Robert Morris University Health Tips

Students often get so bogged down with schoolwork,  jobs, and their personal life that they forget to pay attention to their mental and physical health.   The number one way to protect yourself from illness is to practice healthy habits.  Healthy habits include good hygiene, eating a balanced diet , and exercising.  The following are excerpts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website (http://www.cdc.gov).

Dont forget to wash your hands!

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H1N1 Flu 

For more information on H1N1 Flu please view the following links: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm  
http://paper-clip.com/Media/Sites-AdministratorsSiteNavigation/swinefluHEstudent%20guide.pdf

Cold and Flu

The flu and the cold are both illnesses dealing with your respiratory system.   They both have similar flu-like symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses. It is difficult to tell the difference between the two based on symptoms alone. 

Symptoms of Cold or Flu

  • fever
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • stomach symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, and diahrrhea - but stomach symptoms are more common in children than adults). 

The flu is generally worse than the common cold.  The symptoms such as body aches, fever, dry cough, and extreme tiredness are more common and intense with the flu. Complication of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, ashtma, or diabetes.  

People with colds are more likely to experience a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. 

The following are some tips to keep you and your family healthy during cold and flu season.

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  2. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.  You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.  It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  4. Washing your hands often will protect you from germs. 
    Using warm soapy water wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (The time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice).
    You should wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after cleaning up a child, after tending to someone who is sick, after  blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after handling garbage, after handling an  animal, and before and after treating a cut or wound.
  5. Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Keep general Healthy Habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutrious food.

The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.  To learn more about the flu vaccination, please view the following website.  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

 

Group A Streptococcal (GAS) Disease (Strep Throat)
 

Group A streptococcus is a bacterium often found in the throat and on the skin. People may carry group A streptococci in the throat or on the skin and have no symptoms of illness. Most GAS infections are relatively mild illnesses such as "strep throat," or impetigo. On rare occasions, these bacteria can cause other severe and even life-threatening diseases.

These bacteria are spread through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of persons who are infected or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. Ill persons, such as those who have strep throat or skin infections, are most likely to spread the infection.

Infection with GAS can result in a range of symptoms:  

  1. No illness
  2. Mild illness (strep throat or a skin infection such as impetigo)
  3. Severe illness (necrotizing faciitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome)

GAS infections can be treated with many different antibiotics.

For more information on Strep Throat, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/groupastreptococcal_g.htm

 

Pneumonia

Every year, more than 60,000 Americans die of pneumonia an inflammation of the lungs that's usually caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms. Pneumonia is a particular concern for older adults and people with chronic illnesses or impaired immune systems, but it can also strike young, healthy people. Worldwide, it's a leading cause of death in children.

There are many kinds of pneumonia ranging in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. Pneumonia acquired while in the hospital can be particularly virulent and deadly. Although signs and symptoms vary, many cases of pneumonia develop suddenly, with chest pain, fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath. Infection often follows a cold or the flu, but it can also be associated with other illnesses or occur on its own.

Although antibiotics can treat some of the most common forms of bacterial pneumonias, antibiotic-resistant strains are a growing problem. For that reason, and because the disease can be very serious, it's best to try to prevent infection in the first place.

Pneumonia can be difficult to spot. It often mimics a cold or the flu, beginning with a cough and a fever, so you may not realize you have a more serious condition. Chest pain is a common symptom of many types of pneumonia. Pneumonia symptoms can vary greatly, depending on any underlying conditions you may have and the type of organism causing the infection:

Bacteria. Many types of bacteria can cause pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia can occur on its own, at the same time as viral pneumonia, or you may develop it after you've had a viral upper respiratory infection such as influenza. Signs and symptoms, which are likely to come on suddenly, include shaking chills, a high fever, sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, and a cough that produces thick, greenish or yellow phlegm.

Viruses. About half of pneumonias are caused by viruses. Viral pneumonia tends to begin with flu-like signs and symptoms. It usually starts with a dry (nonproductive) cough, headache, fever, muscle pain and fatigue. As the disease progresses, you may become breathless and develop a cough that produces just small quantities of phlegm that may be clear or white. When you have viral pneumonia, you run the risk of also developing a secondary bacterial pneumonia.

Fungi. Certain types of fungus also can cause pneumonia, although these types of pneumonia are much less common. Most people experience few if any symptoms after inhaling these fungi, but some develop symptoms of acute pneumonia, and still others may develop a chronic pneumonia that persists for months.
 

Treatment

Pneumonia treatments vary, depending on the severity of your symptoms and the type of pneumonia you have.

Bacterial. Doctors usually treat bacterial pneumonia with antibiotics. Although you may start to feel better shortly after beginning your medication, be sure to complete your entire course of antibiotics. Stopping medication too soon may cause your pneumonia to return. It also helps create strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics an increasingly serious problem in the United States.

Viral. Antibiotics aren't effective against most viral forms of pneumonia. And although a few viral pneumonias may be treated with antiviral medications, the recommended treatment is generally the same as for the flu rest and plenty of fluids.

Fungal. If your pneumonia is caused by a fungus, you'll likely be treated with antifungal medication.
 

For more informatino on Pneumonia, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/submenus/sub_pneumonia.htm

 


Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord, usually due to the spread of an infection.

The cause of most cases of meningitis is a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections also can lead to meningitis.

Signs and symptoms

It's easy to mistake the early signs and symptoms of meningitis for the flu. They may develop over a period of one or two days and typically include:

  • A high fever
  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting or nausea with headache
  • Confusion, or difficulty concentrating in the very young, this may appear as inability to maintain eye contact
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness or difficulty waking up
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Lack of interest in drinking and eating
  • Skin rash in some cases, such as in viral or meningococcal meningitis

Routine immunization can help prevent meningitis.  Good hygiene practices are an important prevention method.  Good hygiene includes washing hands before eating and after using the bathroom.  Another method to prevent the spread of the germs is by not sharing food, drinks, or eating utensils.

To help protect yourself and others seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you have meningitis. 

 

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated that a drug-resistant staph bacterium known as MRSA is responsible for more than 94,000 serious infections in the United States each year.   There have been numerous outbreaks of this bacteria in the Illinois area causing concern. 

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems.

When to suspect MRSA:

Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections. 
 

Prevention:

Practice good hygiene:
 

  1. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
  3. Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
  4. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
     

For more information on preventing and controlling Staph, please view the following website.  http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa_ca_prevention.html 

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Robert Morris University Illinois is a private, not-for-profit associate, baccalaureate, and master's degree-granting institution, accredited by the Higher learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, 312.263.0456). Robert Morris serves over 7000 students interested in getting an education that meets the demands of today's business, graphic arts, health care, culinary and technical world at its main campus in Chicago as well as at locations in Arlington Heights, DuPage, Elgin, Orland Park, Bensenville, Schaumburg, Springfield, Peoria and Lake County.