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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


October 2010

It's time to get your Flu Shot

Welcome to the October 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:

It's time to get your Flu Shot

My aching back - is your back pack hurting you

Got Sleep?

How to kick a cold

October is Breast Care Awareness Month


It's time to get your Flu Shot

The 2010-2011 flu season is upon us, and it is time to get vaccinated.   Traditionally, flu seasons are unpredictable due to what influenza viruses are spreading, and whether they match the viruses in the flu vaccine.  Last flu season (2009-2010) , we saw the emergence of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus , previously called "novel H1N1" or "swine flu".  This virus caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years.  Although, not certain, it is likely that 2009 H1N1 viruses will continue to spread along with seasonal viruses in the United States during the 2010-2011 flu season. Fortunately, this virus will be covered in this year's seasonal flu vaccine.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone as the first and most important step in protecting you against this serious disease.  While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.

The "flu shot" is an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm.  The flu shot is approved for use in people older then six months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

The "nasal spray flu vaccine" is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine" or FluMist)  is approved for the use in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

Flu Shots are Available

When: Beginning on October 12,2010

Between the Hours of: 9am-12am and 2pm-4pm

Where: LoGrasso Hall Health Center

Cost: $10.00 Students and $20.00 Faculty/Staff

**Fred Debit Card Only**

When to get vaccinated?

Yearly flu vaccinations should begin in September or as soon as the vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January and beyond.  This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary.  While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone six months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu as soon as the 2010-2011 season's vaccine is available.

While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it's especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:

  1. Pregnant women
  2. Children younger then 5, but especially those children younger then 2 years old
  3. People 50 years of age and older
  4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu such as health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu, and household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than six months of age.
**If you are 65 years of age or older, there is a new, more potent influenza vaccine available. Please discuss this with your primary care physician as to whether you should receive the “Fluzone High Dose” Seasonal Influenza Vaccine. **

Who Should NOT Be Vaccinated?

There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:

  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
  • People who developed Gullian Barr'e syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
  • Children less than six months of age
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated).

What Side Effects Should I Expect From the Vaccine?

There are different side effects which can be associated with the flu shot vs. LAIV.

The "flu shot", composed of inactivated viruses, come with the possibility of the following minor side effects:

  1. Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  2. Fever (low grade)
  3. Aches

If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days.  Almost all people who receive the influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.

The "nasal spray flu vaccine" (also called LAIV or FluMist) are weakened viruses  and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. 

In Children, side effects from LAIV can include:

  1. runny nose
  2. wheezing
  3. headache

In adults, side effects from LAIV can  include:

  1. runny nose
  2. headache
  3. sore throat
  4. cough

What else can be done to prevent the spread of flu?

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash you hands often with soap and water.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.

Hand washing: A simple way to prevent infection

Did you know?

Hand washing is a simple habit - one that requires minimal training and no special equipment.  Yet, it's one of the best ways to avoid getting sick.  This simple habit requires only soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer -- a cleanser that doesn't require water. 

When should you wash your hands?

It's impossible to keep your bare hands germ-free,  however, there are times that exist when it's critical to wash you hands to limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.

Always wash your hands:

-After using the bathroom.
-After changing a diaper.
-After touching animals or animal waste.
-Before and after you eat.
-Before and after preparing food, especially before and immediately after handling raw meat, poultry or fish.
-After blowing your nose.
-After coughing or sneezing into your hands.
-Before and after treating wounds or cuts.
-Before and after touching a sick or injured person.
-After handling garbage.
-Before inserting or removing contact lenses.
-When using public restrooms, such as those in airports, train stations, bus stations and restaurants.

Proper hand-washing techniques

Good hand-washing techniques include washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are just as effective as soap and water in cleaning your hands .

Just a word on antibacterial soaps.

Antibacterial soaps , although popular, are no more effective at killing germs than are regular soap and water.  Using these antibacterial soaps may lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the products' antimicrobial agents, therefore, making it harder to kill these germs in the future. In general, regular soap is fine.  

How to wash your hands with soap and water

-Wet your hands with warm, running water and apply liquid or bar soap. Lather well.

-Rub your hands vigorously together for at least 15 seconds.

-Scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.  The scrubbing will loosen and remove bacteria from your hands.

-Rinse well.

-Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel.

-Use a towel to turn off the faucet.

How to wash you hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers don't require water , and are an excellent alternative to hand washing, especially in areas where soap and water are not readily available.  

-Apply about 1/2 tsp of the product to the palm of your hand.

-Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces of your hands, until they are dry.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.  Germs spread this way
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.  Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever reducing medicine such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.


My aching back - is your back pack hurting you

More than 40 million students in the United States carry backpacks.  According to one study by the American Occupational Therapy Association, six out of ten students ages 9 to 20 reported chronic back pain related to backpacks.  Here are some tips to avoid backpack -related health problems:

1. Never carry more then 15% of you body weight in your backpack.  This means that someone who weighs 100 pounds should not wear a backpack heavier than 15 pounds.

2. Load the heaviest items closet to your back and arrange books and materials to prevent them from sliding.

3. Always wear both shoulder straps.  Wearing only one strap can cause you to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.

4. Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps.  Too much pressure on the shoulders and neck can cause pain and tingling.

5. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to your back.  The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back, never more than four inches below the waistline.

6. Use the waist belt.  This will help distribute the pack's weight more evenly.

7. If you are experiencing back pain or neck soreness, consult your physician or occupational therapist.

Got Sleep?

By DJ Schier

As college students, we have all been thrown into situations where, when it comes down to it, we don't get enough sleep.  You had a paper that  you were finishing until 5 in the morning, and had a class at 8 to rush to.  You may have decided that, instead of staying in and catching some sleep, you wanted to go out to a party with friends and not come home until 3 in the morning.  Or maybe you are feeling stressed about school, a relationship, something going on back home.   It is more common than you think, but the lack of sleep does catch up to you.

In a recent poll done at Fredonia, when asked about what their biggest problem at school is, a majority said that not getting enough sleep was their biggest for that they had to worry about.   We know we should have better time management skills and prioritize everything we do to include sleep, but with workloads that students have along with healthy social lives, sleep does fall at the bottom of the list.  Common things like stress and anxiety are culprits in this case, too.  Worrying about that project that is due in tow days, or why your significant other and friends feel more distant.  All of these things affect your sleeping patterns.

So what happens to someone who is only running on a few hours of sleep each night? The biggest problem of all shouldn't be too hard to believe.  Classes are being missed.  The reason students are here, contrary to what others may believe , is to get an education at SUNY Fredonia. Sleep deprivation and lack of sleep is getting in the way of classes, and students need to take a proactive approach to help get themselves into a healthy sleeping pattern.

Students live a fast paced lifestyle, and sometimes sleep doesn't seem like a priority, but it should.  Student who are getting the fully recommended hours of sleep are more energized, on top of their game, and over all, happier.  Students who aren't on the other hand, are having a negative effect on themselves.  Our bodies and minds need sleep to rejuvenate themselves and prepare for the next day.  When you don't get the sleep you need, you are prone to be more sluggish, irritable, have less energy and drive, and your day feels like it will be dragging on forever.  This is because of sleep debt, where your body is slowing realizing how many hours of sleep it needs to get back to where it was, and will try to make you go to sleep to catch up on these debited hours of sleep.  According to , if you loose one hour of sleep a night for five days, your body needs five extra hours of sleep to catch up.  Typically, college students use Saturday and Sunday to catch up on this, but if they are running themselves down more and more, it could leak into the weekdays, keeping students from class.

So what can you do to avoid problems that come with sleeping?  For starters, don't oversleep. Giving your body too much sleep is actually not a very good thing and can disrupt sleeping patterns.  Another suggestion would be to work on your time management skills. Fall into a pattern where you have a designated sleep pattern throughout the week to keep you well rested.  The LoGrasso Health Center and Counseling Services are also available for anyone who wants to talk to someone about anxieties and stresses in their life that may be disrupting their sleep patterns.

All in all, it would be a safe bet to say that working out a better sleeping pattern will help you out overall.  The more healthy sleep you are getting, the more rested you will feel, and that will carry into your everyday life and be reflected in how you act.

How to kick a cold

 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.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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 (i.e., 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.

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.

Self breast exams are the simplest, 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.

How to perform a self breast exam :

  1. Lay down and place a pillow under your right shoulder. Next, place your right arm under your head.
  2. Using your three middle fingers of your left hand, massage your right breast with the pads of your fingers. Check for any lumps or abnormalities. You can move in a circular motion, or up and down. Make sure you use the same motion every month.
  3. Continue the motion, extending to the outside of the breast to your underarm.
  4. Repeat on left side.
  5. Next, repeat exam standing up, with one arm behind your shoulder as you examine each breast. Standing or sitting up allows you to feel the outside of the breast more accurately.
  6. For added precaution, stand in front of a mirror and squeeze each nipple. Look for any discharge.
  7. Take note of any dimpling, redness or swelling.


1. You can do a portion of the exam while you are in the shower.  Incorporating it into a normal activity can make it easier to do, and less of a time constraint.  Remember to mark your calendar every month as a reminder. 

2. Do the self breast exam every month at the same time.  Menstruating women should perform it a few days after their period.  Women taking oral contraceptives should do the exam on the first day of starting a new pack of pills.

3. Report any changes to your physician, even if you feel it is minor.

Page modified 12/7/15