Avoiding illness can be a challenge, especially in the college setting. Most students are very busy trying to juggle a school life, work life, and social life. Because of this, they do not tend to take care of themselves very well. Students tend to have poor sleeping patterns, overwork themselves, and stress often. In addition, exercise and a healthy diet are not always a first priority either. This creates a perfect host for bacteria and viruses to grow, and when students and faculty gather in class together, it gives the illness the opportunity to spread quite rapidly. So how can illness be prevented?
Janelle Patterson, a professor of nursing at Des Moines Area Community College, has both a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.
“Washing hands, coughing into your sleeve or some how covering your cough, and getting your flu vaccine” Patterson said, are the most important aspects to preventing illness.
As Patterson mentioned, proper hand washing is a major way to prevent the spread of illness. While washing your hands, it is important to remember to wet your hands first. Then you should apply soap and scrub your hands together, creating friction, for at least 20 seconds. If you sing the ABC’s this can help ensure you wash your hands for a full 20 seconds. After this, you can dry your hands and use that paper towel to turn off the sink.
A major way to prevent illness is by getting the influenza vaccination. This prevents the spread of the flu by stimulating the body’s immune system. This stimulation creates antibodies so if you are exposed to people who have the flu after you have received the vaccine, your immune system will recognize the virus and create those antibodies to fight off the flu virus.
Another thing students can do is get enough rest. For most people, eight hours of sleep is recommended. In addition to getting enough hours of sleep, creating a sleeping routine and sticking to it is also important. This will boost your immune system and help fight off bacteria or viruses you may come in contact with. In addition to rest, you should stay home if you are not feeling well; your classmates and professors would greatly appreciate it.
Although adequate rest is very important, ensuring a proper diet is also beneficial. This includes increasing your water intake and eating a balanced diet. It is well known that most college students do not have a lot of money, which can cause eating habits to suffer. To compensate for poor eating habits, multivitamins are a convenient way to get missing nutrients.
Overall, in order to prevent the spread of illness, taking care of yourself is very important. This includes hand hygiene, covering your coughs, getting vaccinated, getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking vitamins.
One final piece of advice comes from Boone Campus chair and instructor of nursing Whitney Johnston.
“Eat a healthy diet, manage your stress, and help others stay well by staying home if you are sick.”
Photo by Micki Anderson