Flu Prevention Tips for College Students

Close living quarters, shared bathrooms, cafeteria-style meals: the daily routine of a college student is a breeding ground for germs to spread. Since flu season is just upon us, it is important for college kids to reduce their risk for contracting this debilitating illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 10 to 20 percent of people in the United States get the flu each season. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized by flu complications, and about 36,000 people actually die from the flu.
For college students, being sidelined by the flu not only means serious aches and pains, but it also means missed days of classwork and homework, not to mention no Friday night frat parties for a few weeks.
To reduce your risk for getting the flu, follow these health tips:

  • Consider getting the flu shot. For the first time, the CDC has recommended that everyone six months and older receive the flu shot. This year’s flu shot is a combination vaccine that contains protection against both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus that caused a near pandemic last year.
  • Wash your hands frequently. The need for washing your hands often and thoroughly is absolutely necessary and vital for the prevention of germ spread. Plain old soap and water will do and you should wash your hands long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” two times. Wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating, upon returning home from class, after using gym equipment and any other time that you are out and exposed to other people and their germs.
  • Get plenty of rest: A good part of preventing getting sick is taking care of yourself. While college kids are known for surviving on a mere few hours of sleep a night, lack of sleep weakens the immune system and makes you more susceptible to having a virus attack and take hold of you. Aim for eight hours a night.
  • Eat fresh: You’ll further strengthen your flu-prevention power by upping your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Just one orange contains your vitamin C recommendation for the day. But don’t just stock up at one piece of fruit a day to keep you healthy. Aim to make fruit and veggies the mainstay of your diet. The vitamins and minerals found in plant-based foods have powerful immune-boosting effects (and you just might notice your clothes feel a bit less snug, too.)

Flu season lasts from November through March. Incorporate these healthy behavior tips into your day-to-day routine today, and stick with them to stay flu-free.