Avoid “the Rowan Plague” with these tips from Wellness Center physician Dr. Marta Diaz-Pupek

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An ominous cough from the back of the classroom signals its arrival; a series of sneezes in the student center solidifies its presence. As flu season draws ever nearer, many Rowan students are fielding firsthand exposure to a phenomenon which is known by its ominous title alone — The Rowan Plague.

Luckily, Rowan students have a valuable resource in the Wellness Center at Winans Hall. Students can schedule appointments for health screenings using the Online Wellness Link (OWL) in Self Service, or by calling the Wellness Center at 856-256-4333.

But to prevent getting sick at all, the person on campus best equipped to keep students healthy is Dr. Marta Diaz-Pupek, managing physician for Rowan University Student Health Services.

“Staying healthy in college can be a challenge,” Dr. Diaz-Pupek said. “Keeping up with the demands of academics and social life can make it difficult to remain focus on being healthy.”

Here are some of the ways which Dr. Diaz-Pupek recommends students take preventative measures against illness.

1. Stay squeaky clean.

Water running from a sink in the Whit’s office at 6 East High Street. – File Photo / Justin Decker

According to Dr. Diaz-Pupek, “Washing your hands removes your germs, prevents spreading of germs and keep you from getting sick.”

2. You are what you eat, so eat well.

A plate of food in the Glassworks dining hall at Holly Pointe Commons. – File Photo / Justin Decker

“Eating right can help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your immune
system and improve your overall health,” Dr. Diaz-Pupek says.

However, “Don’t skip meals,” she adds. Some snacks that she recommends are fruits, vegetables, granola bars and nuts. Also make sure that you are eating from every food group. Students looking for more personalized nutrition advice can schedule an appointment with the Wellness Center’s dietitian.

3. Hydrate or die-drate.

Using a refillable water bottle is a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day. – Photo courtesy of Pixabay

A reusable water bottle is a great way to ensure that you’re drinking throughout the day. And if you don’t stay hydrated? “[Dehydration] can affect your concentration, trigger headaches and make you feel fatigued,” Dr. Diaz-Pupek advises.

4. Ditch the pumpkin spice (or any flavor) latte.

We know Wawa coffee tastes good, but it may not help your body fight off flu. – Photo by Flickr user Dave Kerwood

“Although drinking caffeinated beverages may make you feel alert and better able to concentrate, it can also make you feel nervous, anxious, irritable and make it difficult for you to sleep,” Dr. Diaz-Pupek says. “Drinking excessive caffeine can cause palpitations, arrhythmia [abnormal heart rhythm] and agitation. When the caffeine wears off, you may feel fatigued or get a headache.”

5. Skip the all-nighters and catch some Zs.

Holly Pointe Commons is where most freshmen who live on campus will be sleeping, hopefully for eight hours each night. – Editor-in-Chief / Miguel Martinez

Eight hours of sleep may seem impossible when you have three assignments due the next morning ⁠— but each of those hours is worth it. One way which Dr. Diaz-Pupek recommends students fall asleep more easily is to restrict screen-time an hour before bed.

6. Hit the gym.

Stock photo of Rowan University’s pool, now dedicated in memory of Tony Lisa. – Photo courtesy of sites.rowan.edu

You don’t have to be a body-builder to get the full-body benefits of movement. “Getting exercise is easier than you think,” Dr. Diaz-Pupek advises. “Walk to class, play sports, go to the gym or ride your bicycle.” Get those gains in.

6. Be pro-vax.

The Wellness Center offers administration of the flu vaccine. -File Photo / Amanda Palma

Yes, flu shots are safe — and you’ll need a new one every year in order for your body to be resistant to the most recent strain. “Student Health Services provides free flu vaccines,” Diaz-Pupek says. “Be on the lookout for dates and locations throughout campus for administration of the vaccine or schedule an appointment at Student Health Services,” she adds.

8. Stop thinking that it’s cool to Juul.

An individual smoking an e-cigarette. – Photo courtesy of Pixabay

According to Diaz-Pupek, the complications which can arise from tobacco, vaping or juuling can be severe, but there are ways to recover from addiction. “The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released an advisory urging people to avoid using e-cigarettes/vaping devices. For more information regarding this outbreak visit the CDC website. If you are smoking, vaping, Juul-ing, or using any e-cigarette device and are ready to quit, the NJQUITLINE can help. Call 1-866-657-8677 (1-866-NJSTOPS) to speak with a counselor (through their free service).”

9. Take it easy.

Then-juniors Rbrey Singleton and Patrick Morrisey man the donation table at RAH Bingo on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017 at the Student Center. – File Photo / Nicole Mingo

Finally, know that it’s important not to over-extend yourself. Spending time with friends or doing a relaxing activity are all important to physical health, as well as mental health. But if that’s not enough, Dr. Diaz-Pupek wants students to know that the Wellness Center does have additional resources. “If you are struggling with feeling overly stressed, please take advantage of our counseling services at the Wellness Center. Our counselors are available 24/7 for students needing immediate help. During regular hours you can walk in or call 856-256-4333 (after hours this number will direct you to public safety).”

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