Staying healthy on campus during cold and flu season

As we step gingerly into the onset of cold and flu season, precautions, clinics, and advertisements pop up all around us.  One of the most widely spread proponents of colds and flu are college campus communities and dorm life.  Dorms are almost classified as cesspools of germs and viruses.  I remember when I was in college, cold and flu season seemed to strike every one in one way or another and the viruses spread like wildfire in dorms and classrooms.

While not 100% preventable, cold and flu viruses can be counteracted by some simple everyday lifestyle choices.  Some more common pieces of advice include frequently washing your hands, getting adequate hours of sleep, and steering clear of already sick individuals.  These three tips are key in maintaining a healthy balance and immune system.  It also should go without saying that you shouldn’t be sharing drinks or eating utensils.

In addition to the most common tips, there are also quite a few options that can aid your immune system in fighting off common and easily spread viruses.  Exercising on a regular basis, while eating a healthy, balanced diet can help your body stay strong.  Hydration is also important in flushing out unhealthy germs and keeping you healthy.

More tips and tricks:

  • Keep an eye out for mold by keeping clothes, bathrooms, and kitchen areas clean and dry.
  • Add lemons to your water. Lemons can help maintain your body’s internal climate with healthy bacteria.
  • Carry hand sanitizer for use in between classes, before and after meals, and direct interaction with other individuals.
  • Take a vitamin C supplement, or obtain through fruits and vegetables, for additional immunity boosting benefits.
  • Spray or wipe surfaces down with Lysol and keep bedding clean on a regular basis.  Viruses, like the flu, can live on surfaces for hours.
  • Invest in a humidifier if the dorm is dry.  Dry mucus membranes are more susceptible to germs and viruses.
  • Try to refrain from touching your face too often.
  • Visit clinics or pharmacies to receive the flu vaccine.  A good number of college campuses offer clinics that hand out flu shots.  Find Grand Valley State University’s 2012 clinic list here.

Additional Grand Rapids area health resources provided here.

Living on campus this semester?  Check out these university health centers in your area for flu shot scheduling: University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Northern Michigan University.

What other measures do you take to stay healthy during cold and flu season?

Photo credit: pmarkham

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