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5 Common Health Issues Among College Students (And How to Manage Them!) | Edukasyon.ph
College Life

5 Common Health Issues Among College Students (And How to Manage Them!)

Let’s admit it, being a college student is challenging, but getting sick will take you to a whole new level of stress. Illness can really affect your progress, momentum, and drive. It drains all of the precious energy you’re supposed to save for that thesis project and exam. 

Viruses and diseases are also contagious and won’t only affect your own health, but also your classmate’s health. Yeah, we know it sucks. Common illnesses are usually picked up from the pollution during your daily commute, the fickle weather, or even from your seatmates. Though we all go through it, it’s better to prepare in advance. Here’s a list of the five most common health issues and concerns college students (like you) come in contact with, and how you can prevent them. 

1. The Flu

Flu season can storm in anytime and anywhere, even when it’s uncalled for. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, “College students may be the most susceptible population to influenza this season” Oh, nose! The flu sickness negatively affects your respiratory system, namely your nose, throat, and lungs. 

Sadly, the flu spreads fast and is easy to catch since it travels through particles in the air. We’re surrounded! Acquiring the flu is easy when you get yourself involved in instances wherein someone coughs and sneezes on you; or even when you simply touch everyday items, such as contaminated mugs, cellphones, light switches, railings, keyboards and more. Gross, right?

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Runny Nose
  • High Fever
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Throbbing headaches and migraines
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Chest Discomfort

But don’t feel under the weather just yet. Because if there’s a problem, then there’s also a solution. And like what they say: If there’s a will, there’s a way! So as not to risk your health and wellness, here are some ways to defeat those germs and beat that flu:

Treatments, preventions, and advice:

  • Get your flu shot every year, become immune like the rest of us, and get those antibodies to #werk!
  • Stay away (preferably 6 feet) from people with the flu
  • Always, always, always wash your hands 
  • Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth, or face after touching an unclean item
  • Treat yourself with helpful remedies such as high doses of Vitamin C, echinacea, and other medications
  • And as much as you love your significant others, keep your lips away from their infected lips (It’s doable, we promise)

2. The Common Cold

To some, colds and cases of flu are the same banana, but to science, they are not. Colds and flus carry minor differences too! For example, flu includes the symptoms of headache and high fever, but colds don’t. Colds are milder in comparison to the flu, and also have a different set of assigned treatments for it. Now, go get yourself a box of tissues or a napkin as we walk you through the general aspects of the common cold. 

According to Steven Doerr, an emergency medicine physician, “The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by many different viruses, and is transmitted by virus-infected airborne droplets or by direct contact with infected secretions”. It can affect one’s sinuses, larynx, and throat. College students can accommodate this disease easily since campuses and commuter vehicles are filled with tight spaces and huge crowds. It is a common illness but not something you should be too worried about because it can easily be cured at home—perhaps with some TLC—within three days.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Low Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Sore Throat
  • Wheezing 
  • Watery Eyes
  • Stuffy Nose 

Unfortunately, the cold can trigger the colds, so beware of the upcoming “ber” months when traveling outdoors from your house to school and vice-versa. 

Treatments, preventions, and advice:

  • Wear a face mask when commuting to block your nose from breathing in the sickness from others and from the pollution
  • Eat your greens to boost your immune system! Vegetables and fruits like oranges, blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach will do
  • Take your prescribed over-the-counter cold medicines such as Advil, Tylenol, and Sudafed 
  • Use a nebulizer for six minutes to directly deliver your medication through mist 

3. Sore Throat

Sometimes, it’s fun to play around with a low and raspy voice because you sound like a whole new person, and you can effortlessly impersonate Jennifer Lawrence or Miley Cyrus’ scratchy voice. But when that raspy voice turns out to be a sore throat, all fun and games die down, and you’ll go from one hundred to zero, real quick.

According to Dr. Brett Scotch, an official osteopathic physician, “A sore throat can be caused by any number of factors, including a common cold, low humidity, smoking, air pollution, yelling, or nasal drainage”. The sickness revolves around its very own virus and is caused by bacteria that gets stuck in the throat. 

Usually, your throat feels very worn out especially when you just woke up, and it’s probably because you did tire it out a couple of days prior. Maybe you cheered too much during your school’s pep rally event, or maybe you ate too much chocolate and sweets. Because of this, you’ll end up holding back that urge to answer out loud in English class, and missing your afternoon singing lessons

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Itchy feeling in the throat
  • Painful feeling in the throat whenever you swallow
  • Difficulty in swallowing food or liquids
  • Red swollen tonsils
  • White pus on your tonsils
  • A rough and husky voice
  • Phlegm in the throat

If you’re feeling like how Ariel did during that part in The Little Mermaid where she loses her voice and feels pain whenever she tries to talk, then take note of the following health tips! 

Treatments, preventions, and advice:

  • Stay hydrated! Ideally with some warm water to kill ‘em germs that are clinging to your throat
  • Gargling saltwater or herb mouthwash can soothe the throat’s pain and to kill the germs as well
  • Get enough sleep for you AND your throat to regenerate (shhh)
  • Take some mild pain relievers such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen to lessen the symptoms

4. Headaches

As healthy and #blooming as they may seem, a lot of college students tend to attain dangerous lifestyles behind the scenes. Students face the harsh reality of not enough sleep, late-night parties, high levels of anxiety, mental strain, and tons of workload. This puts them at risk for intense headaches on a day-to-day basis. 

According to the National Headache Foundation, the majority of college students endure tension-type headaches which are triggered by neck cramps and tightening of back muscles (ouch!). Most college and high school students suffer from sitting uncomfortably on their desks to the point where they’re slouching whilst staring at their blinding laptops for over 9 hours straight just to get things done. 

These tension-type headaches fall under primary headaches and are said to gradually happen throughout the day and could occur for longer. The feeling is like a rubber band wrapped around your head in the weirdest and worst way possible. 

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Low to average pain at the front, top, and sides of the head
  • Experiencing insomnia 
  • Headache happens late afternoon
  • Getting tired easily
  • Distracted easily
  • Sensitive to light and noise
  • Dizziness

Sometimes we need to remind each other that our physical and mental health are much more important than grades! So, stop stressing and obsessing over school and get it together first. We think it’s time that you add a wellness section to your college schedule.

Treatments, preventions, and advisories:

  • Maintain proper posture when working (e.g. keep your back straight and your head leveled)
  • Take a breath, rest, and pause when you need to. Stress will only make it worse, so just sit back and chill
  • Sleep early and reward yourself with the needed 8 hours of sleep!
  • Drink water often because tension headaches are a cause of fatigue, which in turn is a side effect of dehydration 
  • Take baths or showers in warm water in order to relax and relieve muscle tension
  • Treat yourself with a spa appointment where they can thoroughly massage your head and body and relieve tension everywhere 

5. Fatigue

In layman’s terms, fatigue is the phase of being tired, drained, exhausted, and low. Feeling tired is undeniably understandable for college students who are clearly going through it, and when considering the amount of energy they use up on an average day: commuting, walking to distant classrooms, and studying for finals. But feeling tired for every minute and every second of the day might be something else that needs to be addressed. Might as well trademark the phrase: “I’m so tired”, am I right? 

According to Harvard Medical School, fatigue is caused by both medical and non-medical reasons. Some examples of the medical reasons would be staying up too late, obesity, lack of iron, kidney disease, diabetes, malnutrition, and even cancer. On the other hand, some examples of non-medical reasons for fatigue could simply just be boredom, depression, too much junk food, the habit of being lazy, or the aftermath of an exercise

Still not entirely sure if you’ve been experiencing fatigue or not? Well, here are the signs and symptoms of fatigue that can give you a better sense of how this sickness truly feels:

Signs and Symptoms:

  • According to Dr. Howard LeWine, M.D., “Your fatigue might be related to an underlying illness or infection, especially if it’s accompanied by symptoms, such as low-grade fever, shortness of breath, and loss of appetite”
  • Low motivation
  • Chronic sleepiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Muscles start to weaken

You need energy and motivation to stay productive in college and anywhere else. So here are some things you can do to get up on your feet, stay snappy 24/7, and embody #goodvibesonly: 

Treatments, preventions, and advice:

  • Setting realistic and doable plans for the day (Consider your time and resources)
  • Exercise only to the best of your abilities 
  • Cut down your intake of sugary and salty foods
  • Replace any form of caffeine with water 
  • Meditate or do a couple of yoga poses
  • Hit the hay early and get enough sleep 

Enjoyed this article? Well, there’s more where that came from. Check out our other health and wellness related articles to know when are the best times to work out, what health tips should be considered during flu season, and beyond! For more health hacks and advice, check out our College Life section on the Edukasyon.ph blog.

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