10 Health Tips for Students at Uni for the First Time
Partying and constant socialising can really take it out of you and so you may come down with a number of symptoms all at once.
Thousands of fresh faced new students have descended upon Belfast’s bar scene with the Autumn term now well underway. All will still be supercharged on excitement and strolling with a glint in the eye but not long after this experience of new found freedom filled with; drinking, loud clubs, few dates and many a takeaway, that glint will be little less bright and the body a lot more weary. A new life at university can take a hard toll on many parts of the body so it’s important to know what symptoms mean and how you can combat them.
At Kingsbridge Private Hospital we understand that this is all part of university, however, that doesn’t mean that symptoms nor illnesses should go untreated. We have a range of clinics and specialists in all areas available for consultant appointments or treatment.
Dr. Lisa Neligan is a GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital on the Lisburn Road in Belfast. She has experience in all aspects of GP care with special interests in women’s health and family care. Here she gives 10 top tips for new students on surviving at university.
1. Freshers Flu
Partying and constant socialising can really take it out of you and so you may come down with a number of symptoms all at once. These symptoms include; a fever, shivering, dry cough, headache, sneezing and grogginess. Plenty of rest, some paracetamols and a few decent meals should help you to kick this, but if symptoms persist they can be signs of a more serious issue and should be checked out by a professional.
Tinnitus is an issue which is increasing among university students due to increased exposure to loud music in clubs and bars. A condition which affects the inside of the ear, it causes the sufferer to hear a constant high-pitched ringing or buzzing. Most prominent when sat in silence, it can be mild and only appear occasionally, but when more prominent it can affect ones’ quality of life. If the ringing in your ears after a night out continues for longer than usual I’d recommend getting them inspected by a consultant.
3. Sexual Health
Rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are increasing among students in the UK with chlamydia the most common among first year students. Most STDs are easily treatable and if symptoms do occur it is important to have them checked as if untreated they can cause more serious health issues.
4. Alcohol Consumption
Most students know the damage heavy drinking does to your health, most notably the extra pressure on the liver. However, one of the lesser known damages is that to the eyes. Heavy alcohol consumption weakens the eye muscles and can cause vision loss through its links to optic neuropathy. It’s important to take breaks from drinking alcohol to let your body recover and have your eyes tested regularly as tests can determine health issues not necessarily just related to the eyes.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the ‘fresher 15’, the weight that lots of students tend to gain at the start of university due to a lack of mums cooking and a lot of pepperoni pizzas from around the corner. However, with recent statistics showing Ireland to have one of the worst obesity records in the EU, it’s becoming more important than ever to evaluate our eating habits. Make sure to include fruit and vegetables in your diet to avoid vitamin deficiencies and help to fight off the freshers’ flu.
Whilst we must watch what we eat we must also remember to drink plenty of water. Waking up after a night out with a kebab beside the bed and the taste of vodka in your mouth can be unpleasant, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not fully hydrated. Alcohol and salty takeaways dehydrate the body and when so much energy is being exerted as well, it’s vital to drink water in the morning to rehydrate yourself and continue throughout the day. This will help avoid; fatigue, migraines, and dehydration as well as helping you to focus on your studies.
Yes, dancing counts as exercise, but not necessarily when it’s at 12am on a bar table. Exercise is vital to making sure we keep our hearts healthy and also improves brain function (important for those 9am lectures!). Join sports societies or a gym to make sure you keep healthy and active.
8. Eye Health
It’s not only alcohol consumption that is a danger to our eyes, the sharing of make-up is becoming an issue of concern within shared student halls and flats. Sharing cosmetics such as eyeliner and mascara can spread infections like conjunctivitis, especially in environments where equipment is not washed regularly. Although germs may not cause one person problems they may do for another, most particularly for contact lens wearers as germs can get trapped behind lenses.
Following the recent death of another university student, this time at University College Cork, the need to spread awareness for meningitis among teenagers and students has spread. There are multiple strains of meningitis including the MenW strain which doesn’t present typical meningitis symptoms and is often mistaken for the flu. Meningitis B is another strain which can be deadly, vaccinations are only available to small children, however, the jab is available privately which I would thoroughly recommend getting.
10. Mental Health
Moving away from home, being in a new environment with new people or even the thought of university can be quite daunting. More students than ever are suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, but it’s important to remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of and its normal to feel these things. Most universities have an office dedicated to these issues where there is someone to talk to.
So, what should you do?
Sign up to a GP
Every student is told first and foremost to sign up to a GP when they move to university, yet many don’t bother. Being away and sick for the first time without a hot water-bottle or mugs of soup on hand from mum can be a tough experience. If you’re not signed up your local GP, well it’s gonna be a lot tougher as they supply the advice and pills when you’re at your weakest. Most freshers fairs will have a sign up stall, if not its usually not too far from campus.