How to avoid freshers’ flu according to a doctor

It’s not that hard

Freshers Week freshers' flu national

You’re out every night, you’re drinking yourself senseless and you’re not getting any sleep.

And with Back to school, Baywatch and Toga begging for your best skimpy fancy dress, a fever, runny nose and headache are just one vodka mixer away. But fear not. With the help of Dr Tim Baker, a Cripps doctor, we’ve managed to uncover the secrets of how to be a hall legend and avoid freshers’ flu altogether.


Go running in the Great Outdoors

Yeh, I hear you. Exercise and generally going outdoors is not on the cards when you have freshers’ flu, but according to a Cripps doctor, exercise two to three times a week can boost your immune system and help you avoid the dreaded flu.

Obviously when your nose is streaming and your head is pounding then running might not feel like the best idea, but remember even a short walk in the fresh air can help improve your symptoms.


Don’t waste your money on multivitamins

Freshers’ week is already really expensive, so any way to save money is a massive bonus. Multivitamins are costly. Dr Tim Baker recommends avoiding these advertising pit falls.

Alternatively, buy healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables which are cheaper, tastier and more beneficial to both your health and bank account. Research has shown foods such as oranges, red peppers, fish and garlic can help prevent and overcome freshers’ flu, so don’t forget to add them to your shopping.

Use your bed for sleeping


Your bed is not just there for when you’re planning to hook up with someone – well not most of the time anyway. Actually use it for sleep. Don’t panic you’re going to miss out on everything. Instead try to have the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per day. You’ll be less likely to get freshers’ flu and more likely to make it to every freshers event.

Drink water 


It starts with one vodka shot and then a long night of hearing “down it fresher” ringing in your ears. Pace yourself. Freshers’ Week can be massively overwhelming for even the strongest people, so don’t max out in the first few days.

It can be hard to keep your drink under control at times, but Dr Baker recommends trying to keep to a healthy drinking limit. Excessive drinking is linked to a weakened immune system, hangovers, headaches and dehydration, putting you at more risk of freshers’ flu. Instead try to drink moderately and remember to replenish your water levels, particularly after a night out.

Know your individual risk

The first week of freshers’ flu is always the worst. It usually lasts two to four weeks, but if you smoke it can last four to six weeks. Stopping or cutting back on smoking could help you help reduce your risk of it lasting longer.

You’re also at a greater risk if you’re pregnant, or have an ongoing, underlying health condition such as, asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system – if so, you could be entitled to a free flu vaccine. If you have asthma, remember to have your annual check-ups so you have the right medicine on hand before Freshers’ flu strikes.

Don’t avoid people

Pressure to conform

Pressure to conform

Avoiding people would obviously be the best solution, but hiding away is neither advisable nor possible. Most first years will get freshers’ flu, so instead of staying in your room, socialise and make friends – they will be of great support to you if you become ill.

Be hygienic

Instead of avoiding people, Dr Baker suggests to keep good hygiene practices. Freshers’ flu after all is highly infectious, so simply wash your hands, use a tissue and keep surfaces clean.
Don’t drown yourself in coffee. With late nights, demanding timetables and an ever increasing workload, it’s natural you’ll want to hit the coffee straight away. However Dr Tim Baker says to hold back on drinking coffee. Caffeine can lead to dehydration and more headaches, which could make your flu symptoms worse.

Know where to go for help


This may seem basic, but it’s easy to get carried away in Freshers’ Week and forget the important stuff. Remember to get out of bed and register with the university health centre – this is a vital source of help when you’re ill. Contact your pharmacist or health centre nurse if you are unsure about a medicine or need advice. Book a doctor’s appointment if the symptoms persist or if you are concerned it could be something worse.

But above all else, don’t have a mustard footbath

You’re likely to hear all sorts of alternative flu remedies during Freshers’ Week. Most of these won’t work. Don’t be convinced a mustard footbath is actually going to cure your freshers’ flu. Neither will eating raw onion.

Instead, Dr Tim Baker recommends gargling soluble aspirin if you have a sore throat and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen if you have a headache, sore throat or fever. Decongestants and cough sweets are also great at preventing embarrasing coughing fits during lectures, so don’t forget to pack them in your bag.