Sneezes and Sniffles

Sneezes and sniffles continue to plague campus as students weather red noses and mountains of tissues this flu season.

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Influenza activity usually peaks in the U.S. in January or February. During the week of Jan. 19, 38 states reported widespread geographic influenza activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been 5,494 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations reported since Oct. 1, according to the CDC.

Mary Ann Gaudy, a registered nurse at Ocala Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla., said there are some everyday steps that can help make people healthier and less susceptible during the flu season.

“Adequate rest, good hydration and a healthy diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables can help strengthen your immune system,” Gaudy said. “Also, avoiding people who are already sick is very important.”

Gaudy said the best way to help prevent the flu is to constantly be washing your hands and avoiding large crowds of people.

“Hand-washing, hand-washing, hand-washing is by far the best way to prevent the flu,” Gaudy said.

Gaudy said hand-washing is also important when fighting the spread of germs.

People can spread germs before they know they have the flu. According to the CDC, people infected with the flu may be able to infect others one day before symptoms develop.

The flu is a respiratory illness, which means it can be spread by cough, sneeze or unclean hands.

Gaudy said people should sneeze or cough into their elbow to help prevent others from getting sick.

According to the CDC, the best way to sneeze or cough is into a tissue.

Sarah Rayburn, a junior nursing student at the University of Florida, said she has not had the flu this season.

She received the flu shot in November and is taking preventative steps daily. Rayburn believes the flu shot has helped keep her healthy.

“My biggest step is to wash my hands as much as possible,” Rayburn said. “I also use hand sanitizer often, which I always carry on me.”

Rayburn said she focuses on her intake to help keep her body healthy and less at risk.

“Eating healthy and drinking a lot of water is best for overall health,” Rayburn said.  “It also reduces the risk of getting sick, but hand-washing is extremely important.”

 Lisandranette Rios, a junior journalism major at UF, said she does not do anything differently to help avoid the flu before it strikes.

“When I feel like I am getting sick, I start eating oranges,” Rios said. “I think getting more vitamins into your body is the easiest way to prevent yourself from getting sick. Of course, having good hygiene, like washing your hands frequently, is a big must.”

Rios said she gets a cold every year. She said this year’s weather changes have only made it worse.

“When Florida does its bipolar weather changes every year, I get a cold,” Rios said. “This year’s cold lasted so long that I thought I had the flu.”

Gaudy, a nurse, said to take Tylenol or Aleve for aches and pains when sick and to get plenty of rest.

“Don’t rush it,” Gaudy said. “It can take up to 10 days to feel better. If you try to do too much too soon, you’ll wind up sick longer.”