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College Dorm Hazards
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A recent TODAY article discussed 9 hidden health hazards found in college dorms. The article also gave precautions to these hazards from Lisette LeCorgne, a nurse practitioner at the University of Arizona Campus Health Services. 1

Hazard #1—Meningitis: Bacterial meningitis is serious and potentially fatal. It can be spread through saliva by kissing, sharing a glass, etc. The precaution? Get a meningitis vaccination, wash your hands often, disinfect shared surfaces, avoid close contact with sick students, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep.

Hazard #2—Mononucleosis: This virus can put a student to bed for four to six weeks. It’s usually passed through close contact like kissing or sharing drinks. The precaution? Avoid mouth-to-mouth contact and wash your hands often.

Hazard #3--Colds and Flu: Since respiratory illnesses are passed through vapor droplets, anything can get contaminated. Be especially cautious since the CDC claims that most reported cases of swine flu in 2009 affected people between the ages of 5-24. The precaution? Hand washing is your best bet. And a new study suggests that a combination of hand washing, and if needed, a mask, might help prevent its spread.

Hazard #4—Bedbugs: One-quarter of all exterminators have discovered infestations of these blood-sucking bugs in college dorms. The precaution? Don’t buy used furniture and carefully check your luggage after travelling. Minimize clutter and seal all food containers. Also, wash your bedding in hot water and use a mattress cover.

Hazard #5—Mold: Large amounts can be extremely harmful to your health, especially if you have asthma, allergies or other respiratory conditions. The precaution? Mold grows in warm, damp places, so keep clothes, bathroom and kitchen areas dry. If mold is widespread or you notice a moldy smell, stay clear of the area and report it.

Hazard #6--Athlete’s Foot: This fungus also thrives in warm, wet environments like locker rooms and showers floors. The precaution? Wear flip-flops in communal places and always dry your feet well--especially between your toes.

Hazard #7--Sleep deprivation: Chronic fatigue is associated with low GPA’s and a tendency to overdose on caffeine and sugar. The precaution? Have a routine that includes a regular bedtime and exercise, while avoiding long naps and caffeine.

Hazard #8--Binge drinking: More than 90 percent of alcohol consumed by people under 21 is consumed through binge drinking. This is a dangerous and sometimes fatal attempt at having a good time. The precaution? Although the article encourages people to know how much alcohol their body can handle, I would disagree and say that staying completely away from alcohol is the safest option. 

Hazard #9—STDs: As many as 25 percent of U.S. college students have been infected with the STDs. The precaution? Although the article encourages “safe sex” by using condoms, once again, abstinence is the best way—for a multitude of reasons.

Your college years are the beginning of your future. Stay healthy so that you can be all God has planned you to be.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/32542931/ns/today-parenting_and_family/ 

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