Winter has arrived, and along with it comes cold and flu season. If you’ve been watching or reading the news lately, you might have noticed two things: First, experts predict that this flu season could be an unusually bad one. Second, this year’s flu vaccine was only 10 percent effective in Australia (whose flu season just ended, and from whom we typically draw statistics on the vaccine’s effectiveness). Unfortunately this means your chances of getting sick are a bit elevated this year. For students, this is not only a health concern; falling behind academically can lead to a lot of stress as you struggle to catch up on school work.
Prevention is the best “medicine”. As with most problems in life, the best “solution” is to avoid the problem in the first place. Remember to wash your hands regularly, get plenty of rest, manage stress, and eat a healthy, balanced diet. In particular, increase your intake of vitamin C by eating citrus fruits. Foods high in glutathione like squash, watermelon, and avocado might help to fight the flu. Plus, some natural health advocates swear by onions and garlic as well. But whatever you do, avoid sharing food and drinks with friends! They can be carrying a virus before symptoms show up.
If you do get sick…
- Don’t wait for symptoms to overwhelm you. Take a break and start resting right away.
- Stay hydrated with plenty of clear fluids (and avoid sugar, because it depresses your immune system response).
- Stay home, so you won’t spread the illness to classmates and teachers.
- Check your calendar for upcoming tests and important due dates. Make a note of the ones you need to reschedule.
- Contact your teachers right away. Don’t wait until test day, or the due date of an important paper! Teachers are more willing to work with you when you take a proactive approach… Plus, this is good practice for college, when a higher level of responsibility is expected.
- Make sure to bring all your books and supplies home, if you suspect you’ll be missing several days of school. Or, have a friend bring them to you.
- Ask a reliable classmate for their notes. He or she can attach them to an email, so they aren’t exposed to illness.
- Read or study from bed, when you feel well enough. Rest is more important right now, but try to make some progress each day.
- Don’t procrastinate. When you feel sufficiently recovered, push through make-up assignments so that you don’t fall farther and farther behind throughout the semester.
Even misfortune can serve as good preparation for college and adult life. This isn’t the first time you’ve been sick, nor will it be the last. Keeping up with your school work during an illness can teach you invaluable skills for your future college career.