What to do if You Become Sick at University

In Staying Healthy at University we talked about ways to avoid getting sick while you’re away at school, especially during the winter months. But what if it’s too late for that – you’re already sick with a cold or even the flu?

There are several steps you can take that will at least minimize the impact of being ill, and especially missing too much class time or too many assignments.

Schedule In Plenty Of Sleep

This sounds almost cliché, but sleep is one of the first casualties of being a university student. You have classes, studying and homework, major project assignments, an active social life, and maybe a job, and something’s got to give. Often, that something is sleep. But while you can go short spells on very little sleep, it will eventually catch up with you. That’s when you’re most vulnerable to getting sick.

What to do if You Become Sick at University
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But if you do get sick – from lack of sleep or some other reason – sleep is also one of the best remedies. No matter what else you have going on, be sure to schedule in extra sleep, especially if you’re really sick. It won’t make a cold or flu go away, but it will speed your recovery.

Related: How to Thrive on Very Little Sleep

Dorm rooms aren’t the best places to get sleep, so you might want to schedule your nap times for when everyone is out and about, or use a good pair of head phones to block out background noise.  You could also buy a fan and leave it on while you sleep to drone out all other noise.

Get To The Clinic Early

Most people wait until an illness is at its peak before seeking medical attention, but if you have a particularly heavy schedule, you may want to get to a doctor or into a clinic as soon as possible. No medical cures will make an illness go away today or even tomorrow, but the right medications can speed it through your system.

Related: Procrastination: How to Control a Student’s Worst Enemy

In addition, the best treatment for any type of illness is always early on. At the first solid sign of congestion, sore throat or body aches, get medical help immediately. Not only will treatment speed recovery, but it will also minimize the impact of the illness.

Take Any Medications Necessary

If you do get medical attention, be sure to religiously take any medications prescribed. Many students are less than routine about this, and can get especially lax as they start to feel better. But be careful of a relapse of your illness, even if you do feel better. Prolonged exposure to cold or wet weather, or a quick return to life in the fast lane can bring an illness back with a vengeance. Often, the repeat version is even more severe than the original.

Apart from prescribed medications, the onset of illness is an excellent time to make a habit of prevention. Get a flu shot, and make a routine of taking vitamin C supplements. Neither will do much about the illness you have right now, but they can go along way toward preventing the next bout.

Drink Plenty Of Fluids

Fluids are the body’s tool for cleansing itself, which is a function that’s even more important when you’re sick. Water in particular is a natural cleansing agent, and you should drink as much of it as possible.

Citrus juices are also a good choice since they contain vitamin C, a natural cold remedy.

Just be sure to avoid substituting other drinks for water and citrus drinks, such coffee and sodas. They may be liquids, but they don’t have quite the same effect as water and citrus drinks.

Slow Down For As Long As It Takes To Beat It

One of the worst things you can do in response to getting sick is trying to maintain your normal routine. It may even be that routine that caused the illness in the first place. Slow down for as long as it takes to make a full recovery.

That may mean cutting back on social activities, or even on anything other than your most pressing school assignments. Sometimes you can reduce an illness just by slowing your routine and giving your body a chance to catch up with the rest of your life.

Getting sick in the long winter months is especially challenging. While the weather is working against your recovery, you don’t have your familiar room at home, complete with a steaming bowl of mom’s chicken soup. You’re on your own, and you need to develop your own strategies to recover from illnesses as quickly as possible.

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