Illnesses spring to life with warmer temps

Holly Leske

It’s not surprising, with spring being sprung so early, that students are overlooking the basics of being healthy. When the sun is shining and friends are calling to play another round of basketball on the new court between Young and Caldwell halls, it’s easy to forget to warm up that knee before becoming highly active again, or to wash hands before going to Larson Commons for dinner.

Such is the problem that Brenda Andersen, the associate director of Student Health Services (SHS) and a family nurse practitioner, sees in treating students at SHS, located in the Wellness Center on campus. Although Andersen said SHS is constantly busy, there are some illnesses more prevalent than others.

“Always number one in our clinic is respiratory [illnesses], whether it’s bronchitis or a virus infection. It’s the number one reason people go in,” Andersen said. “I’ve diagnosed a couple mononucleosis (mono) cases myself this week.”

Although respiratory illnesses are prevalent throughout the year, some injuries are more predominately found as the weather warms up and people venture back outside again.

“We’re also seeing a lot of muscular or skeletal stuff. We see a lot of things [like] ankle sprains, lacerations or just accidents because people are getting out and being more active,” Andersen said.

Other issues can add to the mix of reasons why students go in to SHS.

“When the wind blows, like it did the other day, people who have any kind of allergies, it just adds to the mix,” Andersen said.

From not sleeping to anxiety, students deal with just as many psychological issues as physical ones now.

“At this time of year we’re seeing a lot of students stressed, so we see a lot of [students in for] mental health,” Andersen said. “It’s just a really big part of what we do.”

As vast and common as all of this poor health seems, there is a way to combat the spring madness. The majority of tips to avoid the doctor’s waiting room focus on paying more attention to what the body needs to be healthy during the seasonal transition.

Andersen identifies drinking lots of water, eating right and regularly, washing your hands, getting out during study breaks, being active overall and getting good sleep.

Molly LeClair, a junior physical education major who works at SHS, echoes the same tips as Andersen in that students should, “practice good hand hygiene and take their vitamins.”

Although students may be tempted to treat themselves at first, LeClair said if symptoms get worse, students should be seen by SHS especially because, “it’s free, easy and the [nurses] are very friendly.”

It takes about 15 seconds to wash hands and some planning ahead to get to bed on time, but knowing these tips now, and using them well throughout the spring will ensure a smooth ride into summer, Andersen said.

“I’m a real common-sense approach person that you just have to sit back and say ‘Alright, even though I have all this to do, I have to take care of myself because if I don’t take care of myself I’m not going to be [well],’” Andersen said.