By Abigail LaRoy
If you woke up this morning with a scratch in your throat or had to blow your nose one too many times, chances are you aren’t alone. Flu season is here and college students are especially at risk. Although college students are typically young and have stronger immune systems compared to children and older adults, the close communal living styles can make the spread of germs much more prominent. In college, no week is ever a good week to be sick. Students need to be at their best self in order to balance classes, homework, internships, jobs, activities, clubs, and sports and getting the flu will quickly put you behind. Luckily, there are resources you can use and steps you can take to prevent getting the flu, as well as spreading it. Becky Rodack is the registered nurse in the Student Health Center located on the first floor of WWF. Rodack says she has already seen an increase of students checking into the health center with flu-like symptoms, which are quite similar to symptoms of the common cold. These can include high temperature, chills, runny nose, loss of appetite, body ache, fatigue, and usually onsets very suddenly. Luckily, getting and spreading the flu are both preventable as long as everyone does their part. Rodack says there are many things students can do, such as simply washing your hands throughout the day and not sharing drinks etc. Rodack emphasized however that the best way to avoid getting the flu this season is simply getting your flu shot. Many students do not get their flu shot because they feel that they are strong enough to fight off the infection themselves. While this may be true, Rodack believes it is our obligation as young people to get our flu shots, because we can still spread disease to more vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly or children. “Even if you aren’t a high risk case, you are protecting others around you. Some students still get the flu, but their symptoms and length of sickness drastically drop after getting a shot.” said Rodack. Believe it or not, mental well being is actually heavily associated with physical well being. According to the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, if you are not well mentally, you are at much higher risk for catching diseases like the flu. “Because psychiatric distress is associated with inflammation, and because the flu puts your body in a highly inflammatory state, it is likely that this inflammatory state worsens the body’s psyche.” Rodack agrees, saying that the strain of academic stress can make students especially susceptible. “College students are under alot of stress, which can sometimes lead to them not getting enough rest or proper nutrition and increase their likelihood of sickness.” said Rodack. In case you were lucky enough to not get sick yet this semester and are curious as to just how bad it is, take it from freshman Music Education major, Josof Ruttig. Ruttig has a very busy schedule between classes and homework full time, chorale, opera theater, piano and voice lessons, and does not have time to spare being sick. Unfortunately, Ruttig did succumb to the flu epidemic sweeping the country. “It was very inconvenient for me, It messed with my voice and affected my ability to sing as a music education major. It threw me off because I had to go home for a week. I had to try and get everything together while at home and am still scrambling to catch up” said Ruttig. Ruttig says he was not previously aware that he could get a flu shot on campus in the Health Center, but encourages everyone to check it out. Stopping the spread of flu is possible, with every student doing their part.