Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall Illness & Hand Hygiene

By: Dr. Michael Deichen, MD

Fall is always an exciting time for students on College Campuses. New people, parties, football games and hopefully a great class selection. At Health Services we sense this excitement, but unfortunately also deal with some of the byproducts of the exuberance. Predictably, many students are subject to inadequate sleep, increased social stressors, high-risk drinking and other stressors. Combined with close social interactions, this environment is ripe for infectious illnesses. With some simple forethought many infectious illnesses can be averted. Illnesses are usually transmitted by airborne infectious droplet, person-to-person exchange of bodily fluids, or via contaminated inanimate objects.

When someone sneezes or coughs, the infectious droplets are usually dispersed within a three foot zone (arms-length). If you notice someone is obviously sick - coughing and sneezing - you should try to stay out of that “hot zone.” 15% of College Students each year contract Mononucleosis (Mono). The severity can range from mild to severe, and inevitably, each year some students end up withdrawing from school because of Mono. Mono can be spread by any of the modes of transmission but is classically blamed on exchange of salivary excretions from kissing. Your risk of Mono and most upper respiratory illness is diminished by staying out of the “hot zone” of an ill person and maintaining good hand hygiene. Remember what Mom used to say, “Wash your hands before you eat.”

Throughout the day our hands come into contact with many potentially infectious materials. Simply washing your hands before you eat, and avoiding touching your eyes, mouth or nose, will diminish your risk of illness. Preferably, you should wash your hands with warm, soapy water. Make sure to clean between your fingers and clean long enough to sing happy birthday twice. If you do not have easy access to a sink with water, consider using an alcohol based hand disinfectant. The UCF Pharmacy caries some nice, affordable hand disinfectant products. Health Services has stationed wall mounted hand sanitizers near most of the eateries around campus. Start using them!

The status of your immune response can also be a determinant for your likeliness of getting ill and the severity of such illness. You can maximize your immune status in a variety of ways. With regards to vaccine preventable illnesses, like the Flu, Meningitis and HPV, getting vaccinated will help protect you. You can maximize your immunity further by getting adequate sleep, avoiding excess alcohol, finding ways to control stress and by not smoking. Additionally, there is some evidence that consumption of Vitamin C on a regular basis may be helpful.

It’s pretty low-tech advice in an age of high-tech solutions, but if you follow this advice you will maximize your chance of staying healthy and enjoying your fall semester!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What type of massage is right for YOU?

By: Christine Pugh, M.A. Higher Education

Help yourself to a relaxing hour with one of the professional, licensed massage therapists at the Wellness Center and the Health Services Annex. They offer great combinations of techniques designed to help you de-stress from your busy life or melt away annoying muscle tension, aches and pains.

Call 407.823.5841 to schedule an appointment, or stop by the Wellness Center to purchase a gift certificate for a friend. Rates are $40/hour for students, and $50/hour for faculty and staff.

Each person's massage needs are different, and we have a wide array of therapies available to help!

Deep Tissue Massage
A Deep tissue massage releases the chronic patterns of tension in the body through slow strokes and deep finger pressure on contracted areas, either following or going across the grain of muscles, tendons and fascia. It can be used for specific work or full-body.

Swedish Massage
The most common form of massage, Swedish mainly relaxes the muscles and eases aches and pains. Swedish massage is a system of long strokes, kneading and friction techniques on the more superficial layers of the muscles, combined with active and passive movements of the joints.

Sports Massage
For the athlete, sports massage techniques are utilized at all stages: pre-event, post-event, during training and to expedite rehabilitation after injury. This involves compression and a variety of stretching techniques.

Electro Therapeutic (ETPS)
This is a non-invasive therapy applying concentrated low frequency stimulation to ancient acupuncture points, motor/trigger points and contracted motor bands.

Pregnancy Massage (Coming Soon)
Massage can relieve fatigue, enhance sleep and calm an active baby. Depending upon where you are in the pregnancy the therapist may utilize reflexology, Swedish massage or very light shiatsu.

Seated Massage
This is administered while the client is clothed and seated in a specially designed chair. These chairs most often slope forward allowing access to the neck, shoulders and large muscles of the back. Seated massage usually lasts 10 - 30 minutes and is intended to help you relax and improve circulation. college, mental health is as important as physical health. Massage Therapy is a great way to make sure that you are managing your stress in a healthy way.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

HPV Vaccine - Be One Less

By: Jamin Kim, Pharm.D. Candidate & The UCF Pharmacists
In June 2006, the FDA approved the first HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, Gardasil, for girls and women ages 9 through 26. It protects women from 4 major types of HPV (types 6,11,16,18), which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts cases.

HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the United States. At least half of all sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their life. Most people have no symptoms, but it can cause cervical cancer in women and other genital cancers in both men and women. HPV can also cause genital warts.

Currently, girls and women from ages 9 through 26 can receive the vaccine. However, it should not be given to pregnant women or to those with life-threatening allergic reactions to yeast or a previous dose of HPV vaccine. Studies are underway for approval of vaccination in women older than 26 years of age, as well as for vaccination of males recipients.

The vaccination consists of three doses. It is given as a first dose, a second dose two months after the first dose, and a third dose six months after the first dose. Currently, booster doses are not necessary. The most common side effect is soreness at the site of injection.

Women who are vaccinated should continue to have Pap tests because the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV.

The Gardasil vaccine is $135 per dose, for a total of $405 for the complete 3-dose series, at the UCF Health Center. Most insurance plans will cover “recommended” vaccines, but it often takes time for a new vaccine to be categorized as recommended. However, there are federal health programs such as Vaccines for Children (VFC) that cover the cost of the HPV vaccine for females under 19 years of age that meet certain criteria. Click here for more information about VFC.

For more information about HPV and vaccines, please visit the UCF Health Center or Pharmacy. More information may be found by visiting the Centers for Disease Control.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Top 10 Ways to Succeed & Stay Healthy in College

By: Peter Mastroianni, M.A., Health Educator

Ah. FREE at last…away from home, parents, brothers and sisters…no one to bother you or tell you what to do. Life is good! Well, yes, college can be a great time and loads of fun. It’s also a time to explore who you are, how you relate to new people, what you want to do with your life. It’s a time to take control of your own life and start shaping a life that is in line with your values, desires, ambitions…to clarify YOUR goals and define what SUCCESS means to you.

The first step of course is living on your own, meeting new people and adjusting to a new environment. Oh and yes, college is a lot of work. This leads to varying amounts of stress, depending on your attitudes, coping strategies, support and ability to manage your own life. This article is meant to help you think about a few things you may want to pay attention to in order to increase your chances for success here at UCF.

1. Learn to manage your stress.
Any change in your life can be stressful, and starting college is no exception. Students report that stress is the biggest obstacle to academic success, so learning to manage it is important. Exercise is a great way to burn off the chemicals that cause the stress response. Getting enough sleep and eating well help your body handle it as well. Talking to roommates, friends, RAs or counselors can help you find solutions to common problems.

Your attitude plays a major role in how stressful college life will be for you. People who believe they must perform perfectly in all situations experience a great deal of stress. If you are taking courses you truly enjoy, there will be less stress involved. Be sure that your academic and career decisions are based on your needs and desires, and not the expectations of others. Most people entering the workforce today can expect to have multiple careers, so stop thinking that your entire life depends on making one right decision this very moment.

The Wellness Center provides programs to help you learn natural stress reduction techniques using state of the art biofeedback techniques to assist you in the learning process. Massage Therapy is also available in the Annex next to Health Services and at the Wellness Center.

2. Learn to manage your time.
It is entirely too easy to get distracted and pulled away from accomplishing the things you need to do. Effective time management does call for some discipline on your part and an active decision to use your time wisely. Nothing is more critical to your academic success. Try to start each semester with a good plan of attack, based on time management techniques that are well suited to you. While some things are out of your control, it is important to learn to take charge and assert control as much as possible.

First, consider the time of the day you function best at and plan to do your most difficult work then. Find or create an environment for studying where distractions are minimal. Shut off your cell phone so you won’t be tempted to answer it. You will live without calls for a few hours at a time. Plan times for studying and learn to say "no" to offers to do other things. In the long run, you will be happy you did.

Learn to determine your priorities and set up plans by the semester, month, week and day. One system for setting priorities is to make a list of everything you need and want to do. Include things like exercise, socializing, shopping, and watching TV on your list. Next, decide which items are "Urgent" vs. "Non-Urgent" based on time constraints. Then decide which items are "Important" vs. "Non-Important." Priority should be given to items that are both "Important" and "Urgent." Next, make time for items that are "Important" but "Non-Urgent," followed by "Urgent" but "Non-Important." Lastly, if time permits, plan time for "Non-Urgent," "Non-Important" items.

Try to maintain a balance in your life between work, school, recreation, socializing and taking care of your body’s needs, like eating and sleeping. This can be very difficult to do while in college, but make the effort and do the best you can. Again, it is not about perfection.

3. Manage test anxiety.
Many people experience test anxiety. Some experience a very rational type based on how prepared they are. Others experience anxiety no matter how well prepared, or how many positive experiences they have had in the past.

Most important is your attitude. It is indeed a very rare occurrence where one grade will make or break your entire career. At times, students do find an area of study very difficult and realize that they really were not well suited to it. Often they discover a new area that brings more happiness than their original plan ever would have. What they thought was the “worst thing that could happen” turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In any event, try to keep some perspective on the importance of any one test or paper.

Managing your time allows you to study for tests over time instead of cramming the night before. Cramming is not a good way to learn and increases anxiety. Think about what may be on your test and try to incorporate materials from class notes, text books and articles into reasonable answers.

Take breaks while studying, don’t forget to eat meals and try to get a good night’s sleep the night before the test. If you do prepare ahead of time, you can do something relaxing between studying and taking the test to reduce anxiety. Try to avoid use of caffeine or other stimulants as they increase the stress response in your body.

4. Plan for getting enough sleep.
Many students simply sleep “when they can” and do not get adequate sleep consistently. Planning your time and saying "no" to activities that keep you up later, will help. The point is that you need to make an active decision to get as many good nights of sleep as you are able to. Try to do something relaxing right before going to bed. It could be a great time to practice one of the “relaxation techniques” you learned at the Wellness Center.

5. Reduce your risk of getting sick.
Dealing with stress, exercising, eating balanced meals and getting enough rest will help keep your immune system strong. The most effective way to avoid germs that cause colds and flu is to WASH YOUR HANDS REGULARLY. Believe it or not…it's true. However, the quick rinse with water will not do the trick. One must wash with soap and create friction by rubbing hands and fingers together for 15 seconds to remove the majority of germs. How long is 15 seconds? Sing "Happy Birthday" twice. The other technique for reducing cold/flu transmission is to sneeze into your shirt sleeve rather than your hand. Sounds yucky? Well it really is a better way to keep from spreading germs, and getting a cold or flu is VERY yucky.

6. Build a support system to help deal with feelings, obstacles, and relationships.
Having both emotional support (people you can talk to about personal issues) as well as tangible support (people you can call on for help with practical issues) safeguards you against stress. Getting involved with clubs and organizations is a great way to meet people and build friendships. Take advantage of the professional support available to you while here at UCF, as well. The Counseling Center has a professional staff that can talk with you about any type of personal or family problem, and many students do choose to take advantage of this free service.

7. Don’t overdo your partying.
Alcohol and other drugs can provide some immediate relief from stress and cause you to feel more relaxed. The problem is that as soon as the chemicals wear off, your body rebounds back to an increased level of stress. This rebound effect can cause some people to get “hooked” into coming back for more. Try to rely on natural stress reducers as much as possible. People whose only source of stress relief is through alcohol or other drugs are more likely to become dependent.

Expectations of partying at college are often formed by what they have heard, and usually what we hear about are the wildest parties and behavior. People don’t generally talk about the majority of people who are having a couple of drinks, talking with friends, and having a good time without getting out of control. Studies actually show that almost 20% of UCF students have never used alcohol, and 75% indicated they had 4 or less drinks last time they went out. Most UCF students are pretty smart and do a number of things to keep their risks low, such as keeping track of how much they are drinking, alternating water or soda with alcoholic drinks, using designated drivers and avoiding drinking games.

8. Get help with compulsive behaviors like gambling and/or playing computer games/chatting.
In a Spring 2007 survey, 15% of UCF students indicated that excessive I
nternet use and computer gaming had interfered with their academic performance in some way. Gambling has become a much more significant problem on college campuses as well. Just about anything that you enjoy or makes you feel good, can become problematic if you lose control over how often you do it. Yes…even sex can become a problem for some people. If you find that any behavior is starting to cause you problems such as missing classes, losing sleep, arguments with other people, missing meals or spending too much money, then it is time to get help to regain control. You can try setting limits on yourself first and if you can stick to them, things should calm down. If not, the Counseling Center and REAL Project offer assistance to those in need.

9. Exercise and eat balanced meals with a variety of foods.
Regular exercise helps to maintain your immune system, prevents a number of specific diseases, and helps in the management of stress. It helps you to think more clearly as well. Eating a balance of different foods, especially a variety of fruits and vegetables, will help provide the nutrients your body needs to repair and maintain itself. While food choices may be limited by availability, cost and schedules, make an attempt to eat as many portions of fruits and vegetables as you can. Limit the fried foods and choose steamed, broiled or grilled foods instead.

To learn more about diet and fitness, attend on of our "Hot Topics by the Dietitian" seminars!

10. Use Credit Wisely! Avoid building up credit card debt you cannot afford to pay off. While college students traditionally “feel poor” for 4-5 years, it is better to be careful now and graduate in a good position to start your new life. Be prepared to be hit with “fantastic” offers and “free” merchandise and rewards for signing up. Although tempting, limit yourself to one card or even use a debit card that takes money directly from your checking account.

Do the math! Making the minimum payment on a balance of $1000, at 19% interest, it would take you 7 years to pay off your debt and cost you $730 in interest. Even small purchases add up quicker than you might imagine.