Viruses like the flu can last 7 to 10 days, meaning symptoms like a stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue and a sore throat stick around for a while. Since antibiotics typically don’t work for viruses, it’s all about staying as healthy as possible. So how do we do it?
Get a flu shot
Year after year, the flu vaccine has been proven to be the most effective way to prevent the flu. The most common type of flu vaccine is made up of parts of inactivated flu viruses and cannot give you the flu. Free flu shots are already available to all CU Boulder students at specific walk-in hours on campus (just bring your Buff OneCard).
Keep it clean
Wash your hands often—in the bathroom, before eating, after class—there’s never a wrong time to soap up! If warm water and soap aren’t available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative. Pick up a travel-sized bottle for your backpack (they’re free at Health Promotion in Wardenburg room 130).
Support your immune system
Our immune systems are impacted by everything we do, from what we eat to our stress levels. Eating regular, balanced meals, hydrating with lots of water and sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night all help strengthen our bodies. When we are well-rested, well-resourced and well-nourished, we’re more capable of fighting off an infection.
Make it a priority for a new semester: Stick to a bedtime on school nights, carry around a reusable water bottle and fill up on vitamin-dense fruits and vegetables. Finding time for light physical activity and sunshine is good for our health, too: Take a walk with friends, reserve a court at The Rec or open your blinds and turn your living room into a yoga studio.
Practice healthy habits
When we look out for each other, we all stay healthier in the long run. That’s why it’s important to wipe down communal surfaces like doorknobs and counters with disinfectant, cough and sneeze into our elbow or sleeve (but not hands, since hands touch everything) and stay home when we’re not feeling well.
If you still find yourself under the weather, try these tips: Drink warm liquids like tea to soothe a sore throat and stay hydrated, get extra rest to let your body recover and use over-the-counter remedies as appropriate to find relief. Your body works hard to fight off these viruses and get you back into peak condition, so be kind to it!
In fact, treat yourself to some cold-care supplies: Cough drops, tissues, tea, honey sticks and gargling salt are all available free to CU Boulder students in the Health Promotion Resource Center (Wardenburg Health Center room 130).
Mind over matter
When our mental health is cared for, our physical health follows. It’s important to take time to relax, organize our thoughts and find healthy ways to deal with everything we have going on.
Mindfulness practices such as journaling, de-stressing activities like yoga and coping mechanisms like talking with a trusted friend or family member can be just as important as washing our hands and eating a healthy diet. Prioritizing self-care mentally and physically is key to a healthy, balanced semester.
Already sick? Sit this one out. Cold and flu viruses are highly contagious, so if you're feeling under the weather, it's best to stay at home in order to avoid infecting classmates and friends. Drink plenty of fluids, run a humidifier and wait for your symptoms to pass. If you experience severe symptoms, such as a sustained fever or excessive vomiting, see a doctor right away.