A month into the new semester, and lecture halls are filled with coughing and sniffing students. Every convenient store on campus has to constantly restock their shelves with cold medicine and cough drops to meet the demands of sick students. So why is everyone sick, with what has been nicknamed the Penn State plague?
Brown University estimated in a study that in one year, people in the U.S. suffer 1 billion colds.
Germs are everywhere. According to the Health Center at Virginia Tech, shaking hands, kissing, touching doorknobs, desktops, phones, remotes, sharing drinks, catching a sneeze or cough in the face, all put you at risk.
“College campuses are a “hot zone” of upper respiratory viruses,” according to an article published by Virginia Tech called Common Cold and the College Student. They attribute this to the large number of sick students in close proximity to each other.
You’ve heard it before, but the best way to stay as germ free as possible is frequent and thorough hand washing. The Health Center at Virginia Tech called hand washing “the single greatest preventive measure you can perform to stay well!”
Here’s a quick guide on how, and when to wash your hands, courtesy of the Health Center at Virginia Tech: “Wash hands returning from class, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, and after using the bathroom. Wash hands with soap and water, rubbing for 20 seconds, dry and use the towel to turn off faucet and open door.”
It is not that your immune system suddenly gets weaker when you get to college, rather, there are just more germs and new germs that your body doesn’t know how to fight off.
Brown University advises students to get enough rest, stay hydrated, and take medicine to beat a cold.