With the start of the new semester, there have been some unwelcome guests that have arrived with the students returning from winter break--namely, multiple viral and bacterial infections. The most unwanted of all has been the recent uprising in what students are calling the “stomach bug,” also named the norovirus. This stomach bug is actually known by medical professionals as an intestinal virus. The Gavel sat down with Dr. Thomas Nary, Director of University Health Services and Sports Medicine to acquire information and advice on how to avoid this intestinal virus.
The intestinal virus that has been going around the Boston College campus has come to fruition in the past three weeks to a month. Students are suffering from nausea and vomiting, usually lasting from 24 to 48 hours. Dr. Nary explained that this virus is not uncommon; however, this year has resulted in more cases than usual. Unless you have the option of taking a trip to the Bahamas for the next month, here are some viable options to keep healthy amidst the sick.
The first piece of advice is to avoid contact with anyone who has the virus, and wash hands well--and frequently. Dr. Nary emphasized that students should focus on washing both before and after activities. A great example of when to err on the side of caution would be in places like the Plex. Most students clean off the equipment after they use it, but most certainly not all. Dr. Nary recommended cleaning your equipment not only after, but before use. There is no way of knowing whether or not someone using the equipment before you cleaned it off after they were done. This is important because if they were sick, or even just in the incubation phase of the disease, any of those germs will be left on the machine.
Along the lines of cleaning off equipment and things that of common use, Dr. Nary explained that it is your own personal responsibility to keep clean, wash your hands often and refrain from sharing any food or drink. Dr. Nary explained that even if the ResLife staff were to totally sanitize the entire bathroom, once one person who is ill enters the bathroom the germs would be back. It is your personal duty to be aware of how you treat your body. Unlike the flu, the intestinal virus is not air borne; it is only transmitted by hand and mouth contact.
If you are one of the unfortunate students to fall victim to this cruel virus, just know that it should go away very soon. While suffering, remember to take in a lot of clear fluids (not including vodka and/or Natty Light). Dr. Nary recommends that someone infected should take in small amounts of clear liquids, often, alternating between water, clear soups and electrolyte-replenishing drinks such as Powerade. Stay away from spicy and acidic foods and drinks such as tomato juice and Mexican food. These foods and drinks tend to upset the stomach and may exacerbate the symptoms. Drink more gentle fluids such as apple juice or ginger ale. Also, stay away from milk and other dairy products for the first few days. These products are typically more tough to digest and can be hard on the stomach. Be aware of what you’re consuming, and make sure that your diet still stays balanced and healthy.
In general, Dr. Nary explained that is it best to get as much rest as possible, and ensure that you are not overly fatigued because the body usually fights off disease a lot better when it is well rested.
If you do get the stomach bug and it seems that it is lasting longer than it should be, Dr. Nary recommended visiting Health Services. The biggest problem that happens with intestinal viruses is that the victim can get overly dehydrated, and in some cases, will have to go to the hospital to receive IV fluids in order to rehydrate.
While it is rare that students will have to go to the hospital because of this intestinal virus, it is important to be aware of what can happen if it is left untreated. The best way to not get this virus is to take as many precautionary steps as possible as it goes through campus. Be responsible and keep yourself clean, and make sure that if you do get the virus, you don’t try to spread the love.