The Top 7 Physical Health Issues in College Students


Oct 11, 2021
physical health issues in college students

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College is an exciting time in your life! It’s a chance to further your education and meet new people. Of course, between classes and extracurricular activities, you have a lot on your plate. This causes your body to become run down. Also, living in dorms can cause illnesses to spread faster. Here are the top seven physical health issues in college students you should look out for.

1. Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, which covers the brain and spinal cord.  There are multiple forms of the disease, from bacterial to viral. The viral one is more common and usually less severe.

Some of the common symptoms of meningitis include:

  • Confusion.
  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Stiff neck.

College students are more at risk because they live in close quarters, which allows the illness to spread more quickly. Getting the vaccine is the best form of prevention against the virus.

There are two main types of vaccines you can get: Meningococcal and Serogroup B. Most schools require proof of vaccination before entering the institution. Besides getting the vaccine, washing your hands regularly and not sharing cups or utensils with others can help prevent the spread.

2. Common Cold and Flu

These infections are two of the most common physical health issues in college students. Living in dorms causes the virus to spread faster. College students also attend more social events where they are in close contact with their peers. Students gather together during class and may share specific equipment. In science labs, students often share microscopes, for example.

To prevent the cold and flu, here some things you can do:

  • Get a flu vaccine.
  • Wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Stay hydrated.

 3. Sexually Transmitted Infections

College is usually a time for students to explore new relationships. Unfortunately, sometimes, students don’t always follow safe sex practices. Alcohol can also lead students to make poor decisions. Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, can clear up with medications. Others, such as HIV, have longer-lasting or tragic effects.

To prevent the spread of these infections, get vaccinated against HPV and practice safe sex. You also may want to get tested regularly if you’re sexually active.

4. Poor Sleeping Patterns

Many college students have a lot to juggle with classes and their social life. This may cause them to stay up later to get their work done. College students might also be tempted to give up sleep to stay at a party longer.

Trying to balance it all can lead to poor sleep hygiene. On average, most college students get six hours of sleep per night. However, most adults need at least seven to nine hours to function well.

Sleep is important to restore your energy and fight off illness. It can also help improve your overall mental health.

Here are some tips to help you sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed:

  • Increase your exposure to bright light during the day.
  • Reduce blue light exposure (from screens and devices) in the evening.
  • Consume caffeine only in the morning.
  • Reduce long daytime naps.
  • Wake up and go to sleep at consistent times.

5. Not Exercising Enough

With college students’ busy schedules, working out may not be at the top of their minds. Students involved in clubs also need to set aside time to go to meetings and events. This makes finding the right time to exercise tricky.

However, working out is essential to keep your body healthy and your bones strong. It can also improve your mood and help you fall asleep faster.

Here are some ways you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine:

  • Go to the campus gym if you have access to one.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Work out with friends or take an exercise class.
  • Listen to music or watch television when you work out.
  • Keep track of your progress.

6.  Poor Eating Habits 

Having an improper diet is another physical health issue in college students. Ramen is a go-to culinary staple for college students because it’s quick and easy. However, this is not the healthiest option.

Other students eat in the on-campus cafeteria. Some campuses do a better job than others of providing fruits and vegetables. Stress can also increase students’ unhealthy snacking habits.

Here are some tips to help you eat a more balanced meal while on campus:

  • Make time for breakfast.
  • Get to know all your dining options.
  • Put away your technology when eating.
  • Drink water throughout the day.
  • Stay on a consistent schedule.

7. Alcohol Temptation

Drinking is often a part of college life. It’s even more prevalent on campuses offering sororities and fraternities. The temptation to drink can lead to physical issues, such as impaired judgment and blackouts. Drinking too much alcohol can eventually cause liver problems, too.

Here are some tips to help you drink responsibly during your nights out:

  • Eat beforehand.
  • Continue to drink water.
  • Charge your phone before going out.
  • Drink at a steady pace.
  • Know your limits.

Common Physical Health Issues in College Students

College life can be fun and exciting! But, like anything else, it comes with its stressors. Balancing schoolwork and a social life can take a toll on your body, so keep these common physical health issues in college students top-of-mind as you go through the next four years.

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