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Albright College

TIP OF THE MONTH
September

STAYING HEALTHY AT COLLEGE

Along with getting to class on time, completing assignments, studying and having extracurricular activities, you also have to worry about your health and wellness. If you're not feeling your best, getting to class may be a chore. Assignments, studying and activities may not be at their best either.

Several items factor into the difficulties of staying healthy. Some of these include lack of sleep, exposure to crowded classrooms and residence halls, and risky behaviors. These factors in turn can make students especially vulnerable to depression, and various infections including sexually transmitted infections.

Loneliness, hormonal changes (the result of a specific illness, hormonal contraception or anabolic steroids), worry about career goals, frustrated love affairs and even money problems can lead to depression. It can manifest itself as a lack of appetite (or, conversely, weight gain), insomnia or feeling chronically tired; beyond what you might expect after a late night. If you feel abnormally sad or anxious, discuss it with a mental health professional at the Gable Health and Counseling Center, depression can be lessened with counseling and medication.

College students are especially vulnerable to respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu, infectious mononucleosis, strep throat, and even the mumps. Meningococcal disease, or bacterial meningitis, is particularly dangerous. Its symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, exhaustion and a rash. Meningitis can progress rapidly and may become fatal within hours. Meningitis is spread by close personal contact (kissing, sharing drinks or cigarettes or living in crowded conditions). Early in its course, it can be treated with penicillin. Most cases can be prevented by the meningococcal vaccine.

Studies have shown one out of four teens that are sexually active are believed to have a sexually transmitted infection. Abstinence can prevent these infections and condoms can reduce their risk. The most common sexually transmitted infections are Chlamydia and genital herpes, which aren't life threatening, but HIV/AIDS is. A significant concern is the growing number of students developing HIV, 13% of the new cases in 2004 occurred in young people ages 13 to 24.

Here are some keys to staying well-regular exercise, a healthy diet, relaxing, getting enough sleep and dealing with any chronic physical or emotional problems as they arise.

Have a safe, happy and HEALTHY September.

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