Winter Illnesses Plague Furman Students

By McKenna Luzynsky, News Editor

Winter illness woes struck Furman over the past month.

With scratchy throats and runny noses, upper respiratory infections are often the most common ailment of Furman students rushing to the infirmary between classes.

“Upper respiratory infections are what we usually see here during the winter months,” Mary Haselden, nurse practitioner and director of Student Health Services said. “We’re on a college campus, so things can spread easily.”

For students experiencing these symptoms, it can be difficult to distinguish between a common cold and the more serious influenza.

“Always come on into the infirmary if you’re not sure if it’s a cold or a more serious condition,” Haselden said. Unfortunately though, both colds and the flu are viruses.

“With viral illnesses, antibiotics are not appropriate. They don’t help you get better any faster,” Haselden said.  “Antibiotics can actually worsen symptoms. You can get a secondary infection from them, as well as other unwanted side effects.”

However, there are steps that can be taken to relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory infections.

“The two main things are hand washing and covering your cough. These are the bedrock of infection control,” Haselden said. “Self-care is also extremely important. This includes getting enough sleep, getting enough hydration, paying attention to a good diet and getting enough exercise. Of course, avoid alcohol and smoking.”

Finally, it is important to self-isolate. It may be tempting to go to class with a cold or the flu so that you do not fall behind, but not only is that inconsiderate to your fellow students, but it could also be dangerous.

“One thing I see at Furman is that students are so busy that it’s hard to give yourself permission to take a sick day,” Haselden said. “But it’s okay. It really is okay to take a sick day.”


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