Avoid the Flu, Strep Throat, and the Common Cold

Tips on Staying Free of Colds from our Health Coordinator

 
Overviews of treatment and prevention of influenza, strep throat, and the common cold, which we commonly see this time of year.

Please keep students with fever, cough, and respiratory symptoms home until they are 24 hours fever-free (less than 100.4 degrees) or have no signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine and no vomiting or diarrhea. Click here for overviews of treatment and prevention of influenza, strep throat, and the common cold, which we commonly see this time of year.

 
Basic Hygiene Best Practices 
  • When washing hands: Wet hands. Turn off water. Soap and scrub for 30 to 60 seconds. Rinse well. Dry well.
  • Cough into the sleeve of your elbow or into tissues. If you cough into your hands, wash your hands immediately.
  • Wash with a general household cleaner to remove germs, then rinse with water, then clean surfaces and door handles with EPA approved products designated to kill flu viruses.
 
What is Influenza (Flu)?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills. Note: not everyone with flu will have a fever.
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • maybe vomiting and diarrhea, more common in children than adults.
  • *Note: Flu tests are not always accurate. Must rely on symptoms. 
How Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. The CDC found that children 0-17 years are most likely to get the flu, adults 18-64 at 8.8% and people over 65 are least likely. The CDC states those who get flu-like symptoms at school should go home and stay home until at least 24 hours fever-free or have no signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine and no vomiting or diarrhea.
 
What is Strep Throat? 
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus or “group A strep.” Strep throat symptoms appear fast, not gradually as other sore throats. Symptoms may include any or all of the following: 
  • Sore throat 
  • Pain when swallowing 
  • Fever 
  • Red and swollen tonsils 
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth 
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
Your doctor may do a quick strep test to see if group A strep bacteria are causing your sore throat. If the test is positive, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics help you feel better sooner, prevent serious health problems, and help prevent spreading the infection to others. 
Sometimes the quick strep test is false and your doctor may send the culture to lab results of which could take 3 days. Antibiotic treatment would be prescribed in this case at the doctor’s discretion.
 
What is a Common Cold? 
Every year, adults have an average of 2–3 colds, and children have even more. Many viruses can cause colds, but rhinoviruses are most common. There is no cure for a cold. Symptoms of a cold:
  • Sore throat 
  • Runny nose 
  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches 
  • Body aches.   
  • Fever is uncommon in adults, but a slight fever is possible. 
  • Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold. 
Treat with over the counter medication to reduce symptoms. 
 
Compiled by University School in Nashville.