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How to Handle a Minor Illness in College

As college students, it’s easy to get caught up in the benefits of finally being able to live on our own. We can eat and drink what we want, keep the air on the temperature we like, and go to bed whenever we choose. But with this independence comes great responsibility, and without a parent to guide our decision making, we sometimes fail to remember that the combination of all of these things very well may negatively catch up to us.

College students inevitably come into contact with germs. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it- we’re low-key gross. And we all get sick sometimes. Flu season has been in full swing, and it’s rare to go one lecture without hearing a sniffle. Here are a few ways to prevent that, and when it eventually catches up to you, fight it off before you contribute to its spread. 


1. Hooray! Preventative measures are your new best friend.

The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot. The flu vaccine helps your body develop antibodies to fight off pathogens like the flu. Any precaution that might lower your chances of getting sick is worth strong consideration. The SLU Student Health Center also has walk-in hours for basic nurse services (immunizations included) Monday-Friday.


2. Wash. Your. Hands.

This is so important! I’m sorry to say, no matter your major, you’re bound to come into contact with germs. It sounds simple, but washing your hands is an effective way to scrub germs off of your hands. A good rule of thumb to ensure you’ve washed long enough is to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice. 


3. Avoid contact with those who may be contagious.

For a contagion to spread, contact is required. So if your partner seems to be coming down with a cold and you have an important presentation coming up, it might be best to avoid holding hands, at least for a while. It also helps to avoid shaking hands with those who may have been exposed to a contagion. 


4. Keep your dorm relatively clean.

Using disinfectant spray and sanitizing wipes are practical ways to make sure the surfaces you touch the most remain healthy. Door knobs, light switches, your desk- anything you touch on a regular basis are breeding grounds for the germs you pick up elsewhere. Keep them clean!


Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we come down with the flu or a cold. Don’t fret- here are some steps to take to get yourself back in the game.


1. Take advantage of the SLU Student Health Center.

Every so often, we get so sick that we find it hard to take care of ourselves. This is the point in which I’d like to give a shoutout to SLU’s Student Health Center. Located on the ground floor of Marchetti East, the Student Health Center acts as an on-campus doctor’s office and is open Monday-Friday, 8-5. The clinic offers many services that a college student might need, and is especially helpful when you’re feeling sick, as they can provide medications that will help you feel better.


2. Avoid getting others sick.

Be a pal and avoid spreading your germs. I know how seriously we SLUdents take our classes, but if you’re sick, avoid large lectures, at least. If you feel an illness coming on, try your best to refrain from sneezing or coughing on others (the crook of your elbow doesn’t serve many functions besides this). And please, use tissues instead of your hands! While you’re doing all of this watching out for others, make sure to take care of yourself.


3. Rest up!

It’s much smarter to miss a class or two if you’re able to recover than to take the chance of exposing others to an illness, or even worse, becoming sicker yourself. Also, recognize that it is okay to tell your friends you need to stay in. Self-care is extremely important! We all need a lazy day to catch up on sleep, reading, or Netflix binging, and a sick day is the perfect (albeit unfortunate) opportunity.


4. Once you’re feeling somewhat back on your feet, take the time to prevent a relapse of the illness you just got over.

Disinfect or replace your toothbrush.

Get a new toothbrush, or else you face the risk of going through the struggle of being sick again.

Wash your dishes, clothes, and bedding.

Don’t continue sipping on a water bottle you used while you were sick. Get those germs out of there! It never hurts to keep things ~fresh~. (Plus, who doesn’t love the feel and smell of nice, clean sheets?)


5. ​Congratulate yourself!

If you’ve made it to this step, that means you’ve survived! Great job. 

Just two dogs in a trench coat. Senior, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Communications- Journalism and Media Studies at Saint Louis University. Tea drinker, sorority woman, smartphone addict. Save the bees, take care of yourself, & validate me by following on Instagram @happilyevertomi
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