I’ll put it succinctly: The University of Connecticut is a Petri dish. When you have over 30,000 people (not including faculty and staff) running around in a very public space, it’s only a matter of time before you catch the dreaded mid-semester plague. That bottle of hand sanitizer is cute, by the way. But so very useless.
Of course, being ill as a college student isn’t easy, especially since you can’t just call a sick day for your lectures or that big exam coming up. While mom might not be around to give you chicken soup and Vicks, here are some college student-friendly remedies to get you better in no time.
This seems obvious, but so many people discount it. Sleep is the absolute best way to recover your energy and give your immune system that boost it needs to fight off your cold. If you think you’re going to get work done if you stay up late, forget it-- not only will you be too miserable to focus, but your exhaustion the next day will make it even worse. Skip the coffee and put away the energy drinks, close your blinds, tell your roommate to study somewhere else, grab your favorite blanket and stuffed animal, shut off the lights and get at least eight consecutive hours of shut-eye. Naps during the day aren't a replacement, but they can be a good way to give you a little pick-me-up.
This sounds silly, but I can swear by it. Always keep food in your dorm because I guarantee there will be a day when you are feel too horrible to make it down to a dining hall. While this isn’t the healthiest option in terms of nutrition, the hot salty water does wonders for your throat and nose. Careful not to burn yourself!
With all the cafes available on campus, you might as well use them. Hot ginger, orange and peppermint tea or chai not only taste great, but the warmth helps loosen mucus and soothe inflamed throats, especially if you add honey. The Union convenience store, CVS and Price Chopper also sell specially formulated herbal teas such as Throat Coat™ that claim to offer cold and flu relief. Drinking plenty of fluids (non sugary, so no soda!) is also crucial to recovering, so fill up your water bottle as well.
Vinegar and Honey
Some theater majors swear by this, though it does sound a bit gross. Take a cup of warm or hot water, and add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of honey, mix it and chug it down. The honey will coat your throat and ease the pain a bit, while the vinegar helps act as an antiseptic.
Over the Counter Medications
Be careful with this, since some medications cause drowsiness and make it harder to concentrate in class. Sometimes, however, decongestants can be a life-saver. Cough drops, nose sprays and menthol rubs can also help. Just be sure to talk to a pharmacist before you try anything new or especially strong, and make sure any current medications you’re on won’t interfere with it.
Your tuition partly pays for the UConn Health Center and you’re required to have insurance anyways, so why not use it? If you feel sick for longer than five days, have a fever of over 101͒ F or have a bloody cough, grab your insurance card and make it down to the infirmary ASAP, or call the advice nurse at 860-486-4700.
Putting Yourself First
It’s ridiculously easy to start prioritizing your grades, social life or beating Resident Evil 7 over your personal health. Don’t fall into this trap! You’ll never be as successful with an exhausted, stuffy-nosed, aching body as you will with a well-rested, healthy and energetic one. So when you start crashing because of the flu, give yourself a break. Call in sick from work and ask your friends for class notes. Curl up with some soup and watch some adorable YouTube videos of cats. College life can be stressful, but if you know when to call it quits, you’ll recover faster and get more done than if you just try to power through.
Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.