5 Ways to Avoid the UF Plague

Cooler weather is in the air, but with it comes something much more unpleasant: the UF plague. If you haven’t been taken as a victim yourself, you most likely know at least a couple people who have. Here are some pointers and reminders on how to arm yourself against this seasonal inconvenience:

1. Wash your hands often As intuitive as this sounds, we could all use the reminder. You touch so many things throughout the day with your hands that other people have come in contact with too. Door knobs, faucets, money, tabletops and even the escalator at Library West are all touched by hundreds of students each day, which makes them prime surfaces for the spread of viruses and bacteria. To do it right, wash your hands and wrists for a full 20 seconds with warm water and soap. If a sink or soap is unavailable, hand sanitizer that has an alcohol content of more than 60 percent works great as well. Don’t worry. Your Bath & Body Works mini hand sanitizers contain a full 68 percent.

2. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth The main way germs get into your system is through the oral and respiratory nasal route. Habits like rubbing your eyes, scratching your face or biting your nails make it that much easier for viruses and bacteria to enter your body and make you sick, especially if you’re not washing your hands adequately. Consider wearing clear nail polish to remind yourself not to bite your nails and mascara to remember not to rub your eyes.

3. Get enough sleep Sleep deprivation – something most of us are all too familiar with – lowers the efficiency of your immune system, which is your body’s line of defense against germs. Some studies indicate that lack of sleep reduces the number of T-cells in your system. Those are the white blood cells responsible for directly combatting virus and bacteria. Getting more sleep is easier said than done in college, but at least try to make it a priority to get seven or more hours consistently each night to keep your immune system working at its peak.

4. Exercise regularly Moderate exercise, along with its plethora of other physical and mental benefits, has been attributed to a more effective immune response. The theory goes that aerobic exercise gets your heart pumping faster and allows the T-cells to circulate throughout your body at a faster rate to efficiently attack germs. However, if you’re already getting regular, adequate exercise, don’t try to amp up your routine in the hopes of boosting your immune system. Intense exercise regimes – marathon running for example – are actually linked with a decreased immune response.

5. Relax Many people underestimate the physiological effects of stress, but high and continuous levels of stress can lead to a significantly depressed immune response and make you more susceptible to the bugs causing the UF plague. Cortisol is a hormone associated with your stress response. It’s what slows down “non-essential” functions in your body like your digestive, reproductive and immune systems so your body can divert energy to dealing with whatever stress it perceives as a threat. Normally, your body reverts back to its normal activity once the perceived threat is gone, but a really hectic couple of days – an intense exam week for example – causes the immune system to work at a less-efficient rate. Learning to manage stress in a constructive way will not only keep you mentally sane but also physically healthy.

If doing all of the above still doesn’t help you stave off the UF plague, have no worries! Devote a couple of days to fully relaxing, recovering and focusing on your health before you get back to the daily grind. Not only will your body thank you, but your friends will too because you’ll make them less susceptible to catching the plague from you.

 

Photo credit:www.ct.gov