The Season Of Sickness Starts Now

By Laura Myers-

You may spot a new fashion trend in the nurse’s office in the past few weeks, surgical masks. Dry coughs, stuffy noses, and sore throats. It’s that time of the year: cold and flu season.

“Cold season is here and one of the reason that it becomes more prevalent at this time is because we’re in close quarters and people sneeze and cough,” said certified school nurse Anne Butterfield.

“People sneeze and cough, and flu and cold are air borne virus,” she said. “But you can also get it by touching contaminated surfaces, and then touching your mucus membrane, which are your eyes your nose and your mouth. So that’s how you get these bugs.”

High School nurse Anne Butterfield checks students for flu symptoms. Photo by Simon Zimmerman

“With the Swine Flu going around last year, it’s not as bad as it was,” said attendance officer Stacy Riffert

But it’s hard to tell when to push through the pain or to stay home.

Butterfield says “If you wake up and your joints are achy and your throat hurts and you have a dry hacky cough and your temps over 100 (degrees) you need to stay home, because you probably are getting into influenza.”

She advised staying home until a person’s temperature has dropped to normal for at least 24 hours.

“Plus you won’t really be able to move with the flu you will feel so bad you don’t have any energy,” Butterfield said.  “With a cold you can take some over-the-counter medication or some simply I think what’s best is fluids,  take it easy and maybe some Tylenol or ibuprofen for the general scratchy sore throat and the headache that sometimes comes.”

Now there is a difference between the cold and flu, but being able to tell the two apart can be tricky.

Flu symptoms are as followed according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches

Cold Symptoms Are As Followed:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild headache
  • Mild body aches

Both flu and cold symptoms are very similar because they are both upper respiratory illnesses. But the flu tends to be worse than a cold virus, according to the CDC.

Prevention is a big way to keep yourself safe from acquiring the virus and according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  A few ways to protect your self are as followed.

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Talk to your doctor about getting the flu vaccine
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and wash your hands right after to prevent the virus from spreading
  • Minimize time in crowds or in closed quarters
  • Stay home if you are ill

While following all of these precautions can help decrease your risk of getting the flu, the biggest prevention may to get a flu shot.

“Get a flu shot, it’s not to late because flu will still be with us until end of February and even into March,” said Butterfield.

To find where you can get your local flu shot click here, to be directed to the PA Department of Health.