Student life

Freshers flu - what is it & how to avoid it

You’ve made it to your new bedroom, you’ve figured out how to cook yourself some dinner and the amount of hands you’ve shaken at fresher’s week events could give a shady car salesman a run for his money. The one thing you might want to avoid while starting your university life? That ominous rite of passage called ‘Freshers Flu’.

What is fresher’s flu really?

When you get to university you are throwing yourself headfirst into contact with a whole host of germs and nasties. Remember all those hands you were shaking? That questionably-odoured foam from last nights early noughties throwback party? Yep. That, and the weakened immune system you’ve induced from all the hard-core partying (and maybe even hard-core studying) has left your body feeling slightly fragile. Telltale symptoms include feeling completely exhausted, nauseas, headachey, feverish and a sore throat complete with that lecture-hall-friendly-cough. While you might not find freshers flu categorized in a textbook of diseases, the cough and cold symptoms that follow the start of university are far from an imagined illness. But don’t freak out just yet, we’ve sourced the best ways to avoid it.

Take it easy on the tipples (and triples)

You might not think a few hangovers can faze you, but taking out the tinnies every night can quickly take its toll. Your immune system starts feeling delicate and the next thing you know, you’re struck with it. In a nation that loves an alcoholic tipple, it wouldn’t be the true British university experience without a thousand dribbling noses and coughs, ricocheting off the wales of your dreariest lectures. Unsurprisingly your increased alcohol consumption is more than likely a key cause of that cough and cold. And while we’re sure you’ll ignore us, you might want to go easy on the drinking if you’re serious about avoiding that flu.

Wash those hands

Okay, we don’t want to sound like your mum - but keep those hands WASHED. It sounds super simple but soap and water are your best friends when it comes to staying freshers-flu-free. Brainboxes like Alan Pocinki, a US medical whizz and MD working at George Washington University Hospital says you should wash them as much as you can stand. Speaking to WebMD he shared another trick – singing happy birthday twice while you scrub between your fingers, the backs of your hands and under your nails (although we suggest keeping the singing in your head to avoid looking like Lady Macbeth at a birthday party).

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Snog safely

You might be feeling young, wild and free. But guess what’ll keep you young, wild and flu-free? Going easy on the snogging. Flu virus is carried in saliva so kissing your flirty next-door-neighbour in halls just got even more risky. If you’re up for snogging sensibly, remember that a fever can last for up to a week after the symptoms subside.

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Work out to ward it off

Going for a run might be the last thing you want to do after an all night sesh but it might just be your freshers flu savior. Dr Seth Rankin, founder of the London Doctors Clinic explained that students should make a sensible spending splurge on gym membership. Speaking to Cosmopolitan he said ‘Cardio will help strengthen your heart, which in turn strengthens your immune system.’ The women’s magazine also advises students to avoid kebabs but we give you permission to take that one with a pinch of Turkish salt. That being said…

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Get those vitamins in

We are all for a post-pub cheesy chips and kebab snack attack but to avoid freshers flu, you’re going to want to keep things in moderation. Good nutrition will keep your body happy and healthy and limit your susceptibility to disease. Fruits like orange are famous for immune-boosting vitamin C content – vodka orange anyone?

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R-E-L-A-X

In the words of Frankie - RELAX. Freshers is a stressful time so make sure you’re giving yourself a little bit of TLC. According to a 2009 study, people who stress out more are less likely to develop protective antibodies in response to flu viruses. It basically means if you’re over-stressed you are more likely to catch a cold or flu. It’s okay to skip that night out if you’re tired and not feeling it. Trust us, you’ll have plenty of chances to make up the time.

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The bottom line?

It’s not always possible to avoid a cold or flu. If you do catch it, keep medicated and well rested (a homemade meal can go a long way). And if you’re concerned its more than freshers flu? Don’t be afraid to get medical help. Happy Freshering!

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