TCU fends off the flu

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    As flu season approaches, health conscious students are using a variety of methods – everything from exercising, getting flu shots and eating right – in an effort to stay healthy.

    “I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and I’m training for a half marathon,” said junior nursing major Payton Ten Hagen.

    Junior nursing majors Meredith LeBas and Rahil Shah take vitamins to improve their health, they said.

    And all three students said they wash their hands regularly.

    Marinda Allender, director of undergraduate nursing programs, said just getting enough sleep can help students stay healthy.

    Sleep-loss suppresses the immune system, Allender said as TCU students, faculty and staff filed into the University Recreation Center for free flu shots this week.

    “We are trying to protect the whole campus,” she said.

    About 3,000 flu vaccines were given during the annual health promotion, said Sharon Canclini, assistant professor of professional practice.

    Other key factors for staying well include eating healthy and scheduling time to exercise.

    “Exercise helps with depression, exercise helps with weight loss and exercise boosts your immune system,” Allender said.

    However, she cautioned against excessive exercise.

    “That is not good either,” she said. “It does not give your body time to repair.”

    Among students, Allender frequently sees symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, she said. Viral upper respiratory problems are also common.

    “They may think they have strep,” she said, “but really, viral upper respiratory can give you a sore throat.”

    Some students have reported getting strep throat but the Brown-Lupton Health Center, which sees about 2,500 students per month, has not seen a surge in strep cases, Director of Nursing and Clinical Services Kelle Tillman said.

    Distinguishing between a sore throat caused by a virus and strep throat, which is caused by bacteria, can be difficult. But a doctor can find out if the bacteria are present by taking a throat culture.

    Flu shots do not combat streptococcus bacteria but students can reduce their risk of getting sick by taking a few precautions.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests washing hands often and avoiding the sharing of eating utensils or cups. The CDC also recommends anyone with a sore throat to take extra precaution and cover coughs and sneezes.

    To avoid sickness, Allender also said she suggests students wash their hands, their keyboards and their cell phones often.