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5 Common College Campus Health Issues, A Student Safety Guide
We often think of college students as healthy young adults, having worked through the typical childhood illnesses and receiving the usual vaccinations by the time they graduate high school. However, when living in a college dorm, students are not immune from common illnesses and health concerns that can cause serious problems. Here are five of the most common campus health issues for which students should be prepared.
Occasionally, some college campuses will witness an outbreak of viral meningitis. It seems to hit college-age students hard, and many will be out of class and possibly go home to recover under the care of their family physician. Bacterial meningitis is a more serious form of the illness that can attack the brain and other areas of the body. It can be deadly, so a prompt diagnosis with effective treatment is necessary. Students should know the warning signs of a severe headache and stiff muscles, especially in the neck and back, although it can occur elsewhere. Parents should be consulted for advice on next steps.
Another viral infection that sometimes occurs in this age group is mononucleosis, a virus that is caused by the Epstein-Barr infection. It is sometimes called the kissing disease, as it is contagious and can be spread through coughing, sneezing, and other forms of contact with the ill person’s sputum. Rest and fluids are necessary for recovery, and this is often handled at home temporarily.
Since the flu season is most active and highly contagious during the fall and spring college semesters, students are often infected by common symptoms like a high temperature, fatigue, congestion, and chills. Other symptoms may be present as well. The campus health center can often diagnose a student and prescribe treatment along with possibly advising the student to go home until he or she is fully recovered. Often, though, students can care for themselves in their dorm room. They should avoid contact with others until their temperature returns to normal and the symptoms subside. Symptoms should be reported to parents and campus health officials for assistance if needed.
Campus injuries frequently occur due to sports participation, roughhousing at the frat houses, an incidental stair fall, or slipping on icy pavement. The campus infirmary can treat most of the problems unless they are serious, when the student could be transported to the ER if necessary. Students should become familiar with new surroundings and be cautious when walking the campus in bad weather.
In college-age students, sexual activity is common and often conducted responsibly. However, some students may experiment with partners they don’t know well and then discover symptoms of a sexually-transmitted disease. These symptoms should be discussed with a doctor on campus or the student’s family physician in order to receive relevant treatment. Further sexual activity should be restricted until the student has fully recovered.
College students may experience other health problems or issues in addition to these. It is helpful to discuss any concerns with the family physician or a campus doctor who can provide answers and guidance when needed.
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