Can you avoid freshers flu? Or is it an inevitable part of freshers' week? Here's what you need to know 👇
Freshers’ flu is infamous for affecting thousands of students every year. It’s pretty inevitable that most students will catch it at some point during their time at university, but being prepared can mean you have a better chance at fighting it off. Here are our top tips on avoiding freshers' flu, and how to cure it.
What is freshers’ flu? 🧐
Despite its name, freshers’ flu is not necessarily an actual flu. It’s more a collection of symptoms which hit freshers’ the hardest during the first few weeks of the new academic year. It affects thousands of students every single year, as the influx of social events means you’re mingling with huge numbers of new people.
Freshers’ flu usually consists of a bad cold and hangover-like symptoms – so it’s not going to hang around too long. Sometimes it's just a case of having a really bad hangover, and this might be because you’re super run-down (constant drinking and lack of sleep is the main cause here).
How do you catch freshers’ flu? 🤧
The best way to avoid freshers’ flu is to be aware of how it can develop. Usually, you’ll catch a bad cold from being in contact with someone else who has it. Whether that’s a quick handshake, touching a surface they’ve touched or giving them a good-old snog.
In some people, freshers' flu is a symptom of being overly tired and lacking energy in the body. Or in others, it can be a bout of homesickness showing itself in other ways. Every case will be different, so it’s important to look after yourself as you enter freshers’ week.
Can I still get freshers’ flu during the coronavirus pandemic? 😷
In simple terms – yes. The symptoms for freshers’ flu are different to coronavirus, but there’s still a bit of crossover. Like with any virus, you’ll need to be careful to avoid it. If you have ANY symptoms of coronavirus, make sure to follow the government’s most recent guidelines.
What are the symptoms of freshers' flu? 👀
Symptoms vary from person to person, but usually they’re similar to the symptoms of the common cold. You might experience:
- A high temperature or fever
- A cough
- A sore throat
- A headache
- Feeling sick
- Feeling exhausted
- An aching body
If you start feeling a little run-down, this might be a warning sign that you’ve caught the bug. Keep reading to find out how to cure freshers’ flu 👇
How to avoid freshers’ flu 🙅♀️
Here are the most effective ways to avoid catching freshers’ flu when you start university this year.
Stick to the basics
Some obvious (but important) ways to avoid freshers’ flu include washing your hands and keeping yourself (and surfaces) clean. We’ve been told again and again how important it is, but washing your hands is an incredibly effective way to avoid catching any viruses or bad colds.
With the invasion of alcohol during freshers’ week as a student, your body is likely to get incredibly dehydrated - probably without you even realising it. Alcohol is a diuretic, so it’s going to take a lot of fluid out of you while you’re drinking, BUT that doesn’t mean you need to lay off the booze completely. Squeeze in a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks while you’re out during freshers’ week to keep up your water intake. This will save you a hangover in the morning (future you will thank you).
Aim to have the recommended 2 litres of water a day (at a minimum). Combat the hangovers by keeping a few water bottles dotted around your flat as a reminder for you to have a drink. If water isn’t your bag, grab some cordial to make it a bit easier (but try not to get anything too sugary). It’s also worth grabbing a couple of energy drinks, as these are packed with electrolytes to get your energy up.
Whether it’s a walk to explore the neighbourhood or a full-on gym sesh with your new housemates, getting moving is bound to keep your immune system active. It might not be the MOST appealing task when you’re dying from a hangover, but it will make you feel a load better (we promise).
Get at least eight hours of sleep
Getting enough sleep can be hard during freshers’ week, and the abundance of events and activities will take up most of your time. Despite this, give yourself enough time every night to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night (or preferably more – you’ll need it). The Sleep Foundation recommends making up for lack of sleep with naps throughout the day, so if your sleep isn’t quite up to scratch, at least you’ve got an excuse for a quick kip.
Get in your 5-a-day
Do your immune system a favour and try to have a decent diet during freshers’ week. Simply getting in some fruit and veg can drastically improve your chances of surviving scot-free. Orange juice is always a go-to for fighting off illnesses, as it’s packed with vitamin C and folic acid to give your immune system a boost. So, before you head out for your first freshers’ night, pop some OJ next to your bed for the hangover in the morning. Opt for freshly squeezed if you can.
Schedule a cooking night with your mates as a fun way to get some veg into your system. This is a great way to get to know your new housemates, and it’ll make it a lot less tempting to eat Domino’s every night 🍕
How to cure freshers’ flu 🤒
If you think you might have caught a bad case of freshers’ flu, don’t panic! There are a number of easy strategies you can do to start feeling like yourself again.
Figure out how you caught it
Are your symptoms from the common cold? Do you have a bad hangover? Or are you feeling a bit stressed from your new surroundings? Figuring out why you might have developed freshers’ flu will help you treat it to right way.
Lemon, honey and ginger are your new best friends
The combination of lemon, honey and ginger is a goldmine of health benefits. It’s a natural immune booster which can prevent your symptoms from getting even worse, and the vitamins will keep you on the straight and narrow. Garlic is also another alternative. Studies have shown it to reduce your risk of becoming ill in the first place, and it can reduce the severity of your symptoms. (Feeling lazy? Just grab some Berocca).
A quick 10-minute meditation or yoga session can give you some instant relief for the dreaded freshers’ flu. It’s proven to dramatically reduce stress, which can flare up symptoms and prolong your illness. Mindfulness is excellent for students who are feeling homesick or stressed from the change in their environment. It’ll do your mental health some good too, so try to squeeze in ten minutes a day.
Lay off the smoking
Keeping in control of your cigarette habit might save you days of being bedridden. Smoking is a pain for your immune system and can prolong your symptoms way longer than you’d like. If you’re feeling run-down from freshers’ flu, have a few days off from the cigarettes.
Drink ALL the hot drinks ☕️
Hot liquids relieve congestion, get you hydrated and sooth nasal inflammation, to fight off that flu as quick as possible. Chicken soup is a cure as old as time – and for good reason. It’s packed with vitamins A and C, which are immune boosting idols. If you’re not feeling the chicken, hot teas and vegetable soups will do the trick too.
If you're new to university this year, check out our top tips for surviving freshers' week.