This past winter, the sounds of Roanoke College students coughing and sneezing could be heard from Colket to Fintel and everywhere in-between.
Common illnesses typically seen this time of year are affecting many students. Such illnesses include influenza, the stomach virus, and upper respiratory infections. Each sickness has different levels of severity. One that is sure to cause bed rest is what is known as true influenza. It contains three types of viruses: A, B, and C. However, types A and B are primarily responsible for the common influenza symptoms we often encounter. Another illness that will cause one to miss a class or two is the stomach virus. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, and will make one very sick, but only for a couple of days. Upper respiratory viruses have also been causing illness among students. Some symptoms include congestion, sore throat, and a cough. Pressure in the ears is a common symptom as well. However, lots of pressure can lead to fluid buildup that can cause bacterial growth.
At times of illness, Health Services is on campus ready to meet the student’s medical needs. Located on 211 High Street next to Chalmers Hall and open from 8:30-4:30 on weekdays, Health Services offers a variety of services such as sports physicals, women’s exams, and vaccinations. Routine checkups are free of charge; however, special exams, physicals, and allergy injections require a fee that is payable by cash, check, maroon money, and most major credit cards. A doctor is also available once a week on Thursday mornings to assist students with serious health concerns and complications.
Staying healthy is no easy task for college students.
“You’re around others 24/7, which inherently puts you at risk for illness,” said Sandy McGhee, nurse practitioner and Health Services director.
When asked what one can do to prevent sickness McGhee advised getting enough sleep, exercise, and good nutrition, as well as washing your hands, getting the flu shot, and staying away from those who are infected. McGhee also recommended sneezing and coughing into one’s sleeve, and wiping surfaces regularly with Clorox wipes. Also, try to keep hands away from the face, especially the mouth.
Â “Once viruses come into contact with mucus membranes, you can get very sick,” McGhee said.
Health Services often prescribes an anti-viral medicine called Tamiflu for students who are diagnosed with influenza. Although the medicine will not cure the flu, it does make the symptoms a little less severe and helps to shorten the duration of the illness by a couple of days.
Â “For other symptoms, we prescribe fluids and symptomatic treatment like decongestants, pain/fever relief, and cough suppressants,” McGhee said.
With winter coming to a close and spring drawing nearer, McGhee hopes to see the students outside. Getting out in the open reduces one’s chances from catching bugs and viruses from other students.