by Riley Sugarman
photography courtesy of Carina Lee
The beginning of October signals the official start of fall, bringing pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and shorter days along with it. Unfortunately, fall also means the beginning of flu season.
With midterms just beginning, stress, lack of sleep and poor diet all contribute to weakened immune systems and greater susceptibility of contracting colds.
The last thing any busy student needs on his or her plate is dealing with a cold. To keep cold season at bay, continue reading for some tips to speed up the common cold and prevent it altogether.
Emergen-C is sold over-the-counter at CVS, Target, City Convenience and other stores around campus. It is a powdered drink mix full of vitamins and minerals, and comes in a variety of flavors.
According to Livestrong.com, Emergen-C improves the immune system, replenishes electrolytes during a cold and can even boost energy levels.
Drinking a glass of water every morning with a pouch of Emergen-C mixed in can help keep the immune system strong and ward of potential colds.
Krystal Boyajian (COM ’20) recommends the supplement to anyone who wants an immune system boost.
“I always stock up on it to keep from getting sick because it speeds up my colds, and at the very least, makes me feel like I’m doing something to make myself feel better,” said Boyajian.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is something many college students struggle to get enough of on a daily basis. However, CBS Pittsburgh reported that getting fewer than the recommended seven-to-nine hours of sleep for more than five days consecutively can weaken the immune system.
“That’s kind of scary, considering that’s how much sleep I usually get,” said Molly Cohen (Wheelock ’19). “It’s honestly hard to believe that the amount of sleep you get over such a short period of time can actually affect your immune system like that.”
Getting seven-to-nine hours of sleep per night can seem out of the question for those with busy schedules. Even so, trying to get at least seven hours of sleep when feeling under the weather can boost the immune system enough to ward off a nasty cold.
Hydration is essential for living a healthy lifestyle, in addition to the boost it can give the immune system. MedicalNewsToday said hydration can loosen congestion and help soothe the throat during colds.
Making sure to drink at least eight glasses of water when sick can shorten a cold’s lifespan and take care of the symptoms.
As with sleep deprivation, trying to reduce stress during midterms can be futile. However, prolonged stress is proven to severely weaken the immune system. Psychology Today reported that 90 percent of illnesses and diseases are caused by stress.
“I tend to stress a lot about my homework and stay up late finishing it most of the time, which is probably why I tend to get sick during the semester,” said Cohen.
Trying some easy yoga, meditation and taking it easy, mentally and physically, can help relieve stress without taking a huge chunk of time out of a busy day.
Ice cream can be the best comfort food when feeling sick, but it can also cause congestion in the throat and sinuses. Making sure to avoid dairy when sick can help speed up a cold and lessen congestion-related symptoms.
Living in dorms surrounded by other students can make any sickness spread like wildfire. Make sure to stay healthy during cold season to avoid getting the college student’s plague.