Opinion: Feeling sick? Use your head

Last week I got a particularly nasty cold and was unable to attend classes. For four days I was too weak to do much of anything besides sleep, blow my nose and take multiple doses of Chinese herbal supplements (I’ve recently accepted that there is no medication which will actually destroy a cold virus – the most you can do is boost your immune system).

It didn’t feel right to just sit around doing nothing for several days, but I really wasn’t in any condition to do anything else. I’m happy to say the cold has since passed, and although I still have to carry more tissues with me than usual, I’m no longer contagious.

Unfortunately, this is more than I can say for many of my fellow students. I’m not talking about the ones who are a little under the weather and have a minor cough and the occasional sneeze. I’m talking about the ones who frequently sound as if they’re coughing up bits of lung and/or appear to be trying to set the world record for consecutive sneezes.

Attending class when you’re that sick is inconsiderate, and not just to your fellow classmates (who, trust me, do not want to be exposed to your icky sickness). You’re doing a disservice to someone whose physical well being should be your highest priority – yourself.

Forget what people told you about trying to suck it up and tough it out. Your body is telling you to rest because that’s exactly what you need to do. Fighting off a virus takes a lot of energy, and your immune system needs all the energy it can get to combat a cold or fight a flu. Needlessly exerting yourself will accomplish nothing except making you miserable and most likely extending your illness.

I realize that we’re rapidly approaching the end of the semester, and many students are reluctant to miss classes for fear of falling behind. But missing a couple classes isn’t necessarily a death sentence for your grade. You can easily email your professor or classmates to find out what you missed, or if there’s anything you should be working on in the meantime.

Besides, if you’re so sick that you can barely focus or function, you’re probably not going to be able to accomplish much in class. So do yourself a favor and stay in bed. Your classmates – and your body – will thank you.

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