Common Illnesses to Watch out for in College

Common Illnesses to Watch out for in College
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    Starting College can be hectic and stressful, with so many details to sort out – everything from your accommodation to buying textbooks and more.


However, staying healthy should also be on your priority list, since simply attending college and residing in shared accommodation can present new health challenges you did not have to face in high school. These are just a few of the top illnesses affecting college students:


This illness causes the brain and spinal chord to swell, and it can be deadly or produce serious consequences, including permanent neurological damage and cause hearing loss, learning difficulties, seizures, kidney problems and more.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that first year college student living in dorms be vaccinated against the A, C, W and Y strains of meningitis (combined vaccines such as Menactra and Menveo are available). Those who have received this vaccine before they turned 16 should have a booster shot for optimal protection. Some colleges actually oblige students to have this vaccine.


When using shared showers or public pools, make sure to use footwear, since tinea (or athlete’s foot), a resistant fungal infection, is highly contagious. If you have contracted this infection, see a doctor. The treatment for tinea usually comprises an over-the-counter ointment or spray, though in severe cases, anti-fungal pills will be recommended.


This common illness, caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, brings about intense fatigue and flu-like symptoms such as sore throat and fever. Symptoms can be so intense that they can cause students to lose a term of college, since many patients find it impossible to get out of bed and carry out their daily tasks.

This illness is spread through direct contact with saliva. Therefore, be wary about sharing drinks and utensils with roommates and friends. The virus can take up to seven weeks for symptoms to show up so someone who is infected can spread it without being aware of the fact.

Strep infections

Catching colds and flus almost seems a given in the winter, but if you have strep, you need to take action. Strep is a bacterial infection that thrives in dorms and preys on weakened immune systems. What differentiates strep from a normal sore throat is the intensity of symptoms when strep is present.

Watch out for a sore throat that comes on very quickly, a fever (over 101ºF), swelling and redness in your tonsils, fever, a headache, white areas at the back of your soft or hard palate or on your tonsils, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Also look for tiny red spots in the back part of the roof of your mouth. Because strep is a bacterial infection, you will probably be prescribed antibiotics. If you catch strep, make sure to keep a distance from others, since it is very contagious and can be passed on by shaking hands, sneezing, etc.

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College is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a person’s life, yet research shows that up to 44 per cent of college students display symptoms of depression and many do not approach professionals to obtain a diagnosis and treatment. Depression can arise from living away from one’s family for the first time, struggling to fit in and make new friends, and from having to fulfil conflicting academic/ social demands.

Closely linked to depression are eating disorders, as students struggle to appear more attractive by trying to fit into body stereotypes. On the other side of the scale, obesity from unhealthy eating is also one of our tertiary students’ greatest health concerns.


Research indicates that college students are at the highest risk for STDs. Sometimes STDs can exist without displaying symptoms, so a yearly check is indicated. The CDC recommends that women of college age be vaccinated against the HPV (human papilloma virus). HPV is the most common of all STDs and some HPV viruses can cause certain cancers and skin issues.

The virus is spread through sexual contact with someone who has it. HIV infection is another big concern during the college years, since it is a chronic illness that can seriously hamper one’s quality of life. Although medical advances are being made in so far as slowing down the onslaught of HIV, the disease still takes thousands of lives every year.

College Campus reference:

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Categories: Student Health