August 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 83

live with family Ask Doctor Mom Combating college illnesses By Kristin Seaborg The transition to college is often filled with excitement for students and par- ents. Along with new living situations, roommates and friends, however, most students will meet a handful of new illnesses on campus. The most common illness that The Big Transition Preparing your college-bound kid (ahem, adult) for life on campus By Bess Donoghue The school is chosen. Classes are selected. And living arrangements are set. Yes, with the college years comes a new era of independence for children and parents alike. To help make sense of navigating the transition, Stephanie Graham, licensed psychologist and director of personal counseling services at Edgewood College, offers this insight and advice. What are the main concerns parents have when their child heads off to college? One typical concern is that their child will be more distant. I remind parents that the devel- opmental paths that normally occur during adolescence such as relationship development, career identification and value solidification require more independence from the family. Another concern is problematic alcohol use. It may not reassure parents, but studies show that college students today drink just as much as their parents' generation. I recommend parents talk to their children about healthy alcohol use. What signs can parents look for to know if their child is struggling? When there are extreme changes in behavior, mood or appearance. For example, the stu- dent can't manage his or her mood, shows significant weight loss or gain, or, over the course of the semester, has not developed any solid relationships. If this is the case, [I sug- gest] a parent or family member be someone the student can talk to, or help the student find professional support. What is the best advice parents can give children as they leave home? Encourage the student to go to class, as this is the key to academic success. But stress also the importance of maintaining a healthy sleeping, eating and exercise or stress reduction routine. Secondly, encourage your student to get involved on campus, whether it's through sports, sororities or volunteer organizations. Lastly, talk to your student about how to act in accordance to their values as they face both exciting social opportunities and challenges through increased access to alcohol, peer pressure, freedom from home and more. 24 BRAVA Magazine August 2012 spreads like wildfire is the viral respira- tory cold. College kids are especially prone to the common cold because they typically function on fewer hours of sleep and under high levels of stress, which can affect the ability to fight off illness. Young adults also often live in close quarters where infections spread quickly. Students can protect them- selves with frequent hand washing, not sharing food or drinks, trying their best to get adequate rest, and eating regular, well-balanced meals. Viral gastrointestinal illness, or the stomach flu, is also a common visitor to the university setting. The close quarters in dormitories and cafeterias create the perfect Petri dish for food- borne vomiting and diarrhea illnesses to spread. Good hand hygiene and not sharing food and drinks may decrease the transmission of this virus as well. One of the most feared illnesses in the college population is meningitis. Meningitis is most often caused by a viral or bacterial infection of the fluid lining the spinal cord and the brain. Affected individuals may have a high fe- ver, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and confusion. Students exhibiting these symptoms should seek medical help immediately. There is also a vaccine (administered at age 11 and age 16) to protect adoles- cents and young adults from the most common types of bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis. While this cannot protect against every possible type of meningitis, it significantly reduces your student's chance of contracting a poten- tially life-threatening disease and is highly recommended for every student. With some careful planning and attention to a healthy lifestyle, chances are your student's unwanted viral and bacterial roommates won't stick around for too long. Kristin Seaborg is a pediatrician with Group Health Cooperative and mother of three. Photo by Bobbi Peterson

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Brava - August 2012