Fighting the flu

Images of cosy nights in, hot chocolate and pretty snow scenes usually come to mind when this time of year rolls around. It’s normal to get side-tracked by such an idealised world and to forget about the harsh reality winter often brings. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to ignore that aggravating throat, that barking cough and that nose that’s running like a tap. Yes, the prime time for seasonal flu is upon us and for the majority of students, it proves almost impossible to escape from even the slightest bout of the sniffles. Most students are on a very restricted budget, and may be reluctant to fork out for expensive medication. Luckily, there are a myriad of home remedies, which can prevent, or at the very least, reduce the effects of the winter cold and flu. For colds, warm, hot drinks suffice as a leading resolution. A quick cup of tea, hot chocolate or even soup can unblock stuffy noses and also help keep you hydrated. Plenty of rest is also a vital factor in the recovery process, with doctors advising up to two days of bed rest for those suffering with flu symptoms.

Jessie Byrne, of DCU student health centre, says a nutritious diet is the key to the prevention of the winter flu. “To keep the immune system healthy, a good diet of fruit and vegetables is vital. In winter, soups, stews and lasagnes packed with carrots, onions and garlic can considerably reduce your chances of contracting the flu.” She also advises that students get into the habit of hand-washing, especially before eating, as most germs and viruses come in contact with our system through our hands.

Simple adjustments can also be made to your lodgings in order to fight off the dreaded flu. For example, rooms should be kept cool rather than hot when you are battling through a cold or flu. Although the thought of a warm, comfy room may seem favourable, warmer rooms dry out the mucous membranes, which serve an important role in fighting off viruses. Byrne also recommends taking a cough mixture called “Winter Wellness” when the winter cold is taking over. This rem edy contains the very beneficial ingredient, Manuka honey and Jessie describes it as “magic” and “almost fool-proof”. This product is available in Pharmahealth and for a reasonable price of €11.95, Byrne claims it is well worth it.

And finally, a bizarre way to clear congestion when you have a cold is to wear wet socks; yes, really. Even though this treatment may seem counter-productive, studies have shown that wearing cold, wet socks to bed when coming down with a cold can mimic the effects of immuneenhancing hydrotherapy treatments. First, warm your feet in hot water, then soak a thin pair of socks in cold water, wring them out and put them on. Put a pair of thick, dry socks over the wet ones and go to bed. According to the book, “1001 Home Remedies” the wet socks help draw blood to your feet, thereby boosting circulation, which helps clear congestion.

Sharron Lynskey

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