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What To Do If Your College Student Gets Sick

Written by Rebecca Hastings


Posted on May 15 2019

It’s tough enough having your child living far away from home for the first time, but what do you do when they get sick? Getting sick is never any fun for anyone, but for college students, it can impact their entire semester or year.

From Grown and Flown:
“The American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment revealed that in Spring 2015, 15 percent of students reported that in the past 12 months a cold, flu and sore throat negatively impacted their individual academic performance,” said Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, associate vice president at NYU Student Health Center.

Getting sick is also more common for students, as they live and interact in close proximity to so many other students on a regular basis. Also many are moving to a new environment, experiencing stress, and not eating well, which can all have a negative impact on anyone’s immune system.

As a parent, what can you do to help to ensure that they fully recover and get the care they need?

Get More Info and Keep Being a Parent

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First, encourage them to get plenty of fluids and rest. You know, like you would if they were home! Remind them that germs spread easily and they need to be extra diligent when they wash their hands. They may need to miss a few classes to rest and to ensure that they are not spreading their virus to others.

Find out what they are sick with. If it’s a common cold, only rest and time will help. If it’s the flu, or they are having any flu-like symptoms (nausea, vomiting, body aches, high fever), they should call the colleges’ health center who will help them determine if they need to seek additional medical attention. The flu can take several weeks to fully recover from, so they will also need to notify their instructors or even the dean to let them know about missing classes. Have them ask classmates and teachers to let them know of any coursework they may miss and see what they can do at home if possible.

Provide Them Emergency Numbers and Health Insurance Information

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Have your student put all emergency numbers in his cell phone contact list such as the campus health center, student health advice hotline, and a nearby pharmacy. The numbers will be listed on the college’s website or in the orientation packet they received.

All college students need health insurance and there are two popular ways to obtain a policy. First, the college may have their own health plan. Typically, the college automatically enrolls every student by tacking the premium onto the tuition bill.

A second way for students to obtain health insurance while in college is to show proof that they have coverage (equal to what the college is offering) through their parents or other means. In this situation, they must apply for a waiver by a certain deadline and the waiver must be completed each year they attend college. Make sure your student understands their insurance and how it can be used. For instance, if they plan to use their parent’s plan, will the college’s health center accept the insurance?

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Send Them Something Special      

What is it that you always do for your children when they are sick at home? Do you pick up their favorite magazines? Rent their favorite movies? Make them your special bone broth? Create your own care package from home and send them all of the things that you would normally give them if they were at home. Or take a short cut and send them one of ours. Our Sending Love package is perfect!

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But what if it’s something more, mono, mental health challenges or an illness that can’t be cured right away, or at all? The Center for online education developed a guide for college students living with a chronic disease. It highlights how to balance school and disease management, know your financial aid options and go back to school after treatment.

During this time, it may be necessary to take a leave of absence. A leave of absence is a period of time when a student is not enrolled in school but has every intention of coming back. During these challenging times, students will need all the support they can get. Help them focus on their treatment and recovery and hopefully, they will be able to return to classes rested, energized and re-motivated!





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