Taking Care of Yourself During Flu Season

Winter quarter is in full swing, meaning so is the dreaded Flu season. The combination of winter weather, a higher than usual Flu season and thousands of students coming back to school who share the bus and classrooms and germs means a lot of us are getting sick. College is basically a hot bed for spreading illnesses.

I, sadly, was one of the victims of the Flu just the second week of classes (lovely timing, thank you 2020) and was bed-ridden for about a week. It was a low point for me; I missed my second week of lectures, didn’t get into my waitlisted classes and basically just wanted to drop out and go home. Like, I could’ve at least gotten sick over winter break when I had nothing to do, but no. That’s never how it works. I missed my mom, and no one was available to run errands for me. I had an ongoing fever that lasted 5 days, debilitating me from getting anything done besides laying in bed and watching Netflix. Normally I wouldn’t complain, but it’s different when you feel like you’re dying and have zero appetite. Once my fever was gone, it was time for intense congestion and a nasty cough. Awesome! Finally, after the convenient 3-day weekend, I felt human enough to attend classes again. That was an unfortunate way to kick off the new year for me, but hopefully that means the worst is done and it’s only up from here. 

If you’ve also fell victim to the Flu, have no fear: I’m here to fill you in on what worked best for me to recover, as well as what I’ve learned now in order to prevent getting sick again because trust me, I do not want to get to this point again… 

Image via Giphy

 

What To Do

  • Stay hydrated. Not just normally hydrated, but hydrated to the point of having to pee every 20 minutes. This is important because your body becomes extra dehydrated when you have a fever. 

  • Take Advil or Tylenol every 4-6 hours to keep your fever reduced. However, I’d advise taking your temperature before you take medicine to keep your fever in check. If it’s at 101 degrees or higher, it’s time to visit urgent care.

  • Get plenty of rest. Your body wants you to rest more than usual while it fights extra hard to get rid of the virus.
  • Eat soup and food high in Vitamin C and nutrients. Soup has been proven to help with sick symptoms, and it’s probably the only thing you’ll feel like consuming. Besides soup, oatmeal, smoothies, applesauce, yogurt, rice, and bananas were some of my go-to’s. 
  • Email your professors or TAs to let them know that you’ll be missing classes (at least until you’ve gone 24 hours without a fever) and it’s extra helpful to get a doctor’s note you can attach to your email in the hope your absences will be excused. 

 

What Not To Do

  • Don’t over work yourself. While you’re recovering, you need as much rest as possible, so don’t try to push your body during that time. Your body actually needs you to be a couch potato. Listen to it.
  • Don’t consume caffeine, alcohol, junk food or sugary foods. Most likely you won’t even crave any of these things, but seriously, just stay away until you’re fully recovered. 
  • Don’t be around people until your fever is gone. I basically quarantined myself in my room, yet my housemate still ended up getting sick. You’re highly contagious the first few days so keep to yourself and let people you’re living with know that they need to be extra cautious. Lysol everything, wash your hands, and don’t share utensils. Trust me, no one wants to be near you when you look like this... 

Image via Giphy

Prevention

Here’s how you can prevent getting sick during Flu season.

  • Continue staying hydrated (with water, not beer!)
  • Get enough sleep. Yeah I know, it’s a redundant phrase. But it likely contributed to what got me sick in the first place. Staying up too late multiple nights in a row plus having consistently irregular sleep patterns can increase your risk of getting sick. Just make sure not to get too cold, wash your hands after being in potentially germy places (pretty much every square inch of Isla Vista), and do your best not to get home at ungodly hours. I know it happens, but as long as you’re not making it a habit. 
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often. I bought one of the tiny hand sanitizers that attaches to my backpack so I can use it throughout the day! 
  • Eat a regular diet and limit alcohol consumption. Trust me, raging the whole weekend every weekend may sound like a good idea, but it is never worth getting sick and missing a week of school (a week of school in the quarter system is like a month). Instead drink more water and make healthy eating choices. Drinking emergen-C once in a while can’t hurt, but don’t rely on chugging a glass before every night out to keep you from getting sick. 

These are just a few things I’ve learned first hand while having the Flu. It had been a while since I’d been that sick, and I forgot just how awful and immobilizing it truly is. Even getting the Flu shot can’t fully prevent you from getting sick (I would know, I got the shot yet here I am). Thankfully, if you did get vaccinated it can help lessen the severity of your symptoms and the length of your sickness; I had a 99.7 degree fever rather than my friends who had a 101 degree fever or higher. 

Going to the doctor is important, but keep in mind that most Flus are viruses rather than bacteria, meaning there’s no medication that will instantly cure it. You basically just have to wait it out and follow the above steps to ensure a quicker recovery. If you do get sick this season, it’s not the end of the world although it may feel like it. You might just adopt this attitude for a while...

Image via Giphy

But you’ll push through and finish the quarter strong!