AM I SICK ?
We’re all back in Dunedin and should be ready to take on the world. But at this time of year, a lot of us aren’t feeling too well at all. The problem is that at this time of year 20,000-odd people gather together from all over the globe and breathe on one another in the hot-house incubators called “lecture theatres”. Bacteria and viruses have a party as they find new hosts. You’ve probably heard of the “fresher flu”, and if you’re sick your healthy friends will be gleefully telling you that’s what you’ve got.
DO I HAVE THE FLU?
That’s actually quite unlikely. Influenza tends to peak around the winter months, although there have been a few early cases this year. Flu symptoms are more severe than those of a regular cold. When you have the flu, you will have a high fever, aching joints, and sometimes even delirium.
Flu Vaccinations will be available during the second weekend in March. Everyone should get one. If you have existing health conditions, particularly asthma, get yourself along to Student Health for a free vaccination. Most pharmacies will give one without an appointment. This year’s vaccination protects against three viral strains, including the infamous H1N1 known as “bird flu”.
The most common complaint two weeks into the term! The cause of a sore throat could be bacterial or viral. Generally, a viral infection will cause a higher rise in body temperature. A thermometer is a very handy flat tool for gauging degrees of illness. You’ll be able to tell when your flatties are really sick (39 degrees and up) or if they just don’t want to go to class (normal temperature is 37.5 degrees.)
Sore throats, viral or bacterial, can be treated with an iodine based gargle, some soothing lozenges, and maybe pain medicine if needed. Most will go away after three to four days, and won’t need an antibiotic.
Coughs are split into two types. A “productive” cough refers to when you are coughing stuff up. You can tell a lot from your sputum. If it is clear, you are getting better. If it’s yellow, you should rest up. If it is green, it could be a sign of bacterial growth and you should see a doctor.
Non-productive coughs are more annoying. They are the dry, itchy coughs that don’t produce sputum trophies, and could indicate an allergy or irritation. Non-productive coughs are annoying to other people, and can disturb your sleep. If you have a dry cough at night you could have a touch of asthma, especially in older houses. Many of us are allergic to the house mites which live in carpet. A good vacuum will help.
“Fresher flu “ can be one or all of the above. If the symptoms last more than a week, you should get it checked out.