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August 21, 2019

A Back to College Health Check List

A Back to College Health Check List

The start of college marks a big transition in your life. While you and your child are busy getting the right dorm room essentials and choosing classes, you may be ignoring some key health decisions. Dr. Sandra Kesh, internist and infectious disease specialist at Westmed, shares some pointers for those who are headed off to college for the first time. Dr. Kesh also notes, “it’s never too late to consider your health, even if you are a sophomore or a senior. These tips apply to you too!”

 

1. Be Sure You Are Up-to-Date on Vaccines

Before heading off to school, check immunization records. You will definitely want to ensure you are current on childhood vaccines. Remember to also check with your college or university to determine the proof of immunity records that are required for college-bound students. The standards ones are listed below, but you may also consider speaking to your pediatrician about other vaccinations such as HPV and Meningitis B. 

      • MMRV (measles, mumps and rubella)
      • Meningococcal – ACYW and B
      • Tetanus, diphtheria pertussis
      • Influenza (flu)
      • Hepatitis A and B
      • Varicella
      • Pneumococcal
      • Polio

2. Line Up Your Health Care: Know Where to Go While You’re Away

Firstly, make sure you have health insurance and know how to access it. Before moving into a dorm, ensure you know where to go if you have a health concern – both during normal business hours, and after-hours/on weekends.

Work with your pediatrician’s office to be sure that the college or university health center has all of your necessary information such as:

      • Health insurance information
      • Up-to-date immunization records
      • Information about chronic health conditions
      • Medication information including dosage
      • Contact information for the primary care provider back home

If you have medical conditions that will need ongoing care (eg. prescriptions, doctor visits), be sure to do some research ahead of time to find out if your needs can be met by the student health center, or whether you need to find another provider in the area. If necessary, make sure roommates or someone close to you know about your health condition, signs of problems, and what to do in an emergency situation.

3. Take Care of Yourself!

 

      • Check in – It’s normal to feel homesick and overwhelmed the first few months. Be sure to check in with your parents and friends to talk about how you are doing academically and socially. Don’t forget: they are there to support you. Make sure you know how to get help—most schools have specially trained counselors on campus to support you.

      • Maintain healthy habits – Make sure you continue the activities that have kept you healthy in your pre-college years, with particular attention to adequate sleep, a healthy diet and stress management techniques.

      • Sleep is essential – try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake time every day- even on the weekends. This will help you get restful sleep.

      • Maintain a healthy weight – keep an eye out for additional sources of calories that can cause unhealthy weight gain: alcohol, dorm room snacks, etc.

      • Stay active – your school most likely has great fitness facilities. Be sure to use them. After all, you’re paying for them!

 

      • Say no to peer pressure – studies reveal that most students on campus actually do not use drugs, and consume alcohol infrequently or in moderation. Surveys of college students also find that most have zero or one sexual partner in a year. Remember that you don’t need to engage in these behaviors in order to fit in.

 

If you or your child is headed to college this year, remember to make an appointment with their pediatrician to prepare for the exciting year ahead. With a simple appointment, you can have these things checked off your list and rest easy knowing that you are being proactive about your health.