As temperatures drop across the country, cases of the cold and flu are on the rise, which is cause for concern on college campuses.
Around this time of year, some of the most common ailments are upper respiratory infections, cough, bronchitis and sore throats.
For many students, coming to college is their first time living away from home. They’re tasked to manage their diet and exercise habits while also maintaining a social life and academic success, causing an increase in illness around campus.
“Tarrant County just started seeing flu this last week,” said Kelle Tillman, the associate director of the Health Center at Texas Christian University.
According to Tillman, with the stress during finals week in the flu season, students get more fatigue, they get run down, causing their immunities to lower and their likeliness of getting sick to rise.
Based on a study conducted at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, cold, flu and upper respiratory infections have a significant impact on student’s grades. The study showed that 14 to 17 percent of students with colds did poorly on a test and about one-third of students did poorly on a test while fighting influenza-like symptoms.
A report by the Center for Disease Control states that last winter was one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory, with more than 80,000 death cases and the highest recorded hospitalization rate for flu-like symptoms ever recorded.
Students need to pay more attention to their health to prevent flu infections.
“Clean your room when you or your roommates are sick so you don’t spread that around”, sophomore kinesiology student Madison Taliaferro said. “Make sure dirty clothes are being washed regularly” and “disinfect any shared surfaces.”
Taliaferro also emphasized the importance of eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Students completely ignore their health when they are on campus,” said Wiley Hughes, a senior political science and criminal justice major at TCU. “You come here with very little life skills and how to take care of yourself by yourself and you just get distracted with school and wanting to hang with your friends.”
According to Hughes, it is easy for students to lose sight of their overall well-being while at college, because students put other aspects of their life before their health and realize it once it is too late.
One of the main causes of a decrease in wellness among college students is dealing with the stress of finals week. Hughes recalls a time his suitemate his freshman year was ill and studied for 11 hours the night before a final and woke up late for his final.
Hughes said that all students should take advantage of the dead days to regroup before finals week.
“I think the most important part of finals week is taking advantage of those dead days,” Hughes said. “Wake up later than you usually do, be well rested, have a good breakfast or an early lunch and you just need to come study. Sit down, study for a couple of hours, take a break go hang out with some friends or do something that you enjoy, study again.”
According to a study published in the Global Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, stress is felt at all levels of higher education as both undergraduate and graduate students experience similar levels of stress. According to this study, “some college students do not know how to properly prepare for a test and will perform poorly and are anxious as a result.”
In addition to washing hands, exercising and eating a healthy diet, Tillman suggests student should make sure to get enough sleep.
“It is amazing what the body needs to restore and reenergize from sleep,” she said.