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Back-to-school health traps and how to avoid them

Colleges and high schools across the country have started back up, and there's no better time to take your health into your own hands. Whether you're traversing campus for the first -- or last -- time, any number of health issues could put a wrench in the start of your school year. Watch out for these common issues that could spoil your September.

Coping with the common cold


It's no secret that this time of year is ripe with infections that cause the common cold. These upper respiratory issues are easily spread from person to person. Since students are in close quarters with one another, the classroom is the perfect place for a pathogen to spread. All it takes is one sick student to potentially infect an entire class.

Many students pick up the cold by touching contaminated objects. Certain viruses can live for hours on some surfaces, proving that you don't have to interact with a sick person to catch a cold. Busy schedules only make it that much worse since they leave little room to make time for washing your hands regularly. This means that touching handrails, doorknobs and water fountains can easily transfer this sickness to you.

It might start as a simple tickle in your throat or stuffy nose. Eventually, your immune system will mount an even greater response, resulting in headaches, body aches, chills, and even a fever. This can cause you to miss a couple of classes or send you tapping on your smartphone in search for urgent care clinics near you. Most people recover from a cold within 7 to 10 days. If your symptoms aren’t improving and your doctor can’t get you in right away, consider walking in to a nearby urgent care to get the convenient care you need. 

MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care can evaluate your cold and symptoms and, as necessary, prescribe at-home care or medications that will help relieve your symptoms until you get better. Paired with getting plenty of rest and hydrating regularly, you should be back on your feet in no time. To help reduce your risk of getting a cold in the first place, the CDC recommends the following healthy-living tips: 

  • Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water to reduce the spread of germs 

  • Keep your unwashed hands from touching your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid the virus entering your body

  • Avoid being around people that are sick with cold symptoms 

Dodging pink eye

Many people think of pink eye as only a children's infection, but anyone can suffer from the frustration of pink eye. Often a type of bacterial infection, conjunctivitis is an infection of the eye that causes pain, discomfort, itching, swelling, and the tell-tale pink coloring in and around the eye. This highly contagious infection is common among students, especially if you work in jobs that bring you into close contact with bacteria. 


Avoid sharing make-up, eyeglasses and towels, that can easily transfer bacteria, and be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to kill germs. 

If you do come down with a case of pink eye, it's recommended that you stay home to avoid spreading the infection to other people. Luckily, local urgent care clinics are adept at treating pink eye in all of its iterations. You can return to school after using antibiotic eye drops for 36 hours.

Keep in mind that there are different types of conjunctivitis. If you have allergic conjunctivitis, this seasonal illness isn't contagious. Viral conjunctivitis isc ontagious, but it cannot be treated with antibiotics. In both of these cases, the infection usually clears up within one week. If you are experiencing symptoms of pink eye, don’t hesitate to book an appointment online or walk in to a local Indigo Urgent Care near you for a diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Staying on top of sports injuries: Strains, sprains and fractures

September means that fall sports are in full swing. If you're one of the many student-athletes on the field, you need to watch out for the threat of sprains, strains and fractures.

Sprains and fractures are some of the most common injuries seen at urgent care clinics. That's why about four in every five urgent care centers offer fracture treatment, complete with X-ray diagnostics. These injuries can happen at any time. One misstep on the court or a change in elevation on the field can catch any athlete by surprise. 

Wrist fractures, ankle sprains and similar injuries are also common among new athletes who are trying to gain their footing in a different sport. Be sure to take it slow until you're more comfortable on the field. On that same note, experienced athletes must watch out for unexpected hurdles that could land them in an urgent care location.

Strains, on the other hand, are often the result of the same motion performed over and over again. These injuries are common in veteran athletes who have honed their skills in a select few sports. For example, a tennis player may develop tennis elbow, a common strain that results from the swinging motion of the racquet. Soccer players commonly strain or tear their ACL from quick pivots or hard collisions with other players. While injuries might look different across sports, experienced athletes are still more likely to suffer from strains than the average person. Athletes must ease their way back into fall sports before pushing themselves too hard.

These are just some of the top back-to-school hazards that you should watch for this fall. Remember to treat your body with kindness and maintain good hand hygiene to stem the worst of these issues from hampering your school year. When you need prompt medical attention, consider the convenience of urgent care clinics you can trust: Indigo Health

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