Getting sick in college is inevitable. However, there are many steps that you can take to keep your life here as healthy and sanitary as possible, whether in your dorm, the cafeteria, or in your classes.
Living with someone in such close quarters like a residence hall or a small apartment can be tough, and it gets even harder when one (or both) of you is sick. If your roommate is contagious, chances are you’ll get the same thing. That can be really frustrating, as you will likely have to miss class and important information and lectures, as well as having fun with your friends.
Taking care to keep your room clean is important, but small steps are usually enough to significantly reduce your risk of getting ill. The first tip? Don’t wash your dishes where you brush your teeth. You could be at risk for getting a gastrointestinal infection, like E. coli, salmonella, or norovirus. Now, for those of us that live in traditional residence halls, this can be a little tough. However, there are always the kitchens in the basements if you save up your dirty plates and go down every so often to clean them.
Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to things like drinks, towels, utensils, etc. Mono can be spread through drinking from the same glass or water bottle, along with other illnesses passed through bodily fluids. Using the same towel as a friend can seem harmless as well, but staph infections can spread through these quickly, especially in locker rooms. Make sure to always be prepared when you work out, and bring your own water, towel, etc. to avoid these risks.
If your roommate is sick, say you love them, but you’re going to stay away for a while. At least try and stay on opposite sides of the room if possible. While they’re recovering, make sure to take precautionary measures for yourself like washing your hands often, using separate hand towels, wiping down hard surfaces, etc.
Another good idea is to carry around hand sanitizer, in your backpack or on your lanyard. Use it before you eat, after you go to the gym, using a shared computer keyboard, etc. It may be wise to find one that has aloe vera in it as well, since the alcohol in the sanitizer is great for killing germs, but it will also dry out your skin. The aloe vera will replenish the moisture in your skin and keep it soft.
You may not think to check them often, but take a look down at your feet every so often! Especially if you shower in public bathrooms, you can be especially susceptible to athlete’s foot, plantar warts, and other fungal infections. Dry your toes after you’re done showering, and make sure to wear shower shoes to help prevent these annoying maladies.
There are also services at Loras (like the Health Center) that offer great tips on how to stay healthy and clean. When you start feeling under the weather, go right away and try to take care of it. Even if you “never get sick,” being surrounded by so many people in close quarters 24/7 makes perfect conditions for anyone to pick up illnesses. Along with the preventative measures and tips above, sleep, exercise, healthy eating and keeping your stress levels low will also make you less susceptible to getting sick.
Four years of college go by fast, so don’t waste any more time being sick than you have to! Stay clean, practice good healthy living and lower your chances of catching something, ain’t nobody got time for that!