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Managing Sickness and Chronic Illness in College

By Savannah Byers on February 20, 2019 in

Student Experience, Campus Resources


Being sick is terrible when you’re home with family likely willing to help you. Believe it or not, sickness can be even worse when you are in college and left to fend for yourself. Here’s SUU’s guide on how to handle being sick in college.

When you get sick:


A big part of adulthood is making tough calls. You need to decide what you can and cannot handle when you’re not feeling well. Your personal health should always come first. Don’t over exert yourself as you might end up missing more school. Ask yourself -- will going to class make you feel worse? If you’re too sick to attend class, you’re probably too sick to go out with friends. Stay home and rest up.


Missing class is stressful, homework can pile up quickly. Ask your classmates to send you any missed notes and assignments. If you need to miss more than a few days of class, it’s worth it to be proactive in communicating with your professors. If you’re missing a presentation or a big project, it would be a good idea to email a doctor's note to your professor. It takes hardly any time to send an email, and it will save you some stress.

Get help

Cedar City has several options available when your sickness requires more than rest. On-campus resources include the Health and Wellness Center, and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Off-campus medical resources include Cedar City InstaCare (non-emergency) and Cedar City Hospital Emergency Department (emergency).

Avoid Getting Sick:


The easiest way to get more sleep is to make it a priority. Bad sleeping habits negatively affect “mood, motivation, judgement, and our perception of events.” The benefits of getting enough sleep include increased immune function, weight maintenance, reduced stress, improved mood, and better overall health. If you’d like better sleep, try:

  • Setting a realistic bedtime and sticking with it

  • Waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends)

  • Creating a healthy sleep environment (no phone, food, etc.)

Eat healthy

You don’t need to totally change your diet to eat healthier. Start out small, try to:

  • Order water instead of soda

  • Modify your snacks; switch from gummy bears to clementines

  • Find the healthy foods you like and roll with them

Make good decisions

Sickness spreads quickly in university campuses, dorms, and apartments. Some quick tips to reduce your risk of getting sick:

  • Don’t share drinks, food, deodorant, hair brushes, razors, chapstick, lip gloss, etc.

  • Wash your hands often

  • Stay up to date on flu shots and immunizations

  • Throw out old food

  • Wash your sheets and towels

Chronic Illness in College:


You should communicate with your professors and the disability center if you need extra time on an assignment, must miss class for treatment, require special testing accommodation, need wheelchair access, etc. People are happy to help, it’s your duty to let them know how they can.

Make Accommodations

Be in contact with the right people early. Use the directory search function in your MySUU portal to get in touch with who you must. Make a gameday plan prior to move-in day; introduce yourself to a medical specialist near campus, and ask your home doctor/specialist for a note excusing you from the things you know you will need accommodation for, etc. Plan ahead and save yourself some stress.

Be Prepared

Moving away to college automatically gives you a slew of new responsibility; one responsibility is to be prepared for anything. In terms of your chronic illness, keep a folder full of copies of all your major medical records and documents. Make sure all your prescriptions are up to date and find a pharmacy near campus to use before school starts. Have extra medical supplies in case of an emergency. Be organized ahead of time, you never know when you’ll need these things.

Get Involved

While your illness may be a big part of your life and identity, it’s not everything. Join a club or organization that you’re passionate about. Find your people and community. Experience and enjoy college life.

At some point, everyone will get sick at an inconvenient time. Your health and well being are most important above all else, so take care of yourself.


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