Health at University

Students: Looking after your health at university

Your A Level results are in and you’ve got your place – congratulations! With September just a couple of weeks away, you’ll be at university in no time, making new friends and (hopefully!) learning some new things. Amongst the preparations for going to uni, one of the things you should consider is your health. Being away from home and living on your own for the first time is a daunting time, and it’s up to you now to start looking at your health. There’s a few things to take into consideration, so make sure you’re prepared before ‘Freshers Week’ gets underway.


Get your health in order – register with a GP and Dentist

It’s important that you register with a GP as soon as you arrive at university, even if you’re going to be visiting home every holiday. Should something happen or you need urgent medical care, being registered with a local GP will help ensure you get the treatment you need quickly and means you won’t have to worry. If you need repeat prescriptions (for your pill for example), this is something that you’ll be able to do hassle-free once you’ve registered. Your university will have a list of recommended GPs within your university’s locality, whilst the NHS also has a GP search tool. If you become ill during the holidays, contact a local GP surgery who can offer you treatment for up to 14 days before you need to register as a temporary resident.

If you can also find an NHS dentist, you should consider registering with one. It is possible to schedule visits with your family dentist for when you’re home during the holidays, but if you don’t plan on being home much once you leave, you should definitely register with a new dentist.


Get your vaccinations

You may be familiar with getting your vaccinations before jetting off abroad, but you should also make sure you are up to date with your childhood vaccinations before you leave for university. It’s worth checking whether or not you’re up to date with your MMR, tetanus and you tuberculosis vaccinations – which your doctor should have a record of. Meanwhile, students are being advised to get vaccinated against meningitis, following increasing number of cases in young people. The vaccine is available free to 17 and 18 year olds, as well as those in education and under 25. Students entering university are more at risk because they come into contact with new groups of people, and the consequences of contracting it can be severe, if not deadly.


Invest in a first aid kit

Without mum and dad around, you’ll need to take care of your own medication and first aid supplies – a good lesson in self-care. Invest in a small first aid box (a Tupperware box will do!) to put essentials such as painkillers, plasters, bandages, burn and blister treatments and anything else you tend to use such as hayfever medication. Our friends at Richmond Out of Hours Care have a handy guide to over the counter medicines for you to familiarise yourself with.


Look after your sexual health

Your sexual health should always be a priority, and you should always practice safe sex whilst at university. Making sure you use condoms is the most effective way of preventing STDs, whilst you may wish to use other forms of contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Make sure you get regular tests for STDs as well to ensure that you stay up to date.


Practice self-care with good hygiene

It’s now up to you to look after yourself, and that includes keeping your living space clean. Clean surfaces carefully and regularly, especially after chopping meat and different vegetables, and make sure your bathroom areas are clean too. Antibacterial handwash is great to have around the house, and it’s also worth carrying around a hand gel with you too. If you’re unsure about food expiration dates, this useful article will help you work out what they mean and what’s safe to eat and when.

There’s quite a bit to consider, but with a bit of forward planning you can make sure you enjoy a healthy, happy start to university life. For more information about healthcare at university, the NHS Choices pages have some great resources, whilst your chosen university will also be able to point you in the right direction.