With fall semester around the corner, many new college students are finally adjusting to their first tastes of dorm life. As if that wasn't enough of an adjustment, there's still concern of COVID-19 to be weary of, especially in large volume settings like college campuses. And anywhere that's home to that many people tends to be a breeding ground for just as many germs.
That's why it's important for students to know the best ways to stay healthy at school. While it might seem like an uphill battle, it's actually easier than you may think. If you're a new college student (or responsible for taking care of one) here are some tips we think are useful for getting — and staying — healthy on campus.
Wash. Then wash again.
Now, obviously, we don't need to remind you to wash after using a public restroom or blowing your nose. But considering how many people pass through (and touch) all areas of campus, there's probably a bunch of other times that warrant some hand sanitizer (great in a pinch and are now fully FSA eligible):
- Whenever using cash and receiving change in stores (Apps like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are helping curb the problem, but even the crispest bills have probably touched plenty of hands)
- After riding escalators, pushing elevator buttons, or holding stairway handrails
- At restaurants and convenience stores in the student union -- with all the heavy foot traffic, chances are restaurant staff are having trouble keeping up with cleaning needs
Pro-tip: Be sure to actually wash your hands whenever possible. Nothing can replace the cleaning and sanitizing ability of good old-fashioned soap and water.
Getting ahead of it
Sickness spreads quickly when you're living in close quarters like college dorms, so it's important to make sure you stay ahead of the curve. As we enter the cold and flu season, the presence of COVID-19 still looms. Symptoms can be different depending on the individual, and may resemble the flu or a cold. You can't be sure until you get tested.
It's a good idea to get tested if you've recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you're having symptoms. According to the CDC, it can take as long as two weeks for symptoms to develop after exposure. Their guidelines state that you should get tested even if you only have one of the COVID-19-associated symptoms and have been around someone who's tested positive. People who are already immunocompromised or have chronic issues like asthma should be even more mindful of getting tested.
And because a new flu virus circulates every year, staying up to date on your flu shots can save you a lot of trouble when flu season rolls around in December. Luckily, campus clinics typically offer flu shots as a part of their services and they're HSA eligible, so make sure to get vaccinated.
That isn't all campus clinics have to offer. On top of revving up the flu shot engine when the season comes around, on-campus clinics offer a variety of other services for college students to stay healthy. From STI testing (consider HSA eligible contraceptive) to counseling and allergy help, on-campus clinic medical professionals can help you tackle any medical problem you may be having.
As a convenient and reliable resource for when you're feeling under the weather at school, campus clinics are a great place to go for quick and easy medical servicing. Clinics are usually open five days a week and are available for both appointments and walk-ins, making the accessibility unbeatable.
Lastly, make sure you're still taking care of yourself. Get eight hours of sleep a night. In college, it seems like there's always something to do — whether it's a party or a late night study session — but sometimes the best thing to do is rest up.
Sleep is essential to making sure your brain is running properly and your heart is staying healthy. That's because during your sleep cycle, your body repairs any damages that may have occurred throughout the day. Sleep also affects the chemicals that can make you feel hungry or full, and your insulin levels.
Staying healthy on campus might seem hard at times, but it's not impossible. Remember that you always have your campus clinic to go to if you're feeling sick, and try to stay ahead and on top of any pesky illnesses that may be going around.