It was a peaceful Saturday morning when my roommate, affectionately called Other Mary, toppled onto her bed with an exasperated moan.

“I feel like garbage,” she coughed. “I think I’m getting…sick.” At the mere mention of the infamous “S” word, my second roommate Jess burst into our bedroom.

“SICK? DID SOMEBODY SAY ‘SICK’?” Jess wailed, already opening up a packet of Cold-Eeze. Now, it should be noted that Jess is a bit of a germaphobe. When she gets sick, she gets really sick, so the germaphobe characteristic is somewhat justified. Jess and I immediately quarantined ourselves away from Other Mary as much as possible. With exams and practicals quickly approaching, we could not afford to catch the cold that was spreading all around campus. Within a few days, it seemed that the sickness had already infected a majority of our classmates. Lectures were filled with a disgusting chorus of hacking coughs and snotty sneezes.

sick roommate photo

Being sick in college is, simply put, quite possibly one of the worst things ever. You’re still expected to attend class and your absence typically needs to be validated by a doctor’s note. Plus, you don’t have your mom around to baby you and comfort you while you gripe. Because I don’t want any of my dear readers to fall ill, I compiled a step-by-step guide on what to do when your roommate is sick. Grab some Purell and let’s get started.

Supplies You Will Need:

  • Lysol wipes
  • Emergen-C or Cold Eeze
  • Water bottle
  • Place to hang out other than your room
  • Fruits & Veg
  • Tea
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Tissues
  • Medicine

The Plan:

  1. Don’t Panic

Seriously, calm down. Do a few yoga breaths (read copy editor Jenna’s article about yoga!) and center yourself. The more you fret about getting sick, the greater your chance of actually getting sick becomes. There have been all kinds of studies linking stress levels to the susceptibility of contracting illnesses, so it’s best to remind yourself that this is not the End of the World.

  1. Disinfect Everything

The first thing you need to do when your roommate drops the sick bomb is to whip out your trusty Lysol wipes. Do a thorough wipe-down of your living space. Don’t forget things like light switches, toilet handles, doorknobs, microwave, etc. Basically wipe down anything your roommate touches on a daily basis. Do this once at the end of every day to ensure that all that icky stuff is killed.

  1. Get your Roommate Ready for Battle

Make sure your roommate has the essentials: DayQuil & NyQuil, cough drops, Ibuprofen, tissues, cans of soup. The sooner your roommate feels better, the sooner this whole mess is over. Plus, it’s good karmic points to take care of someone when they are sick. Just don’t handle this situation like me by throwing a box of tissues at your roommate every time she sneezes.

  1. Protect Yourself

Now is the time you should be eating all those delicious fruits and veggies. Go for foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals like oranges, spinach and kale. Luckily, you don’t need to go far for produce on campus. You can swipe an orange from the cafeteria or even hit up the farmer’s market on State Street. Another important aspect is adequate water consumption. As Tove Lo once said, “Gotta stay high(drated).” Drinking lots of water flushes out toxins from your body, preventing you from getting sick. If your nutrition game is lacking, consider taking a vitamin D (the immunity supporting vitamin) supplement. Don’t worry; they make a gummy version for adults.

  1. Hands Off

Don’t touch your face! As a contact lens-wearer and a chronic nail-biter, this is especially hard to follow. So many times during the day, makeup falls into my eye and I have to restrain myself from rubbing my eye. Germs are most commonly spread through contact from your hands to the orifices on your face. If you absolutely need to touch your face, clean your hands by washing or using a Pocket Bac hand sanitizer. Common sense, people.

  1. Limit the Time Spent in Your Room

If the illness is really bad and you’re just so grossed out you can’t take it, seek refuge in some place other than your room. Go to the library, a coffee shop or a friend’s place. I took to bothering the daylights of my friend Bryan, who lives in the same room as me.

  1. Nip it in the Bud

If you’re paranoid (like me) of getting sick, take lots of preventative measures. The minute you have that “Uh-Oh” moment, pop in a Cold-Eeze (I recommend the Lemon Honey flavor) and start stirring up Emergen-C. Some companies even make immunity support tea you can chug down. Whether these have scientific proof of actually keeping you healthy is debatable, but the act of simply applying these is sure to make you feel better.


Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, you will get sick. Such is the case of Harborview apartment 310. The moment Other Mary’s sickness lifted, I spiked a fever. A few days after my fever and runny nose subsided, Jess started coughing. So it goes. When your roommates get sick, it’s important to take care of each other. Now, please pass the box of tissues.