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Answers to your questions
about influenza-like illnesses

We asked our family nurse practitioners in the Student Health Services office to answer your questions about the flu.


How do I know if I have a cold or the flu?

This symptom comparison should help you:

Symptom Cold Flu
Onset is... Gradual Sudden
Sore throat? Common Sometimes
Fever? Rare Usual, high 100F-102F
Body aches/pains? Mild Usual, often severe
Cough? Mild to moderate Common; can be severe
Exhaustion? Never Usual, at beginning
Weakness? Sometimes Usual, up to 2-3 weeks

What should I do if I become ill with influenza-like symptoms?

If you have influenza-like symptoms, first pick up the phone and call your health care provider or UA Student Health Services (330-972-7808, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays) to report the illness. See the column to the right for more information about Student Health Services.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

Ill students who live on campus are strongly encouraged to go home if possible, seek the help of their health care provider if needed, and return to classes when free of fever as indicated above. Notify your professors of your absence by phone or e-mail before you miss a class, and be prepared to make up any missed work. 

If you cannot go home, notify Student Health Services at 330-972-7808.

What can I do to prevent becoming ill with flu or a common cold?

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

How do I know if I need to see a health care provider for the flu?

You can expect to feel awful when you have flu, however, influenza typically is a self-limiting illness. It usually lasts 5 to 7 days. Self-care includes rest, plenty of fluids, over-the-counter medication for fever and body aches and avoiding close proximity to other people to prevent virus spread.

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Sudden dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Do I need to ask my health care provider for antiviral medicine?

Generally, Tamiflu is prescribed for individuals with flu who are either hospitalized, have a chronic medical condition, or have a suppressed immune system. Tamiflu for influenza is not a cure; it only reduces symptoms and decreases length of recovery time by about 24 hours.

Should students attend class if they have the flu?

Students with flu-like symptoms should not go to class. They should email their professors to inform them of their illness. To promote student success and to help prevent the spread of the virus, the University has asked that faculty announce their expectations for students who report off ill. Such expectations could require absent students to:

  • follow the class attendance policy;
  • make up any work missed;
  • and inform professors of an absence before missing a class, assignment or test, and that this notification should come via e-mail, so that it can be documented.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

The best defense against all flu viruses continues to be good hygiene practices including frequent hand washing, cleaning of hard surfaces more often than usual, sneezing into your arm, covering coughs and avoiding unnecessary close contact with individuals who are symptomatic.

How long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?

Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands. Contamination can be significantly reduced by regular handwashing and the use of alcohol-based cleansers for surface cleaning.

What kills influenza virus?

Several chemical germicides including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), idophors (iodine-based antiseptics) and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses.


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ABOUT UA's HEALTH SERVICES

Health Services is located in Room 260 of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center (show on map). The staff includes board-certified medical doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and a health educator.

If you have any questions, please call us before your visit at 330-972-7808. Health Services' hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Last appointment at 4:30 p.m.) The office is closed on weekends and holidays.

When Health Services is closed, students needing immediate medical attention for acute illnesses or injuries may receive care at nearby Akron City Hospital/Summa Health System. In some situations, transportation to and from Health Services or Akron City Hospital may be provided by University Police (330-972-2911). Students are reminded that fees for hospital treatment and/or ambulance transport, if needed, are the responsibility of the student.

The University of Akron

Akron, OH 44325
Phone: 330-972-7111
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