Sickness Season

Back in high school, I was one of those people you hated because they never seemed to catch whatever was going around. I was super careful about personal hygiene, including washing my hands every chance I got, and staying away from people who were coughing, sneezing, and/or sniffling.

It’s much easier said than done in college, though. In addition to your immune system being potentially weakened from less-than-ideal eating and sleeping habits (don’t lie, it happens to everyone in varying degrees), the whole campus is covered in contagions. Whether you’re in a lecture hall, bus, or dining hall, you’re definitely surrounded by countless chances to catch some disease or other.

Of course, that’s not to say it’s not preventable. (Though, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that I’m currently recovering from what was most likely a cold.) If you’re careful, you can be one of those people who doesn’t have to worry about their health and midterms at the same time.

All the usual tips apply — wash your hands frequently, avoid sharing food/drinks, cover your mouth, etc. — but here’s a few more specific ones you might not already know.

  • Stop by the Health Center and pharmacy. Get a flu shot if you haven’t already (and if you’re not already sick), and stock up on vitamin supplements, cough drops, tissues, and maybe some over-the-counter basics (Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.). You’ll be glad to have them on hand when you and/or your friends need them.
    • If you have school insurance, your vaccines and other appointments are probably covered, so there’s no reason not to go. You can even make appointments online, from wherever you are.
  • Check with your parents for home remedies and other health hacks. The people who raised you have definitely seen you through more than a few illnesses, and they probably have some ideas that will help you specifically. If you can get your hands on comfort foods similar to what you grew up with, that can help too.
  • If you and/or your friends are getting sick, it’s okay to spend less time with them. This is exactly how sickness spreads, and I’m pretty sure it’s the main reason most of my friends are showing various symptoms.
  • Skipping class might not be a practical option (especially because, again, midterms; you can contact your professor and try to schedule a make-up, but the reality is just that it won’t always work out), but if possible, take a health day. It’s better to have to make up a few days’ work than to struggle through a few weeks and have to catch up anyway because you couldn’t focus on the material.
  • Particularly as you’re starting to get better, do your laundry (including your bedsheets!) and wipe down the surfaces in your room. This is part hygiene and part psychological trick: it’ll help you feel less gross.
  • Seriously, make sure you’re eating (somewhat) healthy and getting some sleep. These are notoriously hard in college, I know, but they really do make a difference.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard too soon. It’s tempting to hit the ground running as soon as you feel the slightest bit better, but the only thing worse than getting sick the first time is relapsing because you overworked yourself.

Best of health to everyone, and good luck on midterms!