Junior Shelbi Bridges awoke Tuesday morning with fatigue, a cough and sore throat. As the day progressed her symptoms grew worse, and she was later diagnosed with a strain of the flu.
“I felt like I’d been hit by a bus,” Bridges said. “It feels like someone is holding their hand on my forehead and pushing down on it so that it hurts, and I can’t get up, and they’re sucking all the energy out of me at the same time.”
Bridges said her doctor ordered her to bed rest for five days. She said she felt like all she could do to feel better is to sleep.
This year’s flu season is the most widespread on record, according to the Washington Post. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recorded more than 28,000 known positive influenza tests and widespread activity. Flu deaths in Arkansas have nearly doubled in the last three weeks, according to a weekly influenza report from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
Rhonda Davis, director of Student Health Services, said the flu starts suddenly and begins severely, and is usually associated with a fever of 101 degrees or higher, scratchy throat, dry cough and sneezing, along with a body ache and fatigue.
Davis said people should remember the flu is very contagious and is transmitted through direct contact. She said it is difficult to tell where a person contracted the virus and that cold temperatures play an important role in the flu’s spread.
“When it is cold people tend to stay indoors and they stay together, which make things transmit more easily,” Davis said.
The CDC states that the flu vaccine is generally 40-60 percent effective, but less effective for this year’s dominant and harshest strain, H3N2.
Davis said the flu is a virus, requiring a point of entry, which is typically through inhalation. If an infected person coughs or sneezes, people around them breathe in the virus. Davis recommended keeping distance from people who have the flu.
Davis said flu shots are a good way to prevent influenza. She said the best time to receive a flu shot is around October, when flu season begins. Flu season typically runs through March, usually peaking in February.
Dr. Jeanie Smith, director of Experiential Education, said vaccinations merely help prevent infection, but do not treat the virus.
“If you’ve got the flu, getting a flu shot will do nothing for you,” Smith said.
According to Smith, infection is prevented by coughing into the elbow instead of hands and by keeping hands clean and away from the face. She said it is important to stay hydrated and that taking probiotics on a regular basis can help boost the immune system.
Dr. Julie Kissack, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, said a person needs to seek help immediately if feeling poorly. In order for medication to help flu, it is important to start medications soon after the symptoms start, Kissack said.
Student Health Services is located at 115 Jimmy Carr Drive in Legacy park and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Written by Yovani Arismendiz and The Bison Staff