Attention, freshmen: You will likely pick up more than knowledge and new friends when you start college.
There's a good chance you'll at least catch a cold from living in the tight quarters of a dormitory, physicians and students say.
"The thing (about) tight quarters is an increased number of exposures (to
"I've actually gotten sick quite a lot. I take a lot of
The stress of starting college also can make freshmen susceptible to illness, said Dr. Margaret McMahon, assistant professor of
"There are new stresses about going to college and moving into the dorms. Both are big changes in your routine. (Both stress and lack of sleep) can increase your susceptibility to colds," McMahon said.
Chandra recommends that incoming freshmen get immunization shots.
"A lot of colleges are requiring proof of immunizations for freshmen. I strongly recommend getting the
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a bacterial and very contagious disease, named for its symptoms of uncontrollable
Freshmen in dorms can also protect themselves from catching colds, strep throat and the flu by washing their hands frequently, especially if they have just used a tissue; and coughing or sneezing into the bend of their elbows, instead of covering their mouths, doctors say. Students also should avoid sharing drinking glasses or utensils when ill and avoid having close or prolonged contact with anyone who is sick, Hanjrah said.
Freshmen should make sure they get enough rest, the physicians said.
"Sleep is a huge way to stave off problems that will affect you in subtle ways," said Dr. Alex Lickerman, assistant vice president for student health and counseling services at the U of C. "Sometimes, getting normal sleep does not buy you an advantage, but prevents you from experiencing many disadvantages."
Getting enough rest helps students to keep their energy levels and their moods up, control their weight, concentrate in class and remember information better, Lickerman said.
"It is a really simple intervention. Sleep is a critical part of good health. It's very easy to cut into it. Over time,
Yusef Al-Jarani, who will be a second-year student in the fall at the U of C, said he took a quick break from classes when he became ill as a freshman.
"I got a cold my first quarter at the university, and was fine the rest of the year. I had brought medications with me from home. I took a day off from school, and ate and drink a lot from the dining hall, a lot of juice and soup," he said.
Freshmen also should take care of their