Health Matters Newsletter


Health Center
LoGrasso Hall
SUNY Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3131 or
(716) 673-3132
(716) 673-4722 (fax)

March 2010
Are you ready for Spring Break?

Welcome to the March 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.

March is the first month of Spring. It is the month where we hopefully transition into nicer weather and sunnier skies.  March is also known for Spring Break.  It is an exciting time for college students giving an opportunity to go to a favorite warm weather destination, or just time off for a well needed break.   Whether you are traveling far away, or staying close to home, this article is dedicated to a safe and healthy spring break.

Beating the Wintertime Blues

Don't let influenza spoil your plans for Spring Break

Travel Tips for Students

Keeping you safe during Spring Break

How to Protect Yourself from the Sun During Spring Break

Sun, Sand and Surf

 

Beating the Wintertime Blues

The winter months may get some people down.   Daylight hours are shorter and nighttime hours are longer.   This can cause some hormonal imbalances, making us feel sluggish and affecting our concentration in class.   Although common for this time of the year, there are steps that you can take to “Beat the Wintertime Blues”.

Get Fit.  Exercising for half an hour at least three times a week can greatly reduce stress and make you feel energized.  Going on a walk in the morning hours will expose you to sunlight, making you feel happier and more content.

Eat a Healthier Diet.  Poor nutrition can make you feel down. Healthy Eating Tips:

1) Eat a good breakfast every morning.  Breakfast kick starts your metabolism.  It provides your brain and your body with the energy needed to feel good, cope with stress , and perform better in the classroom and on the athletic field.

2) Eat three meals a day and two or more snacks. Eating every two to three hours is a good idea if you are under stress.  This will help to prevent your body from getting hungry leaving you even more stressed and more apt to binge.

3) Eat fruits and vegetables.  Foods high in potassium, such as orange juice, squash, potatoes, apricots, limes, banana, avocados, tomatoes, and peaches are low in calorie and high in energy.  They can be used in a meal or as a snack to help keep your body going.

4) Eat foods that are high in calcium, such as yogurt, cheese, and tofu.  These foods will build up stores of calcium in your body and prevent osteoporosis in later life. 

5)  Eat protein at every meal. Protein helps build muscles, fight infection, and heal wounds.

6) Include healthy fats in your diet, particularly foods rich in omega-3's .  Avoid trans fats.

7) Completely avoid soft drinks and juices with high fructose corn syrup. Limit use of artificial sweeteners. These drinks can give you instant energy, but the fall out is that the energy is short lived, leaving you feeling lethargic and lazy shortly after.

8) Drink lots of water.  Water is a very important nutrient that is often forgotten.  Your body needs at least eight glasses of water each day, and if you exercise, or play sports, you may need more.

9) Limit sugar, sweets and junk food from your diet. These foods, available in most vending machines, offer minimal nutritional value and cause an immediate "high" followed by a prolonged "low".

10) Limit alcohol.  Alcohol depletes your body's B vitamins and can disrupt sleep and impair judgment or clarity of thought.

11) Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate).  Caffeine causes nervousness and inhibits sleep if too much is ingested.

12) Take a daily multi-vitamin.  A daily multivitamin can minimize the physical damage caused by stress. 

13) Sleep deprivation can also contribute to snacking and poor food choices.  When you are tired, your body releases hormones that affect your metabolism and make  you crave empty calories like cookies and chips.  So another healthy-eating strategy is making sure that you get the eight to ten hours of sleep a night that you need.  

 

Sleep.  The National Sleep Foundation says that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep on average for a healthful night’s rest.  It is important to try and stay on a sleep schedule, and if possible , wake up early enough  in the morning to expose yourself to morning sunlight.

Get a Life. If your daily routine consists of sleeping, eating, and working, then it’s time for a change.  Pick up a new hobby, volunteer or just redecorate your room.  Try to plan some events throughout the winter months that you can look forward to.  And don’t isolate yourself.   Taking time to do things during these winter months will improve your mood. 

Don't let influenza spoil your plans for Spring Break.

The following is a recent letter from the Department of Health and Human Services and the American College Health Association.

Although flu activity has declined in the recent weeks, 2009 H1N1 Influenza viruses  continue to spread in the United States and abroad, causing illness, hospitalizations and even deaths.  Recently, several colleges and universities have reported increased influenza activity on their campuses.  Flu activity is difficulty to predict, but experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expect that flu activity - caused by 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu viruses - will continue for weeks, and parts of the world may even see big outbreaks. This season , the 2009 H1N1 virus has hit young adults especially hard in terms of illness, as most young people do not have immunity to the virus.  For these reasons, the CDC and the American College Health Association (ACHA) continue to encourage all students, faculty and staff at universities and colleges to protect themselves against 2009 H1N1 by getting vaccinated.  In the spring of 2009, we saw the spread of 2009 H1N1 result in a lot of illness following travel associated with "Spring Break." With the 2010 "Spring Break" coming up and large numbers of students expected to travel both domestically and internationally, getting vaccinated against 2009H1N1 influenza is especially important.

The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine is readily available both on and off campus at school health clinics, doctor's offices, states and local health departments and many pharmacies.  Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against 2009 H1N1 flu.  And this protection is especially important if you have a health condition, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy and other conditions that increase your risk of serious flu-related complications or hospitalization.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can also take the following steps to help protect yourself from getting or spreading the flu and other illness while you are on break:

  • Talk to your health care provider not only about 2009 H1N1, but also other recommended, routine vaccinations you may need if traveling , especially overseas.
  • Visit the CDC's Traveler's Health website (www.cdc.gov/travel) for more information and healthy travel recommendations to prevent influenza and other illness during travel.  You can also find special information about spring break travel.
  • Stay away from people who appear to be sick or are coughing and sneezing.  The main way the flu spreads is through the droplets of coughs and sneezes.
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing.  If soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand rubs are useful.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Don't share drinking glasses or utensils - avoid drinking beverages mixed in a common container or eating after others.
  • Stay home (or away from others) if you are sick for 24 hours after your fever is gone to prevent others from getting sick too.

Spring Break is a time for rest, relaxation and fun with friends and family.  Take the opportunity to get vaccinated before leaving for Spring Break and protect yourself, friends and family against the 2009 H1N1 flu.  Don't let influenza spoil your plans -- get vaccinated against the 2009 H1N1.

Travel Tips for Students

Be aware that there are lots of people out there who see students on Spring Break as easy targets for theft.   Don't prove them correct.  When traveling , here are some precautions you should always take with your valuables.

1)  Take only what you will need.  Clean out your wallet and keep only a small amount of cash, ID, ATM card and credit cards.

2) If traveling abroad, check with the US Department of State for the required visa, ID or passport.

3) ATMs are often the easiest and the cheapest way to get money abroad.  Be sure to carry your card in a safe place.

4) Do not forget a week's worth of any prescription medication.

5) Leave a copy of your itinerary, passport, ID and list of wallet contents with someone you trust back home.

6) Make a list of ID numbers, contact information, travel information (flight and hotel) and credit card numbers and leave it with a trusted friend or relative. Call friends or family members to let them know that you have arrived and returned safely.

 

How to Protect Yourself from the Sun During Spring Break

By: Donald J. Schier

Spring Break is only a little bit away, and with the excessive amounts of work that everyone has with classes, jobs, and extracurricular activities, it is no surprise that students are getting excited. For students that have Spring Break plans that involve places like Panama City, Miami, and Cancun, they are determined to get as physically fit and look as good as they can before school lets out. As a student who is going away for break, I can attest to the fact that the gyms have been overcrowded and the salad lines are the longest I have ever seen them at the dining halls. One thing, though, that I have also noticed, is that everyone is going tanning in preparation for fun in the sun.

With tanning beds being a popular part of our culture, it is no surprise that people will go and use them in order to build up a base tan before they go away for break. It also a sign that you are looking good to the rest of the world because who doesn’t want to look tan and healthy. Also, with the amount of local tanning places to choose from in Fredonia, it is easily accessible to anyone who wants to go.

In defense of tanning beds, they are around because people like to use them, and if there is a demand for a service, these stores would be silly to not try and cash in on the craze. These locations also do take the time to inform you of the dangers of excessive tanning, when the light bulbs are at their strongest, and recommend using lotion and eyewear to protect your skin. Sometimes, though, this just isn’t enough. People think about the immediate effects that come with tanning, which is looking good and feeling good in their own skin. They don’t think about the possible future implications, and sometimes immediate ones, that come with tanning and over exposure to UV rays, whether it be from a bed or the sun itself. People just use them as a way to relax and feel good about themselves.

It is reported by Healthandfitnessideas.com that by using a tanning bed just once a month increases the chances of getting melanoma, a form of skin cancer, by 55 percent. The statistic for people who are in their twenties, or even younger, actually doubles from that statistic! To think that all college age students who use a tanning bed at least once a month are at such a high risk for developing melanoma is shocking and frightening. On top of this, by continuously tanning after getting burned, you are also further increasing this chance. Even with proper protection, the statistics are still high.

Now, I am not saying that people should not use tanning beds or go out in the sun, but they should be educated about the risks that come with putting yourself out there for UV rays. When in the sun, use sun lotion to protect your skin and your permanent health. The same thing goes with tanning beds, too. If you follow the rules and regulations that tanning beds have put into effect and use lotion, eye wear, and take breaks if you burn, then you are lowering your chances. Just know that in preparation for Spring Break, it is important to take care of your skin as well as your body and diet.

Keeping you safe during Spring Break

General Safety

Not only during spring break, but anytime, it is always smart to use the buddy system while out with friends.  The buddy system means that before going out, you will designate which friends will stay together and make sure that no one ends up alone and/or in a compromising situation.

1) Safety in numbers. Go out in groups and make sure that no one is ever left alone or behind.

2) Don't ever leave your drink out of sight. If you take your eyes off of it, discard it.

3) Wear sunscreen

4) Always keep emergency money in a separate place other than your purse or wallet.

5) Only accept drinks from a licensed bartender or drinks that you pour yourself. Do not accept drinks from strangers unless you watch it being poured. You put yourself at risk for receiving an altered beverage if you don't know the source of the drink.

6) Do not travel with illegal substances

7) Avoid casual intimate relationships with someone you just met and make sure that you practice safe sex.

8) Never leave an intoxicated friend.  If a friend is sick, don't leave them alone. If you feel sick, ask someone to look out for you.  If a member of your group passes out, turn them on their side to prevent choking and call 911 immediately.

9) Be careful following people you don't know back to hotel rooms, parties, homes, etc

10) Don't carry a lot of cash. Use credit/debit cards, or traveler's check. If theft occurs, report your card stolen immediately and have it canceled.

Personal Safety

High profile cases such as Natalee Holloway, a high school student who disappeared during her Spring Break trip to Aruba, are uncommon.  However, sexual violence and other violent acts during Spring Break are not.  Use common sense and follow these simple safety tips.

1) Always be aware of your location and how to get back to your hotel.

2) Take only what you absolutely need during the day.  The less baggage, the better.  Store valuable items in hotel safe.  Or don't bring them with you at all.

3) Never share personal information with a stranger, especially hotel information.

4) Never go anywhere alone and always make sure someone knows where you are going.

5) Never take offers for free rides or tours from anyone.

6) Keep money, passport and ID in a pouch that is not easily accessible, such as a neck pouch hanging inside you shirt or a waist belt inside your pants.

7) Be cautious of groups of kids, strangers offering to help with your bags and anyone that inadvertently bumps into you.

8) Keep carry-ons, purse and other baggage near you.  If you set baggage down, place it securely between your legs.

9) Place your purse strap over a shoulder crossing it over your upper torso.  Place wallets in front pockets; they are too easy to steal from back pockets.

10) If you are robbed, don't resist -- give up any money, jewelry, or other valuables.  You can always replace material things.  Call 911 as soon as you can.

Hotel Safety

1) Always keep your door locked whether you are in your room or away from it.

2) Keep track of your hotel key and never lend it to a stranger.

3) Use your peephole before answering the door.

4) Never leave your valuables in sight: lock them in a suitcase or room safe.

5) Never go anywhere alone. If you are in an elevator with strangers, stand next to the alarm.

6) Be aware of the fire escape route.  Know the way out if needed.

7) Don't horseplay or climb on balconies.  Never sit on railings and always keep both feet on the floor at all times.  Falls from balconies, even those on lower floors, can be fatal.

SUN, SAND, & SURF

That new bathing suit has you bearing more skin than ever and it is easy to spend hours partying with friends on the warm sand.  Before it's too late, you need to know that too much sun can not only damage and dry our skin over time, it can cause a nasty sunburn and possibly lead to skin cancer in your later years.  Prevention is important.   Here are some things that you can do:

Avoid sun exposure during the hottest hours of the sun's rays... Protection from sun exposure is important all year round, not just during the summer months or while at the beach.  The hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for UV exposure.    This is just as important on cloudy and hazy days as on bright and sunny ones.  It is important to protect your skin. 

Avoid over exposure - limit your time in the sun .. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation.  UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells.  Although getting some sun exposure can yield a few positive health benefits, excessive and unprotected exposure to the sun can result in premature aging and undesirable changes in skin texture.

Sun exposure has a cumulative effect over one's lifetime.  It is now thought that many skin cancers actually start from sun exposure or sun tanning in the teenage years.  The dark suntan that you enjoy now can actually contribute to your getting skin cancer in your later  years.

Apply sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) .. Sunscreens come in a variety of forms such as lotions, gels, and sprays.  Some are for specific purposes, such as the scalp, sensitive skin, and for use on babies.  But the important take home should be that regardless of the type of sunscreen you choose, be sure that you  use one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and that it offers at least SPF 15.  Pay special attention to the face, nose, ears and shoulders.  Reapply sunscreen after swimming and sweating.

Wear sunglasses with UV (Ultraviolet) Protection.. Oh, and don't forget your sunglasses.  Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.  They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.   The standard sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection.

Drink plenty of fluids.. It is important to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, non-carbonated and non-alcoholic drinks, even if you do not feel thirsty. 

Not all skin is created equal...Whether individuals burn or tan depends on a number of factors , including their skin type, the time of the year, and the amount of sun exposure they have received recently.  The skin's susceptibility to burning can be classified on a five point scale as outlined in the following descriptions:

Skin Type I - Always burns, never tans, sensitive to sun exposure

Skin Type II - Burns easily, tans minimally

Skin Type III - Burns moderately, tans gradually to light brown

Skin Type IV - Burns minimally, always tans well to moderately brown

Skin Type V - Rarely burns, tans profusely to dark

Skin Type VI - Never burns, deeply pigmented, least sensitive

Though everyone is at risk for damage as a result of excessive sun exposure, people with skin types i and II are a the highest risk.

 

 


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