Mar 082009
Authors: Ashley Robinson

With the four-month-long flu season still in full swing and stress levels soaring due to midterms and tests, health officials are advising students to take measures to avoid contracting illnesses.

/Katheryn Plummer, a naturopathic doctor from Loveland, said alleviating stress by exercising regularly, drinking water and getting sufficient sleep can be beneficial because stress can be a factor in contracting cold and flu viruses.

Plummer said drinking water helps to reduce stress not only because it helps to rinse out the body but it also provides an excuse to take small bathroom breaks while studying.

/”It also helps to take at least one deep breath every hour,” Plummer said. “It sends a message to your brain that says you are relaxed, whereas quick short breaths tell your brain that you’re stressed.”

/Greg Hagman, a Safeway pharmacist, suggested taking vitamin C and zinc as a means of cold or flu prevention because each helps boost the immune system and decreases the duration of sickness.

/Immune system boosters like Emergen-C and Airborne can be useful, but they do not always work appropriately on everyone, Plummer said./

Most cold and flu treatments are symptom-based, Plummer said, so it can be difficult to prescribe a specific regimen that encompasses everyone. The best way to treat a cold or flu is to just treat the symptoms specifically.

For example, Hagman recommends throat lozenges to combat sore throats.

Plummer strongly discouraged the consumption of sugar when ill because it acts as an immunosuppressant, which could prolong recovery.

/Getting sufficient rest and consuming plenty of fluids are still considered the most effective means of health maintenance and recovery. Sleep gives the body time to fend off and fight disease, while water helps flush out any lingering viruses.

/”Think of a stagnant swamp versus a clear lake,” Plummer said. “You need to use a medium, like water, to get the (gunk) out.”

/Dana Guilky, a registered nurse at Harshorn Health Services, said the center has been filled to capacity during the past few weeks with sniffling, coughing and nauseous students./

“Over the past month we’ve been really busy,” Guilky said./

According to one Hartshorn pamphlet, as many as 20 percent of the U.S. population is diagnosed with the flu every year, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized as a result of flu complications.

/The Safeway pharmacy on College Avenue and Mulberry Street has administered more than 1,000 flu shots to customers since October.

/Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at

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