Living and Wellness Stay Healthy in College: Avoid Dorm Sickness By , September 1, 2016 It’s a college rite of passage — packing up your belongings from home and taking up residence in a college dormitory. And while most college students are adjusting to living independently or dealing with an unruly roommate, they should also consider the ways in which communal living and unsanitary dorms affect their health. From grimy bathrooms to cluttered spaces, your dorm can become a health hazard in its own right. Get Immunized Before College Living in close quarters with other people can be a fun way to bond — but it can also be risky for your health. Not only is it easier to catch a cold or the flu, but you have a greater chance of developing meningitis, a serious and potentially fatal infection of the membranes that cover the brain. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of catching meningitis by getting vaccinated before you leave for school. Feeling sick at school? Speak to a doctor today via UPMC AnywhereCare. Begin your virtual appointment now. Wash Hands Frequently You can also help protect yourself against colds, flu, and other contagious diseases by washing your hands often with soap and water. Try keeping your own hand soap and antibacterial gel on hand. Unsanitary Dorms: Keep Your Room Clean Regularly wipe down surfaces, including shared spots such as doorknobs, faucets, and phones. Fight Fungi Mold and mildew can easily accumulate in warm, damp areas like bathrooms. A little mildew won’t hurt you, but a larger infestation of mold can be problematic: It can trigger or worsen asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. If you notice a strong mildew smell, contact your resident assistant or school administration. Protect Your Feet: Always Wear Shoes in the Dorm Athlete’s foot is a common problem in communal living spaces like dorms. Like mold, it can thrive in warm, wet environments. Wear shower sandals or flip-flops while in bathrooms, showers, and other common areas, and regularly clean these shoes.