Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)

Community College of Allegheny County

Health Resources: Prevention

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.Reclining Student

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.

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Colds, Flu & Allergies 

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
  • Make your own nose drops to relieve congestion. Use 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of lukewarm water. Discard after three days.

  • Gargle lukewarm salt water to relieve a sore throat, especially prior to going to bed.

  • Enjoy as much steaming hot tea, chicken broth or hot water as you like. The steam helps moisturize your nasal passages.

  • Take extra vitamin C—500 to 1000 mg every few hours.

  • Put 3 to 5 drops of eucalyptus oil in a pot of boiled water. This opens up nasal passages and works against infection.

   Call the Doctor If You Have:
  • A persistent or high fever.

  • Swollen glands in the neck.

  • A whitish coating on your tonsils or throat.

  • Any nasal discharge that becomes colored-yellow, greenish, etc. After five days of a cold or remains colored after seven to 10 days.

  • Persistent earache, cough or sinus pain.

  • Symptoms that get better, then take a turn for the worse.

  • Severe headache with stiff neck, fever, nausea and vomiting.

  • Any cold or flu that lasts more than two weeks.

  • A skin rash.

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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.

Symptoms Cold Flu
FeverRareUsual; high (100°F to 102°F;
occasionally higher, especially in young children); lasts 3 to 4 days
General Aches, PainsSlightUsual; often severe
Fatigue, WeaknessSometimesUsual; can last up to 2 to 3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion   NeverUsual; at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy NoseCommonSometimes
Sore ThroatCommonSometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough     Mild to moderate; hacking cough               Common; can become severe
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines    
Antiviral medicines–see your doctor
PreventionWash 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.

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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 CoughThere are two main kinds of cough:

  1. 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.

  2. 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,

Fevers serve a purpose, they are the body's way of fighting infections.

What to Do When You Have a Fever
  • Drink at least eight glasses of fluid daily: juice, water, herb teas or soup every two hours.

  • Avoid beverages containing caffeine, alcohol or high amounts of sugar.

  • Dress comfortably-not too warm or too cool.

  • Record your temperature every two hours.

 Ways to Bring Down a Fever
  • Sponge with lukewarm water or take a lukewarm bath.

  • Place a cool compress on your forehead.

  • Take aspirin or acetaminophen according to directions.

Source: Parlay International (v.2) 1930.0050,

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Spring Foliage South CampusYou 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:
• pollen • house dust • animal dander • mold

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.

  • Keep your windows closed.

  • Install air conditioning or an air cleaner with a special HEPA filter. Air cleaners can be rented for a trial period. Make sure you clean or change your filters as recommended.

  • Air condition your car.

  • If your symptoms occur mainly during damp weather, ventilate your house to keep moisture down.

  • Buy a dehumidifier.

  • Use fungicides on humid areas such as bathroom and basement walls. A bleach solution of 3/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water works in most situations.

  • Keep pets outside. If that's not possible, keep pets out of your bedroom at all times.

  • Wear a face mask when vacuuming, sweeping or gardening or hire someone to do these chores. Vaccuming and dusting should be done once per week.

  • Avoid smoking and ask others not to smoke in your house.


  • Stay away from aerosol sprays, perfumes, room deodorizers, cleaning products and other substances that seem to worsen your symptoms.

  • Mattresses are prime sources of dust mites and other allergens. Encase your mattress and pillows in plastic or special low-allergy covers. Put pillows and blankets in the dryer once per week for ten minutes on "hot" or get synthetic pillows and mattress pads that are washable and wash them frequently in hot water. Keep books and papers away from your bed-these collect dust.

  • Get rid of carpets, rugs and heavy drapes. Use washable throw rugs and curtains.

  • Treat your allergies. There are new, effective treatments ranging from over-thecounter antihistamines to immunotherapy (allergy shots). Ask your doctor for advice.

  • Limit the time you spend outside during days with high amounts of pollen, dust, smoke or smog in the air.

  • Clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces often with bleach to reduce mold growth.

Source: Parlay International (v.2) 1930.0050,

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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
  • Massage your neck muscles, rubbing gently and firmly toward the heart. Massage your temples.

  • Use heat. Apply a heating pad or take a warm shower. Use heating pad only when awake and limit to 20 minutes at a time.

  • Apply a cold pack against your forehead or neck.

  • Lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth on your forehead.

  • Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen for pain. But, remember that too much reliance on headache remedies can make headaches worse and don't mix medication types. Caffeine often provides some relief.

  • Use relaxation techniques. Close your eyes and focus on slow, deep breathing or do meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or visualization. These techniques can also help to prevent future headaches.       

   Tips to Prevent Tension Headaches
  • Try to reduce stress In your life.

  • Make a conscious effort to relax your jaw, neck and shoulder muscles, even when you don't have a headache.

  • Massage your temples and neck frequently.

  • Notice your neck and shoulder

  • posture while working and make Improvements If necessary.

  • Get some dally exercise.

  • Reduce the amount of caffeine you consume In coffee, tea and cola drinks.

  • Avoid foods that seem to cause headaches.

    Prescription image

Some people get headaches after eating certain foods. The most common culprits are:

  • hard cheeses

  • red wine

  • caffeine

  • chocolate

  • monosodium glutamate

  • nuts

  • onions

  • sour cream

  • bananas

  • citrus fruit

Source: Parlay International (v.2) 1930.0050,

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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.

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Understanding Stroke 

Understanding Stroke/Hypertension—Recognizing Warnings/Reducing Risks

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