COLLEGE HEALTH #1: IT'S CO-UGH-ING SZN

Oh fall semester! We love you so deeply. Thank you for the sunshine, the green grass, the abundance of denim shorts and tank tops. Very little makes me happier than coming back to campus, especially my oh-so-cold midwestern one, walking out at 7 PM in the evening, the warm sun dancing perfectly on my skin to give me the precious golden hour look. Image result for umich fall And suddenly, somewhere after the second, or possibly, third frat party/tailgate, you wake up all groggy on a Saturday morning and as you try to swallow in hopes of rehydrating your dried throat, you feel it… that unmistakable lump that sits numbly and painfully in the middle of your neck.

And that my friends, is the beginning of the end: the first symptom that doom is impending. The Flu has entered your body and is slowly beginning to make its home in your tonsils.  But do not worry! I’ve got you. There is still a lot you can do, as a college student, to prevent your condition from getting worse. There are tons of myths and conflicting pieces of evidence out there, so here is your **official guide** on cracking down on the back-to-school blues before they get you.  

WHAT WORKS    

1. Good Ol’ Water Image result for drink waterWhen your doctor asks you to drink fluids, they aren’t kidding. The logic is simple: when you’re sick your body is going to lose more liquid and that is going to cause your mucus to thicken which can lead to congestion and that tight feeling in the head and chest we all know too well. Drinking water helps to restore the lost hydration and loosens up all that gunk stuck inside you so it can dribble on out easier. Poetic. No? In fact, the consumption of warm fluids is ideal because it can help ~ liquefy the insides ~ more, as well as helping the sore muscles and vessels in the throat relax. And if you’re just not a water drinker, try other thin fluids like clear soups, heated milk, tea, or even warm apple juice! (I KNOW, I KNOW! But apparently it’s a thing?)

 2. Rest

I know this is really hard to do, especially if sickness happens to coincide with midterm or recruiting season when all you are trying to do in run around and get things done. Having said that, however, if you need to take time off, you need to take time off. Besides, I promise you, most of your meetings/clubs/professors would rather have you contained in your room as opposed to being out, spreading those gleeful germs in public settings. Just send out heartfelt emails to whomsoever may be concerned, and offer to make up for the work at a later time, or ask if it can be done remotely! There are still great ways to be productive while under the comforter and over the warm sheets of your bed (professional bed studier speaking right here)! Having said that, however, you don’t want to spend all your down time on your laptop either (and this means less Netflix time too). Maybe listen to music and close your eyes for a bit… sleep is the best way to get your body back on track. Reducing the amount of simultaneous energy your organs have to expend while they’re already busy waging the war on viruses, intuitively just allows the body to focus on the real task at hand for a few days.

3. Salt water gargling Image result for salt water gargle Looking to scare all your hallmates as they enter the bathroom in the middle of the day with your beautifully produced deep-throat music? Aren’t we all? Well, taking some hot salt water from the dining halls and throwing it back, swishing it around in there, and then regurgitating it gracefully can make a whole lot of difference. Strep-like bacteria accumalating in the throat can cause inflammation due to water buildup, also felt as soreness. When salt water is introduced into the system, it increases the concentration of the surroundings, causing the water to be drawn out, both from swollen cells and the bacteria! Double trouble. Although this is not a cure, it does provide temporary relief that when invoked at least once a day can help the recovery process.

MYTH BUSTING  

  1. Vitamin C The Emergen-C craze is huge, especially on college campuses. Chugging hydroflasks full of them may certainly feel great, but unfortunately there is very little a temporary dose of the vitamin C can do for your overall health. There have been no clinical studies or controlled data to actually ascertain the effect of such measures, and although lore does tell us that it is great for the immune system, there really is no one stop shop immune booster apart from vaccines that can really do the job of making your body turn into an overnight fighter of the disease. Sorry to burst that bubble. Same goes for tablets like Zicam, which are mostly just zinc coated sugar pills that have never actually proven to be useful. Vitamin C candy still tastes great though! SO you do you!  

  2. Antibiotics Where do I even start with this one? Colds. Are. Caused. By. Viruses.  Antibiotics are meant to kill bacteria and therefore will do very little for your cold. Do NOT use antibiotics that you just have lying arond the house, and if possible avoid asking doctors for them either. In most common flu cases, they are not required! Your medical provider will let you know if they are.  These are NOT over the counter drugs and require a proper and thorough dosage to be taken in order for them to be effective. Furthemore, taking them without reason can lead to resistence, which means they MAY NOT WORK WHEN YOU REALLY NEED THEM TO!  

 

Sources:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/cold-remedies/art-20046403  

 https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2016/10/24/what-to-do-about-the-flu-a-seasonal-shopping-guide/#298c60d11131

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jensenl/visuals/album/2008/fall/ http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190403-how-much-water-should-you-drink-a-day https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/rest-is-the-new-soap-97ff6c09896d/salt-water-gargle-sore-throat