Freshers’ Flu 101

University life has begun and you’re ready to embrace every aspect of your new life. However, the fun is suddenly dampened when you and your friends have to trade in the night life for a hot water bottle, Lemsip, and a packet of Kleenex because Freshers’ Flu has struck! IMPACT Magazine gives you the low-down on this unfortunate phenomenon.

What is Freshers’ Flu?

Well, for starters, it’s not the flu. It is in fact a combination of less serious illnesses which create flu-like symptoms that often strike in the first few weeks of term. However, “Freshers’ Combination of Viral Infections” is not quite as catchy a name.

What causes it?

The main reason for this sudden epidemic is the coming together of so many people from across the country, dragging viruses with them. You are immune to the viruses from your home as you have probably already contracted them and your body has learnt how to fight them off. However, your body has never even seen the viruses from Sheffield, Manchester, and London and needs a little time to work out how to get rid of them. In the meantime, you become ill. The student lifestyle then does nothing to help your body – the late nights, the alcohol, the fast food – and makes your immune system’s job increasingly difficult. The result is often a prolonged and heavy cold which puts a dampener on your first few weeks.

What are the symptoms?

Most commonly, students experience a sore throat, coughing, sneezing and/or a runny nose, headache, fever, and tiredness. In a week or two, the fading Freshers’ Flu symptoms will leave behind a horrible, grating cough in your peers that will make listening in lectures a near impossibility. The symptoms should fade away within a few weeks. If you are worried that they aren’t, take a trip to Cripps to see the doctor, but the vast majority shouldn’t need to resort to this.

How can I avoid it?

Unfortunately, apart from locking yourself in your room, there isn’t a lot you can do. Be hygienic of course and eat the odd vegetable or piece of fruit. Regulating your drinking and having the odd early night can also do a lot of good.

How can I treat it? 

Symptoms can be managed with Paracetamol but make sure you read the literature that comes with it! Being a little healthier also helps and taking a night off for a Netflix marathon under a duvet will allow you some time to recover.

Will I get Freshers’ Flu again?

‘Fraid so. Returners are struck down almost as often as freshers and it is very likely that you will contract it again after Christmas and yet again after Easter. Don’t despair, however, it won’t last long and everyone is in the same boat. Just try not to let it be an excuse to ruin your first few weeks!

Joanne Blunt 

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Science editor for the University of Nottingham student magazine IMPACT

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