University News

H1N1/Seasonal Flu Self-Care

October 23, 2009

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- Individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms should practice self-care as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). []

According to Dr. Richard Iverson, Western Illinois University Beu Health Center chief of staff, individuals who are experiencing mild flu-like symptoms should simply stay home, rest and drink plenty of liquids. Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen can be used to reduce fever and aches associated with influenza.

Individuals should seek immediate medical attention if the following warning signs appear: difficulty breathing or chest pain; a purple or blue discoloration of the lips; vomiting and inability to keep liquids down; signs of dehydration, such as dizziness when standing, absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears; seizures or uncontrolled convulsions; and disorientation.

"We encourage individuals with flu-like symptoms to take care of themselves at home. We need to be able to take see those students who are seriously ill; that might include anyone whose lips are blue, have had a seizure or convulsion, are having trouble breathing or who are unable to drink enough liquid to keep themselves hydrated," Iverson added. "We will continue to take calls and provide instructions on self care."

Seasonal flu symptoms, which develop quickly, include fever and a sore throat and/or coughing, body aches, chills, and headache. Reported H1N1 symptoms are similar to seasonal flu and may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms of the common cold are generally much milder than the flu, develop more slowly, and usually do not include a fever.

Prevention is often the best medicine to avoid the virus, Beu Health Center Director Mary Margaret Harris stressed. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Tips to avoid the transmission of influenza include covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, not hands; frequent handwashing; staying home when sick; and getting a flu shot.

Follow other common sense advice like not sharing cups, straws or eating utensils; avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth; and clean commonly-touched surfaces (door knobs, refrigerator handles, telephones, etc). Also, eat a variety of foods from all food groups, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep every night. According to the CDC, proper handwashing is the single most important action that people can take to keep from getting sick and from spreading illness to others.

"The key to avoiding so many illnesses comes down to handwashing. This simple act can dramatically reduce the spread of infection and the number of sick days," Harris added. "If you do end up developing flu-like symptoms, the best advice is to stay home and rest."

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Relations