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March 22, 2006

Plasma Question

Sorry for the delay regarding whether or not donating Plasma lowers your body's immune system. I had done a little research of my own but decided to consult a physcian at Boynton, here is her response that I just receieved today:

Sara--I'm so sorry that I haven't gotten back to you sooner. I looked at several resources regarding your question. Plasma does contain certain elements of the immune system (complement mostly), but in none
of the sources did anyone describe inhibition of the immune system as a result of a plasma donation. Let me know if I can help you any further. And, again, sorry about the delay.

Jennifer Krzmarzick, MD
Boynton Health Services
University of Minnesota

Keep sending your questions, and thanks for you patience!!!

March 13, 2006


With spring on the horizon it's time to start thinking about allergies. Seasonal allergies affect about 39.5 million Americans each year*. The America Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology gives some great advice for the millions of sufferers out there who feel they need to avoid the outdoors to stay feeling great. So if you're one of those people who are totally miserable from March through June follow these tips and hopefully you'll feel a lot better.

• Do a thorough spring cleaning -- windows, book shelves and air conditioning vents collected dust and mold throughout the winter that can provoke allergy symptoms
• Postpone outdoor activities until later in the morning. Pollens are usually emitted between the hours from 5 - 10am
• Know your local pollen count (visit www.pollen.com)
• If possible use air conditioning instead of having windows opened
• When traveling in a car have the windows up and the air conditioning on
• Stay indoors on hot, dry and windy days
• Don't hang your laundry out to dry. Allergens will collect on them
• Do not mow the lawn or rake the leaves without a filter mask
• Wash bedding weekly in hot water
• Shower and wash your hair every night before going to bed
• Remove visible mold with non-toxic cleaning products
• Beware of high mold spore counts after a heavy rain or in the evening

* and suggestions from: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/topicofthemonth/0305/#when

There are many over the counter anti-histamines and sinus medications that can alleviate allergy symptoms for some people. Medications such as antihistamines and inhaled steroids can also treat or prevent allergy systems, so contact a doctor or pharmacist to find out if any of these treatments could help you.

March 10, 2006

Spring Break Sun

With spring break fast approaching and the luckier of us dreaming of warmer climbs, its time to start discussing the wonderful return of the sun. Unfortunately there are some things to watch for while soaking up the rays. Over-exposure to ultra-violet rays can have negative health effect, both in the form of nasty sunburns or long term health problems like skin cancer. It’s important to remember that what you do to your body now will affect a great many things with your future health. Here are some problems you may encounter if you spend a little too much time in the sun:

-Sunburn- sunburn occurs when the skin is exposed to sunlight longer than the naturally occurring protective pigment can absorb the UV rays. This overexposure leads to damage to skin cells (most notably their DNA - for you bio nerds out there P53 triggered apoptosis). In response to this, the body sends massive amounts of blood to the surface of the body to speed their repair. This has several affects on the body: 1) a great deal of moisture is lost through the damaged skin barrier (This condition requires that someone with a sunburn drink plenty of fluids, especially if the sunburn covers a large portion of the body.), 2) a great deal of heat is also lost due to the rush of blood to the surface (This may not seem intuitive, but it is very easy to become hypothermic due to a sunburn. With all of that body heat leaving through the skin, any exposure to excess cold can quickly drop core body temperature below safe levels.), and 3) chances for infection are greatly increased, especially if blisters form (Try not to pop blisters, this transforms a class II burn into an open wound and makes care for the damaged skin much harder.) Prevention- Wear sun block that suits the needs of your exposure time. The basic rule of thumb is that you have 30 minutes of unprotected exposure to direct UV (more if you have darker skin tone and less if you have lighter). Sun protection factor (SPF) lists the number of minutes longer than standard resistance you can stay out before reapplying more block. This means that at standard resistance with SPF 15 sun block recommended exposure time is 45 minutes, after that reapplication is necessary. Treatment- if the burn covers a large percentage of the body (>70%) it may be necessary to consult a physician, just to ensure that the threat of dehydration is addressed. Otherwise there is little to do to “cure? sunburn. The best way to deal with it is to administer some form of aloe based ointment (helps seal in moisture and protect skin from normal contact damage) and STAY OUT OF THE SUN. Most vacationers jump right back out into the pool, but for bad sunburns it is a good idea to stay indoors for a day or two and let your skin recuperate. When you do venture out again, be sure to protect the skin with high SPF sun block to prevent further unnecessary damage.

-Heat Exhaustion- Heat exhaustion occurs when the body has trouble coping with excessive exposure to heat and dehydration. It is commonly observed as clammy skin, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, slightly elevated temperature, nausea, and feeling feint. Prevention- this one is pretty easy, don’t overexert yourself on hot days, drink plenty of fluids, and if you start to feel any of these symptoms, slow down, find some shade and cool off for a bit. Sports drinks help, but nothing beats good old H¬2O. Treatment- If you notice that you (or a friend) are beginning to show some of these symptoms, head for the shade. Lie down with feet slightly elevated and take sips of cool (NOT cold) water and try to cool down. If the person begins to loose consciousness or becomes incoherent, medical attention is definitely required because the condition has become…

-Heat Stroke- Heat stroke occurs when the body is no longer able to cool down itself and stops trying to regulate body temperature. The difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke is the absence of sweating and change in level of consciousness. Treatment- If you suspect that someone has heat stroke; it is IMPERATIVE that they get medical attention IMMEDIATELY. Call an ambulance and place them under a tree/ in an air-conditioned area and do all that you can to keep them cool until help arrives.

Helpful Links:
Heat Exhaustion-
Heat Stroke-

March 8, 2006

Safe Spring Break with SNAP

For our guest columnist this month, we asked SNAP to give us a few pointers on having a Safe Spring Break. On a side note: if you live in the Superblock, I'm giving a presentation this evening at 9 in the lounge of Pioneer Hall about this topic and more indepth. Also, I have a few of SNAP's Safe Spring Break kits to hand out to attendees! So come along, grab some condoms and a kit and learn a few things! Thanks a lot!

Have a Fun and Safe Spring Break!

Spring Break is a great time to hang out with friends, and relax, whether you are taking a trip, going home, or just hanging around the U. To make sure that you and your friends have a fun and safe spring break, follow these tips:

• Wear sunscreen
• Don’t drink and drive
• Buckle up
• Don’t leave luggage unattended
• Don’t talk on a cell phone while driving
• If you are drinking, make sure to eat something too
• Watch out for your friends
• Use the buddy system, especially at night
• Let people know where you are, or where you’re going

March 6, 2006

Ulcer question

Kevin asks: Can stress actually cause the formation of a stomach ulcer? How can the emotional state of stress cause physical damage to an internal organ!?

How does one know if he/she has an ulcer? What can be done?

The answer to the first question is a little complicated, stress can in fact contribute to the formation of stomach ulcers, the reasons being that stress a) decreases the body's immune response to the bacteria primarily responsible for the formation of ulcers and b) stress can contribute to higher levels of acid in the stomach. The basic formation of most gastric ulcers starts with a weakening of the lining of the stomach by excess acid. With the lining damaged the bacteria goes to work on the exposed portion of stomach tissue and voila gastric ulcer.

The doctor I spoke to told me that, the most common indicator of a gastric ulcer is a persistant gnawing that often gets relieved by eating. A lot of people will gain weight in the initial stages of an ulcer because they can reduce this gastric discomfort by eating. Later this discomfort will become sharp pain accompanied by blood in vomit or stool, if the ulcer becomes perforated. Treatment requires a trip to the doctor and prevention is hard. If the symptoms present themselves (discomfort) take an antacid and see if it gets better. If conditions don't improve in a week go on in to the doctor. If there is ever blood in your stool or vomit, it is a very good idea to make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.