Ask Dr. Jenna*: Tips for Flu Season Away from Home

I think I suffer from a perpetual cold. Maybe it’s spending time outside walking to class, or maybe my immune system is just wimpy, but I swear my nose is drippy from October to March (too much info? maybe).

Sometimes that cold turns into something worse, and you’re stuck in bed, missing class, and wanting your mom to take care of you. Trust me, I’ve been there. Whether you’re already hacking up a lung or desperately trying to avoid it, here are some quick tips for beating (and avoiding) the flu.

Take Preventive Action

Get your flu shot.

ASAP. The Wilce Student Health Center has walk-in hours for flu shots, which cost $30. Depending on your insurance, though, part or all of this cost may be covered. Additionally, places like the CVS Minute Clinic also provide flu shots. As a clarification, you cannot get the flu from the shot. The shot contains dead virus of the most prevalent strains predicted for this year. If you do get sick around the same time, it’s possible you could have picked another variant close to when you were vaccinated.

Wash your hands frequently.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but take a minute to think about all the public things you touch on a regular basis: door knobs, hand rails, even your BuckID can harbor bacteria. If you don’t have time to run to the bathroom constantly (who does?), Bath and Body Works has mini hand-sanitizers in scents that scream fall and are $1 a piece. I know I like to smell like a PSL at all times. If you’re looking for something more traditional, check out CVS or take a CABS ride to Target at Lennox.

Get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated. 

Getting more than 6 or 7 hours a night may seem impossible during midterm season, but make sure you are getting your rest. Your body needs that time to recharge and fight off infection, so if you feel illness coming on, hop into bed an hour or so earlier than you usually do. You’ll be happy you did. Also, be sure you are drinking plenty of water. Sipping from a reusable bottle during lecture will help you pay attention and help drown out virus in your body. If you have a sore throat, there are tons of varieties of tea available on campus (my personal favorite is orange chai)! And if you bring your reusable mug, you can refill for the price of a small, SCORE.


If you are sick, stay home!

Don’t spread your germs to your friends and peers.

It can be nerve-wracking to miss class, especially if attendance is mandatory, but if you’re sick, you’re sick. If you are able, go to the Wilce Center and see a doctor to get an excuse from class. If you are not that ill, just email your professor and/or TA to let them know you won’t be in class. Taking the responsibility to find out what you missed is a good way to earn good graces with them. Most are understanding and offer one or two freebie absences for illness. Also, be sure to grab the lecture notes from a friend or online if they upload them to Carmen.

Again, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.

At this point in the semester, you probably have a few extra blocks piling up. Kindly ask your roommate to grab you some soup and Powerade from the C-Store. This way, you won’t be missing out on all your nutrients just because you are bedridden.

I hope these tips are helpful for you as cold and flu season pick up.

*I am not a doctor, I just thought the title was clever. If you think something is wrong, definitely seek out medical advice from your primary care provider.

Stay healthy!