Health Information

Articles for general health concerns:  


Influenza  

The Medical Clinic offers the influenza vaccine to students who choose to be vaccinated. It is recommended for all ACU students, especially those with asthma or any other medical condition. The vaccine is typically available beginning in October while supplies last.

For information about influenza, its symptoms, and causes, please visit MayoClinic.com

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Sore Throats   

by Mayo Clinic staff

Regardless of the cause of your sore throat, at-home care strategies usually provide temporary relief. Try these strategies:

  • Rest. Get plenty of sleep and rest your voice.
  • Fluids. Drink plenty of water to keep the throat moist and prevent dehydration.
  • Comforting foods and beverage. Warm liquids,  broth, caffeine-free tea or warm water with honey, and cold treats such as ice pops can soothe a sore throat.
  • Saltwater gargle. A saltwater gargle of 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of table salt to 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water can help soothe a sore throat. Gargle the solution and then spit it out.
  • Humidify the air. Use a cool-air humidifier to eliminate dry air that may further irritate a sore throat or sit for several minutes in a steamy bathroom.
  • Lozenges. Lozenges can soothe a sore throat. Because lozenges are a choking hazard for young children, don't give them to children age 4 and younger. Avoid irritants. Keep your home free from cigarette smoke and cleaning products that can irritate the throat.
  • Treat pain and fever. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may minimize throat pain. Aspirin has been linked with Reye's syndrome, so use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

When to see a doctor

Adults should see a doctor if any of the following problems associated with a sore throat occur, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology:

  • A sore throat that is severe or lasts longer than a week
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Earache
  • Rash
  • Fever over 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Blood in saliva or phlegm
  • Frequently recurring sore throats
  • A lump in your neck
  • Hoarseness lasting more than two weeks

For more information, please visit MayoClinic.com

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Insomnia   

By Mayo Clinic staff

Insomnia is the most common of all sleep complaints. Almost everyone has occasional sleepless nights, perhaps due to stress, heartburn or drinking too much caffeine or alcohol. Insomnia is a lack of sleep that occurs on a regular or frequent basis, often for no apparent reason.

How much sleep is enough varies. Although 7 1/2 hours of sleep is about average, some people do fine on 4 or 5 hours of sleep. Other people need 9 or 10 hours a night.

You don't have to put up with sleepless nights. Simple changes in your daily habits can help.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

No matter what your age, insomnia usually is treatable. The key often lies in changes to your routine during the day and when you go to bed. Try these tips:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including on weekends.
  • Get out of bed when you're not sleeping. Sleep as much as needed to feel rested, and then get out of bed. If you can't sleep, get out of bed after 20 minutes and do something relaxing, such as reading.
  • Avoid trying to sleep. The harder you try, the more awake you'll become. Read or watch television in another room until you become very drowsy, then go to bed to sleep.
  • Don't read, watch TV, work or eat in bed.
  • Find ways to relax. A warm bath before bedtime can help prepare you for sleep. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as reading, soft music, breathing exercises, yoga or prayer.
  • Avoid or limit naps. Naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you can't get by without one, try to limit a nap to no more than 30 minutes and don't nap after 3 p.m.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep. Close your bedroom door or create a subtle background noise, such as a running fan, to help drown out other noises. Keep your bedroom temperature comfortable, usually cooler than during the day, and dark. Don't keep a computer or TV in your bedroom.
  • Exercise and stay active. Get at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily at least five to six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Caffeine after lunchtime and using nicotine can keep you from falling asleep at night. Alcohol, while it may initially make you feel sleepy, can cause unrestful sleep and frequent awakenings.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bed. A light snack is fine, but eating too much late in the evening can interfere with sleep. Drink less before bedtime so that you won't have to urinate as often.
  • Check your medications. If you take medications regularly, check with your doctor to see if they may be contributing to your insomnia. Also check the labels of over-the-counter products to see if they contain caffeine or other stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine.
  • Don't put up with pain. If a painful condition bothers you, make sure the pain reliever you take is effective enough to control your pain while you're sleeping.
  • Hide the bedroom clocks. Set your alarm so that you know when to get up, but then hide all clocks in your bedroom, including your wristwatch and cell phone. The less you know what time it is at night, the better you'll sleep.

For more information, please visit MayoClinic.com

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Antibiotics  

Antibiotics: When They Can and Can't Help

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are strong medicines used to treat infections, including life-threatening contagious diseases. But antibiotics can cause more harm than good when they aren't used the right way. You can protect yourself and your family by knowing when you should use antibiotics and when you should not.

Do antibiotics work against all infections?

No. Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria, fungi and certain parasites. They don't work against any infections caused by viruses. Viruses cause colds, the flu and most coughs and sore throats.

What is "antibiotic resistance?"

Antibiotic resistance and bacterial resistance are two ways of describing the same thing. Usually, antibiotics kill bacteria or stop them from growing. However, some bacteria have become resistant to some types of antibiotics. This means that the antibiotics no longer work against them. Bacteria become resistant more quickly when antibiotics are used too often or are not used correctly (such as not taking a full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor).

Bacteria that are resistant to one antibiotic can sometimes be treated with other antibiotics. These other medicines may have to be given intravenously (through a vein) in a hospital. A few kinds of bacteria are resistant to all antibiotics and are now untreatable.

What can I do to help myself and my family?

Do not expect antibiotics to cure every illness. Do not take antibiotics for viral illnesses, such as for colds or the flu. Often, the best thing you can do is let colds and the flu run their course. Sometimes this can take 2 weeks or more. If your illness gets worse after 2 weeks, talk to your doctor. He or she can also give you advice on what you can do to relieve your symptoms while your body fights off the virus.

How do I know when I need antibiotics?

The answer depends on what is causing your infection. The following are some basic guidelines:

  • Colds and flu. Viruses cause these illnesses. They can't be cured with antibiotics.
  • Cough or bronchitis. Viruses almost always cause these. However, if you have a problem with your lungs or an illness that lasts a long time, bacteria may actually be the cause. Your doctor may decide to try using an antibiotic.
  • Sore throat. Most sore throats are caused by viruses and don't need antibiotics. However, strep throat is caused by bacteria. Your doctor can determine if you have strep throat and can prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Ear infections. There are several types of ear infections. Antibiotics are used for some (but not all) ear infections.
  • Sinus infections. Antibiotics are often used to treat sinus infections. However, a runny nose and yellow or green mucus do not necessarily mean you need an antibiotic.

What else do I need to know?

If your doctor does prescribe an antibiotic for you, make sure you take all of the medicine, even if you feel better after a few days. This reduces the chance that there will be any bacteria left in your body that could potentially become resistant to antibiotics.

Never take antibiotics without a prescription. If, for whatever reason, you have antibiotics leftover from a time when you were previously sick, do not take them unless your doctor tells you it's okay. The leftover antibiotics may not work on whatever is making you sick. If they do work, there probably will not be enough leftover medicine to completely kill all the bacteria in your body. Not only will you not get better, but this increases the chance that the bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics.

You can prevent catching infections in the first place by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom, coming into contact with feces (for example, from a pet or from changing a baby's diaper) and before eating.

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