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Ages & Stages

I'll be leaving for college soon. What do I do if I get sick?

 

Keeping yourself healthy is the best way to avoid getting sick. Three important things you can do are rest, eat well, and exercise.

Rest. Don't skimp on rest! Too little sleep can cause some serious problems, like:

  • You may be more likely to catch colds and other minor illnesses. Your body cannot fight off germs as well when you are tired and run-down.
  • You are more likely to feel stressed or become depressed.
  • You may have a hard time staying awake in class.
  • You may have trouble concentrating on papers and tests.

So, be sure to get about 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night whenever you can.

Eat well. Vending machine food or fast-food may be quick and cheap when you are busy and on a budget but eating well is important. Try to remember to

  • Eat fruits and vegetables every day (your goal should be 5 a day).
  • Eat lean meats, fish, and poultry.
  • Eat foods high in calcium, like low-fat dairy products.
  • Limit junk food or foods with a lot of fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Limit sugary drinks such as pop, juice, sweetened teas or coffees, and sport drinks.

It is possible to eat a healthy vegetarian diet at college. However, this may require some additional planning to make sure you get all the nutrients you need.

Exercise. An important part of staying healthy is getting enough exercise. There are 3 basic types of exercise, and ideally everyone should do all 3.

  • Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs. These are activities like biking, running, fast walking, swimming, active dancing, and rowing.
  • Strengthening exercise tones and builds muscles and bone mass. You can do this by doing sit-ups, push-ups, and leg lifts, or by working out with weights or resistance bands.
  • Stretching exercise, like yoga, improves your flexibility or range of motion.

Don't have time to work out? There are many ways to sneak exercise into your day. Like instead of driving or taking the bus to class, try walking or riding a bike. If you are not used to exercising or if you have a chronic health problem, talk with your pediatrician or the student health service before starting an exercise program.

Health care on campus

If you are going to live on campus, check to see if your school has a student health service. It’s a place you can go for medical care, advice, information, and counseling. Student health services are usually well-staffed with a variety of health professionals. They also know pediatricians and other physicians in the area in case you need additional care.

Remember

Even though you’re in college your pediatrician still cares about your health. You can call your pediatrician any time you have questions. If you live nearby you can continue to make appointments, or come in when you are home on break. You may even want to see your pediatrician for a physical before you start school (your school might actually require it).

 

Last Updated
10/13/2014
Source
Health Care for College Students (Copyright © 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 2/2007)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.