Prevent Getting Sick…and Feel Better When You Already Are.

The recent trend at Colgate seems to be everyone getting sick. It’s that time of year when the weather is inconsistent, schedules are getting busier, and, as a result, the health center is almost completely booked by people with colds and the flu. So, in keeping up with the theme, I have collected some information of how you can help yourself get better by regulating your diet, getting ample rest, and practicing good hygiene. Everyone knows that empty Jug nights are no fun, so get better and you won’t have to miss another night out!Most people that I’ve talked to have colds: the generic stuffy nose, congested headache, sore throat, cough, and general fatigue. Colds are considered “viral infections” of the upper respiratory system (nose and throat, but not the lungs), so there is no magical medicine you can take to make you feel better. The virus is thought to be located in the back of the throat (where it travels from the nose) and attaches onto the adenoid gland. The virus then activates “inflammatory mediators,” which are the immune system’s response to the infection. It is these mediators that cause you to feel the symptoms of a cold. The common cold is usually not dangerous to your overall health (everything still works properly), but it can be disturbing and (as you know, I’m sure) uncomfortable. Even though there is no cure for the common cold, there are many ways in which you can manage your lifestyle while having a cold, to help alleviate the symptoms and get back to your normal routine: Drinking lots of liquids when you have a cold will help thin your mucous secretions, which is really kind-of gross but it will help you blow your nose with greater ease and clear your stuffy head. Drinking hot fluids such as tea or brothy soups will help clear your head as well. Breathing in the steamy vapors of hot foods will loosen your “snottiness” for the time being.In contrast, drinking milk or eating a lot of dairy products will thicken your mucous secretions, and increase phlegm production (and no one wants more phlegm production … ) As far as foods go, since the cold is an upper respiratory infection, most foods will be fine to eat as long as you can tolerate them. However, your sense of taste may be a little off since your nasal passages are stuffy, so don’t be surprised if your food tastes a little bland. Wash your hands at every chance you get … this includes before eating and after going to the bathroom (duh). I find that it’s really convenient to have a bottle of no-water-needed hand sanitizer, like Purell brand, to use while in your room or to throw in your bag or pocket for the day. After use, your hands will not only feel cool and tingly, but they will also smell fresh and be less likely to spread germs around on things you touch (like door handles, food, pens and pencils, and your girlfriend or boyfriend). Washing your hands is also a great thing to do to prevent yourself from getting sick, if you are not sick already.Another great invention besides Purell hand sanitizer is medicine. It is in fact over-the-counter medicine which helps alleviate cold symptoms. I find that it is best to buy special medicines made for colds, such as Tylenol Cold, which is conveniently sold in the C-Store. These types of medicines will mostly work on your cold symptoms , so that you are not taking medicine that will not “focus” on the problem at hand. Ny-Quil and Day-Quil are also great medicines to help you sleep and get through the day when you have a cold. If you are especially stuffy, Sudafed will dry you up pretty quickly, which will probably, in turn, help your throat, stomach, and head feel better too. Another great way to let off steam when you are miserable with a cold is to call your parents and complain. If you can call a grandmother … that’s even better. Families always seem to have their own techniques to cure the common cold, from chicken soup to eating zinc.If you don’t have a grandmother, or would like some advice from mine … here you go. After being sick last week, my grandmother has (willingly and lovingly) given me some tips (and permission to share them with my peers) on how to get over a cold:”Do you know what they say about chicken soup? It is Jewish Penicillin … it is really like medicine, Andrea,” says myt paternal grandmother with 20-plus years of experience, Loretta Kozak. “Be sure to drink lots and lots of fluids like juice and water, and hot soup will loosen your head right up. There are even packets of soup powder that you can mix with water, which will be good for the kids in the dorms. And, don’t eat anything too heavy, just stick to light foods, and no dairy,” says Kozak, with a helpful hint from great-grandmother (Mom-Mom), Rachel Borden from the background: “Tell her to have some Jello. They even have Jello in individual cups that you can buy now.” So there you are friends, undoubtedly helpful advice from my elders from warm and sunny Florida. Oh, and I won’t forget to add the “We love you Bubbala” at the end. Now if that doesn’t make you feel better, then I don’t know what will. So, let’s face it … no one likes to be the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, groaning and moaning kid in class … so be sure follow these (well known and partially proven) tips to get back your health and prevent another common cold attack. Having the flu and/or a fever can potentially be even more disturbing than having the common cold. The flu is also a viral infection of the respiratory system, even though it can feel very different than a cold. The flu is often accompanied by a fever, overall aches and soreness, physical and mental fatigue, and sometimes even stomach aches and vomiting, or (eww) the dreaded diarrhea. Many students at Colgate have already protected themselves from the flu by getting a flu shot; however, these seem to be in short supply. So, to prevent yourself from getting the flu, be sure to stay away from people who have the flu, and wash your hands frequently.If you are one of the unlucky flu-infected people out there … have no fear … and try some of these tips I found to help you feel better soon:If you are feeling queasy, eat some bananas. It is shown that bananas stimulate the production of mucous in the stomach, which will protect your belly from lots of stomach acid. However, it is not advised to do this if you have been vomiting.-If you have a fever, try to eat less than you normally would. As they say, “feed a cold, starve a fever.” However, it is important to drink plenty of fluids so that you do not become dehydrated. Fluids also are said to “flush out your system,” and help you rid your body of the flu virus more quickly. If you are vomiting, it is still important to drink liquids, just be sure to stick to water or watered-down juices (because these will not irritate your stomach as much as soda or regular juice) and drink small amounts slowly to be sure you don’t get sick right afterwards. Once you can keep down your liquids, it should be okay to eat “soft, bland foods,” which will be easy to digest. If you have diarrhea, follow the “BRAT” diet: eat bananas, rice, applesauce, and tea. Also, be sure to drink lots of water, because diarrhea can cause dehydration very quickly if you do not replace fluids for your body. Dehydration is said to be a “potentially serious complication” of stomach viruses and the flu (which often go hand-in-hand)…so if you have not been able to keep down liquids and you are feeling dehydrated from being sick, call the health center or your doctor right away.Taking Tylenol or Advil will help to reduce fever and alleviate general achiness temporarily. Just like for colds, there are specially made medicines modified for taking to “focus” on flu symptoms…such as Tylenol Flu. If your fever persists for several days, and you can not keep from vomiting and having diarrhea, call the health center or your doctor…you may need to be put on a prescription flu medication, and your symptoms should be monitored by a health professional until you start to feel better. Make Colgate a healthier campus, and decrease your risk of getting sick during busy times in the semester: take care of yourself, use common sense, and get better soon!