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Avoiding the Flu in College

Dorms can be a lot of fun until someone gets really sick. Disease has the potential to spread through college communal living spaces just as it does though a Dickensian orphanage. Remember all the quarantines set up on college campuses during the swine flu epidemic? While we think of ourselves as more sophisticated than our Victorian predecessors in terms of personal hygiene, college kids — blame it on the immortality complex — are a little more lackadaisical when it comes to things like washing sheets, sneezing into hankies and sharing food and dishes. Add to that a lack of sleep and a boozed-down immune system, and it’s pretty easy to get sick in college.

But just because it’s easy to get sick doesn’t mean it’s hard to prevent it, either. First adapt your daily living habits, and make an effort to eat healthier, take vitamins and supplements like Vitamin C, and get plenty of rest. These little tricks will pump up your immune system, giving your body an extra shield against cold and flu germs. You can also keep your room a little cleaner: throw out tissues, napkins, and other disposable personal items that spread germs, and regularly disinfect your keyboard, mouse, doorknobs and other communal surfaces. Don’t share drinking glasses or bottles, and don’t even share food: or at least pour out the chips and cereal instead of reaching in with your hands to fill up your plates.

Regular hand washing is often touted by health professionals and the CDC as one of the most effective things you can do to prevent getting sick. You can carry wipes or hand sanitizer, but washing your hands before and after you eat, use the restroom, and just throughout the day will lower your risk of ingesting germs. Touching your mouth and face less helps, too. Encourage your roommates and suitemates to sneeze into tissues and wash their hands too, and avoid classmates who cough and sneeze with abandon. Hopefully they’ll have already been quarantined by that point.

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