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When we plan on going to college, we think about so many things related to it, including education, campus, and independent life. However, not all students actually have time to focus on the things that may seem less significant – for example, health care.

It might seem irrelevant at the moment. You’re going to start a new life, you have to make new friends, study new courses, manage your finances, and so on. Many students find all of these things already overwhelming enough.

However, learning to take better care of your health is also important. It’s even easier to get sick in college than in high school, because there are so many people living there permanently. If you catch a cold, you’ll have to recover on your own and then struggle to catch up with your classes, so naturally, it’s better to avoid getting sick. But how exactly can students do this?

While it’s impossible to protect yourself from everything, it’s still possible to minimize the risks of getting ill. Here’s how you can do that.

1. Wash or sanitize your hands as often as possible.

As you know, every surface touched by many people is full of germs. You pick them up when touching these surfaces and they accumulate on your hands when you don’t wash them for a long time. If you touch your face with dirty hands, this might cause acne or some kind of a rash. If you don’t wash your hands before touching your food, this might lead to you catching an illness, ones that could range from minor to serious.

Always make sure you wash your hands before eating. And if you don’t have the time or opportunity to do so, try carrying sanitizer with you and use it as often as possible.

2. Clean your room.

Some students don’t put much effort into a clean dorm. However, if you want to take better care of your health, you shouldn’t settle with basic cleaning. Picking up clothes from the floor will make your room look cozier, but it won’t help you avoid germs.

Proper room cleaning means wiping all the surfaces, sweeping the floor, and vacuuming the carpets. Sure, this might be a bit time-consuming, but still, try to do this at least once every couple of weeks.

3. Avoid sick people.

This might not be an easy thing to do, especially if you care about your sick friend or partner. Visiting them with a bowl of hot soup is okay – as long as you don’t stay for long. Avoid sitting next to visibly ill course mates to avoid catching a virus from them. And if you do catch a cold, do your best to stay in your room so you don’t infect others.

4. Take a first-aid kit to college with you.

Sure, this might seem like an unnecessary thing to do, especially when you have so many other things to pack. However, this will help you avoid the unpleasant experience of walking to the nearest drugstore when you’re already feeling sick.

Make sure you have everything you need, from flu treatments to meds that treat stomach diseases. Stock up when you’re running low on certain medications so you’re ready for next time.

5. Be careful with food and drinks.

If you can’t remember how long a certain food has been in your fridge, it’s better to throw it away than to eat it. Be careful when going shopping, too: pay attention to expiration dates and try to remember that some products spoil more quickly than others. This will help you avoid unpleasant stomach diseases and food poisoning.

Also, pay attention to your drinks. When you go to parties, don’t share your cup with anyone. Otherwise, you’ll be sharing all the germs and viruses along with them.

6. Don’t drink if you have antibiotics prescribed to you.

Mixing alcohol with antibiotics will have two unpleasant effects on your body. First, alcohol makes the antibiotics less effective, so if you drink, there’s a big chance you’ll take longer to recover.

Second, taking antibiotics is harmful to your liver as it is. Alcohol affects the liver too, so when you drink, you’re basically doubling the negative effect, making it harder for your body to recover from it.

Avoid drinking until you finish the whole course of your prescription. This will help you get better quicker and minimize the negative impact on your body.

7. Try to build a healthy lifestyle.

College life is overwhelming for many. When you find new friends, go to parties, and try to combine being social with studying, things like sleep and nutrition can seem less significant.

However, a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent illnesses, feel more energized and increase productivity. Getting enough sleep helps you stress less; moreover, getting enough rest is one of the best ways to stay motivated to study. Eating properly ensures that your body gets enough nutrients. Working out makes you stronger, more energized and strengthens your immune system as well. So try building a healthier lifestyle or at least some healthier habits, as this will benefit your health greatly.

Taking care of your health is not easy. It requires paying attention to your surroundings and your lifestyle. However, doing so will help you prevent illnesses and feel more energized during college years. Good luck – stay healthy!

This article was contributed by Lori Wade.