The Gregory School is in the midst of its greatest flu epidemic in years. In November alone, over 15 students were out with the flu, myself included.

The most common flu symptoms include having a runny nose, sore throat, high fever, slight dizziness and lightheadedness, nausea, warm flushed skin, and red, watery eyes.

These symptoms are often mistaken with those of the common cold, but there are some key differences between the two.

When the flu first hits, it hits hard. The worst symptoms last for two to five days, and then linger for about a week or so afterward.

The cold creeps in slowly and lasts about a week. Another sign that it is the flu and not a cold is if you start feeling fatigued (ie. sore muscles and drowsiness) for more than 2 weeks.

If there is even a slight sign that you have the flu, you must go to the doctor and get examined. The flu is highly contagious and can be transmitted easily.

The key to staying healthy and flu-free is constantly washing your hands, carrying hand sanitizer wherever you go, staying hydrated, and most importantly, getting vaccinated.

CVS and Walgreens offer walk in flu vaccinations all day, and they are often covered by insurance.

If you start developing symptoms, call your parents and go home immediately. Start taking flu antiviral drugs, since they can shorten your illness by 1-3 days.

Along with antivirals, ibuprofen/motrin will help bring the fever down and relieve the flu headache. Rest is the next key, since constant movement can prolong the sickness.

The first step to not geting the flu is not underestimating it. The flu truly is a nasty sickness that can be avoided.

By taking the correct steps, you can have an enjoyable and  healthy autumn season.