Spotlight on Common College Health Issues

A girl wearing headphones sitting on a bed writing. A computer rests on her knees.

As a college student, you’re embarking on one of the most exciting chapters of your life, full of new experiences and learning opportunities. Amid the hustle of late-night study sessions, dorm life, and maybe even your first attempt at doing laundry, staying healthy can sometimes take a backseat. 

After all, between juggling a full course load and maintaining an active social life, who has time to worry about the flu or allergies, right?

But here’s the real deal: being aware of common health issues and knowing how to manage them is just as important as acing your finals. Health challenges, if ignored, can easily disrupt your university life and even impact your academic performance.

In this article, we’re spotlighting some of the most common college health issues – from getting through flu season and managing allergies to tackling mental health challenges and staying fit during those intense exam periods.

A woman in a blue sweater lying on a couch, blowing her nose

Don’t Let the Flu Get You Down

When it comes to catching the flu, college campuses sometimes feel like a petri dish of germs. The close contact and shared living spaces like dorm rooms and dining halls make it easy for the virus to spread. 

Coming down with the flu (or any other virus) can hinder your academic life. Knowing how to stay ahead of the curve will help you stay healthy – and thrive.

Practice Good Hygiene: Regular handwashing with soap and warm water is a simple yet powerful way to prevent the spread of flu viruses. Also, avoid touching your face as much as possible, as it’s a common way for viruses to enter the body.

Stay Healthy: Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and ensure adequate sleep. A healthy lifestyle boosts your immune system, making you less susceptible to catching the flu.

Know When to Seek Help: If you start feeling flu symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, or body aches, seek medical help immediately. Early treatment can often shorten the duration of the illness and prevent complications.

While flu season may seem daunting, remember that preparedness will help keep you – and your grades – afloat!

Manage Those Allergies

Allergies can be a persistent troublemaker during your college years, whether it’s that sneaky pollen in spring or the mixed nuts in the dining hall. But a few sniffles or an unexpected rash doesn’t have to derail your university life. Here’s how you can manage allergies while in college:

Know Your Triggers: Before heading off to college, it’s essential to clearly understand your allergy triggers. If you’re unsure, consider getting an allergy test done, as this can help you identify the triggers better. Not sure where to get started? Check out home test kits such as those from EverlyWell to learn your potential allergens!

Communicate Your Allergies: Make sure your roommate, friends, and dining hall staff are aware of your allergies. The more people know, the better they can help prevent an allergic reaction.

Take Precautions During Allergy Season: If you’re allergic to pollen or mold, limit your time outdoors during high pollen days. Keep windows closed, and consider getting an air purifier for your room.

Remember, managing allergies effectively requires a mix of self-care, communication, and taking advantage of the resources available to you. 

Prepare For Mental Health Challenges

The excitement of college life often comes with its fair share of pressures, from academic stress and social anxieties to coping with homesickness. 

As a result, mental health challenges can become a reality for many students. Here are some strategies to maintain your mental well-being during college:

Acknowledge Your Feelings: It’s normal to experience a range of emotions during college. Don’t brush off your feelings as “just being stressed.” Acknowledging your emotions is the first step towards managing them effectively.

Reach Out For Help: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help. This could be from a trusted friend, family member, or a mental health professional. Most colleges offer free counseling services to their students.

Practice Mindfulness: Techniques such as meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and yoga can help reduce stress and improve mental well-being. There are numerous online resources and apps to guide you through these practices – from Headspace to Calm and more.

Set Realistic Goals: College life is about more than just academics. Balance your coursework with social activities, hobbies, and relaxation. Remember, it’s okay not to be perfect.

Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Don’t hesitate to seek help if needed – there’s no greater strength than acknowledging when you need support.

A man sitting on a couch, studying from a textbook

Staying Healthy During Exam Periods

Exams can be particularly stressful in college, often leading to late-night study marathons, excessive caffeine intake, and skipped meals. 

However, maintaining health during these high-pressure periods is crucial for optimal performance. Here’s how you can stay healthy during exam periods:

Eat a Balanced Diet: It can be tempting to reach for fast food or skip meals entirely when you’re buried in books, but your brain needs proper nutrients to function at its best. 

Include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains in your meals, and keep healthy snacks like nuts and yogurts handy for those late-night study sessions. Water helps your brain function optimally. Keep a water bottle at your desk and sip regularly.

Take Regular Breaks: Studies have shown that taking short breaks during long study sessions can actually improve focus and productivity. A five-minute break every hour can help you retain information better.

Get Adequate Sleep: Pulling all-nighters can do more harm than good. Your brain consolidates what you’ve learned while you sleep, so make sure you’re getting at least seven hours a night.

Practice Stress Management Techniques: Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or even a quick chat with a friend can help manage stress levels during exams.

Remember, your health is a long-term investment, and sacrificing it for a few extra hours of study can lead to burnout. Strive for a balance between work and rest, and remember that it’s okay to ask for help if things become too overwhelming.

Keep Your Health – and Grades – High!

Navigating the health challenges that come with college life can seem intimidating, but with the right knowledge and resources, you can manage them effectively. 

It’s important to remember that academics are a significant part of college but not everything. Your health, both physical and mental, plays a vital role in your overall college experience.

Your college years should be about learning and growing – both academically and personally. Prioritizing your health is an essential part of that journey. After all, the habits you develop now can shape your lifestyle for years to come!