Caring for Flu at Concordia College
Flu can fly fast in an academic setting where people are working, studying, eating, sleeping and playing in close quarters. Reducing the spread of influenza (the new H1N1 virus as well as seasonal flu) is a responsibility shared by every member of our community.
Influenza viruses can be transmitted before, during and after an infected person has symptoms. Obvious illness provides persistent reminders of the need to be careful. Vigilance and thoughtfulness are key to risk reduction when symptoms are not evident.
Please help reduce the spread of flu in our community: practice good hygiene, and stay home or in your residence hall room if you are sick.
Symptoms of Flu
The flu can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also experience diarrhea and vomiting. A case of the flu can vary in severity from mild to severe.
Typically, recovery from the flu happens without medical intervention and complications such as pneumonia are unlikely but possible. People with underlying health conditions need to be especially careful.
If you are ill with the Flu
As soon as flu-like symptoms develop, stay in your residence hall room or go home to recover, and take special care to avoid infecting others.
Take Care of Yourself
- Rest up! Sleep is the best thing you can do to heal and recover.
- Consult by phone with our health service (call 3662) or an outside medical provider if you have questions, concerns, an underlying health condition or if symptoms worsen (see “consult by phone with a medical provider if” below).
- Monitor your temperature. (Be aware that you are most contagious when you have a fever.)
- Drink plenty of clear liquids (water, broth, herbal tea, Gatorade, etc.) to avoid dehydration.
- Take in adequate nutrition to support your immune system (soups, juices, applesauce, and other bland foods may be most comfortable).
- Use over-the-counter medications to treat symptoms: acetaminophen (Tylenol) for aches and pains (NOT aspirin); lozenges for sore throat; decongestants for runny nose.
- Continue to take your usual prescription medications (birth control, antidepressants, etc.).
- Understand that antiviral medications (like Tamiflu) are recommended only for those at greater risk of complications or those seriously ill. (Antibiotics are not effective against viral illnesses like influenza.)
- Do not rush your recovery. Going back to work or class before you are well puts you at risk of a setback or making your illness worse.
- Limit the spread to others.
- Please protect others by following self-isolation guidelines.
- Keep a safe distance (at least 6 feet) from others.
- Wear a disposable face mask if close contact with others is unavoidable or if you must leave your room for medical care or other necessities. (See the Concordia Health Center to obtain a mask.)
- Be attentive to careful hygiene. Cover coughs and sneezes. Dispose of used tissues in the trash. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Follow community hygiene recommendations (next page).
- Do not use public transportation. Delay travel until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours.
- Do not return to class or work until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours. (Fever should be absent without the use of fever-reducing medicines.) A cough may linger, but is not considered reason to stay out of circulation.
- You can transmit virus for several days after symptoms are gone, so continue to use good hygiene and avoid close contact.
Because of the way flu is transmitted, most people have no more risk from a roommate than they do from a classmate, teammate, friend or even stranger... if they are careful.
Seasonal and novel H1N1 flu viruses are spread through infected droplets from breathing passages (they are not “airborne”). Droplets are expelled by talking, spitting, coughing, and sneezing. They spread up to 3 feet from the infected person, either directly to other people or indirectly through hands and other surfaces.
By following the recommendations described here, most people will be able to work with a roommate so they can safely share the space, even during an illness.
Take Care of Yourself
- If you have a chronic health condition or are pregnant, you may be at greater risk for flu complications.
- Keep your distance from the sick person. If close contact (within 6 feet) is unavoidable, ask him/her to wear a face mask.
- Clean your hands thoroughly and often, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. (If you’re living with children, they may need reminders or help keeping their hands clean.)
- Purchase a new toothbrush.
- Monitor your own health. Consult by phone with a medical provider if you have any underlying chronic conditions that might increase your risk. (Examples include asthma; diabetes; immune suppression; heart, lung, kidney or liver disease; and pregnancy.)
- Restrict visitors, especially those who are at greater risk for complications from influenza.
- Clean surfaces with a household disinfectant (especially bedside tables and surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen).
- Wash linens (such as bed sheets and towels) with regular household laundry soap; tumble dry on a hot setting. Clean your hands right after handling dirty laundry of an ill individual.
- Do not share cups, bottles or eating utensils. Wash items in a dishwasher or by hand with hot water and soap. Rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly with a clean dry cloth.
- Use separate towels for drying hands after hand washing.
- When possible, maintain good ventilation in shared living areas.
Watch the Concordia Web site for updates, schedule information, and details.
Access Health Care and Support
Most people with the flu recover completely without any medical intervention in 4 to 7 days. Many will find the help they need on the Concordia web site, which has extensive information about typical symp¬toms, caring for the flu, self-isolation, and protecting others.
However, phone consultation with a health care provider is often useful.
Call Ahead Generally, it is best to start with a phone consultation to determine whether you need an office appointment.
Make the most of your health consultation. It will be helpful to record your temperature and make a list of symptoms and concerns before you call.
STUDENTS: Call Concordia Health Services at 3662 during office hours (8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday – Friday) or any other community health care provider.
OTHERS: Contact your personal or family medical provider.
Consult by Phone with a Medical Provider if:
- You have concerns about your illness or ability to care for yourself
- You are ill (or have had a recent close contact with an ill person) and have underlying health conditions that could put you at higher risk of complications from the flu. These include: asthma; diabetes; immune suppression; heart; lung; kidney or liver disease; current pregnancy
- Your symptoms worsen or complications develop, including:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Confusion or change in level of consciousness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Severe sore throat, accompanied by swollen glands in your neck
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Unidentified rash
- Fever higher than 101˚F lasting for more than three days