Avoiding the cold and flu may seem like a daunting task in the university environment, however there are a number of ways that you can help your body to fight off and prevent the cold and flu. The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year.

Top-10 ways to avoid the cold and flu:

  • Wash your hands often with clean soap and water. You can use hand sanitizer when not near a sink.
  • Avoid touching your face. Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth can easily introduce a cold or flu infection into your body.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue or shirtsleeve – not with your hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are ill.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Relax and get plenty of rest. Having a regular sleep schedule is particularly effective against the flu.
  • Do aerobic exercises regularly.
  • Eat foods that boost your immune system such as fruit, vegetables, and yogurt. Having a well-balanced diet is a key part of staying healthy.
  • Avoid smoke and alcohol consumption
  • Don’t share any personal items, particularly things that will come in contact with body fluids, such as eating utensils, drinking glasses, anything that can be consumed, or fitness equipment.

What to do if your roommate has a cold or the flu

The majority of students who go to Virginia Tech live with one or more roommates. It can be a battle to stay healthy in such an environment during the cold and flu season. Follow these steps to avoid your roommate’s cold or flu:

  • Wash your hands often. Shared space breeds shared germs. Make sure you keep your hands clean.
  • Spend time away from an infected roommate as much as possible. Try to get as much fresh air as you can.
  • Sanitize shared items and facilities such sink handles, door handles, remotes, etc. Once a virus is expelled into the air, it can linger for up to three hours.
  • Ask your roommate to cover their mouth with a sleeve or tissue when they cough or sneeze. Make sure they do not leave any tissues lying around.
  • Make sure you pay close attention to your own wellness.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

If you wash your hands frequently, you greatly reduce the chance of introducing harmful bacterium into your system. Follow these steps for proper hand washing:

  • Wet hands with clean, warm, running water.
  • Apply soap to hands and wrist.
  • Lather vigorously for at least 20 seconds (as long as it takes to sing the alphabet twice or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” once).
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm, running water.
  • Dry hands and forearms with a clean, dry, paper towel.
  • Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet and touch the door handle while opening the door.
  • Use hand sanitizer if you are not near soap and clean running water.