Healthy living while at college is almost an oxymoron. Living on junk food and drinking too much booze are all potential hazards to your health. When your occasional lack of impulse control leads you astray, here are some ideas to keep in the back of your mind:
Drinking: Alcohol (or drugs, for that matter) on campus or in public might get you expelled or arrested. Be careful not to become intoxicated to the point of getting sick or doing anything stupid. Alcohol poisoning is a potentially life threatening condition, and can result in stupor, seizures, slow and irregular breathing or vomiting. Because the gag reflex is depressed by alcohol, you could aspirate (inhale) anything you vomit while unconscious, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain and coma or death.
The effects of alcohol poisoning are unpredictable in any one person, but you need to recognize common signs and symptoms. Anyone who has passed out from drinking could be in danger, as alcohol continues to be absorbed from the stomach long after drinking has ceased. If you suspect someone is in trouble, call 911 to have your unconscious buddy brought to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.
If you decide to drink, limit intake to one alcoholic beverage an hour (or less!), don’t drink on an empty stomach (food slows alcohol absorption), and drink a 12-ounce glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Don’t drive a car, steal stuff, vandalize other people’s property or do anything else that will endanger or draw attention to you and your crew. Law enforcement is not sympathetic to intoxicated minors. And try not to engage in intimate activity that you’ll later regret while your ability to discriminate is compromised. Broadcasting your bad behavior on the Internet isn’t funny to future employers or graduate school admission officers, either.
Eating: The four basic food groups are not caffeine, nicotine, cholesterol and alcohol. Do your best to eat three square meals a day. Missing breakfast actually promotes weight gain, as your body thinks it’s starving and conserves fat. If you have to grab something on the fly, keeping a supply of fruit, nuts, carrot sticks, yogurts and granola bars is much better than a meal of Cheese Doodles, Snickers and Mountain Dew.
— Mark Melrose, DO, is a board-certified emergency physician at Urgent Care Manhattan. E-mail him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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