How To: Avoid and Prevent Getting Sick

With Halloween just around the corner and midterm season in full swing, it seems as if more and more collegiates find themselves getting sick around this time. Living in close coradors, sharing studying spaces, and sitting in lectures with 300 plus people seems as if catching something is inevitable. Although there is no way to completely avoid getting sick, there are some things that everyone can do to prevent the spread of germs.

1.     The most important and successful way to stay healthy and not spread germs is to wash your hands. No, I don’t mean that five second rinse under some water. I mean a good, hearty, soap and water hand scrubbing for around 20 seconds. You can sing happy birthday while you scrub to know how long you should be washing. Washing your hands is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs.

2.     Sharing is caring…until someone says they aren’t feeling too well. Don’t share food, drinks, utensils, or a toothbrush with anyone that is sick. Oftentimes, sharing can cause the spread of strep throat or viral mononucleosis, both of which can take over a week to recover from. It is always better to use separate utensils and not share water bottles even if no one is showing signs of illness.

3.     It is important to have adequate amounts of sleep. College is great because there are no parents to tell you when to go to bed, or even to go to bed at all, but in order to function at your best possible capacity, eight hours is still the recommendation. Pulling all-nighters can happen, but it is not wise to make them a habit. Sleep helps to rest the body and boost the immune system.

4.     Water, water, water. Water is a college student’s best friend. It is so easy to forget to drink water and many become dehydrated and begin to feel ill. Water is great because it helps to wake you up in the mornings and is the best liquid to hydrate the body. Water also helps to flush out toxins in your body. The daily average of suggested water consumption is around 8 cups, but that varies on weight, height, and physical activity. It is best to buy yourself a reusable water bottle and get in the habit of carrying it around with you during the school day. Juts remember, don’t share your bottle!

5.     When in doubt…use some hand sanitizer. If washing your hands with soap and water is just not an option, it is always useful to carry around a bottle of hand sanitizer. Although not as good as soap and water, hand sanitizer can serve to destroy some germs that you pick up daily just by touching door handles or shaking hands. When picking a hand sanitizer, it is important to choose one that has 60 percent or more alcohol content. Anything less than that will not serve its purpose!

6.     Have a sick friend? Want to make them feel better by visiting them? Don't Visit! As sweet and nice as that is, and definitely scores you some friendship brownie points, that is not a good idea. When someone is sick it does not matter if you don’t have physical contact with them if you still are touching everything else they have touched in their dorm room or apartment. Germs have the ability to live on surfaces for a few days, and even up to a week for some viruses. Save yourself the risk and visit your friend after they have recovered.

7.     Your parents were right when they told you to eat your fruits and vegetables. Now that they aren’t here to cook your meals or buy the groceries it is extremely important to be eating a healthy diet. Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamins that fuel the body, give you energy, and boost the immune system. That being said, it is okay to eat carbs, protein, and sweets, as long as it is in moderation. Try and make it a goal to always have at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal.

8.     And lastly, know your limits. Yes, college is fun and exciting and there is always so much to do, but if you find yourself tired every day and having general malaise it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. Find a balance of schoolwork and social activities that works for you, and don’t be afraid to say no to a night out when you just aren’t feeling right.