Common Winter Quarter Illnesses and How to Prevent Them

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It’s Winter Quarter, also known as the quarter of sniffles, coughs and runny noses.

In the pressure cooker space of college, stress about midterms and constant contact with other people means that diseases often spreads easily and quickly around living spaces. Here’s a breakdown of the most common illnesses this season, what the symptoms are and how to prevent them. Obviously, while On the Hill is the insider’s guide to residential life and a great resource, it is important to consult with your doctor or a medical professional before starting any medication and for more in-depth information. Also the Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center is a great on-campus medical resource where you can make appointments for check-ups, vaccinations and a whole host of other services. They also maintain a list of current health advisories to assist students.

1.) Influenza

The seasonal flu seems to hit around this time of the year with full force, with flu season itself generally peaking sometime between December and February. While numerous strains of the flu exist around the country, some of the signs and symptoms of the virus include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. The period of contagiousness for the infection is generally begin one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.

Prevention: The CDC recommends a number of steps to prevent the spread of flu. The governmental agency recommends avoiding close contact with people who are sick, staying home when you are sick to avoid spreading the virus, covering your moth and nose when sneezing or coughing, washing hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes nose or mouth. The CDC also recommends that everybody who is medically able get the flu vaccine, which the Ashe Center provides.

2.) Norovirus

Norovirus, commonly known as the stomach virus or stomach flu, is the most common gastrointestinal illness in the United States and affects the most amount of people in the winter months. It is very contagious with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating more that 20 million cases a year. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea and abdominal pain. Symptoms generally last for 1 to 3 days and while they may be severe, the disease itself is rarely severe enough for admission to the hospital.

Treatment: The CDC recommends a number of steps to prevent Norovirus infection. They say people should practice proper hand hygiene, wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood throughly, wash laundry thoroughly, clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces to avoid spreading or catching the disease. They also recommend not preparing food or caring for others who are sick if you are ill.

3.) Bronchitis

While bronchitis is an disease that generally affects young children, it often appears as an acute infection that can affect adults as well. Acute bronchitis is characterized by the development of cough or a tickling sensation on the back of the throat. Symptoms include many flu-like conditions including nasal congestion, cough, low fever or wheezing. This illness can be relatively long-term for a common infectious disease with symptoms generally clearing up after two weeks. However, the nagging cough from the infection can last up to a month.

Treatment: The CDC recommends a number of steps to prevent acute bronchitis. They say to avoid getting or spreading the disease to avoid smoking, avoid exposure to second-hand smoke, practicing good hand hygiene and, since many cases of bronchitis are caused by the flu, staying up-to-date with vaccinations.

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