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What to do if you get a cold or the flu

Winter is upon us and that means flu season.

Many people don’t know the difference between a common cold and the flu:

  1. Normally a cold will gradually creep up on you, with the flu you can go from fine to bedridden in just a few hours
  2. The flu normally comes with a fever and the common cold does not.
  3. Most people can function with a cold. The flu will normally leave you out of action for a week.

So how do you deal with them?

A well-known saying is that you should ‘feed a cold and starve a fever’ but it’s important to keep up your energy regardless. Try drinking clear liquids like water or flat lemonade and make sure that you don’t get dehydrated which unfortunately can be easy to do.


If you need to you can take ibuprofen and paracetamol at the same time, but be careful to not go over the limit in 24 hours. Some brands of ibuprofen only allow 3 doses a day instead of 4 like paracetamol so always make sure that you check the back of the packet first.

A common mistake is to take ibuprofen on an empty stomach, it can make you feel worse than you already do. If you haven’t had anything to eat it is probably better to take paracetamol.

Herbal remedies

For a blocked nose I personally swear by menthol in all forms from a liquid to vaporub.

For a sore throat try gargling good old salt water. It may not be pleasant but it does work.

For a cough try honey, lemon and tea. Not only does it taste amazing but it has been proven to help sore throats and improve coughs

How can you keep yourself safe?

The dreaded flu jab.

Almost everyone is eligible for the flu jab and it dramatically lowers your chance of catching the flu. It costs under £10 and you can get it in most pharmacies including Boots, Tesco Pharmacy and Asda Pharmacy. Some people are entitled to get it for free so if you think that may be you check the NHS guidelines before you pay for one. The flu changes every year so even if you had the jab last year that does not mean that you will be protected this year.

Keeping it clean

Try and wash your hands as much as possible, colds spread like wildfire at university because everyone is in such close proximity to each other all the time. It seems obvious but if your friends or housemates are sick try to keep a wide berth. You don’t want to start passing it around your flat.

Most importantly try to keep yourself healthy to give yourself the best chance of fighting off a cold of the flu if you are unlucky enough to catch it.

About Millie Dinsdale


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