Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Practicing healthy habits helps students during college

Friday, December 9, 2022
Graphic by Emma Kratky and April Styer

Going off to college and leaving home can be an exciting time full of firsts and newfound independence, but what happens when students need medical care while away from home? Even though some students may wish they could go home to Momma, it isn’t practical when they live miles away and may need help immediately.

There are many ways students can be proactive about their health. One of the first places to start is by talking to health experts.

Broadway Pharmacy pharmacist Catherine Heaton said all SEMO students should make sure they get the flu vaccination, as well as the COVID-19 booster yearly if they have received the COVID-19 vaccine already. If any student has not gotten their COVID-19 vaccine, she said it is important to get the shot as soon as possible.

“November through January is prime time for the flu, and the flu vaccine is almost always 100% covered by insurance,” Heaton said. “Since the Covid booster is out and updated, it is imperative for SEMO students to get that done.”

Heaton said students can get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, and downtime from each vaccine depends on the patient.

“There will be some side effects from the vaccines, but they usually just last a day or two, depending on the person,” Heaton said. “So if students have class, maybe come in on a Friday, where they have the weekend to recover.”

SEMO registered dietician Lee Ann Lambert stressed the importance of getting enough sleep, eating healthy, getting regular exercise and practicing good personal hygiene in order to stay healthier throughout the college years.

Lambert said her most important tip for students is to get plenty of sleep. She said getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep will help improve productivity.

“Set a sleep schedule. Turn the TikTok videos off, put the phone away and actually get some rest,” Lambert said. “When you are tired, you don’t think clearly, and that’s when stress starts to creep in.”

Lambert said eating healthy is also important. Getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables helps boost students' immunity.

“If students will incorporate some good eating habits, it will help fight infection and viruses,” Lambert said. “If students can’t get the [recommended] amount of fruits and veggies in their diet, it is OK to take a multivitamin to aid in boosting the immune system.”

Lambert’s last tip, maintaining good personal hygiene, goes beyond taking showers.

“Students may think this seems silly, but make sure you are washing your sheets and cleaning your room,” Lambert said. “Ideally, students should be washing their sheets once a week, because that helps kill germs or viruses that could be brought in.”

Lambert said she also encourages students to drink plenty of water and get in some type of daily exercise in their quest to remain healthy. Getting out in the fresh air and walking around campus for exercise will not only improve the student’s sleep, but it also helps their immune system, as well.

Southeast Hospital registered respiratory therapist Mary Smith said especially during flu season, it is important to get checked out if a student starts to feel unwell.

“If students start running a fever, coughing and generally [are] not well, don’t wait to see what happens. They need to get checked out,” Smith said. “This is [especially] important for any student who has asthma or is prone to lung infections.”

SEMO’s on-campus Health Clinic Services has nurse practitioners, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses available for SEMO students. The clinic also offers flu and COVID-19 tests.

In addition, the health clinic has other services available for students, and appointments are available that will work around students’ class schedules.