College campuses are flu factories. I cannot sit in class or the library for more than five minutes without hearing someone cough, sneeze or sniffle. As I have a cough attack in my bed, I wonder why are college students always so sick. Why does it feel like the college "plague" is knocking out students left and right? Below are a few reasons why I think college students are especially prone to flu season:
1. Sleep Deprivation
The average sleep requirement for adolescents is between nine to nine and a half hours. However, college students are notorious for not getting enough sleep. College is characterized by late nights studying, partying, and hanging with friends. Eventually, all the lost sleep accumulates progressively as a larger and larger sleep indebtedness, which increases one's chances of catching the latest virus circulating campus.
Besides the obvious (school work), college can be characterized by stress that stems from many different factors. Whether it be sharing a room, navigating campus, managing time, or trying to make new friends, college is filled with new experiences that could overwhelm the average student. There is a link between stress and illness, which therefore leads to more widespread illnesses on college campuses.
For the first time in 18 years, college students have to feed themselves. They can no longer be reliant on their parent's home-cooked meals that encourage a balanced diet, rather they have to maintain their own healthy diet. Finding healthy food options on campus can definitely be a struggle, and many students pig out on junk food that will ultimately make them sick.
4. Hygiene Issues
There are a lot of germs that can spread through door handles, stair railings, elevator buttons, and even red Solo cups. Furthermore, people that live in dorms are even more susceptible to illnesses, as they come in contact with more common surfaces. Due to the sustained patterns of social interactions among college students, widespread illnesses have become a part of the nature of college campuses.
5. Night Life
College students are exposed to new experiences that high school did not offer. They now have easier access to parties and going out at night. It is vital for college students to not push their bodies to the limits by going out too much and by abusing alcohol and drugs. Substance abuse puts students at risk illnesses, as it lowers their resistance, and thus leads to more students in the flu factory.
6. Lack of Exercise
Physical activity can improve your health and reduce your risk of developing illnesses. Due to poor time management skills, many college students do not find the time to stay fit and exercise. The lack of exercising and physical activity can increase one's chances of catching a virus.
7. No Parental Supervision
Students have the freedom to do make whatever decisions they want, as there are no parents around. As a result, many do not take care of themselves, they push themselves to the limit, and sometimes make bad decisions. Often times, college students do not prioritize their health, and this is problematic, as they do not have someone looking out for them anymore. As a result, college students are constantly in a never ending cycle of catching illnesses.
So college students, please take care of yourselves. Lets end this flu factory culture on college campuses!