Coping with Chronic Illness as a Student

chronic illess as a student

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  • Going off to college is one of life’s most exciting rites of passage. But it’s also a transition fraught with challenges, uncertainties, and anxieties.

    That’s true for college students the world over.

    But when you’re facing college while also managing a chronic illness, those fears and uncertainties can be especially great.

    But living with a chronic illness doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice “the college experience.” Your health condition does not have to deprive you of all the incredible opportunities that college is supposed to bring. The key though is to plan thoroughly.

    Create a workable strategy that allows you to integrate your healthcare regimen into your best college life. That way, by taking care of yourself, you can make your college years all that they should be, building memories that will last a lifetime. 

    Finding Support

    As you prepare for your first semester of college, one of the most important things that you can do is reach out to your university’s health offices. There, you can be connected with the resources you need to help you manage your condition while on-campus.

    Depending on your particular health needs, you may be eligible for important support services, such as free access to assistive devices, extended time on written tests, or remote learning options.

    Managing Pain

    If you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, then pain, unfortunately, may well be a part of your daily life. The good news is that new and promising treatments are emerging every day to help with the management of chronic pain.

    These include several natural remedies that are proving highly effective in relieving pain, without the side effects and addictive properties of opioids.

    Kratom, for example, has been shown to increase pain tolerance, without producing the psychogenic effects of prescription narcotics. This is especially important for college students who need to be alert and focused to manage coursework — and to enjoy college life!

    Bringing a Pet

    Let’s face it, chronic illness, no matter what the diagnosis may be, is as much psychological as it is physiological. Those who live with chronic illness may easily experience anxiety, trauma, and other disorders related to chronic stress.

    And because the transition to college is a stressor in and of itself, you might find yourself thinking about getting an emotional support animal (ESA) for an added bit of reassurance.

    If you decide to take this step, though, it’s important to ensure that your ESA is properly registered and that the registration is documented with your university’s health office. This will make it easier for you to keep your ESA with you on campus (though ESAs do not enjoy the same level of access that registered service animals do).

    If you’re bringing an ESA with you to school, though, there are some best practices to keep in mind. First, if you are going to have a roommate, talking to them about your ESA is not only good manners, but it can also prevent some major issues down the road.

    Before you head off to school, it’s also a good idea to consider investing in pet insurance. After all, the life of a college student isn’t necessarily flush with cash, and you want to ensure that you have the resources in place to keep your fur baby healthy and happy for years to come!

    Maintaining Good Habits

    We’ve all heard of the notorious Freshman 15. It almost seems like a given that when you go to college, you’re going to end up drinking too much, sleeping too little, and living off junk food.

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    When you have a chronic illness, though, the bad habits that are the stuff of college legend can be life-threatening. Drinking, even in moderation, may lead to dangerous interactions with prescription medications. Poor eating habits or fad diets can be risky for students with certain health conditions, such as diabetes.

    That’s why it’s so important to have a health plan ready when you arrive at campus and the commitment to stick to it, no matter what your friends might be doing. When you have a chronic illness, after all, the stakes are far higher. So make sure you’re eating right, getting enough sleep and exercise, following doctors’ orders, and in general taking good care of you!

    The Takeaway

    Living with a chronic illness can be difficult. But your health condition doesn’t have to define or dominate your life. And it certainly doesn’t have to diminish your college experience in any way. At the same time, “fitting in” is never going to be worth risking your health and certainly not worth risking your life.

    So when you go to college take your strategy with you. Know before you get there how you’re going to take care of yourself, learn a lot, and have a great time doing it!

    Image Credit: chronic illess as a student by Pixabay

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