Here are some common questions college students have about diet, nutrition, and metabolism:
Come join us for a free workshop with UW graduate and Registered Dietitian Mya Kwon to learn about some things you might have not known about nutrition and metabolism, and how to sort through the web of information and misinformation when it comes to food, diets, and nutrition in the media.
When: 4:30pm, Thursday April 24
Where: Hall Health Center
To RSVP, please contact Mark Shaw, Director of Health Promotion
** Healthy refreshments and gift cards will be provided to participants.
Altitude illness is a condition which occurs in many travelers making rapid ascents to high altitudes. It is commonly referred to as acute mountain sickness (AMS). It most often occurs at altitudes of 3,000 meters (approximately 10,000 feet) or more. In some individuals, it has been reported as low as 2,500 meters (8,000 feet).
We suspect that altitude illness is caused by the body's reaction to lower levels of oxygen found at high altitudes. The disease may occur several hours to days after ascending to high altitudes. Symptoms range from mild to severe.
Classic, high risk areas of the world for altitude illness include any mountain range over 10,000 feet, such as the Alps, Andes, or Himalayas. In addition, travelers to areas of North American, East Africa, and the polar regions are at risk.
Altitude illness can range from mild to severe.
The last group of symptoms may represent fluid accumulation in the brain (high altitude cerebral edema) or lungs (high altitude pulmonary edema). In these severe cases, the disease can be fatal if not treated rapidly and requires descent to lower altitudes. Luckily, in most travelers, altitude illness is mild and does not become severe.
Asthma does not increase the risk of altitude illness. In fact, people with asthma often do well at altitude since there is less pollution in the air.
The best prevention is slow ascent. In general, ascent of altitudes of no more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) per day above 10,000 feet is recommended. Upon arrival at altitude, you should avoid strenuous activity until you fully acclimatize.
Maintain fluid intake to avoid dehydration and follow the maxim, "climb high and sleep low." Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and sedatives (including narcotics).
The active ingredient in coca leaves is a mild stimulant that may help you stay alert and hydrated. This may make you feel better at altitude. Unfortunately, it does not prevent altitude illness.
It is unknown whether these two medications are effective in preventing altitude sickness, and therefore, their use is not recommended.
Physical conditioning does not protect against altitude illness. Susceptibility is based on your body's response to altitude and is not reflective of aerobic capacity.
If slow ascent is not possible or if you have a history of recurrent altitude illness, preventive medications may be needed. An example is Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet), which is often climbed in less than seven days.
The drug of choice to prevent altitude illness is acetazolamide. Take this medication 24 hours before ascent above 10,000 feet through 24-48 hours after you reach peak altitude. Avoid this medication if you have a history of sulfa antibiotic allergy, liver or kidney disease, or severe lung disease. Acetazolamide may cause tingling of the lips, fingers and toes, frequent urination, and a metallic taste with carbonated beverages.
If you cannot take acetazolamide, dexamethasone can be used. If you've had adverse reactions to steroids or have diabetes, this drug may not be safe for you. Dexamethasone can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, abdominal pain, and can suppress your immune function if used over a long period of time.
If symptoms of acute mountain sickness develop, you should stop your ascent, rest and get adequate fluids and calories. If altitude illness symptoms worsen, rapid descent to lower altitudes should begin as soon as possible. You should also see a medical professional.
Oxygen, use of hyperbaric chambers and medications may be needed.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Travel Clinic staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Travel Clinic staff (AT), May 2014
Traveler's diarrhea is the most common infectious disease experienced by international travelers. It can be caused by bacteria (most common), viruses or parasites that have been ingested through contaminated food or drink. Traveler's diarrhea can be mild to extreme in severity.
Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it! In other words, if you don't boil, cook, or peel your food, you could get sick.
Other prevention tips include:
Traveler's diarrhea can range from mild to severe. Treatment varies based on severity.
Mild traveler's diarrhea is characterized by 3-4 unformed stools in 24 hours with mild cramping.
Symptoms of moderate traveler's diarrhea include increased frequency of unformed bowel movements with one or more of the following: Fever up to 101° F, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.
Severe traveler's diarrhea is moderate diarrhea with or without abdominal cramping/pain, fever, blood in stool, dehydration. You can take antibiotics if you have severe diarrhea, but if symptoms worsen seek medical care. These symptoms could indicate a more severe infection, such as giardia or amoebiasis.
Young children (under age 5) are particularly susceptible to becoming dehydrated from diarrhea. Do not use loperamine (Imodium AD™) in children.
If a breastfeeding infant has diarrhea, continue breastfeeding. An infant or toddler should have at least one wet diaper every 4-6 hours. If there is a longer period between wet diapers, the child needs more fluids and should be seen by a health care provider. Parents and guardians should have a low threshold for seeking medical help if a child in their care experiences vomiting and diarrhea.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Travel Clinic staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Travel Clinic staff, May 2014
Just as regular maintenance is health insurance for your car, it is also health insurance for your body. Maintaining your health now will prevent you from needing major "repairs" later. Making healthy choices now will save you a lot of trouble in the future.
The United States healthcare system is among the most complicated in the world, and can be overwhelming to a newcomer. This article will help you to navigate the complex world of providers, facilities and services.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare or the ACA, is a law intended to reform the health care system and make health insurance more affordable. The law has gone into effect in stages. For example, a provision that requires insurance to fully cover preventive services (like cancer screenings) was implemented in 2010, while the part of the law that stops insurance companies from denying people health insurance because of pre-existing conditions takes effect in 2014.
Say you've already got health insurance. How does Affordable Care Act affect you? Well, there are a couple of ways:
If you already have health insurance, you don't need to do anything new or different, unless your insurance company says so. Be sure to read about the preventive services that are now fully covered by your plan, regardless of whether you have a deductible, co-insurance or co-pays.
If you buy the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) through the University of Washington, you should expect to find very little changed. However, SHIP is subject to the same requirements as other health insurance policies, and therefore now fully covers preventive services like birth control and immunizations. You can read about your benefits under SHIP here.
Please note that SHIP will no longer be offered starting Fall Quarter of 2015. Click here for more information.
Starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require everyone to purchase a health insurance plan, just like the government requires people who own a car to buy car insurance. Fortunately, if you're a typical college student without much income, there are subsidies available to lower the cost of private insurance. If you are low-income, you might be eligible for public insurance, also known as Medicaid, for which you would not need to pay. As you apply for the insurance through an online exchange, you will be prompted to enter income and demographic information. The system will determine your eligibility for Medicaid and subsidies based on this information.
If you are an uninsured resident of Washington State, you may have two options:
Curious as to how much you might be looking at paying for your health insurance? Here's a special calculator that estimates your monthly payment for health insurance (though keep in mind that you might be eligible for Medicaid if you earn less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level).
If you enrolling in private insurance through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, there are presently only three plans that are contracted with Hall Health Center and other parts of UW Medicine. They are:
If you find that you qualify for Medicaid (aka Washington Apple Health or DSHS), please be aware that we are contracted with these three plans:
If you enroll in one of these plans, you can receive care, including mental health services, at Hall Health Center. We are not contracted with Community Health Plan of Washington and United Health Care Community Health or have limited services that we are able to provide.
Depending on where you're from, your home state may or may not have its own health insurance exchange (a website set up to facilitate finding and purchasing a health insurance plan). You can use the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace to get routed to your state's exchange. If your state does not operate an exchange, you can use the federal government's version to buy your plan.
Similarly, your state may not have opted to expand Medicaid eligibility. Read more here about the Medicaid expansion.
There are other elements of the Affordable Care Act that may affect you:
Check out this cartoon-style infographic on what the Affordable Care Act means for young people.
The federal government's HealthCare.gov website offers lots of resources to help you make sense of the Affordable Care Act.
Washington State's Health Plan Finder is where you'll purchase health insurance if you need to buy an individual (i.e., not employer- or parent-sponsored) plan and are a Washington resident.
If you're not a Washington State resident, the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace can help you purchase a plan.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Health Promotion staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Administration staff, January 2014
An estimated one in ten U.S. adults suffers from depression. Many people have their first experiences with depression while they're in college. This article will help answer the following questions:
Antibiotics are medications that destroy bacteria or slow down their growth. You might wonder about why your medical provider prescribes antibiotics for some conditions, but not for others.
If you are diagnosed with a bacterial infection, your provider may write you a prescription for antibiotics. Bacteria are microscopic organisms that can sometimes cause the following infections:
Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is legal in Washington State for those over the age of 21. However, you may not smoke pot anywhere on the University of Washington campus.
The most obvious signs that a friend has a drinking problem include: