Being successful in school means taking care of yourself and staying healthy. Use the followng information as a guide to preventing common health issues. If you need more information please contact the Director of Supportive Services or your personal doctor.
|18 to 23 year old college students are at increased risk for meningococcal disease, a potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis. In fact, freshmen living in residence halls are found to have a six-fold increased risk for the disease. The American College Health Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that college students, particularly 18 to 23 year olds living in residence halls, learn more about meningitis and vaccination. At least 70% of all cases of meningococcal disease in college students are vaccine preventable.|
The State of Pennsylvania recently passed legislation (Senate Bill 955) mandating vaccination against meningitis for all incoming freshmen living in residence halls. Since CCAC does not have dormitories the vaccine is recommended but not mandatory.
What is meningococcal meningitis? Meningitis is rare. But when it strikes, this potentially fatal bacterial disease can lead to swelling of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column as well as severe and permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation and even death.
How is it spread? Meningococcal meningitis is spread through the air via respiratory secretions or close contact with an infected person. This can include coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing items like utensils, cigarettes and drinking glasses.
What are the symptoms? Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis often resemble the flu and can include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and confusion.
Who is at risk? Certain college students, particularly 18 to 23 year olds who live in residence halls, have been found to have an increased risk for meningococcal meningitis. Other undergraduates should also consider vaccination to reduce their risk for the disease.
Can meningitis be prevented? Yes. A safe and effective vaccine is available to protect against four of the five most common strains of the disease. The vaccine provides protection for approximately three to five years. Adverse reactions to the meningitis vaccine are mild and infrequent, consisting primarily of redness and pain at the injection site and rarely a fever. As with any vaccine, vaccination against meningitis may not protect 100 percent of all susceptible individuals. It does not protect against viral meningitis.
How can I get a vaccination? The vaccine can be obtained through your own primary physician or through the Allegheny County Health Department. The Health Department Immunization Clinic is located at 3441 Forbes Avenue, Oakland, next to Arby’s, third floor. The cost is $65.00. Call 412.578.8060 for clinic times.
For more information: Contact your personal physician or call the Allegheny Campus Health Services Office at 412.237.2513. You can also visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College Health Association, American College Health Association.
Colds and flu are not caused by getting cold or wet. They are caused by one of 200 different viruses. People get more colds during cold weather simply because they are indoors more and in closer contact with other people and their germs.
What You Can Do to Relieve Your Symptoms
Drink plenty of liquids. Avoid liquids that have alcohol, caffeine or high sugar content.
Get some extra rest-though it's not necessary to stay in bed.
Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxcn for fever, aches and pains. But don't give aspirin to children and don't switch between aspirin and acetaminophen.
Combat stuffiness by using a humidifier in your bedroom and by taking hot showers.
Avoid cold medicines that treat everything at once.
Treat a stuffy nose with a decongestant, coughing with cough medicine and so forth.
Use nasal decongestant sprays for no more than three days. Continued use can cause your nose to get more congested.
|Try These Home Remedies||Call the Doctor If You Have:|
Flu? or Cold?
Flu symptoms can sometimes be confused with the common cold because they often start out the same way. If you are over the age of 50 or have a chronic health problem, you should always contact your doctor if you feel the onset of flu-like symptoms.
|Fever||Rare||Usual; high (100°F to 102°F;|
occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
|General Aches, Pains||Slight||Usual; often severe|
|Fatigue, Weakness||Sometimes||Usual; can last up to 2 to 3 weeks|
|Extreme Exhaustion||Never||Usual; at the beginning of the illness|
|Chest Discomfort, Cough||Mild to moderate; hacking cough||Common; can become severe|
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
|Antiviral medicines–see your doctor|
|Prevention||Wash your hands often; |
Avoid close contact with anyone with a cold
|Annual vaccination; |
antiviral medicines–see your doctor
|Complications||Sinus congestion |
Middle ear infection
|Bronchitis, pneumonia; |
can be life threatening
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, September 2005. www.niaid.nih.gov
Back to top
Coughing is important to remove mucus or foreign matter from the lungs. But coughing can also be a result of irritated bronchial tubes caused by coughing.
Know Your Cough—There are two main kinds of cough:
A productive cough produces phlegm or mucus. It's important to allow this kind of cough to do the work of keeping your lungs and breathing tubes clear.
A nonproductive cough is a dry cough. No mucus or phlegm comes up. It's typical of the later stages of a cold or after exposure to an irritant, such as dust, smoke or fumes.
What to Do About a Cough
Drink plenty of water to help thin and loosen mucus.
For dry, hacking coughs, try honey in hot water, tea or lemon juice., But don't give honey to infants under one year of age.
Use cough drops or hard candy to soothe and moisten your throat. Most have no major effect on a cough, however.
For those persistent coughs that follow a viral illness and seem to get worse at night, raise the head of your bed or use extra pillows.
If your cough is nonproductive, use an over-the-counter cough suppressant containing dextromethorphan. Don't try to suppress a productive cough unless it's keeping you from sleeping.
Use a humidifier in your bedroom at night with the door closed.
For a severe attack of coughing, turn on the shower and breathe the steam.
Source: Parlay International (v.2) 1930.0050, www.parlay.com
Fevers serve a purpose, they are the body's way of fighting infections.
|What to Do When You Have a Fever||Ways to Bring Down a Fever|
|You can do something about the itching, sneezing, watery eyes, headache and tiredness caused by allergens. Respiratory allergies are caused by things we inhale, the most common being: |
Keeping these irritants under control in your house involves both cleaning the indoor air and keeping the outdoor air out.
15 Tips for Keeping Your Life Allergy-Free
If you can't apply these suggestions to your whole house, apply as many of them as possible to your bedroom and keep that room sealed off from the rest of the house.
Ways to Stop the Pain
Almost everyone gets an occasional headache, with its throbbing, pounding or viselike sensation. The list of things that can cause headaches is long, but most common headaches are caused by simple tension. Other kinds of headaches include:
|• migraine headaches • cluster headaches • sinus headaches|
|Ways to Treat a Tension Headache||Tips to Prevent Tension Headaches|
Some people get headaches after eating certain foods. The most common culprits are:
Source: Parlay International (v.2) 1930.0050, www.parlay.com
Stress—More or Less—How stress can work for, not against you.
Take Action Against Stress—How to exercise away your excess stress.
Mind Games to Lessen Stress—Two mental exercises for stress management.
Relax Your Way to a Stress-Free Day—3 relaxation techniques for managing stress.
The Three C's of Stress Management—Commitment, challenge and control.
Understanding Stroke/Hypertension—Recognizing Warnings/Reducing Risks