Germs spread like wildfire in the wintertime, and this year is no different.

Cold weather means more time spent indoors and more time spent sharing germs. One of the illnesses circulating right now is the flu. While the flu can be severe for some, even the mildest cases can lead to missed classes and time off from work. Take steps to protect yourself and others from the flu and other illnesses.

Wash your hands
The number one way to prevent any illness is to wash your hands. To properly wash your hands, use warm water and soap, and rub your hand vigorously for about 20 seconds—or as long as it takes to say your ABC’s. Hand sanitizer works in a pinch, but soap and warm water is best. Germs are everywhere so it is important to wash your hands often.

Get a flu shot
It is not too late to get a flu shot! Students can call Student Health Services at (309) 438-APPT (2778) to make an appointment to get a FREE flu shot. Flu shots are also available at most pharmacies and health care provider offices. Faculty and staff should check with their insurance or health care provider to find out the best way to get a flu shot.

Cover your cough and sneeze
In effort to contain your germs, sneeze and cough in the crook of your arm. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, be sure to wash them or use hand sanitizer so that you do not spread germs to surfaces you touch.

Stay home
If you are sick, stay home from school and work. The last thing you want to do is share your germs with others. Be sure to stay home and away from others until you are fever free for 24 hours. Make arrangements to make sure you don’t get behind in your work, but be sure to take time to rest and get better.

Keep your immune system strong
A healthy immune system is better equipped to fight off illnesses. Be sure to get enough sleep, eat right, drink plenty of water, and get regular physical activity. Stress can weaken your immune system. Be sure to stay on top of school and work to help keep yourself well.

Influenza vs. Common Cold
Sometimes, its hard to know the difference. Here is a chart to help understand the similarities and differences between a cold and the flu. Sometimes antibiotics are needed or over-the-counter medicine may help alleviate symptoms. Talk with a pharmacist or your health care provider to find the best options for your illness.



Fever Usually present Rare
Aches Usually, often severe Slight
Chills Fairly common Uncommon
Tiredness Moderate to severe Mild
Symptom onset Appear within 3 to 6 hours Symptoms appear gradually
Coughing Dry, unproductive cough Hacking, productive cough
Sneezing Uncommon Common
Stuffy nose Uncommon Common
Sore throat Uncommon Common
Chest discomfort Often severe Mild to moderate
Headache Common Uncommon