Common Health Issues Affecting Students

There are many common health issues that can affect college students. The health issues can be quite severe if the proper precautions are not taken to avoid them. Please read more about the health problems below to stave off colds, flu, and more and learn how to reduce your risk of these common health issues facing college students.

Please note that the following information below has been collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Move It

You should get at least 2½ hours of physical activity a week. Regular activity helps improve your overall health and fitness. It also reduces your risk for many chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Find something you enjoy, such as jogging or running, dancing, or playing sports.

Balance Your Diet

Fruits and vegetables are a natural source of energy and are the best eat-on-the-go foods. Eat regular healthy meals to help keep up your energy. Cafeterias, all-you-can-eat dining facilities, vending machines, and easy access to food 24 hours a day make it tempting to overeat or choose foods loaded with calories, saturated fat, sugar, and salt. Or, on the other hand, you may not eat enough because of stress or other reasons. If you are concerned about your weight, talk with your health care provider about diet, physical activity, and other issues you are concerned about.

Eating disorders are serious medical problems and are more common in females than males. Although they are marked by severe disturbances in eating behavior, they are more than just a problem with food. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are all types of eating disorders. Eating disorders often develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur during childhood or later in adulthood.

Get Vaccinated

Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. Vaccinations are needed throughout your adult life to help you stay healthy. Be sure to ask your health care provider about getting vaccinated against meningitis, human papillomavirus (HPV), whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, flu, and other diseases. You can also take this  simple quiz to determine which vaccines you need and create a printout to take to your next health care appointment.

Get Adequate Sleep

It’s a challenge in college to pull late-nighters studying and still get enough sleep to function.

Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day, although individual needs vary. Lack of sleep can be a risk factor for many chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and depression. Students who work or study long hours may not get enough sleep at night. As a result, they may be sleepy and sluggish during the day and have trouble concentrating, participating in class, taking tests, or making decisions. Sleepiness can also cause car and machinery-related crashes, which cause significant rates of injury and disability each year. Driving while sleepy can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Both are preventable!

Quick Tips:

  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Have a good sleeping environment. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and relaxing.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
  • Avoid pulling an all-nighter to study.
  • See your health care provider if you continue to have trouble sleeping.

Maintain Mental Health

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, and can help you deal with a tense situation, study harder for an exam, or keep your focus during an important speech. But if you cannot shake your worries and concerns, or if the feelings make you want to avoid everyday activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Everybody has the blues, feels anxious, or gets stressed at times. But depression is more than a bad day. Depression often goes unrecognized and untreated and may lead to tragic results, such as suicide. For youth between ages 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Suicide is a serious--but preventable--problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.

Quick Tips:

  • Develop a support network of friends. Campus and extracurricular activities such as athletics and student clubs are great ways to meet new friends.
  • If you have concerns about your study habits or coursework load, talk with teachers, counselors, family members, and friends for advice and support.
  • Stay active. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp. It can also reduce your risk for depression, and it may help you sleep better.
  • Visit your school or local health clinic, and discuss your concerns with a health professional. If the health professional advises treatment, follow instructions. Attend follow-up appointments to track your progress, and watch for side effects from any medications that may be prescribed.
  • If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, get help from a counselor or health care provider.