Stomping on Sickness


How to stay healthy and avoid sickness in a new environment

Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

Entering a new school and a new environment can sometimes have an effect on a student’s immune system.

Dr. Jane Balbo, assistant professor of family medicine and family practice physician at Campus Care, provided some tips for incoming Ohio University freshmen on how to stay healthy in college.

“If someone is not getting enough sleep or good quality sleep, their immune system will suffer,” Balbo said.

Haylee Doran, a rising second-year graduate student in the child and family studies program, said getting adequate sleep helps her stay healthy.

“Also take a lot of Vitamin C, that has helped me so far (to stay healthy),” she said.

Balbo also said students should think about the vaccine-preventable diseases that are prevalent when students live in a more crowded situation, particularly meningitis.

“It’s not a common outbreak, but it can be deadly,” Balbo said. “Getting their meningitis vaccines before they come to college is really important.”

In January, an OU student was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis. The student was discharged later that month.

In addition to vaccines, a healthy diet is important to consider when trying to not get sick, Balbo said.

“The cool thing about Ohio University is the availability of fresh foods in the dining halls has improved drastically,” she said. “It used to just be french fries, pizza, hamburgers and ice cream.”

Trying to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables into people’s daily diets is going to provide their immune systems with the vitamins and minerals that can help them fight diseases or stay healthy, Balbo said.

Hudson Health Center

Bethany Lilja | FILE

Pictured is the front lobby of the Hudson Campus Care Center.

“Obviously (fried foods) are delicious. You’re living away from home for the first time, and you have access to all this stuff unlimited,” she said. “It is sometimes hard to control yourself.”

Physical activity is another way to help people stay healthy.

Balbo said Ping Recreation Center is great if someone has the time, but she often hears that students say they don’t have the time to go.

“(Ping) is really involved and no wonder someone feels like they don’t have the time because it can take up to an hour and a half for the process of getting there and getting home and getting a great workout,” she said.

She said she tells people about Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, which is located near the residence halls.

“Just thinking about movement, not just going to the gym,” Balbo said. “Just going for a half an hour walk once a day is a wonderful thing for one’s health.”

While students are outside enjoying the Athens scenery, they may experience allergies too.

A lot of students who come from places such as Cleveland, Columbus or other states where they do not have a lot of allergens, come to Campus Care thinking they are sick when they are not, Balbo said.

“Athens is an allergy haven,” she said. “It’s important for them to come get checked out but to also recognize we have a lot more allergens here than many other college campuses.”

She said students should work to keep their allergies at bay before they get to campus, and if they get here and recognize their allergies are out of control, they may need to come in and see a medical provider to tune up their management plan.

“Uncontrolled allergies can lead to sinus infections, ear infections, pneumonia and asthma exacerbations,” Balbo said.

Monica Davis, a rising sophomore studying communication, said she keeps hand sanitizer on her at all times and makes sure she washes her hands regularly.

“Stay away from those who are coughing and make sure you are coughing in your arm, too,” she said.

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Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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