Gotta get flu this

Exeposé Science Issue 657, Page 35 and Exeposé Science online (26 September 2016) 

So you’re in Unit 1, right. And Eminem’s One Shot’s just come on. You’re getting down, arms waving to the sick beat, rapping along with: “Yo / His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy / There’s vomit on his sweater already…” when it dawns on you. This sounds familiar. You look down – and phew: there’s no vomit yet. But hey, you do feel kind of clammy. And achey. In fact, your throat positively hurts. Maybe you were rapping too hard. That might explain the thumping headache, too. But it doesn’t explain the runny nose…

In the words of Taylor Swift: “I don’t know about you, but that sounds like Freshers’ Flu.”

Ok, that might not be *exactly* how the onset of Freshers’ Flu goes for everyone. (I mean, Eminem’s an optional extra.) But however it happened, it’s happened. You’ve succumbed. So now you’re holed up indoors for a few days, what better time to learn just how you ended up sharing a bed with so many germs? We’ll do it in a kind of “morning after, retracing-your-steps” format.

Ok, so this one time…

1.Someone decided mid-September was the best time to begin a new academic year. You know, just as the UK’s annual flu season is kicking off. With colder temperatures meaning viruses last longer on exposed surfaces, drier air dehydrating our mucus membranes (doesn’t that sound lovely), and less Vitamin D around to keep our immune systems topped up, we’re not in a good place to fend off the coming onslaught…

2. Fast forward a few years, and YOU slammed the car door shut after a 624538 hour journey, gazed up at your shiny new halls (unless you got Moberly… #bants), then bounded in to make new friends from around the world. Thing is, Tim from Canada had a whole load of pathogens he was immune to, but Johannes from Germany wasn’t. And Maria from South Africa was carrying her own set of germs that Tim’s immune system couldn’t hack. And don’t even get me started on what you’ve now given Paulo….

3. Everyone decided to celebrate these new friendships with a healthy dose of alcohol. Thing is, that heavy night out left your immune system woefully short on cytokines (chemical messengers that cause an inflammatory response, drawing more white blood cells to Ground Zero to fight whatever’s gotten inside you). This means you’re not as good at warding off infections any more…

4. You decided VKs and Dominos were more essential than fruit and veg. Aaand there goes that vitamin boost that could have salvaged your immune system.

5. The lack of sleep, lack of vitamins and the stress of meeting all these new people finally got too much. Your poor body’s put up the white flag. The germs have won.

So there you have it. Turns out you were fighting a losing battle from the start. But hey: you might not have won the battle, but there’s still time to win the war. Take advantage of the excuse to sleep for 20 hours straight, order in some fruit and veg, and start a serious course of re-hydration. Freshers’ Flu isn’t the most glamorous start to your university years… but in a few decades, you’ll be telling your grandkids about that-time-you-almost-died – so milk it while you can, I say. Just don’t ask me for a hug until you’re 100% germ-free.

>>View original Exeposé Science story>>
>>View Exeposé Issue 657 at issuu.com>>

issue-657-page-35

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