What Is Freshers Flu? Cures, Symptoms & Causes

What is freshers flu and what are the symptoms?

After learning about what freshers week is, you’re finally getting out there, meeting new people, and loving every minute of it. That is, until you wake up with a hangover that’s hitting differently. Is it the freshers flu? What is freshers flu?

So, whether you’re currently wrapped up in a duvet praying for the end, or simply trying to make it through freshers week without a sniffle, we’ve put together everything you need to know about uni freshers flu and how to beat it.

person sick in bed blowing nose

What is freshers flu?

Although your symptoms might be flu-like, it turns out that freshers’ flu isn’t necessarily a form of flu at all. It could be a whole host of different illnesses and is usually just a bad cold.

But, we all know is that it’s more likely to get some sympathy and a care package sent from mum, so we’ll stick with that.

If you’re feeling ill and it’s not a cold or freshers’ flu, it may be an ick that has made you sick — learn about the reality of poor sexual hygiene. A must for uni students!

What causes freshers flu?

The freshers flu isn’t actually a form of flu. It’s the combination of many factors that causes you to become run down post (or sometimes during!) freshers week. Think of it as more of a bad cold instead.

Freshers flu is actually caused by a combination of physical, environmental and psychological factors, which together can make you feel quite unwell for about a week or so.

And no, freshers flu isn’t contracted by kissing someone at that random house party you went to, it can actually happen to anyone.

Here are just some causes of freshers flu:

1. Mixing with new people

People congregating in one place from all over the country (and the world) can only mean one thing–– lots of new viruses you’ve never come across before being brought with them.

If your body’s not been exposed to a virus before, then it won’t have built up an immunity to it. This can lead to you getting ill.

2. Drinking

Freshers week and alcohol often go hand in hand. Alcohol actually weakens your immune system, depletes valuable nutrients and dehydrates you, which in turn gives you terrible headaches, hangovers and eventually cold and flu-like symptoms.

Just like it lowers your inhibitions, one too many shots can also lower your immune system. So if you really want to skip freshers flu then this may be a good way to do it. However, you can’t guarantee that you won’t still catch it, so what’s one more pint, eh?

3. Lack of sleep

Late nights out plus early starts for those first intro lectures can mean that there’s barely any time to sleep. There’s a reason students soon master the fine art of napping.

If you can’t remember the last time you got in eight hours and you’re feeling a little run down, chances are that you’re in need of a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep can impact your immune system, so take a night off, get cosy, and sleep through until tomorrow afternoon.

person asleep on bed

4. Eating too many takeaways

Let’s face it, if you’re off to parties, you’re likely gonna want a takeaway at the end of the night. Combine that with multiple trips throughout the week, then you’re bound to feel run down.

Your body needs nutritious food to perform at its best. Unfortunately, most takeaways aren’t that good for us and are often covered in grease and fat. If you must give in to a takeaway, try to balance this out with fruit and veggies as much as you can.

5. Stress and anxiety

Moving out, making new friends, and even just finding your way around a new campus can be stressful. Going away to university is a big change, so if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, then this can also affect your ability to fight off bugs.

Take some time out to focus on you and talk to friends and family. Remember you’re not alone and there’s help out there if you need it.

It can be pretty difficult to avoid most of these things as a fresher, so if you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you’re probably going to get ill at some point, then at least you now know why you’re ill!

Freshers flu or Covid?

As we mentioned, freshers flu isn’t an official thing that can be diagnosed. Having said this, the symptoms of freshers flu and COVID-19 are quite similar and while life may have gone back to normal COVID is still out there. If you’re worried your symptoms mirror that of COVID-19, here are the differences in symptoms of freshers flu and COVID-19:

Freshers’ flu symptoms

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Mild coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Dizziness and tiredness

COVID-19 symptoms

  • Headache
  • Loss of taste
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizzyness and tiredness.

If you’re absolutely unsure, it’s worth getting a friend to buy you a test or ordering one for your house. Practice good hygiene and keep a distance from the rest of your housemates until you know. Remember that COVID cases might be lower than they were a few years ago, but it’s still out there and people are still catching it, especially as the weather gets colder.

What is Freshers flu and its symptoms

As we’ve said before, freshers flu can be a whole load of different viruses and if you’re feeling unwell, then you’ve probably got it already.

Remember, if any of your symptoms match that of coronavirus, then be sure to self-isolate and get tested.

However, if you’re still not sure, here are some of the most common freshers’ flu symptoms:

person who is sick with freshers flu headphones on table with tissues and cup

1. Fever

Sweating buckets even though it’s -5 outside? Sounds like a fever to us. Although it feels like you want to jump head-first into the North Sea, a high temperature actually helps your body to fight infections by stimulating your immune system.

2. Headache

Can be mistaken for a hangover if you’ve had a heavy night, but if it. Just. Won’t. Go. Away. Then, chances are it’s freshers’ flu. Grab some painkillers, stay well-hydrated and get plenty of sleep.

3. Sore Throat

When swallowing marshmallows feels like a dagger to the throat, there’s nothing worse. It’s safe to say that all that shouting over loud music has caught up with you and it’s time to suck on s throat sweet, make a hot drink, and rest your voice.

4. Coughing

If you’re keeping your neighbours up with coughing rather than loud music, then it’s time to take a night off, enjoy some hot drinks, and a bowl of chicken soup.

5. Sneezing

Let’s be honest, this is probably how you caught it in the first place. Get some tissues and try to remember to wash your hands every once in a while. Ew.

6. Dizziness and tiredness

Unless you want to fall down the lecture hall steps or fall asleep in front of your new coursemates, we suggest you stay home, stay hydrated, and sleep it off.

Freshers flu cures and home remedies

We’re sorry to say, that just like most viruses, it’s usually a case of taking it slow for a few days and waiting it out.

If you’re wondering how to get rid of flu fast, there are, however, a few ways that you might be able to speed up the process so that you can get back out there.

Here are the best ways to cure freshers’ flu and its dreaded lurgy symptoms:

1. Stay hydrated

Whether it’s a hangover or a genuine illness, water is a miracle worker. Flush out those toxins and give your body what it needs to work properly.

2. Eat better

We’re not expecting you to eat the rainbow or whatever. Just please give your body some sort of nutrients besides carbs from cheesy chips and beer. It’s amazing what a decent diet can do.

3. Get some sleep

This is the only time in your adult life (before you’re old) that it’s acceptable to nap in the afternoon. Make the most of it. Also, if you could refrain from a night out every once in a while and be in bed by 10pm, that would also do your body some good.

person in bed with freshers' flu

4. Take vitamins

Vitamin C and zinc are known for their immune-boosting properties, so pop to the shop and pick up a multivitamin. If you can’t stop with the nights out, junk food, and the drinking, then this is an easy way to help your immune system out.

5. Take some painkillers

Ibuprofen can tackle those headaches and help with a high temperature, so if you’ve got a lecture you can’t miss, then this should take the edge off.

6. Look after your mental health

Do what you need to do to help you feel less anxious and stressed. This might be getting outside, talking to friends, or taking time to meditate. Whatever your brain needs, make sure it’s getting it.

Freshers flu is a rite of passage for uni students, so try not to worry too much about catching it. Get in the chicken soup, herbal teas, and those all-important painkillers and you’ll be through the worst in no time!

7. Eat garlic

Garlic has tons of anti-bacterial and even anti-viral properties. While it’s tough to eat whole (though you’d certainly reap the benefits faster), you could try adding more garlic it to your favourite foods or buying garlic capsules.

8. Eat chicken soup

There’s a reason chicken soup is always recommended for illnesses. It’s easy to digest, full of amino acids, vitamins, protein and of course, water and salts (which your body is deprived of!). Buy some from the supermarket or have a go at making your own.

How long does freshers flu last?

Freshers flu can last from a few days to several weeks. It’s made worse by continuing the habits that caused it in the first place.

By following the tips and remedies to cure freshers flu above, you’ll be well on your way to recovery before you know it.

For more advice on surviving fresher week, read our go-to guide