By Alice O’Donnell
It seems we’ve only just managed to get over the ‘Fresher Flu’, and yet, there’s no reprieve, with the winter’s selection of bugs and colds coming our way. While sometimes there’s no avoiding the flu, here are some handy tricks to keep the likelihood of getting ill at an all-time low.
With nights getting longer, sometimes there’s nothing more tempting than to enjoy a nice take-away. And while the odd Chinese is fine, a healthy diet is the main obstacle to illness. According to medical papers, each meal should comprise of at least half fruit and vegetables to live healthier. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that a varied and balanced diet is hugely important. If you’re following a plant-based diet, ensure that you’re taking supplements, otherwise there are some key elements missing from your diet (B12 is an especially common deficiency among vegans and vegetarians). While shops such as Boots and Holland & Barrett stock vitamins, our very own pharmacy on campus sells a wide range of multivitamin tablets that will help fulfil the body’s nutritional needs.
It’s an unfortunate coincidence that winter’s bugs arrive at the same time that mid-term essays are due. No matter how much it seems like a good idea to pull an all–nighter to get that assignment done, try to resist. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body and provides you with some much-needed rest. Lack of sleep results in, not just your head feeling groggy, but every part of your body becoming more sluggish and tired, and makes you much more open to sickness and infections. Although the recommended 8 to 10-hours sleep per night may seem like an impossible dream, even getting a good night’s sleep a few times a week is better than none at all.
When the whole campus seems to be dredged down with the sneezes and sniffs, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. However, numerous scientific papers have shown that regular exercise, (around two hours of aerobic exercise each week) can simulate your immune system and help to fight off those pesky bugs. There are plenty of ways to get active around campus, and nearly all of the clubs would be delighted to have new recruits. If solo exercising is more your style, the Kingfisher gym provides great facilities, or an early morning run by Salthill beach will help your mental health, as well as improving your fitness level.
Wash your hands
Perhaps the most obvious suggestion, but definitely one of the best. According to the NHS, some viruses can live as long as 7 days on surfaces – imagine how gross the library desks can get! Research shows that people touch their faces nearly twenty times every hour, and your fingertips to your mouth is one of the most common ways that bacteria can enter your system. While running to the bathroom sink every hour isn’t the most reasonable of suggestions, a handy little dispenser of disinfectant is a miracle worker.
Go to the doctors
Finally, if you’re one of the unlucky ones whose been hit with a bug, try to power through. However, especially at wintertime, some illnesses can be worse than others. If you think you’re struggling with something stronger than the common cold, such as pneumonia, strep throat or Mumps, make sure you go to a doctor immediately. The Student Health Unit (situated upstairs in Áras na Mac Léinn) is a great facility to keep in mind, as it offers free medical care to NUI Galway students. However, as the service is in high demand, make sure you get there early to ensure that you can get an appointment for that day.