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Health Matters Newsletter

Student Health Center
State University of New York
Fredonia, NY 14063

Location:LoGrasso Hall

Phone: (716) 673-3131

Fax: (716) 673-4722


Office Hours

Academic Year

8:00 am-5:00 pm M-F


8:00 am-4:00 pm M-F


April 2010

Spring is in bloom, and here comes those allergies..

Welcome to the April 2010 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 issue and health and wellness suggestions with the students, faculty and staff here at SUNY  Fredonia.  Here are the topics for this month:


April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Spring is in the air.   The snow has melted, the grass is starting to get greener, and everything is beginning to show its new blossoms.  Although spring brings out the beauty in nature, those of us who have spring allergies know that this beauty can bring on some not so pleasant symptoms such as sniffling, sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose.   In this newsletter, we are going to discuss allergies, and what we can do about them.

What are allergies?

Allergies are a reaction by the body’s immune system to normally harmless substances, such as pollen, mold, animal dander, etc.  The allergy causing substances are called allergens.

How do allergies occur?

Your immune system is your body’s natural defense against infection and other foreign material.  Before you can have a reaction to a particular substance, your immune system must first be sensitized to it.  This means that your body has to have been exposed to the substance at least once before.  Once sensitized, your body will react every time you have contact with that substance.  Many substances can cause an allergic reaction.  Here are the most common ones:  

  •  Pollen
  • Mold
  • Animal Dander
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Latex
  • Medicines
  • Insect stings
  • Foods

These allergens may cause different kinds of allergic reactions.  The most common allergic conditions are hay fever (sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes).  Some can cause a skin rash.  And others can cause an asthmatic type reaction with wheezing and chest tightness.  

  •  Airborne allergens such as mold and pollen of trees, grasses and weeds cause hay fever.
  •  Pollens, molds, and house dust can trigger asthma attacks.
  •  Allergic reactions of the skin can have many possible causes.  These irritants, such as hair and skin products, nickel in jewelry and belt buckles, dyes in leather or fabric and poison ivy and oak, can cause an allergic reaction when they touch your skin.
  • Food, such as shellfish, eggs, milk, nuts, and peanuts can cause allergy symptoms as well.  These can range from a simple rash or stomach ache to difficulty breathing and chest tightness.

Why do some people get allergies and others do not?

It is not known why some people develop allergies to certain substances.  Allergies run in families, but not every family member may be allergic to the same thing.   The type of reaction to a certain allergen can be different as well.  Some people can have a simple sniffle or rash, others the reaction may be more severe.  This type of a reaction is called anaphylaxis.  It is a life threatening emergency that can affect breathing and circulation within several minutes.  Insect stings, certain foods, and drugs such as penicillin are some of the more common causes of severe allergic reactions.

What are the symptoms of allergies?

The symptoms of an allergic reaction depend on the type and severity of the reaction.  Common symptoms of an allergy are: 

  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • A rash or hives (raised, red, itchy areas on the skin)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea

Some of the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction are: 

  • Fast pulse
  • Trouble breathing, including wheezing
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Hives
  • Pale, cool, damp skin
  • Drowsiness, confusion, or loss of consciousness

How are allergies diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your history of symptoms and examine you.  There are tests to find out which allergens are causing your symptoms.  For most people, the best tests are skin scratch tests.  For these tests, your provider looks for reactions to tiny amounts of suspected allergens placed under your skin.  In some cases you may have blood test to help find what you are allergic to. 

To identify a food allergy, your provider may suggest that you try to find which foods cause a reaction by avoiding certain foods for a while.  Then you can carefully try eating these foods again, one by one, to see if your symptoms come back.

How are allergies treated?

Mild symptoms may not need treatment.  Or, depending on the type of allergy you have and your symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe:  

  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines
  • Steroid medicine
  •  Quick-acting, inhaled bronchodilators to treat breathing problems

In some cases, your provider may suggest allergy shots.  A mixture is prepared that contains the allergens identified in your allergy testes.  The mixture is injected into your skin in tiny but increasing amounts over the course of many months.  Over time, the shots make you less sensitive to the allergens.  Usually after 4 to 6 months of allergy shots you will begin to have relief from your allergies.  You will probably need to continue these shots for 2 to 3 years, sometimes longer.

If you have severe allergies, your provider may prescribe an EpiPen emergency kit for you to carry with you at all times.  The kit contains a ready-to-use syringe of epinephrine.  If you have a severe allergic reaction, someone with you can give you a hot of this medicine to counteract the allergy symptoms until you get medical care.  The kit is not intended as the sole treatment of an allergic reaction.  It gives you to time to get to a medical provider for treatment.   If you have a severe allergic reaction, you need to call 911 right away.  Use an EpiPen if you have one.  Teach family members and coworkers how to help you if you have a severe reaction.

How long does an allergic reaction last?

The effects of an allergic reaction depend on how much you have been exposed to an allergen and how severe your allergy is.  You may have symptoms for several minutes, hours or days.  Some people outgrow their allergies.  Others may have allergies all their life.

How can I take care of myself with allergies? 

  •  Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • Try to avoid the things you are allergic to.
  • If you tend to have severe allergy reactions, ask your provider about carrying medicine with you, such as an EpiPen, for emergency use.  Wear an ID, such as a Medic Alert bracelet, that lists your severe allergies.

How can I help prevent allergies?

There is no known way to prevent allergies.   If your family has a very strong history of allergies, you might try to avid your family’s most common allergens. 

Cigarette smoke can make hay fever and asthma symptoms worse.  You can help your symptoms by not smoking.  It also helps to avoid being around others who are smoking.  Children living in homes with smokers are more likely to develop asthma.

Where can I get more information about allergies? 

  • The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology offers a variety of services.  They can provide educational materials, pollen count reports and maps, and a physician referral directory.  Call 800-822-2762 or visit their web site at
  • The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American offers educational programs and services.  They also offer asthma and allergy support groups across the country for adults, parents, teens, and caregivers.  Call 800-727-8462 or visit their web site at
  •  The American Lung Association offers educational materials and support group information.  Check your local telephone listing for a chapter near you, call 800-586-4872, or visit their web site at
  •  The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is a worldwide network that provides educational materials, allergy alerts, and research studies related to food allergies.  Call 800-929-4040 or visit their web site at


National Alcohol Screening Day

By DJ Schier 

            I’m sure that it will come as no shock to anyone who is reading this that some college students like to drink and party on the weekends, and even on some school nights. Everyone jokes around that they could potentially have a problem when it comes to drinking, but take it light heartedly. In all reality, college is where young adults can become alcoholics and don’t even care.

            On April 8th, 2010 was National Alcohol Screening Day, where awareness for alcoholism and alcohol related facts were given out nationwide through lectures and interactive presentations. The point of the day is for people who think they have alcohol problems or who are too ashamed to admit they have a dependency problem is to have them be educated and find the confidence to seek help and treatment if they so desire. Another goal of the day is to just educate people about the effects alcohol and alcoholism can have on you.

            The reason this is so important to college kids is because according to the National Alcohol Screening Day Website, 1700 college students die each year from alcohol related incidents. Approximately 600,000 college students have been unintentionally injured due to alcohol and almost 700,000 have been assaulted by someone who has been under the influence of alcohol. At least 44% of college students drink more than 5 drinks when they go out on any given night. These statistics are from a few years ago, so I am sure that numbers have increased since.

            This is not at all very shocking to me, because even here at SUNY Fredonia, incidents like this do occur. Many programs and rules are set in place for alcohol, but college students still abuse them. We have the  judicial system that deters drinking, but that can only go so far to stop drinking. Unfortunately, binge drinking still occurs no matter what age you are or if you live on or off campus.

            For all those who have been effected by alcoholism, whether it be a friend, family member, or maybe even yourself, you can always go and talk to the counselors at the Counseling Center in LoGrasso. Also, if you think that you might have a problem or think a friend of yours has a problem, you can go and talk to the counselors as well, who can help you out any way possible. With your help, we can make those statistics go down in the upcoming years and hopefully have a positive impact at SUNY Fredonia.

Alcohol: What You Don't Know Can Harm You

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.......

Brain: 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.

Lungs: Heavy drinking affects the immune system, making it easier to get lung infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Liver: 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.

Stomach: 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.

Pancreas: 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.








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