Sick sad geeky world: How to avoid con crud (aka nerd flu!)

Sick sad geeky world: How to avoid con crud
Sick Sad World Daria iron-on patch by Naomi Hope Designs

As I start my work week post-pop culture convention (this time around C2E2 in Chicago, and hopefully next at Wizard World Chicago!), I reminisce about meeting Evanna Lynch, touching base with some of my faves in Artist Alley, meeting up with a friend dressed as Negan (bat with torn scalp included), and start to feel that familiar throat tingle of an impending cold. Yep, it's "con crud."

Con crud is that very not elusive phenomenon wherein we all get a big ol' cold after being around that many thousands of people. For someone like me who works from home and has very limited interaction with children, it's the inevitable result of my inadequate immune system meeting the world at large.

If you're heading into convention season or potentially have to attend conferences for work or hobbies, this is already old hat to you. But let's review some ways to avoid the convention plague known as con crud.

Prepare in advance

There's little actual scientific proof that zinc and other cold prevention vitamins really work, but it doesn't hurt much to give them a go just in case. I use zinc tablets or lozenges in the couple of days leading up to the convention in the hopes that it'll help boost the old immune system as much as possible. Don't go too wild with zinc for long periods of time, though, as they can really irritate tummies.

Keep taking them for a couple of days (or as long as the box recommends) after the con.

Sick sad geeky world: How to avoid con crud
"5 Second Rule" shirt by Trending Shirts

Sleep and eat right

Immune systems are worse when you're low on sleep and noshing on junk, both of which are super common at conventions. Late night convention parties and panels are awesome, but make sure you're getting enough sleep to get you through multiple days of heavy walking.

Pack some healthier granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, and other health-friendly snacks to avoid having to eat overpriced and under-vitamined pizza at the con. Oh, and drink water, so much water! Even more water than that.

Watch the booze intake

If you're partaking in some barking-dogs-foot-remedy of a little booze, take it in moderation so you're not getting the double whammy of hangover + immune system barrage. And again, keep drinking that water.

The obvious: wash those hands

Before, during, after, and in between, wash your hands and keep some antibacterial gel handy. I know, they're getting the side eye from the experts, but we'll see what happens there later. Stick with soap and water, wash for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching too much in the bathroom while you're at it.

At Wizard World Chicago, not getting touchy-feely with anyone!

Keep your personal barrier up

Granted, this one is hard for the actual convention booth folks who may end up shaking a whole lot of hands, but if you're just an attendee, feel free to gently dodge handshakes, hugs, and contact in general. Keep up a space barrier around booth tables, too, where hands are constantly touching business cards, prints, and merchandise.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

Carry some tissues in an accessible pocket in case you need to cough or sneeze, or at least cough into your upper arm to keep germs from being all over your hands. if you're sick already, try to avoid touching too much stuff around the convention as a courtesy to those other thousands of fellow attendees hoping to avoid the nerd flu.

Cosplay your way to health!

Wear your coolest face-covered rogue outfit, your best Donnie Dark rabbit mask, and your kick-ass leather gloves to prevent those evil germs from getting near you. And if you do end up getting sick, it's all worth it anyway. Happy convention-ing!

"Scourgifying" those germs:

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  1. The fist bump or elbow bump is a great way to interact with people and minimize germ exchange. After the PAX Pox that swept through PAX Prime a few years ago in Seattle, this has become the preferred method over handshaking. I think you need to be extra careful when travelling for cons, since you're in a new ecosystem of contagions.

    4 agree
  2. I work in a university and after all the students arrive back in September there's definitely an increase in "Freshers Flu" so these tips are useful in this environment too. I tend to up my Vitamin C intake in the Autumn for this reason!

    One thing to point out that Anti-Bac gel are designed against bacterial things, but not necessarily colds, which are viral. I think you can buy Anti-Viral hand gels, but I don't know how effective they are.

    3 agree
  3. Warning: If you have false teeth and use a denture adhesive, skip the zinc. That stuff already loads zinc into your system and adding to it has been known to overdose people, the chief symptom being senility-like symptoms (but differing from Alzheimer's in that the symptoms go away when zinc levels normalize.)

    And by the way, snuggles boost the immune system. If you must do it with gloves and a mask, that's okay.

    1 agrees
  4. OMG, where did you get that Ravenclaw cardigan? I have a Gryffindor one but I'm actually a Ravenclaw and would love to be able to represent my own house for a change!

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