LiveSmart: Good Health for College

[This piece was written by Carrie Hogan, MSN, ANP-C, Director of Siena College Health Services.]

It’s getting close to that time of the year – your child is heading off or back to college! It probably seems like just yesterday you were cleaning up scrapes on little knees and elbows, putting bandages on “just so” and giving their tear-stained face an extra kiss.

Although most students are at their peak physical health, they still need first aid for everyday illnesses, cuts and scrapes. So along with their smart phones and laptops, they should bring basic first aid kits as another step toward living independently. Such kits should include:

  • Bandages for small cuts and scrapes
  • Gauze and adhesive tape
  • Antibacterial/antibiotic ointment (bacitracin, Neosporin)
  • Tweezers (for splinter and tick removal)
  • A thermometer
  • An ice pack or chemical cold pack
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and fevers
  • Medicine for allergies
  • Anti-diarrhea medication; antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Cough and cold medicine
  • Sore throat lozenges
  • Hand sanitizer

In addition to the above, freshmen should have pre-college physicals. Their primary care physician should send the college’s health center a summary of their care, including any restrictions or needed interventions. All students must have the immunizations required by their colleges and should have adequate health care insurance (usually provided through the college).

It’s also important for students to be knowledgeable about their medications, doses and frequencies; they should bring their medications and any inhalers to campus. They should also know about their allergies or reactions to medications and foods; and their own and their family’s health histories.

And don’t forget to remind your son or daughter of the best germ-fighting skill they learned even before they started kindergarten –hand washing! The best way for students to protect themselves is to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, especially before eating.

Finally, before college students return to campus this fall, they are well-advised to have a plan for what they’ll do if they become very ill or if campus closes because of an emergency on campus and/or in the community. Students are encouraged, if they get sick, to seek medical help, stay away from classes and work, and minimize contact with others.

The Siena College Health Center, operated by St. Peter’s since 1993, provides low-cost, accessible health care to the students. The Health Center is staffed with nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses and a physician consultant, who are skilled in providing immunizations, routine medical care for most common illnesses, treatment of minor injuries and health education to students.

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