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  • Flu information

    What is influenza (flu)

    Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection. An estimated 5 to 20 percent of people in the U.S. get influenza each year. Influenza is characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a nonproductive cough.

    What causes influenza?

    The influenza virus is generally passed from person to person by airborne transmission, such as sneezing or coughing. But, the virus can also live for a short time on objects, such as doorknobs, pens, pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. Therefore, it may also be spread by touching something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

    What are the symptoms of the flu?

    The following are the most common symptoms of the flu. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Influenza is called a respiratory disease, but the whole body seems to suffer when a person is infected. People usually become acutely ill with several, or all, of the following symptoms:

    • High fever
    • Headache
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Sneezing at times
    • Cough, often becoming severe
    • Severe aches and pains
    • Fatigue for several weeks
    • Sometimes a sore throat
    • Extreme exhaustion

    Fever and body aches usually last for three to five days, but cough and fatigue may last for two weeks or more. Although nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may accompany the flu, these gastrointestinal symptoms are rarely prominent. "Stomach flu" is an incorrect term sometimes used to describe gastrointestinal illnesses caused by other microorganisms.

    The symptoms of the flu may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis. To schedule an appointment with a UHS provider, call 859-323-2778.


  • Treatment

    Flu is a virus, therefore antibiotics are not prescribed.

    Your health care provider may prescribe an antiviral medication if you meet certain criteria (in a health care college with direct patient contact, chronic health conditions, etc.)

    Your health care provider may also suggest the following OTC medications which should make you feel better. These medications include:

    • Decongestants: Sudafed products, Mucinex, Mucinex DM
    • Fever reducers: Tylenol / Ibuprofen
    • Cough medication such as Delsym, Triaminic / Robitussin DM, Mucinex DM, Nyquil
  • How to avoid spreading the illness

    Consider going home to recover if you have been diagnosed with the flu.

    • Isolate yourself in your home.
    • If you have to leave your home, wear a mask.
    • Cover your cough.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
    • Stay home from work or school until fever is less than 100° for 24 hours with no fever medication.

    Email your professors that you have been instructed to be in isolation because of the flu. Take your proof of appointment to them once you are well enough to return to class. In cases of pandemic flu such as H1N1, UHS will work with the Provost to inform faculty of potentially high instances of absenteeism. It is still the student's responsibility to discuss any absence with their instructor.

  • Flu complications - warning signs

    The most severe flu symptoms are generally the first 3-5 days, then you should improve. Return to see your health care provider if you experience any of the following:

    • Worsening symptoms after you initially improve
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
    • Sudden dizziness or confusion
    • Severe or persistent vomiting

    Signs of a bacterial infection including:

    • severe earache
    • sinus pain despite decongestants
    • persistent productive cough longer than 2 weeks
    • fever after day 5

    You can call our phone information nurse for further guidance at 859-323-4636.


Page last updated: 7/17/2013 2:52:01 PM