Student Life

6 Tips to Avoid Getting Sick in College

For college students, it isn’t all that hard to get sick.  When you’re sharing a room with at least 1 other person, you’re increasing your exposure to all kinds of illnesses.  In most cases, you also probably aren’t getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night, and you’re dealing with a bunch of stress. It’s the perfect equation for even the smallest cold to catch you.  This is why we’ve put together some suggestions to help you stay healthy even when that head cold or stomach bug hits your floor.

Photo from rccblog.com

Wash your hands as much as you can.  In one of our posts last week, we talked about some of the benefits of washing your hands over using hand sanitizer.  It’s especially important to keep your hands clean before and after eating, touching someone who is sick, and touching garbage.  It’s an especially good idea to wash your hands after returning home from class and other public places.

Get 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night.  As we explained in our post last week, sleep is really important for college students.  One of the real problems for students, however, is that they never seem to get enough sleep, which can severely lower your immune system.

Don’t share glasses, water bottles, or utensils.  This is pretty self-explanatory, but simply taking a sip of someone else’s drink or tasting their food from a fork they’ve already used is one sure-fire way to ensure you get sick.

Stay away from friends who are sick.  Although it may seem a little mean, you don’t want to catch what they have.  Let them know that you don’t want to get sick, but you’ll hand out with them when their better.  It’s the best thing for both of you.

Eat well and stay hydrated.  The best way to boost your immune system is to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water.  This will not only give you energy to stay alert, but it will also help your body to fight off illnesses.

Keep your place clean.  It’s a really a good idea to keep things clean anyway.  However, there are extra benefits to regularly cleaning your place.  By cleaning common areas, and washing dishes with hot soapy water, you can ensure you aren’t fostering a place for nasty bacteria to grow.

These are just some really quick and easy tips to staying healthy.  However, while it is important to prevent illness as much as possible, in some cases it may be unavoidable.  If you find yourself coming down with something, stay home and get some rest.  You’ll be both helping yourself, and helping everyone else from getting sick too.

References

“Avoid Getting Sick While Studying for Exams” by Lauren Busch

“Beyond College Immunizations:  How Students Can Avoid Getting Sick” by Angela Haupt

 

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Student Life

The “Dirty” Truth: Hand Sanitizer vs. Hand Washing

Getting sick can be one of the biggest setbacks you can have during the semester.  You can’t be too careful when it comes to making sure that you don’t get sick.  That’s why cleaning your hands can be one of the best ways to prevent coming down with something nasty.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency charged with providing the public with information about how to avoid spreading and contracting serious illnesses, it’s important to make sure your hands are clean.  Whether you’re preparing food, eating, treating wounds, using the restroom, blowing your nose, or handling garbage, you should always remember to “wash up”.  These are all primary situations in which it’s best to be careful, especially after being on campus all day around at least hundreds of other people.

For most students, their first reaction may be to use hand sanitizer after touching a doorknob or leaving the bathroom.  However, is this really better than washing your hands?

Photo from cdc.gov

The CDC  sheds some light on the situation.  They recommend hand washing as the best option, saying hand sanitizer is really only good in situations where soap and water isn’t available (and only if it contains over 6o percent alcohol).  This is especially true if your hands are visibly dirty; in those situations you should wash with soap and water.

We also found that using antibacterial soap over standard soap can actually do more harm than good.  According to the Mayo Clinic, antibacterial products leave surface residues that may help to develop resistant bacteria. In fact, using antibacterial soap can cause the development of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics.  Overall, it’s best to use standard soaps and rinse with warm or cold water.

While it may seem so simple, there really is something to washing your hands over using hand sanitizer.  Overall, using standard hand soap will help keep your hands clean, but it will also prevent you from picking up the nasty cold that your roommate got, or the stomach flu making its way through your Poli Sci class.

References:

CDC:  Hand Washing – Clean Hands Save Lives

Mayo Clinic:  Hand Washing – Do’s and Don’ts

“Strange But True:  Antibacterial Products May Do More Harm Than Good” by Coco Ballantyne

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