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For the Sick College Student

So you’ve got a cold. Well, you’re not alone. I don’t know how much you’ve been paying attention, but I’ve heard lots of sniffles across campus recently. Good news:  you’re in good company, because I’m sick too! To make sure we both make it through this alive, I’ve compiled some tips and tricks that I’ve learned through the years to help cope.

Take your meds.

Whether they’re prescribed by a licensed medical professional or you’re just proud of yourself for managing to drag yourself to the medicine cabinet, make sure you’re taking something. There’s no need to power through without the help of modern science. This isn’t a test; you have nothing to prove. Just follow the directions provided by your doctor or printed on the container’s label. I use a combination of Mucinex D and ibuprofen. Though it makes everything a little foggy for me, I think it’s better than the alternative.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Those drugs need liquid to help treat your congestion and stuffiness. While you’re chugging, give your immune system a boost. Vitamin C is certain to help, so break out the orange juice or the Emergen-C. If orange drinks aren’t your thing, hot beverages can also help loosen you up. Pro-tip: drink hot tea sweetened with local honey to lessen the symptoms of your cold and fortify yourself against allergies later, when Spring finally decides to show up.


Though you may not feel like eating, your body needs fuel to help fight off that common cold virus. My personal favorite is homemade chicken noodle soup, but if you live in a dorm or can’t convince your roommates to make you some, microwave ramen works as a good substitute. If you’re nauseous from the meds or the sinus drainage, follow the BRAT diet. Bananas, Rice, Apples, and Toast are you friends. They don’t sound like they’d be good together, but it’s your life, I won’t judge if you try it.

Use a Pop treatment.

I can see your confused expressions now, but bear with me. To make a Pop treatment, soak a wash cloth in warm water. Squeeze out the excess. Fold the cloth and place it in a Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and pop it in the microwave for around 30 seconds. Let it cool off for a couple seconds, so you don’t burn your skin. Hold it against your forehead. Feel that sweet release. Reheat as needed. I don’t know what normal people call this approach, but I call it a Pop treatment, because it’s a family remedy passed down from my grandpa.

Invest in a Neti pot.

Using a Neti pot is super gross, there’s no denying it. I’m sorry. It’s not fun, it feels weird, and it raises your awareness of how truly disgusting the human body is. HOWEVER, I swear by it. All praise the pot, because it performs miracles. Horribly gross miracles, but miracles nonetheless. (Disclaimer:  I don’t have a medical degree, so if you hear somewhere that Neti pots are awful for you, I’m sorry. I’m still using mine, because I feel so much better afterwards).


I mean it, you guys. I know we’re all busy college people, livin’ our busy college lives. Quite frankly, we have stuff to do, and no time to be down for the count. That being said, without rest you’ll just be miserable and less productive for much longer. Allow yourself a much needed break, and then get back to 100 percent much faster than if you hadn’t. You’ll thank yourself later.

Cuddle with a pet.

While you’re resting, coerce your pet into giving you affection. Because everyone knows that cuddling is soothing, especially with a much beloved furry friend. Above you see my preferred cuddle pet, Ranger. Sure, he’s as big as I am, and nearly suffocates me every time we cuddle*, but he makes me feel better every time I feel under the weather. That release of oxytocin works wonders.

*Read:  every time he decides his definition of cuddling is laying directly upon my face.

In college it’s almost impossible to avoid getting sick. There’s just too many people in a relatively small area. You’re stressed. If you’re like me, you’re sleep-deprived. So when you do catch a cold, take care of yourself. Now that I’ve shared my sick day tips and tricks, let me know if you have any original ideas in the comment section below!



Hi guys! I'm Holly, and I'm a writer for HerCampus at Illinois State. My interests includes feminism, superheroes, books, movies, tv shows, food, and puppies! As you can see, I enjoy a pretty eclectic range of things, but most importantly I'm just a regular college girl trying to live her best life. :)
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