Influenza (Flu) Information
FLU FAQ’s for Student and Their Families
How does the Flu spread?
The flu virus is contained in the wet spray (droplets of saliva and mucous) that comes out of the nose and mouth when someone with the flu coughs or sneezes. Flu is spread easily from person to person.
If you are close enough to a person with the flu (up to about 6 feet away) when they cough or sneeze you can breathe in the virus and get sick. The virus can also live for a short time on things you touch like doorknobs and phones. After you touch these objects, you can catch the virus when you touch your mouth, nose or eyes. However, when the wet droplets on these types of objects dry out, the virus can’t cause infection.
Adults with the flu can spread it from about one day before symptoms appear to about one week after. Flu symptoms start 1-4 days (usually 2 days) after a person breathes in the virus. Symptoms last from a few days to up to a week or more.
If you are diagnosed with the flu you will be asked to wear a mask when using common bathrooms and to wash hands or use hand sanitizer before leaving your room to minimize spread of the virus to others. Please cover your cough and sneeze into your sleeve if you are feeling ill, properly dispose of used tissues immediately and wash hands often to keep others from getting sick. Environmental Services will increase the frequency of their disinfection to common areas during cold and flu season.
What is the best way to avoid getting the flu?
Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself. Health service has a limited supply available, or you can check with the local pharmacies and clinics in the area. Frequent hand washing is essential (use of hand sanitizer if a sink is not available) especially before eating. Keep your immune system strong by getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, eating a balanced nutritious diet, exercising regularly and adequately managing your stress levels.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Although the flu and common cold have similar symptoms, the flu tends to be more severe and sudden in onset. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue, and cough are more common and intense with the flu than with the common cold.
Flu symptoms include:
- A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
- A cough and/or sore throat
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
Flu testing can be done in Health Service. If the flu is very prevalent in an area or based on public health guidelines, diagnosis of the flu might be based on symptoms alone. If you are diagnosed as having the flu, antiviral medications can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious complications from the flu. Antiviral medications work best when started within the first two days of getting sick. Call the Health Service to make an appointment to be seen if you believe you may have the flu. 781.283.2810.
What is the treatment for those with the flu?
If you have been diagnosed with the flu, you should Self–Isolate, REST and follow your health care provider’s recommendations. Over-the-counter medications may relieve some flu symptoms but will not make you less contagious. Health Service will provide a free flu kit to get you started but you should ask a friend or speak to your RD about how obtain the following items from a local pharmacy, such as CVS or Andrew’s pharmacy. You may request a delivery from Andrew’s pharmacy once you have an established account set up with them. Their contact information is:www.andrewspharmacy.com or call 781.235.1001.
Some Tips for Taking Care……
- Take your temperature at least every 8 hours (3 times a day) and record it. Wait at least 3 minutes after eating or drinking before checking temperature.
Temp > 100 degrees Fahrenheit = FEVER
Temp < 100 degrees Fahrenheit = NO FEVER
- Drink 8-10 glasses of liquids/day to prevent dehydration and loosen secretions.
- For Fever, Headache/Body aches, Sore Throat : You can use Over-The-Counter (OTC) medications
o Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 650mg to 1000mg every 4-6 hours as needed, do not exceed 4000mg in 24 hours.
o Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) 400mg every 4-6 hours with food as needed.
- For Sore throat: Warm water & salt gargle as needed to relieve inflammation and discomfort. Warm beverages to soothe throat. Throat lozenges as needed.
- For Nasal Congestion: Phenylephrine (Sudafed) 10mg every 4-6 hours as needed. Not to exceed 6 doses in 24 hours. Apply warm compresses over sinuses. OTC Sinus Rinse kits to help loosen and remove mucous as needed and clear sinuses. Sleep on an extra pillow at night to promote drainage and relieve sinus pressure.
- For Dry Cough: Mucinex DM as directed; throat lozenges as needed.
- For Cough with phlegm: Mucinex as directed. Warm beverages or other liquids OFTEN to liquefy and loosen secretions.
*PLEASE avoid remedies that claim to relieve multiple symptoms as these may lead to accidental overdose when combined with other medications. (EX. Tylenol Severe Cold and Flu, Nyquil, etc.)
*If you are taking over-the-counter or prescription medications not related to the flu, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about which cold and flu medications are safe for you.
- Other helpful tips:
- A Humidifier will keep mucous membranes moist and provide comfort from cough, sore throat and congestion, especially while sleeping. A hot shower before bed will help too!
- Keep plenty of tissues and extra fluids in your room.
- Avoid caffeine as it tends to “dry” your mucous membranes out.
- Eat nutritious foods to give your immune system the strength to fight.
- REST, REST, REST!! Allow your body down time to heal. By not taking care of yourself when sick, your risks are increased for developing secondary infections and prolonged illness.
- Andrew’s Pharmacy will deliver medication (including OTC’s), thermometers, tissues, humidifiers etc. to Wellesley College, see above link.
- A nurse from Health Services will call you daily to check in and monitor your symptoms and recovery. The flu has been running its course in about 4-7 days. Once you are fever free for 24 hours WITHOUT Tylenol or Ibuprofen, you can return to classes and other activities. Take it slow!
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
- For emergencies, call Campus Police at x5555
- There is a clinician on call 24hours/day at x2810
Who will I need to notify?
- Notify your RD or Area Coordinator that you are sick, and if you will need a “buddy” to bring meals or supplies to you.
- Notify your class Dean and professors via email that you are ill and will be absent from classes. They do not want you to attend classes when you are ill and will make arrangements for your absences.
- Call your family to let them know you are ill so they can check in with you.
- Please ask friends to call or email you as opposed to visiting your room and risking further spread of the flu.
How will I get meals and/or food?
Members of the Residential Life team will arrange for student volunteers or a designated “Buddy” to bring meals to you. Wellesley College Dining Services has arranged to provide to-go containers for anyone helping an ill student. These are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner at all Dining Hall locations. Please be courteous and wear a mask when answering the door.
Do I need antibiotics?
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They are not effective against viral infections like the flu. Some people have bacterial infections along with or caused by the flu and will need to take antibiotics. Severe or prolonged illness or illness that seems to get better but then gets worse may be a sign of bacterial infection. Contact your health care provider if your symptoms worsen after the initial few days or fever returns.