Hello Out There! We need your help!

It's hard to keep up with this stuff

Hello Buckeyes!  We need your help.

We’ve been doing this BuckMD thing for about 6 months now and we’d like to know how we’re doing.  We have two big questions that we’ll hope you’ll answer for us:

  1. Our blog posts are getting lots of readers – about 22,000 page hits in September alone! – but hardly any comments.  We have a sinking feeling that this is because commenting requires you to sign in with your Ohio State user ID.  This is done for security and the information is kept strictly confidential, but is the lack of true anonymity keeping you from commenting?  Or do you just like reading blogs and not posting comments in general?  Or would you post a comment if we talked about something important to you?  Or is the ability to comment just not that important to you?
  2. What else should we be doing to reach you?  Would you become a fan of our Facebook page if you knew we had one?  (We do, by the way)  Would you follow us on Twitter if we gave you frequent updates about what was going on at Wilce?  (We’re there too)  Or is this stuff more for your social life, and not that important when it comes to getting health information?  Would you like to see videos of health topics on our website?  Interviews with faculty or students with unique health expertise?  Or should we just save our time and give you the link to WebMD?

Please let us know!  We’ve created 2 ways for you to do so that are completely anonymous, we swear.  First, you can visit the poll on our home page and place a vote.  Secondly, you can email BuckMD directly and let us know exactly what you think.  It’s just a regular email account, so yes we will see your email address in the “from” line, but we promise to delete it as soon as we read it.  And if you don’t trust us, you can create a dummy account on Yahoo or Gmail or something.

Thanks for your help! 

Go Bucks!!

Does listening to loud music hurt my hearing?

she's got the right idea

Jogging with tunes

Happy times

Q: Since coming to college, I have been going to concerts and listening to music more often. I am worried about hearing loss. Am I at risk?

A: You have good reason to worry about your hearing. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a condition that can cause permanent damage to the inner ear. It can occur after a very loud single event (like a bomb blast) or after repetitive exposure to moderately loud sounds. Going to loud concerts and listening to headphones too loud has been shown to lead to NIHL.

The intensity of sounds is measured in decibels. Whispering is in the neighborhood of 30 dB, while normal conversation is around 60-70 dB. A lawnmower puts out about 90 dB and an iPod at its highest setting cranks out 100 dB. The National Institute of Health has found that repetitive exposure to sounds greater than 85 dB can lead to NIHL. How loud is that? If you turn a stereo up to just loud enough so that you can have normal conversation over the music, it is roughly 85 dB.

There are two components involved with NIHL. The first is how loud the noise is, while the second is how long you’re exposed to it.  So what is a safe level of exposure?  It has been found to be safe to listen to iPods at 70 percent volume for 4 hours.

So what can you do to enjoy music and protect your hearing at the same time?

Most mp3 players now have options to lower the maximum volume, which is a good idea.  Purchasing noise-canceling headphones will reduce the need to turn up the volume because the ambient noise is too loud, but they’re pretty pricey.  A cheaper option would be larger ear-cup headphones that block out ambient noise better than ear buds.  If you frequent a lot of concerts, you should consider wearing earplugs – believe me, at 110-120dB (!!) you’ll still be able to enjoy the show.

Adam Brandeberry, Med IV (Ohio State University College of Medicine)

Kathy Lappert, MD (Ohio State University Student Health Services)

What’s that pill I’m taking?

try to keep 'em straight!

How many times has this happened to you? It’s happened to me twice already this morning, and it’s not even lunchtime:

Doctor: Do you take any medications?

Patient: Sure.

Doctor: What medications do you take?

Patient: That one you prescribed. No, wait. That other doctor gave it to me. It’s that blue pill, you know. I take it for my, ah what do you call it? My sugar.

Doctor:  Are you diabetic?

Patient: I think so.

Doctor: Do you remember the name of the pill at all? If I said the name would you know it?

Patient: I don’t think so. Maybe it was yellow . . .

I am of the opinion that if you’re putting something in your mouth you ought to know what it is. However, I also recognize that if you’re not a health care provider or pharmacist, names like “cyclobenzaprine”, “triamcinolone”, and “aripipirazole” don’t flow right off the tongue. I have two bits of important advice, speaking as somebody who could inadvertently make you very sick by prescribing something that doesn’t play well with something you’re already taking:

  • If you can’t remember your medication name, write it down and keep it with you. Your mom and/or your doctor might not be with you when you most need to know your medications (not to mention your chronic health issues and drug allergies), like in the emergency room at 3am.
  • Check out Pillbox at the National Library of Medicine when you need to know exactly what that little blue or pink pill, or yellow triangle, or striped capsule is. Your tax dollars paid for this rather cool site. Once you ID your pill there are links available to take you to the FDA drug label or the drug information portal at the National Library of Medicine. This should give you more information about your medication than you ever wanted to know. 

 Victoria Rentel, MD (Ohio State University Student Health Services)


Is it safe to get the regular flu shot and H1N1 flu shot together?

click to enlarge

Q: If I already had the regular flu shot, is it safe for me to get the H1N1 flu shot when it becoms available?

A: The H1N1 vaccine is new, but it is being made in the same way that the regular flu vaccine is made every year, so potential reactions will likely be the same: sore arm, feeling tired for a day… that’s about it.  All the current information states that it is safe to take both an H1N1 and a regular flu shot, even on the same day. 

For the latest information on the flu on campus, keep checking here.

Roger Miller, MD (The Ohio State University Student Health Services)

How long can a woman safely stay on birth control?

birth control pills

Q: How long can a woman stay on birth control and not have it be a health hazard?

A: The short answer: For most people, as long as you want.

The long answer: As long as you don’t have any serious underlying medical conditions such as blood clotting disorders, high blood pressure, or you are a smoker over age 35, long term use of the birth control pill is generally regarded as safe.

We used to think that long term use of the pill could affect fertility down the road but this has proven to be untrue.

There is some evidence that long term use of hormonal birth control can increase your risk of certain cancers such as liver or cervical cancer, but combined estrogen/progestin pills have also been shown to decrease your risk of other cancers such as endometrial and ovarian cancers, and possibly even colorectal cancer.

As for an increased risk of breast cancer with long term use of hormonal birth control, the jury is still out. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you may want to talk to your health care provider before starting on hormonal birth control.

Angie Walker, Med IV (Ohio State University College of Medicine)

Mary Jane Elam, MD (Ohio State University Student Health Services)


What the flu really feels like

Mike Commodore

One of the best stories in yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch wasn’t written by a reporter. Mike Commodore, a defenseman for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, wrote a first person account of his recent bout with the flu.  You can read it here.

Commodore might have a career as a writer after he gets done pounding opponents into the ice at Nationwide Arena.   His description is vivid, accurate and captures the essence of what the flu really does to you far better than a list of symptoms from the CDC.

Hockey players are tough.  Insanely tough.  They have gashes in their face stitched up without anesthesia and go back out on the ice for their next shift without missing a beat.  They voluntarily stand in front of a piece of frozen vulcanized rubber coming at them at over 70 MPH.  They spend 82 nights a year skating around an ice rink at full speed slamming into other behemonths on skates whose sole mission in life is to knock them into next week – all for the chance to get to the playoffs where things really get intense. 

Commodore’s one of the toughest of the tough, and this little tiny virus knocked him out far worse than any opponenent ever did.  So learn from Mike and do your best to avoid the flu this season.  Stay away from people who are sick, use plenty of hand sanitizer, avoid touching your eyes or mouth, cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away (or into a sleeve if you don’t have a tissue) and if you develop flu symptoms yourself, stay away from others, get lots of rest and seek medical attention if your symptoms become severe.

Keep checking in here for the most up-to-the-minute information about the flu situation on campus. And if you get a chance, head down to the arena district to check out a Blue Jackets game.  Once you experience NHL Hockey in person, you’ll be a fan for life!

John A. Vaughn, MD (The Ohio State University Student Health Services)

Posted in flu

Hot Cheese and Exploding Eggs

don't let this happen to you!

In another installation of applied “Duh” science, today we will discuss the perils of microwave cooking.  So sit up and take note while you’re waiting for your Hot Pocket to finish cooking. 

Innumerable case reports exist in the medical literature about serious injuries caused by microwaved food.  The authors of a 2009 article from the journal Dental Update concluded:  “Microwave ovens heat food much quicker than a conventional oven, but they produce uneven heating within the food and extremely high temperatures can be reached.”  They then go on to describe two nasty cases of oral mucosal injury.

Microwave-heated food can damage not only the lining of the mouth, but also cause severe burns of the larynx and esophagus.  Many yummy microwaved treats have been implicated: milk, water, treacle tart, hot potatoes, and everyone’s favorite – cheese pie.  “NO,” you say, “Not cheese pie!”  Yes, my friends, cheese pie.

Researchers discovering that microwaved cheese can burn your mouth would seem to be akin to scientists holding a press conference to announce the groundbreaking discovery that trees are, in fact, made of wood.  But wait – your aero-digestive tract is not the only part of your body at risk.  There are numerous case reports – sadly, many of them in children – of micro waved eggs exploding and causing severe injuries to the eyes and face.   

So what are we to do?  Give up microwaving?  Cut the cheese?  Never!  But there are some precautions you should take to make sure that all of your microwaving experiences are as safe as they are tasty:

  • Give food (especially high fat, dense food like cheese) plenty of time to cool. 
  • Stir food thoroughly if you can.
  • If you cook eggs in the microwave, remove the shell and don’t leave the yolk whole.
  • Open the door carefully, and use only cookware labeled microwave-safe.
  • If you feed children, especially small children and infants, exercise extreme caution when reheating formula or breast milk in the microwave. Terrible, debilitating burns with significant scarring have occurred in babies and toddlers given infant formula and breast milk superheated in the microwave.

For more information regarding microwave safety, head on over to the USDA’s microwave fact sheet.

Victoria Rentel MD