Why do college kids get sick so often?

I feel it is necessary to write about this because not only have I gotten really sick in the almost nine weeks I’ve been at Penn State, but I know for a fact a lot of other people have too because of the constant coughing I hear in all of my classes. I just recently recovered from being sick for two weeks. I had a cough, runny nose, and a fever. Not fun. I thought it was just because I came from California, where the weather is perfect, to Pennsylvania where the climate is completely different. I reached out to my friends back home, and a lot of them had gotten sick as well. I knew there must be something deeper going on. The null hypothesis, where it is believed nothing is going on, is that all these college students just got sick at the same time out of mere chance. The alternative hypothesis is that there are many different variables, that usually aren’t taken into account, playing a role in college students, like myself, getting sick. I have a general idea of why college students would get sick. My doctor told me that I am surrounded by germs in my dorm so that could cause my sickness. I also don’t get much sleep, and my mom being a nurse has told me that if I don’t get enough sleep, my immune system can weaken. So with this basic knowledge, I did some further research to find factual reasons why college students get sick.


I first looked into if sleep weakens my immune system and if that would cause me to get sick more easily. I cam across a blog called The Reason College Kids Get Sick. According to the blog, when a student gets a lack of sleep, their resistance wears down and they are more susceptible to getting sick. My only question was what did they mean by resistance? I understand that they mean a resistance to sickness but I looked into it some more. According to this article I found, sleep and lack of it affect the immune system. The immune system is the resistance to any sickness you encounter. What I know about the immune system is that if you continuously get sick, your immune system weakens every time. So if sleep is interrelated with the immune system, then you should be getting more sleep to maintain it.

Another cause of sickness is exposure to germs in the dorms. I am aware that being around all different kinds of people. The bathrooms are very dirty and it is very easy to spread germs and get other peoples germs. According to the department of health, there are two types of germs which are bacteria and viruses. These are easily contracted in dorm style living. This article says that if any of these germs get into your body, it can stop regular body processes and make you sick.

Overall, having good hygiene and having good habits can help you prevent getting sick. My alternative hypothesis was correct. There are third variables that cause college students to get sick easily. No matter where you start college at, you are bound to get sick. Being around new people can help you socially but can also harm your immune system so just make sure to have good hygiene and get good sleep. This will at least lessen your chance of getting sick.




4 thoughts on “Why do college kids get sick so often?

  1. sjb6039

    I can easily relate to this post as I caught a cold about two weeks into the semester. Since then, I have not gotten sick again, however my roommate can’t seem to catch a break. First she had a cold and a terrible caught. Then the cold somehow turned into an ear infection. She finally recovered from the ear infection, however her caught still has not gone away, and to make things worse she just got a staph infection on her leg (gross I know). My roommate and I are extremely clean people, so we wondered, why is I’m roommate having so many problems? Our hypothesis is that she may have gotten the cold and staph infection from the gym, as nobody really cleans the machines. In addition, i agree with you that it may due to exposure to germs in the dorms. This article discusses the commonness of staph infections on college campuses: http://ndsmcobserver.com/2007/11/staph-infection-common-on-college-campuses/

  2. Taryn S Linker

    This post is an interesting read! I’ve been sick for most of my time here this year with a cough and congestion that doesn’t seem to go away. I live in supplemental with seven other girls, so it’s not uncommon that we’re sick all the time. Currently, all of us seem to have the same symptoms as we’re coughing in sync with one another. It’s important to clean the dorm every so often to eliminate germs (disinfecting the door handle especially). Here is an article that talks about some factors in college dorms that contribute to specific health issues and sicknesses.


  3. Alexander Roker

    I did not previously know that a lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to illness. This can definitely lead to illness in college, because so many of us get less sleep than we need. I found an article that substantiated this, saying that a lack of sleep can in fact make you sick. However, I would love to see a study to see how science would prove this. A randomized control trial in which one group sleeps less and one group is the control could do the trick. Also, an observational study that surveyed a subject’s eating habits and then observed their health patterns would work too.

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