What To Do When You’re Sick in College

I could be writing about how to prevent sickness in college, but that would make me a hypocrite. Wash your hands, practice good hygiene, and stay away from sick people– do all that and you’ll probably still get sick somehow in college because of the communal bathrooms and crowded buses. Do you’re best to prevent it, of course, but it’s probably inevitable. Now it’s our goal to minimize the damage.

Let’s face it, getting sick in college is one of the worst things ever. I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing it three times since the start of this school year and have accumulated some tips and tricks to fighting that illness.


What To Do When You’re Sick in College

1. Get Plenty of Rest!

Rest is one of the most critical things to getting over anything from the common cold to the flu to the most severe sinus infections. Fight that urge to go to sleep at 3 a.m. like you usually do and get to bed as soon as you can. Let yourself sleep in too in the morning, your body will thank you for it. Nap throughout the day if you can too!

2. Skip Things, It’s OK!

I needed this advice for when I got bronchitis a month into the first semester of my freshman year of college. I was afraid to skip classes and club meetings. I tried really hard to still go to everything on my busy Google calendar. What I really needed was to call in sick to work, classes, and everything else. Accepting that you are sick and that you need rest can really help to get over your sickness so much faster. No college student wants to accept that some virus is stopping their normal everyday life, but if you actually accept it and take care of yourself for a couple days, you’ll be 100% and back at it so much faster.

3. Drink Your Fluids

Drink. Your. Fluids. I cannot stress this enough. If you do not have a Brita filter, you need to get one. My favorite thing to drink when I am sick is tea. I personally have a small water boiler in my dorm and highly recommend it for any college student.

4. Take Your Meds and Vitamins

In college, you should always have a stash in your dorm of the basic medications that cover congestion, sore throat, fever, etc. When you develop symptoms, don’t be afraid to reach for those medications to help you get over your illness as soon as possible. Read the directions on the bottles and follow them for dosage.

Vitamins are important every day for getting your vitamins in college when the dining halls don’t deliver, but supplements are very helpful when you’re on the verge of getting sick. Even though I’ve gotten pretty sick three times in college, there have been numerous other times when I woke up with a sore throat or congestion but not actually gotten sick afterward. On those days, I like to take a lot of vitamin C through Emergen-C, a vitamin C supplement that you can add in your water as a drink mix. Some say that this practice works as a placebo effect but in my opinion, if it makes me feel better, even if it is a placebo, it’s good enough for me!

5. Eat Extra Clean

On top of the chicken noodle soup that you should try to get, you need to watch what you eat. Avoiding sugary foods like soda and cake as well as processed snacks like chips can do help you to feel a little less crappy when you’re sick. It is difficult to find healthy food in college but most dining halls will at least have a salad bar and fruit. If available, find restaurants that are healthy near you and food delivery services will be your best friend. You should be eating clean all the time to develop a strong immune system anyways as sickness prevention anyways, but it’s better late than never and eating clean will really help you feel a lot better.

6. Ask For Favors Sometimes

Even though we are all independent college students, it’s ok sometimes to ask for favors from those around you when you are sick. Whether it’s notes from classmates for classes that you missed or medicine from the pharmacy that you need, don’t hesitate to ask your friends for help sometimes and you can return the favor later. You deserve to be a little selfish sometimes when you’re sick, but don’t take advantage of anyone and make sure to return the favor when your friends are sick!

7. Don’t Get Those Around You Sick!

You need to be responsible when you are sick and surrounded by people everywhere. When you’re sick in college, you’re likely sharing a room with a roommate, a bathroom with your entire floor or something crazy like that, and an entire campus with thousands of people. When you come in contact with shared items and spaces, be sure you practice good hygiene, cough into your elbow, and just keep to yourself in general.


Being sick in college is rough, but everyone goes through it. Follow my advice and you’ll learn a lot about your own body and what it needs to get over the sickness. College is about being independent and part of that is taking care of yourself when you are sick. It may feel terrible while you’re sick in college, but it’ll be over quickly if you really take care of yourself.

Stay healthy!

Ash

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