6 Tips for When You're Sick in College

By Alicia Geigel on November 24, 2021

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Nothing is worse than getting sick when you’re in college. Overwhelmed by assignments, feeling unwell, and not knowing how to best take care of yourself, being sick while you’re away from home can feel like never-ending torture.

Even if you don’t anticipate getting sick in the future, it is bound to happen at some point, so it’s best to know what steps to take to get yourself back to normal as soon as possible. Here are six ways to take care of yourself when you’re sick!

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1. Know Your Symptoms, Keep Track of a Timeline: In the midst of the pandemic and the onset of feeling sick, you might be inclined to panic and assume the worst right away. Now more than ever, it’s important to adequately identify and monitor your symptoms, so you can take the proper steps to take care of yourself the way to need to. If you are concerned about being exposed to Covid-19 or believe you are developing symptoms, refer to CDC guidelines in order to determine what your symptoms are. Some of the common symptoms of Covid-19 include fever or chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle/body aches, headache, and sore throat. Of course, the symptoms of a common cold or flu can often intersect with these symptoms, so it’s important to simply monitor your symptoms from home and contact a doctor if they worsen. Also, keep track of a timeline and make note of when you first develop symptoms, if and when they worsen, and when it goes away.

2. Increase Your Vitamin Intake: Outside of the over-the-counter cold and flu medications you might be looking to take, one important to avoid neglecting is your vitamin intake. Research has shown that specific vitamin supplements, specifically Zinc, Vitamin D, and Selenium, reduced the duration of symptoms when taken within the first 24 hours of experiencing symptoms. These vitamins all help to boost your immune system, which then helps your body fight the cold, thus reducing the severity of your symptoms and the duration of the cold.

3. Drink Plenty of Fluids: An age-old doctor’s instruction, drinking lots of fluids and staying hydrated is key to feeling better when you get sick. A blog post by GoHealthUC notes, “Water makes your body stronger. It helps you build muscle by carrying more oxygen to your cells. It also flushes toxins out of vital organs.” Drinking liquids like water with lemon, tea, broths (such as chicken, vegetable, and beef), and even ice chips or ice pops are great ways to add liquids back into your body if you are dehydrated.

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4. Rest as Much as You Can: Many people might chalk up the recommendation to rest when sick to just doing what feels good for your body. When you don’t feel good, the first thing you want to do is lay in bed, take a nap, or rest up. This is certainly great to do, as it’s important to listen to your body when you’re sick, but there is actually a scientific reason why resting is great for you when you are sick. A blog post by Prima Medicine points to specific research, which found that “your body uses the time you sleep to develop key proteins in your brain. These specialized proteins are designed to boost your immune system so you’re better equipped to fight off infections.”

5. Get in Touch with Your Professors: When you’re sick, it’s easy to become consumed by how bad you feel and all you need to do in order to get better, but one thing you don’t want to neglect is your schoolwork and getting in touch with professors. If you feel bad enough that you can’t make it to class, don’t assume that your professor knows these circumstances and will work with you on absences and missed assignments when you resume classes. To avoid bad grades and flunking out of your courses, get in touch with your professors and let them know of your situation. In most cases, professors will be understanding and perhaps request a form of a doctor’s visitation. They may suggest that any work that is missed during class sessions can be made up at home or once you return to class. Communication is always best, as it shows your professor that you are considerate, thoughtful, and care about the course.

6. Visit Your Campus Health Center: After you’ve tried the vitamins, fluids, and rest, and you suspect that you aren’t going to get better, consider taking a trip to your campus health center. You can either make an appointment or walk-in, they can get an idea of your symptoms, and give you recommendations for medications or seek further medical attention depending on your symptoms.

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While no one wants to get sick, it does happen occasionally, so while you’re in college be sure to follow these steps and know what to do in order to feel better as quickly as possible!

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