10 Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss

Adapted from:
Hearing Loss:
A permanent condition in a “temporary” culture

by Kirsten Falcone, RN 
Hilbert College Wellness Center

Click here to download the full article


Hearing loss. You think it inflicts only elderly people, right? Think again. Recent research reveals that more young people are developing permanent hearing loss, and they may not even realize it. According to the CDC, 20% of people aged 20-29 already have noise-induced hearing loss.

Why is this such a concern? Because, unlike many other ailments, hearing loss is permanent. Over time, a loss of hearing in someone young will accumulate and exacerbate that person’s eventual age-related hearing loss. Experts predict hearing-related issues will be even more pronounced for the current younger generation when they reach retirement age.

Which noises cause hearing loss? Anything over 85 decibels for an extended period of time, or much louder and shorter bursts of noise for a shorter period of time, are both damaging.

Which noises are higher than 85 decibels? According to a Purdue University Website:

  • Garbage disposals
  • Factories
  • Freight trains (50 feet away)
  • Diesel trucks traveling at 40mph (50 feet away)
  • Food blenders

In the 90 to 110 decibel category:

  • Jet planes taking off (at 1,000 feet)
  • Lawn mowers
  • Motorcycles (at 25 feet)
  • Outboard motors
  • Car horns (at 3 feet)
  • Live rock music
  • Public bathroom hand dryers
  • Thunderclaps

At 150 decibels, such as what occurs at 80 feet away from a jet taking off, your eardrums will rupture.

Wearing ear buds, as many people do, can intensify noise because they are put directly into the ear canal. This can raise noise levels by nine decibels. At maximum volume, ear buds can reach 105 decibels! 

What can you do to prevent hearing loss?

  1. When listening to electronic devices, wear “noise-canceling” headphones that cover the whole ear. Ear buds (which sit in the ear canal) tend to let other sounds in, thus making it necessary to turn up the volume.
  2. If you insist on wearing ear buds, invest in custom ear buds that fit your ears. They have a tighter fit, and you won’t have to turn up the volume to hear with them.
  3. Follow the 60/60 Rule: Limit your ear-bud/ear-phone listening to under 60 minutes per day, and keep the volume under 60 percent.
  4. Wear ear plugs at concerts.
  5. Plug your ears with your fingers when an ambulance passes, during traditional gun salutes, or when the fire trucks blast their sirens at parades.
  6. Don’t sit right under the annual fireworks without ear protection.
  7. Wear ear protection when you know you will be exposed to loud noises for long periods of time, such as mowing the lawn.
  8. Use paper towels in public bathrooms instead of the hand dryers.
  9. In traffic, keep the windows rolled up.
  10. Get your ears tested to find your baseline. Start taking precautions from now on.

Here’s your takeaway: There are many health conditions that are temporary and improvable by changing your lifestyle or by taking medicine. But, hearing isn’t one of them. When it’s gone, it’s gone.


If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send an email with a brief description of what you learned, to wellnesscenter@hilbert.edu.

9 Tips to Eat Healthy In The Winter

Adapted from:
Tips on Eating Healthfully in the Winter
by Kirsten Falcone, RN 
Hilbert College Wellness Center

Click here to download the full article


Have you found a little extra padding around your middle lately? You are not alone!

Many people find that wintertime eating is tricky when it comes to maintaining weight. The holidays and their fattening menus have passed, New Year’s resolutions are almost forgotten, and we are back to our old habits.

Here are 9 tips that can help you reach the warmer days with your waistline intact and a healthy spring in your step:

  1. Drink more water. The dry winter air tends to dehydrate us, and what we mistake for hunger is often just thirst. Drinking a glass of water before you eat will hydrate you, help curb your appetite, and aid digestion.
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to make sure half your plate is fruits and vegetables. Try to pass up anything with fat or sugar added, such as fruit compote or au gratin potatoes. Eat your vegetables and fruit before you eat your main course, so that you acquire the nutrients you need and do not overdo it with the more high calorie entree. (No, French fries and potato chips do not count as vegetables!)
  3. Opt for lean meats. If given a choice between a hot dog, cheeseburger, or a chicken breast, choose the chicken breast more often.
  4. Focus on whole grains.  The fiber in a true whole grain product is better for your heart and digestion, and whole grain products contain more nutrients. Try to choose whole wheat or whole grain products instead of white bread.
  5. Avoid processed food. Try to avoid quick fix solutions, like cereal bars, protein bars, and other foods in prepackaged containers. Whole foods are better and have fewer additives.
  6. Eat just half. It’s okay to eat only half of the food on your plate, or simply use a smaller plate to control your portions. Do not let your conscience guilt you into retaining your membership in the Clean Plate Club.
  7. Sample the fattening choices. Yes, it is okay to “treat yourself” to more fattening items. Just limit it to a spoonful or two!
  8. Stay away from junk food. Keep away from the bags of chips, cookies, popcorn, and other temptations. This is a good time to “just say no.” If you need something to munch on, go for the carrots, almonds, apples, bananas, and other easily tote-able foods.
  9. Skip dessert more often. Save dessert for one day per week. You can curb your cravings and satisfy a sweet tooth by substituting fresh fruit for dessert after a meal.

Do you have helpful, healthful tips to share? Comment below!


If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at wellnesscenter@hilbert.edu.

4 Methods To Break Your Cell Phone Addiction

Put Down the Phone!
Health Consequences of Using Cell Phones
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

The topic of cell phones and courtesy frequently comes up in conversation these days. Generally, the sentiment is that cell phone users do not follow polite protocol regarding the use of their phones. In fact, many users are becoming less aware of just how obtrusive, interrupting, and just plain rude the use of cell phones is these days.

All social etiquette aside, if you know anyone like this (or if this is you), it might help to break the habit by learning the health consequences of too much cell phone use.

According to several reliable sources, these are just a few of the possible health consequences cell phone abuse can cause:

1.     Injury or death in a car accident (25 percent of car accidents in the U.S. are caused by cell phone distraction)

2.     Addiction involving dopamine and serotonin, with physical withdrawal symptoms

3.     Anxiety and depression

4.     Brain alteration

5.     Eye diseases (including retinal damage leading to macular degeneration)

6.     Nerve damage to eyes (occipital neuralgia)

7.     Finger, neck, back and other musculoskeletal problems

8.     Carpal tunnel syndrome

9.     Physical inactivity, leading to obesity-related diseases

10.     Slow reaction time, caused by distraction

11.     Increased likelihood of falls/accidents, also caused by distraction

12.     Stress

13.     Disturbed sleep

14.     Bacterial infection/reinfection from the unsanitized surface of the phone

15.     Decreased attention span

16.     Social isolation

17.     Hearing damage (if listening to headphones above 85 decibels)

18.     Possibility of carcinogenic radiation

YIKES!

So What are some solutions? The logical solution is to decrease the amount of time spent on your phone, and this can be accomplished by putting restrictions and boundaries around your own phone use. One way to do that is to change your mindset.

Here are four methods to break your cell phone addiction:

  1. Think privacy. Whenever possible, do not text or talk on the phone if someone else is there to see or hear you. Most phone conversations can wait until you are safely out of sight of other humans.
  2. Think courtesy. Is there someone physically in front of you waiting for your attention, and you are using your phone? This is not considered polite. Always give physical people priority. While we’re on the topic of courtesy, make it a habit to turn off your phone in worship services, at work, in theaters, and while eating with family, friends and/or colleagues.
  3. Think safety. Are you walking, driving, or operating machinery? Put your phone away until you can safely pick it up again! A great suggestion is to keep your phone in the back seat of your car, out of arm’s reach, so you will not be tempted to use it while driving.
  4. Think necessity. Do you really need your phone at all times? Couldn’t you leave it in your room or the back seat of your car? Do you need to keep social media or games on it? Or, could you delete those apps in favor of instead using your computer later, after homework is done? (Just kidding! Homework is never done.) If you do not live in a residence hall, is it necessary to keep the phone next to your bed while you sleep? Probably not. That is why alarm clocks were invented!

So, the next time you are in a group of people, just put down the phone, encourage them to do the same, and engage with them. You just might gain a bit of old-fashioned connectedness, which we all need for our good health!


If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at wellnesscenter@hilbert.edu.


For more information on cell phone usage and physical health, and cell phone usage tips, visit the following sites:

Health.com

Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

Natural Living Ideas

Reader’s Digest

11 Ways to Stay Healthy During Winter Break

Keeping it “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
How to Stay Healthy on Winter Break!
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

It’s mid-December, and you finally made it to winter break. Congratulations! While you’ve earned the right to celebrate after cramming for finals, there’s one more fact you should learn: Students are often more susceptible to illness during the holidays because of the considerable amount of stress they endure during the end-of-semester rush. Bummer, right? No one wants to be sick during the “most wonderful time of the year”. Luckily, there are some ways that can help you avoid feeling down and out during break.

Here are 11 tips to help you fight off holiday illness:

1.     Maintain proper hygiene by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and covering your sneezes and coughs.

2.     Drink enough water. Try to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day or the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water. Another way to measure is to drink 50 to 100 percent of your weight number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 to 150 ounces of water every day.

3.     Manage your stress by not over-scheduling, sticking to a budget for gifts and entertainment, and avoiding negativity. (e.g., watching too much TV news, letting a negative relative influence you, negative self-talk)

4.     Catch up on your sleep by going to bed at the same time each night. After all, you will not have to study for any tests! Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

5.     Stay warm and dry, and dress in layers.

6.     Eat healthfully, and avoid too many sweets. It is possible to take only one cookie or to save room for your favorite dessert, and forego having a slice of each one. Also, when you are consuming a large meal, eat your veggies first.

7.     Exercise wisely. Even in the winter months, exercise is important to maintain a healthy body and brain, and it keeps your immune system strong. It might be safe to go for a walk each day, but then again, there could be ice or snow in your way. Use proper footwear or exercise indoors if possible.

8.     Do not smoke or vape. Smoking exacerbates respiratory illnesses, and it lowers resistance to illness and disease. Even though vaping does not contain the tar in a traditional cigarette, it is still a danger to your health. If you smoke or vape, it is pertinent to your long-term health to quit now. You will never regret that decision!

9.     Be wise when drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow: One drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. One drink is defined as five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or one ounce of liquor. In order to maintain fluid levels, drink eight ounces of water per hour also. (This will also help ward off a hangover the next day.) Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.

10.     Take time for down time. Make certain this involves praying, listening to music you enjoy, thinking positive thoughts, a hobby you love, and/or spending time with someone you enjoy.

11.     Be a blessing to others. Remember, holiday time is not all about you. The more you give of yourself, the more blessed and healthy you will be. Go caroling, visit an old friend or a nursing home, smile at and hug your negative relatives, and go to church. Do something good for someone else. Spiritual health and physical health are not two separate entities; they complement each other!

The Wellness Center wishes you a very healthy and happy Holiday Season and New Year!


If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at wellnesscenter@hilbert.edu.


For more information on managing your health during the holidays, visit these Web sites:

CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Activebeat.com

Realsimple.com

9 Ways to Manage Late Semester Stress

Deadlines, Darkness, & Holidays – Oh My!
How to Manage Late Semester Stress
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

It is that time of the year again. School projects are in full swing, finals are on the horizon, and you haven’t even started your holiday shopping! Many students are stressed, and most are losing sleep. Some have caught a “bug” and are now feeling behind. Stress is, according to Dictionary.com, “a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.” But, according to WebMD.com, it is more simply “what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to [handling].” Does that sound familiar? If so, read on.

Certainly, some stress can be a good thing. Some studies show that a little stress may make you more resilient in the long run. The stress of a deadline approaching can also help you to hone all your attention onto that deadline. There is some evidence that short-term stress also provides the motivation to succeed. Once successful, one can reflect upon accomplishments, and this can actually be quite positive due to the reinforcement it provides! There is also some evidence that short-term stress can actually help ward off the common cold.

However, did you know stress also plays a role in most illness? That is because when we experience chronic stress, an overabundance of epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) and cortisol (stress hormones) prevent many bodily systems, including the immune system, from functioning at full capacity. Even busy college students can take the time to benefit from some key lifestyle changes in order to stay healthy during a stressful time.

Here are 9 ways to lower the negative effects of stress:

  1. Get enough sleep.  Go to bed at the same time every night, and sleep at least seven to nine hours. For example, if you do well on eight hours of sleep per night, stick with that. Do not assume that seven will be enough. (For more information on sleep, read a recent Wellness Center article here.
  2. Make a list each day, and put the most important items at the top. Check them off as you go.
  3. Don’t procrastinate. Get your homework or important tasks done right away, so you won’t prolong the worry and the nagging in the back of your mind. Even just getting started on a long project will lessen the impact of the work that lies ahead.
  4. Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables or low-sugar granola bars in your backpack. Conversely, avoid junk food, caffeine, and added sugar. Give your body the fuel it needs. (Here is the link to the Wellness Center article on what to eat at the campus cafeteria.)
  5. Drink enough water. This can range from eight 8-ounce glasses per day to an ounce for every two pounds you weigh. Drinking enough water will also help drive off the munchies, and it will increase your energy level almost immediately. (More about dehydration here)
  6. Stay away from alcohol and drugs, and stop smoking and/or vapingThese put even more stress on your body by lowering your immune response.
  7. Exercise. Take a brisk walk around campus twice, or work out in the campus recreation center. Do this at least three times per week. Look for any special programs that may be open to all students.
  8. Humor yourself. Find the humor in situations. Subscribe to a joke page on social media. Ask your friends if they know any jokes. There is scientific evidence that making yourself smile actually increases your happiness. It is true that laughter is often the best medicine.
  9. Talk to a good friend or counselor. Bottled-up emotions come out in other ways. Venting with a friend also helps your friend connect with you.

Some other ways to manage stress, in no particular order:


If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at wellnesscenter@hilbert.edu.

 

For more information on stress, check out these sources:

Mayo Clinic, Holiday Stress Management
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
WebMD
Mayo Clinic, Stress Management In-Depth
Psychology Today, Why Some Stress Is Good
Health.com, Ways Stress Can Be Good For You

14 Ways Thankfulness Can Improve Your Health

Thankfulness Significant in Good Health
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Ask any health practitioner what the keys to good health are, and he or she will tell you exercise, proper nutrition, enough sleep, and (especially in this culture) the properly prescribed drug.

However, this season of Thanksgiving is the perfect timing to point out the connection between thankfulness (or gratitude) and good health.

Gratitude is defined as a highly positive feeling of being thankful for phenomena that are of personal value and significance.

Studies show that feeling gratitude has a positive correlation to good health.

Here are 14 of the many ways people with gratitude benefit:

  1. They take good care of themselves (exercise, healthy diet, regular physicals)
  2. They can handle stress better, thereby reducing ailments such as heart disease and cancer
  3. Their optimism boosts the immune system, protecting them from colds, flu and disease, but also making existing disease less damaging and more minor
  4. They are less affected by severe loss because they focus on what is positive, not what is negative
  5. Their gratitude can be a buffer against post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  6. Counting their blessings helps take the focus off negative thought patterns
  7. They live longer and have a slowed aging process
  8. They have lower rates of depression
  9. They are more patient
  10. They have healthier relationships
  11. They have greater willpower and self-control
  12. They have higher self-esteem
  13. Their feelings of thankfulness improve their quality of sleep
  14. They know the difference between instant gratification and true gratitude

What are some ways to show gratitude?

  • Being kind and respectful
  • Acknowledging that your good fortune is a result of a connection to something larger than yourself, such as other people, your environment and/or God
  • Thanking people! In person, or with a thank-you note
  • Thanking God! People who pray cultivate gratitude more easily than those who do not
  • Smiling—smiling produces positive feelings that improve mood

How can someone increase gratitude? Some ways are:

  • Showing gratitude (see above) can actually help increase gratitude
  • Keeping a gratitude journal
  • Writing a list of things in your life that you take for granted
  • Using positive self-talk
  • Finding a new perspective on your situation, to reframe it in a positive manner
  • Expressing your thankfulness to someone else
  • Finding the humorous side of your situation
  • Choosing to spend time with positive people
  • Practicing kindness
  • Thinking positive thoughts on purpose, especially about people and situations in your life

Many wise people have said, “What you choose to focus on will grow.” This Thanksgiving (and every day thereafter), choose to focus on gratitude!


If you read this article to the end, and you would like to enter the Hilbert College Wellness Center monthly drawing, stop by the Wellness Center between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send me an email with a brief description of what you learned, at wellnesscenter@hilbert.edu.

For in-depth information on how Gratitude can improve physical and mental health, visit these sites:

Web MD:
https://www.webmd.com/women/features/gratitute-health-boost#1

Mayo Clinic (Positive vs. Negative Self-Talk):
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

Mayo Clinic (Practicing Kindness):
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/how-sharing-kindness-can-make-you-healthier-happier/art-20390060

Harvard University (Information on Research and More…):
https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Time Magazine (Research on the Health Benefits of Gratitude):
http://time.com/5026174/health-benefits-of-gratitude/

Mind Body Green:
https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11819/scientific-proof-that-being-thankful-improves-your-health.html

Today (Be Thankful: Science Says Gratitude is Good for Your Health):
https://www.today.com/health/be-thankful-science-says-gratitude-good-your-health-t58256

Happier Human (31 Benefits of Gratitude):
https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

Psychology Today (7 Scientfically Proven Benefits of Gratitude):
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

Psychiatry (Research abstract on “Gratitude and Well Being, the Benefits of Appreciation”):
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/

American Heart Association:
https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/thankfulness-how-gratitude-can-help-your-health

The Sunshine Vitamin:

Benefits of Vitamin D

By Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Center

As the medical world makes discoveries, often what we think we have learned flies out the window. An example that quickly comes to mind is the discussion regarding the amount of coffee to drink, or how much red wine is a good thing. Should you get a suntan or stay in the shade? Is avoiding fat in your diet always a good thing? What about sodium? It seems the experts are always changing their minds. But in the case of vitamin D, the optimistic discoveries keep adding up, and you may find them thought provoking.

What is vitamin D, and why do we need it? Your body needs vitamin D, a “fat-soluble” vitamin, to function properly. Fat-soluble vitamins need dietary fat in order to be absorbed into the body, and they are also stored in fatty tissues for future use. There are two kinds of vitamin D—vitamin D2 (found in food) and vitamin D3 (photosynthesized in the skin), but, for the sake of this article, we will refer to both simply as vitamin D.  Vitamin D is most well-known for helping your body absorb calcium and thereby keeping bones strong and healthy, but vitamin D also:

  • May lower the risk of respiratory infections.
  • Increases muscle strength.
  • Helps prevent certain types of cancer.
  • Plays a role in type 1 and 2 diabetes prevention.
  • May be helpful with some forms of arthritis.
  • Defends against aggressive breast cancer.
  • Lessens the symptoms of depression.
  • Helps protect against multiple sclerosis and its symptoms.
  • Protects against age-related bone loss.
  • May protect against cardiovascular disease.
  • Possibly contributes to successful weight loss in obese patients.
  • Helps improve cognitive health.
  • Helps relieve plaque-type psoriasis in some people, if used topically.

How can our bodies acquire vitamin D? Vitamin D can be acquired in three ways. One way is by exposing our skin to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. This sets off a chain reaction involving skin cholesterol, the liver and the kidneys, until converting into a compound the body can use. This compound assists the electrolyte calcium in strengthening bones. The second way the body acquires vitamin D is in food.  Supplements are the third way, and they should be used as a last resort (see below).

Here are some tips for acquiring vitamin D:

  • When outdoors, apply sunscreen after about 20 minutes (longer for darker skin), so enough of the ultraviolet rays can be absorbed. (Vitamin D deficiency is higher in black Americans, according to a 2012 CDC report, estimated at 31 percent.)
  • Expose yourself to the sun when it is highest in the sky, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Be careful to avoid sunburn, by putting on sunscreen after 20 minutes or more, depending on your skin pigmentation.)
  • Live closer to the equator. People in the northern half of the United States, and anywhere north of 40 degrees latitude are less likely to be exposed to enough ultraviolet light. (The 40 degree latitude line can be drawn horizontally across approximately the center of the United States.)
  • Eat foods, such as salmon, swordfish, mackerel, tuna, sardines, egg yolk, beef liver, mushrooms, and fortified foods, such as cereal, orange juice and milk.
  • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 International Units (IU) for people up to 70 years of age, and 800 IU for those older than 71.
  • Vitamin D is considered a fat-soluble vitamin, which simply means it can be stored in your body for when you need it. You cannot overdose on vitamin D synthesized from sunlight or from food, but it is possible to overdose on supplements. Symptoms of a vitamin D overdose are weakness, mental confusion, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and calcium deposit formations in tissues such as the liver, kidneys and heart.
  • Be aware that tattoos that cover a large amount of skin are capable of blocking the production of vitamin D. Tattoos also make it uncomfortable to sit in the full sun because they heat up faster than the surrounding skin, causing itchiness. Therefore, having a tattoo is contraindicated for people who wish to sunbathe or acquire vitamin D in this manner.
  • Blood tests for vitamin D are available through your doctor.

Widely known diseases caused by vitamin D deficiency are rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis. Rickets can be found in children whose bones form improperly, due to lack of vitamin D. With osteomalacia, bones are weak, cause pain, and are more susceptible to fractures. In cases of osteoporosis, the bones become more porous and break easily.

We have been told that we should always wear sunscreen, and that fat in our diets is bad. But, there are times when using sunscreen is not to your advantage, and eating some fat is good for you!

 

For more information, visit these Web sites:

WebMD, slideshow on vitamin D:
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/ss/slideshow-vitamin-d-overview

WebMD, Breast cancer link:
http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20110429/low-vitamin-d-linked-to-aggressive-breast-cancer#1

MedlinePlus:
https://medlineplus.gov/vitamind.html

CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) vitamin D nutrition report:
https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/Second%20Nutrition%20Report%20Vitamin%20D%20Factsheet.pdf

Mayo Clinic, vitamin D overview:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-d/art-20363792

Be Savvy. Be Safe.

Facts About Drinking Alcohol

by Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Center

Seasonal changes are on the way, and that means many college students will find opportunities to enjoy outdoor festivities where they may be serving alcohol. But, since 21 is the legal drinking age, it’s worthwhile to look at some alternatives to drinking alcohol that could be equally as enjoyable or more so.

First, let’s review a little about drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful or smart. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • One (serving-sized) drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. If you damage your liver, contrary to hearsay, it does not always grow back to normal. (Think fatty liver and cirrhosis.)
  • Serving sizes: If you choose to drink alcohol, be aware of these serving sizes:
    • Beer—12 ounces
    • Liquor—one ounce
    • Wine—five ounces.
  • Stay hydrated. In order to prevent dehydration, drink eight ounces of water per hour. (This will also help ward off a hangover the next day.)
  • Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
  • Designate a driver. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation.

Some reasons to avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol damages liver tissue, sometimes permanently. Brain tissue is permanently damaged by drinking alcohol (something to “think” about, if you are a serious college student). It can also lower inhibitions and make you act in a way you would not normally act. Alcohol is a depressant, and so somebody who drinks alcohol regularly is more likely to develop mental health side effects, such as chronic depression. Alcoholic beverages are also highly caloric, with very little nutritional value. If you put junk into your body, you will get junk in return. It is not the best choice for an ambitious college student. Also, many young people these days are on prescription medication, which is contraindicative for drinking alcohol.

So, then, what are some alternatives to drinking that cold beer? There are countless resources online. (A few are listed at the end of this article.) Here are a few good ideas both for social events and when at home:

  • Sip a non-alcoholic beverage if attending a party where alcohol is served. For example, have orange juice, instead of a screwdriver. Drink ginger ale, instead of a Moscow Mule. Or, have a V8 instead of a Bloody Mary.
  • Drink something new to you, like herbal tea, or a Thai latte.
  • Invest in a blender, and learn to make fruit smoothies!
  • Nonalcoholic beer or sparkling grape juice is a good choice for those who do not want to draw attention.
  • Club soda, with a lemon twist, will satisfy your thirst and your taste buds simultaneously.
  • Be conscious of why you are drinking. Is it an oral fixation? Are you stressed out? Are you drowning your sorrows? Or, are you celebrating something? If you are drinking for the wrong reason, then find an alternative.
  • Think about calories. Sometimes considering calorie content is enough to change over to water. If you are trying to trim your waist for the summer, then less is more.
  • Alternate each drink with water. That way you will be drinking only half the alcohol, theoretically, as you would have been before.
  • Get involved with an active group of people, such as a group at com. Or find a campus group that interests you. Since we become like the people we hang around with, it makes sense to choose healthy people.

Finally, you’ll be glad you resisted the temptation to drink because:

  1. It’s much more fun to be in control.
  2. You won’t have a hangover when you need to study.
  3. You will not be suffering from the consequences of decisions made when under the influence.
  4. You will actually remember the fun you had and the memories you made.
  5. Your waistline, liver, brain, and overall health will thank you.
  6. Making the right choices will empower you and not depress you!

 

For more information on enjoying an alcohol-free holiday, visit these Web sites:

Alcohol facts and statistics
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

Fact sheet about alcohol and your health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Narconon.org
http://www.narconon.org/blog/sobriety/twenty-drug-free-sober-activities/

Treatmentsolutions.com
https://www.treatmentsolutions.com/31-things-to-do-instead-of-drinking-alcohol/

Related news story
USAToday.com
http://college.usatoday.com/2014/03/17/st-patricks-day-emphasizes-need-for-collegiate-alcohol-abuse-recovery-programs/

I’m Sick! What do I do now?

I’m Sick!
What do I do now?

 

By Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Center

Are you feeling sick, even though you may have followed all the precautions for avoiding illness? You are not alone. Many people are coming down with something this year. In fact, it is one of the worst flu seasons on record. So, here is a list of some actions you can take, now that you may be sick.

Do not assume you are sick, if you have only one symptom.

If you have only one symptom, you might not really be sick, or you may be able to shorten your illness. For example, if you have a sore throat, do not give into the temptation of thinking you are getting sick. Sometimes you will come down with something. However, if you are vigilant about taking care of yourself (e.g. brushing your teeth, drinking plenty of water, sleeping, washing hands, eating healthfully, exercising, etc.), a sore throat may be the only symptom you will experience.

Stay home, and keep your distance from people who live with you.

On the other hand, if you have a fever or cannot contain your coughs and sneezes, just stay home. As you know, there are countless immunocompromised people in the world (the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and people with certain illnesses), and you would not want to be responsible for passing a deadly virus to them! The CDC recommends staying home for 24 hours or more after your fever “breaks” or ends.

Stay home also to avoid infecting classmates. Professors are usually sympathetic toward students who call or email them beforehand when they will miss because of illness. (If you need an excuse note, come and see me, the Hilbert Wellness Center nurse, on duty Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the back of St. Joseph Hall.)

Keep up with your hygiene.

Proper hygiene will help keep germs from multiplying. Brush your teeth and tongue two to three times per day (when you wake up in the morning, after meals, and before bed). Brushing after vomiting is essential to protect your enamel from stomach acid. Brushing your teeth helps you feel better, but it also helps prevent the spread of your illness into your lower respiratory tract. Floss once per day.

Keep clean. Wash your hands often. It is the best way to avoid getting sick! Do not touch your face, nose, ears, eyes, or mouth, with soiled hands. Conversely, do not touch your face with clean hands and forget to wash your hands afterward. Take a warm bath or shower regularly; the moist air will help to clear your sinuses and lungs, and it will help you feel relaxed enough to try to sleep it off.

Keep hydrated (i.e. drink water!)

Since water is responsible for so many functions in our body, and our bodies are at least 60 to 70 percent water, it is crucial to keep hydrated. Try to drink at least 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day or the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water. Another way to measure is to drink 50 to 100 percent of your weight number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 to 150 ounces of water every day. Keeping a bottle of water with you throughout the day is a great habit to adopt! Refill it, as needed.

If you are feeling nauseous, I recommend sipping tepid (room temperature) water. If you try to drink cold water, it could shock your stomach, causing more vomiting. Alternatives to water include unsweetened tea, ginger ale, and Gatorade. (Just remember that anything with sugar in it will require you to brush your teeth.)

Go to bed, and sleep!

Sleeping 7 to 9 hours every night is important. Here are some reasons. While you sleep, your brain is forming pathways for learning and storing memories. Your body is building up its immune system and healing damage caused throughout the day. Hormones called cytokines, which are produced during the night, are crucial for your immune system to fight infection and inflammation. During the day, a compound called adenosine is built up, and it is only broken down again by getting enough sleep. If you miss a few nights of sound sleep, the adenosine will build up and cause sleepiness during the day. Another substance, a hormone called melatonin, makes you naturally feel sleepy at night, but that can be reversed to daytime sleepiness, if you do not fulfill your nighttime sleep requirements.

Lacking sleep undoubtedly compromises college students’ immune systems. When you are sick, it is important to listen to your body, and sleep as much as possible—even during the day.

Track your temperature.

An elevated temperature is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a fever will actually kill off many of the invading microorganisms. The problem comes in when your body overcompensates and starts killing brain cells. It is helpful to know that letting your fever rise is usually okay. According to Mayo Clinic, adults can withstand temperatures up to 103 degrees. (It is a good idea to obtain an oral thermometer as part of your personal first aid kit, but the Wellness Center nurse can also take your temperature, if needed.)

For a fever higher than 103 degrees, call your doctor. He or she may guide you through steps to reduce your fever, such as using cold compresses, taking a tepid bath or shower, or taking an antipyretic medication (one that helps lower your temperature). (Common antipyretics include aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen.) If none of these measures works, the doctor may direct you to visit a local emergency room. However, remember that many illnesses thrive in emergency rooms, and you should use that as a last resort!

Remember to stay in bed, or away from people, for an additional 24 hours after your fever has subsided. A normal temperature is around 98.6 degrees.

Medicines to take

Guidelines for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines vary according to the symptoms you are having and whether you have any problems tolerating them. Some should be taken with food (such as ibuprofen). Others (such as acetaminophen) can easily be overdosed because they are contained within many different products. Always read the label before taking any medication.

If you have just contracted the flu within the last couple of days, you could be a good candidate for some antiviral medication. However, these medications are less effective after three days or more.

(Note: Antibiotics will not work with the flu virus, since they kill bacteria, not viruses. Never accept a prescription for an antibiotic unless you have been diagnosed with a bacterial-related illness.)

When to call the doctor

Chances are your illness will run its course in a few days to a week or two. According to the Mayo Clinic, call the doctor when your fever climbs higher than 103, and is accompanied by:

  • Severe headache
  • Unusual skin rash that is rapidly worsening
  • Unusual sensitivity to bright light
  • Stiff neck and pain when turning your neck
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting more than a couple of times
  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • Abdominal pain or pain during urination
  • Convulsions or seizures

If nauseous…

As previously stated, sip tepid water. Do not force yourself to eat full meals, especially on the first day. Instead, eat as much as you are comfortable eating. Do not stuff yourself. It is even okay to skip a meal or two to let your stomach settle down. Once you are able to handle food again, go easy. Avoid spicy, fatty foods, and opt for the “BRAT” diet. The BRAT diet is an acronym that stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These are all bland-tasting foods, and that is the idea. Stick to foods that have little or no flavor.

Clean and disinfect.

When you are finally out of the woods, a good idea is to clean and disinfect, so others do not catch what you are sharing!

  • Clean. First, wash surfaces with an appropriate cleaner and warm water, to remove dirt and grime. Use paper towels or washable rags. Always disinfect rags or sponges before reusing them, or toss them out. Dust, open windows to ventilate, and open the window coverings to let in the daylight.
  • Disinfect. After cleaning, use a germ-killing solution, such as a bleach or vinegar solution, to sanitize surfaces, such as doorknobs and handles, countertops where food is prepared, faucets, and anything that is handled frequently. Remember to also disinfect your bathroom.
  • Do not share personal care tools (e.g. toothbrush, nail clipper, comb, towels, glasses, cups, utensils).
  • Trash: To reduce odors and discourage the spread of germs, take out the trash.

 

For more information, follow these links:

Hilbert College Wellness Center:
“Steps for Avoiding the Flu,” (https://community.hilbert.edu/2018/01/22/steps-for-avoiding-the-flu/

Hygiene: https://hilbertcommunity.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/from-the-hilbert-college-wellness-center-winning-health-battles-with-proper-hygiene/

Hand-washing: https://hilberttoday.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/remember-to-wash-your-hands/

Sleep: https://hilbertcommunity.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/from-the-hilbert-college-wellness-center-the-importance-of-sleep/

Mayo Clinic, Information on Fevers:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20352759