Nutrition

The Argonaut – The flu got you down? Tips to staying healthy

Winter is the season where sickness spreads across the University of Idaho campus. Students and faculty must be extra careful to stay healthy throughout the semester.

Keeping healthy habits can be overwhelming for students and faculty alike. Here are Director of Vandal Health Education (VHE) Emily Tuschhoff’s top 10 tips on staying healthy: 

  • Get sleep. Lack of sleep suppresses your immune system. We need at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a variety of nutrients throughout the day — skipping meals and not getting needed nutrients can also impact our immune system.
  • Get moving
  • Take care of your mental health and stress — when we are chronically stressed our immune system takes a hit.
  • Get your flu shot — it does not cause the flu and can help make your symptoms lighter even if you were to get the flu. It’s still the number one way to prevent the flu.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Sing the ABC song while washing. A quick wash isn’t enough.
  • Use hand sanitizer in-between washes!
  • Avoid contact with folks who are sick. Stay home if you are sick and don’t share cups, beverages, Chapstick, etc. 
  • Wipe down surfaces, doorknobs, shopping cards, etc.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.

Senior undergraduate students Dean Ellenwood (E) and Erin Langley (L) and graduate student Brock Morris (M) all work for the VHE. They gave some helpful health hints in a Q&A: 

When you think you might be getting sick, what steps do you take to avoid it?

E: Personally, I find focusing on getting good sleep is the most effective for me. A good eight to 10 hours helps keep my immune system strong so it can hopefully fight off whatever sickness is coming on. I also focus on hydrating well with water and herbal teas that are high in antioxidants. Washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap is very important as well.

L: When I feel like I might be coming down with something, there are a few things I like to do. I clean my house (including my bedding), add a few more vitamin rich foods into my diet, especially vitamin C and get some extra sleep at night. This has seemed to help me keep illnesses at bay while I’m in school.

M: Some things to consider would be taking care of yourself and those around you. If you feel like you are getting sick be sure to wash your hands, cover your sneezes and coughs, and obtain the proper nutrition (vitamins, nutrients, staying hydrated with water and electrolytes). We encourage someone to stay home when they are sick to prevent the spread of germs. This is especially important this flu season where many people have been getting sic

What should people do once they have already gotten sick?

E: Continuously wash your hands even though you are already sick as it helps prevent the spread of the illness. Please, please, please cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or tissue then throw used tissues away immediately. Stay home and recover if you are feeling sick. You are not a hero because you can grind through a sick day, you are more like a villain that is allowing the sickness to spread. Your boss, professors and friends will understand as long as you stay proactive on your obligations.

L: Once someone knows they’re sick, it’s important to stay home from work (and) school when possible to avoid sharing that sickness. Aside from that, resting and taking care of themselves until they feel better is important.

M: Stay home, continue washing your hands, get rest, and stay hydrated. While your health is very important, we do not want to spread the germs. If you must leave home, cover up, stay warm, and be sure to cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing. If possible, a mask may help deter the spread. Go to the doctor. If you are experiencing symptoms, it is worth getting checked out and the right medication to aid in your recovery.

At what point do you think it is best to be seen by a doctor?

E: It would be a good idea to visit a doctor if your symptoms are so severe, they make it hard to normally function and do simple tasks, such as getting out of bed or cooking meals for yourself. A qualitative point would be if your fever is above 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, you should visit a doctor.”

L: I think the best point to seek medical help is if you have an illness that won’t go away, is getting worse over time, or if you feel that being sick is significantly affecting your daily life. There are also lots of resources on VHE’s webpage for specific illnesses and when to seek medical help.

M: Personally, that is a difficult question to answer. Every person is going to be different and every illness is going to affect people differently. My recommendation is if you feel like you are sick and should see a doctor, then you probably should. The Vandal Health Clinic is a great resource conveniently located right on campus. If you are experiencing symptoms it doesn’t hurt to get checked out.”

What are the best health related resources on campus?

E: I know the Vandal Health Clinic located on 831 Ash St. is great. They’ve always treated me extremely well. Another great, confidential and free (for students) resource on campus is the Counseling & Testing Center located in Mary E. Forney Hall Room 306.

L: I think the best health resources on campus are the Vandal Health Clinic and Vandal Health Education. The health clinic is a comprehensive medical clinic, located right on campus. VHE is a great resource that gives students valuable health information and can connect students with other on and off campus resources, based on their needs.

M: On campus the primary location for health resources would be the Vandal Health Clinic which is located on the corners of University and Ash, between Life Sciences South and FIJI.

If you are not seeking medical attention there are various other locations for resources as well. Vandal Health Education provides various health and well-being related resources.

Mariah Wood can be reached on arg-news@uidaho.edu

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