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College Tips
Aug 17th, 2011 Headlines

As lots of students are heading off to college for the first time, they may want to take with them a few important health tips.

Before teenagers leave their homes, it is essential that they are given the proper shots and vaccines. To prepare them for the upcoming college environment, the first item on the list is the meningitis shot.  It protects against a deadly type of bacterial meningitis, called Neisseria meningitis, which spreads through saliva. College kids live in dorms of close quarters and are therefore, the most at risk.  The CDC recommends that all kids get it around age 11 or 12. Depending on what type of vaccine the teen received, they may need to get a booster shot at age 16 to protect them through out their college years. A new study, however, reveals that only about half of teens are getting vaccinated.

Your college bound child, and really any child over the age of 6 months should get an annual flu shot.  It’s now one shot that will protect against seasonal flu and H1N1.  Most college campuses will have flu shot clinics. If not, make sure to arrange for them to be vaccinated when they come home for the holidays.  You also want to make sure that your child has received the full series of Hepatitis B vaccines. In addition, discuss the Gardasil vaccine, which protects against HPV or the human papilloma virus, with your pediatrician.

A common worry for many incoming college students is the “freshman fifteen.” Many college freshmen are very vulnerable to the weight gain due to their newfound freedom, where no one can tell them what to eat, or when to eat. Meanwhile, cafeterias provide unlimited amounts of food multiple times a day.  Some young adults can eat what they want and maintain a healthy weight, while others cannot. For some, those additional calories really do add up.  Make it a priority to warn your child about the pitfalls of eating too much food, and especially junk food.

Students can avoid gaining weight by making good choices. In the cafeteria, take a look at what is offered first. Don’t jump immediately into the salad bar line. There may be healthier options such as fresh vegetables or whole-grain pasta. If you’re ordering a pizza in the dorm, get a salad, too, so you won’t eat as many slices. Late-night snacking can become a bad habit that you will want to avoid.  In addition, watch your alcohol intake. Calories from alcohol definitely count, and it can make people less inhibited about things like eating.

College students don’t always get the best sleep either and over time, it can unfortunately take a toll.  They can develop daytime sleepiness, trouble concentrating in class, poor school performance, trouble with interpersonal relationships, and even depression.  They’re also at higher risk of car crashes.

To avoid this lack of sleep, here are a few quick sleeping tips. Firstly, try to stay away from pulling all nighters to study. You also want to avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, which can take up to 8 hours to wear off. It is extremely helpful to stick to a sleep schedule. Even on the weekends, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Students having continual trouble sleeping should see the school’s health provider.



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