The H1N1 virus, or swine flu is the latest concern on the minds of students entering colleges these days.
However, Dr. Jane Horton, director of student health and counseling at Washington and Lee University, says that the keys for students to stay healthy are not really different despite the swine flu's presence.
AdvertisementHere are eight measures that Horton thinks students and families should consider as they prepare for the opening of classes.
1 Have a physical exam before starting college. Washington and Lee requires all students to have a physical, and Dr. Horton believes it's an important part of preparing for college.
2 Talk to your doctor about recommended immunizations for adolescents and young adults and make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date.
Make plans to get a flu shot in the fall. Dr. Horton cautions that this will be the year when student health centers will be doing more outreach than ever to see that students get vaccinated against the flu - both the normal seasonal shot and the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available.
3 Have a parents-student conversation about expectations regarding alcohol, other drugs and sexual activity.
4 Check your health insurance. Families need to be aware, says Horton, of what kind of coverage the student will have on campus, including whether or not the prescription drug plan will be honored at pharmacies in the area.
5 Bring a first aid kit with common, over-the-counter medications.
6 Do what your mom always told you. Wash your hands, cover your cough, dispose of used tissues.
Watch your diet. Unhealthy eating habits are easy to pick up when no one is there to make sure you eat your veggies.
8 Get plenty of sleep. "For some reason, students get to college and their clock seems to shift, and they stay up too late, and they still have 8 o'clock classes," said Horton. "They stay up talking to friends in the hall, and they don't start their work until 11 or 12, and they're up half the night doing their homework. Sleep deprivation among students is a very unhealthy habit."