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Freshers’ Flu or COVID-19?

When your symptoms look suspiciously Covid-ish, what’s the best thing to do?

By Daniel Hesp

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay


One of the things that seems to be in the air right now is everyone’s least favourite cocktail: Freshers’ flu. With students returning to university and people interacting in larger groups, there is bound to be some kind of re-adjustment process for our fragile immune systems.

However, there’s a big difference between feeling awful but still functioning with freshers’ flu and self-isolating with Covid.

This article will help you to identify the distinctions between the two and provide you with a road map towards social interaction. I should preface by saying that if you are in any doubt at all, the best thing to do is to take a test. Nonetheless, I hope the following will alleviate some of the anxiety that comes as a silent symptom to either flu or Covid.


Although freshers’ flu is the collective name given to a host of illnesses that we can get during the first few weeks of Uni term, there are a number of reasons why you might wake up one morning with a voice like Morgan Freeman and an appalling headache. Students start sleeping less, drinking more, and are generally stressed. These conspire to make the body’s immune system weaker and more prone to illness. What may first feel like a normal hangover can stick around for an offensively long time.


According to the NHS, some of the common symptoms for the flu include:

  • High temperature of 38C or above.

  • An aching body

  • A dry cough

  • A sore throat

  • A headache and fever

  • Insomnia

  • Appetite loss

  • Feeling sick and throwing up

These symptoms can be minimised if you follow advice that says: you should rest, keep warm while managing your temperature with paracetamol and drinking plenty of water. However, some of the readers may have experienced these symptoms before receiving a positive Covid test. So, how do you know if you have the Covid-19 or freshers’ flu?


The best way to find out is to take a test. However, with Covid, there are multiple strains with varying known symptoms. The Health Regulations 2021 state that covid regulations must be reviewed every 21 days, and thus it can be confusing to stay abreast of the recognised Covid indicators. The worldwide healthcare company, BUPA, has collated a list of symptoms that can be used to assess your symptoms.


The main indicators according to BUPA are:

  • High temperature

  • New, continuous cough

  • A loss or change to your sense of smell

Delta Variant (II vaccinations)

  • Headache

  • Runny nose

  • Sneezing

  • Sore throat

  • Loss of smell

Delta Variant (I vaccination)

  • All of the above

  • Persistent cough

The best way to prevent serious illness is to wash your hands regularly and be mindful of social distancing. But, if you find yourself with any of the above, and holding your breath when you pass someone isn’t a fool proof plan, then what’s the best thing to do? The NHS advice is first, to get a PCR test as soon as possible, and then stay at home and self-isolate until you receive your test result. If you are in any doubt, contact your GP. One of the best ways to determine what exactly is going on is to arrange either a phone call and/or a zoom appointment with a trained professional.


So, don’t panic. Although both illnesses share symptoms, freshers’ flu is not necessarily the Coronavirus. The best thing to do, according to the experts, is to evaluate your symptoms, get a covid test, and if your symptoms persist, contact your GP. So, stock up on your honey and lemon, drink plenty of water and feel better. Seriously, get well soon x