The Vermont Cynic

College lifestyle increases chances of getting a cold

Tracey DeLade, Staff Writer

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As winter begins, students have to protect themselves from more than just the cold. They must also guard against getting sick.

The change in weather heralds the spread of sore throats, agitated asthma, viruses like influenza and, of course, the common cold.

According to WebMD’s website, cold and flu season typically starts in early September and can last all the way until April.

Though being chilly or wet has no direct correlation to catching a cold, “cold weather may play a role because it leads you to spend more time indoors, where you’re in closer contatc to people who are contagious,” the website states.

With students’ time devoted to midterms and final exams and less to rest and self care, the stress of the winter season can affect their health, according to an Oct. 12 USA Today article.

The articles states that many students don’t get enough sleep or eat properly due to irregular schedules and are thus more vulnerable to disease.

Most students know the tips on how to stay healthy, but “not having anyone to take care of you,” sophomore Elizabeth Dybas said, “makes it hard to listen to your own advice.”

Students are unable to go through the semester without getting a hint of the common cold, she said, speaking to her own experience.

Dybas conquered her cold with “lots of DayQuil, lots of NyQuil and lots of rest,” she said.

Students can purchase over-the-counter cold medicine at stores on campus like the CAT Pause convenience store.

In addition to prescription medications, the UVM Medical Center pharmacy carries over-the-counter allergy medicine, tissues and ice packs.

According to the UVM Center for Health and Wellbeing’s website, UVM Student Health Services offers flu shots for students from October to March.

Sophomore Haley Gearwar’s tip for staying healthy in the winter can make all the difference.

“Wash your hands regardless of whether you are going to the bathroom or not. Wash them when you eat and even if you are already sick,” Gearwar said.

Remembering to wash your hands before you eat is not the top priority for most college students, sophomore Blaise Colbert-Vrana said, who often forgets to wash them prior to eating.

The dining halls have sanitizer dispensers on the walls throughout the cafeteria for a more convenient way to keep hands germ-free before and after a meal.

Avoiding germs in the winter can be impossible because “we are all indoors, taking the bus and in crowded spaces,” Gearwar said.

Dining halls aren’t just good for their free hand sanitizer. Cold-fighting foods like citrus, yogurt and tea are also available.

A Sept. 2015 Health magazine article states that eating superfoods like these can prevent the contraction of the common cold.

Colbert-Vrana said that when he gets sick, he eats a lot of oranges, but foods are not the only important factor to keep an eye on in students’ winter health.

A 2004 study by the University of New Hampshire found that cold weather leads to varying degrees of dehydration.

Drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods help to maintain a happy, healthy body and avoid sickness, the WebMD’s website states.

Students like sophomore Emily Gilman and first-year Simone Withers stay healthy by “exercising regularly to help decrease stress, and promote better sleep” Withers said.

Their advice on exercisewas supported by a Nov. 2010 BBC article.

According to the article, studies show that staying active nearly halves the risk of contracting a cold, and furthermore makes the infection less severe.

“Bouts of exercise spark a temporary rise in immune system cells circulating around the body that attack foreign invaders.”

In addition to her endorsement of an active lifestyle, Gilman said that sleep is important thing for staying healthy.

When it comes down to avoiding or getting over those winter sniffles, “just sleep as much as you can,” she said.

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College lifestyle increases chances of getting a cold