The turn of a new year is commonly referred to as the cold and flu season. This is true at Waynesburg University, where the spring semester typically brings an influx of students to Student Health Services.
Jennifer Dean, nurse director of student health services, said the increase in students who come in sick is not unusual for this time of year.
“Sometimes it hits sooner, sometimes it hits later, but usually this time of year we are busy,” Dean said.
According to Dean, there are multiple reasons why students get sick when they return for the second half of the school year.
“We mostly see colds and flus at this time of year,” Dean said. “Most students, you think they’d get well rested when they go on break, but actually they’re home sharing germs and then a lot of them come back to campus sick. It’s just a weakened immune system that usually gets students. It’s a lack of sleep, the stress, the poor diet, and then all of a sudden they find themselves sick.”
Another main cause, according to Dean, is the time students spend with each other on a daily basis.
“You’re in a shared space,” Dean said. “You’re in a shared living quarter, you’re in a shared place of eating. When you have common places and you have a lot of people in there, it just happens.”
Will Purbaugh, a junior accounting major, recently became sick and attributed his ailment to his roommate.
“I had a stuffy nose, I felt congested in my head,” Purbaugh said. “My roommate got sick about three days before I got sick and I think I just caught it.”
Dean suggested some ways to combat illness on campus that may prevent a trip to Student Health Services.
“Sleep, good nutrition, try to de-stress and the best way to prevent it is to wash your hands,” Dean said. “Be mindful of what you’re touching and then you touch your face, touch your mouth so you’re transmitting those germs from whatever you touched to your body. So the best way to prevent disease is to wash your hands.”
Purbaugh, who often gets sick this time of year, was fortunate enough to shake the illness by himself.
“I just tried to get a lot of sleep, drink a lot of water, get some rest,” Purbaugh said. “It usually happens around January or February. You know, the change in weather, that’s what usually causes it.”
If students aren’t able to get over their illness on their own accord, they can visit Student Health Services to get a complete examination.
“When they come to see us, we check them for temperature, their blood pressure, we do an assessment, we ask them the history of their illness and we kind of see where they are,” Dean said. “So depending on what they show after that assessment depends on whether we just give them over the counter medicines to try and get them through it and treat the symptoms or we may send them to MedExpress or we’ll make an appointment with our doctor who’s the medical director.”
For students who are becoming sick, Dean mentioned an online source to help combat illness on campus.
“We also have a lot of good information on our student health tab on MyConnect,” Dean said. “It lists a lot of handouts with the most common things we see with students, so they can look and see how to help themselves, how to treat the symptoms and when they should see a doctor.”