Campus life brings us together. Whether you’re living in a residence hall, studying at the library, going to class or attending an event, you’ll be close to your fellow Buffs. While this togetherness can bring relief after a potentially isolating year, it also creates opportunities for illnesses and diseases to spread. Here are some ways to stay healthy and tips on what to do if you feel sick.
Most common illnesses in college
While college is often considered to be the peak of our health, many young adults are still at risk for a variety of diseases. Some of the most common illnesses for college students include:
1. Get vaccinated
Since antibiotics don’t work against viruses, it’s important to get vaccinated against illnesses like the flu and COVID-19.
2. Practice good hygiene
Washing our hands often—after using the bathroom, before eating, after class—can help prevent the spread of disease. When available, use warm water and soap to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are a good alternative when water and soap aren’t available. You can even pick up a free travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer for your backpack from Health Promotion on the third floor of Wardenburg Health Center.
3. Sharing isn’t caring
We all stay healthier when we look out for one another. Sharing items like lip balm, food and drinks, vape products and eating utensils can cause illnesses to spread. Avoid sharing personal products and utensils to keep yourself and your friends healthy.
It’s also important to keep your living space clean by wiping down commonly touched surfaces like door knobs, light switches and countertops with disinfectant. You can also help prevent the spread of illnesses by coughing and sneezing into your sleeve, elbow or a tissue.
4. Support your immune system
Your immune system is impacted by everything you do: what you eat, how much you sleep, your stress levels, etc. This means that eating regular, balanced meals; hydrating with lots of water; and getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night can help strengthen your body and immune system. When you’re well-rested, well-resourced and well-nourished, you’re more capable of fighting off infections.
This semester, try to make it a priority: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, carry a refillable water bottle and fuel up on vitamin-dense fruits and vegetables. Finding time for movement and sunshine is also good for your health. Take a walk with friends, toss around a Frisbee or simply open the blinds!
5. Make time for yourself
When our mental health is cared for, our physical health follows. It’s important to take time to relax, organize your thoughts and find healthy ways to manage everything you have going on.
Prioritizing self-care mentally and physically is key to a healthy, balanced semester. Schedule time to practice mindfulness, engage in stress-relieving activities and connect with people you care about. Not sure how to get started? Health Promotion offers free self-care and mindfulness programs throughout the week that are open to all students.
1. Stay home
If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Limiting your contact with other people can help reduce the spread of illnesses.
2. Inform your instructors or boss
If you’re going to miss class or work due to illness, give your instructors or boss a heads up. Let them know that you aren’t feeling well and will be staying home. Be sure to ask about making up assignments, projects or exams if you are going to be out that day.
3. Call before visiting a medical clinic
If you’re not sure why you’re feeling sick, calling ahead can be a good way to determine if you need to seek care in person. Students can contact the 24/7 NurseLine provided by Medical Services by calling 303-492-5101. This line connects students with medical staff who can discuss your symptoms and treatment options, including whether it’s appropriate to take care of yourself at home or seek medical attention.
4. Continue to practice self-care
If you still find yourself under the weather, try these tips: Drink warm liquids like tea to soothe a sore throat and stay hydrated, get extra rest to let your body recover and use over-the-counter remedies as appropriate to find relief. Your body works hard to fight off viruses and get you back into peak condition, so be kind to it!
Free cold and flu supplies, including cough drops, tissues, tea, honey sticks, gargling salt and more are available at the Health Promotion office on the third floor of Wardenburg Health Center. You can also stop by the Apothecary Pharmacy at Wardenburg Health Center to purchase full-size over-the-counter medications and prescriptions.
5. Seek emergency care if needed
If you or someone you know is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. You can also contact your medical provider if you experience any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.