Medical Center

Health Topics and Links

The Common Cold

We all know how miserable we can feel when we get a cold. The common cold, also referred to as a Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), is most commonly caused by a variety viruses that attack and multiply in cells lining your nose and throat.

How colds are spread: hand-to-hand (shaking, touching, or holding the hand of an infected person and then touching your eyes or nose), and touching a non-porous surface (telephone, doorknob) shortly after someone with a cold has touched it. Colds are not spread primarily through coughing and sneezing.

Prevention: You may not be able to prevent all colds, but you can keep most of them at bay. Be kind to yourself and (1) wash your hands often and avoid touching your face; (2) do not use a handkerchief; use a tissue, then dispose of it; (3) eat a well-balanced diet; (4) avoid having lengthy contacts with people who have a cold; (5) try to keep your stress level down; (6) maintain your room humidity from moderate to high; (6) drink a lot of clear liquids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can dehydrate you; (7) get plenty of sleep; (8) gargle with warm, diluted salt water.

What you can do from home: Call 419.530.3471 and consult with our pharmacist. Our pharmacist will help you choose an over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

When to call the doctor:

  • If you have a fever over 100.5 F for 2 days
  • If you have severe ear pain
  • If you have pain or tenderness around your eyes
  • If you have a severe headache
  • If you have difficulty breathing, are wheezing, or shortness of breath
  • If you have white spots on the back of your throat or tonsils
  • If you have an extremely red throat
  • If you have an unusual level of fatigue
  • If you have discolored mucus
  • If your cold symptoms have been present for more than 5 days

THE COMMON COLD IS NOT HELPED BY TAKING ANTIBIOTICS. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and are not killed by antibiotics. There is no anti-viral medication available to treat the common cold. More than 80% of common cold infections are viral. Antibiotics are helpful only if the infection is bacterial, such as in the case of strep throat or bronchitis.

Mononucleosis (Mono)

Mono is called "the kissing disease" because it is communicated through saliva. Some people who have the infection never develop mono and can, therefore, transfer the disease to someone else unknowingly. It can be caused several ways, however, the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) causes more than 95% of cases among adolescents and adults.

Symptoms include loss of appetite, feeling of being rundown and over tired, achy muscles, and sometimes a rash. Sometimes the spleen can become enlarged and the liver can be affected. If this occurs, you will need to avoid contact sports until your spleen is the normal size.

An uncommon complication that may occur is "mono hepatitis" which is an inflammation of the liver. Typically, someone with mono hepatitis feels sicker and may even require hospitalization.

Another rare, uncommon complication is when the spleen becomes enlarged and ruptures. Fortunately, this happens to only about 1 or 2 people per 1,000 people with mono and it usually happens within the 4th to 21st day of the illness.

You may be ill for up to two weeks, so make sure you keep in touch with your classmates and professors to make up class work!

Mono is not spread through casual contact, so your roommate is not at any greater of a risk of contracting mono than other people on campus. It is not a highly contagious disease, and it does not require quarantine.

Meningococcal Disease (Meningitis)

Meningitis is a disease that has caused concern throughout the country in recent years, particularly in the college campus setting. It is an infection of the fluid of a person's spinal cord(also known as "spinal meningitis") and the fluid that surrounds the brain. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Bacterial meningitis can be quite severe.

Early diagnosis and treatment are VERY important. If symptoms occur, you should see a doctor immediately.  Symptoms may include:


  • high fever
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • nausea, vomiting
  • discomfort looking into bright lights
  • confusion
  • sleepiness

Some forms of bacterial meningitis are contagious and are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (i.e., coughing, kissing). It is not spread by casual contact or by breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

There are vaccinations against some strains of meningitis. These injections are available through the MCMC.  Please call 530-3451 if you wish to make an appointment.

Eating Disorders and Body Image

Human beings come in many shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, our culture perpetuates the myth that only thin, long-boned people are attractive. Less than 10% of the female population is more than 5'6" and weigh less than 120 lbs. at that height. It is healthier to think of one's body in terms of fitness, or body mass index. When body weight for females drops too low for too long, for any reason, several consequences can occur:


  • Osteoporosis
  • Low potassium leading to abnormal heart rhythms and possibly death
  • Thinning of hair, skin, and nails (fingers/toes)
  • Permanent digestive disorders

Eating disorders can be a very serious issue which can potentially result in death. Thin is not necessarily in. Although thought of as a female concern, eating disorders impact males as well. Because of the pressure to maintain a certain weight, etc., athletes and dancers are also at risk for eating disorders.

Two of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (self-starvation) and bulimia (binging and purging). People with anorexia are typically thin to the point of emaciation. They are afraid to gain weight. They experience a multitude of health concerns such as weakness, constipation, digestive problems, and amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods). As the disease progresses, more serious complications arise such as severe chemical imbalances within the body and can lead to death.

Bulimics may be considered above average in weight and have rapid weight gain and loss. They eat great amounts of food and then self-induce vomiting, as well as abuse laxatives and diuretics. Bulimics can develop ulcers and severe esophageal problems because of the vomiting.

Signs and symptoms: People with an eating disorder may spend quite a bit of time obsessing about food: thinking about what they eat, how much they weigh, and how their body looks. They may weigh themselves several times a day. They may also feel self-conscious when eating food in front of other people.

Ifyou think you may have a problem, or you think you have a friend with an eating disorder, please seek assistance. UT's counseling services provide assistance and direction for individuals with eating disorders, and can help you or help you help a friend.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD'S)

Ifyou are sexually active, you can get an STD. They can be transmitted or received while having unprotected sex. Some STD's spread easier than others, and you can have more than one STD at the same time. Most STD's are treatable, although viral STD's such as genital herpes have limited treatment and cannot be cured. You should know the facts and you should know the risks.

Some of the more common STD's that may affect college student are: Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, and Genital Warts.

Although you can contract an STD through sexual intercourse, you can also contract an STD through other intimate contact as well. For example, you can contract herpes or gonorrhea through oral sex. And, you can also contract Hepatitis B and herpes from kissing.

Protect yourself (and your partner) by taking precautions. Practice safer sex, which will greatly decrease your likelihood of contracting an STD. For women, birth control pills may prevent pregnancy, but they DO NOT prevent STD's. Begin by talking frankly with your partner about his or her history. This may seem to be an awkward and uncomfortable discussion, but let's face it ... you are about ready to become intimate with someone and you should be able to talk about it! Never mix alcohol or drugs with your sexual activity! Use latex condoms with a lubricant, as the lubricant can provide moisture and also assist in preventing the condom to break. Use water-based lubricants such as K-Y. Products such as Vaseline can actually cause a condom to break ... so don't use oil-based lubricants.


HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, is a potentially fatal disease that is 100% preventable!!! You don't have to contract this virus.

Ways in which you can contract HIV/AIDS are: (1) having unprotected sex; (2) sharing IV needles; (3) being born to a woman infected with HIV; (4) receiving tainted blood or blood products. You CANNOT get HIV/AIDS from toilet seats, public pools; doorknobs, handshakes, hugging, donating blood, mosquito bites, sweat, or sneezing. You CANNOT get HIV/AIDS by attending school with a student who is infected with HIV and AIDS. 


According to the American Lung Association, "Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 430,700 American lives each year. It is directly responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer cases and causes most cases of emphysema and chronic bronchitis." Plus, it's incredibly expensive, not very attractive, and pretty smelly.

It is also a difficult habit/addiction to break. Who wants to quit with papers due, exams coming up, parties to go to, and all the other things that tobacco "help" you through? The health risks involved ... even for college-aged students ... far outweigh the two to three minutes of "comfort" a tobacco product can give you. Plus, think of all the money you'll save. If you smoke one pack a day at about approximately $6 per pack, you will save $42 a week, $168 a month, and $2,016 for a year! Think of what you could buy with that!

If you've been thinking about giving it up ... good for you!!! Check this out:

After 20 minutes of quitting:

  • blood pressure decreases
  • pulse rate drops
  • body temperature of hands and feet increases

At 8 hours:

  • carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
  • oxygen level in blood increases to normal

After 24 hours:

  • chance of a heart attack decreases

After 48 hours:

  • nerve endings start regrowing!
  • ability to smell and taste is enhanced

At 2 weeks to 3 months:

  • circulation improves
  • walking becomes easier
  • lung function increases

1 to 9 months:

  • coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decreases

1 year:

  • excess risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker

Long-term Benefits of Quitting:

At 5 years:

  • from 5 to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who have never smoked!

At 10 years:

  • risk of lung cancer drops to as little as one-half of that continuing smokers
  • risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases
  • risk of ulcer decreases

At 15 years:

  • risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked
  • risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked

What if the Flu Happens to You?

Influenza (Flu; Grippe)

Influenza is a common, contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus.  Incubation after exposure is 24 - 48 hours.  There are three main types of influenza (A, B, C) but they have the ability to mutate into different forms.  Outbreaks of different forms occur almost every winter with varying degrees of severity.  Influenza affects both sexes and all ages, except infants

Frequent Signs and Symptoms: 

  • Chills and moderate to high fever
  • Muscle aches, including backache
  • Cough, usually with little or no sputum
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Causes:  Infection by viruses of the myxovirus class.  The viruses spread by personal contact or indirect contact (i.e., use of a contaminated drinking glass).

Risk Increases With:

  • Stress
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Poor nutrition
  • Recent illness that has lowered resistance
  • Chronic illness, especially chronic lung or heart disease
  • Pregnancy (third trimester)
  • Students
  • People in semi-closed environments
  • Immunosuppression from drugs or illness
  • Crowded places during an epidemic

Prevention Measures:

  • Try to avoid risks listed above, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle:  get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet, exercise, etc.
  • Have a yearly influenza vaccine injection, especially if you are over 65 years of age or have a lung or heart disease.  The vaccine only protects against two or three specific strains of influenza A.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with persons who have upper-respiratory infections during the flu season (winter).

 Expected Outcomes:

Spontaneous recovery in 7-14 days if no complications occur.  If complications arise, treatment with antibiotics is usually necessary, and recovery may take 3-6 weeks.

Possible Complications:

Bacterial infections, including bronchitis or pneumonia.  These can be especially dangerous for chronically ill persons or for those over age 65.


General Measures:

  • Laboratory studies, such as blood tests and sputum culture; x-rays of the chest (only for complications)
  • To relieve nasal congestion, use salt-water drops (1 teaspoon of salt to 1 quart of water)
  • To relieve a sore throat, gargle often with warm or cold double-strength tea or salt water.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture, which thins lung secretions so they can be coughed up more easily.  Don't put medicine in the humidifier; it does not help.  Clean humidifier daily.
  • To avoid spreading germs to others, wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or before handling food.
  • Use warm compresses or heating pad for aching muscles.


  • For minor discomfort, you may use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, cough syrups, nasal sprays, or decongestants.
  • Do not take aspirin.  Some research shows a link between the use of aspirin (especially in children) during a virus illness and the development of Reye's syndrome (a type of encephalitis).
  • A class of antiviral drugs may be prescribed for seriously ill persons or for those at greatest risk from complications.


Rest is the best medicine.  If you are in good general health, rest helps your body fight the virus.  Don't forget to get in touch with someone from your classes so that you do not get behind in note taking, etc.


  • Appetite is usually lacking.  You may just want liquids at first, then progress to small meals of bland starchy foods (dry toast, rice, pudding, cooked cereal, baked potatoes).
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (especially if you have a high fever).  Extra fluids, including fruit juice, tea, and noncarbonated drinks, also help thin lung secretions.


You, a family member, or roommate have symptoms of infuenza or if the following occurs during treatment:

  • Increased fever or cough
  • Blood in sputum
  • Earache
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Thick discharge from the nose, sinuses, or ears
  • Sinus pain
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop.  Drugs in treatment may produce side effects.

New Ohio Law - Meningitis and Hepatitis B Immunization Disclosure

As a student who will be residing on campus, there is an Ohio law (effective July 1, 2005) concerning Meningitis and Hepatitis B immunizations that will impact your on-campus residency.  The law states that you may not reside on campus without disclosing whether you have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease and hepatitis B.  You are not required to obtain the vaccination; the law simply requires disclosure of your vaccination status to the University prior to occupancy.  The disclosure information is located in your residence hall application form.


Last Updated: 6/26/15