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Why Everyone in College Keeps Getting Sick

Why Everyone in College Keeps Getting Sick

In college, students have the opportunity to explore new places, new subjects, and new lifestyles. Unfortunately, they also have the opportunity to experience new diseases.

Because so many people are crammed into such a small area, universities tend to be crawling with different diseases that can keep students (and professors) out of class. In some cases, these diseases can pose extreme health risks ― which means staying healthy and disease-free should be of paramount importance.

The Disease Factories that are College Campuses

Before students can set foot on college campuses, many universities require them to receive immunizations for several illnesses that the greater population should never encounter. Vaccines for meningococcal meningitis, pertussis, and human papillomavirus aren’t mandatory for any other life event, so why must college students receive them?

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The answer is simple: university campuses are disgusting. The primary problem, to almost no one’s surprise, lies with the students. The vast majority of campus populations are composed of brand-new adults, recently removed from their parents’ houses and experiencing dramatic lifestyle changes in short periods of time. Though these young people are supposed to assume adult-level responsibility, few practice standard levels of hygiene: throwing out rotting food, regularly cleaning dishes, clothing, and linens, washing hands properly, etc.

Worse, most college students develop bad habits such as neglecting sleep, eating poorly, socializing wildly, and experiencing untenable amounts of stress, which weaken their immune systems and make them more susceptible to contagious disease. The result is a mass of dirty, vulnerable bodies speaking, coughing, and kissing all in the same space, spreading germs back and forth, and creating a haven for disease.

Best Strategies for Avoiding Disease

Perhaps the best way to avoid succumbing to sickness throughout one’s college career is to stay far away from campuses and choose online courses, instead.

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However, for the millions of students who opt to go away to college, there are other solutions. The first was already mentioned above: vaccination. Despite anti-vaxers’ claims, vaccines are quite possibly the primary reason the mortality rates in developed countries are so low. Becoming immunized from certain diseases before attending college is as important as becoming immunized before traveling to certain countries. At the very least, students should obtain the following vaccines on their necessary schedules:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
  • TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) vaccine
  • HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine
  • Seasonal influenza

Additionally, students should practice good hygiene. All hygiene-related rules from parents’ houses apply in college, which means students should avoid sharing food, drink, and linens, have a laundry schedule, shower regularly, and brush their teeth well. Pursuing a degree in public health will equip students with the knowledge of how to stay healthy and keep others safe as well. However, there are a few additional rules students should follow while living in cramped university housing:

Don’t wash dishes in the bathroom. Only slobs eat where they, you-know, so it doesn’t make sense to bring eating utensils in there, either. Most dorms have community kitchens with more sanitary sinks for washing up after meals.

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Always dry off completely. Whether the moistness comes from sweat, rain, or a hot, sanitizing shower, students should try to get dry as soon as possible. Damp conditions are ideal for all sorts of bacteria and fungus, especially when coupled with the warmth of a classroom.

Sanitize the places that touch hands. Doorknobs, mini-fridge handles, bed ladders, keyboards, book covers ― they all could use a regular wipe-down with a disinfecting cloth.

Finally, it should go without saying ― then again, all hygiene rules should ― but everyone in college must be sexually cautious. According to the CDC, half of all sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed in the U.S. are among young people between ages 15 and 24, and plenty of disastrous STDs produce few or no outward symptoms. Because the obvious way to avoid STDs usually isn’t tenable, students should always have latex condoms on hand and get tested for STDs on a yearly schedule.

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No college student can entirely avoid getting sick, but by adopting some minor responsibilities in regards to hygiene, most students can dodge the deadliest diseases. Then, everyone can happily and healthfully explore the new opportunities available only on college campuses.

Featured photo credit: Savannah River Site – CCBY2.0License via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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