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Freshers' Flu: What It Is and How to Avoid It

You've just arrived on campus, ready to start a new academic year. You're looking forward to moving in, making new friends, joining clubs and having fun especially during the notorious Freshers' week. But there's one thing that could ruin your plans: Freshers' flu.

Don’t Let Freshers’ Flu Ruin Your First Week Of University

Freshers' flu is the name given to the wave of illness that hits many students after their first week of socialising, partying and neglecting their health. It's not a real flu, but it can make you feel miserable with symptoms like fever, headache, cough, sneezing, sore throat and runny nose.

a student curled up in bed feeling unwell

Freshers' Week sounds like fun, so why do you get sick?

Well, with people arriving from near and far, you're a bit stressed by the change of environment, you're probably getting less sleep than usual, and your immune system is under strain.

Then there's a general lack of attention to hand washing and personal hygiene, so there's an intense wave of colds, coughs and other illnesses that makes students drop like flies.

Because it is associated with the immediate arrival on campus, it is known as 'Freshers' flu'.

How Can You Avoid Freshers' Flu?

It's NOT a rite of passage, and you CAN avoid it by keeping yourself healthy and hygienic by following the guidelines below.

  • If you're feeling unwell, STAY AWAY from other people and take care of yourself

  • Remember when, during COVID lockdown, we all sanitized and watched TikTok videos instructing us how to wash hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds? Well, keep doing it!

  • Carry packs of tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze and bin them straightaway.

  • Sneeze into the crook of your arm/elbow, not into your hands.

  • Wear a face mask if you're going to be in a crowd for any long periods of time, out of precaution.

  • Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Keep up your water intake - at least 1-2 litres a day.

  • Ensure your COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are up to date, plus other vaccinations such as Polio, MMR, measles, and other significant transmittable diseases

What Are The Symptoms Of Freshers' Flu?

Symptoms include feeling feverish, generally unwell, cough, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, nausea, or diarrhoea.

You may just feel like you want to curl up in bed, which is probably the best thing you could do, and avoid close contact with other people to avoid spreading germs and infecting others.

How Do You Treat Freshers' Flu?

1. The best thing to do is get plenty of rest, sleep and stay hydrated.

2. Next, raid the first aid kit you will have packed, if you downloaded the list on our Free Resources page. Our checklist details some of the items you will need to help you get over Freshers' Flu.

3. Take paracetamol or ibuprofen every 4 hours to treat the headache, body aches, or fever and drink lots of water or preferably something like Gatorade or Powerade which provide electrolytes to replace lost nutrients in your body. You can always ask a flat-mate or friend to pop to the shops for you, if you are too ill to get up and out.

4. Other natural remedies include ginger tea or ginger shots, lemon juice and honey, and supplements including Vitamin C, Turmeric and Zinc, to help fight inflammation and boost your depleted immune system. Read our blog on which vitamins and supplements you should take.

Make Sure You Are Vaccinated Against Infectious Diseases

patient showing vaccination certificate on her mobile phone

Remember to take your vaccination record history with you to university.

You should be able to demonstrate you are are up to date with all your vaccinations, including COVID-19, MMR, Polio and MenACWY (meningitis).

It is important to be fully vaccinated - in particular as Polio, which was formerly eradicated, has now re-emerged - and, with the gathering of people from all over the world at the start of university, it is highly likely that infections will spread.

By following these tips, you can enjoy Freshers' Week without getting sick.

If you do catch Fresher's flu, don't panic! It's usually over in a few days with some rest and over-the-counter medication. Try to remember to pack some cold and flu medication and headache pills in your luggage and take care of yourself.


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