Diet, exercise, sleep and stress — it all changes when you transition from a high school senior to a college freshman. And sharing a small living space with one, two, or even three or more other people, eating grilled cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sleeping only when the sun’s out is definitely not the healthiest way to live. In fact, when these aspects of your life change so drastically, it’s an open invitation for colds and flu to invade your body, especially for members of the freshmen class who haven’t quite figured out the flow of things yet. So here are some helpful tips for college students from U.S. News & World Report on how to avoid getting sick at school.
- Don't wash your dishes where you brush your teeth. You wouldn't bring food into the restroom, so don't bring dishes, either — find a utility sink in your dorm building. Otherwise you're at risk for diarrhea-causing norovirus.
- Don't share towels. If you're on a team, shower after every practice or game and don't share towels — doing so is a prime way infection spreads.
- Disinfect that sweat. Use a towel and disinfectant spray to clean any machine you've used [at the gym], and if the treadmill looks suspect — with remnants of sweat — wipe it off before you begin, too. If you hit the water fountain post-workout, don't let your lips touch the nozzle.
- Don't share glasses, water bottles or utensils. Taking a sip of someone else's drink or tasting their meal — especially with their fork — is a key way infections like mono spread.
- Ditch your friends when they're sick. Don't make plans with someone who's coughing or sneezing. And if that person happens to be your roommate? Adopt "you stay on your side, I stay on my side" as your mantra.
- Bring a thermometer. Knowing whether you have a fever—and if so, how high — will help determine how sick you are and how soon you need to be seen by a doctor.
- Keep hand sanitizer handy. Germs are often spread through surfaces, like the keyboards in computer labs — you touch something that's infected, then put your hand in your mouth or eyes, and suddenly you're sick, too. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after you compute, or after doing a lot of touching in a public place, like opening doors and pressing elevator buttons.
- Watch your feet. Drying between your toes after you shower — or swim— will help ward off athlete's foot, plantar warts, and other fungal conditions. Contrary to popular belief, flip-flops provide little more than a false sense of security.
And ask Mom and Dad to send you Boiron’s cough, cold and flu products in your first care package. Oscillococcinum works best when taken at the first sign of flu-like symptoms, such as feeling run down, headache, body aches, chills and fever.* ColdCalm offers multi-symptom relief at each stage of a cold, and Chestal Honey combines homeopathic medicines with honey to soothe most common coughs from colds.* All three work without affecting alertness, so you’ll still be able to survive your hectic schedule.
For the rest of Angela Haupt’s article, “Beyond College Immunization: How Students Can Avoid Getting Sick," click here.
*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.