How to prevent falling ill at uni

Photo credit: Judit Klein (via Flickr)

At home, being ill was almost something to look forward to: you’d manage to blag a day off school and some extra TLC from your mum, who would sporadically appear like your own Florence Nightingale armed with different medicinal concoctions. But at university it’s a very different story.

Instead of this, you will end up having to miss lectures that you will only have to catch up on. Your mates will usually be too busy with their own problems to even realise that you’re not feeling great, and quite often you’ll have nobody to help you feel even the slightest bit better. Illness becomes a living nightmare, spent in your sweat-soaked bed sheets with only your used tissues for company.

So how do we avoid this hell?

Before sending me off to live on my own for the first time, my dear mum decided she would buy me the whole of Boots’ supply of vitamins. You name it, I had it. However, despite thinking vitamins were a placebo, two weeks into the autumn term when all my housemates were dropping like diseased flies I was still standing, albeit high on Vitamin C and Omega 3. Cheers mum! Despite what many people may think, there is a lot to be said for the odd vitamin or two.

Eating somewhat healthily is essential. I know its cliché but eating five portions of fruit and veg every day and drinking plenty of water will keep your immune system fighting fit, allowing you to say hell yes to your third night out in a week.

Often forgotten when it comes to avoiding the dreaded lurgy is that a clean communal area really does help. If dirty dishes are left on dirty surfaces in your kitchen, of course you are going to get ill. Along with this comes emptying the bins regularly. If you stop and think about how many germs congregate on the bins that you and all your housemates touch daily- it is a terrifying thought.

An obvious one is washing your hands regularly, and not just after going to the loo. Just think about how many people have coughed into their hands and touched the doorknob you’ve just used. As well as this it is a good idea to wash your bed sheets, clothes and tea towels often to avoid spreading germs further.

Another useful tip from personal experience would be don’t neck-on with someone who’s ill- no matter how fit they are! Coming from someone who has had glandular fever (aka the kissing disease) three times… it is so not worth it!

Lastly but very importantly make sure someone knows you are not well so that they can keep an eye on you. If you’re stuck to your sweaty bed sheets, simultaneously boiling hot and shivering, it’s okay to ask a mate to go and grab you some paracetamol. And if over-the-counter remedies don’t sort you out, don’t be afraid to see a doctor!

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