When large numbers of people from far-ranging areas congregate in one place — much like what happens when college students return to the MU campus every fall —outbreaks of illnesses are common. There are actions you can take to protect yourself from a back-to-school bug.
According to Dr. Susan Even, Student Health Center executive director and campus chief health officer, the most common illnesses first semester are due to viruses, which include the flu or the common cold. Viruses are often preventable, but they cannot be cured with antibiotics. Other common back-to-school illnesses include strep throat and upper respiratory infections, which can be cured by antibiotics.
Erin Nichols, a sophomore at MU, was battling an upper respiratory infection early this semester, and she had the same illness her freshman year. She believes she will probably have it again next year, too.
“I think it’s probably just being around a lot of people in close quarters,” said Nichols. “Maybe a change of seasons too.”
As it turned out, Nichols was actually right. Close contact with other students in classrooms, apartments and dorms are a big factor in a student’s health, according to Pam Roe, strategic communications associate from the Student Health Center. Dr. Even also mentioned that a lack of sleep, being away from home and poor hygiene practices are issues that can lead to a decline in a student’s health.
Junior psychology major Madison Leone also battled a bad cold at the beginning of this school year.
“I think it was lack of sleep, being in a sorority house with other girls, germs being spread constantly, going out and sharing drinks,” said Leone. “I didn’t have to take antibiotics, but I am still coughing and it’s been going on for about a month or so.”
The health center sees about 140 students a day for medical purposes, according to Roe. However, there are ways to avoid being part of that number. Some tips that she gave to prevent illness this semester include the following:
- Use hand sanitizer when you can
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Avoid sharing ear buds
- Get adequate sleep
- Develop healthy eating habits
The rules are simple. Stay clean and get enough sleep and you should have no problem staying healthy this semester. For more tips on staying healthy this semester and what you can do to prevent getting a back-to-school bug, visit the MU Student Health Center.