Opinion: The flu survival guide

Mica Pflug

Ladies and gentlemen, cold and flu season is upon us.

A few weeks of looming threats will emerge in the form of sniffles in class or waking up one night to your roommate coughing up a lung.

Then ensues a week or two of wondering when you might start to feel sick or if you’ll even end up catching a cold at all, leading to a false sense of feeling invincible.

As you have yet to catch anything, you hear talk of flu shots being offered and might even consider letting one of the upperclassmen nursing students stab you with a needle on the second floor of the University Library because you’re starting to worry.

Then, one morning you wake up with a sore throat. You know it’s too late.

The first month of college essentially begs to flirt with your immune system, eventually takes her out on a date and leaves her with the check.

Flu season is like falling asleep; it happens slowly, then seemingly all at once. When the first person mentions they are sick around the first or second week of class, you probably won’t think much of it.

In fact, you may even rejoice because you have no symptoms yet, telling people how much you hate being sick and half-heartedly empathizing with those who are.

However, giving the common cold a little bit of time to fester and yourself a little bit of time to spend in close quarters with your sick classmates is the ultimate recipe for catching a cold.

Nothing screams “Give me your germs!” like sitting in a lecture hall that holds about 400 people, and suddenly realizing that there is only about a two-second gap between hearing chunky coughs (you know the type — gross) from your peers in class.

You might as well be sharing chapstick and water bottles with these people, as your class space is most likely already crawling with their germs and most definitely getting into your lungs with every breath you take.

However, there is no reason to fear. There really aren’t any solid statistics on how many people the common cold kills every year, and the flu is estimated to lay to rest about 500,000 victims annually.

Promising, right?

Although it seems nearly impossible to avoid getting sick this flu season, there are steps you can take to make this right of passage a little less terrible. Pick up some cold medicine as early as you can, even if you don’t need it at the current moment — you will thank yourself once you do.

Remember to get plenty of sleep, or as much sleep as your extracurriculars and exam schedule will allow, and skip a class or five if you really feel the need to stay home and rest.

You can always catch up on school, work and your social life, but the common cold is nothing to mess around with. If you take the proper precautions and care, you may just be able to make it out alive.

Mica Pflug is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected].