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Fighting the Fall illness

| Monday, October 1, 2018

It’s no shock when you come to Notre Dame things will change, your living situation, your friends, your freedom and many other things. However, one thing you don’t realize will change is your immune system. Living in close quarters with many people, not sleeping enough, and sharing things from a doorknob to a drink can lead to a widespread illness in the fall. Among freshman this is known as the “freshman plague,” but all undergraduates are susceptible to this illness.

After living through freshman year with an illness that wouldn’t go away for months I have learned a couple things the hard way that could’ve helped me more than I might’ve thought. First things first is at the beginning of the year, it is important to stock up on Emergen-C, Zicam and cough drops from the Huddle. I know that there are a lot of things going on during the first week with Welcome Weekend and getting classes lined up, but this is definitely something I wish I would’ve done. When I started to get sick everyone told me to go to the Huddle and get all of those cold remedies to prevent my illness from getting worse, but when I went to the Huddle, they were out of everything. Everyone gets sick at the same time and the Huddle can’t keep up with the demand for these cold remedies in the first weeks that people start to get sick, therefore they run out very quickly. I have Amazon Prime so I also looked there but figured that it would do no good in two days as my cold would have already progressed enough where it wouldn’t be helpful anymore. I resorted to asking friends if I could borrow some Emergen-C from them but I felt bad taking a lot of their packets and ended up getting sick.

Additionally, other small things that are important to do in the early stages when everyone around you is getting sick are things like washing your hands before you eat, buying, using hand sanitizer and getting appropriate amounts of sleep. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer can help prevent you from getting sick after interacting with someone who is sick. Also, people usually start becoming sick around the time when the first exams come around so people fall behind on their sleep to study more for exams, which makes it easier for them to get sick.

Another thing that I wish I would’ve known is that when you go to the doctors, whether it is St. Liam’s or another one, ask them about allergies as well as the flu, or just the common cold. I was given Mono tests, medicine, cold remedies (like tea), etc. but nothing gave a clear reason as to what was going on. In my case I ended up having really bad allergies but was given medicine to treat cold symptoms, which worked for a little bit but didn’t treat the core cause, so my symptoms just kept coming back. I’m not saying that everyone who has an illness in the fall has allergies, but if this is a different environment from where you live at home, then it is a possibility.

Some people may think that this illness is inevitable and on one hand they may be right. You can’t change the fact that you live in such small buildings with a lot of people or that you randomly sat next to a person who keeps coughing or blowing their nose. However, taking some of these precautions can help diminish the effect that this illness has on you and possibly even keep you healthy all of fall.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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