As you prepare your college-bound offspring for his or her new adventure, there are many things that you need to think about, from logistics of transportation to wondering how often you’re going to hear from your college student. But one thing that may slip your mind in the midst of buying linen, checking wardrobes, and gathering supplies, is “how prepared is she if she gets sick or hurt?” While you can’t be there to help and provide Mom’s Tender Care, you can help by preparing a well-stocked first aid kit, which may be the next best thing.
The most common illnesses and injuries that college students see are no different from when they were at home: colds, the flu, cuts and bruises, and sprains and strains. Here is an example of some supplies that may help your student when he is feeling sick:
1. Digital oral thermometer – Basic digital thermometers are relatively inexpensive and can help your student monitor her temperature if she thinks she has a fever. If she needs to be seen by a doctor or nurse at health services, they will probably ask if she’s taken her temperature, so she’ll be one step ahead. Be sure she knows how to use it before she leaves though!
2. Pain relievers (analgesics) – Which type of pain reliever does your student use if he needs one? Keep in mind that different pain relievers have different actions. Acetaminophen, for example, may be better at relieving pain from headaches, while ibuprofen or naproxen, are better for treating pain caused by inflammation, such as sprains or strains. These can also be used to lower a fever, if needed.
Be sure that he understands that over-the-counter (OTC) medicines need to be treated with respect, just as prescription drugs do, to ensure he doesn’t take too many too often. Also, it’s important that these medicines not be combined with alcohol, particularly acetaminophen, which is metabolized through the liver, as is alcohol.
3. Anti-diarrhea, anti-nausea/heartburn medicines – New food, new eating times, and new environments can all cause stomach upsets, heartburn and diarrhea. Packing some medicines, such as Imodium, can help her get diarrhea under control and medicines, like Maalox, Pepto-Bismol, and others can help reduce stomach acid and decrease that nauseous feeling.
4. Allergy medicine – Does your student have allergies? If he does, be sure that he has his preferred allergy medicine, just in case he is exposed to the allergen.
5. Prescription medicines – Check to ensure that your student has an adequate supply of her prescription medicines and that she knows where to go and how to get them refilled once she’s at school.
6. Band-Aids and antibiotic ointment – Cuts and scrapes are common injuries. Your student should know to clean the wound well and then cover it with a band aid, especially if the wound is in an area where it may be exposed to dirt or it may rub against something. Antibiotic ointment isn’t a must, but some people believe it should be lightly applied after the wound is cleaned, to reduce the risk of infection.
7. Ace bandages. Whether it’s through school sports or just having fun with friends, sprains and strains aren’t uncommon at school. Having a few different sizes of ace bandages allows your student to wrap up the injured area as needed.
Seeing your child go off to college can be stressful for everyone involved. It’s a new and exciting chapter, but it also means letting go. Letting go can be a bit easier if you know you’ve prepared your child as best you can – and that includes helping him cope with the everyday illnesses or injuries that are bound to happen over the next four years.
TapGenes Take away: College prep should include having a well stocked first aid kit before leaving home.
Marijke Vroomen Durning is a registered nurse, health writer and author of Just the Right Dose: Your Smart Guide to Prescription Drugs & How to Take Them Safely.
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