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Biology Majors Offer Advice On How to Beat Illnesses On Campus

by Tori Phillips

Most college students have experienced some form of sickness at least once in their lifetimes, but undergrads are even more prone to illnesses than children. Whether these bugs come from lack of personal hygiene, exposure to someone else with the germs, epidemics, or stress, these illnesses could pose hazards for undergrads.

Tori Sickness 2

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Although some people know that common illnesses could lead to serious health problems, what they fail to realize is how one these common afflictions are contracted.

“Strep is caused by bacteria; meanwhile, the common cold, the flu, and mononucleosis are caused by viruses,” said Randy McKahan, a senior Biology major. “Absolutely, definitely, positively stress plays a role in contracting illnesses.”

The problem with stress playing a role is that there is no way to measure its impact on an individual’s health.

“Stress will lower immune responses, but to what degree will vary per person,” Stephen Moore, a junior Biology major, said.

Moore also addressed an important factor in why college students are more prone to falling sick: “ Mono and Strep are also caused by living in close spaces, but you probably need some fluid, such as sharing a drink, to contract.”

Moore advised students to stay away from certain items when they have a cold or other sickness.

“Certain things, like sugars found in fruits, and milk cause the body to produce more saliva to break them down which also causes more mucus and thus more coughing,” he explained. “When you are sick most of the symptoms come from your own body. A runny nose, or a cough are actually your own body’s response to an infection.”  

Tori - SicknessUnlike many illnesses, the common cold could affect any person of any age, and, if left untreated, tends to develop into a much worse condition.

“If you have a cold, and you start feeling worse, coughing up green or yellow mucus, and a fever, you might have developed bronchitis,” McKahan said. “If your symptoms are still sticking around after a week and you are still feeling bad, it is time to go to the doctor.”

Bronchitis, the inflammation of the bronchial tubes which transfer oxygen to and from the lungs, is more common in people ages six and up and spreads via three different ways: coughing or sneezing, saliva, or contact with a contaminated object.

When students fall sick, its usually due to an aspect of lifestyle, culture, and personal care, which is why McKahan and Moore strongly advise students to maintain a clean environment, participate in regular hand-washing, and try over-the-counter medicines before seeking a doctor for severe illnesses.

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