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The Dorm Epidemic

The Dorm Epidemic

Don't catch the next bug -- follow Alaina's advice.

By Alaina Martini

October 13, 2011

Along with all the beauty that is fall also comes the beginning of cold and flu season. Coughing, wheezing, and sniffling are beginning to replace the usual silence during lecture. Even with everyone trying their best not to get sick, it is unavoidable and practically an epidemic in the dorms. It seems that when one person on the floor gets sick, the entire floor is infected within a matter of days.

During my own frantic efforts to avoid getting the bug, I came across some helpful and practical tips.

Tip #1 – Wash Your Hands
According to WebMD.com, “Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact.” So if someone coughs into their hand and then touches the desk, their cold germs are transferred to the desk just waiting for the next student to sit down and pick up the germs.

Especially in large lecture classes, it’s not possible to avoid picking up germs from other students. If you wash your hands often, you can kill the germs you picked up before they get into your body (Natural).

I know that washing your hands all the time isn’t realistic, but carry some hand sanitizer in your backpack or on your keys to use as a substitute.

Tip #2 – Drink Water
Drinking water is a really simple way to prevent getting sick. The average adult is supposed to consume about eight, eight ounces glasses of water per day. Water flushes out the toxins in our body and is effective in driving out germs. Buy a water bottle and carry it to and from classes with you. Continue to refill it at a water fountain until you’ve reached your 64 ounces per day.

Tip #3 – Get the Proper Amount of Sleep
During REM, or the rapid eye movement part of the sleep cycle, your body is working to repair your immune system. Getting the proper amount of sleep is essential in building up your body’s defenses against bacteria.

The average college student needs about nine hours of sleep each night. While that may sound unrealistic, budgeting your time well during the day will leave you enough time in the evening to get the right amount of sleep.

Tip #4 – Take a Hot and Cold Shower
Rapid changes in temperature can actually help your immune system kick into gear, according to Donielle Wilson, a naturopathic doctor in New York City. Right before you get out of the shower, turn the water as hot as you can handle and stand there for 30 seconds. After the 30 seconds are up, immediately switch to cold water and leave it on for 10 seconds. Repeat this process two more times before getting out of the shower.

This cold prevention tip was one that I had never heard of but since it only takes about two minutes, I think it’s worth a try.

Tip #5 – Eat Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
I know firsthand that living off of a college meal plan doesn’t afford most students with the selection and opportunity to eat many fruits and vegetables. Even in the dining halls, there are still ways to find fruits and vegetables.

Try a salad with baby spinach instead of plain lettuce. If there isn’t much fruit to pick from, try drinking a smoothie or even 100% juice to help get your fruit fix. Colorful fruits and vegetables are a good source of antioxidants, which help boost your immune system.

Being away from home and in close quarters with hundreds or even thousands of other students does increase the amount of germs you are exposed to. My five tips certainly are not foolproof, but I think they are very practical ways for the average college student to try and avoid the raging cold/flu epidemic.


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