhibit symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.
Tip #4 Stay away from hand dryers
You’re better off using paper towels. More virus were found around hand dryers than paper dispensers in a 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. The study also found that people who don’t wash their hands efficiently may leave virus in the air surrounding hand dryers for up to 15 minutes. Due to the friction involved in drying one’s hands with paper towels, bacteria is less likely to hang around towel dispensers.
Tip #5: Your phone may be your enemy
Countertops, hands, desks, bathroom stalls and floors: those seem to be the go-to spots for cleaning. Your phone has seen it all, and yet, you may never have thought about all of the germs it’s collected. It rubs against your face during phone calls and leaves your fingers contaminated with virus after a quick text, but you rarely take the initiative to clean your phone. Now is the time to wipe down those touchscreen devices – and any other gadgets you might share with friends. Germs may live on the surface of your devices for hours, but luckily most of them can be cleaned with a simple microfiber cloth dampened with a drop of water or disinfecting spray.
Follow these tips and you just might succeed in finessing the 2018-2019 flu season.