By GIANNA DUGAN
It is no secret that along with the crisp air, the smell of peppermint and pine, and the twinkling lights that winter brings, comes the dreaded flu season as well. It is safe to say that almost everyone has figuratively experienced feeling under the weather, as the weather itself has literally shifted drastically to the frigid damp temperatures known for this time of year.
The New York State Department of Health identifies the months of October through the following May as the New York State flu season. This is the approximate time period in which the influenza virus outbreak is most active and prevalent. Influenza (the flu) is a highly contagious respiratory infection. Unlike the common cold, the flu can be a very serious illness, at times resulting in hospitalization, pneumonia and, in extreme cases, death when not taken care of properly.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, nausea and tiredness. Although both illnesses have many symptoms alike, the common cold usually consists of more coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, a sore throat, and occurs over a longer, more gradual period of time.
Unfortunately, both the common cold and the flu are extremely contagious airborne illnesses, which does not mix well with a high school packed with thousands of teenagers that are confined to a small room for eighty-four minutes at a time. Walking through the hallways of Washingtonville High School during flu season is almost as bad as sitting in the doctor's office waiting room; the virus is everywhere.
As if high school is not difficult enough, trying to not only complete the work, but understand the material and receive good grades, all while attempting to participate in extracurriculars, having the flu can make all of this seemingly impossible to keep up with. Meaghan King, a senior at WHS, suffered from the flu in the beginning of December, missing four consecutive days of school. “It took [Meaghan] approximately two full weeks to catch up assignments and completely understand the lessons [she] missed while [she] was out sick,” King tells about her struggles.
Having the flu or the common cold has real, undeniable effects on students and their studies. Devin Keith, a medical scribe at Washingtonville Pediatrics explains, “Student can become fatigued, unable to sustain attention, affected by gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting/diarrhea, experience a change in appetite which could affect their mood, and may become a distraction to others around them.” According to Keith, Washingtonville Pediatrics deals with so many patients with upper respiratory illnesses, the number may even reach the thousands.
The best thing to do when experiencing any respiratory illness symptoms is to see a physician. Although the flu and the common cold are highly contagious, one can take steps in preventing the contraction of these illnesses. Washing your hands often, disinfecting shared materials in school before and after use, abstaining from sharing food or drink, and receiving the flu vaccine are a couple of practices that can be used.
Washingtonville is in the midst of it’s flu season, but hopefully no one else has to suffer too badly from these horrid illnesses. There are many Purell dispensers throughout WHS for a reason, so don’t be afraid to use them!