Sore throats, stuffy noses and sneezing students everywhere. That can only mean one thing...

With Freshers well underway, like thousands of other students, you’re starting to feel (and, no offence, probably look!) a little like a zombie. Suddenly, the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngsters from a week ago have a certain pallor to their skin and look more than a little like an army of the undead trudging to their early afternoon lectures.

What could cause such an epidemic we hear you ask? Two words: Freshers’. Flu.

What is Freshers’ Flu?

What are the symptoms?

So you’ve been hearing the term Freshers’ Flu being thrown around quite a lot recently, and you’re starting to wonder if that’s what’s been making you feel so terrible these past couple of days. If you’re not really sure what it is,  here are the key symptoms to look out for:

  •  Sneezing

  •  Runny nose

  •  Sore throat

  •  Headaches

  •  Shivering

  •  Heavy/dry cough

  •  Aching limbs

  •  Lethargy/grogginess

  •  High temperature or fever

Parks & Recreation Gif. 'Everything hurts and I'm dying'

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If this sounds like something you’ve been battling with (poor you!), check out our Freshers’ Flu survival tips on what it is, how to avoid it and, most importantly, what to do if you don't manage to escape it.

What causes it?

It’s widely assumed that Freshers’ Flu is caused by a combination of factors. At uni, lots of people come together from all over the country, and from the rest of the world, to mingle with each other and live in close proximity. When we go to uni, we each bring our own germs with us, germs which the other students we meet haven’t yet built up an immunity to. So all students are vulnerable to germs that they had previously not encountered, and can become ill as a result. Combine this with a little stress and lots of nights out (which often involve copious amounts of alcohol and hardly any sleep), and this is the perfect environment for Freshers' Flu to develop and spread!

How do you (try to) avoid it?


Gif. Sloth yawning and going to sleep

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It may sound overly simple, but making sure you get enough sleep is really important if you want to keep your body fighting fit.

Eat Fresh Fruit and Veggies

We know it’s tempting to fill yourself up on pizza and kebabs, but it’s so much better for you (and not to mention your wallet) if you intersperse those greasy, carby takeaways with some fresh, homemade food.

Keep The Drinking Sensible

While we’re on the subject of moderation, we know that you’ll probably end up drinking quite a bit during Freshers, but for the sake of trying to survive Freshers’ Flu, don't go too overboard. Have lots of fun, but not in excess!

Vitamin C

A key reason it’s important to eat fresh fruit and veg is to get lots of Vitamin C to help bolster your immune system against unwelcome illness. You can get some extra Vit C in the form of orange juice or Berocca tablets.

Keep It Clean

Gif. Funny. Man in shower hat showering and waving a sponge around

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It’s really important to keep up your personal hygiene and keep your room and communal areas clean. We don’t mean to sound condescending, but illness can spread very quickly through a student flat, so it’s definitely something worth remembering.

Get Regular Exercise

Why not make the most of the discounted gym membership on offer at your uni? Or perhaps join a sports club? Or even take up running? Regular exercise is helpful in keeping your body healthy and happy, thus helping you to fight off Freshers’ Flu as best you can.

Don't Get Too Stressed

Freshers is a super exciting and busy time, but it can also be a little stressful. You’re meeting new people, living somewhere new or learning to adjust to a new commute and you’re starting your degree on top of all that. It’s totally understandable if you feel a little stressed, but remember that it’s not good to get too worked up. So take a deep breath, count to ten and relax. 

How to Start feeling better


Much in the same way that getting a good amount of sleep can help with warding off Freshers’ Flu, sleep and rest are also really important if you come down with it and want to get better.

Drink Lots of Fluids

Gif. Cat in sink drinking from tap

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If you are unwell, drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated and plenty of warm drinks to soothe your throat.

Take Paracetamol

If you're feeling pretty rough, take some painkillers like paracetamol to relieve aching muscles and a high temperature, as well as to (hopefully) relieve a blocked nose. Don’t go mad on the painkillers, but taking the recommended dose could really help to make you feel better.

Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol

Again, we know that you’re going to go out and drink a bit during Freshers, but it has been argued that drinking to excess can lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to picking up infections - thus less able to fight of the Flu! Just try to keep the drinking to within sensible limits, so that you'll hopefully recover more quickly.

Stop Stressing

Gif. Man taking a breath

Source: Giphy

In a similar way, being overly stressed isn't great for your immune system. So, while we know that it can be a little scary and stressful during Freshers when you’re meeting loads of new people, experiencing a variety of new things, starting your degree and living alone for the first time, just remember that it’s not worth getting too stressed about if you want to get over your Freshers' Flu before third year!

Other useful tips

Wash Your Hands

If you do come down with Freshers’ Flu, it’s really important to keep your room and shared areas clean, and to wash your hands as frequently as possible to minimise the risk of passing it on to friends and flatmates.

Jennifer Lawrence Gif - 'Sorry to everyone who I shook hands with, I'm sick, so, you're screwed'

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Sore Throat Sweets

Always keep a pack of sore throat sweets handy. Sometimes you can get a tickle in your throat out of nowhere and it can be quite hard to calm - which is pretty annoying in the middle of a lecture! That’s where the sweets come in handy - sucking one of these will stop your throat being so dry and scratchy.

Vaseline For Your Nose

You should also have a little tub of vaseline or something similar around. You’ll find that your nose gets pretty sore pretty quickly when you’re constantly dabbing at it with a tissue. So a little vaseline on your nose will go a long way to making you feel a bit more human again! 

Register With Your Local GP

When you’ve just started uni, stuff like registering with your local GP can seem too boring and unimportant. But it’s definitely worth thinking about so that you’ve always got some sort of medical help readily available while you’re away at uni - whether it’s for Freshers’ Flu or anything else!

Friends gif. Monica trying to be sexy even though she's ill

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So there you have it, our Freshers' Flu survival tips. We know that, like Monica, you'll be absolutely fine-d, but do remember to take care of yourself!

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