It’s not even October, you feel a faint whoosh of air as the person at the desk next to you coughs intermittently into their sleeve. Your ears suddenly tune into your surroundings, hearing the symphony of sniffs, sneezes, and coughs that signifies the beginning of the autumn semester. Your brain flips into panic mode as you hold your breath and make a mental note to take a preventative Lemsip the second you get home. But wait, has it started to feel a little hot in here? You realise that your nose has been slightly blocked since you woke up this morning. A faint dryness in your throat that can’t be cured by water. Your bones feel heavier than usual. Oh god, freshers’ flu has returned.
Freshers’ flu isn’t really much of a flu, but more of a bad cold that’s caused by;
- The tiredness associated with beginning a new college year
- The nutrition (or lack thereof) of classic student meals in the first week of independent living, and not to mention,
- The fact that you’re sharing air and germs with hundreds of new students in college, housemates in your new accommodation, and sweaty strangers in close quarters in nightclubs.
Unfortunately for most of us, there’s no escape. It’s my third year of college and I’ve been infected every single year, which means I’m currently writing this in my pyjamas, in my bed, with a tissue stuffed up my nose. Glamourous.
For you, my fellow soldiers in this battle against infection, I’m going to share my tried and tested methods to combat freshers’ flu, as well as the preventative measures I conveniently forget to take every single autumn.
As soon as I feel the symptoms, I’m headed straight to the kettle where I will make either;
- Honey and lemon
- Cup of tea (#TeamBarrys) with honey
- Lemsip – Lemon or Blackcurrant, whatever floats your boat.
Or, in the spirit of back to college
- Hot whiskey (more affectionately known as our good friend Toddy, he’s hot)
A remedying hot drink will warm your fragile body, unclog your nose, and if you’ve added honey *which I hate but drink because I know it helps* soothe your aching throat, raw from the shouting, screaming and shenanigans from various freshers’ festivities.
This might be a personal preference, but I always pop two paracetamol as soon as possible. Paracetamol lowers your temperature and helps to ease cold symptoms. If your sinuses are playing up, consider taking an Ibuprofen to act as an anti-inflammatory, but be careful as it might irritate your stomach. You don’t want to feel any worse than you already do.
The Editor Says – be careful to mind your dosage of any medications you are taking – even if its over the counter stuff – lemsip and panadol both contain paracetamol and a paracetamol overdose is no laughing matter, in fact people have died while self medicating for colds and flus. So beware and get advice from a medical professional.
HYDRATE. This is my personal favourite technique because I love staying hydrated anyway, but nothing flushes a cold out of your system like drinking copious amounts of water to help your body fight off those nasty germs. Bonus tip, wear warm clothes even if you’re feeling too hot and sweat it out. Make sure to keep extra hydrated if you do this though, or you won’t be helping yourself at all. Buy a 2L bottle of water and keep it beside you at all times.
Sleep as much as possible. If you have the option, get into your bed and sleep it off. Your body is run down and needs to rejuvenate. Your joints are probably super stiff and your heavy bones are definitely crying out for a nap. When I say sleep, I mean sleep. Not watching Netflix in bed. That’s not helping, even though you want it to.
Your nose is probably raw from all the rubbing and sniffing and scratchy tissues, so here’s a pro tip I learned a while back. Before your symptoms develop properly, slather some Vaseline or balm around your nostrils and I guarantee it will improve your experience drastically.
As my good friends and former housemates always say, the key is PREVENTION, PREVENTION, PREVENTION.
Eat your fruit and veg, your body will love you for it. Nutrition is a key factor in preventing illness. Some people swear by vitamin C supplements from the offset of a cold, and you’ll probably get several of those either in your fresher’s pack or in various other student goody-bags.
Get enough sleep, if you’re going out most nights, obviously you’re not going to get a proper night of sleep, but try and clock as many hours as possible, while still going to class of course.
On that point, alcohol consumption isn’t exactly the best for cold prevention. I know it’s the start of the college year and drink deals and parties are hard to turn down, but if you are going to drink, do it responsibly, and add a pint of water every hour or so. You’ll thank me the morning after.
I hope some of these tips help get you back to your former self and leave you ready to tackle an amazing year at DIT!