Surviving Winter Illnesses

Winter is here and so are the germs. If you've managed to stay healthy so far, congratulations! However, not all of us have been so lucky. Some of us rarely get sick, while others seem to get sick every other week. Illness takes different tolls on each of us. Some of us only experience a mild sore throat and sniffles, while others suffer from the works—sneezing, coughing, migraines, interrupted sleep, and even vomiting. Whether you're worried about the flu or the common cold, keep these tips in mind when you start feeling unwell.

1. Get plenty of rest. ​​

​​​​This can be super hard for college students to do, but it's important if you want to stay healthy. Once you're sick, you'll feel exhausted regardless of your sleeping habits. You should still shoot for a reasonable amount of sleep when you're nursing a cold. Take some Nyquil to soothe your throat and help you get to bed on time.

​2. Wash your hands.

You should be doing this year-round, of course, but in the winter, germs are everywhere. Door handles, computer keyboards, and sink faucets are germy places. Wash with soap and water, and make sure to dry your hands. If you're worried about how dry your hands have been lately, rest assured, because hot water hasn't been proven to attack bacteria better than warm or cold water. Also, carrying some hand sanitizer with you is never a bad idea.

3. Drink lots of fluids.

You've heard this before. Water is always an important liquid to take in. If you're already sick, try to avoid soda as much as possible. Hot liquids like apple cider (my favorite drink when I'm sick) and tea are great for sore throats, so stock up on those instead of coffee and energy drinks until you overcome your sore throat.

4. Take a warm shower.

Hot water is bad for your skin, especially in the winter, but a warm shower can be great if you're experiencing aches and trouble breathing out of your nose. When I got sick last weekend, I tried a hot bath (do as I say, not as I do) and instantly my muscles felt much better and I could breathe like a normal person.

5. Have some soup.

Odds are, you're not hungry enough to have a full meal when you're sick, but you still need to eat! Chicken noodle soup is a favorite for those suffering from the common cold, but tomato soup or broth alone are just as good!

6. Invest in medicine.

Sometimes you'll need an ID to prove you're 18 and won't ingest your favorite over-the-counter medicine irresponsibly. Cough drops are great, but more severe symptoms require stronger medicines. If problems last too long (say, a week), you should visit a doctor to see what they think. If you've been prescribed an antibiotic, take every dose until you're out! Do not stop taking it just because you're feeling better. Also, read warning labels! If your liquid medicine says "Don't take other products with acetaminophen," don't take them!

7. Invest in a humidifier.

It doesn't have to be pricey. Your health is important, so you should want to get one of these to moisten the air in your bedroom. As long as you keep your humidifier and its filter clean (and refilled), you should be good to go.

Remember that when you're sick, getting better should be a priority. Inform your professors that you're feeling ill and won't be able to come in. You should still attempt to submit that essay on time, but you don't need to spread germs around and get other people sick. Many older professors will thank you. Ask friends or other classmates to recap lectures for you and try cracking open that textbook you haven't used if you can stand it.

Stay healthy out there!

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