The reality of being sick at college

Moira Weinstein, Staff Writer

According to Dr. Elaine Luo and Kimberly Holland of “Healthline,” the reason you’re always sick is probably due to “a vitamin deficiency, dehydration, problems with your immune system, or inadequate hygiene, among other possibilities.” Helpful, I know. This is the answer you’re met with when desperately surveying Google for the answer to your persistent illness that never seems to let go. After a certain number of months sniffling and concerning your teachers with a gnarly cough, you typically tend to accept it. I know I did.

Bucknell students know all too well about the consistent sickness that causes the Student Health waiting room to fill at 10 o’clock in the morning. Some call it the plague, some the frat flu and some have identified their sickness with a proper diagnosis — until it comes back two weeks later, the random steroids and antibiotics thrown at you by the nurses and doctors not cutting it. I’ve heard too many friends say that Bucknell just makes them sick. Ever since they got here, they have been struck with some random, unnamed virus that has to “run its course”, but ends up running them into nothingness by the end of each semester. All these patients, and still no answer. 

It’s not uncommon for college students to become sick much more frequently than the rest of the population, as we live in a cesspool of germs hosted by parties, hookup culture, and the passing around of vapes in every color. According to Angela Haupt of US News, “Indeed, bugs like upper-respiratory infections, colds and, on the more serious side, mononucleosis and meningitis, tend to flourish on college campuses.” Haupt chalks this up to close proximity and the lack of ability to prevent it. And while all of this is true, the burden is real, and the consequences are worrisome. 

While some students are accepting of the occasional sniffle and dry cough, others become bed-ridden and are forced to miss class; even though teachers reassure you of a flexible absence policy for sickness, especially after COVID-19, it can’t sustain the numerous times you are actually under the weather. So, you suck it up and go to class, accepting the glares that accompany a cough in the world that has fallen victim to a pandemic, a pandemic that is another reason your immune system is suffering. After almost two years of quarantining and a lack of social interaction, our bodies lost the immunity we built up as children crawling on floors and blowing our noses in our hands. 

All of this is to say, there are a million different factors working together to break us; as college students, prevention and treatment are the last things on our minds. Vitamin prices are overwhelmed by the cost of textbooks and gas, and Student Health trips become futile, encouraging antibiotic resistance. I experienced this myself last year, as revealed to me by an ENT in New York City after incessant rounds of antibiotic treatment from Student Health. Overall, the ability to stay healthy here is combated with the lack of sufficient resources, like a good hospital and the prevention of black mold in dorms. Bucknell needs to strengthen its strategies to fight the constant illness epidemic here on campus, and hopefully then we can go to class without a struggle. 

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