Are students going to survive to receive their degree?
A drastic increase in Rhodes University student’s consumption of medication and vitamin supplements is leaving the general health of South African students in question. Replacing conventional methods of health such as diet control, exercise and reduced drinking with easier substitutions is resulting in the holistic demise of student health.
Conventional methods of health ensure the maintenance of the body’s immune system, this needed to protect oneself from infection. The lifestyle choices of students, however, jeopardizes this safety. Poor lifestyle habits together with the increase of stress weakens the bodies defence system against cold and flu, thus if what has become known as the student routine is maintained, our university students might not make it to their graduation.
In a recent survey I conducted on the preferred health choices of students, a steady 27.27% of students continue with normal lifestyle habits even when they are sick- this including partying, drinking and smoking. The effects of this detrimental on prolonged health. In order to attempt to combat this, students make extensive use of prescription and non-prescription medication, including paracetamol-based painkillers and cough-syrups. Dr. Moray Shirley, a practicing general practitioner, explains that this chosen method is increasingly dangerous, ”there are many agents freely available over the counter that cause addiction as well as many other serious health issues”. Codeine-based cough syrups and paracetamol-based painkillers are explained by Shirley to be two of the most addictive and overlooked medications, Panado in particular affecting the functioning of the liver if used over a prolonged period of time.
Several contributing factors to the degradation of student health are mentioned, however, the most detrimental being the excessive consumption of alcohol with the consumption of medication. Excessive alcohol, as explained by Shirley, ”affects the clearing of agents through the liver”, yet the liver is both needed for the processing of medication and alcohol. Thus, the infamous students of Rhodes University should be weary of their alcohol intake and methods in order to cure a hangover, of which include painkillers and anti-nausea tablets.
Aside from medication, another preferable method by students to maintain health is the regular consumption of vitamins. The supplementing of vitamins into one’s diet is extensively advertised to be good- this with 50% of Rhodes University students saying that they supplement vitamins into their diet every day. However, the consumption of vitamins that are not intended to supplement a deficiency but substitute other health regulators are problematic. An article written under the publication of the Harvard Health Publications, deduces that the overconsumption of a particular nutrient may result in toxic vitamin levels, this leading to the overall degeneration of a person and moreover, a student’s health. For a more in-depth discussion of whether or not we should be supplementing vitamins into our diet, visit the Harvard Health Publications webpage by clicking here.
In the instance of Rhodes University students views on antibiotics, a controversial perspective was explored. 90.91% of Rhodes students replied to needing antibiotics when they are severely sick and a small majority preferring to fight the infection naturally, this again exploring the reliance on medication. However, the overuse of prescribed medication such as antibiotics may lead to a detrimental effect on the body. Drug-resistance is the most common issue with the overuse of antibiotics, Shirley explains that, ”the body gets used to active ingredients in the medication and prolonged exposure lessens its effectiveness”. Together with the lifestyle choices adopted by many students weakening the immune system to begin with, drug-resistance may ensure that recovery is unachievable. For a full explanation on how antibiotics and drug-resistance works, visit the following highlighted links: antibiotics, drug-resistance and medication-alcohol.
Rhodes University students need be careful what they put into their bodies, whether this be alcohol, cigarettes or medications, for the effects may be the end of their university experience.