Health Information and Topics
A cold is caused by any number of viruses and is transmitted by touch or cough. The best way to avoid getting or spreading a cold is to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching things that sick people often touch (such as the TV remote, sink handles, door knobs, plates, and utensils).
Cold symptoms will usually develop over the course of a few days--unlike the flu, which is sudden onset.
- Low grade fever (usually less than 101.0)
- Headaches and sinus pressure
- Sore throat
- Runny nose and/or nasal congestion
- Rattly, dry cough
Since colds are caused by a virus, antibiotic treatment will not help. There are several measures you can take to help alleviate the symptoms:
- Fluids, fluids, fluids. It is important to keep yourself well-hydrated.
- Take Ibuprofen (Advil) or Acetaminophen (Extra Strength Tylenol) to help relieve fever and muscle aches. Ibuprofen: You make take up to 3 pills/3 times a day, or 2 pills every 4 hours as needed. Be sure to take with food. ES Tylenol: 2 pills every 4-6 hours as needed. Always follow instructions on medicine labels.
- Do not use aspirin, or any products containing aspirin. Reye's syndrome, a sometimes fatal condition, has been linked with the combination of some viruses and aspirin.
- Use saline nasal spray many times a day; this will help moisturize and hydrate nasal passages.
- For nasal congestion, use a decongestant--such as Sudafed, Tylenol Cold and Sinus, or Dayquil--at breakfast and lunch. Avoid taking decongestants in the evening because they can affect your sleep.
- For coughing, use Robitussin DM (or Nyquil - night only) to help calm an irritating cough and help thin and loosen phlegm. If this is not effective, you can try a new expectorant on the market called Musinex. If you are continuing to have coughing that interferes with sleep (in spite of of the use of these meds), please return to clinic to talk about additional prescription cough meds.
- For sore throats, you may use a mild saltwater solution to gargle. Use only 1/4 teaspoon per 6 oz. glass of warm water. A soda gargle is also soothing, and will help to cleanse postnasal drainage off the back of the throat. Use 1 teaspoon baking soda per 6-8 oz. warm water.
What to Expect:
Usually the acute infection with the severe symptoms and fever lasts about 3-5 days. However, the cough and sinus congestion may linger another week or two.
When to See Your Health Care Provider:
- If symptoms/fever are severe and last for more than 7 days.
- If your fever returns 1-2 weeks after you begin to feel better.
- If you have any shortness of breath or wheezing.
- If your cough/congestion worsens after you begin to feel better.
- If you have worsening sinus pressure, face pain, headaches or earache.
- For pain/stiffness in the neck or the appearance of a rash during your illness.
Centers for Disease Control
600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30333
Phone: (800) 311-3435
Influenza - the "Flu"
Influenza or the Flu, as it is commonly called, is caused by a virus. It is important to know that viral infections DO NOT respond to antibiotics. Your body must fight off the infection. Your best defense against illness is to take good care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep, maintaining a nutritional diet and drinking plenty of liquids, especially water. Research has also demonstrated a significant decrease in the spread of the influenza virus by using frequent hand washing practices during flu season.
Treatment for symptoms includes rest, increased fluid intake and over-the-counter medications designed for relief of your specific symptoms.
Flu Symptoms may include any or all of the following:
Very sore throat: Use a mild salt water gargle (1/4 tsp. per 6-8 oz. warm water or soda gargle, which is very soothing ( 1 tsp. dissolved in 6-8 oz. warm water). Use throat lozenges* and a pain reliever such as Tylenol* or Ibuprofin*.
Nasal congestion: Drinking lots of fluids will keep nasal passages and mucous membranes moist, which helps in the healing process. Adding moisture to the room air will help also, this can be done with a cool mist vaporizer or by placing a pan of water on the radiator. There are various cold preparations* you can get over the counter. When buying, read the label and take only those that list your symptoms. Avoid taking ingredients you do not need. For ex. If you have a stuffy nose but no drainage, you could worsen your symptoms by adding a medicine specifically to dry up nasal drainage. We have several medicines available to you at no cost at Health Services.
Cough: Cough lozenges* and a medication such as Robitussin DM* that contains an expectorant and cough suppressant, along with an increase in fluids, is helpful. Also, it is normal to have yellow sputum (substance coughed up) along with the flu, especially in the mornings.
Fever: Increase fluid intake; Take Ibuprofin* or Tylenol* as directed; Take a barely warm shower or bath. For elevated temp in spite of treatment, you may alternate 2 Ibuprofin and 2 Tylenol every 2 hours. (* indicates availability at no cost for students at Health Services.)
- First 8-24 hours - Clear liquids only. For active vomiting, take small sips of flattened coke initially. Start with one tablespoon every ten minutes. When that is tolerated, you may gradually increase larger amounts of other clear liquids at frequent intervals of every 30-60 min. (Gator Aid, white grape juice, diluted Kool-Aid, Popsicles, tea, flat ginger ale, Coke or 7-up.
- Next 3-4 days - No milk or dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream, or cream sauces. No fried or greasy foods. No spicy foods, or foods that are difficult to digest, such as pizza, chili, etc.
When you stop having stomach cramps, active vomiting and/or diarrhea, you may try the following:
- Saltine crackers, dry cereal such as Cheerios
- BRAT diet - Bananas Rice Applesauce Toast
When the above has been tolerated for 12-24 hours, and if you are feeling hungry, you may try other bland foods such as chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, baked chicken, etc. The key is to start back slowly, and gradually increase as tolerated, eating smaller amounts more frequently, if necessary.
When do I need to see a doctor?
- If you have exudate (white spots) on your tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in your neck or difficulty breathing or swallowing due to enlarged tonsils.
- If you have any difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath or dark yellow-green nasal discharge or phlegm.
- Persistent elevated temperature (102.0) or shaking chills.
- If you are unable to keep fluids down for 12 hrs. or for diarrhea or vomiting which persists for longer than 24 hrs. or for numerous episodes within a short period of time.
- If diarrhea is bloody or contains pus.
- For localized abdominal pain (pain in a specific area, rather than hurting all over)
If you have any questions, please call Health Services at 540-828-5384
(9am-2pm) or after hours at 540-433-9781.
If you suspect that you have the flu, please come by Health Services.
There is a medication available by prescription which may decrease the severity of symptoms and length of illness if started within 24-48 hrs. after the onset of symptoms. After that time, there is little or no benefit to treatment with an antiviral medication. This is not a cure, but it may be helpful in many cases.
If your symptoms suddenly worsen, go to the Emergency Room at Rockingham Memorial Hospital or call 9-9-1-1 for the Rescue Squad.
What is infectious Mononucleosis?
Mononucleosis (also called mono) is a viral illness. It is a very common infection, which often causes no symptoms, especially when children have it. However, for adolescents and young adults it is a frequent cause of illness and serious discomfort.
How does it occur?
The virus that causes infectious mono is called EBV (Epstein-Barr virus). It is spread through saliva, which is why it was nicknamed the "kissing disease" many years ago. However, many studies indicate spread is more connected to increased risk factors such as inadequate sleep, poor nutrition and lowered resistance due to increased stress levels.
What are the symptoms?
After the virus enters the body, it can take up to a month before the symptoms begin.
The first symptoms usually are:
- muscle aches
- sore throat
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck
Many people may notice extreme tiredness and need to sleep 12-16 hours a day before they develop any other symptoms.
- You may also notice:
- loss of appetite
- joint aches
- rash, sometimes including red spots in the mouth
How is it diagnosed?
Your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. They will look for fever, inflamed throat with enlarged tonsils, which are sometimes covered with pus, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. If there is a rash, it usually appears on the chest. Occasionally, you will have an enlarged spleen (upper left abdomen)
To diagnose mono, a blood sample will be taken. Often the first test may indicate a negative result, since it is testing for antibody production. It may take additional time to get an accurate test result. Your provider may ask you to return in a few days for a repeat test or to have a complete blood count drawn.
How is it treated?
There is no specific drug treatment for mono. Because it is a viral illness, antibiotics are not helpful.
The most important thing you can do in the treatment of mono is to get plenty of rest and avoid injury to the spleen. Mono can cause your spleen to become enlarged, which increases risk of rupture if hit or strained. A ruptured spleen is considered a medical emergency due to the possibility of severe bleeding.
For this reason, it is important to avoid lifting of any weights, any jarring activity, such as running, or contact sports until your spleen returns to its normal size.
- You may take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever, sore throat and muscle aches.
- Gargle with warm salt water to reduce swelling and discomfort in the throat.
- Drink lots of fluids. Do not drink alcohol. The virus may inflame your liver. It is important not to drink alcohol when you have mono in order to prevent any further injury to your liver.
- Return to normal activities very slowly as instructed by your provider.
It is important to contact your Health Care Provider if your symptoms seem to be worsening rather than gradually improving after 1-2 weeks. You could develop a secondary infection such as strep throat or a tonsilar abscess or sinus infection, which would all require additional treatment with antibiotics. Sometimes mono may cause the tonsils to enlarge to the point of causing difficulty swallowing or breathing. If this happens, the provider may need to prescribe steroids (prednisone) to decrease the size of the tonsils.
How long will the symptoms last?
Your symptoms may worsen for 2-3 weeks after they first appear. Usually the initial symptoms of sore throat, fever and extreme fatigue will last about 1-2 weeks. This is when the illness is most contagious.
It can take several weeks, and in some cases several months for the body's immune system to overcome the virus, but the illness is less contagious after fever has been gone a few days.
The Epstein Barr virus stays in your body even after complete recovery. Though it is possible, it is highly unlikely to have acute mono a second time.
How to prevent spread of infectious mononucleosis.
Since mono is spread through saliva, you should avoid contact with an infected person by way of shared food, eating utensils, glasses or kissing until it has been several days since you stopped having a fever, which is when the virus becomes less contagious.
When can I return to normal activities?
During the recuperative process, you should be rechecked weekly at Health Services. You can expect to begin the process of returning to normal activity levels starting approximately one month after the date you began having symptoms of illness. At that point, if you are free of symptoms, you may begin to increase levels of activity gradually over the next two weeks at a pace that gets you to a 50% level by the end of the first week, with continued gradual increase over the next week till you are at 100% by the end of the second week.
If you are an athlete, medical clearance is necessary before any return to play. An ultrasound to determine size of the spleen may be required at the one month point, prior to clearance to begin return to activity.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Venereal Disease (VD) or STDs, as they are commonly called, are very contagious diseases which are passed from one person to another, usually through various forms of sexual contact.
The eight most common STDs are Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, and Trichomoniasis.
Ten to fifteen million Americans will contract an STD each year. Seventy five percent of these will be people between the ages of 15-24 years of age. Every year the number of reported cases rises significantly. It is said that one out of every 20 Americans will contract an STD this year.
If you are sexually active or are considering becoming sexually active, you need to learn all there is to know about STD's in order to protect yourself and those you care about.
Most STD's are treatable and curable. Others may have long lasting effects or cause permanent damage to reproductive organs. Others can affect your ability to have children in the future. Some are recurrent, some may even lead to death - but all are preventable.There are now 28 known sexually transmitted diseases, many of which were not known until just a few years ago. The HIV/Aids virus was only diagnosed as a sexually transmitted disease in the 1980's. Chlamydia was first recognized in the 1950's. In the years to come we will likely see others surface that we are not aware of now.
- A person may have more than one STD at a time.
- You may have an STD, be contagious, and not have any symptoms. Many STD's cause no immediate symptoms and therefore a person may be passing it on to a partner without realizing that they are infected. That's why it is important, if you are sexually active, to get regular checkups, to be honest with your health care provider and to request STD screenings.
- You can never develop immunity to an STD, no matter how many times you may have it.
- If you have any untreated STD, your risk of being infected by the HIV/AIDS virus is increased.
- Even if you are having sex with one person, you are at risk of being exposed to the undiagnosed and untreated STD's of that person's prior sexual partners.
- Women experience the most serious consequences of STDs, with the exception of HIV/AIDS. Because of the possibility of permanent damage to reproductive organs, STD's can affect your ability in the future to have children, even if you are treated.
- If you become pregnant, it is important to let your Dr. know of any past history of STDs. Some STDs, such as genital warts or genital herpes, if actively present at the time of delivery may affect the birth or the health of the baby, so the physician needs to be made aware of this before the time of delivery.
Bridgewater College Health Services
Bridgewater College Health Services is available to counsel students, both male and female, concerning all birth control options; to answer any questions students may have about birth control, sexually-transmitted disease (STD) symptoms or treatments; and to provide information on practices which will decrease the risk of contracting a STD. Health Services provides STD evaluation, screening, testing and treatment to those students who have signs or symptoms of an STD. Tests are sent to outside labs and generally are paid directly by the student. In some circumstances, the tests may be billed through the student's personal medical insurance.
Heath Services recommends that a student consult her regular family physician regarding a prescription for birth control. The student's family physician has a more complete medical history than is available to Health Services, and is more aware of the student's health status. When appropriate, Health Services will refer students requesting birth control either to the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Health Department, or to a local primary care provider or gynecologist of the student's choice.
Bridgewater College has a good working relationship with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Health Department. The Health Department offers STD screening, testing, and treatment, as well as contraceptive counseling, and will dispense prescriptions for birth control. In many cases, these services are provided free of charge or with minimal cost, depending on an individual's ability to pay. An appointment may be scheduled by calling the Health Department at (540) 574-5100, ext. 1. For a list of the services provided by the Virginia Department of Health in its Family Planning and STD clinics, students may log on to the Health Department website.
Sprains and Strains
Sprain - This is an injury that involves stretching or tearing of ligaments.These are the elastic tissues that attach to the joints in order to provide stability and keep them from moving too much.
Strain -This is an injury that involves stretching or tearing of muscles or tendons, which are the fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bone.
BeginR.I.C.E. treatment as soon as possible.
Rest -Rest the involved area for 1-2 days following initial injury. This does not necessarily mean complete cessation ofmovement, because maintaining mobility is important. You may do minimal, normal activities as long as the pain level isnotincreased.
Ice -Start application of ice as soon as possible. Ice the injuredarea for 20 min. periods every 2 hrs. for the next 24-48 hrs.
Compress-Compress the injured area, if possible, by applying anelastic wrap. Loosen wrap if any numbness, tingling or increased pain is noted because that may be an indication that it is wrapped too tightly.
Elevate -Raise the injured part to a height above heart level. This isdone to help reduce swelling.
It may be helpful to use an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Ibuprofen, which helps to relieve pain as well as inflammation.
Seek medical attention if:
- You are unable to move the injured part or to bear weight on it, or there is significant swelling or bruising.
- You have pain when pressing on the bone a few inches above or below the injured area.
- Symptoms of discomfort do not improve after using self-care for 2 days
In the healing process following the injury, it is important to regain mobility and maintain flexibility. This can be done by doing simple range-of-motion exercises, which involve moving the joint or limb gently in all possible directions, and by application of heat after 2-3 days, unless contraindicated by health care provider.Rehabilitation may be recommended before resuming regular activity in order to strengthen the injured area and to decrease the chance of re-injury. You should always return to normal activities gradually, increasing the intensity and duration as tolerated.
Urinary Tract Infections
UTI's, as they are commonly called, are infections that occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the bladder and kidneys. This is a common illness in women, especially those that are sexually active. One out of every five women has at least one infection during her lifetime.
- Frequent urination
- Sense of urgency to empty bladder
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Continued pressure or full feeling in bladder even after urinating
- Pain in lower abdomen just above the pubic area
- Pain in back or sides
If the following symptoms occur seek medical care right away:
- Shaking chills and fever
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood in urine
Once you have had a urinary tract infection, you may be at greater risk for repeat infections. There are a number of steps you can take to decrease your risk of recurrence. Drink plenty of fluids everyday. This helps to flush bacteria out of your bladder. Drinking cranberry juice may help by changing the acidity of the bladder, making it more difficult for the bacteria to survive. After urinating, women should wipe from front to back. This will remove the bacteria (which are normally present) away from the urethra, which is the opening to the bladder. If you are sexually active, empty your bladder both before and after sexual activity. If you use a diaphragm, you must clean it thoroughly after each use. You may want to consider a different method if you get repeat infections.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you should come to Health Services to be evaluated. We will do a urine test to determine if a UTI is present. Once the diagnosis is made, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic and pain reliever, if necessary. It is important that you take the full prescription and return to the clinic 24-48 hours after you have completed it, so that we can repeat the urine test to make sure all of the infection is gone. You should drinks lots of fluids during this time and avoid caffeine, alcohol and spicy food since these have a tendency to irritate the bladder.
Call Health Services if symptoms are not completely relieved after 3 days of treatment. If you have had 3-4 UTIs in the past year it may be recommended that you see a Urologist and have some tests done to rule out any structural or organic problems.