Asthma On Campus: Getting Through Flu Season

Last updated: January 2020

It's the dead of winter on campus, snowball fights, board game nights, and movie marathons are in full swing. Of course this is also the time of year when friends and housemates start coughing, sneezing, running fevers, and otherwise being sick. You've probably heard you're considered "high risk" for the flu since you have asthma1. By the time it's flu season I've made my annual pilgrimage to the clinic to get the vaccine. I'm sure your medical appointments include the "You've had the flu shot this year, correct?" I can give the answer that doesn't come with a lecture on the dangers of the flu.
If your campus is anything like mine viral illnesses like the flu will spread quite quickly around the residence halls. It's pretty easy to understand how this happens when you live with several hundred other students and share a bathroom with 10 or more of them. Some of them will go to class when they are sick even though common sense (and on my campus lots of posters featuring the mascot) say to stay home.
The year that H1N1 swept through the United States I was living in a residence hall and sharing a communal bathroom with 10 other women. They all got the flu, along with most of campus. I however did not get the flu. Some of this I'm sure was luck, but a good amount of it was preparedness on my part. If the rumor mill is to be believed my college came in narrowly below the threshold to be considered a pandemic. Classes were only 1/2 to 2/3 full for a week or two. It was quite an interesting adventure trying to avoid getting sick.
That year, and as well as the other years I was away at school I did many of the things on the CDC's list for avoiding the flu2. I started off right by getting up (at 7am) and bundling up to head out into a mild snowstorm for my flu shot. They had released a supply of H1N1 shots to county health departments for high risk populations. No, this isn't on my list of fun things to do at sunrise. I put some good tunes in my earbuds, fixed myself a nice cup of hot tea, and took care of it. Hand washing was another one of the things that really became a habit. Headed to the dining hall: wash my hands! Touch my face: wash my hands! Work on a project in the computer lab: (you guessed it!) wash my hands!
While this may not be everyone's style, if your friends/acquaintances won't stay home when sick, you can achieve the same result by staying home while you're healthy. For me turning down an invite to one week's game night was totally worth not spending the next week or two sick. Obviously I still went to class and many gathering places on campus, but I didn't feel like I was missing out to take an evening or two to myself away from the illnesses flying around the university.
If prevention fails and you get sick anyway it wouldn't hurt to have your go-to comforts on hand. For me this meant keeping a box or two of my favorite type of tissues, a good book, and some tea with honey around.
Have you managed to escape the virus that is making the rounds on campus?

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