compiled by Amy Scheuerman
One evening you feel a little down, not sick exactly, just tired and out of it. You go to bed early but the next morning…NO! Your throat is sore and your body aches, maybe you’re sneezing and coughing or you have the tell-tail chills of a fever, and if you don’t have a headache already you’re going to get one once you take your temperature and face the truth: you have the flu.
So, now that missed out on the benefits of a flu vaccine (you should have gotten the H1N1 vaccine you dummy!), what do you do? Here are ten steps gleaned from the NIH, CDC, Tufts website, and the recent town hall meeting that will help you survive the ordeal of flu while also surviving grad school, whether you have the dreaded swine flu or the tradition but miserable winter variety.
- Get home and stay home. You are chock-full of germs and the rest of the school doesn’t want to share them with you. Self isolation starting the moment you present symptoms is the best way to prevent others from getting sick. Seriously.
- PANIC!! No wait, DON’T PANIC!!! The important thing is for you to take care of yourself and recover, not stress about assignments and projects. The school has a plan to help you out while you’re stuck at home with the flu. Read further and relax.
- Call your doctor and find out if you need to come in for treatment. In general self isolation is better than going to a doctor’s office and infecting other people, but if your symptoms are severe it’s a good idea to check with a professional about what you should be doing. Your doctor can tell you over the phone which option you need.
- Email your professors and let them know what’s going on. Everyone at the Friedman School is ready to support you if you’re sick, but you need to let them know what’s happening and why you’re missing class. You may also want to contact the Office of Student Affairs for help with getting everything you need. These steps will make sure professors are prepared to catch you up once you’re better.
- Get plenty of rest. The temptation to work and stress is there, but it’s going to just keep you sick longer. Sleep, lounge, rest as much as you can.
- Drink lots fluids such as water, broth, sports drinks, Brawndo, or electrolyte beverages (such as Pedialyte). Try to avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or sugar heavy drinks. This will help to replenish all the fluids you lose from blowing your nose and breathing through your mouth.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. It may sound silly, but the “cough into your elbow” plan helps because you don’t pick things up or shake hands with your elbow. (If you do use your elbow for picking things up or shaking hands you should contact your doctor IMMEDIATELY.) Believe me, covering your coughs and sneezes will be appreciated by whoever is taking care of you, and not spreading germs will be appreciated by anyone you share living space with.
- Wash hands often with soap and water. Rubbing your nose, throwing out tissues, things you may not even think about can spread germs. Washing your hands often and drying them thoroughly can prevent this spread.
- Pay attention to your symptoms and don’t ignore them if they get worse. If you have difficulty breathing (and no, a stuffy nose doesn’t count), excessive vomiting, a fever of over 103, or dizziness and/or other signs of extreme dehydration call your doctor or go to the hospital. H1N1 can be especially dangerous for people in their 20s, don’t ignore symptoms that could indicate a worsening of the illness.
- Once you’re feeling better, catch up. Teachers at the Friedman School can record lectures while you’re ill. Other students will take notes and you can ask for them. There are easy ways to share information such as the Mac recording software GarageBand, or Google Docs. Take advantage of these and don’t be afraid to ask for extensions. You’ve been sick and you deserve them.
For more information on the flu and Tufts emergency planning click here.