Steer clear of the flu and stay in class: tips from a health professional

Lemon tea can help you feel better when you're sick. (Shem Bisluk/Flickr)

Photo by Shem Bisluk // Flickr

Getting sick can happen at any time in any place, even when your schedule is booked with homework, quizzes and tests. Linda Schrader, the director of health promotion at MTSU’s Student Health Services, provided us with some tips on how to stay in class and out of the doctor’s office.

Sidelines: What are some ways that students can stay healthy during the flu season?

Schrader: Take care of yourself in terms of eating well, being physically active, and getting sufficient rest.  The better nourished and conditioned your body is, the more effective your immune system will be at fending off infections.

Is there anything that students should avoid to keep from getting sick?

As much as possible, avoid being in close contact with sick individuals.  Also, limit the number of times you touch your face.  Infection can easily be transmitted from your hands through the membranes that line your eyes, nose, and mouth.

What kinds of foods/drinks are good for when you’re feeling under the weather?

It is important to stay hydrated when you don’t feel well.  Drink plenty of water and other non-caffeinated liquids.  Listen to your body when it comes to eating solid foods.  If you have been queasy, start with clear liquids and broths and work your way up as things sound appealing to you.

How would you know whether or not you need to see a doctor when you get sick?

Most routine colds do not require a visit to the doctor and can be managed at home.  However, if your symptoms do not improve within a week, or if you experience more severe symptoms like vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down, earaches, painful swallowing, or prolonged fever, you may need to visit a doctor.  Doctors and nurses at MTSU Health Services will be happy to evaluate your symptoms and determine if additional treatments are needed.  If you get sick at night or on the weekends, you can also call Health Services (615-898-2988) and speak with an after-hours nurse for some free advice.

What kinds of resources does MTSU offer for its students when they’re sick?

Student Health Services, located in the Rec Center, is a full service primary care clinic that can diagnose and treat a variety of illnesses, including seasonal flu.  Additionally, we offer flu shots each year for students.  Students can receive a flu shot any time during business hours, and the cost is $20.  There is no cost to see a doctor.  Minimal fees are charged for lab tests, and those can be paid with cash, check, credit card, or billed to your student account.  We also offer a full service pharmacy that fills prescriptions from providers on or off campus and can process prescription drug insurance claims.  The pharmacy also sells over the counter products like cough and cold medicines, pain relievers, and even chicken noodle soup.

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To contact News Editor Amanda Freuler, email

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