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The Antelope

Staying healthy in 2019

The UNK Peer Health Education office offers students resources for living a healthy life through education and programming. Along with Student Health, they offer free check-ups if students are feeling ill.

Peer Health shares insights for healthy habits, fighting illness during cold, flu season

By Hanna Hake

With the start of the new semester, the students are bringing more than open minds back to UNK. Classrooms and residence halls are the perfect breeding grounds for colds and the flu. Learning how to stay healthy is another subject students should study up on.

“We’ve had students come over to (UNK Student Health) right from class with 104 fever and coughing, so you know everyone in that class just got exposed to it,” said Susan Pedersen, a UNK Student Health clinic nurse. “The flu is alive and well right now, we’ve just gotten reports from the State Health Department that it’s officially widespread in Nebraska. We’re right in the heat of the flu season right now.”

The UNK Peer Health team wants to do all they can to help students stay healthy and learn how to properly protect themselves from getting sick. 

“If you’re sick, stay home,” said Alaini Priebe, a student leader in the UNK Peer Health office. “I’m guilty of thinking, ‘oh it’s not that big of a deal, I’ll go to school,’ but then you’re getting everyone else sick around you.”

Pedersen suggests that when it comes to both preventing and fighting off sickness, taking good care of your body is very important. “Get enough rest. There’s a lot of evidence that says if you get less than 6 hours of sleep at night that it impacts your immune system and its harder for you to fight illness off,” Pedersen said. “Sleep is kind of underrated and its usually the first thing to go when you get busy but getting enough rest is really important. Also drinking plenty of fluids and eating well. Those are usually not the answers students want to hear, they want to hear that magic pill you can take to make it go faster, but there really isn’t any it’s just about taking good care of yourself.”

For protection against the flu, Student Health recommends getting a flu shot. “When you’re living in a place like this when you’re in contact with a lot of people it’s really easy to pick it up. We hear students say, ‘I don’t need the flu shot, I’ve never had the flu.’ Well college is a really good place to get it and it’s not unusual for them to miss a whole week of classes if they do get it.” Pedersen said.

“It does take a couple of weeks for your full immunity to develop after you get the flu shot, but it’s never too late to get it done, and it could still offer you some protection, so we still recommend it now.” Pedersen said.

Another tip from the UNK Peer Health team was, “just wash your hands as much as you can every day. Not obsessively, but even if you wash your hands one more time a day than you normally do, that can do a lot to help prevent getting sick,” Priebe said.

UNK Student Health encourages students to come in for a free check-up if they are feeling ill. “If students are confused about what they have, if they want to know if they have the flu or the cold, we’re here. They can come to (UNK Student Health) and it doesn’t cost them anything to come in here,” Pedersen said. “They can come in as a walk-in we can give them recommendations of what to take to help their symptoms, just know that we’re free and were here for them.”

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