As flu season creeps around the corner, it is important to know exactly what influenza is and how to protect yourself from it.

When it comes to the flu, a common misconception is experiencing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, Dr. Lisa Dannemiller, M.D., the interim chief university physician at University Health Services, said. However, Dannemiller said the flu is a respiratory illness.

Respiratory illnesses harm the lungs and airways, such as the nose and throat. Although there may be some cases where nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are present, it is more common in children than adults.

Practicing preventative measures can lower students’ chances of becoming sick with the flu. 

This not only includes getting vaccinated, but knowing what symptoms to look out for. Flu-like symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Many people confuse the flu with a cold. Although some of the symptoms may overlap, the main difference between the two has to do with “the sudden onset of symptoms,” Dannemiller said. “(Patients will) feel pretty bad pretty quick.”

“You have to be around somebody who has had the flu,” Dannemiller said. “Somebody can sneeze or cough. It’s a very contagious virus.” 

When someone sneezes, coughs or even talks, tiny airborne droplets can land on you or on objects that you touch, exposing you to the virus.

Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best and most effective way to prevent the flu. Although it doesn’t present a 100 percent guarantee you won’t get the flu, it has been known to prevent most cases. 

“I’ve been getting a flu shot every year for 25 years,” Dannemiller said. “ I got the flu (before) and it was horrible and I swore I’d never miss (a flu shot) again.”

During those 25 years of receiving the flu shot, Dannemiller got the flu once or twice and each case was a very mild experience. This is usually the case for those who still get sick even after being vaccinated. 

“Covering your cough or your sneeze and making sure you wash your hands frequently” are essential in preventing sick germs from spreading, Office of Health Promotion Coordinator Scott Dotterer said. “(However), the most important thing you can do to prevent (the flu) is simply have the vaccine.”

Starting October 1, the DeWeese Health Center will host a walk-in flu shot clinic every Tuesday from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Dotterer said. 

Contact Becca Sagaris at bsagaris@kent.edu

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