By: Contributor On: September 26, 2019 In: Starting College, Student Life Comments: 0

You’ve probably heard of “freshers’ flu” already. And if you’ve just started college or university, chances are you’re probably going to get it.

Unfortunately, there’s no escaping it. But that doesn’t mean that you have to embrace your freshers’ flu doom and resign yourself to staying locked up in your room with a blanket and a hot toddy, ignoring all invites to house parties and fun Freshers’ Week activities.

Learning more about what freshers’ flu is, what causes it, and how to treat it will make you more prepped before you pack your bags and enter the world of student living. That’s why we’ve created this guide of what every student needs to know about freshers’ flu. For top tips and advice on this dreaded illness, read on.

1.  Freshers’ flu isn’t actually the flu

The first thing you need to know about freshers’ flu is that it isn’t actually a type of flu.

In fact, it’s just a really, really bad cold that is brought on by an accumulation of all sorts of different things including student stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep. Presumably, the person that named freshers’ flu just liked the alliteration.

The illness is a viral infection caused by exposure to a whole load of new viruses and germs that you’re not used to. It normally lasts for a week or two — any longer, and it’s a good idea to visit your doctor for a second opinion (it may in some situations develop into an upper respiratory infection, particularly if you’re living in damp student housing).

2.  These are the symptoms to look out for

So how do you know if you have freshers’ flu? Well, these are the symptoms to look out for:

  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Fever and shivering
  • Tiredness and general grogginess
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sensitivity to light

With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why this illness is called freshers’ flu.

In rare circumstances, what you’re experiencing might even be meningitis, which also causes symptoms like muscle soreness and sensitivity to light. You may also develop a rash. If you think you may have meningitis, make sure you see your doctor right away.

3.  Pretty much every aspect of starting college causes freshers’ flu

Freshers’ week is a time where thousands of students appear from all corners of the country — and the globe — and descend upon a university or college for the first time. This means you’re coming into contact with viruses and germs (hello handshakes in halls and kissing randoms in clubs) you have no immunity against, which can overwhelm your systems.

Add to this an unhealthy mix of late-night partying, the stress of starting college, eating badly, and plenty of hangover-inducing alcohol, and hey presto — you’ve got yourself a classic case of freshers’ flu!

It’s no surprise really that students get ill when they start college or university. It’s an intense time which can stress your body out and trigger all sorts of illnesses.

4.  Swapping out alcohol for water will flush out freshers’ flu

It’s probably not what you want to hear as you start unpacking your beer pong set, but drinking too much alcohol can weaken your defense system making you more susceptible to freshers’ flu. Cutting down on alcohol consumption could  help you to avoid getting the dreaded lurgy, and make it much easier for you to recover if you already have it.

So the next time you’re thinking of heading out for another drinking session, perhaps it’s a good idea to settle down with a nice cup of tea and have a chill movie night instead?

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water as well; it’ll help to ease headaches and remove toxins from your body (as well as soothe that hangover!).

5.  Eight hours of sleep can go a long way when tackling freshers’ flu

Freshers’ week — and the first semester of college — is an intense time of socializing, stressing out about making friends and  college-level courses, and treating your body pretty unkindly. Inevitably, you’re going to be exhausted.

We get it — there are so many fun things going on, and you don’t want to miss out (FOMO is real). But making sure you get your eight hours of shut-eye will go a long way when it comes to tacking the symptoms of freshers’ flu.

Sleep helps you to strengthen your immune system, ensure you’re well-rested and energized, and fights freshers’ flu symptoms. So if you’re feeling under the weather, we’d recommend an early night. That way, you’ll recover sooner for your next big night out!

Remember to balance duvet days and lazy evenings with going out and getting some fresh air; stewing in your own germs and messiness for long periods of time isn’t healthy.

It doesn’t matter where you go to college or university — freshers’ flu is an inevitable part of your first week and year. But if you prepare yourself and learn how to tackle it by using these tips, you’ll feel better and get rid of it much quicker.


Hollie and the Ivy blog logoAbout Hollie Jones: Hollie is an expert lifestyle blogger who lives for writing. Hollie’s drive, passion and background come from the arts and media sectors. You can read her latest blog posts on Hollie and the Ivy, where she shares tips and advice about her passions while having a lot of fun along the way. 

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