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Daily Dose

Staying Healthy In College

1:30 to read

It is almost time for the newly graduated high school graduates to head off to college. Such an exciting time…a new school for the young adult and once less child living at home - lots of changes for the entire family.

 

As I am doing these last “off to college” visits I continue to discuss the new germs that a student will be exposed to and the numerous viral illnesses they may contract in the first year. College students live in such close proximity in the “tiny” dorm rooms and not only do they share a TV or clothes or food, they share their germs. 

 

It is not unusual for a college student to get a few colds, some tummy bugs and lots of “I just don’t feel well” moments. So…I think every college kid deserves a medical kit (mommy made) to prepare them for their first (of many) illnesses when they are away from home.

 

I made college medical kits for all of my boys..who shrugged their shoulders and put it under their bed…that is until they got sick. Suddenly, they also had friends wanting to come share their medical kit.

 

The “college kit” is really a compilation of over the counter products that your kids have probably been used to having in their home.  I also put the directions as to when and how to use each one…just in case they don’t read the package directions or just in case they like to know you have had written a note.

 

These are the products that they will need:

 

Thermometer

Acetaminophen

Ibuprofen

Antacid

Cough medicine

Antihistamine

Decongestant

Medication for constipation

Antidiarrheal 

Throat lozenges

Gatorade packets

Tea bags

Soup/broth packages

 

If they have all of these item in their “box” they are ready for most of the illnesses they will face. They need to be able to take their temperature, treat their fever wen they have a random virus,  have broth and gatorade for tummy bugs and throat lozenges and cough and cold remedies.  

 

Label everything and then tuck a sweet note from you that they will find one night when they are feeling “pitiful”..just to remind them that Mom is always nearby,

 

Lastly, I would insist that they get a flu vaccine!  Flu is a whole different story…and one they really don’t want. So remind them all Fall to head to the health center or anywhere that is offering flu vaccine and get vaccinated!  I would  even offer to “pay” for their roommates to get their flu vaccine too…which will also help your child stay healthy.

 

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College health

College Health

Your Teen

4 in 10 College Students Depressed

A new poll shows that pressure about grades, student loans, relationships and school work is taking a toll on American college students. The Associated Press-mtvU poll shows more than 42 percent of those surveyed at 40 colleges said they had felt down, depressed or hopeless several days during the past two weeks, and 13 percent showed signs of being at risk for at least mild depression, based on the students' answers to a series of questions that medical practitioners use to diagnose depressive illness.

Eighty five percent of those surveyed reported feeling stressed in their daily lives in recent months. The poll looked at over 2,000 undergraduate students ages 18-24 at four-year colleges. It was conducted April 22 to May 4 by Edison Media Research. To protect privacy, the schools where the poll was conducted are not being identified, the students who responded were not asked for their names. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The TV network mtvU is operated by the MTV Networks division of Viacom and available at many colleges. MtvU's sponsorship of the poll is related to its mental-health campaign "Half of Us," which it runs with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit group that works to reduce suicide among young people. Many of those coping with feeling depressed complained of trouble sleeping, having little energy or feeling down or hopeless - and most hadn't gotten professional help. Eleven percent had had thoughts that they'd be better off dead or about hurting themselves. Mental health disorders like depression typically begin relatively early in life, doctors say, and college is a natural time for symptoms to emerge. The AP-mtvU poll explored the students' state of mind and the pressures they face, including strains from the tough economy. Among the poll results:

  • Nine percent of students were at risk of moderate to severe depression. That's in line with a recent medical study that found 7 percent of young people had depression.
  • Almost a quarter of those with a parent who had lost a job during the school year showed signs of at least mild depression, more than twice the percentage of those who hadn't had a parent lose a job. More than twice as many students whose parents had lost a job said they had seriously considered ending their own life, 13 percent to 5 percent.
  • Among those who reported serious symptoms of moderate depression or worse, just over a quarter had ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
  • More than half of those who reported having seriously considered suicide at some point in the previous year had not received any treatment or counseling.
  • Just a third of those with moderate symptoms of depression or worse had received any support or treatment from a counselor or mental health professional since starting college.
  • Nearly half of those diagnosed with at least moderate symptoms weren't familiar with counseling resources on campus.

Anne Marie Albano, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, said college is a "tender age" developmentally, a period when young adults start taking responsibility for their lives. They're selecting careers, moving toward financial independence, establishing long-term relationships, perhaps marrying, and having children. The most troubling thing coming out of the AP-mtvU poll and other studies of young adults dealing with depression, she said, is that "they don't get help" at a time when they're just venturing off on their own. "They have to learn to become their own monitors about their mental health and yet they have no training to do that," she said. The poll also found that 84 percent of students said they'd know where to turn for help if they were in serious emotional distress or thinking about hurting themselves. Most said they'd go first to friends or family. Twenty percent said they'd try school counseling. Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute for Mental Health, said students need to understand that depression is "a very treatable illness." Campus counseling centers are a good resource, he said, although they're not all set up take care of serious mental illnesses. "There should be somebody there who could at least assess this, and in some cases offer reassurance that 'I'm sure you'll feel better after exams are over,'" he said. Serious cases can be referred for treatment, he said - "and treatment works."

Daily Dose

Binge Drinking Numbers Rising!

Binge drinking and alcohol use among teens continues to rise. A college freshman as already died from alcohol poisoning What parents and teens need to know. Colleges are gearing up for finals, high school prom and graduation season is underway and the incidences of binge drinking continues to climb.  Why put these topics in the same sentence?

Underage and excessive drinking by high school and college students has been recognized as a problem for a long time, but recent studies only confirm that binge drinking continues to rise.  One report from a 2002 task force on drinking stated “abusive drinking by college students is widespread, dangerous and disruptive.”  Drinking excessively is associated with date rape, unintentional sex (is that an oxymoron), violence and poor academic performance. What is binge drinking? By definition it is drinking “five or more drinks in a row for men, and four or more drinks in a row for women.”  But this definition does not take into account length of time in which the alcohol is consumed or a person’s body weight. A better definition now defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or above.“ This typically occurs within a two hour window of excessive drinking. Underage drinkers typically tend to drink on fewer occasions than their older peers but have more alcohol related problems than students of legal drinking age.  Sadly, more than 1,700 college students age 18-24 die each year from unintentional alcohol related injuries and more than 5,000 underage youth die from alcohol misuse. Another alarming statistic is that an underage youth dies in an alcohol related incident every two hours! So with these sobering statistics at hand , it is incumbent that parents begin educating their children, even at early ages, about alcohol use and misuse. Our children need to know that alcohol is a legal psychoactive drug that changes brain chemistry and may have long term effects on the still maturing teenage brain. Alcohol effects both the pre-frontal cortex (the brain’s chief decision maker) and the limbic system.  MRI studies on youth from 14-21 years of age who are frequent (that is scary) alcohol drinkers show definitive changes in both of these areas. Due to the fact that a teen’s brain is still developing, it is surmised that there might be permanent physiologic and psychological damage to an adolescent brain from early alcohol abuse.  There are ongoing studies looking at whether this damage is reversible. Teens also need to know that while alcohol is a “drug” it too may cause over-dosage and death similar to other drugs. Many teens do not realize that you can die from binge drinking. No, not in a car accident or from falling out of a window, but due to the central nervous system depression from high blood alcohol levels, that then “turn off “ vital areas in the brain resulting in coma and death. Talk to your teens about the signs of “alcohol over-dosage”, which may include vomiting, cold and clammy skin,  shallow breathing and unresponsiveness.  Letting a friend “sleep it off” after a night of heavy drinking is never the right idea. A good resource for parents to help educate their teens and college students about binge drinking is www.gordie.org. They have recently released an app The Gordie Check that reviews the signs of alcohol poisoning, stores emergency contacts and can help locate nearby medical facilities or call 911.  Pass this on to your college students (and high school students for that matter). Lastly, as binge drinking continues to rise among high school and college students, and more youth are reporting drinking in their early teens,  it is incumbent that parents discuss their views on underage drinking and also model the behavior they want to see in their children. In other words,  teach your children about responsible drinking when they become of age. When talking to my teenage patients about alcohol they often comment to  me “ Dr. Sue why don’t you talk to my parents about coming home drunk” and then they can talk to me!  Truer words could not be spoken. That's your daily dose for today. We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

Daily Dose

Guns on College Campuses

A new Texas bill is before the legislature which would allow college students to carry a handgun. Good or bad idea? I’m not sure how many of you have heard about a bill now being considered in the Texas Legislature?  The bill would allow students to carry a concealed handgun on campus and remove “premises of higher education” as gun-free zones. I must say, what is the sponsor of this bill thinking?  Senator Jeff Wentworth who is sponsoring the bill states, “I just don’t want to see a repeat in Texas of what happened at Virginia Tech”.

I am more concerned about MORE violence, rather than less, if students are allowed to bring handguns to campus.  It is almost like a return to the “wild west” rather than to the reality of having campuses with as many as 50,000 “young adults” who will not be allowed to bring guns to class. I not only care for many young adults of this age group, but also have a college student myself. As a parent and pediatrician I think that this bill may lead to more violence and arbitrary shootings than we have unfortunately already seen. Just last year, a University of Texas-Austin student carrying an AK-47 assault weapon ran across campus shooting in the air before running into a building and taking his own life.  The UT campus police responded swiftly and quickly secured the campus. The University of Texas used email and other social media to notify all students to remain in their dorms or in their classrooms. What if there had been many gun wielding students who responded to the situation with their own guns, how would the police even know who was “the good guy” vs. the “bad guy”.  It would seem to me that we need to allow the trained police and campus security as well as administrators to handle these situations, rather than gun-wielding students.  There doesn’t seem to be a good reason to allow students to carry a handgun. Maybe a professor or another person of authority, that might be another conversation. After asking a few students myself, the overall consensus was that they, the students, opposed the bill. This seemed to be true even among those who were hunters. They had many concerns about having their peers armed with handguns. They are well aware of the many stressors on a college campus. Having a handgun “handy” might lead to impulsive shootings when a verbal exchange or even fist fight had been the previous means of resolving an argument.   The mental health of college students is one of the biggest concerns on every college campus these days.  A vast proportion of money allocated for “health care” in college is spent on mental health issues as educators become more aware of the frequency of these issues. As colleges deal with students with depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug issues, addictions and anger management, the idea of allowing handguns on any college campus seems to be unnecessary and actually scary. I realize that there are strict rules for obtaining a handgun license, just as there are for getting a driver’s license. Despite the laws for obtaining a driver’s license we continue to see this same age group have high vehicular accident rates. They make impulsive decisions and drink and drive, or don’t wear a seat belt, or use drugs and get behind the wheel of the car. The same might hold true for handgun possession, when alcohol, drugs and sleeplessness impair judgment.  Even the thought of a handgun going off accidently could cause harm to the innocent classmates. I agree with Senator Wentworth, I do not want to see another tragic shooting on any school premises. But to think that arming students with concealed hand guns for protection seems like a preposterous means of protecting our schools. More security, YES, more counseling and mental health awareness, YES, detailed plans to handle a shooting or hostage situation, YES   but guns on a college campus….. I vote NO! What do you think? Do you think college students hould be alowed to carry a gun on campus? I would love your feedback.

Daily Dose

Talk With Your Child Now About Hazing

The last week of September is National Hazing Prevention Week. I have had a real interest in hazing and how to try and teach adolescents about the hazards associated with hazing since I sent my own children off to college.The last week of September is National Hazing Prevention Week. I have had a real interest in hazing and how to try and teach adolescents about the hazards associated with hazing since I sent my own children off to college.

I guess I was naïve to think that hazing does not occur in high school, so I should have been discussing the subject at even a younger age. Hazing, which is really similar to bullying, is prevalent on all college campuses. While bullying can happen to anyone, hazing is done to a person or a group of people in order to gain entrance into a club, organization, or team. After reviewing the statistics about hazing I was alarmed to find out that 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year, and 47 percent of entering college students have already experienced hazing. Among college students, 55 percent involved in clubs, teams and campus organizations experience hazing. Alcohol consumption, typically in the form of binge drinking is one common type of hazing. Humiliation, isolation, sleep deprivation and sexual acts are hazing practices too. These hazing practices seem to be common across all types of student groups. These practices also cross gender lines, and occur with both boys and girls. When talking about hazing with your teens ask them if they have ever felt pressured to participate in events that might be considered hazing. A good question is, “would you be comfortable participating in the activity if your parents walked into the room?” Another good question would be, “is the event I am being asked to participate in going to cause emotional distress or harm of any kind to myself or others?” We all want to “belong”. Whether to a team, club, sorority or fraternity, belonging to a group is often important. Discussing hazing as it relates to joining an organization is another important conversation to have with your teens. There are so many conversations to have with our children and I think this is yet another. The statistics continue to show that hazing is prevalent. Unfortunately, in many cases hazing incidents are not reported until there are deadly consequences. That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

Daily Dose

College Students & Drugs

1:30 to read

It is the end of the school year and therefore there seems to be a great deal of stress among students of all ages. I am especially seeing this in some of my college students…..who seem to be making some rather dangerous choices in order to “help them cram for finals” and “stay awake”.

In the past few weeks I have had several students who have purchased or somehow procured a variety of drugs that were “purported” to aid in their studying for finals.  While there has been a great deal in the news about opiod addiction in young adult males, some of my patients have preferred other drugs that are seemingly available and acquiring them illegally.  

The on line drug scene, as well as the drug dealing among students, seems to be a growing problem among some college students.  While I have known that there was a great deal of alcohol and weed being used and abused, I suddenly feel as if I am getting more calls about patients, typically male, being taken to the ER after trying a combination of drugs, which were purportedly being taken to help them study, stay awake, curb anxiety and “succeed in school”.

So, what to do when you realize you have a test in a few days, or a paper that is due and you are “freaking out” as you are not prepared?!?!  Your roommate, or friend in the dorm, or even a complete stranger on line offers you an option - why not take a “stimulant”,  the preferred drug seems to be Adderall  (which was not prescribed for you) and chase it with an anti-anxiety drug   (Xanax, Valium or Ativan) then add in some alcohol when you need to chill or get some sleep. Some have even bought an unknown drug that is also supposed to curb anxiety and relax you (on line fake quaaludes)? This same scenario may occur over a few days or even weeks. While these patients thought they were “fine” and ready for class the next morning they were not!  In several cases these “crazy, stupid boys” suffered a grand mal seizure..never making it to class. Truly they are lucky to be alive the way they combined all of these medications.

Neither of my patients had ever had a history of seizures and were otherwise healthy.  Thankfully, they both recovered without problems.  But, they both admitted to me that they were just one of many who were doing the same thing.  Why they asked, did they have “adverse effects” from this lifestyle, when lots of their friends seemed to be fine….really??? I don’t even have words to try and answer this.

When I probed about how they “acquired” these drugs they said they are for sale in the dorms or on line and basically all over their campuses…..and these students attended what would be called “good” colleges. I have asked several kids who were already home from school about this and they too had heard some similar stories….and were aware of drugs being readily available, but had not partaken.

So, when your college student gets home you might take the opportunity to ask some questions about their college experience and if they are aware of these drugs …and remind them of the fact that taking ANY drug which is not prescribed for them is dangerous.  I have discussed binge drinking before and warn all of my student/patients that drinking excessive alcohol to “get drunk and pass out” can kill you from alcohol poisoning. But after hearing these stories and dealing with my own patients and their visits to the ER I am adding more information to my check ups with college students.  Mixing alcohol  and drugs has always been risky….but now the availability of these drugs is nothing but scary…..BE WARNED.  

Daily Dose

College Drug Overdose

1:30 to read

Colleges are gearing up for a new school year and already there has just been a death reported at a fraternity house at Texas A&M University.  This news hit close to home as the adolescent who died was from a Dallas suburb and several of my patients attend Texas A&M and were even in the same fraternity.  

The misuse of opioid medications is a national epidemic and the drug scene on college campuses seems to be increasing. The misuse of opioid medications includes drugs which have been obtained both legally (by prescription for pain management) and illegally. Many of the college students that I take care of have recently told me that these drugs which include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl are relatively easy to obtain in dorms, frat houses, classrooms, and on line via social media sites.  All of these opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors in the brain to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain. Some students reported that friends often offered to “share” their unused pain relievers and would even offer them for free! Unfortunately, unintentional drug overdoses due to opioids also continues to rise and has more than quadrupled since 1999. Adolescents just don’t seem to realize the power of these drugs!

In the case of the recent death in our area, the teen was found unresponsive and not breathing in the early morning hours after a fraternity party. It was thought that he had combined alcohol (probably excessive) with an opioid. The toxicology reports are pending….but the police reported they found marijuana (which seems to be almost everywhere) and other drugs including not only opioids but also MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD and other drug paraphernalia. 

Just like alcohol poisoning following binge drinking, opioids also cause respiratory depression and loss of consciousness   The combination of the two may be even more deadly, which could occur even if this was the first time the teen had used opioids. There is an antidote to opioid overdose, Naloxone (Narcan) which may be injected (or given intranasally) to counter the effects of an opioid drug overdose.  It is now available over the counter and my be life saving if given soon enough, by helping to reverse the respiratory depression and allow the person to be transported to a hospital for life saving care.

If you are just sending your child off to college or back to college PLEASE talk to them about alcohol and drugs and reiterate that the combination may be even be more deadly!!  Even one time use could be the last time….so tragic.

 

 

 

 

 

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

What every parent needs to know about teen suicide.

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