On Staying Healthy in College
By Dr. George Acquaah
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
A sound body and a sound mind are critical to success as a college student. You may be the smartest student in the class, but ill health can prevent you from attending classes, studying hard, or doing your best on a test. This fall, the buzz around campus and the nation as a whole is the much dreaded foe - H1N1 flu! Surely, there are all kinds of diseases and sicknesses that may afflict a student. However, communicable diseases are especially bothersome, because they keep you on edge, not knowing if you might be their next victim. In such scenarios, both the sick and the healthy have an obligation to help to prevent the spread of the disease.
In this week's conversation with you, I would like to draw attention not only to the flu episode that is in progress, but use the opportunity to remind you of how you can stay healthy as a student. Some of these are pieces of information that I learned from various sources; some of them are common sense rules of hygiene that you learned in kindergarten! These tips for healthy living apply to ALL - students, faculty, and staff. Please, note that I am not giving these tips in the capacity as a medical doctor!
- 1. Keep current on your immunizations - If you are living in the dormitory, it is most likely your immunization record meets a certain minimum standard according to federal health guidelines. Be certain you are up to date with meningitis, tetanus, polio, MMR, Hepatitis B and A, and, in this season, an influenza vaccine would be helpful.
- 2. Eat well - Your diet should be balanced, and eaten in the right portions and at the right times. You cannot focus in class on an empty stomach. Avoid empty calories. Drink plenty of water.
- 3. Exercise - Make a conscious effort to exercise daily, by doing simple things as walking to class and avoiding the elevator. Watch your weight. Exercise helps your immune system.
- 4. Clean your room - What your mother told you when you were young applies now, especially, when you are sharing the living space with others. Clean the bathroom after you use it.
- 5. Be careful when using public facilities - Community facilities such as bathrooms, drinking fountains and phone booths are places where you can easily pick up pathogens. Use common sense around these places.
- 6. Cover your cough - Cover your cough or cough into the elbow of your sleeves.
- 7. Wash your hands - Wash your hands after visiting the bathroom! Also, make it a habit to wash your hands often, especially, when you shake strange hands, and touch all kinds of hard surfaces throughout the day. Keep a hand sanitizer in your purse or book bag and use it often.
- 8. Observe personal hygiene - Take a shower or bath regularly; change your clothes; use deodorant to cover body odor; brush your teeth; comb your hair; shave your armpit; need I say more?
- 9. Sleep well - You need about 7-8 hours of sleep a day. Pace yourself so your school work does not compel you to skip on a good night's rest.
- 10. Dress properly for the day - Listen to the weatherman and dress appropriately.
- 11. Keep your sickness to yourself - If you are sick, get medical help and stay away from others!
This list by no means is exhaustive of what must be done to keep a college campus healthy for all, but at least, it is a good start. Do your part. Until next time, this is Dr. G saying stay healthy!