A common noise can be heard within the classrooms across Illinois State upon returning to school: the sounds of coughing, sneezing and various "excuse me's.” It seems that more than half of college students suffer from this disease, whatever it may be. For many, it sticks longer than an average cold, and can last for weeks or even months. It is a familiarity to see it across campus, and is the college sickness that only strikes in the early months of the semester.
Many students have questions about this mysterious disease, such as why does their cough linger for weeks on end and what the reason is for their relentless fatigue. Registered Nurse Susan Otterstetter said the transition from being at home to at college, regardless of the year, has an impact on students.
"You're staying up later than usual and getting less hours of sleep every night and in general not prioritizing your health," Otterstetter said, "Because of these contributing factors, college students returning to campus often succumb to a variety of illnesses within the first few weeks of school."
Many students suffer from different illnesses upon returning to school, causing them to lose energy, which may cause a slump in their grades.
"I got really sick in the beginning of the school year," freshman biology major Jane Yun said. "I would take naps throughout the day and try to do homework whenever I could. It was hard."
While students' symptoms may vary, there are precautions almost all students can follow to avoid catching the never-ending cold.
"A few simple changes can increase your chance of making it through the school-year without any major health setbacks. Some of those factors are within your control, including sleep. Don't let your heavy scholastic load or busy social schedule keep you from getting at least seven hours every night," Otterstetter said.
Sticking to a good, healthy diet will also reduce the chance of catching an illness, according to Otterstetter..
"Eating a well-balanced diet will help strengthen your immunity. Exercise to help keep active, practice good hand-washing and basic hygiene to minimize your exposure to germs," Otterstetter said.
She said she believes that through these precautions, students can avoid getting sick and will have a healthier semester, so they can worry about their schoolwork rather than their health.
"Adhering to these few simple steps will help minimize the possibility of catching an illness that may develop into something more," Otterstetter said.