In the amazing world of college where air doesn’t circulate as fast as germs, or hands are not washed between sneezes, it’s pretty easy to catch a cold. Or mono. Or, a happy medium: strep throat.

I personally have found myself victim to a nice old sinus infection more times than I can count on one hand just in the first months of my freshman year of college. I’ve also watched friends succumb to strep, an illness that I try to avoid, given my participation in one-on-one voice lessons that I look forward to through the endless equations and readings that normally consume my life.

Alas, strep is a tough one to evade, let alone navigate once you have it. Additionally, getting in touch with Student Health at any university always seems like a challenge when balancing everything else in life (struggles, man). Yet there are always little things to do and consider before you go to the magical, all-white room where they give you the golden ticket to antibiotics.

What is strep?

egg, candy, sweet
Ellen Gibbs

Strep throat results from a bacterial infection in the throat and tonsils, which is what causes the extreme soreness in your throat. Headache, loss of appetite, and even fever can accompany the sore throat, and the intensity of the soreness indicates that it’s more than just a lost voice from screaming at a basketball game.

Tips to help you:

1. Visit the pharmacy

tea, coffee
Madeleine Braksick

Cough drops, Throat Coat tea, and Advil are always the best. Cough drops to help tone down the throat pain, tea can always soothe, and Advil helps with swelling and any feverish symptoms. A voice student's secret? I always go for the over-the-counter anesthetic throat spray. It’s definitely strong, but gives some quick, temporary relief.

2. Hydrate

Drinking water is extremely important because the only thing to make a sore throat feel worse is when it’s dry on top of swollen. And, although tempting, avoid any alcoholic drinks/smoking. These both contribute to dryness in your already sore throat, and it will feel like torture.

3. Sleep


alant79 on Flickr

You may roll your eyes at your mom when she tells you to sleep more, but sleep really can help you feel better. It gives your body more time to relax and recover, especially given that the alternative is probably quite exhausting. Who doesn't love an excuse to nap?

4. Wash your sheets

Germs are EVERYWHERE. Not feeling well is a good excuse to give your sheets a nice cleaning, and while you’re at it, give the whole room a good scrub down. It never hurts to disinfect your surroundings when you want to recover.

Tips to help others:

1. Wash your hands

212/365  Wash Away the Past

martinak15 on Flickr

WASH YOUR HANDS. You will be touching things that other people will touch, or just touching those other people. Give them a chance to escape strep by keeping hand sanitizer close—and despite your fear of dry hands, you really can’t wash them enough.

2. Avoid public places

Boys, boys, boys. It’s always fun to get down and mildly dirty with boys or girls on the dance floor, but take a week off until you’ve got some antibiotics. Trust me, they aren’t going anywhere. 

3. Don't share drinks


_Fidelio_ on Flickr

Again with the germs! Spend an extra dollar or two and buy your own drink. You'll survive, I promise.

4. Sweat it out

Recruit your friends for a relaxing yoga class so you can get a nice detox. It doesn’t always feel good to work out when you’re ill, so take it easy—but sweating a bit can always help you feel like you're letting go of the toxins in your body.

These tips definitely will help you feel better, but if you have strep, you MUST see a doctor for the proper antibiotics. Until then, catch some extra z's, drink a lot of water, and keep away from those make out temptations!