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Keeping College Students Healthy

Tuesday, Aug 01, 2017

The transition from high school to college is a big one, and our experts share important tips for students and families on this episode of Health Matters with Doylestown Health, airing now on CBTV.

Guests for the show include Dr. Michael Barmach, a family physician in practice with Dr. Robert Grabowski at Doylestown Health Primary Care in Doylestown and Miriam Torres, RN, BS, director of Student Health Services and Coordinator of the Wellness Center at Delaware Valley University.

Hosts Ashley Heidler, Pediatric Outreach manager with Doylestown Health, and Joe Johnson, CB South High School junior, lead the discussion.

Health Matters: College Health

Health Matters College Health from Central Bucks School District on Vimeo.

The "Freshman Fifteen"

First up in this 30-minute episode, what to do about the dreaded "freshman 15." Dr. Barmach encourages students to prevent weight gain by using good portion control, since college dining is like a "smorgasbord." He also advises drinking water instead of soda.

Other tips include avoiding stress eating like late-night pizza binging, and getting plenty of exercise. Miriam Torres advises students to make use of a school's fitness center and get involved in club sports.

Make sure they're vaccinated

When it comes to preparing for the start of a new school year, our Health Matters experts suggest students get a good general physical and address any underlying health issues prior to going away. Immunizations are important, and many colleges require a meningitis vaccine for anyone living in the dorms. There is a new meningitis B vaccine that you can discuss with your physician. Keep your immunization records handy, and learn about requirements for schools in different states. Dr. Barmach reminds us it's always a good idea to get a flu shot, especially for students living in the dorms.

Fighting stress and encouraging socialization

This Health Matters episode covers emotional well-being as well as physical health. Increased workloads and intense class schedules can cause stress and anxiety, particularly for incoming freshman not used to the grind of college. Most colleges and universities have counseling centers and it's a good idea to seek out professional help (start out at the student health center) to get a handle on stress.

In addition to academic stress, many students go through social anxiety. Dr. Barmach and Miriam recommend students make an effort try things out, whether it's taking part in freshmen social events, joining a club or participating in some kind of school activity.

While this emotional adjustment is common, it shouldn't last more than a few weeks. There is a difference between adjustment and depression. Miriam tells viewers it's time to seek help when a student doesn't get out of bed, eats meals alone and doesn't socialize, impacting their academic and social life.

What about homesickness? It's not unusual, but to help students over the hump for a new school year, Dr. Barmach and Miriam discourage students from going home every weekend. They recommend staying for 15 weeks before going home for the weekend.

Going to college is an exciting time for young adults, especially incoming freshmen. Our guests offer advice on how to acclimate. Miriam reminds students to be themselves and try things at least once. Meet as many people as possible, encourages Dr. Barmach. And Ashley recommends having an open mind to get the most out of your college experience.

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the  local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 232 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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