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An illustration of a medicine bottle and tissue box on a green background.
An illustration of a medicine bottle and tissue box on a green background.
Original illustration by Nadia Bey

COVID Is Not The Only Sickness To Avoid: Tips For Staying Healthy This Fall

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WVU chapter.

As West Virginia University’s campus reopens for the fall semester, this means that many events will also resume. Clubs, sports, seminars and all kinds of events will be in full swing. However, the threat of sickness still looms over campus, and I’m not just talking about COVID-19. These illnesses include colds, the flu, stomach bugs, strep throat and more. That doesn’t include the multitude of STDs that can also be contracted. Students spread rumors about “frat flu” and “freshman flu” going around during this time of the year. Regardless of what you name it, these illnesses all spell out “bad news” if you get them. Yikes!

Coming into college, it seemed like I was getting sick all the time. And honestly, it sucked. I seemed to get sick from everything— the dorms, the dining hall food, elevators, even sudden weather changes (thanks, Morgantown weather). With many things happening all over campus, it’s difficult to be sick while knowing that you are missing out on spending time with friends and participating in campus events outside of class. Being sick also has a large impact on academics. While some professors keep a non-mandatory attendance policy, there are plenty of professors that will not allow for unexcused absences, and “having a cold/flu” is often categorized as unexcused. These absences could lead you to miss important lectures and assignments, and it prevents you from being at your best when taking an exam.

Fortunately, there are ways to lessen your chances of getting sick:

Get your medical-related needs sorted out

Residence halls on campus often require immunization records to prevent sickness from spreading to other students. After leaving the residence halls, however, doctor’s appointments are more important than ever. These appointments can be scheduled during the summer or during breaks to avoid schedule conflicts with classes. Doctor’s appointments should include every doctor, not just your primary physician— this means not forgetting to go to the dentist to clean your teeth, or getting your eyes checked at the ophthalmologist. During the fall semester, it is also recommended that you receive your flu shot on campus to lessen your chances of getting the flu. Order any medicines needed from your physician, find a pharmacy you like for pickups and don’t forget about over-the-counter medications too. That leads me to my next point…

Create a first-aid kit

During the semester, students get busy with classes, clubs, sports and all kinds of events happening on campus. Having to stop and make a trip to the pharmacy is an inconvenience (and often expensive). Having to make this trip when you’re not feeling your best isn’t fun either. Assembling a first-aid kit full of bandages, over-the-counter medications, a thermometer and more can help you avoid this trip. I would recommend even buying fruits such as oranges and bananas to help support a strong immune system, as well as emergency sports drinks and water bottles for extra fluids to drink. Another common item to add to the list would be vitamin supplements.

Keep yourself and your living spaces clean

When considering living with roommates as well as how many people may be coming over to your living space, you should also consider the amount of germs that will be brought into your home. That’s why it’s super important to keep this space clean. Cleaning includes vacuuming floors, taking out the trash (I know, this one is the worst), wiping up food stains and messes and even cleaning bathroom surfaces from time to time. Even in a non-pandemic era, disinfecting the surfaces in your space is a must. Using disinfecting products for high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, sink handles, buttons on appliances, computer keyboards, and even phones and car keys will be one way to combat illnesses from entering the living space. Try disinfecting your own stuff as well— how many surfaces has your backpack sat on throughout the day, and how often do you swipe your school ID?

The two S’s: Self-Care and Sleep

With so much happening throughout the semester, taking the time to sleep and take care of yourself is often neglected. Taking days off, or even an hour off from working and playing hard, is necessary to avoid catching a cold that makes you take even more days off. Don’t be afraid to say no to some events and obligations if you are able. Catching some Z’s would allow your body to rest and recover from working during the day, and it will give you the energy that caffeine can’t. 

Final Thoughts

After a long year or so worrying about the pandemic, people shouldn’t let their guards down too quickly. With the tips above, readjusting to campus life will be awesome (and free of sniffles and sneezes)! Have a great semester!

Sam is a junior at West Virginia University from Littlestown, PA. She majors in Environmental Engineering and minors in Spanish. She's usually found spending time outdoors in nature, and also loves trying different smoothie flavors.