You sprint down the slightly hilly field, passing your opponents and teammates.

Several other players follow you, but you keep a balanced distance from everyone else. You turn your head and body back toward the scene you escaped from, prepared to receive the frisbee. Among the dancing blue and red bodies a spinning disk emerges, flying through the air right at you. However, you realize it's been overthrown; it speeds over your head. Mustering all your strength in your legs, you blast off. It descends towards the ground, destined to be embraced by the field of flowers instead of your hand. Just as you are about to grab it, you wake up.

Delirious and soaked in sweat, your red, glossy eyes gaze through the darkness towards the ceiling – it's going to be another long night.

No one enjoys being sick or ill. At the very least, it's an inconvenience; at the worst, it can be fatal. It's usually a messy and painful matter, with symptoms ranging from torrents of mucus running down your nose to coughing constantly. As much as we can, we'd like to avoid being that way. However, thanks to the cold weather, we're all at a higher risk of catching illnesses since we tend to stay indoors more often. Here's some advice to keep yourself healthy and keep your suffering to a minimum.

1. Stay warm.

My parents had always told me that I should keep warm during the cold weather, but I never believed that the cold itself would suddenly give you the cold or flu, and it was true. The cold, though, served as a pathway for getting sick. From your throat down to your lungs, a layer of mucus covers these parts of your body. This mucus traps any pathogens and particles that enter your body when you breathe. Cilia, which are microscopic hair-like structures, then move this mucus up from the lungs to the throat, where it becomes a substance commonly recognized as phlegm. In cold weather, the cilias' clearing movements are slowed down, and mucus can dry and clump together, making it difficult to remove. If it stays in the lungs it can cause difficulty in breathing. Even worse, mucus itself can provide a nutritious environment for bacteria to grow in, which can lead to a bacterial infection within the lungs and eventually pneumonia.

2. Eat regularly and stay hydrated.

This is something everyone should follow, sick or not. For those who regularly skip breakfast or don't eat enough, you put yourself at a higher risk of getting sick. You're missing out on nutrients for your body to use to stay in fighting shape and ward off existing illnesses. Staying hydrated also makes it easier for your body to maintain fluid levels and clean out your body. Inadequate hydration can lead to the situation described in No. 1, as it means your mucus dries up quicker. It can also make it harder for your body to maintain body temperature; that high fever you had could have been worse if there wasn't water to tamper it. Also, drinking orange juice can help reduce how long your cold lasts.

3. Avoid high-density places.

This is difficult, considering most of us have to go to class. Since a majority of common illnesses are spread by others, such as the flu and cold viruses, avoiding people or where they gather often can help reduce your own risk of getting sick. Campus isn't the only place, though – shopping malls and even clubs are excellent places for disease to spread, either through skin contact or through the air.

4. Realize that no area is safe.

No matter how prepared you are for the environment or how healthy you are, you are never truly invulnerable to illness. Last Wednesday, I did a 15-minute outdoor run on the track as part of my Physiology of Exercise class. I bundled up as much as possible to avoid being cold, and yet it still wasn't enough; I coughed and struggled as I finished the curriculum. The next day, I came down with a burning fever and terrible cough. No one in my class was sick previously, either. That was when I realized that I shot myself in the foot and got myself sick for the reason described in No. 1. As I finished writing this, I had been suffering for several days from burning fevers as time slowed to a crawl while I suffered from hallucinations in my bedroom at night.

When it comes to your health, you've got to think ahead. Otherwise, there will be no one else to blame besides yourself. Don't take it for granted.

Jan Urbano is a senior in biological sciences. He can be reached at jurbano@utk.edu.