Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What to do about the inevitable "Freshers' Flu"

  1. Sep 8, 2015 #1

    FeDeX_LaTeX

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I'm about to enter my third year of university, and in both my first and second years, I've always got the infamous https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freshers'_Flu]Freshers'[/PLAIN] [Broken] Flu. Wikipedia says this:

    So in my first year, I got ill for the first week, felt fine for the second week, then got ill again and missed the third week. During those times, I missed almost the full 5 days of the week, having flu-like symptoms and being mostly bed-ridden for the first few days. I was then fine for the rest of the year, until my second year.

    In my second year, *exactly* the same thing happened, in the same pattern. I got ill in the first week. Then, I felt better in the second week, then got ill again, missing the third week. Haven't been ill since.

    I don't like to generalise with a sample size of 2, but I reckon exactly the same thing is going to happen when I start my third year in a few weeks' time. So, what can I do?

    There's an optional 'induction' lecture shortly before term starts, which mostly just repeats information that is already available on my university's website. I go to this every year, but I'm pretty sure this is when I catch it (I always get ill, two days later when I go home). I'm thinking of not going this year, but by doing that, I miss out on a chance to get the illness early. So what can I do? Here are some things I've thought of doing:

    -Sitting by myself as much as possible
    -Wearing a facemask and gloves when I attend the induction lecture
    -Deliberately going to a populated location which will feature a lot of international students, such as train stations close to my university
    -Calling up my friend so we can hang out, while I try to catch whatever illnesses he may be carrying well in advance of term starting
    -Taking some kind of pills that can give me an 'immunity boost'

    Are any of these 'tactics' viable? I really don't want to miss the first and third weeks of lectures again, especially not in arguably my most important year. What do people think of the idea of deliberately hanging around populated areas to catch an illness, before term starts?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2015 #2

    Choppy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There's no magic potion, but here are some tips to help you stay healthy and recover quickly when you do get sick.
    1. Get your annual vaccinations.
    2. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. When you can't wash them, at least sanitize them.
    3. Get adequate sleep.
    4. Get adequate exercise and try to get into good physical condition if you're not already.
    5. Eat well. Lots of vegetables and fruit. Avoid junkfood. Control your portions.
    6. Don't smoke.
    Deliberately trying to catch an illness before the term starts seems like a good way to end up with more than one illness.
     
  4. Sep 8, 2015 #3

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    The best you can do is to eat well, sleep well (get 8hrs or whatever is good for you and follow a fixed schedule), get some exercise and study well.

    And the stewardess says: "Turn off all electronic devices..." before sleeping ie don't look at any bright screens right before going to bed as it can disrupt your sleep.

    Whenever you put your body under stress you will eventually get sick of something.
     
  5. Sep 8, 2015 #4
    Hmm, forget about airborne pathogens, have you ever considered the psychological stress that going into a college environment with all those parties and 18 year old co-ed girls running around everywhere can do to your physiology?! I mean the glucocorticoids that can release into your system and cause "havoc." I don't know about anybody else here, but I'd take Bluto's advice:

     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015
  6. Sep 8, 2015 #5

    berkeman

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    In addition to the other advice, definitely wash your hands with soap and water as often as practical. And consider carrying a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for those times when you cannot wash your hands...

    70170.JPG
     
  7. Sep 8, 2015 #6

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Ditto! Also, drink in moderation, if one drinks alcohol. Exercise and adequate sleep are important, along with a good diet, and possibly supplemental vitamins.

    An influenza (flu) vaccine should be mandatory. Last years flu was nasty, so I will be sure to get a vaccine early this year.

    Washing hand frequently is good, but don't overdo the hand sanitizers. Soap and water works fine.
     
  8. Sep 8, 2015 #7
    You might want to spend a week covering the basic materials in your courses before the semester. Go to your expected professors and get the material you expect to miss. Then if you get sick you aren't behind. If you don't, you can spend some extra time networking instead.
     
  9. Sep 8, 2015 #8
    Well, don't do this too frequently either or else we're going to have to lock you up for obsessive-compulsive disorder, Astronuc
     
  10. Sep 8, 2015 #9

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    You could try going to a day care twice a week and rubbing the toddlers all over your face. After a few weeks of this, you'll be immune to death itself. But you'll probably be addicted to popsicles. A fair trade off in my opinion.
     
  11. Sep 8, 2015 #10

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Maybe 'often' would be a better term, e.g., before eating, especially after touching a door handle that is frequently used.
     
  12. Sep 8, 2015 #11
    Yes, I said that in jest as I fevershishly wash my hands after every encounter my hands have. Unless the threat is compelling and precipitous, I use a little dab of Kroger ultra-concentrated dish soap. If the threat is more of a yellow or orange-style George W. Bush terrorist alert, I may use something more acerbic
     
  13. Sep 9, 2015 #12

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    While I was in graduate school, my parents retired and moved to Florida. Thereafter, until they died, I traveled to Florida twice per year to spend a week or so with them. For the first few years, I almost always caught a cold while I was down there. After a few years, my "Florida colds" became fewer and finally stopped happening.

    We figured it was a matter of my encountering a batch of "unfamiliar" cold viruses and gradually becoming immunized to them.
     
  14. Sep 9, 2015 #13
    Seriously. Do these things. Living in a dormitory is irritating enough without the dorms becoming incubators for whatever mutant strain of flu you've brought with you from where you're from that no one else has ever had a chance to build up immunity to. That's why we say things like "Stay home if you're sick, even if you feel like you're in good enough shape to work", you don't know what other people's immune systems are capable of handling.

    Plus, sitting in class while someone is snorting, trying desperately to politely suppress a wet and hacking cough, blowing their nose, and continually getting up to go to the bathroom or to the water fountain is really annoying.

    I would, however, object somewhat to 2. You shouldn't use hand sanitizer, because it contributes to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the sanitizers that are used in hospitals, and hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading causes of death in hospitals. Washing your hands with a non-antibacterial soap is more than enough.
     
  15. Sep 26, 2015 #14

    FeDeX_LaTeX

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thanks for all of your replies. I've bought one of those alcohol-based sanitisers as someone suggested, and I'm getting into the habit of washing my hands more frequently, and trying to get into the habit of a more regular sleeping pattern and better exercise.

    I've decided to go to the induction day in a few days' time. I predict that I will fall ill on the 1st of October based off of previous history, but I hope I will not.
     
  16. Oct 4, 2015 #15
    Surely that's a good way get arrested?
     
  17. Oct 4, 2015 #16

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    But the popsicles!!
     
  18. Oct 19, 2015 #17

    FeDeX_LaTeX

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thanks to the advice posted in this thread, I have now gone a full year without being ill, for the first time in my life!

    Now aiming to avoid illness for the rest of the calendar year.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: What to do about the inevitable "Freshers' Flu"
Loading...