Health Matters Newsletter


Health Center
LoGrasso Hall
State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3131 or
(716) 673-3132
(716) 673-4722 (fax)

December 2010


Wishing You a Safe and Healthy Holiday Season

Welcome to the December 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 issues and health and wellness suggestions with the students, faculty, and staff here at SUNY Fredonia.  This month's topics include:

Alcohol : Think Before You Drink

Let's Get Ready for Cold and Flu Season

HIV and AIDs: What you should know

Alcohol : Think Before You Drink

Every day, 36 people in the United States die, and approximately 700 more are injured, in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol or drugged impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 45 minutes. In one year, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. 

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.

Protect Yourself and Your Family and Friends

During the holiday season, and year-round , take steps to make sure that you and everyone you celebrate with avoids driving under the influence of alcohol.

  • Plan ahead.  Always designate a non-drinking driver before any holiday party or celebration begins.
  • Take the keys. Do not let a friend drive if they are impaired.
  • Be a helpful host.  If you are hosting a party this holiday season, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver, always offer alcohol-free beverages, and make sure all  of your guests leave with a sober driver.
  • If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi. 
  • 

Let's Get Ready for the Cold and Flu Season

 

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

How many times have we dismissed sniffles as “just a cold: and carried on with a stuffy nose and sinus congestion assuming that the symptoms would eventually subside?   Because flu symptoms are quite similar to cold symptoms, it’s often hard to tell the difference.   Flu symptoms hit you quick and are more intense then that of a typical cold.  The common cold eventually fizzles, but the flu can be deadly.  It is important to know the differences, and to seek medical attention appropriately. 

The flu is a viral infection caused by the influenza virus.  The common cold is also a viral infection caused by the adenovirus or coronavirus and there are many, many subsets with a lot of variability of both.   This is why there is no cure for the common cold and no vaccine available.  The flu is known to be from influenza and is preventable with vaccination.

Flu symptoms usually come on quickly (within 3-6 hours) and consist of a fever, body aches, dry cough and extreme tiredness.  Colds are less severe and people experience a runny nose, congestion, and sore throat.  The flu can cause an epidemic or a pandemic with the potential for mortality, whereas the common cold is just a nuisance for us.

The following chart can help you compare flu symptoms with cold symptoms.  Remember that if you are experiencing flu like symptoms, it is best to contact your medical provider or the student health center for assistance in managing these symptoms.

Symptoms

 

Cold

Flu

Fever

Rare

Characteristic, high (100-102 degrees F) usually lasting 3-4 days.

Headache

Rare

Prominent

 

General  body aches

Slight

Usual; often severe

 

Fatigue, weakness

Mild

Can last up to 2-3 weeks

 

Extreme Exhaustion

Never

Early and prominent

 

Stuffy nose

Common

Sometimes

 

Sneezing

Usual

Sometimes

 

Sore throat

Common

Sometimes

 

Chest Discomfort, Cough

Mild to moderate; hacking cough

Common; can become severe

 

 

How to Keep Yourself Healthy during the Cold and Flu Season .

1)      Don’t panic. First, don’t panic about what you hear on the media.  Take a deep breath.  Keep in mind that our bodies are capable of fighting viruses and illnesses. A positive outlook on life can go a long way.  Happy people seem to be sick less often than unhappy people. 

2)      Get plenty of Zzzzzzzzzzzz.  Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to illness by reducing the number of cells in your body dedicated to fighting things like microbes or infections. The average adult needs about 6-8 hours of sleep each day. 

3)      Bust a move.  Exercising helps boost your immune system and overall makes you look and feel better.

4)      Engage in germ warfare.  Be obsessive about keeping your hands clean, since this is the major way that germs and viruses are spread.  Research has shown that frequent hand washing (5 or more times a day) can reduce the chances of getting sick by almost 50%. 

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.  Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while vigorously lathering the palms, between fingers , around nail beds, and the backs of hands.  Pay close attention to hand hygiene before and after each meal, after playing outside, using the bathroom, handling pets, blowing noses, and after being anywhere in public.

Sneeze and cough into your arm or a tissue.  Coughing into your hands puts the germs right where you can spread them to any object or person you touch.

5)      Drink up. Drink lots of water.  Staying hydrated flushes out germs, and improves the moisture level in your skin.  Hydration also helps the immune system to work properly.  Limit alcohol and caffeine, since they can actually dry out your body even more.

6)       Air out.  Open a window or two in your home just a crack for a few minutes each day.  You will let out indoor air pollutants that may be stressing your immune systems as well as chase away germs.

7)      Keep it cool.  An overheated home promotes dry air, the perfect environment for viruses to thrive.  This dry air can affect your mucous membranes as well.  When the mucous membranes  in your nose, mouth and tonsils are dry, they can’t trap germs very well.  By lowering the heat in your house just  5 degrees and using a humidifier, you will be well on your way to a healthier level of humidity for fighting back on infections.

8)      Pump up with produce.  Eating a well balanced diet including fruits, veggies, proteins, and healthy fats is needed for immune function and maintenance.  

9)      Go easy on the sweets.  Sugar makes the body acidic, just the way pathogens like it (they thrive on sugar). 

10)   Quit smoking.  If you smoke, quit.  Smoking suppresses immune cells from doing their jobs.  Immune function starts improving 30 days after a person stops smoking.

11)   Take a daily multivitamin.  A daily multivitamin is fine for good health, but don’t overload yourself with Vitamin C, Zinc, and other herbal remedies valued for immune support.  There is a thin line between just enough and too much.  Too much of anything is going to suppress rather than boost.

12)   Bundle Up.  When it is extremely cold, your blood leaves your arms and your legs,  and heads for your core in order to keep  your vital organs warm.  If you are cold and shivering, your system will concentrate all available energy into raising your core temperature rather than fighting germs, so you are much more apt to get sick.   Gloves, hats, scarves, and thick socks all work to keep you warm and well.

HIV and AIDs: What you should know.....

What is HIV?

HIV stands for 'human immunodeficiency virus'. HIV is a virus (of the type called retrovirus) that infects cells of the human immune system (mainly CD4 positive T cells and macrophages—key components of the cellular immune system), and destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, leading to 'immune deficiency'. The immune system is considered deficient when it can no longer fulfill its role of fighting off infections and diseases. Immunodeficient people are more susceptible to a wide range of infections, most of which are rare among people without immune deficiency. Infections associated with severe immunodeficiency are known as 'opportunistic infections', because they take advantage of a weakened immune system.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

-Most people infected with HIV do not know that they have become infected, because they do not feel ill immediately after infection. However, some people at the time of seroconversion develop “Acute retroviral syndrome” which is a glandular fever-like illness with fever, rash, joint pains and enlarged lymph nodes.

-Seroconversion refers to the development of antibodies to HIV and usually takes place between 1 and 6 weeks after HIV infection has happened.

-Whether or not HIV infection causes initial symptoms, an HIV-infected person is highly infectious during this initial period and can transmit the virus to another person. The only way to determine whether HIV is present in a person's body is by testing for HIV antibodies or for HIV itself.

-After HIV has caused progressive deterioration of the immune system, increased susceptibility to infections may lead to symptoms.

-HIV is staged on the basis of certain signs, symptoms, infections, and cancers grouped by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

  •  Primary HIV infection - may be asymptomatic or experienced as Acute retroviral
  •  Clinical stage 1 - asymptomatic or generalized swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Clinical stage 2 - includes minor weight loss, minor mucocutaneous manifestations, and recurrent upper respiratory tract infections
  • Clinical stage 3 - includes unexplained chronic diarrhea, unexplained persistent fever, oral candidacies or leukoplakia, severe bacterial infections, pulmonary tuberculosis, and acute nectrotizing inflammation in the mouth.  Some persons with clinical stage 3 have AIDS.
  • Clinical stage 4 - includes 22 opportunistic infections or cancers related to HIV.  All persons with clinical stage 4 have AIDS.    

Most of these conditions are opportunistic infections that can be treated easily in healthy people.

What is AIDS?

Over the past century, AIDS has become more noteworthy due to it's prevalence in American Society.  AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a preventable, life-threatening illness caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).   With time, the infection with HIV causes you to lose your ability to fight off serious infection.  When this happens, HIV infection becomes AIDS.

Who is at risk for developing AIDS?

If you are infected with HIV, you can pass the virus to other people even when you may have no sign of illness.  The virus can be spread by contact with your blood or semen.  It can also be spread to babies by breast milk if the mother is infected with the virus.  People close to you are not at increased risk if they do not have sexual contact with your or contact with your blood.

IV drug users and people receiving blood transfusions are also at higher risk of being exposed to the virus through infected blood.  Since the mid-1980's, in North American , it is standard practice to test all donated blood for the HIV virus, therefore, decreasing the risk of infection through receiving a blood transfusion.

Men and women can transmit the HIV virus sexually.  The virus has been found in semen and vaginal secretions.  Both vaginal and oral intercourse can spread the HIV virus.  Anal intercourse and intercourse with numerous partners can increase the risk of getting AIDS.

The following groups are at a high risk for contracting an HIV infection and possibly developing AIDS:

-sexually active homosexual males
-bisexual men and their partners
-IV drug users and their sexual partners
-people who share needles such as IV drug us, tattooing, or piercing
-heterosexual men and women with more than one sexual partner
-people given blood transfusions prior to the mid 1980's
-immigrants from areas with many cases of AIDS such as Haiti and east central Africa
-people who have sex without using a latex or polyurethane condom
-babies born to HIV infected mothers

How quickly do people infected with HIV develop AIDS?

The length of time can vary widely between individuals. The majority of people infected with HIV, if not treated, develop signs of HIV-related illness within 5-10 years, but the time between infection with HIV and being diagnosed with AIDS can be 10–15 years, sometimes longer. Antiretroviral therapy can slow down disease progression to AIDS by decreasing the infected person’s viral load. WHO recommends initiation of antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-infected adolescents and adults who are at clinical stage 4 or have a CD4 positive T cell count below 200 per mm3, and for some persons who are at clinical stage 3.


Who should be tested for HIV?

A person should be tested for HIV if:

-You are or were in a high-risk group listed above.
-You have ever had unprotected sex and have not been tested.
-You are or plan to become pregnant .

Where can I get tested for HIV?

Ask you health care provider where you can get the test.  Many community health centers, family planning clinics, hospitals, STD clinics and county health departments offer the testing.  Or you may call the Centers for Disease control National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-AIDS to find a testing center near you.  The SUNY Fredonia Student Health Center frequently run clinics for HIV testing.  These clinics will be announced via email to students, staff and faculty.

What do the test results mean?

If your test is negative, it means you have not been infected with the AIDS virus before 2 to 6 months ago.  As long as you do not engage in any high-risk activity and always practice safe sex, you have almost no risk of becoming HIV positive or developing AIDS.  If you are or were at high risk, you should speak with your health care provider as to how often you should be retested.

If your test is positive, a second test will be done to confirm that you are infected with the HIV virus.

How can I prevent giving HIV to others?  

If you are infected with HIV, you should take the following precautions to avoid spreading the virus to others:

- Avoid sexual and other high-risk activities, such as sharing needles.  Often, people with HIV can give the virus to others before they know that they are infected.  Safe sex should always be practiced to help prevent the spread of infection.

-If you are sexually active, you should engage only in safe sex.  Avoid exposure to blood and sexual secretions during sex.  This means: 
        -Avoid vaginal/anal intercourse unless condoms are used.
        -Avoid oral-genital sex without condoms.
        -Avoid oral-anal sex
        -Avoid getting semen or blood in cuts or in the eyes

-Do not donate blood, plasma or semen

-Do not plan to donate organs. ( If you were previously planning to donate organs, have that statement removed from your driver's license.

-Do not share or reuse IV needles and syringes.  Boiling does not guarantee sterility of needles or syringes.

-Do not use nitrate inhalants (poppers).

-Do not share razors, toothbrushes, or anything that could be contaminated with body fluids or bloods.

-Tell your health car providers that you are HIV positive.

-If you work in a dental, medical or other health care professional and perform invasive procedures or have skin sores, use latex gloves to protect patients from risk of infection.

-Get medical checkups at least once a year, or more often if your health care provider recommends it or if you have symptoms that suggest AIDS.

 For more information about HIV and AIDS:

Contact the National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-2437

 


Page modified 11/26/14