Welcome to the October 2008 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter. The Health Matters Newsletter is published on a monthly basis on the Health Center home page, and is linked to the weekly Campus Report. The purpose of the newsletter is to share information regarding pertinent medical issues with the students, faculty and staff here at SUNY Fredonia. This month's topics include
Going off to college is a monumental step in the life of a young adult. It is a stage of life marked by change and exploration. You move from your parents home into a dormitory or student housing unit, meet new friends, and discover what it truly is to be out on your own, making your own decisions, including the decision to drink alcohol. For many students, drinking is seen as a rite of passage, as part of having fun, of lowering social inhibitions.
Alcohol abuse is now a widespread problem on the nation's college campuses. The consequences of excessive drinking by college students are more significant, more destructive and more costly than many parents realize. Studies show that four out of five college students drink alcohol. Two out of five report binge drinking (defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more for women in one sitting). One in five students report three or more binge episodes over a period of two weeks.
Statistics to make you think before you take another drink.....
Death: 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 each year are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
Assault: More then 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 each year are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 each year are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
Alcohol Does the Body Bad.......
Before a person feels "drunk", alcohol has already stopped messages from going to the brain. Even small amounts of alcohol affect judgment and reaction time. When you can't think clearly, it's hard to make good decisions. Your brain may take as long as 48 hours to return to normal after a big night of drinking. Long term, heavy drinking can cause permanent damage to the brain. It can cause problems with memory, thinking and concentration.
Coordination and Balance
Even small amounts of alcohol can affect coordination and balance. This makes it easier to fall or get into an accident.
Heavy drinking affects the immune system, making it easier to get lung infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
The liver cleans poisons, including alcohol from the body. The more alcohol a person drinks, the harder the liver has to work. People who drink regularly for many years can have serious liver damage and may even get liver cancer. If the liver is damaged badly enough, it can stop working, causing the person to die.
Alcohol irritates the stomach. A little can cause nausea. A lot can make you vomit. Excessive drinking can cause ulcers in the stomach which may eventually bleed.
The pancreas helps regulate the body's blood sugar levels. Long term heavy drinking can lead to inflammation of the pancreas causing severe abdominal pain, malfunction, and eventually death.
Do you really know how much you had to drink???
Most people don't know what counts as a standard drink, and therefore, don't realize how many standard drinks are in the containers in which these drinks are sold.
For beer, the approximate number of standard drinks in:
12 oz can/bottle = 1 standard drink 16 oz can/bottle = 1.3 standard drinks 22 oz can/bottle = 2 standard drinks 40 oz can/bottle = 3.3 standard drinks
For malt liquor, the approximate number of standard drinks in:
12 oz malt liquor = 1.5 standard drinks 16 oz malt liquor = 2 standard drinks 22 oz malt liquor = 2.5 standard drinks 40 oz malt liquor = 4.5 standard drink
For table wine, the approximate number of standard drinks in:
A standard 750 ml (25 oz) bottle of wine = 5 standard drinks
For 80-proof spirits or "hard liquor", the approximate number of standard drinks in:
a mixed drink = 1 or more standard drinks a fifth (25 oz) = 17 standard drinks a pint (16oz) = 11 standard drinks 1.75 L (59 oz) = 39 standard drinks
Past the point of possible no return......
Excessive drinking can be hazardous to everyone's health!!! Some people laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think that it's even funnier when they pass out. As you are laughing about the drunk who has passed out in the corner, there a couple of things that you should know.
It is common for someone who has indulged in an excessive amount of alcohol to vomit since the alcohol is an irritant. Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the ability to gag (which prevent choking). Typically, one of the biggest concerns when someone vomits, and is unable to control their gag reflex to prevent choking, is aspiration of the vomit. When vomit is aspirated, the lungs are flooded with foul material which blocks the ability for oxygen to get in and out. If not treated, this could eventually lead to death .
Common myths about sobering up include drinking black coffee, taking a cold bath or sleeping it off or walking it off. These are just myths. The only thing that reduces the affects of alcohol in your system is TIME. And time is something that you do not have enough of when you are suffering from alcohol poisoning.
Everyone has been there, the sneezing, the scratchy throat, the runny nose. Yes, you've got it, a COLD. There are over 200 virus strains known to cause the common cold. A cold can spread like wildfire in close quarters such as classrooms and college dormitories. Spread by droplets from the nose and mouth of infected persons, the average college student will experience cold like symptoms 2-4 times each year.
Question: Can I catch a cold from being out in the cold?
This is a common myth. There is no evidence that you can get a cold from exposure to cold weather or from getting chilled or from being overheated.
Question: Can I catch a cold from have enlarged tonsils or adenoids?
There is no evidence that your chances of getting a cold are related to factors such as exercise, diet or enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
Question: When is the cold season?
In late August , early September, the rate of colds increases for a few weeks and then remains high until April, when it finally declines. At these times, the weather is cooler, people are more likely to be indoors, which increases the chances that viruses will spread from one person to another.. Most cold causing viruses survive better when the humidity is low during the colder months.
Question: How do I know that I have a cold?
There are many variations of the common cold. Most people will experience some combination of a runny nose, sneezing, stuffiness, sore throat , cough, and/or headache for 1-2 week period. A fever is usually low grade , but can climb to 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Question: When should I go to the Health Center?
Most colds can be treated with over the counter products such as Tylenol, Sudafed or any of the many cold preparations out there. Colds can occasionally lead to bacterial infections of your middle ear, sinuses, or throat requiring treatment with antibiotics. If the fever persists, or if you experience significant swollen glands, severe sinus pain, or a cough that produces mucus then you should seek medical attention either with your primary physician or at the college Health Center.
Question: How can I treat my cold?
1) Resting in bed.
2) Drinking plenty of fluids
3) Gargling with warm salt water or using throat sprays or lozenges for a sore throat
4) Taking aspirin or Tylenol for the low grade fever, headache and general malaise.
5) Taking a cough medicine with an expectorant to loosen the secretions and make it easier to cough.
6) Taking a decongestant to reduce the swelling in the nasal mucosa, promote drainage and reduce airflow resistance.
7) Discontinue all tobacco and alcohol use. Both can make the symptoms of a cold worse.
Breast Cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in this country. Each year, more than 211,000 women and 1,700 men in the United States learn that they have Breast Cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2008, it is estimated that 182,460 females and 1990 males will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and 40,480 women and 450 men will die from breast cancer.
Research from the National Academy of Sciences concludes that lifestyle and diet is responsible for up to 60% of cancers in women. A strong link suggests that a lower estrogen level reduces the risk for developing breast cancer. It appears that estrogen, a natural female hormone, induces and promotes mammary (breast) tumors. This happens when too much fat in the diet upsets the estrogen balance in women. Also, women who have several close maternal relatives (ie., grandmother, mother, aunt, sister) who develop breast cancer before menopause, the risk may be as high as 50%.
The best prevention is eating a low fat, high fiber diet, limiting or avoiding alcohol, not smoking, and exercising regularly. Not only does the dietary regime reduce the risk of breast cancer but it may help prevent many other types of cancer.
The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or thickening in the breast. Other signs include swelling, puckering or dimpling of the skin, or redness or soreness in the skin. The nipple may become drawn into the chest, change shape, become crusty or emit a discharge. Some early breast cancers are painless. Any pain or tenderness that lasts throughout the 28 day menstrual cycle should be reported to your physician.
Self breast exams are the simpliest, the least time consuming and the first line for women to detect abnormalities in their breast. Monthly self breast exams performed 7 to 10 days after the start of the menstrual cycle, can familiarize the woman with her own breasts and make it easier to detect any abnormalities.
Mammography, as a diagnostic tool, remains a woman's best defense against breast cancer. A mammogram can find a breast lump when they are extremely small, too small in many cases to be detected in a physical exam. There is a 97% cure rate in early diagnosis where the cancer has not spread. Remember 4 out of 5 lumps are benign and not cancerous. According to the American Cancer Society, a woman should have her first (baseline) mammogram between the ages of 35 and 39. Then one should be done every one to two years between the ages of 40 and 50 and annually thereafter.
Cancer is a multistage process. Ones best defense is to block the process throughout your lifetime with a healthy lifestyle.