How to fight back the campus plague, collegiate style

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 1.05.21 PMBy Jake DiPaola

Elm Staff Writer

With the semester well underway, students have come from all over to Washington College. That also means it’s the time of the year that a cold starts going around.

Living in close quarters dorm rooms and sitting in small classrooms full of other people, students can find it hard to avoid the outbreak. New sleep schedules, heavy workloads, and the various other activities of a college student make it hard to find the time to rest and stay healthy.

There are plenty of ways to avoid a cold get healthy as soon as possible once you’ve got it so you can get back on track and not fall behind in classes.

“First would be to avoid people who are sick, wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, and do not share beverages/utensils,” said Director of Health Services, Lisa Marx.

It may seem obvious, but not everyone is diligent when it comes to washing their hands during this time of the year. Wash your hands more often, such as before and after a meal, and don’t share your food. Using hand sanitizer before using the silverware in the dining hall or gym equipment is also a good idea.

Next on the list is maintaining a healthy lifestyle beyond washing your hands. Eating well and getting enough sleep every night is an important part of physical wellness. Getting the energy you need, drinking plenty of water, and taking the time to rest and relax will help your body’s immune system defend against colds.

In the event “the plague” gets to your roommate as well, you may find it hard to distance yourself and avoid coming into contact with their germs.

When asked how to stay healthy with a sick roommate, Marx had an answer for this as well.

“If your roommate becomes sick and you are not sick, you could offer to stay in a friend’s room to avoid getting ill if that is possible. Roommates should use frequent hand washing, frequent wipe downs of the common spaces with something like bleach wipes or Lysol wipes and not sharing items between roommates (like cell phones, laptops, keyboards or gaming devices),” Marx said.

If, in the unfortunate event you do catch the campus cold, Marx strongly advised contacting the Health Center immediately to avoid outbreaks.

The Health Center also offers a variety of remedies at the “self-help” shelf in the lobby. This ranges anywhere from acetaminophen, Advil, nasal decongestants, salt packets for salt-water gargles, cough drops, sore throat lozenges, and more at no cost to students.

The Health Center is open from 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most RAs also often have a small stock of these items for your benefit, just ask them.

Most students may feel fine going to class and resuming their normal schedule, but it is this type of behavior that spreads illnesses to the rest of the campus. Marx advises that you do not attend classes or enter the dining hall until you are fever-free for 48 hours without fever-reducing medications.

More so than the common cold, the Health Center advises you keep up to date on flu shots to avoid possible flu epidemics as well.

“We did have an outbreak of flu on campus last spring when everyone returned from winter break and it was miserable. The flu shot is safe and effective,” said Marx.

Walgreens is coming to campus on Oct. 1, 2, 14, 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to give flu shots — no appointment needed. Students must bring their health insurance card and a photo ID.

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