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Healthful Hints

Illness General Information

Colds

Caused by viruses; unfortunately, there is no quick cure.

Symptoms include (in varying combinations):

  • runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • sneezing
  • aches
  • scratchy throat
  • husky voice
  • fever
  • chills
  • dulled sense of taste and smell
  • cough

Treatment is aimed toward relieving symptoms until the virus runs its course. This usually takes a week to ten days.

  • Tylenol: Two 250 mg tablets every 4 hours will reduce fever and relieve aching.
  • Cold tablets or capsules: Follow directions on package (some are taken every 4 hours, others every 12 hours). They contain both a decongestant which shrinks membranes and an antihistamine which dries mucus. Some contain caffeine to counteract the drowsiness caused by the antihistamine. Some already contain a full dose of aspirin or Tylenol (Do not take additional aspirin or Tylenol in that case). Check the label! Know what you are taking! Never mix with alcohol!
  • Hard candies or lozenges: for scratchy throat.
  • Saline gargles: 1/2 tsp. salt in a glass of warm water, also for scratchy throat.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Keeps body hydrated.
  • Rest: As much as possible.

Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, including colds.

An uncomplicated cold lasts from 7-10 days. Come to the Health Services office if you should develop any of the following:

  • Temperature over 101 degrees F
  • A cough which produces greenish or rusty looking sputum
  • Ear pain (not stuffiness)
  • Chest pain associated with coughing

The good news is that once you have had a cold you will immune to that particular virus for 3-4 months. The bad news is that there are at least 200 cold viruses. GOOD LUCK!

The Flu

A viral infection similar to a cold but characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms.

Symptoms

  • sudden temperature of 101 degrees of more
  • dry hacking cough
  • headache
  • general body aches
  • dizziness and weakness.

Treatment

Sore Throats

Many sore throats are viral in nature and may be accompanied by fever and swollen glands. These respond well to symptomatic treatment.

Treatment

  • Tylenol: two 250 mg tablets every 4 hours.
  • Lozenges or hard candies make the throat feel better.
  • Saline gargles 3 to 4 times a day. 1/2 tsp. salt in a glass of warm water. (This has been proven as effective as the expensive antiseptic gargles, so save your money. Salt is cheap).

Strep Throat

Bacterial in nature.

Symptoms

  • Bright red throat.
  • Enlarged tonsils.
  • Patches of white exudate or pus in back of throat or on tonsils. (Looks like cottage cheese). Throat cultures are available in the Health Services office to determine diagnosis.

Treatment

  • Specific antibiotics prescribed by a physician.
  • Symptomatic treatment:
    • Aspirin or Tylenol for fever.
    • Lozenges or saline gargles.
    • Drink plenty of good fluids.
    • Rest as much as possible.

Untreated strep throats can lead to rheumatic fever, kidney disease, and heart damage.

Viral Gastroenteritis

Usually self-limiting within 48-72 hours. Medication is seldom needed.

Symptoms

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Abdominal cramps; sometimes quite severe.
  • Elevated temperature (frequently due to dehydration).

Treatment

  • Avoid solid foods.
  • Take sips of water, ginger ale, or coke.
  • Suck on ice chips.
  • When vomiting stops take fluids as desired gradually adding soups, jello, pudding, applesauce, slowly returning to a regular diet.
  • Avoid spicy foods for a few days.

Usually, the vomiting will stop before the diarrhea. If symptoms continue beyond 72 hours, come to Health Services for evaluation.

Urinary Tract Infections

Much higher incidence in females than males. The urethra (which connects the bladder to the outside of the body) is only about an inch long in females, making it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.

Symptoms

  • Burning or pain on urination.
  • Frequency or urgency of urination.
  • Bloody urine.
  • Low back pain.
  • Body chills.

Come to Health Services for evaluation.

Treatment

  • Physician evaluation.
  • Urine culture to identify the specific organism.
  • Antibiotic treatment is usually prescribed for 10 days. It is important to take all of the antibiotic, not just until you feel better. (see Antibiotics).
  • Drink plenty of fluids (Several gallons per day; it helps to flush out bacteria). Treatment must be adhered to in order to prevent recurrence.

Cause

  • Most common cause is improper use of toilet paper. It is extremely important to always wipe from front to back which prevents bacteria from being pulled across the urethra.
  • Second most common cause is due to irritation of the urethra during sexual intercourse.

Temperatures

Normal 98.6 F
Low-Grade Fever 98.8 - 100 F
High Fever 101 F
Very High Fever 103 F or above

Low-grade temperatures are frequently associated with colds and respond well to Tylenol (two 250 mg tablets every 4 hours).

Temperatures of 101 F to 103 F are frequently seen with viral and bacterial infections.

Keeping the temperature under control is important:

  • Tylenol: two 250 mg tablets may be taken as often as every 3 hours if necessary.
  • Tepid baths.
  • Check temperature every 2 hours.

Most very high temperatures occur late at night adding to a sense of panic. Any student with a temperature of 104 F and above which does not respond to aspirin or Tylenol should be evaluated by a physician.

Any prolonged high temperature should be evaluated by Health Services.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are prescribed by a physician for specific bacterial infections.

It is very important to take all of the medication. Otherwise, the bacteria will not be totally destroyed. Do not stop the medicine when you feel better.

You should never have any antibiotics left over since only a specific number were prescribed.

Do not give your antibiotics to anyone else. Remember, they were prescribed for your particular infection. Your friend may have a totally different problem.

Medicines and Alcohol

Never mix alcohol and medicines of any kind!

Tips on Staying Well

  • Wash hands well with soap and water. Two most important times are:
    • Immediately after going to the bathroom to prevent the spread of bacteria in urine and feces to the mouth.
    • Immediately before eating. Your hands may not look dirty, but just think of what they have touched.
  • Do not eat or drink after others.
  • Do not use another person's toothbrush or washcloth.
  • Do not use another person's make-up.
  • Keep your body in "tip-top" shape through: proper diet, exercise, and rest. They are your best defenses against illness.

Stay healthy!

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