Influenza Strikes Again: How to Prevent Getting Sick

By Brian Brecker
Elm Staff Writer

Outbreaks of sickness and influenza have been occurring all over campus, and it has been awful for productivity. The healthy student may see this materialize in Martha’s or Create closing earlier than usual. For those afflicted, however, sickness or fever may only exacerbate the stresses of college and one’s workload. Certainly, falling ill is something to be avoided at all costs when one is as obsessed with time management and output as one is in college. Here are some methods to avoid going under the weather:
Invest in Lysol wipes. These things work like a charm to kill germs and bacteria, especially on doorknobs where many viruses linger. You can also use these recreationally to scrub your floors of marinara stains and clean off the dust and smudges on your electronics.
Wash your hands. This should be a no-brainer, as we have literally been told since infancy the importance of washing our hands after we go to the bathroom. Especially in dorms, you have no idea the number of times those porcelain thrones have been used since their last washing. Many people don’t wash their hands for long enough to kill the bacteria on our palms. Doctors recommend scrubbing our hands for at least twenty seconds to keep healthy. Also, wash your hands before you eat, as any germs on your hands could travel to your food, and then into your body.
Use mouth wash. People who don’t keep their mouths clean through brushing and rinsing can accumulate a cornucopia of different germs creating multiplying what is known as oral ecology. There’s an entire ecological system of bacteria living inside your mouth, and it doesn’t matter how much you rinse, some will always be there. If left uncleaned, these bacteria can cause diseases, so brush often.
If you’re sick, stay at home. No good will come of you going to your job at the Dining Hall only to infect the entire campus. Most professors will allow absences for legitimate medical emergencies, and you can always get the notes from that class from a reliable note-taker.
Don’t overdo it. In fact, going overboard with washing your hands, sterilizing everything, and making sure all your food is clean 100 percent of the time can be bad for you. The FDA recently banned the usage of antibacterial soaps—the ones that claim to kill 99.9 percent of germs. The reason for this is that there is little scientific evidence showing that these soaps are more effective than any other normal bacteria killing soap. In fact, since they kill all the bacteria, they create an environment where mutations to resist antibiotics would evolutionarily be preferred, causing the creation of drug resistant bacteria, or superbugs, as they are colloquially known.
Also, bacteria helps you digest food. Known as gut flora, there are an estimated 100 trillion bacteria living inside your intestines right now. In fact, having less gut flora can lead to weight gain, as the lack of bacteria inside your body can’t properly eat up parts of the digested food, which causes more of it to be absorbed as fat. This may all sound disgusting, but you need each and every trillion of gut flora as they provide a natural and useful function for the human body. Germs have a negative reputation, as they have usually been seen as causing sickness and virus, but scientists are quickly realizing that some forms of bacteria are beneficial, if not necessary, for survival.

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