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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Swine Flu 101: College Survival Tips

Swine Flu Is Hitting Colleges; Find Out How to Deal With It


7. "Close contact" doesn't just mean kissing. Yes, you can spread your germs by kissing someone. But you don't have to be that close. Anywhere within 6 feet is close enough for your droplets to spread. So that's how far you need to stay away from people, unless you're wearing a face mask, to spare them your flu.

8. Don't take aspirin. Teens shouldn't take aspirin because of the risk of a rare but serious illness called Reye's syndrome. That includes baby aspirin. And at any age, follow the instructions exactly for any medicine, even if you bought it without a prescription, to avoid harmful side effects.

9. Your health: Hot or not? Certain medical conditions -- including asthma, diabetes, and pregnancy -- worsen your odds with swine flu. And some of those conditions, like diabetes, aren't always obvious. So even if you feel great, it wouldn't hurt to check with a health care provider to make sure you're as healthy as you think.

10. Misery loves company. If you get flu, there is one group of people you can still hang out with, face to face, without face masks and a gallon of hand sanitizer. "Ill students do not need to stay away from other ill students," the CDC's web site states. Maybe swine flu will actually widen your social circle. Just try to avoid sickening healthy bystanders.

11. Tell your teachers. If you come down with flu, you might not be under the gun to get your class work done as if you were healthy. The CDC is encouraging colleges and universities to make sure there aren't "academic consequences" for staying home when sick.

12. Know when it's an emergency. Hopefully, if you get swine flu, it won't knock you out for very long. But if any of the following things happen, seek urgent medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then come back with worsening fever or cough

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Reviewed on July 14, 2010

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