‘Tis the season for runny noses, stuffy noses, coughing, aching, fevers, sore throats and chicken noodle soup.
The Sam Houston State University Health Center has been exceptionally busy over the last month, diagnosing 212 upper respiratory infections, 40 allergy patients, and 12 patients with influenza, commonly known as the flu.
These statistics come from Keith Lott, director of the SHSU Health Center located on the corner of Avenue J.
The data sheet listed the major aliments diagnosed by the Health Center from Jan. 5 to Feb. 5, 2003.
Lott’s statistics reported a large number of students with URIs and Health Center nurse practitioner Carol Reyes said the number would continue to increase over the next few months.
“This is extremely normal for this time of year and it will probably get worse during the next couple of months,” Reyes said. “What it has mostly been is what we call upper respiratory infections, but what they are including are coughs, colds and sore throats.”
Although patients cannot always avoid getting a cold, they can cut the risks of getting the flu by receiving a free flu shot from the Health Center.
“We are also getting a few cases of flu right now and I highly encourage the students to remember to get their flu shots in the fall, because the flu shots are free and they do prevent the flu,” Reyes said.
The flu shots are usually given during the last week of September; however, the center is only provided with a limited supply of the vaccine, and when the vaccinations are gone there will not be another supply.
“The students, faculty and staff can all get the shots for free, but we run out of them really quick,” Reyes said. “(Students) cannot sign-up to do this, but it is on a walk in basis in the clinic.”
Last year the clinic received 400 flu vaccinations, but Reyes said the supply amount for this year has not been determined.
Health Center statistics also reported six cases of mono during the past month, and Reyes said URI symptoms could be similar to the symptoms of mono.
“Mono actually presents with the same symptoms as the URI except that the student will have really swollen glands on the neck too,” Reyes said. “The symptoms for the regular URIs are a cough, congestion in the ears, a feeling of fatigue and sore throat. You can run a fever but you might not.”
Flu symptoms are same as URIs except patients will usually run a higher fever and have generalized body aches, she said.
“You are sicker with the flu than you are with a URI,” Reyes said. “There is really not any medicine to take for the flu, and you just have to let it run its course, and drink a lot of fluids and rest.”
A wellness page on health.com reported that colds usually occur over a few days and symptoms will include a runny nose, sore throat and hoarseness, watery eyes, coughing, low fever usually 100 degrees or lower for adults.
The article also said a patient could pass the cold to someone else during the first two to three days when symptoms first occur.
Flu symptoms were reported to effect the patient one or two days after becoming infected. The symptoms usually include chills and a fever up to 104 degrees, muscle aches, general weakness and fatigue, headache and eye pain, sore throat and dry cough.
“It is very important to maintain a good diet by staying away from junk food, increasing fluids, and getting a lot of rest,” Reyes said. ” Another big one is washing your hands after you do things and do not share cups, glasses or dishes with other students.”
Health.com reported that most adults in the United States get two to three colds a year. The flu is less common among Americans and ranges from about 10 to 20 percent of the adult population.
According to Dr. Randolph Regal of the University of Michigan, viruses, and not bacteria cause 90 percent of upper respiratory infections. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, such as the common cold and flu.
For more information on health and wellness log onto the Web site http://www.health.com or contact the University Health Center at 294-1805.