Coughs, sniffles and ways to deal with being sick in college

As a child, I was never one of those kids who was always sick. As I grew up, I became aware of this and took pride in it, reassuring everyone around me that “I only get sick once a year.” This would usually happen every December when temperatures in South Florida went down slightly.

It wasn’t until a few days ago, when one of my friends joked that there is something wrong with my immune system, that I realized that I am constantly sick as a college student. Almost two semesters after coming to college, I can safely say that my “only getting sick once a year” streak has been long broken.

I’ve had strep twice this semester and a cold a few times this school year, so going to the health center is an activity I am more than familiar with. And as I recently sat in the waiting area, I realized that the place is always filled with sick students – and that my poor state of health is definitely not unique.

In college, illness spreads rapidly. Whether you get it from your roommate, from sharing drinks with your friends or from the poor ventilation in the dorms, we unknowingly put ourselves in endless scenarios that expose us to sickness.

Most of us don’t have our parents around to remind us of the basics, so here’s a reminder of how you can lessen your chances of getting sick.

It’s important to eat well and make sure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients. Having cereal available to eat in the dining hall everyday, for every meal might make this harder, but it’s important to keep nutrition in mind anyway.

It’s also good to be conscious of the people around you and how they might affect your health. If your friends or your roommate are sick, take precautions against that. Spend less time with them while they get over their illness and definitely don’t share food or drinks with them. Kindly ask them to wear a mask if they are contagious and to wipe down surfaces they come in frequent contact with.

We’re college kids, however, and living in close quarters means illness will still come around. So when you wake up one Sunday morning and you suddenly have a cough or a sore throat, get help and go to the health center. The “it’ll go away by itself” mentality doesn’t work all the time. Getting checked at the health center will help nip whatever you have in the bud and better yet, it is free for students.

Other than this, you should find what works for you. When I get a cold, for example, I try to drink as much OJ and water as possible. It might not get rid of the cold right away, but it definitely helps me get better faster.

It’s also important to get rest. Between striving for that 4.0 and going out every weekend, balancing academics and social life at the U can get extremely tiring, so make sure to get that nap in or pass on a night of barhopping every now and then. Both the library and the frat parties will be there when you wake up. Also, don’t make out with people who are sick.

When fighting against illness, it is also helpful to take advantage of the Miami weather and go outside. Whether you choose to sit by Lake Osceola, tan by the pool or spend some time at the beach, there is nothing better for a cold than getting some sun and fresh air.

In order to do great, we must also feel great. So as finals approach and the semester comes to an end, let’s take care of our health to make sure we finish strong.

Andrea Illan is a freshman majoring in journalism and political science.