Getting sick is no fun under any circumstances, but when it happens the first time and you’re hundreds of miles away from Mom’s chicken soup, it can feel like a double whammy.
No doubt you can handle a case of the sniffles on your own, but what should you do if those sniffles turn into a deep chest cough, high fever, or other symptoms of a more serious health problem? First and foremost, don’t panic! As the saying (sort of) goes, “sick happens" — remember that the campus health clinic is there to help. University nurses have lots of experience diagnosing and treating the many ailing students who’ve gone before you.
Clinic visits take time and can disrupt your class and study schedule, so it shouldn’t necessarily be your first move when you’re feeling badly.
When should you try to tough it out, and when should you hightail it to the doc? Here are six signals that it’s time to get some treatment for that cold you’ve been nursing:
Speaking of over-the-counter meds, if you’re not experiencing the symptoms above, but still feeling pretty miserable, cold medicine and pain relievers available at the pharmacy can be a quick fix.
If you’re taking any other medications, you’ll want to check with the pharmacist to make sure there won’t be negative interactions. To help with body aches, invest in a heating pad — also great for warming your bed before you tuck yourself in. And make sure to purchase a thermometer to have on hand in your dorm room.
You won’t be doing your roommates or classmates any favors by dragging yourself around campus and into classrooms when you’re sneezing and coughing germs. Stay in bed when you need to, without missing too much academically. Recruit classmates to take notes and email them to you. When possible use your downtime to complete reading assignments.
If your absence is going to be prolonged, contact your professors to discuss possible extensions on assignment due dates. As a last resort, consider whether you may need to drop one or more courses — better to complete them next quarter or semester than to lower your GPA.
In addition to the symptoms already discussed, you should go to the clinic if you’ve had a physical injury resulting in severe pain or signs of concussion. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, get immediate medical attention.
Finally, even if mom and dad can’t be in the room with you, there’s no rule against giving home a call for some verbal TLC and maybe to confirm that you’re taking the right steps.
When Should I See a Doctor for a Cold or Flu? (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2014, from WebMD
Fractures (broken bones): First aid. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2014, from MayoClinic
Concussion. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2014, from HealthLine