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Consider this College Health 101—a guide to what students really want (or need) to know about their mental and physical health when they’re away from home.
College students facing their first illness, accident, or anxiety away from home often flip-flop between wanting to handle it themselves and wishing their parents could swoop in and fix everything. Advice from peers and “Dr. Google” can be questionable.The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook provides accurate, trustworthy, evidence-based medical information (served with a dose of humor) to reduce anxiety and stress and help set appropriate expectations for more than fifty common issues.
What if you can’t sleep well (or can’t sleep at all) in your dorm room? What if a pill “gets stuck” in your throat? What if your roommate falls asleep (or passes out) wearing contacts, and wakes up with one painfully stuck? Your friend’s terrible sore throat isn’t Strep or Mono? What else could it be? What if everyone from your group project thinks they’re coming down with the flu the day before your presentation?
Dr. Jill Grimes has the answer to these questions and many more. Her guidebook is designed to help you:
- Decide if and when to seek medical help
- Know what to expect when you get there
- Plan for the worst-case scenario if you don’t seek help
- Learn how you can prevent this in the future
- Realize what you can do right now, before you see a doctor
- Understand the diagnostic and treatment options
The topics of tattoos, smoking, vaping, pot, piercings, and prescription drugs will also be tackled throughout the pages of this handbook, ensuring you, your roommates, and your friends have a healthy semester.
5 Must-Have Items for Your College Freshman
You’re making a list and checking it twice…because especially if this is your FIRST kid heading off to college, you want to be sure you’ve included every critical item.
• Twin XL (Extra Long)Sheets? Check.
• Command Strips in every shape, size and strength? Check.
(Much bigger deal for girls vs. guys, but this is the only way to hang stuff on walls.)
• Dorm Bed Risers? (I highly recommend the ones with extra outlets.) Check.
• Chargers, fan, laundry bag, clothes, shoes, coats…the list goes on. And on. And ON. What could possibly be missing? From my perspective as a seasoned move-in mom and a university doctor, here’s my list of the top five forgotten items:
1. Small Tool Kit: Hammer, screwdrivers, wrench set, pliers, scissors, tape measure and level. This should be last in, first out, because you’ll often need these immediately to assemble and disassemble dorm room furniture or fix a stuck drawer. Pro tip: Add in a couple garbage bags; trash piles up as soon as you start unpacking.
2. Backup Prescription Glasses: especially for the kid that ALWAYS wears contacts! Why? Because if you get a bad stye or “pinkeye” (viral conjunctivitis), or more commonly, you accidentally fall asleep in your contacts or get something in your eye that scratches your cornea- you CANNOT wear contacts for several days to a week or more. And seeing clearly tends to help grades. If you always wear glasses, the backup pair is for when yours break or disappear. And inevitably, it happens during midterms or finals.
3. Small Lock Box: If you take prescription medications for ADD, this is a must. These stimulant pills sell for $5-10 each (a felony if caught!!) and dorm rooms are rarely private and/or consistently locked. Please remove the temptation for others and keep your meds safe. Lock boxes also work well for pricey jewelry, your passport, and while we’re at it, your backup glasses.
4. Heating Pad: Okay, not critical, but a great way to guarantee your popularity! Seriously, few students have these, but those that do tell me “EVERYONE borrows it” for aching muscles, back spasms and “cramps”. Bonus points: in cold climates they can double as an electric blanket (just don’t fall asleep on top of one, as this can cause burns.)
5. Solid Air Freshener: Plug-ins are rarely allowed in dorms, but you can place a solid or gel freshener in your closet (by your shoes) and tuck another under your bed. Extra-strong odors? Bamboo charcoal bags are a pricey option, but they work incredibly well. Choose a neutral or “fresh” smell, not “flowery” or “citrus” as you don’t know your roommate’s sensitivity to different scents. Bodies, dirty clothes, third-hand smoke and old dorms all get very smelly. Unless you are moving into a brand-new dorm with a neat-freak roommate, these fresheners can be lifesavers. Or at the very least, roommate-savers.
Bottom Line: Add these five items to your list for a smoother move-in and a healthier, safer semester! (If you’re flying, pack the glasses & shop for the rest when you arrive.) Good Luck!
The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD, FAAFP, is a great guide for college students and their parents. As a mom of a soon-to-be college student (Youngstown State University – Honors College in the fall, if everything is back to normal), it was really helpful to think of so many things I never would have. Even though I have my bachelor’s degree, I went to local colleges without dorms, so I never had the experience of dorm life. I can provide lots of good advice for Keira as she goes off to college, but for some things, we need to look elsewhere. I really liked that the book was easy to read and had plenty of practical advice. Nothing too complicated. This is something that Keira will be taking with her when she heads off to school. While I’m hoping she’ll call me for most of the things she needs, I’m glad to know she has this guide to help as well. 🙂
About the Author
Jill Grimes, MD, FAAFP, is a nationally recognized medical media expert, award-winning author, medical editor, and Board-Certiﬁed Family Physician. Her passion is prevention, and her message spans print (Parenting Magazine, Glamour, etc.), online (Reﬁnery29, Foxnews.com, etc.), and television and radio talk shows (Sirius XM Doctor Radio). After two decades of private practice, Dr. Grimes now enjoys seeing patients at the University of Texas in Austin. She is a proud mom to two awesome collegiate daughters. Academically, Dr. Grimes enjoys educating healthcare professionals by speaking at national AAFP, Pri-Med®, and Harvard Medical School conferences, and remains on clinical faculty at UMASS Medical School.
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