How to Avoid Getting Sick in College

One thing people don’t always anticipate before leaving for college is the mass doom that spreads rapidly through the dorms as soon as one person on a floor contracts a cold or virus.

With so many communal areas and shared spaces that are unavoidable in the dorms, getting sick in college is, unfortunately, fairly inevitable.

My whole floor generally rode out all of our sick periods together. It was a bit eerie, having almost everybody on the same floor being sick at the exact same time, though some people would be at the tail end of their illness and beginning to recover while another person would fall ill.

At the same time, having everybody sick together was quite nice because you would have other people going through what you are suffering, and feeling the same pain. Everyone would have large stashes of various cold and flu medicine and remedies, and we would all share and pass medicine along to who was in need at the moment.

I learned about these floor-wide epidemics in the dorms the hard way. I believe I got sick once or twice every quarter during my first year of college, or roughly every ten weeks in the academic year, and when I get sick in the dorms, I have discovered that I don’t just develop a little sniffle or head cold. I usually catch the full on flu with fever, headaches, bad congestion, and body aches and become bed-ridden for about two days.

For this reason, I have developed a few habits during this past winter quarter in attempt to avoid getting sick at school, especially during high flu season.

I do not know exactly how helpful or medically correct these methods are for preventing colds and getting sick in general, but they seem to work well for me because the first time I was actively cautious about combating colds and the flu, I surprisingly did not get sick the entire quarter.

1. Vitamin C

I brought multi-vitamins with me to the dorms during my freshman year, but I never remembered to take them. But after a school year of being sick so often, I became extremely motivated and returned from winter break equipped with a family-sized tub of Vitamin C, as well as a slightly smaller bottle of women’s multi-vitamins. Vitamin C supposedly helps strengthen the immune system.

While I followed the suggested dietary dose of multi-vitamins every day, I shamelessly went overboard with the Vitamin C. I believe the suggested daily intake of my Vitamin C tablets were two per day, but I popped them any chance I got, especially during times when one of my roommates was sick. Since Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, I do not think overdosing harmed me in any way, but I recommend sticking to the suggested dose.

Vitamin C undoubtedly played a drastic role in combating illness in body that quarter and I would strongly recommend stocking up and making a habit of taking it regularly.

2. Try Not To Touch Stuff

At the mere mention of a sore throat from any of my roommates, I automatically become cautious about touching objects such door knobs, sick faucets, table tops, etc. Although not touching anything is unrealistic, it helps to be wary of what you are touching. Once you realize you have used a utensil or touched a space your sick roommate has probably touched, wash your hands immediately afterwards.

I would also avoid touching your face or any areas near your nose or mouth. Also avoid sharing food, utensils, tissues, towels, make-up, or anything else with your roommates while they are ill.

3. Wash Your Hands Religiously

I have already briefly touched on this subject, but it goes without saying that when the people around you are sick, you should constantly be giving your hands a good scrubbing to get rid of the germs they may have picked up just from being in the proximity of sick people. The last thing you want is for the sick germs on your hands to transfer to your mouth and find their way inside of your body.

4. Avoid Sick People

In college, especially while living in the dorms, dodging your friends and floor-mates is not an easy task to follow through with. There are always people hanging around, and shying away from the ill might come off as cold and insensitive. You can find alternative, healthy people to interact with while your friends are sick, or you can just tell people you are really busy at the moment and lock yourself in your room for a few days until the sick begin to recover.

The latter option will not work if one of your roommates is the one who is ill. If that is the case, you should probably spend the least possible amount of time in your room, and avoid touching your sick roommate’s belongings. Also be sure to wash your hands every time you touch the door handle or other collective and unavoidable objects.

5. Duck From Germs

This last one might just be a weird thing I do. It sounds crazy, but whenever I am stuck in a setting where it is inappropriate for me to simply get up and leave when there is a cold or flu infested person present, I try to maneuver my body to duck or block that person’s germs from reaching me.

The best example of this is when I’m seated for class in a lecture hall. I might notice the person behind me coughing up a lung, and I can just imagine all of their germs landing on my head. So whenever I hear that person preparing to cough, I duck down and pretend to reach for my water bottle, or grab something out of my bag.

This strange method of mine probably does not work very well, but it soothes my mind and makes me think that I am clean and avoiding potential germs that might infest me and make me sick.

So there are my foremost tips for combating the common cold or flu in college! Good luck with your fight and stay healthy!

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Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang will be entering her junior year at the University of California, Davis in the fall, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Communication. Outside of class, she loves to see her friends and family, jam out to T-Swift, make smoothies, and curl up and unwind with a relaxing book. Other interests of hers include ballet and gymnastics, skiing, travel, volunteer work, chick-flick movies, animals, and Christmas.
Ashley Yang

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