Dr. Charles Yockey can reel off a long list of suggestions that would help keep Kansas University students out of his office at Watkins Student Health Center.
But the list basically boils down to one simple thought: Use common sense.
Yockey said the top four most-common medical problems treated by Watkins doctors are, in this order, upper-respiratory infections, stomach disorders, dermatological ailments and sexually transmitted diseases.
And common sense can help KU students can avoid many such problems, Yockey said.
The cure for upper-respiratory infections, for instance, is to sleep enough, eat well, keep your hands clean and maintain a schedule that doesn't overtax your system.
A student who has too many part-time jobs, a full load of school hours, volunteer projects and other responsibilities is a prime candidate to wind up at Watkins, Yockey said.
"WHAT HAPPENS is, they forget to eat and sleep," he said. "They run out of gas and they get sick."
Another good way to get sick, Yockey said, is to ignore safety precautions about sex.
"You'd think that if the HIV education were taking hold, the numbers of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea would go down," he said. "But that's not the case here."
Yockey said nationally, an average of 2 people per 1,000 have tested positive for AIDS. At KU, he said, the average is below the national mark.
Still, he said, every year some KU students test positive for AIDS. Yockey said Watkins doctors are battling sexually transmitted disease by turning "every STD visit into an educational experience."
He said staff members discuss the importance of monogamous relationships and wearing a condom, to name a couple of precautions.
AND WHILE some students are missing the message on STDs, many KU students also appear to be ignoring warnings about the dangers of alcohol abuse. Yockey said alcohol is the top problem at colleges nationwide "and KU is no exception."
At Watkins, he said, doctors treat injuries, stomach problems and even alcohol poisoning caused by heavy drinking. Problems involving illegal drugs, he said, "are amazingly infrequent."
"We've gone months here without seeing an overdose," he said.
That's not the case for problems that may stem from cigarette smoking. Yockey said 10 percent of KU students smoke, "which is absolutely amazing in 1992."
Watkins offers stop-smoking programs and can provide help for students who are suffering from substance abuse, Yockey said. For a sampling of Watkins' services, Yockey said, students can come to the facility's annual health fair, which is scheduled for Sept. 17 and Sept. 18.
That information may come in handy during the school year, Yockey said, when even the most careful students are apt to get sick.