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Health & Exercise Forum

Recognizing Symptoms of Illness and First Aid for Students: Part 2 of 3 on Health Tips for College Students

Sep 28, 2015

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumPart 2 of 3

This is the second of three columns dedicated to healthcare for college students. As part of the preparation, think about a first aid kit, health care history, and insurance file. Once you finish with these preparations, plan to take dance, art history and conversational Italian classes to occupy your time without children, especially for those who will be empty-nesters. Life goes on!

Remember, in living a large community and sharing close quarters makes the development and spread of disease a natural progression. College life can be very unhealthy for many reasons: lack of sleep, poor eating habits, poor hygiene and stress.

10 Symptoms College Students Should Not Ignore

(American Academy of Pediatrics)

Last week we discussed common illnesses among college students, how to manage and when to seek professional help. Below you will find a list of symptoms that should never be ignored. The college health services department should be contacted if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever – 102 degrees F or higher
  • Headache – if accompanied by a stiff neck
  • Pain with urination
  • Unusual discharge from penis or vagina
  • Change in menstrual cycle
  • Abdominal pain – that will not go away
  • Persistent cough
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Persistent difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or any other symptoms that last longer than you think it should



 10 Must-Have Health Care Items For College

(American Academy of Pediatrics)

Get a small/medium plastic storage box and use it to keep all of the following health care items together in one place.

  1. Health Care Record – keep a copy of the required health care record required by the school in your health box. You may need it for the health services department or for an unexpected visit to the hospital.
  2. Medication List – with names and dosages
  3. Allergy List – with medication used for each allergy. For example, bee sting kit.
  4. Past Medical History List – write down previous surgeries (appendectomy), diseases (Mono) and dates
  5. Special Needs List – for example breathing inhaler for sudden asthma
  6. Mental Health Problem List – problem and dates
  7. Immunization Record – list shots/vaccines you have had and dates. For example, meningococcal disease vaccine.
  8. Health Insurance Card – keep a photo copy of your health insurance card in your wallet and another in this college health care box
  9. Hand Sanitizer
  10. First Aid Kit:
    1. Bandages to dress wounds
    2. Gauze and adhesive tape to dress wounds
    3. Elastic bandage to support and compress sprains
    4. Antibacterial towel packets
    5. Antibacterial/antibiotic ointment
    6. Digital thermometer
    7. Chemical ice pack/Microwave heating pack for sprains/strains
    8. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen for aches/pains/fever
    9. Other prescribed medications
    10. Vitamins

SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.

Keep moving, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly 

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”   Next Week: “Health Tips for College Students – Part 3”

If you missed it, read last week's article, Part 1 in this series.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.