Help

Acne         

Young adults are often plagued with acne, a common skin disorder that involves the skin‘s oil producing glands and hair follicles. Acne is caused by a build-up of debris, including dead skin cells, in the hair follicle causing an obstruction of the oil flow and bacteria. This build-up results in the formation of “whiteheads” or “blackheads” more commonly known as acne.

The aggravating factors that may increase the occurrence of acne are:

  • Hormones that stimulate oil production, which is why acne begins during puberty.
  • Stress which also often involves fatigue, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and/or illness.
  • Friction and/or sweating, especially the combination, can lead to acne. Hand to face contact is a common source of friction.
  • Cosmetics and other skin products, mainly oil based products, that can clog pores.
  • Medicines such as steroids, birth control pills, some asthma medications, anti-epilepsy medicines, INH, and lithium.
  • Nutritional supplements that have iodine.

The treatment and prevention of acne includes the following:

  • Wash the skin twice a day with a mild soap. Using a clean washcloth every time, work the soap into the skin gently for a minute or two and rinse well.
  • Try an astringent lotion, de-greasing pads, or a face scrub.
  • Avoid excessive scrubbing.
  • Use water-based or dermatologically safe cosmetics only.
  • Do not pick or squeeze acne lesions. Pimples can get infected and then leave scars.
  • Wash face after exercising or sweating.
  • Wash hair at least twice weekly and keep it off of the face.
  • When men shave, wrap a warm wet hand towel around the face before shaving to make the beard softer. Always shave the way the hair grows. These measures will prevent further irritation to the skin which can exacerbate acne.
  • Sunlight can increase acne, so limit time spent in sun.
  • Use only water-based make-up. Do not use oil-based creams, lotions or make-up, which can clog pores.
  • Use over-the- counter medication containing benzyl peroxide.

See a health care provider if self-care is not enough to control acne. No matter what special treatments are prescribed, remember to continue with proper skin care as outlined above.. Acne is controllable and proper treatment can prevent scars.

Resources:
AcneNet
http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/acne.html

Alcohol Use       

The use of alcohol is a very personal choice. Many people will choose to use alcohol safely, moderately and appropriately. Other people will simply have no desire to experience the taste or effects or choose not to drink alcohol because of their personal value system. Some people who are under the legal age to drink or with a family history of chemical dependency may also choose to not risk any use of alcohol. Whatever the choice a person may make concerning alcohol, it is important to know the facts concerning this chemical substance.

Alcohol use is very common in our society. Excessive alcohol use, either in the form of heavy drinking(more than two drinks per day for men or more than one drink per day for women), or binge drinking(more than 4 drinks during a single occasion for men or more than 3 drinks during a single occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as liver disease or unintentional injuries. According to national surveys approximately 5% of the total population drank heavily while 15% of the population binge drank. National surveys previously defined binge drinking as more than 4 drinks for both men and women. In 2001, there were approximately 75,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use. Excessive alcohol use is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death for people in the United States each year.

Students who engage in underage use of alcohol are more likely to experience the following consequences than underage students who do not use alcohol:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in other activities
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity
  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development
  • Physical and sexual assault
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide
  • Alcohol-related car crash and other unintentional injuries such as burns, falls, and drowning
  • Memory problems
  • Abuse of other drugs
  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects
  • Death from alcohol poisoning

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning:

  • If a person does not respond when you try to wake them up
  • Irregular, slow or shallow breathing
  • Pale, bluish, cold or clammy skin

Call 911 if any of these symptoms are discovered. Stay with the person while waiting for help. Turn the alcohol poisoned person on his or her side to prevent choking while waiting for help.

Listed below are some protective behaviors used by college students to avoid losing control due to alcohol:

  • Counting drinks (1 drink per hour and no more than 2 per event)
  • Alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks
  • Enjoying food with alcohol
  • Using the buddy system
  • Drinking lots of water to lessen dehydration

More helpful facts involving alcohol:

Alcohol causes the body to lose heat to the environment—the blood vessels dilate, bringing them closer to the surface of the skin. Alcohol should never be given to someone to “warm them up”. They will feel warmer, but the body will actually cool down.

Alcohol reduces a person’s sensitivity to pain. It is possible to suffer injuries and not realize it until the alcohol wears off—burns, cuts, bruises, and even frostbite can go unnoticed.

Combining alcohol with many prescription and non-prescription medications can result in serious side effects, including death.

Women become more intoxicated than men after drinking the same amount of alcohol, even when differences in body weight are taken into account.

Drinking during pregnancy can cause a variety of health problems in the child, including;

  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Fetal alcohol effect
  • Learning and behavioral problems
  • Mental retardation
  • Organ abnormalities
  • Hyperactivity

Signs of Alcohol abuse:

  • Drinking to get drunk
  • Personality changes
  • High tolerance for alcohol(The need for more alcohol to experience the same effects.)
  • Preoccupation with drinking
  • Alcohol-related social problems
  • Loss of memory
  • Denying or hiding drinking
  • Craving—a strong need or compulsion to drink
  • The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking

Call the Graceland CAP center at 5200 to make an appointment to meet with the substance abuse counselor if you feel that you have signs of alcohol abuse. All information shared with the counselors in the CAP center is kept strictly confidential.

Resource links:

www.cdc.gov
http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/
http://www.factsontap.org/

Allergies & Asthma    

Allergies
More than one-third of Americans have allergies of one sort or another. Allergies are hypersensitive reactions of the immune system to specific substances called allergens which include pollen, dust, animal dander, food or insect stings... Allergic symptoms commonly include runny nose and eyes, sneezing, itchy rashes, asthma, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Symptoms depend upon the allergen. Food allergies often cause stomach cramping and diarrhea. Dust and pollen typically cause runny nose, eyes and sneezing.

Allergies can be triggered at any stage in life. Sometimes allergies begin after a move to a different part of the world because the person is newly exposed to an allergen they have never been exposed to. When symptoms develop it is wise to see a health care provider to determine if the symptoms are caused by allergies or infection and to receive proper treatment.  

Information about Allergens
Dust - Allergic reactions to dust are usually due to the excretion of microscopic organisms in dust called mites. Frequent dusting and vacuuming reduce this allergen in the environment. Plastic covers on mattresses and pillows also help.

Food -   A food allergy is any adverse reaction to a food or food component involving the body's immune system. Some adverse reactions to foods do not involve the immune system and are known as food intolerance, e.g. food poisoning or the inability to properly digest certain food components such as lactose or gliadin.

Animals - An immune reaction to animals is usually due to a protein found in the saliva, dander (dead skin flakes), or the urine of an animal. The allergen is carried in the air or in dust on very small, invisible particles. It lands on the lining of the eyes and nose. It may also be inhaled directly into the lungs. Contact with an allergic person's skin may also cause itching and haves.

Pollen - Grass pollens are generally the most common cause of hay fever, but other pollen types cause seasonal allergies as well. Tree pollens and weed pollens such as plantain, mugwort and ragweed can trigger the immune system of some people. A person allergic to one pollen is generally also allergic to members of the same group or family. Pollen induced reactions include asthma, runny nose and eyes, and bronchitis.

Insect stings - Allergic reactions to insect stings can be so severe that death may occur within the few minutes following a sting. Even if not fatal, sting allergy symptoms can be frightening. The reaction can be dizziness, itchy welts or massive swelling of the body, inability to breath, swallow or speak, fainting from low blood pressure and shock.

Asthma
Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways and spasm of the bronchial smooth muscle, which causes increased mucus production and decreased air flow. The outward symptoms may be coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The condition is usually reversible with proper medical management.

The tendency to have hyper-reactive airways may have an inherited component, or may be acquired. There are many different triggers for asthma which include: exercise, upper respiratory infections, cigarette smoke, dust, air temperature, allergens, stress, chemicals,
and air temperature.

See your health care provider to work with you to develop a treatment plan for dealing with your allergy.

Information Resources: http://www.aaaai.org

http://www.undstudenthealth.com/top20/allerg ies.html

Common Cold & Flu   

A cold and the flu (influenza) are alike in many ways. Both are caused by viruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and colds can be caused by over 200 different viruses. The viruses multiply in the cells that line the nose and throat.. Stuffy nose, sore throat and cough are symptoms for both. Tiredness, fever, headache, and aching muscles and joints indicate the flu. A serious cough is more likely to be from the flu. The flu is more likely to lead to pneumonia than a cold is.
 
Treatment for colds and the flu include
  • Extra rest for 2-3 days.
  • Decongests such as pseudofedrine.
  • Increased fluid intake. Juice, soup and tea are good choices.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to clean mucus off back of throat.
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for body aches and fever.
  • Cough drops to ease coughing and throat pain.
  • Humidify room with vaporizer, humidifier or lowering the temperature of the room.

See a medical practitioner if you experience:

  • Green or yellow mucus
  • Pain or tenderness around the eyes or teeth.
  • Painful swelling of the glands in the neck.
  • Painful breathing, wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • Severe headache.
  • A fever greater than 100.5 for longer than two days.
  • White patches on the back of the throat or tonsils or an extremely red and swollen throat.
  • Fatigue lasting longer than one week. 

There are some good health habits that can help prevent the spread of colds, flu and other infectious diseases. They include

  • Getting vaccinated yearly against the flu.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Try to stay at least 3 feet away.
  • Cover you nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then dispose of the tissue afterwards.
  • If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands after you cough or sneeze, with soap and warm water or gel hand cleaner
  • Stay home when sick to prevent spread of illness.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle can also reduce your risk of influenza and other diseases. Adequate rest, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management are all proven strategies to boost your immune system. Be sure to drink plenty of water to keep mucus membranes hydrated and resistant to the flu virus. Frequent cleaning of hard surfaces such as telephones, doorknobs, desks, countertops, and handrails is also helpful.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)    

Conjunctivitis is commonly called "pink eye". It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the exposed surface of the eyeball. The inflammation can be caused by many things, including an irritation from contact lenses or a chemical, allergies and a viral or bacterial infection. Conjunctivitis often accompanies a head cold and is caused by the same virus.

Symptoms

The symptoms of conjunctivitis vary depending on what has caused the infection. Generally there is a reddening and irritation and, frequently a discharge from one or both of the eyes.

If the infection is bacterial the discharge is often thick and yellow or off-white. The eyelids may become crusted-over and cause difficulty opening the eyes in the morning.

Viral conjunctivitis causes red eyes and a thin or watery discharge.

Conjunctivitis due to allergic reactions due to seasonal pollen allergies cause the eyes to water excessively and itch. The eyes will also be red.

Serious pain in one or both eyes may be due to a serious condition and is cause to see a health care provider immediately.

Infectiousness

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is very contagious spreading from eye to hand to eye or from towels, hard surfaces etc. Frequent hand washing with soap and water is advised. Avoidance of touching eyes is also advised.

Treatment

A healthcare provider should be seen when symptoms of conjunctivitis appear. He or she will determine the cause of the infection. If the infection is bacterial the eyes will be treated with ophthalmic antibiotic ointment or drops. Viral infections are treated with frequent washing of the eyes with saline solutions. Warm moist compresses to the eyes are beneficial to both types of infection.

Conjunctivitis due to allergies can be treated with antihistamine eyes drops or oral antihistamine.  Frequent washing of the face with cold water is also helpful by washing away pollen.

Information Resource: Rutgers SHS Brochure

Eating Disorders     

Eating disorders are disorders of thinking and behavior involving eating, food and body image. They occur most often in adolescent women, but can occur in men and older people. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences. The signs and symptoms of the different eating disorders are listed below.

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above normal weight for height, body type, age and activity level.
  • Increased fear of weight gain or being fat.
  • Feeling fat or overweight despite dramatic weight loss.
  • Loss of menstrual periods.
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape.

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Repeated episodes of binging and purging
  • Feeling out of control during a binge.
  • Purging after a binge, self-induced vomiting, laxative, diet pills, excessive exercise, etc.
  • Frequent dieting
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape.

Binge Eating/Compulsive Overeating

  • Usually overweight or obese, with frequent weight changes.
  • Feels out of control.
  • Depressed, low self esteem.

Disordered Eating

  • Poor body image.
  • Tired and weak.
  • Weight changes.
  • Thinks a lot about food and weight.
  • Eats too little or too much at one time.
  • Skips meals

Female Athlete Triad

  • Preoccupation with food and weight
  • Low body weight due to disordered eating (binge/purge and /or restricting).
  • Tired and weak.
  • Decreased athletic performance.
  • Depression.
  • Loss of menstrual cycle.
  • Brittle, weak bones.
  • Frequent injuries, such as stress fractures.

Muscle Dysmorphia

  • Distorted body image-person feels small inspire of being muscular.
  • Feels ashamed of body.
  • Uses anabolic steroids, herbal and dietary supplements.
  • Restricts diet-eats a very high protein diet.
  • Weight lifting and related activities become the focus of life.
  • Must exercise every day.

Total recovery is possible if the disorder is diagnosed early. Left untreated eating disorders can lead to death. Treatment involves medical intervention, psychotherapy and nutrition counseling. If you are concerned that you or a friend may have an eating disorder, please contact Graceland Student Health Service or the counselor in the CAP center for direction.

Student Health Services - Garden Level of Walker Hall. Entrance faces Tess Morgan Parking lot. Phone number 5372 or 5370

CAP Center - Middle Hall of Patroness. Phone numb er -5200

Information Resource: www.undstudenthealth.com

Fungal Infections      

If you have ever had athlete's foot or a yeast infection, you can blame a fungus.

A fungus is actually a primitive vegetable. Mushrooms, mold and mildew are examples. Fungi live in air, in soil, on plants and in water. Some live in the human body. Only about half of all types of fungi are harmful. Some fungi reproduce through tiny spores in the air. You can inhale the spores or they can land on you. As a result, fungal infections often start in the lungs or on the skin. You are more likely to get a fungal infection if you have a weakened immune system or take antibiotics. Fungi can be difficult to kill. For skin and nail infections, you can apply medicine directly to the infected area. Oral antifungal medicines are also available for serious infections.

Athlete's Foot (Tinea pedia)

Athlete's foot is a common infection caused by the tinea fungus. It is not serious. Symptoms include itching, burning and cracked, scaly skin between your toes. Tinea grows best in damp, dark and warm places, which is why it often develops between your toes. It can spread to your toenails, as well, making them thick and crumbly.

You can get athlete's foot from damp surfaces such as locker room floors. To prevent it:

  • Wash your feet every day, including between your toes.
  • Dry your feet well, especially between your toes.
  • Wear clean cotton socks.
  • Don't walk barefoot in public areas.
  • Wear flip-flops in locker room showers.

Treatments include over-the-counter antifungal creams for most cases and prescription medicines for more serious infections.

Yeast Infections (Candidiasis, Moniliasis)

Candida is the scientific name for yeast. It is a fungus that lives almost everywhere, including in your body. Usually, your immune system keeps yeast under control. If you are sick or taking antibiotics, it can multiply and cause an infection. Yeast infections affect different parts of the body in different ways:

  • Thrush is a yeast infection that causes white patches in your mouth
  • Esophagitis is thrush that spreads to your esophagus, the tube that takes food from your mouth to your stomach. Esophagitis can make it hard or painful to swallow.
  • Women can get vaginal yeast infections, causing itchiness, pain and discharge.
  • Yeast infections of the skin cause itching and rashes.
  • Yeast infections in your bloodstream can be life-threatening.

Antifungal medicines eliminate yeast infections in most people. If you have a weak immune system, treatment may be more difficult.

Resources: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/f ungalinfections.html

Gastroenteritis (Stomach flu)     

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the U.S. It spreads through contaminated food or water, and contact with an infected person. The best prevention is frequent hand washing.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Most people recover with no treatment.

The most common problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration. This happens if you do not drink enough fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and diarrhea.

Treatment

  • Stop eating and drinking for a few hours to let your stomach settle.
  • Drink plenty of fluids such as soda, broth, jello and tea with sugar to prevent dehydration.
  • Ease back into eating. Begin to eat bland, easy to digest foods such as soda crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas, and rice. Stop eating if your nausea returns. Avoid milk and dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods for a few days.
  • Take bismuth (Pepto-Bismol) liquid or tablets which decreases inflammation of the intestines and absorbs the toxins in the bowel.
  • Get plenty of rest. The illness and dehydration can make you weak and tired.

Seek medical help if:

  • Vomiting persists for more than two days.
  • Diarrhea persists for longer than several days.
  • Diarrhea turns bloody.
  • Fever is 101 F(38.3 C) or higher.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting occurs with standing.
  • Confusion develops.
  • Worrisome abdominal pain develops.

Information Resources: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/gastroenteritis.html

Healthy Sexuality     

Our sexuality is a big part of who we are. It doesn’t matter if you have no experience or if you are very experienced sexually. You may choose to be abstinent (not have sex). But no matter how you identify yourself sexually, your sexuality is a big part of who you are and healthy sexuality is very important for well being. It is important to have as much information as possible to make healthy sexual choices. Healthy sexual choices are a way of showing respect for your partner and yourself. The resources made available to you here can help you make healthy sexual choices now and in the future.

Discomfort and shame often prevent people from discussing sexual concerns with their health care providers. Because they consider sexually transmitted infections a moral issue, they do not use common sense. If you are in a sexual relationship, or plan to be in one, regular sexual health check-ups and practicing safe sex are wise choices. Discomfort also prevents some couples from discussing together, what their sexual comfort levels are and how to practice safe sex. Open discussions about sexual behavior is very healthy for growing relationships.

Safer sex is precautions taken to lower the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Prevention of the exchange of body fluids such as vaginal secretions, semen and blood by the use of condoms and dental dams considerably lowers the risk of infection. Consistent use of protection is very important because infections are usually spread between individuals who have no symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. See the presentation on the proper use of a condom to prevent breaking or leaking while using a condom. The only way to be 100% sure of not contracting a sexually transmitted disease is to not have sex or to have sex with only one uninfected partner who only has sex with you.

In order to assure that you will use protection it is important to maintain a clear mind by the avoidance of, or moderate usage of substances such as alcohol and marijuana. Most unprotected intercourse takes place in conjunction with substance use. It is also important to choose a health care provider that you are comfortable discussing your sexual health concerns with. Don’t wait to be asked about the subject. Speak up frankly about your concerns. If you want to be tested for STDs, say so. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are bacterial infections so they can be treated with antibiotics. To not be treated when infected with these diseases can cause sterility and many other complications plus risk infecting others. You may not have symptoms when infected.

Know the signs and symptoms of STDs. Before having sex, look closely at your partner for rashes, sores or discharge. Don’t have sex, if you see anything you are worried about. If you have an STD, your partner must be tested and treated too. If you are being treated for an STD, don’t have sex until your treatment is done.

Signs and Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

  • An unusual discharge or smell from the vagina.
  • A drip or discharge from the penis.
  • Pain in the woman’s pelvic area – the area between the naval and sexual organs.
  • Burning or itching around the vagina.
  • Bleeding from the vagina when it is not a regular period.
  • Deep pain inside the vagina when having sex.
  • Sores, bumps or blisters near your sex organs, rectum or mouth.
  • Burning and pain when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
  • The need to urinate often.
  • Itching around the sex organs.
  • A swelling or redness in the throat.
  • Flu-like feelings, with fever, chills and aches.
  • Swelling in the groin area around the sex organs.

If you have any of these symptoms, stop having sex. Go to a clinic as soon as possible to be checked out!

For more helpful information on staying sexually healthy check these websites:

Ingrown Toenail     

Ingrown toenail is a condition that most commonly affects the big toe. It can be very painful and develop into infection of the toe. The nail can become imbedded due to pressure of the nail edge rubbing against the nail groove which causes irritation and swelling of the surrounding skin. Improperly fitting shoes or improper cutting of the toenails can lead to an ingrown nail.

Prevention

  • Cut nails straight across. Don't cut the nails shorter at the sides than in the middle.
  • File the corners of the nail after clipping them if they are sharp.
  • Wear shoes and socks that fit well.

Self-Care of an Ingrown Toenail

  • Soak foot in warm, soapy water for 5 - 10 minutes, 1 - 3 times daily.
  • Gently lift the nail away from the reddened skin at the outer corners with the tip of a nail file.
  • Place a small piece of cotton soaked in an antiseptic or topical antibiotic ointment - just under the outer corner.
  • Repeat the previous three steps daily until the nail begins to grow correctly and pressure is relieved (wear roomy shoes during this time).

Self treatment works if used early. In more severe cases minor surgery and antibiotics may be necessary for treatment.

Information Resource: www.undstudenthealth.com

Insomnia     

Sleep is necessary for the body and mind to perform and function at their greatest capacity. The amount of sleep needed is different for every individual. Insomnia is the inability to sleep or to sleep satisfactorily.

Common causes of insomnia are listed below:

  • Stress, depression, anxiety
  • Too much caffeine
  • Sleeping patterns turned around.(Napping during the day preventing sleepiness at  night)
  • Asthma at night
  • Frequent urination
  • Heartburn from eating too close to bedtime
  • Pain
  • Leg cramping

If stress, depression or anxiety is suspected as the cause of anxiety, consult with the personal counselor at the CAP center or the Nurse Practitioner in Student Health Services. It is not uncommon for college students to suffer from insomnia due to study related anxieties or relationship complications. It is a good time to learn how you can best cope with or eliminate stressors. The University setting has free resources such as the CAP Center and Student Health Services ready to help you.

Tips to help you get a good night's sleep:

  • Cut back on caffeine intake, especially in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime.
  • Don't use your bed for homework or watching TV
  • Avoid long, late afternoon naps, if they interfere with sleep at night.
  • Avoid eating large meals before going to bed.
  • Keep your room dark and quiet while trying to sleep.
  • Establish a bedtime routine.
  • Take a warm shower before going to bed.
  • Focus on slow deep breathing and relaxing each muscle group after going to bed.
  • If you are unable to sleep within an hour, get up and do something else until you are sleepy.

Meningitis    

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection that can cause severe swelling the brain and spinal cord. This disease is very rare and is commonly mistaken for a cold or the flu. Recognizing the signs and symptoms is crucial as early treatment increases chances of survival and decreases chances of permanent disabilities.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Purplish red rash mainly on arms and legs

It is unlikely that a person will experience all of these symptoms. Taking a sample of spinal fluid is the only way to know that the infection is meningococcal meningitis.

Research has shown that college students, particularly freshmen living on campus, have an increased risk of meningitis. The reason for this risk is living in a crowded residence hall. The infection is transmitted through the air in droplet nuclei. 

A vaccination for the most common forms of meningitis is now available. This vaccination has proven to help prevent outbreaks of meningitis. The vaccination is generally safe and well tolerated. More information on the vaccination can be obtained at Student Health Services

Resource Links:

National Meningitis Association http ://www.nmus.org/

Mononucleosis     

Mononucleosis or "Mono" is an illness caused by several agents including the Epstein-Barr virus. Mono is spread through saliva, which is why it is sometimes called the "Kissing disease". The disease can also be spread by sharing drinks and inhaling droplet nuclei in the air following a sneeze or cough by an infected person. A person is much more likely to become ill with the virus if their immune system is compromised by fatigue, emotional stress or another illness .  People who have mono can still carry the virus for up to 30 - 45 days after the illness is over.

Early symptoms of Mono include:

  • Run-down feeling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slight headaches

After three to five days, symptoms usually become more apparent and include:

  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands
  • Fever (101 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Muscle aches
  • Skin rash

After being ill for 5 days a blood test can be done to determine if the disease is Mono. Before 5 days, there is no assurance that the test is accurate. Mono is a viral infection, so antibiotics are not useful for treatment. Inflammation of the liver and spleen can occur, so contact sports are restricted through the course of the illness to prevent rupture of these organs. The course of recovery is unique for each individual. It can take from one week to three months to fully recover.

Treatment and care:

  • Acetominophen (Tylenol) for fever and discomfort.:
  • Rest.
  • Increased fluid intake.
  • Gargling and throat lozenges
  • Good nutrition.

Visit Student Health Services for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Prednisone may be prescribed if Mono is complicated with spleen and liver inflammation. Mono is also frequently accompanied by a Strep infection. In that case an antibiotic would be prescribed.

Sinusitis    

Sinusitis or sinus infections are swollen or infected sinuses. Sinuses are hollow spaces in the skull above the eyebrows and upper cheeks, which normally produce watery mucus. When the sinus membranes swell due to colds, flu, allergies, smoke or irritations the mucus doesn't drain, which makes the cilia stop moving mucus efficiently. When these changes in the membranes allow bacteria to invade, a sinus infection results

Symptoms

  • Congested nose.
  • Sinus pressure or headaches
  • Facial pain over the sinuses
  • Sore throat
  • Cough from a tickle in the back of the throat
  • Thick and/or colored mucus
  • Pain in the upper teeth.
  • Fever

Self treatment:

  • Increased intake of fluids.
  • Avoiding cigarette smoke or other irritants in the air.
  • Blowing the nose gently.
  • Humidifying the air or taking a warm shower.
  • Gargling with warm salt water to prevent a sore throat from post nasal drainage.
  • Over-the-counter medications such as decongestants (pseudofedrine) and ibuprofen.

Prevention of sinus infections:

  • Wash hands often and keep hands away from mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Stay away from cigarette smoke and other irritants in the air.
  • Keep sleeping quarters humidified, if the air is dry.

See a health care provider when:

  • You are no better or worse after 10 days even with self-treatment.
  • Headache or facial pain is severe and doesn't respond to pain-relievers.
  • Vision is blurry or there is swelling around eyes.
  • The color of the mucus changes from white to yellow or green.
  • You are running a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Information Resource: http://www.undstudenthealth.com/top20/sinusitis.html

Sore Throat     

There are many causes of sore throats which include irritation from post-nasal drainage, infections from viruses or bacteria, dry air, allergies and overuse of voice. Throat infections are spread by inhaling droplet nuclei, sharing drinks, kissing, and transferring microbes from the hand to the mouth or nose.

Other symptoms accompanying a sore throat can include:

  • Swollen and red tonsils.
  • Red posterior pharynx (area behind tonsils)
  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck.
  • Discharge from tonsils.
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite and/or nausea
  • Fatigue

Self treatment for a sore throat includes: 

  • Increased intake of fluids such as cold soda, non-citric juice, tea (with sugar), popsicles and broth or soup.
  • Gargling with warm salt solution to clean post-nasal discharge off back of throat, which can be very irritating. Mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of warm water.
  • Throat lozenges with phenol or a "caine" ingredient.
  • Ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin for relief of discomfort and fever.
  • Rest

Consult a health care provider if:

  • You have difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Prolonged vomiting
  • You have a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Your sore throat lasts more than 5 days.
  • There is a discharge on the tonsils.
  • You were in contact with someone with a diagnosis of strep throat.
  • Your sore throat seems severe and/or worsens quickly.
  • You are unsure of what to do.

Student Health Services can swab your throat to test for Strep. It is important that Strep throat be treated with antibiotics because left untreated can lead to rheumatic heart disease which can damage the valves of the heart. Streptococcus can also lead to glomerulonepthritis (inflammation of the kidney) If antibiotics are prescribed it is important that the entire course of medicine be completed, unless an allergic reaction develops. If that happens than the antibiotic will be changed to another.

Sprains and Strains    

Sprains and strains are very common injuries. Sprains are usually caused by some sort of direct or indirect trauma; strains are the result of overuse of muscles and tendons.

A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of the ligament beyond the normal range of motion. Ligaments connect bone to bone, which stabilize and support the body's joints. Sprains may occur at any joint, but are most common in ankles, knees, wrists, and fingers.

Symptoms of a sprain include;

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • A tear or pop in the joint
  • Inflammation following the injury

A strain is a twist, pull and/or tear of a muscle and/or tendon, which are the fibrous cords that attach muscles to bones. Signs of a strain include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Muscle weakness
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Cramping

Mild sprains and strains can be treated at home by applying ice, keeping the injury elevated and applying an elastic wrap to prevent further swelling. If you cannot bear weight, have more severe pain in one spot, and if the bruising and swelling are severe, then you should seek a medical evaluation.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests the following tips to help reduce injury risk:

  • Participate in a conditioning program to build muscle strength.
  • Do stretching exercises daily.
  • Always wear properly fitting shoes.
  • Nourish your muscles by eating a well-balanced diet.
  • Warm up before any sports activity, including practice.
  • Use or wear protective equipment appropriate for that sport.

Stress     

Stress is the way our bodies respond to any new, threatening, or exciting situation. It can be caused by anything that places an extra demand on us. This can be both good and bad. Helpful stress allows us to be productive and attain our goals. Harmful stress, such as what we all experience around midterms or finals, can be overwhelming. Symptoms of stress can be found in physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of our lives.

Common symptoms of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle soreness and tension
  • Colds
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Fear or anxiety
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of Humor
  • Loneliness or withdrawal
  • Aggressiveness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling apathetic or bored
  • Lacking Creativity
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Lacking joy
  • Feeling hopeless, guilty, desperate or empty
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Being ill more frequently
  • Menstrual irregularities

We all differ in what we find stressful  To some, stress is the frantic pace of everyday life and to others, conflict is more stressful. Your stress response might help you catch yourself after you trip, or brake before your car crashes. Momentary stress reactions are not as hard on your mind, body and spirit as prolonged stress. Below are listed helps to help diminish or cope with stress daily.

Tips on how to handle stress:

  • Learn to recognize stress in yourself.
  • Choose your own goals.
  • Develop a support system.
  • Think positively - not fatalistically
  • Make decisions.
  • Keep your expectations realistic
  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Balance work and play. Budget your time
  • Maintain healthy eating and sleep patterns.
  • Take breaks every hour for 10 minutes.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a peaceful environment
  • Reward yourself for meeting short term goals.
  • Anticipate potentially stressful situations and prepare for them.
  • Live in the present.

There are many resources on campus to help you cope with stress, such as the personal counselor in the CAP center, the nurse practitioner in Student Health Services, and the campus ministers. Don't be shy about asking for help, because the resources are there for you.