COLDS AND FLU
More than 200 different viruses are known to cause the symptoms of the common cold. Viruses cause infection by overcoming the body's complex defense system. It is estimated that people in the U.S. suffer 1 billion colds, in one year.
Depending on the virus type, colds can be transmitted in any of the following routes:
- Touching infectious respiratory secretions on skin (when shaking hands, for example) and on environmental surfaces, and then touching the eyes or nose.
- Inhaling relatively large particles of respiratory secretions transported briefly in the air.
- Inhaling droplet nuclei: smaller infectious particles suspended in the air for long periods of time.
Cold symptoms can last from 2 to 14 days, but two-thirds of people recover in a week. If symptoms occur often or last much longer than 2 weeks, they may be the result of an allergy rather than a cold. High fever, significantly swollen glands, severe facial pain in the sinuses, and a cough that produces mucus may indicate a complication or more serious illness requiring a medical provider's attention.
Call a provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- shaking chill
- skin rash
- headache that lasts several days
- chest pain
- persistent pain in teeth or sinuses
- severe fatigue
- long-lasting or severe sore throat
- thick yellow-green or gray phlegm coughed up repeatedly
- a severe cough or cough that lasts more than 10 days
- temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher, that lasts more than 2 days
Handwashing is the simplest and most effective way to keep from getting rhinovirus colds. Not touching your nose or eyes is another. Individuals with colds should always sneeze or cough into a facial tissue, and promptly throw it away. If possible, you should avoid close, prolonged exposure to people who have colds.
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious disease that is caused by 3 viruses, influenza A, B and C. It attacks the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). The flu is different from a cold. While both are caused by viruses, high fever, headaches and extreme exhaustion are much more common with the flu. The flu can also cause serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia for certain high-risk groups.
The flu is transmitted when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends the flu virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus. Less often, the flu may be spread when a person touches a surface that has flu viruses on it, such as a doorknob, and then touches their nose or mouth. Influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics don't work to cure it. The best way to prevent the flu is to get an influenza vaccination (flu shot) each fall, before flu season.
OUTREACH PROGRAMS AND AWARENESS EVENTS
The Center for Health Education and Promotion staff (Peer Health Educators and Professional Health Educators) offer a variety of educational and interactive outreach programs that can be scheduled at your convenience. Although not listed, the outreach program linked to this health issue is
- Flu Shot Clinics (flu shot clinic for staff and students, held every fall)
Also available is programming for body art, credit card debt, gambling awareness, and other topics. If there is something that you have an interest in but do not see it listed, please contact us and we will work together to determine what will best meet your needs.
Our resource area contains brochures, articles, bulletin board packets, books, videos, and handouts on a wide variety of health related topics. If we don't have it, we will help you find it!