How to Stay Healthy in the (Disgusting) Dorms

“The flu is going around” “Strep is going around” “Stomach virus is going around” … Basically every sickness ever is going around! So how do you stay healthy in the midst of a germ-filled storm?

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The dorms should be renamed “The Infirmary for College Students”. Why? Because every sickness you could think of is most likely going around each floor.

Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. Dorms are nasty!!

As a germaphobe and person blessed with the worst immune system ever, I was constantly developing sinus infections and stomach flus while living in the dorms. My sicknesses got so prevalent that taking a trip to the health center became a part of my weekly schedule.

Eventually, I decided that enough was enough. While going to the doctor and taking whatever medicine they prescribed (usually an antibiotic) temporarily solved my problems, I kept getting ill and starting back at point A. So, how did I fix my dorm sickness for good?

1. Wash, Wash, Wash Hands

Touched a doorknob? Wash your hands. Touched the bathroom counter? Wash your hands. Touched anything at all outside of your room? Wash your hands.

Yeah, I know. Washing your hands after everything seems extra, but it definitely is the number one way to prevent getting sick. According to research from the University of Colorado Boulder, we carry around 3,200 bacteria from 150 species on our hands. Gross. During cold and flu season, harmful bacteria are everywhere.

Still thinking about eating that sandwich after not washing your hands? Didn’t think so! End of story, wash your hands.

2. Get at Least 7-8 Hours of Sleep Each Night

When you sleep, you’re not only getting beauty rest — you’re actually healing. During sleep, your body releases cytokines which help prevent disease and infections. Think of sleep as a natural medicine. Value sleep because you can’t make up lost hours!

Ready for crazier facts that will make you start partying less and sleeping more? According to researchers in the United Kingdom and Italy, sleeping less than 6 hours a night increases your chances of a premature death by 12 percent. Get sleep.

(Need help improving your sleep? See our guide to the best sleeping tips for college students.)

3. Avoid Drinking, Eating or Sharing Anything with Sick People

Yum, Sarah’s chocolate chip cookie looks sooo good. Plus, she’s offering you a bite. Rumor around the floor is that Sarah has a cold. Do you try it even though she barely touched it?

Obvious answer: No!

Actions of most college students: Try cookie, FREE FOOD!

Guess what? A single mouth contains around 6 billion bacteria. That means that Sarah would be transferring thousands of bacteria by sharing her cookie with you. If Sarah is sick, she’s very likely transmitting bacteria that can — surprise — make you sick too.

4. Lower Stress Levels

People with high stress are much more likely to get sick. FACTs. When you’re stressed, you feel like the world is caving in on you, especially when the dorm cold hits you and causes you to miss class.

In order to lower your stress levels and chances at getting sick, focus on exercising daily, meditating, getting more sleep, and talking to a therapist! In short, do your self care.

5. Try Natural Remedies

I am SO over the medical trend of prescribing antibiotics for everything. According to the CDC, they’re prescribed unnecessarily 30% of the time, which is contributing to deaths from antibiotic resistant bacteria. And newsflash: Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, which includes colds and the flu.

Natural remedies, however, are amazing and can work wonders. Start taking multivitamins, vitamin C supplements (vitamins or orange juice), drink water and get fresh air outside! All of these things will do more for the common cold than an antibiotic.

Obviously, if you are deathly ill and your doctor says you need them, take the antibiotics! (Pneumonia, for instance, responds to antibiotics.) However, if you just have a cold, try the natural stuff first and you might be surprised at how well it works.

How do you avoid getting dorm sickness?

Although these solutions are SO basic and you definitely already know them, ACT on them. Be mindful about who you’re around and what you touch. Often, people (myself included) look past the potential negative effects of being sick.

Don’t be that person!

What are your best tricks to overcoming dorm sicknesses? Comment below!

3 thoughts on “How to Stay Healthy in the (Disgusting) Dorms”

  1. I’m too lazy to find the research on this right now, but zinc is proven to work better than vitamin C at keeping away colds and recovering from them faster! Also PLEASE don’t take antibiotics if it’s not 100% proven you need them. This is such a horrible trend and doctors should know better, but I know they get prescribed left and right, esp at colleges

    • It’s definitely important to take antibiotics when your doctor prescribes them, even if it’s not necessarily 100% proven to be necessary. Sure, maybe doctors should know better than to prescribe antibiotics more than necessary, but they’re also prescribed for very important reasons – bacterial infections are serious, especially because they can spread to other parts of your body and become very dangerous very quickly. Doctors are human, but they’re humans with a lot of training- so it’s important to follow their advice and take your medication as prescribed.


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