Welcome to “What We’re Seeing Now,” a rundown of which sicknesses UHS clinicians are seeing on campus. We’ll tell you what’s popping up to take you down and what you can do to prevent yourself from getting sick.
So, it’s the beginning of March. You’re finding it hard to pay attention in class, you feel tired all the time and everyone around seems to be sick just as you feel have a nagging cough coming on. You decide it’s time to figure out what is going on with your own health and you fire up the old Google machine. After perusing the net, you’ve narrowed down your illness to chronic Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, major depression, seasonal affective disorder, anemia, attention deficit disorder and tuberculosis. Armed with this information, you go to UHS only to be told that everything is fine. You just need to go bed earlier, party less and take some Aleve for the cough. What gives?
The ability to search electronic medical databases is one of the biggest game changers in modern medicine. Medical providers no longer have to depend upon their memory to try to determine how best to evaluate and treat patients. Now clinicians can do an electronic search while the patient is in the office and provide the most up-to-date evaluation and treatment to match the patient’s presenting symptoms.
The amount of information available also has its pitfalls—as the old saying goes: “garbage in, garbage out.” There’s little on most medical websites that helps the user determine which is quality information and which is opinion.
Wanting to know more about what is going on in your body is a good thing. Learning where to go to find the answers is an important first step. Making a diagnosis is kind of like an episode of Sherlock, you have to deal with the best information possible to come up with your conclusion.
The best sources to look up your symptoms should be from highly regarded medical organizations:
In the past year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has seen an increase in the number of measles cases in the United States. According to the CDC, almost all U.S. measles cases in 2013 involved patients who were infected overseas or caught the disease from someone who had traveled internationally. A recent case of an unvaccinated college student in San Francisco who may have exposed thousands to measles highlights the problem of unvaccinated students who travel overseas and are not immunized.
Whether it is an international flight or spending time in another country, anyone who is not vaccinated is at risk of getting infected or putting others at risk when they travel internationally, even if just for Spring Break.
It is important to evaluate your travel risk if you are:
- Participating in an overseas mission or volunteer program
- Planning an international adventure or vacation
- Visiting a friend or relatives in another country
- Studying abroad
What to do:
Review your immunization status and make sure your vaccinations are current before traveling outside the US, particularly your measles vaccination. You can check your record by logging into your my UHS account. If your UHS record is not up-to-date, check with your childhood and/or current healthcare provider to obtain records.
UHS has a travel tutorial that will guide you through country specific recommendations and provide you with information about preventing illness for each country you will be traveling to.
If you need vaccinations, check with your insurance to determine the most appropriate place to obtain your travel vaccinations and if they are covered.
For more information about the travel clinic and consultation, click here.
Celebrate National Condom Week. Using condoms during sex is a great way to protect yourself and your partner. Use this time to take charge of your sexual health!
- When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancies and STIs.
- Condoms can be used with another form of birth control, such as the pill or IUD, for extra protection.
- Condoms come in different sizes, colors, and even flavors.
- Condoms have no side effects and don’t require a prescription to purchase. Allergic to latex? Polyethylene condoms can be used.
- Don’t like the feel of male condoms? Try a female condom.
If you need a refill, no need to head to the store. Free condoms are always available from UHS at the 5th floor information desk.
Sex Out Loud will also be giving away free condom roses all week. Check out their website for more details.
Condoms are great but there’s also more to safe sex besides putting on a condom. Check out our safe sex resources page on our website for advice about protection, communication and expectations before and after sex.
The Norovirus is one thing you do not want to cuddle up to this winter, but because it’s so cold and more time is spent inside in close quarters, germs are bound to spread.
Norovirus (stomach flu):
- Very contagious
- Symptoms include stomach pain, cramping, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting
- Usually lasts 1-2 days, however you’re most likely contagious for 3 days after recovery
Unfortunately, there is little you can do to ease the Norovirus symptoms. There is no antiviral medication or vaccine to prevent it, and antibiotics are ineffective because the norovirus is not a bacterial infection.
Symptoms include stomach pain and cramping, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. You may feel sick and vomit several times a day. Less common symptoms include low fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Symptoms usually only lasts one to two days; however, you will be contagious three days after you start to feel better.
If you are experiencing vomiting and diarrhea:
- Stay home and rest until symptoms have passed
- Sip clear beverages to keep hydrated like water, clear broth or lemon-lime soda
- Eat when you are ready. Try bland foods like crackers, toast or applesauce
- Wash your hands often, particularly before eating and after using the restroom
- Limit your contact with others
When you start to feel better, take measures to protect your friends, roommates and peers such as bleaching any toilets, sinks and other surfaces that may be infected and washing any possibly infected clothes and linens on the hottest setting with bleach when possible. Do not prepare food for others while you are ill and for at least three days after you recover. If you work in food services—such as University Housing Food—do not work if you are ill. Some people can be contagious for up to two weeks after their recovery so taking preventative measures is extremely important.
The secret to preventing the stomach flu:
The single best way to reduce your chances of getting norovirus is washing your hands well and often. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not usually effective against norovirus. It doesn’t hurt to use them, but know that you won’t be as protected. Avoid contact with friends who you know are ill. If your roommate is sick, avoid touching contaminated surfaces and sharing foods. Try not to touch your hands to your eyes, nose or mouth.
For more information on how to take care of yourself if you get sick, visit our self-care tips. http://www.uhs.wisc.edu/health-topics/flu/sick.shtml