Thursday, July 9, 2020

Review: The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook by Jill Grimes

Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness
by Jill Grimes, MD, FAAFP
Illustrated by Nicole Grimes
Skyhorse Press
312 pages

Consider this College Health 101—a guide to what students really want (or need) to know about their mental and physical health when they're away from home.

College students facing their first illness, accident, or anxiety away from home often flip-flop between wanting to handle it themselves and wishing their parents could swoop in and fix everything. Advice from peers and “Dr. Google” can be questionable.The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook provides accurate, trustworthy, evidence-based medical information (served with a dose of humor) to reduce anxiety and stress and help set appropriate expectations for more than fifty common issues.

What if you can’t sleep well (or can’t sleep at all) in your dorm room?  What if a pill “gets stuck” in your throat? What if your roommate falls asleep (or passes out) wearing contacts, and wakes up with one painfully stuck? Your friend’s terrible sore throat isn’t Strep or Mono? What else could it be? What if everyone from your group project thinks they’re coming down with the flu the day before your presentation?

Dr. Jill Grimes has the answer to these questions and many more. Her guidebook is designed to help you: 
Decide if and when to seek medical help
Know what to expect when you get there
Plan for the worst-case scenario if you don’t seek help
Learn how you can prevent this in the future
Realize what you can do right now, before you see a doctor
Understand the diagnostic and treatment options

The topics of tattoos, smoking, vaping, pot, piercings, and prescription drugs will also be tackled throughout the pages of this handbook, ensuring you, your roommates, and your friends have a healthy semester.



Through down-to-earth explanations, this is a treasure chest of information on how to handle all sorts of problems and ailments college kids might experience.

Written by a medical professional who has experience dealing on a daily basis with all sorts of college student issues, this book addresses many 'usual' questions and concerns new college students might have. Covering everything from school related problems (such as test panic) to emotional problems (such as homesickness) to self-inflicted issues (such as alcohol poisoning) to pure health problems (such as ear infections), many problems students might run into are addressed. A few words of encouragement and calm are accompanied by easy to understand explanations. Often spread 'myths' are addressed as well as real solutions and suggestions. And it's clearly stated when a doctor needs to be sought out. At the end, the directions on creating a good first-aide kit are also included.

With two kids of my own already through those first college years and two more still to go (but not quite yet), I was curious how this book would match up with my own experience. It passed the test and then some. The range of issues addressed alone deserves kudos. While regular health problems are described, it also hits upon topics which especially plague college students...and ones they might not want to discuss with their parents.

The book is formatted to be used as a reference. Broken down into categories (ear, head, etc), the desired topics are easy to find. I appreciated the natural way the author opens each theme and offers settling words before diving into the explanations. Even these are written in an easy to understand format and directed toward a college student's view on life. It's clear that the author knows what goes around 'myth'-wise on a campus and addresses common spread theories. The facts are clear and the suggestions on how to treat the problems are logically supported, making sure its explained why certain things work and others don't (because trust me, college students won't just believe anyone).

Even more difficult themes are addressed, but these by no means take center stage. And to make it even more enjoyable, there are fun illustrations sprinkled in, which also help to make the points clear.

Reading through this made me smile as I remembered my own children calling (often panicked) when they experienced certain symptoms or were worried that they were coming down with a serious condition. Having this book at hand would have worked wonderfully for those times that I couldn't be immediately reached and, if nothing else, would have given them a chance to 'check up on me' and make sure what I told them was true or not.

I'm giving this one two huge thumbs up and recommending that it be stuffed into every first student's bag as they head out into the huge, new world known as college.

by Jill Grimes
 (and horribly helpful) 

5 Must-Have Items for Your College Freshman

You’re making a list and checking it twice…because especially if this is your FIRST kid heading off to college, you want to be sure you’ve included every critical item.

·         Twin XL (Extra Long) Sheets? Check.
·         Command Strips in every shape, size and strength? Check.
(Much bigger deal for girls vs. guys, but this is the only way to hang stuff on walls.)
·         Dorm Bed Risers? (I highly recommend the ones with extra outlets.) Check.
Chargers, fan, laundry bag, clothes, shoes, coats…the list goes on. And on. And ON. What could possibly be missing? From my perspective as a seasoned move-in mom and a university doctor, here ‘s my list of the top five forgotten items:

1.      Small Tool Kit: Hammer, screwdrivers, wrench set, pliers, scissors, tape measure and level.  This should be last in, first out, because you’ll often need these immediately to assemble and disassemble dorm room furniture or fix a stuck drawer. Pro tip: Add in a couple garbage bags; trash piles up as soon as you start unpacking.
2.      Backup Prescription Glasses: especially for the kid that ALWAYS wears contacts! Why? Because if you get a bad stye or “pinkeye” (viral conjunctivitis), or more commonly, you accidentally fall asleep in your contacts or get something in your eye that scratches your cornea- you CANNOT wear contacts for several days to a week or more. And seeing clearly tends to help grades. If you always wear glasses, the backup pair is for when yours break or disappear. And inevitably, it happens during midterms or finals.
3.      Small Lock Box: If you take prescription medications for ADD, this is a must. These stimulant pills sell for $5-10 each (a felony if caught!!) and dorm rooms are rarely private and/or consistently locked. Please remove the temptation for others and keep your meds safe. Lock boxes also work well for pricey jewelry, your passport, and while we’re at it, your backup glasses.
4.      Heating Pad: Okay, not critical, but a great way to guarantee your popularity! Seriously, few students have these, but those that do tell me “EVERYONE borrows it” for aching muscles, back spasms and “cramps”. Bonus points: in cold climates they can double as an electric blanket (just don’t fall asleep on top of one, as this can cause burns.)
5.      Solid Air Freshener: Plug-ins are rarely allowed in dorms, but you can place a solid or gel freshener in your closet (by your shoes) and tuck another under your bed. Extra-strong odors? Bamboo charcoal bags are a pricey option, but they work incredibly well. Choose a neutral or “fresh” smell, not “flowery” or “citrus” as you don’t know your roommate’s sensitivity to different scents. Bodies, dirty clothes, third-hand smoke and old dorms all get very smelly. Unless you are moving into a brand-new dorm with a neat-freak roommate, these fresheners can be lifesavers. Or at the very least, roommate-savers.

Bottom Line: Add these five items to your list for a smoother move-in and a healthier, safer semester! (If you’re flying, pack the glasses & shop for the rest when you arrive.) Good Luck!

And here she is...

Jill Grimes, MD, FAAFP, is a nationally recognized medical media expert, award-winning author, medical editor, and Board-Certified Family Physician. Her passion is prevention, and her message spans print (Parenting Magazine, Glamour, etc.), online (Refinery29,, etc.), and television and radio talk shows (Sirius XM Doctor Radio). After two decades of private practice, Dr. Grimes now enjoys seeing patients part-time at the University of Texas in Austin. She is a proud mom to two awesome collegiate daughters. Academically, Dr. Grimes enjoys educating healthcare professionals by speaking at national AAFP, Pri-Med®, and Harvard Medical School conferences, and remains on clinical faculty at UMASS Medical School.

You can learn more about Jill...
Twitter: @JillGrimesMD
Instagram: @JillGrimesMD

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