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.