A hypochondriac’s guide to cold and flu season
They say you’re not paranoid if it’s true. Well, in my case, I can assure you that I am in fact very sickly. While you were playing with blocks in kindergarten, I was at home with a fun case of walking pneumonia. Last fall, I went to a party with a mug of hot tea and several cough drops in my purse.
My list of possible examples to establish my ethos is unimaginably long and surely interminably boring, so I will spare you the rest. Suffice it to say, I get sick a lot. And given that you all are sleep-deprived, co-habitating and swapping bodily fluids on a regular basis, I think we can all assume you will be under the weather at some point this winter.
What my mother would say: Lysol all the doorknobs
My take: Wash your hands a lot
Don’t trust hand sanitizer. According to my doctor, the stuff is a gimmick. Just wash your hands a lot and try to avoid touching your face. You won’t be any worse off.
What my mother would say: Stay in bed until your fever has been gone 24 hours
My take: Only do the essentials
As Washington University students, we all have too many things on our plates. When you’re sick, you can’t live up to your normal standards. If you have an exam, put what little energy you have toward that and skip out on the rest of your commitments. Trust me, everyone likes to think his or her presence is essential to every event, but the world will in fact keep on turning without you. Stay in bed and drink some tea. The people you don’t end up infecting won’t actually thank you, but they should.
What my mother would say: Go to the doctor immediately
My take: If you’re really, really sick, then, and only then, maybe go
I have heard the trope “rest and drink fluids” more times than I call recall. Getting out of bed and braving the masks at Student Health Services simply isn’t worth the time in most cases. If you have a fever or you’ve been sick for more than a week, you should go. Sometimes you need to be there, but most often it’s best to just skip and treat yourself.
What my mother would say: Pound the vitamin C, the echinacea, the kale, whatever
My take: Don’t underestimate the placebo effect
While most home remedies aren’t backed by research, sometimes just doing something, anything, makes you feel better. There is nothing worse than having your week hijacked by an illness that you didn’t plan. If it makes you feel better to take some vitamin C because that’s what your grandma told you to do when you were little, then go for it. Otherwise, just take some medicine to ease your pain and battle on.
Secrets from the child who lives in a bubble:
- Chamomile tea with honey and ginger will make a sore throat immensely better.
- Gargling with saltwater actually reduces the duration of a viral infection.
- Steam is magical for a cough or congestion. Your shower is your new best friend.
- Take a p.m. cold medicine and hit the sheets early. Nothing speeds recovery like actually resting.
- Manage your assignments early. Know what’s essential and know what you can let slip. And always email your professors and advisors early on in the process. You’ll thank yourself later.
With that, I sincerely hope you don’t need to take my advice. But we all know your downfall, even if it’s just minor, is inevitable. College might as well be a petri dish.