Student Health and Wellness

Self Care Center

 

General Health Questions

  • Pain reliever (ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen)
  • Cold and cough medication
  • Neti pot with saline packs
  • Zinc and Vitamin C supplements to take when cold symptoms first start
  • Antacid
  • Bandages, assorted sizes
  • Reusable hot/cold packs
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Antibiotic cream (such as, Neosporin or bacitracin)
  • Cortisone cream
  • Cotton balls
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer

If you need any of these items right away, but you don’t have them, stop by Health Services and you can get these items in a two-day supply to tide you over until you can get to the pharmacy to get your own supply. Click here for more information about supplies and over-the-counter medications provided in Health Services.

  • Health insurance card
  • Name and phone number of your physician(s)
  • Prescription information for any medications you take regularly
  • Copy of your eyeglasses and/or contact lens prescription(s)

College life can be tough, stressful, and overwhelming at times. It is very important for students to lead a well-balanced life, which includes paying attention to their health. Staying healthy at college helps students feel better and more confident about this new experience, which helps in all aspects of college life including academics, social interactions, and overall well-being.

Focus on being healthy from the first day by developing or continuing your good health habits. These habits include eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, forming positive relationships, thinking positively, having a realistic schedule for studying and social activity, and carving out some time to reward yourself. Establishing good habits will help reduce your chances of becoming unhealthy.

When you get sick or are feeling depressed or anxious, stop by Health and Counseling Support Services. We are here to help you!

Getting sick in college is no fun. Doorknobs, elevator buttons, faucets, keyboards—all of these can transmit illness and get a college student sick. Even if you don’t live in a dorm, you’ll be sharing classrooms, hallways, and other spaces with hundreds of other people. The cold and flu spread quickly in college dorms and classrooms because of the confined common space.

Contrary to popular belief, continual supplementation with Vitamin C will not prevent a cold, but it will help treat a cold if you get one. Zinc can also help treat a cold. So keep zinc and Vitamin C supplements on hand for when you feel a cold coming on.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid getting sick:

  • Prevent infection with adequate rest, healthy food, regular and moderate exercise, and plenty of non-alcoholic liquids.
  • Get a flu shot
  • Use a disinfectant cleaner on everything. If you or your roommate is sick, you can spray disinfectant to kill germs on common (non-porous) surfaces.
  • Don’t share cups, plates, or eating utensils—you never know if someone might be contagious.
  • If sick (especially if you have a fever), limit your interactions to prevent the spread of germs. If you have a dining plan, ask a friend to get food for you from the dining hall with a North Park Meal Ticket from a Resident Director or the University Nurse in Health Services.
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke (see these resources or check out Swedish Covenant’s Smoking Cessation classes for help.)

For full-time students (those taking 6 or more credit hours on campus), the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) requires students to show proof of 2 to 3 vaccinations upon entrance to North Park University, including Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (or MMR) and Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap) vaccines. Full-time students who are under the age of 22 must also receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.  Upon admission, all students must complete North Park University’s immunization record form and return it to the Health Center.

We also recommend the Meningitis B, yearly influenza, hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus for college students. Learn more.

The chances are high that you have or know a friend who has food allergies, considering that 15 million Americans have food allergies. It is best to know more about food allergies so that you can help prevent allergic reactions.

Symptoms from allergic reactions range widely, from mild itching + redness to swelling of the face + throat, which can make breathing difficult and can lead to loss of consciousness and death if not treated immediately.

Food allergies are an autoimmune disorder that causes a person to react to certain foods. The 9 most common foods that cause allergies include:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (for example, walnuts, cashews, almonds)
  • Sesame
  • Wheat
  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Shell fish (for example, shrimp, crab, and lobster)
  • Soy

What can I do if I have food allergies?

  • Always carry the medications your health care practitioner has prescribed for you to take when you have allergic reactions to foods (such as, Benadryl, cetirizine, an inhaler, or epi pen). If you have forgotten to bring your Epi pen with you, know that North Park security (773-244-5600) can bring you an Epi pen. (Health Services has an epi pen as well). Always call 911 first (or ask someone to call 911) before calling Security for an Epi pen.
  • Never isolate yourself if you think you are having a severe allergic reaction (such as, walking off to the bathroom to be alone).
  • Avoid the foods that cause allergic reactions for you and ask questions about any foods that do not have labels attached.
  • Meet with the University Nurse to ask any questions about your food allergies and discuss plans to prevent allergic reactions.
  • Meet with the Student Success Learning Specialist to discuss your needs and put accommodations in place if needed. Contact the Center for Student Engagement to schedule an appointment with the Student Success Learning Specialist at 773-244-5737 (located on the first floor of the Johnson Center) or email ada@northpark.edu.
  • If you live on campus, let your resident assistant know about your food allergies.
  • If you have a meal plan, meet with the manager of dining services at (773) 244-4939 to tell them about your food allergies. You can plan ahead by viewing ingredient lists for meals that will be offered in the dining hall at Campus Dish.

What can I do if my friends have food allergies?

  • Ask your friends about their allergies. Can they have an allergic reaction if they ingest the food or is it enough for them to be around the food? What kind of precautions would they like you to take? If necessary, refrain from eating your friend’s food allergen if you are around them.
  • Consult with your friend prior to planning a food-centered event so they can participate.
  • Respect their food. Do not tamper with the food they bring to campus.
  • Learn how to help in case an allergic reaction occurs. Know where your friend usually keeps their epi pen or other medications for an allergic reaction.
  • Call 911 if you think your friend is having a severe allergic reaction to a food. Then, call campus security (773-244-5600) to bring an Epi pen.

What if I am dating someone who has food allergies?

  • Know that food allergies cause added stress and anxiety in a relationship.
  • Think before you kiss. You could have just eaten something your partner is allergic to. Be willing to change your diet, if necessary, to keep your partner safe.
  • Avoid blaming your partner. Be kind to each other and aim to tackle food allergy challenges together.
  • Seek counseling from a professional when needed.
  • Learn how to help in case an allergic reaction occurs. Know where your partner usually keeps their Epi pen or other medications for an allergic reaction.
  • Call 911 first if you think your partner is having a severe allergic reaction to a food. Then, call campus security (773-244-5600) to bring an Epi pen.

For further information go to the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website.

Getting a tattoo or piercing can be done safely with few health consequences. However, it is important to consider your personal risks and benefits before getting a tattoo or piercing:

  • Do you have a chronic condition (such as, autoimmune conditions, diabetes mellitus, or cardiac diseases) that might make it difficult for you to heal after getting a tattoo or may put you at increased risk for skin infections or systemic infections? If so, talk to your doctor before getting a tattoo or piercing.
  • Are you usually satisfied with your decisions or do you regret them? Do you think you will regret your tattoo in 1 year, 5 years, or 10+ years?
  • Read up about tattoo removal and understand that you may not be able to remove the tattoo in every situation and it can be painful and expensive to remove.
  • Have you had a tetanus vaccination (or Td or Tdap) in the last 5 to 10 years?

Do your research: Find a safe and reputable establishment for a tattoo or piercing

Go to a tattoo or piercing establishment and observe the professional’s aseptic technique, which means that anything that touches you or another customer’s skin directly during the procedure, such as needles, should either be new and single use or sterilized by autoclave. See attached checklist for more information on what to look for when you observe a professional tattoo artist or piercing professional.

Reputable Resources – for more information

  • Eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, affect up to 30 million people in the U.S.
  • Eating disorders often emerge when a person is 18 to 20 years old, but 50% of people will experience the onset of an eating disorder before 18 years of age.
  • Eating disorders are 2 to 3 times more common in women than men.
  • A high proportion of people with eating disorders also have another mental health disorder, including anxiety, depression, or substance use disorder.

If you are concerned that you may have an eating disorder, please answer the questions in the screening tool or see the resources below. If you are concerned that someone you know may have an eating disorder, see these tips and resources for a better understanding of the disorder and submit an EARS report if you are concerned about a North Park student

Please email Health Services if you have concerns about an eating disorder.

RESOURCES

www.NationalEatingDisorders.org

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care.

National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

This helpline offers support Monday–Thursday from 8 am–8pm CST, and Friday from 8 am–4 pm CST. You can expect to receive support, information, referrals, and guidance about treatment options for either you or your loved one. You can also contact this helpline through its online chat function, available on its website. Additionally, there is an option to send a text message if you are in crisis by texting NEDA to 741741; a trained volunteer from the Crisis Text Line will get in touch with you.

www.eatingdisorderhope.com

Eating Disorder Hope’s mission is to offer hope, information, and resources to individual eating disorder sufferers, their family members, and treatment providers. Find specific information about college students with eating disorders at https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/anorexia/college-life-how-to-handle-anorexia-nervosa

www.anad.org

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders includes information about eating disorders, how to seek treatment, and support groups for people suffering from eating disorders and their families.

www.Bulimia.com

A resource dedicated to providing information to men and women suffering from bulimia nervosa and co-occurring eating disorders, mental health, or substance use disorders.

www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org

Following the 12-step approach used by Alcoholics Anonymous, Eating Disorders Anonymous can help people struggling with eating disorders. The website lists Overeaters Anonymous meetings nationwide.

Unfortunately, Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus cannot be prevented because it is an autoimmune disorder that can develop in anyone no matter how healthy their lifestyle. However, the more common type of Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2), which affects about 30 million Americans, can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a balanced diet with whole fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods, losing weight safely and slowly if you are overweight, getting 7-8 hours of restorative sleep each night, exercising 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, and quitting smoking.

1 in every 3 Americans is prediabetic, which means they have a higher blood sugar than normal, but it is not high enough to diagnose Type 2 Diabetes. If you are concerned that you have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association’s prediabetes risk assessment. Prediabetes puts you at risk for Type 2 diabetes if you do not make lifestyle changes. If you score a 5 or higher on the prediabetes risk assessment, reach out Health Services to schedule a fasting blood glucose test.

If you have been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Health Services can help you manage your disease through the following services:

  • Blood glucose testing meter and strips: If you are on campus and concerned about your blood glucose level, you are welcome to stop by Health Services during business hours to have your blood sugar checked.
  • Glucose tablets: If you feel your blood sugar has dropped and forgot to bring glucose tablets or something to raise your blood sugar, you can stop by Health Services during our business hours to get some glucose tablets.

Swedish Covenant Hospital also provides the following resources for people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes Mellitus:

RESOURCES

See the following resources for more information about Type 1 or 2 Diabetes Mellitus:

North Park University and Health Services want to support any students who cannot afford food on a regular basis or do not know when their next meal is coming. If you have financial constraints that prevent you from accessing regular meals, please tell a professor, your resident assistant (RA) or resident director (RD), or the University Nurse (email healthservices@northpark.edu).

Remember, if you live in the residence halls or apartments, you get 2 free meals each week.

You can also review this list of local food pantries.

Eating healthier should involve lifestyle changes rather than a diet. Remember that eating healthy is like running a marathon, not a sprint, meaning that you’ll want to make small changes to the way you eat every day or week. After time, you will notice that you prefer healthier foods and foods cooked at home to sweets, fried foods, and fast foods. Eating healthy shouldn’t feel like deprivation – you can still treat yourself to a sweet or fast food once in a while.

The University Nurse and Helwig’s Director of Wellness and Recreation want to support North Park students in adopting healthier eating habits. To that end, we have created the Healthy Eating Club, which meets on the first Friday of the month (including 2/1/19, 3/1/19, 4/5/19, and 5/3/19) from 12pm to 1pm in the Ohlson Kitchen. Please come by to enjoy a healthy snack, find community support for healthy eating, and talk about ways to eat healthier on a consistent basis.

Here are some more tips to help you stick to your healthy eating goals:

  • Eating healthier is often times a mental game but surrounding yourself with people that help and supports your journey can make it easier
  • You are not supposed to be perfect (do not beat yourself up when you do not eat the healthiest, but observe how you feel when you eat unhealthy and think about whether or not you want to continue that pattern)
  • Strive for 80% healthy foods and 20% unhealthy foods/treats
    • 80% might be a stretch in the beginning, but you can get to that point over time
  • If and when possible, eat the foods that are good for you first and then eat the unhealthy foods if there is room (so start with a salad and then have that burger)
  • When changing your eating habits start with one thing at a time. For example, start with beverages switch to water or less sugary drinks.
  • If you love drinking pop, drink carbonated water and add lemon, pineapples or mint to add flavor to it
  • Watch out for hidden sugars in prepackaged foods: such as glucose, sucrose or dextrose
  • Try not to view healthy eating as deprived eating or being on a diet
    • As you try new, healthy foods or different ways to prepare healthy foods, you may look forward to these foods as much as fast food or desserts
  • Pay attention to how you feel after you eat healthy or unhealthy foods
    • Overall, did you feel better or worse after eating the food?
    • How were your energy levels shortly after eating the food or upon waking the next morning?
    • Did you experience any new constipation, diarrhea or loose stools, cramping, bloating, or stomach upset that may have resulted from eating the food?
  • Sleep is important for healthy eating à Lack of sleep leads disrupts your hormones (see 2011 study on sleep and obesity):
    • Decreased glucose tolerance and decreased insulin sensitivity
    • Increased cortisol levels (stress hormone that can promote weight gain)
    • Increased Ghrelin levels (hormone that promotes hunger)
    • Decreased leptin levels (hormone that tells you when you are full)
  • Sleep helps you make healthier eating choices and fight cravings (see Healthline)
  • The more hours you are up, the more hours you can eat (especially late at night)
  • Eat your meals with friends or family, sitting at a table
  • Be mindful of when you are becoming full; stop eating when you are 80% full (advice from Dr. Junger, author of Clean Gut)
  • Consider adding probiotics or fermented foods for many health benefits, including improved gut health, a stronger immune system, and potential weight loss
  • If you are still hungry, take second helpings of vegetables
  • Brush your teeth right after dinner to reduce after-dinner snacking
  • Make ahead and pack healthy snacks to eat throughout the day to avoid poor food choices made when hungry
  • Plan your meals for the week on weekends and grocery shop accordingly
  • Limit or abstain from alcohol
  • Be mindful when it comes to eating food
    • Read food labels before purchasing foods
    • Find out the calories of foods you intend to order at restaurants
    • Avoid eating while watching television or studying
  • Find new outlets for stress instead of eating poorly (such as, exercise, yoga, or meditation)
  • If you want to lose weight in addition to eating healthy, know that slow weight loss (0.5 lbs to 1.5 lbs a week) is the most sustainable weight loss, meaning the weight you lose is more likely to stay off in the long run
    • Can make more sustainable, lifestyle changes with slow weight loss rather than a fad diet that is not sustainable in everyday life (think Christmas parties)
    • When weight is loss quickly, you’re usually losing water and muscle instead of fat
    • Weight lost quickly is more likely to be gained back later
    • Resource: Mayo Clinic
  • Check out Healthy Cooking blogs/you tube sites
  • Check cookbooks out from the library to find new healthy recipes
  • Check out these books about healthy eating:
    • The Paleo Cardiologist: The natural way to heart health by Jack Wolfson
    • Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig
    • Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger, MD
    • It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 Challenge and Change your Life in Unexpected Ways by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
    • Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food by the Co-Creator of the Whole30 by Melissa Hartwig
    • Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter
    • The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf
    • Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis

When young people do not use alcohol safely or responsibly…

  • About 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes
  • About 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking
  • About 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
Alcohol Consumption Definitions

Binge Drinking: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a “pattern of drinking that makes the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dl.”  It occurs after 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men within 2 hours.

Heavy Drinking: when men drink 15 or more drinks per week and women drink 8 or more drinks per week.

WHAT ARE THE AFFECTS OF ALCOHOL?

Alcohol affects everyone differently based on the factors such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Physical condition
  • Race & ethnicity
  • How quickly the drink is taken
  • Amount of food consumed before drinking
  • Family history of alcohol problems
  • Concurrent use of prescribed/non-prescribed medications or recreational drugs

Binge drinking causes an acute intoxication, including the following changes to your abilities:

  • Poor judgement
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Loss of balance and motor skills
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased risk for car accidents, violence and other injuries                        

Cannabis (Marijuana) Use Among College Students

Note: Even though cannabis was legalized in Illinois as of January 1, 2020 for adults over the age of 21, cannabis is federally illegal. As such, all college campuses must comply with the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Communities Act, which does not allow cannabis (medicinal or recreational) on school property.

  • Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among college students.
  • One in every 22 college students uses marijuana daily or near daily.
  • More than 85% of college students think their peers used marijuana in the past 30 days; however, only 18.4% of college students actually used marijuana in the past month.
  • In 2015, 38% of college students indicated they used marijuana in the prior 12 months, up from 30% in 2006.

Adverse consequences of marijuana use include:

  • Impaired short-term memory, judgment, and motor coordination
  • Negative academic outcomes, such as performing poorly on exams, achieving lower grade point averages, and dropping out of school
  • Long-term effects such as increased risk for chronic cough and bronchitis (vaping with cannabis has recently been tied to severe respiratory symptoms and death; if you vape or use e-cigarettes and have chest pain, shortness of breath, dry cough, or abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting, seek medical attention)
  • Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in vehicle crashes, including fatal ones.
  • Studies suggest that 9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it, increasing to approximately 17% in those who start using it in their teens.

How to Use Alcohol Safely 

You can follow these safe drinking tips to help you use alcohol safely:

  • Decide ahead how much you want to drink before you start (for example, two drinks)
  • Eat a sufficient meal before or while you drink
  • Drink slowly
  • Alternate an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink (for example, a beer and then water)
  • Keep track of how many drinks you drink
  • Drink for quality vs quantity
  • Never accept a drink from someone who you don’t know
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended and then go back for it

Are you Concerned about Alcohol or Drug Problems?

If you think you are misusing or becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, you can take the 3-question AUDIT-C (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) screening here or an 8-question CUDIT-R (Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test-Revised) screening here.

After you complete the screening, you can leave your email address so that the University Nurse can reach out to you if your screening results indicate you are at medium or high risk for hazardous or harmful alcohol use or dependence symptoms. If you do not want to leave your email address but want still want to talk with the University Nurse, you can visit or email Health Services.

What can I do if I Frequently Use Alcohol or Drugs Unsafely?

There are several resources for treating stress, depression, anxiety, or substance and drug abuse:

National Resources

  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is a Treatment Referral Routing Service, offering a National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) that is confidential, free, and available 24/7. SAMHSA provides individuals and family members facing mental health and/or substance and alcohol use disorders with referrals to local treatment facilities and support groups.
  • Alcohol Rehab Guide
  • RehabSpot

 Local Resources

Cold and Flu Questions

A cold is a minor viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). There are about 200 different viruses that can cause a cold. Symptoms can include a scratchy or sore throat, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, achiness coughing, and a general tired feeling.  Sometimes a low fever (< 99º F) or headache accompany a cold, but not always.

You’ll develop symptoms if a cold virus comes in contact with the mucus membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth, and if your body does not fight off the infection.

The virus is not spread primarily through airborne contact (i.e., inhaling the virus from the coughing or sneezing of someone around you). Instead, it is spread most often through hand-to-hand contact. If you touch the hand of an infected person and then touch your eyes or nose, you are likely to infect yourself. This can also happen when you touch a surface such as a doorknob or telephone soon after an infected person has touched it.

To avoid catching a cold, you should:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and avoid touching your face. You do not need to use antibacterial soaps; regular soap and water removes the virus.
  • Wipe off shared equipment, such as telephones and keyboards, with rubbing alcohol between users.
  • Help your body fight off infection with adequate rest, healthy food, regular moderate exercise, and plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids.
  • Avoid crowded areas with poor ventilation.
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand cigarette smoke, which irritates the mucus membranes. (See these resources or check out Swedish Covenant’s Smoking Cessation classes for help.)

Cold and Flu

First, take note: The cold is a viral infection. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics. So, no matter how miserable you feel, antibiotics will not help you feel better. Clinicians will only consider antibiotic treatment if it appears that bacteria is causing your symptoms.

Instead, you can care for yourself while you have a cold through the following:

  • Get lots of rest.
  • Stay hydrated by taking in plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which increases dehydration.
  • Take Zinc and Vitamin C within 24 hours of cold symptoms (they the only mineral and vitamin proven to reduce the length of a cold)
  • Eat healthy foods, but don’t force yourself to eat. Even if you are not eating much, remember to keep drinking water and other fluids.
  • Take a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve aches or fever.
  • Gargle with warm salt water (a teaspoon of salt in a large glass of water) to help reduce swelling in the throat. Tea with honey and lemon is also a good throat soother.
  • Inhale warm moist air to humidify your nasal sinuses and help to relieve congestion. Take a hot shower or run a humidifier in your room.
  • To help reduce congestion and prevent sinus infections, do sinus saline washes
  • Chicken soup or other hot liquids help relieve nasal congestion.
  • Avoid multi-symptom cold remedies which tend to be less effective (and more expensive) than medications intended for single symptoms, such as a cough. Stop by the Self-Serve Medication Station at Health Services for a free two-day supply of cold medications that may help with your symptoms.

Colds are usually self-limiting and do not need medical intervention. However, if your symptoms have not improved in 7-10 days, you should contact your clinician or medical provider, as you may have developed a more serious infection.

Cold and Flu

Yes! Hand washing is the single most important method of preventing the spread of infections. More illnesses are transmitted through germs on hands than by airborne droplets. Respiratory viruses rest on desks, computers, telephones, doorknobs, and other common surfaces and then transfer to your hands. They enter your body when you touch your unwashed hands to your eyes, nose, or mouth.

You can transmit your germs to others if you cough or sneeze into your hands and touch objects before you wash your hands. In addition, if you don’t block your cough (such as by coughing into your sleeve/the bend of your elbow), germs are released into the air and can settle on a variety of surfaces. Some germs can survive on common objects for several days.

The flu (influenza) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by various influenza viruses. People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Experts believe that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets may land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person can also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

To avoid becoming infected with the flu, wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected, especially if someone using the surfaces is ill.

Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body, which means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick and while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus and have no symptoms, but are still able to spread the virus to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a great resource to stay up to date on flu news and to find tips for preventing and treating the flu. According to the CDC, the top 3 actions to prevent and treat the flu are:

  • Get the flu shot: The flu shot can help prevent the flu or lessen the severity of your symptoms if you still get the flu. North Park University has a few flu clinics each year or you can see the Local Pharmacy Listings for a list of nearby pharmacies that provide the flu shot.
  • Stop Germs: Take extra care not to infect others, especially your roommates.
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand gel
    • Clean and disinfect common surfaces.
    • Use clean utensils and cups (don’t share these items).
    • Stay home if you are sick (especially if you have a fever or have not been fever free without medications for 24 hours).
      • If you must go out while you are having a fever, wear a mask. Masks are available at Health Services.
      • Ask a friend to get food for you from the dining hall with a North Park Meal Ticket from a Resident Director or the University Nurse in Health Services.
    • Avoid those who have the flu.
  • Take antiviral medications as prescribed by a health care provider (preferably within 48 hours of flu symptoms)

Other ways to be proactive and avoid catching the flu include the following:

  • Prevent infection with adequate rest, healthy food, regular and moderate exercise, and plenty of non-alcoholic liquids.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus from your hands to your eyes, nose, or mouth. You do not need antibacterial soaps; regular soap and water removes the virus.
  • If you share equipment, such as telephones and keyboards, wipe them off with rubbing alcohol between users.
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand cigarette smoke, which irritates the mucus membranes. Contact your primary care physician for guidance and help to quit smoking, see these, resources or check out Swedish Covenant’s Smoking Cessation classes for help.

Cold and Flu

The flu is a viral infection. Your health care provider will not treat it with antibiotics, but may treat it with an antiviral medication if your flu symptoms have just started. In healthy adults, the flu is generally self-limiting with or without anti-viral medications as long as you take common sense measures.

  • Rest is essential. Take at least two or three days of bed rest.
  • Stay home if you are sick (especially if you have a fever or have not been fever free without medications for 24 hours). If you must go to class, wear a mask (especially if you have a fever). Stop by Health Services for a mask if you do not have one.
  • Ask a friend to get food for you from the dining hall with a North Park Meal Ticket from a Resident Director or the University Nurse in Health Services.
  • Consume plenty of fluids, with an emphasis on water, non-caffeinated tea, fruit juice, and broth.
  • Eat healthy foods, but don’t force yourself to eat. Even if you are not eating much, remember to keep drinking.
  • Take a pain reliever for aches and fever (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen). If you do not have these medications on hand, stop by the Self-Serve Medication Station in Health Services to get a free two-day supply to tide you over until you get to the pharmacy.

In certain cases, the flu can lead to more dangerous infections (such as, pneumonia). Go to a health care provider if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Coughing up thick or bloody mucus
  • Recurring fever that does not abate after 3-4 days
  • Facial swelling
  • Severe pain the face or forehead
  • Earache
  • Sore throat not caused by a post-nasal drip or cough

Go to the Emergency Department if you have any of the following symptoms:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Severe pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
    • Sudden dizziness
    • Confusion
    • Severe or persistent vomiting

Cold and Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months get the influenza vaccine. When more people get vaccinated, it stops flu viruses from being able to spread easily and keeps people healthier. College students should get the flu shot to prevent unexpected absences from class due to sickness.

If you missed the flu clinics offered on North Park’s campus at the end of September and beginning of October, you can go to your primary care physician or local pharmacy or health clinic for a flu shot. Students without health insurance can come to Health Services once our stock of flu shots comes in. (Please look out for future announcements when our flu shots come in!)

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a flu and a cold. In general, flu symptoms are more intense than the common cold. People with colds are less likely to have a fever and more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

If you are concerned that you have the flu, you can get tested to see if you have influenza A or B. However, finding out that you have the flu often does not change how you will treat your symptoms.

There is an antiviral medication for influenza, but it is most effective when taken within 24 to 48 hours of flu symptoms occurring. Antiviral medications can have potential side effects, which may make the drug less desirable.

Symptoms

Cold

Flu

Fever Rare Characteristic, high (102-104 F); lasts 3–4 days
Headache Rare Prominent
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Quite mild Can last up to 2–3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Early and prominent
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can be severe
Complications Sinus congestion Bronchitis, pneumonia, or earache
Prevention None Annual vaccination

 

Cold and Flu

Medication Questions

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections—illnesses caused by bacteria. Antibiotics DO NOT work on infections caused by viruses.

Antibiotics are NOT helpful for the following illnesses:

  • Common cold
  • The flu (people with the flu can be treated antiviral medicines, which are different from antibiotics)
  • Most sore throats (unless Strep throat is diagnosed)
  • Sinusitis (can turn into a bacterial infection, but that takes at least 10 days)
  • Acute bronchitis (an infection in the airways leading to the lungs; even if you are coughing up green mucus, it does NOT mean you have a bacterial infection)

Some infections caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics, such as:

  • Ear infections, if necessary
  • Strep throat
  • Pneumonia (an infection of the lungs)
  • Bladder infections
  • Infections you catch through sex, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia

Give your body what it needs to fight an infection: extra sleep, lots of fluids (non-caffeinated), and healthy foods. Over-the-counter medications and sinus saline washes can relieve symptoms while your body is fighting the virus. A humidifier and hot showers may also relieve congestion.

North Park University’s Health Services provides students with a Self-Serve Medication Station, which provides a maximum of a two-day supply of select over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen or cold medications, to help you get through your day and get back to class.

There are many reasons you should not take antibiotics unless you absolutely need them.

  • Antibiotics cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They can even make it more likely that you will get a different kind of infection, such as yeast infection (if you are woman).
  • Allergies to antibiotics are common. You can develop an allergy to an antibiotic, even if you have not had a problem with it before. Some allergies are just unpleasant, causing rashes and itching. But some can be very serious and even life-threatening.
  • Overuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance. Using antibiotics when they are not needed gives bacteria a chance to change and grow stronger, so that the antibiotics cannot hurt them later on. People who have infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria often have to be treated in the hospital with many different, extremely strong antibiotics. People can even die from these infections because there is no antibiotic that will cure them.

In two main ways:

  • By not taking antibiotics when you do not need them
  • By taking antibiotics only according to your clinician’s directions when you do need them

You should take antibiotics only when a doctor or nurse practitioner prescribes them to you. You should never take antibiotics prescribed to someone else, and you should not take antibiotics that were prescribed to you for a previous illness. When prescribing an antibiotic, doctors and nurse practitioners have to carefully pick the right antibiotic for a particular infection. Not all antibiotics work on all bacteria.

If you do have an infection caused by a bacteria, your doctor or nurse practitioner might want to find out what that bacteria is, and which antibiotics can kill it. They do this by taking a “culture” of the bacteria and growing it in the lab. But it’s not possible to do a culture on someone who has already started an antibiotic. So if you start an antibiotic without input from a doctor or nurse it will be impossible to know if you have taken the right one.

Some other ways to help reduce your antibiotic resistance include:

  • Do not pressure your doctor or nurse practitioner for antibiotics when he or she does not think you need them.
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics, finish all the medicine and take it exactly as directed. Never stop taking the medicine without talking to your doctor or nurse.
  • Do not give antibiotics that were prescribed to you to anyone else.
  • Do not use antibacterial soaps or cleaning products. (Alcohol-based hand gels are fine to use.)

No. These products are useful in health care settings where risk of infection is higher. But thorough hand-washing (15 seconds under hot running water) with ordinary soap adequately reduces infection risk. There is also no need for antibacterial shower cleansers or sponges. Using these products simply adds to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

North Park University’s Health Services provides students with a Self-Serve Medication Station, which provides a maximum of a two-day supply of select over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen or cold medications, to help you get through your day and get back to class.

To manage a cough:

  • Guaifenesin (plain): cough expectorant, use as directed
  • Guaifenesin Dextromethorphan (DM): cough suppressant, use as directed and only if cough is non-productive. Students with asthma should avoid medications with Dextromethorphan in them.

To relieve fever, headache, and muscle aches:

  • Acetaminophen (such as, Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (such as, Advil or Motrin)

To relieve nasal congestion or runny nose:

  • Saline Nasal Washes
  • Cetirizine (that is, Zyrtec): to relieve allergies, take as directed
  • Phenylephrine hydrochloride or pseudoephedrine (that is, sudafed): use as directed (do not take sudafed if you have high blood pressure or take an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)

To relieve a sore throat:

  • Warm salt water gargles
  • Chloraseptic sore throat spray, take as directed
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen

If you had a bad reaction to an antibiotic, tell your doctor or nurse about it.

Do not assume you are allergic unless your doctor or nurse tells you that you are. Many people who think they are allergic to an antibiotic are wrong. If you get nauseous or have diarrhea after taking an antibiotic, that does NOT mean you are allergic to it. If you are a woman and you get a yeast infection after taking an antibiotic, it does NOT mean you are allergic to it. Nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infections are common side effects of antibiotics.

Symptoms of allergies to antibiotics can be mild and include a flat rash and itching. They can also be more serious and include:

  • Hives – Hives are raised, red patches of skin that are usually very itchy
  • Lip or tongue swelling (go to the emergency department)
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing (go to the emergency department)

Serious allergy symptoms can start right after you start taking an antibiotic if you are very sensitive. Less serious symptoms, on the other hand, often start a day or more later.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive system and help keep your gut healthy.

We usually think of bacteria as something bad that causes diseases, but your body is full of bacteria—both good and bad. Good bacteria are already in your body naturally, and they prevent bad bacteria from becoming too powerful and causing disease.

When you take antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider, the antibiotics can wipe out the good bacteria in your digestive system and put you at risk for other infections. Probiotics can replace the good bacteria wiped out by the antibiotics, keeping the digestive system healthy and preventing further infections from occurring.

You can find probiotics in some foods and supplements, such as yogurt, Kefir, or over-the-counter pills. In general, probiotic foods and supplements are thought to be safe for most people, though some people with immune system problems or other serious health conditions shouldn’t take them. Talk to your doctor first to make sure they are appropriate for you.

In some cases, mild side effects might include upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, and bloating for the first couple of days after you start taking probiotics. They may also trigger allergic reactions. Stop taking them and talk to your doctor if you have problems.