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The top three health issues for students

Long days spent studying, a heavy workload and the pressure to ace every exam can make it easy to dismiss your health when you’re a student. If seeking out treatment sits at the bottom of your to-do list, you’re not alone – in 2016 only 27.8% of students at Australian tertiary institutions accessed on-campus medical services. But looking after your physical and mental wellbeing is super important for getting the most out of your student days. Here we look at some common health issues for tertiary students and how to tackle them.

The common cold and flu

It’s simple and often overlooked, but the single most important thing you can do to avoid being struck down by a cold or the flu is to wash your hands regularly. This cleans your hands of any germs you may have picked up from public transport, for instance, or from other people. Using soap and water, rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds, not forgetting to clean under your nails.  
On top of washing your hands, there are loads of ways you can boost your immunity to help your body fight off viruses. Along with eating a nutrient-rich diet, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep can reduce your chance of getting a cold or the flu. 
  • Do incorporate regular physical activity into your day. Don’t discount walking – a brisk 30-minute walk around campus is a great way to fit in some exercise, although three 10-minute walks may be easier to squeeze into a busy day.  
  • Don’t skimp on sleep. Studies show if you don’t get enough rest you’re more likely to pick up the common cold – aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. 
  • Do eat well! It sounds boring, but the recommended ‘five serves of vegies and two serves of fruit a day’ will arm your body with all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs for strong immunity. 
  • Don’t overdo alcohol. Alcohol can affect your immune system, making it harder for your body to defend itself against infections. 

Sexual health concerns

If you’re sexually active and don’t practice safe sex, you’re at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).  STIs mainly affect young people, and if they aren’t treated can cause mild to severe health complications. 
Senior health promotion officer for youth at Family Planning NSW, Tanya Montoya, stresses the importance of regular sexual health check-ups. 
“You can’t tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them,” she says. “Young people who are sexually active should be getting a check-up if it’s been more than a year since their last one, they have a new sexual partner, they have any worrying symptoms, suspect they might have an STI or they’re wanting to change their method of contraception,” she says. 
When it comes to treatment, being proactive is key. “Checking in with yourself can help you catch anything nasty early on and treat it straight away,” Montoya says.
Although symptoms differ between people, some to be aware of include unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or anus, or pain in the scrotum or testicles or while urinating. Lumps and bumps on the genitals, as well as sores, blisters or rashes in the genital area are also worth seeing a doctor about. 

Excessive stress 

It’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed when you’re studying. A fear of failure, family – and personal – expectations, and genuine academic struggles can all add up. And with 83.2 per cent of students classifying themselves as stressed, it’s important to learn when to seek out professional support. 
Stress can sneak up on you. Some signs that you may need help with stress include:   
  • feeling more moody or overwhelmed than normal
  • struggling to make decisions 
  • lacking motivation to do anything
  • physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle pains and tension.
If you’re concerned at all about your health there is help available. Most universities and TAFEs offer free – and confidential – health services. For more information contact your campus’ student service centre. 

General Advice Warning: This advice is general and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the advice is appropriate for you and your personal circumstances. Before you make any decision about whether to acquire a certain product, you should obtain and read the relevant product disclosure statement.

All information above has been provided by the author.


This article originally appeared on and has been published here with permission.

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