So you’ve gotten your teen off to college. The move into the dorm
is complete and you’ve said your tearful goodbyes. You are full
of hope and promise during this exciting time of transition. You have
prepared them to take this first step into the big adult world without
you, but is your teen properly prepared to independently care for his
or her health?
New college students often face, for the first time, unexpected health
issues without having their parents immediately at their side. Prepare
now so your child knows when and how to get help when a health care need
arises. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that college-aged
students should be armed with the necessary information that they may
have depended on their parents for in the past.
Make sure your student:
- Is up to date on immunizations prior to the start of the semester. Because
meningitis is of particular concern in a college setting, ask your teen’s
provider about receiving this important vaccine.
- Knows important facts about any personal medical conditions or health issues,
as well as your family medical history. Being prepared with the facts
will be helpful when visiting a new physician or student health center.
- Knows the name and dosage of any medication being taken. Find out how to
have medications refilled if necessary. Prescription refills usually can
be transferred to a pharmacy near campus.
- Has contact information for his/her primary care provider at home. Arrange
for your primary care provider to send any necessary medical information
to the college’s student health center so that it is available when needed.
- Knows what medical facilities are available on or close to campus. Find
out where the student health center is located and what options are available
when the center is closed or on weekends. Be sure your child knows where
the nearest emergency room is located and when to seek emergency care.
- Has health insurance and proof of coverage, and knows how to use it. Check
your plan for providers who may be available near the college campus.
If your teen is attending school out of state, your plan may have special
requirements for treatment. Make sure your teen is familiar with any special
- Is equipped to handle simple medical problems. Make sure your student has
a first aid kit stocked with common first aid items, including a digital
thermometer, bandages, antibiotic ointment, hot/cold pack, acetaminophen,
ibuprofen and cold medications.
Prevention also is key to staying healthy and safe on campus. Going to
college can be an exciting time in a young adult’s life and opens
the door to many new experiences. These new experiences may bring new
challenges and opportunities for illness, injury and disease. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer six pointers to help college students stay safe and healthy:
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to eat well and exercise.
Know your rights; be aware of sexual assault. One in five women has been sexually assaulted while in college, and 80
percent of female victims experience rape before the age of 25.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) can be prevented. College students and others who are sexually active should get tested
for STDs and take measures to protect themselves and their sexual partners.
Dr. Kimberly Guillory of
Magnolia Obstetrics & Gynecology explains:
Binge drinking can increase your chances of getting hurt or hurting others
due to car crashes, violence and suicide. About 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by teens under the age of 21
in the U.S. is through binge drinking. A binge is defined as having four
or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in a short time.
Get the facts about alcohol use and health at www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov.*
Tobacco products are harmful to your health and can lead to cancer and
heart and respiratory diseases. In 2012, 17.3 percent of adults, age 18-24, were cigarette smokers. If
you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, take necessary
steps to stop. For tips to stop smoking, watch this “Smoking Cessation”
video with North Oaks Cardiologist
Jherie Ducombs, MD
Managing stress and maintaining life balance is important for college students. Be sure to get enough sleep, avoid drugs and alcohol and maintain social
connections. If stress becomes unmanageable or depression sets in, seek
help from a medical or mental health professional. Suicide is the third
leading cause of death among persons, age 15-24. If you or someone you
know is thinking about suicide, contact the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at (800) 273-8255.
North Oaks Health System offers many health resources for college students
in our area. From primary care to specialists and walk-in services, North
Oaks is here for you in Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes.
Click here for a complete list of clinics and for more information, including available
physicians, clinic hours and accepted insurances.
* Sources: www.aap.org, www.cdc.org