College campuses are known for many things. Unfortunately, the presence of various illnesses in students and highly contagious diseases is one of them. There are a variety of causes at play. College students often deal with high stress, irregular sleeping patterns, poor diets, and may not be accustomed to taking care of themselves. Regardless of the cause, students and parents should be aware of these common illnesses that plague college campuses so they can take necessary preventative measures where possible.
We have selected the following most common illnesses found in students. Although most of these illnesses are common, preventable and treatable with home remedies, there may be times when something becomes more serious. Read further to learn more and be aware of when to see a doctor for treatments.
The estimated read time is 6-7 minutes.
Upper Respiratory Infection
Also known as the common cold, upper respiratory infections are prevalent in many locations where many people congregate. Students spend their days close to one another, often sharing books, door handles, desks, etc. Couple that with the ease with which sickness is spread, and it’s no wonder college campuses are breeding grounds for bacteria that cause the common cold.
There’s not much one can do to stave off getting a cold other than try to stay away from those who have one. But for students who do catch a cold this season, drink lots of fluids, rest and take over-the-counter fever-reducers and nasal decongestants until it runs its course.
First-year students seem to be affected by meningitis more than any other students or age groups, primarily because bacterial meningitis affects young adults the most and the proximity of dorm life. The illness can be bacterial and viral, with bacterial meningitis being the most dangerous.
The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends preteens receive their meningitis vaccinations at age 11 or 12 and then receive a booster at age 16. Incoming students who’ve never been vaccinated can still get their vaccinations – it’s recommended young adults 19 to 24 do so more than others. In addition, some colleges may require students to vaccinate for bacterial meningitis.
More commonly known as the stomach flu, gastroenteritis typically includes symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps and a low-grade fever. Gastroenteritis spreads through contaminated food and drink. Though college-aged people are least likely to deal with severe complications from the stomach flu, the illness can still be problematic, especially for those who may already be sick or have an otherwise compromised immune system.
The virus can only spread through ingestion, so the best way to prevent gastroenteritis is simply washing your hands often, especially before eating. Treatments include drinking clear liquids, eating foods like crackers and taking over-the-counter medicines.
Like the common cold, influenza, commonly referred to as the flu often strikes schools during the winter. It’s spread very quickly, either by simply talking, shaking hands or being near someone coughing or sneezing. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports the flu virus can spread through the air for up to six feet.2 The proximity of dorm and lecture hall life makes college campuses a spawning ground for the influenza virus.
If you’re a parent, the best thing you can do is get your college student a seasonal flu shot right around when the new school year begins or any time during flu season. Since that age group isn’t a high-risk group, they will likely only need one vaccine.
Tinea pedis, better known as athlete’s foot, thrives in dark, damp places, such as dormitory communal showers. Therefore, we recommend that students living in dorms always wear shower shoes to protect themselves from itchy fungal infections. Also, do not share shoes and change your socks often. An athlete’s foot isn’t serious, but it can be a significant annoyance. It can easily be treated with over-the-counter or sometimes prescription ointments.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Generally, four out of five adults have human papillomavirus (HPV). Couple that with the fact that HPV most commonly affects adults under the age of 24, and it’s no surprise HPV is a recurrent issue on college campuses. Though most people won’t show symptoms, and HPV will often go away, it’s wise for students to receive the HPV vaccine to prevent any potential complications and prevent the spread of HPV. Women can receive the HPV vaccine up to the age of 26, while men can get it up to 21.
Seek Medical Advice
Although most of the above-listed illnesses are common, preventable and treatable with home remedies, there may be times when something becomes more serious. If the disease causes significant discomfort or stays within for more than a couple of weeks, it is best to get appropriate treatments. Thus, we strongly suggest you seek medical advice in those unfortunate circumstances.
However, the great news is that your full body screening, including examining your skin condition, is included in the Student Medical Exam. Furthermore, other than the physical screening of your body, the SME doctor will also provide you with suggestions on taking blood tests, X-rays, and further medical treatments (if required). Lastly, the doctor’s report will provide you with recommendations for health improvements and wellness (if needed). Thus, to stay healthy physically and mentally, book your SME today to detect growing viruses and diseases in your body.
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