Since college began, I’ve been sick a minimum of 65% of the time. It’s like there isn’t even a point in recent memory when I didn’t have some level of symptom. At this point, I don’t know if I’m more confused or concerned. I sleep and eat decently, relegate drug use to the weekends and even take vitamins. For someone my age, my habits are gold-standard. The worst part is, I’m beginning to realize my influenza-ridden experience isn’t even unique – everyone seems to be sick. I’m writing this article today not only to ask god why I have an awful immune system, but to run down the reasons that you might, too.
- College Campuses are Death Traps
Enrollment at UIC is just short of 30,000 people. Even without faculty, that is an insane number of people to cram into a couple square blocks. As much as I love urban living, I have no problem admitting that humans were just not intended for this level of density. You might say that UIC isn’t as bad because it’s a commuter school, but I would say that there’s just a bigger variety of germs people bring in from their backwood suburbs. I was in a lecture hall the other day and could barely hear the professor because someone different was coughing every couple minutes. It’s pretty obvious that most of us are immunization non-compliant.
2. CTA is the Root of All Evil
Missing class, unwanted interaction, constant germs – CTA is the source of many of my problems. Anytime you’re using a mass transit system in a city as big as Chicago, you’re at risk of catching something. According to a Today.com study, Chicago had the dirtiest American transit system by far, with L train cars containing about 40x the acceptable level of bacteria. This is especially gnarly if you think about all of the times you’ve hopped off a train and eaten a meal without washing your hands. I always thought kids with hand sanitizer on their backpacks looked dumb, but maybe I’m the dumb one
Pictured: Annual Blue Line Cleaning
3. Drink Water and Go to Sleep
If you’re somehow drinking a gallon of water a day and sleeping 7 hours a night, I applaud you. 1 liter a day has always been the goalpost I shoot for, I’m not convinced that anyone is drinking the full gallon. Now, not only do you need to go out and buy portable hand sanitzer, get yourself a refillable water bottle, too. In terms of sleep, I don’t have much to say. The adage of only being able to pick two items out of good grades, social life, and sleep seems applicable here. Good grades might take both choices if you’re an engineering or architecture major.
Carry a water jug to stay hydrated and fashionable!
4. You Probably Just Have an STD
50 percent of reported STD’s are by people aged 18-24, and a quarter of college students are infected. Granted, these numbers come from a website with the distinct tinge of abstinence only sex-ed, but there’s no denying college campuses are breeding grounds for all types of infections. I’m no germophobe or evangelist, but these numbers are frightening. Especially when you figure that most people haven’t been tested, and the initial symptoms of most STD’s could easily be confused for flu. If in doubt, go consult the free UIC Family Medicine Center at University Village, not WebMD.
At the end of the day, you’re likely just sleep-deprived and stressed, not patient zero of some new plague. If you’re really concerned, go get some antibiotics from any of the numerous medical facilities around UIC. That, or make sure that you share food with your friends so that they can share in your misery.