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Sep 05 2016
by Ryan Haar

10 Do's and Don'ts of Dealing With Sickness In College

By Ryan Haar - Sep 05 2016

A new environment means new germs, which means sickness. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, count yourself lucky. If (like me) you have a weak immune system, then the sick germs are probably lurking right around the corner. Here is everything you need to make sure you do when you get sick in college.

1. DON'T ignore your symptoms.

Now that you’re in college and don’t have Mom hovering around to take your temperature or give you meds, you need to do all of these things for yourself. Don’t ignore it if you start to feel bad or sick. Acknowledge your symptoms and proceed accordingly. Things will be much worse if you don’t.

2. DON’T go out partying.

For some of you this might seem like "duh" advice, but you’d be surprised how many of my friends have powered through even the worst of illnesses so that they wouldn’t miss a party. Do yourself, and everyone else in attendance, a favor and stay in bed. Your body needs rest, not alcohol.

3. DO go to the doctor.

If you don’t know where your campus health center is, now is the time to find out. Going to the doctor could be the difference between a month-long sickness and a speedy recovery. Pro-tip: bring your insurance card the first time so you don’t have to go back later and bring it.

4. DO be a courteous roommate.

Let your roomie know that you’re sick. Not only will they be sure to let you get your rest, but they can also take precautions to make sure they don’t get sick, as well. Try to keep all of your medicines, tissues and frequently-touched items on your side of the room.

5. DO take a break from your significant other.

Nothing is more rude than not warning bae when you feel a scratchy throat or stuffy nose coming on. Swapping spit means swapping germs, people! Just give it a rest for a few days until your cold is long gone. Bonus: distance makes the heart grow fonder.

6. If you can help it, DON'T skip class.

If you really actually can’t get out of bed and it would be hazardous for your health to do so, then don’t go to class. However, if your sniffles and headache can somehow shuffle their way to class, go. Save your skips for the aforementioned situation, when you really need them.

7. DO tell your professors.

If you have to skip class for being sick, definitely email your professors. And if you do make it to class, email them to let them know you aren’t feeling well and may not be as talkative/perky as usual. Maybe they will cut you some slack and be okay with you not participating in group discussions.

8. DO stock your backpack.

A full day of class while being sick is the closest thing to torture imaginable. Be prepared for a long, long day, and pack the necessities: cough drops, cough syrup, ibuprofen, other medicines, afrin, tissues, plenty of snacks and water. When you feel like passing out in your anthropology lecture, a filling snack and some ibuprofen can go a long way.

9. DON'T eat crap and DO drink lots of fluids.

Don’t reach for pizza and fries in the dining hall. Fill your body with the nutrients it needs to fight off whatever’s ailing you. This means lean proteins and healthy carbs, leafy greens and vitamin-rich fruits and veggies. There’s a reason chicken noodle soup is the ultimate sick food - plus it can easily soothe a sore throat. Load up on citrusy fruits to get a boost of vitamin C. Drink plenty of water, even when you think you’re not thirsty. Water is the cure for hangovers and colds alike.

10. DO call Mom and Dad.

Maybe they can’t physically come help you, but just hearing your mom’s voice will make you feel loads better. She can even tell you that chicken noodle soup recipe that always made you feel better when you were young. Maybe they’ll send you a care package of goodies to make your recovery more bearable. And, if they live close enough, maybe mom and dad can scoop you for the weekend and take care of you at home.

Consider this your fool-proof guide to combating sickness in college. Of course, if you ever think your illness is more serious than a common cold or lasts for a long amount of time, seek help ASAP. Prevention is also a major key to saying healthy in college. Like your pre-school teacher always said: wash your hands all the time! 

Lead Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

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Ryan Haar - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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