Sickness at School: Strategies for Staying Healthy in College

Being sick in college can seriously challenge your ability to perform your best. No one wants to sit through class, take an exam, or show up to meetings and be expected to pay attention when their health is struggling. Read on to see a list of resources and health facts to help you navigate taking care of yourself.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is an integral part of sickness prevention and can help to prevent the spread of diarrheal and respiratory infections. Germs can spread when you don’t wash your hands and prepare food or drinks, cough or sneeze into your hands, and touch tour nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Play What you need to know about handwashing video
Preview image for What you need to know about handwashing video

What you need to know about handwashing


Regular physical activity is important to both your body and brain. Everyone should attempt to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. We have multiple resources on campus for your exercise needs; The Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP), Student Development Center (SDC), and Mont. Ripley Ski Hill. There are also lots of different apps and videos online that can help you to maintain whatever fitness goals you desire.

My SSP also offers virtual fitness classes designed for students who would like to exercise from the comfort of their own space.

Play Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED video
Preview image for Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED video

Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise | TED


Eating right and fueling your body with healthy foods can keep your immunity up and your ability to fight illnesses high.

Check out MyPlate, a resource created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help you better understand how to balance your diet.

Stress Reduction

Did you know that stress can actually make you physically ill? Some stress can actually be good, but there is a difference between good stress and bad stress.

Play Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress video
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Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress


The common cold and other respiratory illnesses can seem trivial until you actually contract them. Cold symptoms normally last for between 2 to 3 days and the recovery period can last for up to two weeks. If you have contracted a fever stay home and take steps to keep yourself healthy. You should not expose yourself to others until you have been fever-free for 24 hours or more.

You should see a doctor if you have trouble with the following:

  • Trouble breathing or fast breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Fever that lasts longer than 4 days
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days without improvement
  • Symptoms, such as fever or cough, that improve but then return or worsen.
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Unfortunately there is no direct cure for the common cold so the best thing that you can do is to take preventative health measures.


The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, and is contagious. Influenza generally affects the nose, throat, and even the lungs while accounting for a variety of symptoms. One of the best ways to protect yourself from the flu is by getting the vaccine. You can visit our Local Provider webpage using the link at the bottom of this post to learn more about the providers in our area that offer the flu vaccine. Or, contact our local Health Department in Hancock.

You should see a doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or have recently given birth
  • You possess certain risk factors or have a chronic illness

Please note that the flu and the common cold can seem similar. To help distinguish between the two visit this resource page created by the CDC.


The Western UP Health Department offers students a comprehensive guide to Covid-19 procedures and guidelines. Students can get tested for Covid-19 using the Drive-up COVID Testing portal. The CDC also offers numerous guidelines and strategies for Covid-19 prevention. 

Visit the CDC’s page regarding Covid-19 symptoms too see if what you are experiencing is cause for concern.

If you suspect that you have contracted Covid-19: 

  • Stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home.
  • Mask when around others. Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Take care of yourself by getting rest, staying hydrated, and taking over the counter medications like acetaminophen to feel better. 
  • Get in touch with a doctor or your local health department. Look out for emergency warning signs like having trouble breathing, confusion, persistent pain or pressure in the chest area, inability to stay awake, and discoloration in your lips, skin, nail beds, or skin tone. 
  • If you choose to seek medical attention please call ahead to your provider to let them know your symptoms. 

Please visit the Local Resources webpage for more information about local healthcare providers. 

  • Both Walmart and Walgreens in Houghton offer flu and Covid-19 vaccines through their pharmacies. Please call ahead for an appointment. Students can also pick up vitamins, medications, and other personal health materials at both locations as well.