Healthy Body

Your guide to surviving head colds this winter

I’m no stranger to a head cold or two. When winter appears, I’m the one resembling the Michelin Man as I have layers upon layers under my coat, a hat on my head and a scarf around my neck. Anything to prevent getting sick this winter.

As students, many of you have Christmas exams, post-Christmas exams, assignments to hand in, and projects to complete. Being laid up in bed isn’t quite part of your study plan. Most of the time, you want to muddle along and keep going. You’re the one huddled beside the heater in the lecture hall. Eyes streaming, incessantly blowing your nose and letting out the odd cough that resembles something has taken residence in your chest. It’s around this time, when it requires effort even to move, that it may be worth taking a day off college and recharging the batteries.

Getting sick during winter is normal and happens to the best of us. Many of you are over-worked, over-tired, stressed and being pushed to your limits. Something has to give. More often than not, it’s your body’s way of saying that you need a break. Taking a day off and staying in bed is worth it in the long run, exerting yourself can only lead to you becoming sicker, and it’s not something you want in the long run. Email your lecturer and explain your absence is worth doing, it shows you’re dedication to your studies and builds up a good relationship with your lecturer. It also prepares you for the real world, if you were sick and couldn’t make it in to work, you would call your boss, and it’s not a bad idea to apply the same procedure to your studies. Mention it to a friend that you won’t be in and see if it’s possible to borrow notes if they aren’t up online. Nobody minds sharing notes when there’s a genuine reason for someone not being in.

Housekeeping done, it’s time for some TLC. Wherever you are, be in at home with the parents or out in an apartment, you need to stay warm. Layer up in terms of pyjamas, tracksuit bottoms, fluffy socks, t-shirts, long sleeve tops, hoodies, duvets, blankets and pillows. If you have no heating where you’re staying, it’s particularly important.  Do not overheat yourself.

Many of you, when sick, will attempt to head straight for your college health centre. If you can’t get an appointment for your college doctor (you can be waiting weeks sometimes), don’t fret. Many colleges do an emergency clinic, which is worth looking into if you wish to see a doctor urgently. College doctors are usually cheaper than normal, often free, and from my experience of them, are some of the nicest people you can meet while in college. They can really help get you back on your feet.

However, many of you will opt to try some sort of cold or cough medication. First of all, do not be overwhelmed by your local chemist/pharmacy or supermarket. Seeing the different brands and products can be tricky enough when you’re in good health, but when you’re sick, all you want is some pain relief and to feel better. From experience, I have found that while things like Lemsip work brilliantly. Many are combined with paracetamol which means you can get a hot drink and pain relief in the one sachet. It works out at roughly 5 euro or so for a pack of five sachets, and it can certainly start attacking your cold early. Sore throat sweets are worth a look, with brands like Strepsils and Lockets readily available in many retail outlets including your local newsagents, along with the aforementioned Lemsip.

However, these aside, there are some good home remedies that I have found work rather well, and with purse string being tightened as Christmas approaches, it’s worth bearing these in mind as opposed to filling your presses to burst with Lemsip and throat sweets.

Hot water with honey and/or lemon-choose whichever combination you like. I have found it works wonders. It’s hot liquid, and unlike Lemsip which has to be taken at specific intervals, you can drink this at your leisure. 

Lemon and ginger tea- again with the herbal teas, I used a teabag with this one, and it was my saviour last year. It’s healthy enough and giving your body and immune system an added boost!

Gargle with salt water-Sounds disgusting, but it really helps. A spoon or two into a glass of water. Small mouthfuls and gargle. I recommend having a glass of something nice, i.e. orange juice beside you as a reward for after.

Stock up on tissues, you’re going to need a few rolls. There are also wonderful nasal inhalers you can get, stick it up each nostril regularly and you’ll notice a difference within a day. They’re cheap and retail at less than five euro.

Make sure you have the basics in stock. Foods that you can make quickly, or bribe your housemate or family member to do for you. Beans on toast, toast, soup, sandwiches, oven baked stuff, if you’re hungry, eat.

Finally, Vaseline will help with chapped lips and noses, which can become sore and red. Don’t worry, red noses are in this season, sure didn’t Rudolph himself start the trend?