Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Importance of Sleep

By: Kristina Grabnikas, ARNP - UCF Health Center Provider
Sleep is a basic drive of nature. Sufficient sleep helps us think more clearly, complete complex tasks better and more consistently and enjoy everyday life more fully. Although many questions regarding the role of sleep remain unanswered, scientific studies have shown that sleep contributes significantly to several important cognitive, emotional and performance-related functions.

Sleep is, in essence, food for the brain, and insufficient sleep can be harmful, even life-threatening. When hungry for sleep, the brain becomes relentless in its quest to satisfy its need and will cause feelings of "sleepiness," decreased levels of alertness or concentration, and, in many cases, unanticipated sleep . Excessive sleepiness is also associated with reduced short-term memory and learning disability, negative mood, inconsistent performance, poor productivity and loss of some forms of behavioral control.

Sleep researchers believe that insufficient sleep in young adults is linked to increased injuries and death. About 1 million, or 1/6th , of all traffic crashes in the United States are believed to be attributable to lapses in the driver’s attention; sleep loss and fatigue increase the chances of such lapses occurring. A North Carolina state study found that drivers age 25 or younger cause more than ½ of fall-asleep crashes. Young adults who have not received sufficient sleep and who consume even small amounts of alcohol are at greater risk of injury than those who are lacking sleep because sleep loss has been shown to heighten the effects of alcohol.

Studies also suggest that sleep loss may be associated with a decreased ability to control, inhibit, or change emotional responses.

Perhaps the most significant behavioral change that young adults can make is to establish and maintain a consistent sleep/wake schedule. Understanding and practicing other behaviors that are considered good sleep habits are also important. These include getting enough sleep, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants late in the day and alcohol at night, relaxing before going to sleep and creating an environment conducive to sleep.

Sleep research has established clear relationships between sleepiness, health, safety and productivity. The sleep research field in general is relatively young, and we have much to learn about the role of sleep and the effects of sleep loss in young adults.

If you have any concerns regarding sleep issues, please call 407.823.2701 to schedule an appointment at the UCF Health Center to further discuss this major problem.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Organic Foods

By: Preeti Wilkhu, RD/LD - UCF Health Center Dietitian

There is big craze for organic foods these days but before you spend your money read this.

What is organic food?
Certified organic animal foods are produced from animals who are not given any hormones or antibiotics. Organic plant foods are grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers made with manufactured components, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. No national standards exist for organic seafood.

Is organic food more nutritious?
No. The content of organic and nonorganic foods are the same. The only differences are in the production and processing methods utilized. The American Dietetic Association states that the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant levels in organic foods are no different from the nutritional qualities of conventional foods. A cookie is still a cookie nutritionally, whether it’s organic or not, and moderation in consumption is still needed.

So, why do people purchase organic food?
The two main reasons are the environment and health. People are concerned about the chemicals used in traditional food production. Some people insist that organic food tastes different than conventional food, but this statement is not proven by any studies or surveys.

How do I know if a food is organic?
The USDA organic food label, which is a green and white circle, guarantees that the food is at least 95% organic. Foods labeled “made with organic ingredients” must consist of at least 70% organic ingredients.

Which nonorganic foods carry the most pesticides?
Many groups, including the Environmental Working Group, think that the following 12 foods are most likely heavily dosed with pesticides. You may want to consider purchasing organic varieties of the following types of produce, if you’re concerned about pesticides:

▪ Peaches
▪ Apples
▪ Sweet bell peppers
▪ Celery
▪ Nectarines
▪ Strawberries
▪ Cherries
▪ Pears
▪ Grapes (imported)
▪ Spinach
▪ Lettuce
▪ Potatoes

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Planning: The Key to Better Health, More Energy and More Cash in Your Pocket

By: Meghan Van Camp, RD, LD - UCF Wellness Center Dietitian

We know you are busy and do not have a lot of free time. We know you “feel” out of control a lot, and planning seems like a luxury you just can’t afford. We are still suggesting you “STOP”. Slow down just for a few seconds. Take a deep breath and take a moment to think about this. A little bit of planning each week can help you eat healthier, increase your energy and save cash in the process. The summer is the perfect time to concentrate on building healthy habits because a lot of students have lighter class load, less stress, and more time. Making healthy habits now will make it easier to maintain in the fall when classes are piled on, inter-murals start back up, UCF football invades campus, and Greek life is in full swing.

The first step is to make a grocery list. Browse though your pantry and refrigerator and see what food staples you need such as milk, bread, eggs, whole grain pasta, granola bars, peanut butter, fruits, yogurt, and vegetables. Then sit down with your planner/PDA and plan out a dinner menu for the nights you are home to cook and decide what you want to pack for lunches you can take with you to work or class. Most importantly, do not forget breakfast foods. Always eat breakfast before leaving home or prepare something you can take on the road. Breakfast starts your metabolism for the day and without it you usually overeat later in the day to make up for it. So once you have made a grocery list make sure it looks balanced by having a variety of each food group. Lists will help keep you organized and limit impulse buys. We are all familiar with impulse buys, they are the cupcakes at the end of the aisle that we do not need but we want. Impulse buys usually do not provide us with any nutritional value but can take a chunk out of our food budget.

Next step is to go to the grocery store every 7-10 days. Here are some helpful tips for the grocery store:
-Be sure to be comfortably full when entering the store, because a hungry shopper spends about 17% more money on groceries.
-Shop the perimeter first. The foods that line the outside of the market are usually fresh ingredients. This is where you get your fruits, vegetable, fresh baked whole grains, fresh meats, and low fat dairy. Once you have filled your cart with fresh foods then go into the aisles to get needed items such as canned beans, cereal, brown rice, nuts, and dried fruits.
-Buy generic store brands. Over a year’s time this can save you up to 40% on your food budget. -Try the generic and if you decide you prefer the name brand then at least you gave it a chance. Most people can not tell the difference with generic items.
-Frozen vegetables are a great idea for students. You don’t have to worry about wasting money if your schedule changes and you don’t have time to cook when you thought you would. They are there when you need them and they are very nutritious.

Try to get into the routine of making grocery lists, regular food shopping, and cooking more at home. This will improve your health, help you lose unwanted weight, and give you more money in your bank account. Remember the more “fast food” restaurant meals you eat…the more weight you will put on. If you are not able to plan for a full week then try for a few days first. Once you get the hang of it, you can expand the time you plan for. So start planning today and feel better tomorrow.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Genital Herpes: Know the FACTS

By: Ordella Hawkins, MSN ARNP - UCF Health Center Women's Clinic Practitioner

Herpes Simplex: Getting the Facts
In the United States, approximately 60 million people are infected with genital herpes, 50 million with HSV-2 and 10 million with HSV-1. HSV-1 can also cause sores on the mouth or lips which are called cold sores or fever blisters, and is responsible for five to ten percent of genital herpes cases, most often as a result of oral-genital contact.

Genital Herpes Symptoms: More than Just Blisters
Genital herpes symptoms vary from person to person, although they usually include the formation of painful lesions, or ulcers. Even before the first lesion develops, people may experience itching or burning in the genital area, or pain in the legs or buttocks. Women may experience vaginal discharge. Abdominal pressure is also common. Other symptoms that occur during the first outbreak can include fever, headaches, painful urination, or swollen inguinal lymph nodes (those in the genital region). The initial outbreak is usually the most severe, with subsequent outbreaks being milder; in some cases blisters don't even form. The virus is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, and easily transmitted during sex. It causes blisters and sores on the genitals, around the anus and often down the buttocks and thighs. People often assume that herpes sores and blisters must be present for the disease to be transmitted. Unfortunately, this just isn't true: seventy percent of all infections occur during outbreaks without any visible symptoms. Even though symptoms are not visible, the virus is still present both on the skin and in bodily fluids.

How Infection Occurs
The herpes virus can pass through a break in your skin during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can enter the moist membranes of the penis, vagina, urinary opening, cervix, or anus.
Once the virus gets into your body, it infects healthy cells. Your body's natural defense system then begins to fight the virus. This causes sores, blisters, and swelling.
Besides the sex organs, genital herpes can affect the tongue, mouth, eyes, gums, lips, fingers, and other parts of the body. During oral sex, herpes can be passed from a cold sore around the mouth to a partner's genitals or vice versa. You even can infect yourself if you touch a sore and then rub or scratch another part of your body, especially your eyes.

Subsequent Outbreaks
After the initial infection, the virus goes into remission. It withdraws into nerve cells at the bottom of the spinal cord and lies dormant until the next outbreak. Most people experience three or four outbreaks of the virus every year. Outbreaks vary in severity—some lucky people have outbreaks so mild that they don't even notice any symptoms—and usually last a week.

Taking a Herpes Test
Herpes infections should be documented by blood testing or viral culture. A negative culture does not necessarily preclude infection. Type-specific and non-type specific antibodies to HSV develop during the first several weeks post-infection, and persist indefinitely. Antibodies are typically present in 50% of patients at 3 weeks, 70% of patients at 6 weeks and 95% of patients at 12-16 weeks.

Intercourse, Abstinence and Herpes Prevention
During an outbreak of genital herpes, the best way to avoid transmitting the disease is to abstain from sexual contact of any kind until the infection runs its course and the virus returns to a state of dormancy. All forms of sex, including oral sex, should be avoided until the lesions have shed their scabs and the skin beneath has completely healed. Limiting sexual partners also reduces the chance of transmission.

Herpes Prevention and Condoms
The correct and regular use of latex condoms can greatly reduce the risk of both transmitting and contracting HSV 2. A condom should always be worn during sex if either partner carries the virus, whether it appears to be active at that time or not. Although the use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmission, a condom will only protect against infections on the penis and vagina. No condom will prevent exposure to lesions on the thighs or buttocks, for instance.

Herpes Prescriptions: Episodic and Suppression Therapies
There is no cure for genital herpes, but there are treatments for its symptoms. Herpes prescriptions are used in two ways: as episodic treatments and for long-term suppression therapy. Episodic therapy treats individual outbreaks of HSV 1 & 2, decreasing the pain and duration of the viral outbreak, and significantly shortening healing time. Episodic therapy works best if medication is begun as early as possible during the outbreak.

Suppression therapy is helpful for individuals who experience frequent outbreaks. A smaller dose of medication is given than for episodic therapy, as the medication is taken over a longer period of time. This ensures that, should an outbreak occur, the medication is already present in the body. Suppression therapy has been proven to drastically reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Urinary Tract Infections

By: Kelly Roberts, MD - UCF Health Center Doctor

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are one of the most common reasons that women come to the health center. It is estimated that 20% of women will have a urinary tract infection at some point in their lifetime. Many women have multiple urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enters the bladder, which normally does not contain any bacteria. A UTI is considered “simple” if only the bladder is affected. On the other hand, if the infection spreads to the kidneys, a much more serious condition called pyelonephritis is present.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections include pain or burning on urination, frequent urination, feeling the need to get to the bathroom urgently, and blood in the urine. It is also common to feel bladder pressure or lower back pain. The diagnosis of a simple UTI can often be made based on your symptoms alone. If the diagnosis is unclear, however, your medical provider will often require a urine sample for testing. If a urine sample is needed, it is very important that you follow the collection instructions closely; otherwise, the test may be difficult to interpret. Proper collection involves wiping the opening to the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside world) with three separate cloths, allowing a few drops of urine to fall into the toilet, and then collecting the remainder of the urine.

The treatment for a simple Urinary Tract Infection is a course of antibiotics, typically 1 to 7 days in duration. The antibiotics (such as Ciprofloxacin and Bactrim), will kill off the bacteria in the bladder. Sometimes your medical provider may also prescribe a medication which does not cure the infection, but can quickly decrease the symptoms of the urinary tract infection. This medication may turn your urine orange or red. It should not be used longer than two days as you want to be certain that the antibiotics are working and that the symptoms have resolved with in two days.

Some individuals have frequent urinary tract infections. If you have UTIs occurring more than 4-6 times per year, I recommend at least one evaluation by an urologist (a specialist who works with the urinary tract system). If the urinary tract system is normal, preventative treatment with regular antibiotics can be considered.

It is very important to treat urinary tract infections quickly. If left untreated, a simple UTI may progress to a kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Signs of kidney infection include fever, vomiting, upper back pain, and malaise (generally feeling sick). If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your medical provider promptly, as a kidney infection can be very serious and sometimes requires hospitalization.

Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria travel up the urethra to the bladder. Sexual intercourse may promote this migration. The frequency of UTIs can be decreased by frequently and completely emptying the bladder. Cranberry juice, if consumed on a regular basis, may also reduce your risk for recurrent UTIs.

For more information, check out this link:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Do I Need To Know About My Medications?

By: Ted Luna, PharmD - UCF Pharmacist

The National Council on Patient Information & Education (NCPIE) reports that up to 50% of all prescriptions fail to work because they are used improperly by patients. As a result, preventable medicine-related illnesses annually account for over $75 billion in doctor’s visits, unnecessary new prescriptions, increased emergency room visits and absences or loss of productivity at work.

When you receive a new prescription, the pharmacist is required by law to verbally counsel you about your prescription and also provide you with written information about the medication.

The pharmacist may provide you with information such as:

· The name and description of the drug
· Directions for taking your medications
· Duration of therapy
· Common adverse effect and drug interactions
· Proper storage of your medicine
· Action to take in case of a missed dose
· Any other special precautions/directions as deemed necessary in the pharmacist judgment.

Here at the Health Services Pharmacy, and at our new location Knight Aide Pharmacy (next to the UCF Arena), our pharmacists are committed to providing you the best customer service. We enjoy educating our patients about their prescriptions and we encourage their questions and comments. Whether it’s about prescription medications, over-the-counter products, dietary supplements or any other health care products, our pharmacists stand ready to assist you with product selection and to answer all of your questions.

Please come by one of our pharmacies and experience the Health Services Pharmacy & Knight Aide Pharmacy difference.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By: Charlotte Hewkin - UCF Victim Advocate

UCF Victim Services will host a movie night with a discussion panel at the Tower 1 building on April 15th, 2008, from 6 to 9 PM. The movie, “Raw Deal: A Question of Consent,” has received several awards, including an award from the Sundance Film Festival. If you ever had any doubts about consent, this is the movie to see.

UCF Victim Services Mission Statement:
To provide free confidential options, advocacy and education to all members of the UCF community who may be victims or survivors of crime, violence or abuse, on or off the UCF Campus.

Advocates are available 24/7 by calling 407.823.5555. Ask for an advocate and give only a first name and a safe contact number. You will be called back within a few minutes.

Our office is located in the University Tower Building, 12201 Research Parkway, Suite 450, Orlando, 32826. Website:

Getting help after a Sexual Assault:
Talk to someone -a family member, friend, advocate, counselor. Advocates may be contacted immediately after an assault.

Reporting to Law Enforcement: If the person decides to report, the following is a list of suggestions that may help the investigation:

  • Do not attempt to shower, bathe, douche, or clean the affected area(s) where the rape occurred, this will destroy valuable evidence.
  • Seek medical attention. This includes a rape examination (Rape Kit).
  • Regardless if the person changes their decision to prosecute, medical attention is still necessary.
  • A free rape exam is available to all victims of sexual assault even if you don't want to report to the police.
  • Remember, an Advocate is available to provide you with support and options 24/7.

Reducing the Risk for Rape:

  • Know your sexual limits and communicate them firmly and directly. If you say NO, say it like you mean it. Don’t give mixed messages. Back up your words with a firm tone of voice and clear body language. Passive body language CAN be misinterpreted. Don’t assume your partner will automatically know how you feel.
  • Don’t assume that a person wants to have sex just because they drink heavily, dress provocatively, show interest in dating you, or agree to go to your room.
  • Don’t assume that just because a person consents to kissing or other sexual contact they are willing to have sexual intercourse.
  • Don’t assume that just because someone has had sex with you in the past, they are willing to have sex again.
  • If you are raped, it is not your fault. The rapist is entirely and solely to blame. Remember that acquaintance rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use coercion, threats, or force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Anxiety & Panic Disorder

By: James Schaus, MD - UCF Health Center Doctor

Severe anxiety sometimes manifests as physical symptoms. These very real and frightening symptoms are known as “panic attacks,” and the syndrome, “panic disorder.”

Panic disorder is a common condition, affecting approximately three out of every one 100 people. These episodes of intense fear or anxiety often occur suddenly without warning or provocation and the cause or trigger of these attacks may not be obvious. These attacks can last from minutes to hours, and can occur only once in a while or they may occur quite frequently. People have a built-in “alarm system” that goes off when they feel threatened. This alarm starts physical and emotional changes that prepare us to flee or fight the danger that triggered the alarm. In some people this alarm may go off unexpectedly, creating a very strong sense of threat when no danger is present. It is often a terrifying experience associated with several physical signs including:

  • Shaking or tremors

  • Heart pounding or racing

  • Sweating

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Tight throat or choking sensation

  • Nausea

  • Cramping

  • Dizziness

  • Out of body feeling

  • Tingling or numb feelings in the hands

  • Chills or hot flashes

A person may also have an extreme fear of losing control, going crazy or dying during a panic attack. Many of the symptoms are the same as the symptoms of diseases of the heart, lung, intestines, or nervous system. Just a fear of having a panic attack is often enough to trigger the symptoms. This is the basis for a condition called Agoraphobia. About two thirds of those who have panic attacks have some degree of Agoraphobia. A person who has Agoraphobia finds it difficult to leave home, because he or she is afraid of having a panic attack in public or not having an easy way to escape.

If you think you might have panic attacks, it is very important to see a provider at the UCF Health Center. Several medications can make panic attacks less severe or prevent them altogether. SSRI antidepressant medications such as Paxil and Zoloft are FDA approved to treat panic attacks, and can be used for as long as necessary, sometimes for years. Short-term use of tranquilizers such a Xanax and Klonopin are also FDA approved to treat panic attacks, but they should be used only for short periods of time unless you absolutely cannot function without them. Several kinds of stress reduction counseling are available at the UCF Counseling Center, and are very effective for treating panic attacks. The combination of both counseling and medication is most effective. About 90% of people who receive a form of counseling known as cognitive behavioral therapy experience at least some relief of their panic symptoms. Biofeedback is also effective at preventing and treating panic disorder. There is no need for a person to continue to suffer these terrifying symptoms and we can help you live a more stress-free and secure life.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Genital HPV: Are you Aware?

By: Lisa Malinowski, ARNP - UCF Health Center Women's Clinic Provider

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infections are common. At least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV some time in their lives. Right now it is estimated that close to 25 million people in the United States have HPV infections that cause genital warts and other lesions. Some strands of HPV infection can cause cancer of the cervix. Other HPV strands may cause cancers of the genitals and anus. However, not all infections with these dangerous types of HPV lead to cancer.

Most HPV infections go undetected because they don’t cause warts or other lesions. Even if you don’t exhibit signs and symptoms of the infection, they may emerge later and you may transmit the virus to someone else. The signs and symptoms that do appear vary according to the type of the HPV infection you may have. HPV infections associated with genital warts and related lesions are contracted through sexual intercourse, anal sex and other skin-to-skin contact in the genital regions.

Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV infections. An estimated 10,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, and about 4,000 die of the disease each year. Worldwide, cervical cancer is far more common because many women lack access to pap test screening. Certain HPV infections usually caused by type 16 and 18 can cause cellular changes that indicate the presence of precancerous lesions. These abnormalities are most often detected by a pap test. A pap test is the best tool to detect an HPV infection that could lead to cervical cancer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women begin annual pap tests 3 years after first having sexual intercourse or at age 21. There is no test for men at this point but research is being conducted.

Genital warts are nonmalignant and appear as a flat lesion and/or a tiny cauliflower-like bump. HPV infections of type 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital wart cases. These HPV types are generally not associated with cancer. In women these warts appear most commonly on the vulva but may also occur near the anus, on the cervix or in the vagina. In men these may appear on the penis and the scrotum or around the anus. Genital warts rarely cause discomfort or pain.
There are ways to reduce your risk of being exposed to HPV: limit the number of sexual partners you have as the greater the number of sexual partners the more likely you will obtain HPV; be in a monogamous relationship; always using a condom, which can prevent some but not all HPV transmission.

Another preventative measure is the Gardasil Vaccine which is available to you at the UCF Health Center. This vaccine prevents HPV infections of type 6, 11, 16 and 18. Ideally women should receive this vaccine before they become sexually active. However if you are already sexually active this vaccine can still benefit you. The vaccine prevents women only from contracting HPV infections or types that they have not yet been exposed to. This vaccine is a powerful tool in the fight against cervical cancer. More information about Gardasil can be found at For more information on genital HPV you can visit

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Over-the-Counter Non-Drowsy Anti-Histamines for Nasal Allergies

By: Ted Luna - UCF Pharmacist

Because you can’t always avoid allergens, you may need to use occasional over-the-counter (OTC) medications to alleviate your allergy symptoms.

Sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes and a runny nose are not the only symptoms of allergic disease. Many patients with allergies also report feeling “slower” and drowsy. When their allergies are acting up, they have trouble concentrating, sleeping, and remembering things. For students studying for exams allergy symptoms can be very disrupting to their daily routine. However, there are some medications that were once available only by prescription are NOW available over the counter to help allergy sufferers.

When you are exposed to an allergen (i.e. ragweed pollen) it triggers your immune system to go into action. Immune cells known as “mast cells” release a substance called histamine, which attaches to receptors in blood vessels causing them to enlarge. Histamine also binds to other receptors causing redness, swelling, itching and changes in nasal secretions. By blocking histamine receptors, antihistamines prevent most of these symptoms.

The older antihistamines, such as Benadryl ® and Chlor-Trimeton ®, can be very sedating for routine daily use. Luckily, two newer non-sedating antihistamines, Claritin ® and Zyrtec ® are now available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. Also combinations of these newer products with decongestants (pseudoephedrine) are now available in pharmacies behind the counter and a signature is required for purchases.

The New OTC Options…..

Examples of non-sedating antihistamines available OTC include:

-Loratadine: available under two different trade names Claritin ® and Alavert ®.

-Cetirizine: available as the product Zyrtec ®.

These antihistamines are taken only once a day and will help alleviate mostly the sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose symptoms. However, nasal congestion symptoms and sinus pressure may require the addition of a decongestant along with the antihistamine.

Examples of non-sedating antihistamines/decongestant combinations include:

-Loratadine/Pseudoephedrine: available as Claritin D-12h ® or Claritin D-24h formulations and also available as Alavert D-12h ®.
-Cetirizine/Pseudoephedrine: Zyrtec D-12h ® is now available OTC without a prescription.

Please consult with YOUR UCF Pharmacist if you need help choosing the appropriate medication for your allergy symptoms. Remember, you now have two locations to choose from…
The main UCF Pharmacy is located inside the Health Center and our new location - Knight Aide - is located in Knight's Plaza, near the Arena.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Don't Bet on It

By: Natalie Mullet, Deputy Director - Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling

March is a big month in the gaming industry. More money is legally bet on March Madness than any other sporting event in the United States. It is also the month that houses Problem Gambling Awareness Week.

Are you gambling on poker, Internet games, slot machines, sports…or do you skip it all together? Gambling often starts out as fun – a bet among friends. But, some people find it hard to stop gambling even when the fun is over. A recent university study showed that 1 in 4 college student gamblers is at risk for developing a gambling problem.

Gambling is everywhere. A person gambles anytime they risk something of value on an uncertain outcome. Most people can gamble with no problem, but others have serious financial, emotion, physical and sometimes criminal consequences.

There are signs that indicate when your gambling is more than a game.

Social gamblers bet only what they can afford to lose. They set a time limit and financial limit and stick to it. They never borrow money from friends or use credit cards to gamble. Social gamblers have other activities that they participate in and have other hobbies that do not involve a bet. Relationships, family and friends come before gambling.

Problem gamblers often lose money that they don’t have. They will borrow money from friends or max out their credit cards, to bet or pay off losses. A problem gambler will often lose track of time once they begin gambling, and may spend most of their time gambling, thinking about gambling, or talking about it. They often develop problems with school, work, family and friends because of gambling.

People with a problem will often develop significant financial problems, may lie or become defensive when questioned about their gambling. They may start to chase loses in an effort to win back money already lost. This may lead to ‘borrowing’ – stealing money from others, using their student loans or spending money they just don’t have.

Know how to make a choice that won’t jeopardize your future. The truth is that gambling can cause the same problems alcohol or drug abuse can.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, there is someone you can talk to anytime. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling operates a 24 hour a day, toll-free and anonymous helpline that can help you or your friends or family member with their gambling problem.

Call: 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), because the first step to getting help for a gambling problem is admitting there is one. We’re here to help and we don’t play games.

On campus UCF, you can talk with any of your UCF Health Care providers, members of the Wellness program, the REAL Project staff and members of the Counseling Service for help and referral.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The UCF Health Center Women's Clinic

By: Karen Yerkes, ARNP - UCF Health Center

For a healthy you, be physically active each day, eat colorful meals, have regular preventive screenings at the clinic and avoid risky behaviors. All new patients at the UCF Health Center's Women’s Clinic receive educational packets on physical fitness, healthy diets, daily calcium, health screenings, preventive measures like self breast exam and HPV vaccines.

Physical exercise has terrific benefits for a healthy woman. These health benefits include relaxation, stress management, weight management and energy gains. Active women feel healthier and tend to outlive inactive women. Walking can improve your life by adding energy. Yoga focuses on breathing and meditation; working in unison to provide a clearer mind.

Eat more nutritional meals with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Low fat dairy products like skim or 1% milk, yogurts and cheeses help to keep your bones strong. Folic acid in fortified breads and cereals, green leafy vegetables and folic acid supplements or women’s daily vitamins will boost your immune system and prevent serious birth defects. All women of child-bearing age will benefit from folic acid supplements.

Preventive screenings like clinical breast exams, SBE, cervical cancer screenings and the Gardasil vaccine are available at the UCF Health Center Women’s Clinic. We provide comprehensive women’s health services such as: contraceptive prescribing and counseling, routine PAP screening, colposcopy referrals and exams, HPV vaccinations, STI testing and counseling, and pregnancy testing and counseling.

We are located in the Purple Pod on second floor of the UCF Health Center.

A great reference for healthy women is:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to Treat the Symptoms of Colds and Flu

By: Jason Perry, UF PharmD student - UCF Pharmacy Intern

Cold and flu symptoms make you feel miserable. There are, however, options available without a prescription to treat some of the most bothersome symptoms. Please seek medical attention if you have a fever over 102°F, have colored phlegm with fever and chills, or your symptoms do not improve.


Fevers are a natural defense against infection. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are available over-the-counter to reduce fevers. NSAIDS include ibuprofen, naproxen and ketoprofen.


Rest! You may feel tired for a number of reasons. Loss of sleep due to illness, lack of nutrients from vomiting or not eating, infection, and dehydration are some potential causes. Resting is one way to help your body heal. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.


Coughing is a natural defense against lung infection. There is only one ingredient available over-the-counter that will treat a cough, it is dextromethorphan. If your cough is productive (you can break up mucus) then you should avoid suppressing your cough.


Sneezing can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines. There are several to choose from. Antihistamines are available as drowsy or non-drowsy formulations. Keep in mind, these products may cause dry mouth so drink plenty of fluids.

Sore Throat

If your sore throat is due to a simple cold you should increase your fluid intake, gargle with warm salt water, use lozenges, take an over the counter pain reliever (Tylenol or Advil) and rest your voice. To create salt water solution use ¼ teaspoon of salt in half a glass of warm water. Please seek medical attention if you’ve had a sore throat for several days and it is accompanied by a fever.


Sinus pressure and congestion can cause significant discomfort. There are two products available without a prescription that can be taken by mouth; they are pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. Pseudoephedrine is more effective and is kept behind the pharmacy counter. Decongestant nasal sprays are also available and should not be used for more than two days.
Further reading and additional information can be found at

Cold and Flu Care Kits are available at YOUR UCF Pharmacy and Knight Aide for ONLY $5.00!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

By: Glenn E. Gaborko, Jr. PA-C MPAS - UCF Health Center Provider

Everyone knows that uncomfortable feeling of a runny, congested nose, sore, scratchy throat, and sneezing – the first signs of a cold which probably is the most common illness known. Although usually very mild, the common cold lasts from one to two weeks and is the leading cause of doctor’s office visits and of job and school absenteeism.

We call it the “common cold” for a good reason. It is estimated that there are over one billion colds in the United States annually. There are over 200 different viruses (particularly the rhinoviruses) documented that cause the symptoms of a cold. Children typically are the most common carriers of the viruses. They are exposed in school and the virus spreads to the home where the parents keep the strain alive with their coworkers.

Colds can occur year-round, but they occur mostly in the winter (even in areas such as Central Florida with mild winters). In areas where there is no winter, colds are most common during the rainy season. Seasonal changes in humidity also may affect the prevalence of colds. The most common viruses are able to live with low humidity and cool temperatures. Cold weather also dries out the nasal passage that makes one more vulnerable to a viral infection.

When a person has a cold, their nasal passages are swarming with virus. Nose blowing and wiping along with sneezing spread the virus. You can catch a cold by inhaling the virus if you are sitting close to someone who sneezes, or by touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus.

Once exposed, the body does everything it can to fight back. The immune response sends a message to the brain, which releases special white blood cells to the infected area. Typically involving the nasal passages, the membranes become inflamed and swollen. Increased mucous production is initiated and hence the runny nose.

The three most frequent symptoms of a cold are a runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion. People are most contagious for the first 2 or 3 days of the illness, and usually not contagious by days 7 to 10. Adults and older children routinely have minimal or no fever at all. Once you have “caught” a cold, the symptoms will begin in 2 to 3 days. Initially with a watery discharge that leads to nasal secretions that become thicker in nature and yellow or green in color. This is a normal part of the common cold and there is no need for antibiotics because of the color of the nasal discharge.

Depending on which virus attacks your body, other symptoms that you could have as well include: sore throat, cough, muscle aches, headache, postnasal drip, and decreased appetite. Still, if indeed it is a true common cold, the main symptoms will occur in the nose. The entire cold is usually over within 7 days possibly with a few lingering symptoms.

While we live in a society very dependent on antibiotics, the common cold is NOT treated with antibiotics. Over-the-counter cough and cold preparations will not actually shorten the length of the cold, but they will decrease the symptoms, which provide relief to the person. Decongestants will drain the mucous while antihistamines will dry the membranes. Throat lozenges and cough drops will help sooth the scratchy throat. Meanwhile, plenty of rest and relaxation will also help the body build its natural response to the infection. Plenty of fluids also help flush the body of the virus. Lastly, chicken soup has been used for treating the common cold since the 12th century. The heat, fluid and salt may help you fight the infection.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Is Body Image Affecting Your Health?

By: Meghan Van Camp, RD, LD/N - UCF Wellness Center Nutritionist

For many students, both males and females, body image is a sensitive topic that causes stress and feelings of inadequacy. These students have a distorted view of a healthy body image which can be detrimental to their health and well being.

There are many influences affecting one’s self image. In particular, the barrage of images that the media supplies can not be overlooked. From the pages of fashion magazines to the actors in movies and mannequins in store windows, we are confronted with super thin or super hero images that are not realistic and usually unobtainable in a healthy way.

Let’s put things into perspective.

The average woman is 5 feet 4 inches and weights 140 pounds. That represents a BMI of 24 which is considered a healthy weight by all nutritional standards.

The average model, on the other hand, measures 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 114 pounds. This size has a BMI of 16.3 which is classified as malnourished.

Many models employ dangerous eating habits that can result in tragic health issues. After a model died from cardiac arrest while walking the runway, the modeling industry in Madrid created new regulations to help insure the model’s health. Models are now required to maintain a minimum BMI of 18 to work in Madrid.

Eight million people have eating disorders in America alone. Eating disorders are accompanied by lack of self esteem, lack of confidence and stress resulting from their negative body image. This can lead not only to serious health issues but can hold individuals back from accomplishing their goals in life. Symptoms of negative body image include chronic dieting, constant negative thoughts about one’s body, preoccupation with numbers, and little concern for one’s overall health.

If some of these issues feel like they are getting out of control for you or a friend, help is all around you. UCF students can get advice and assistance from professionals at the Wellness Center, Counseling Center and Health Center. Call 407.823.2811 for Counseling, 407.823.3850 for an appointment with a Dietitian or Health Center provider, or drop by the Wellness Center on the first floor of RWC to discuss your concerns with a Certified Peer Consultant who can help you decide on the next step.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Preparing for a Health Center Appointment

By: Michael Cronyn, MPAS, PA-C - UCF Health Center Provider

Medicine is involved in the diagnosis and treatment of health related problems. Sometimes our investigation involves screening for potential problems, looking at acute or chronic illness and the management of any of these concerns. Our interest in you, the patient, our communication about these health concerns, and formulating an assessment and treatment plan are centered on providing you the appropriate care that you deserve.

It is commonplace for those seeking medical care to research their health concerns through online “Med” sites before seeking actual medical care. As an informed consumer these
pre-assessments can reveal a myriad of potential problems that can range from mild to severe. This may hasten your request for evaluation or make you feel that no screening is warranted.

At the UCF Heath Center we have clinical staff to assist in evaluating your medical and psychological needs. Calling for an appointment to see one of our medical staff will get you in our front door. When we see you it is helpful to schedule for one problem so we can spend adequate time to concentrate on that issue. If additional problems need to be addressed make sure to tell the receptionist so appropriate time may be scheduled.

Bring in pertinent data; write down your concerns and related information as this will help us when we see you. During a first time evaluation for a chronic health problem please bring in your old medical records, any recent laboratory work, along with any prescribed medications. This will help us in our assessment process. Similarly for acute health problems please think over the time line related to your symptoms and any home treatment(s) to date. Appropriate questions and a physical examination should reveal pertinent clues to your health concerns. Having you prepared for evaluation and collecting health data will assist us in serving you better, providing you with a more timely diagnosis and formulating an appropriate treatment plan.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Zoning In": The Danger of Illicit Amphetamine Use

BY: Ted Luna, PharmD - UCF Pharmacist

Amphetamines are gaining popularity with college students across the nation. Students are “Zoning In” with illicit amphetamines in order to increase their ability to study harder or party longer. Adderall, a prescription stimulant, has been the “drug of choice.” This drug has been inappropriately used to enhance academic performance, stay awake for extended periods, heighten concentration, lose weight, and counteract the sedative effects of alcohol.

Psycho-stimulants like Adderall are medically intended to restore the balance of deficient neurotransmitters in the brain of patients diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When Adderall is taken as prescribed by a physician, in appropriate doses and under medical supervision, it helps increase the patient’s ability to stay focused and function like their peers. Using Adderall without a prescription is dangerous and illegal. Adderall may cause increase in heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, dizziness, headaches, anxiety, nervousness, seizures, aggressiveness, insomnia and sudden cardiac death in individuals with certain cardiac conditions. Adderall may also cause psychosis, paranoia, worsening of mental illness, weight loss, and changes in libido or erectile dysfunction. Using Adderall in combination with alcohol, illicit drugs (cocaine, speed, ecstasy) certain prescription drugs, or over the medications may significantly increase the potential for adverse reactions, including death.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies Adderall as a schedule II drug, the same category as morphine or oxycodone. Although these drugs have acceptable medical uses, they have a high potential for severe psychological or physical dependence with prolonged administration.

It is against the law to possess Adderall without a prescription. Giving Adderall to someone is just as illegal as selling the drug. Students that illicitly deliver (give/sell) or possess a schedule II drug without a prescription commit a felony drug offense, which may eliminate students from certain careers. Illegally possessing any drug violates UCF’s Code of Conduct.

Instead of using illicit stimulants, students should work on developing positive strategies to help manage the pressures of college life. The UCF Health Center, Wellness Center and Counseling Center all provide services to assist students in achieving their wellness and academic goals. Come by and see what we offer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Diabetes and YOU

By: William Oakley, MD - UCF Health Center

For those patients that have any form of diabetes, the UCF Health Center will be offering a specialty clinic directed towards Diabetes treatment and management within the next few months.

Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder. It is a chronic disease caused by pancreatic insufficiency of insulin production, resulting in elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels. There are 2 diabetes classifications: Type 1, or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM); and Type 2, or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).

Type 1 occurs in 15 out of 100,000 people, with a mean age onset of 8-12 years old. It develops due to a viral or inherited defect, which damages the pancreatic “beta” cells, and therefore no insulin is produced. Insulin is required to keep blood sugar levels normal. These patients require daily insulin injections in order to keep their sugar levels under control. Currently, there is no cure for this disease, only treatment with various types of insulin.
Type 2 occurs in 8,000 per 100,000 people, or 8% of the adult population, with a median age onset of 40. The type 2 patient has a “partially” functional pancreas; some insulin is being produced, but not enough. Therefore, oral medications as well as injectable insulin are used in treating these patients. Type 2 diabetes can result from hereditary genetics, or can be a result of poor lifestyle choices - being overweight, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Both types of diabetes can lead to chronic disease problems which include arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and dialysis, blindness, glaucoma, cataracts, skin ulcerations, and peripheral neuropathy. Signs and symptoms of diabetes include urinary frequency, increased thirst or appetite, unexplained weight loss, weakness, fatigue, frequent infections, nausea and vomiting, dehydration, headache, and visual disturbances. If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, see your doctor immediately and get checked for the possibility of having diabetes. Diabetes is easily diagnosed by checking a simple blood glucose level or urinalysis. The key to treatment is early diagnosis, tight management of blood sugar levels, regular exercise, weight loss, and appropriate diet.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Health Relationships

By: Peter Mastroianni, MA - UCF Wellness Center

There really should be a class on how to establish, build and maintain a healthy relationship. Most of us are certainly not taught these skills and few have perfect role models to learn them from. Even if your parents do have a “healthy relationship”, it is likely that you have not seen “the work” they put in to make that happen.

Romantic relationships can be an incredible addition to our lives and help bring out the best in both partners. Even healthy relationships, however, will at times be confusing, frustrating and challenging.

Some relationships start off with the proverbial “fireworks,” with both partners feeling exhilarated, care free, and the desire to spend a great deal of time together. Yes, even this has been shown to be caused by a physical/chemical reaction in the brain, specifically a release of endorphins - your body’s natural pain killing substances. Some people enjoy this feeling so much that they are disappointed when this phase ends and mistakenly think they have fallen out of love. Other relationships grow slowly out of friendships. Either way, couples tend to go through a period of “love blindness” when they see only the good points of their partner and ignore signs of problems or obstacles.

Relationship counselors recommend taking the time to explore each other’s interests and find things you enjoy doing together. This is also the time to establish a pattern of appreciating and respecting your partner. Practice letting them know you appreciate “the little things” they do for you and avoid focusing on “mistakes” they make. This is also a great time to learn and practice saying “I’m sorry”. It shows your willingness to take responsibility for your words and actions.

Change is inevitable. People change, expectations change, needs change. Try to see change as a positive stress or challenge that, if handled well, can make the relationship stronger. Communication is crucial to negotiating how to keep the relationship strong over time and through the changes. Fear of change may lead to less communication, less flexibility and serious problems for the relationship.

While many people will say that communication is the key to a healthy relationship, putting it into practice is much more difficult. Examine your own communication style and that of your family. If your family members are not effective communicators, you may need to learn new skills and attempt to communicate in ways that are more effective. You need to be able to do two things. The first is to express your needs, desires and expectations clearly. Be specific. Vague requests may not be understood. “I would like it if you would hold hands with me more,” is much clearer than, “I wish you were more affectionate.”

The other half of communication is active listening. Many people half listen to other people while thinking about how they are going to respond. That is not active listening. Active listening means really paying attention to both the words your partner is saying and to the feelings behind the words. The active listener truly believes it is important for him/her to know how the other person is feeling.

The important thing is how you fight or argue. What is your intention? If you ”need to win” then the relationship will lose. In a healthy relationship both partners want the relationship to win. Compromise is an important tool. This does not mean that you never have your needs met. It does mean that you will need to give in at times, have each person’s needs partially met at times, and never lose sight of the important needs that are being met simply by having the relationship.

When conflict does arise, remember that people handle it differently and you and your partner may need to learn to adjust your styles for the sake of the relationship. If you have built a strong foundation and each partner knows he/she is respected, then conflict should be less scary.

1. Take a time out if you are too angry to express yourself clearly and to listen to your partner. Avoid starting the discussion with a critical statement. That will only escalate things.
2. Let your partner know that you love them, want to be in a relationship with them and want to work things out.
3. Be very clear when you express your desires and feelings. Clear enough so that an outsider watching the argument would understand what you need.
4. Deal with one issue at a time. Do not “get on a roll” and hit them with everything that has been building up in you for months.
5. Go into it with a WIN/WIN attitude. Are you making demands that couldn’t possibly be met? Have you thought of a way for your needs to be met in a way that your partner’s are also, or that he/she is capable of fulfilling without changing their entire personality?
6. LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN. Allow your partner to respond and be willing to hear their side. Listen to how they are feeling.
7. Try to find a mutually acceptable solution.
8. There will be times you will simply have to agree to disagree.
9. If you cannot find a resolution, do not hesitate to ask for help. The University Counseling Center offers couples counseling. Call 407.823.2811 for an appointment.