Even the most flu-alert health-freak would be shocked by what you can pick up off the Isis dance floor during Week One. And then there’s the germs.
After a week of steadily saturating your body with the ominous contents of cocktail dustbins and sharing other people’s sweat in Stealth, you can expect the leukocytes guarding the gates of your immune system to be just as pissed off their little cell faces as you are, meaning it’s also party time for the Freshers’ Flu Virus and the venue is You.
The bad news first: flus tend to be viral, and since they won’t respond to antibiotics there is little you can do for the causes. However, there are all sorts of concoctions on the market to relieve the symptoms. But faced with all that choice, can you spot your Sudafeds from your pseudo-meds? Street names aside, here is a run down of the long words you should match to each symptom.
Your basic snot-buster is pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that causes the blood vessels in the nasal passages to contract, decreasing blood flow, reducing both that stuffy feeling and mucus production. However, Pharmacy student Adelle Painter recommends you only take this for a day or two, or risk getting rebound congestion when you stop using it…
For pain relief, you can probably guess the standard paracetamol and ibuprofen. Interestingly enough, we don’t fully understand exactly how paracetamol works, despite having swallowed the stuff for over a century. Ibuprofen is a more effective anti-inflammatory and reduces fever. All flu meds contain one or the other, and it goes without saying: always read the labels if you’re mixing meds. Overdosing on the paracetamol in Lemsip Max is not funny. (Nor is it economical when you consider that for the same price you can have a perfectly good night on a Bargain Booze wine of the week, with a bit left over for an Arcos.)
Immune boosters Vitamin C and Zinc will help sober up your leukocytes. Rest is paramount to ensure your body starts flu busting, and watch out for lingering symptoms in case you have a secondary infection. Snuggling up on the sofa, with several hours’ exposure to Dave, is a clinically proven remedy. Kind of.
Perhaps the most obvious symptom of Freshers’ Flu is the almighty coughing plague, where in large lecture halls the sheer volume of coughing can drown out the lecturer. You’re forgiven if your first week of lecture notes consists of some incomprehensible squiggles and a few patches of phlegm. Our first piece of advice is dextromethorphan, found in most cough meds, which stems overactive cough reflexes. Our second piece of advice: if you’re in a steeply tiered lecture theatre, sit near the back.
By Sophie Stammers