The Problem with Antibiotics

There are many types of antibiotics. The most commonly used antibiotics treat bacterial infections.  Penicillin was discovered in 1928.  It was first used on a patient in 1941.  It was mass produced by the end of World War II.  There are now dozens of antibiotics on the market.  These drugs have reduced illness and death from infectious diseases.  However, bacteria have adapted resulting in these drugs becoming less effective.

These antibacterials medicines do not work on all infections. They treat bacteria but not viral infections.  Common viral infections are colds, influenza, bronchitis, and most sore throats and sinus infections.

Overuse of antibiotics contributes to more serious drug-resistant bacteria. The CDC estimates that 23,000 people in this country die yearly from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Reasons for overuse include pressure on healthcare providers to prescribe these drugs, patients using leftover antibiotics, and patients using antibiotics purchased overseas.

What can we do? Do not expect antibiotics to cure every illness.  Please do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.  Most colds and coughs will take two weeks or longer to resolve.  Complete the entire course when an antibiotic is prescribed,.  Also, never take someone else’s medication.


Dr. Matthew Peters, MD

Allergies versus colds – How to tell the difference?

Spring is in the air (although it’s snowing as I’m writing this blog), which means prime allergy season has begun! The common cold is also still prevalent in the ever-changing weather of Ohio.  Here are some facts about the differences between two similar presenting diseases and some tips on how to treat them! ALLERGIES Students may be more likely to develop allergies while attending college.  This could be due to living in a different region that has different pollens in the air and students may be exposed to different allergens.  Allergy symptoms occur quickly after exposure to an allergen and will last as long as you are exposed to the allergen.  Common symptoms include: runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, wheezing, and watery or itchy/dry eyes.

Common causes of seasonal allergies: pollen, dust, dust mites, food, animal dander, and mold


Colds are caused by a virus, and very rarely are caused by bacteria. They mimic the same symptoms as allergies, but may also include fever, sore throat, and body aches.  Colds develop over several days and usually your body can clear the virus within several days to a week. Warning signs that you may have a bacterial infection (NOT the common cold) are vomiting or diarrhea along with fever and body aches and other common cold/allergy symptoms.  If you have these symptoms it’s important to see a doctor and stay hydrated!

Both allergies and the common cold have the same over-the-counter (OTC) treatment choices and non-medication related recommendations to help alleviate symptoms.

Common OTC Treatments:

  • Non-drowsy antihistamines – reduce symptoms of allergies like runny nose, itchy/watery eyes
    • Ex. Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine)
    • Counseling tips: take daily during allergy season to prevent and reduce symptoms
  • Nasal steroids – helps reduce nasal inflammation, nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing
    • Ex. Flonase (fluticasone), Nasacort (triamcinolone)
    • Counseling tips: requires a few days of treatment to notice effect on symptom improvement, and needs to be taken on a daily basis to continue to work
  • Nasal decongestants – helps reduce nasal congestion (stuffy nose)
    • Ex. Afrin nasal spray (oxymetazoline)
    • Counseling tips: should only be used for 3-4 days
  • Oral decongestants – helps reduce nasal and chest congestion
    • Ex. Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
    • Counseling tips: do NOT use if you have high blood pressure without asking your doctor first
  • Artificial tears/saline solution – helps relieve dry or itchy eye irritation
    • Ex. Visine products, Artificial Tears
  • Pain relievers – reduce headaches associated with allergies or virus
    • Ex. Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen)
    • Counseling tips: don’t use more than the recommended dosing; be aware these ingredients may be in other OTC products and will count towards your maximum daily dose!
  • Cough drops – helps relieve cough associated with nasal drainage

 Non-Medicine Treatment:

  • Avoid allergens as much as possible!


  • Use a humidifier in your home to help with congestion
  • Wash hands/face often during pollen season
  • Avoid rubbing itchy eyes, try and use a cold compress instead to relieve symptoms
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses during pollen season to reduce eye irritation
  • Close windows/doors at home when pollen count is high

If you ever have questions about which OTC products can help your allergies or reduce the symptoms associated with a cold don’t hesitate to talk to your pharmacist or doctor!

Lindsey Glaze, PharmD Candidate 2016


Mononucleosis is a viral infection. It is spread through direct contact with saliva from another person infected with the virus. The infected person can spread the infection by kissing, sharing food, coughing, or shaking hands. It is spread less often through contact with blood or semen.

Symptoms usually begin 4-6 weeks after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches, fever, sore throat, and swollen neck glands. Most people will improve within 2-4 weeks.

The doctor will diagnosis mononucleosis from your symptoms, exam and lab tests. Treatment includes rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain or fever. Antibiotics do not help.

Mononucleosis can cause your spleen to enlarge and possibly rupture with minimal injury. Therefore, it is wise to avoid contact sports until a month after your mono symptoms have resolved.

The best prevention is to avoid contact with the infected person’s saliva and other bodily fluids until their symptoms have completely resolved.

Submitted by Matthew Peters, MD

Do I need a tetanus shot?

Tetanus is a problem with the nervous system. It is caused by bacteria. This bacteria releases a toxin that causes severe muscle contractions and can cause death. The disease has been called “lockjaw” because it can cause severe painful spasm of the muscles around the jaw.

The disease usually occurs after suffering a deep cut or puncture wound, or foreign body such as a splinter. Most people will develop symptoms within a week of injury. Treatment for the illness once symptoms begin is very difficult and intensive.

The good news is that this disease is preventable with immunizations. Most people have received a series of tetanus immunizations during childhood. Adults should get a tetanus booster every ten years. If you have a deep or dirty wound, it is likely your healthcare provider will recommend a booster if it has been longer than five years since your last booster.

Submitted by Matthew Peters, MD

It’s OK to use your sleeve

Growing up sleeves were a big no-no.  We weren’t supposed to use our sleeves to wipe our noses or our mouths.  We weren’t supposed to stretch out our sleeves. And we weren’t to use our sleeves as rags to wipe things down.  Sleeves were to be – well – sleeves.

The wiping of the nose thing – that’s still good advice, but our sleeves can serve a purpose other than being sleeves.  Sleeves are great for coughing and sneezing.  If you’re coughing/sneezing into your sleeve, you’re limiting the spread of germs into the air, protecting those around you.

Mirror Lake Jump Traditions

Beat Michigan Week Mirror Lake Jump

Every year it’s the same.  I ask a friend of mine – “Hey are you going to jump in Mirror Lake?”  And every year he’s says – “You bet!” And then every year I reply with – “I’ll make sure we have an appointment waiting for you at Student Health.”

Hah. Hah – right?  Kind of.  The Mirror Lake Jump is indeed a tradition at Student Life Student Health Services (SLSHS), just not in the way most students like to think.

For us, the tradition consists of making sure that on the morning after:

  • We have plenty of walk-in appointments available.
  • We have plenty of supplies on hand to treat eye infections.
  • We are ready for colds/nausea/diarrhea.
  • We are prepared to handle injuries.

Yes, the day after the Mirror Lake Jump is exciting at SLSHS.  But, it doesn’t have to be. 

Feet: Wear something on your feet! Between glass shards on High Street and sticks in the grass and unknown objects buried in the muck on the bottom of the lake, bare feet are prime targets for cuts and other trauma. At a minimum, consider wearing a cheap pair of flip-flops, strapped on with duct tape so that they don’t fall off in the mud.

Neck: Never, ever dive into Mirror Lake or any other shallow, murky body of water. The risk of disaster, including catastrophic injury to the brain or spine, is ridiculously high.

Skin: When running, jumping, wading, and falling meets rocks, sticks, broken glass, and throngs of partiers, there is great opportunity for bruises, abrasions, and lacerations. Add contamination with skanky lake water, and risk for infection is high. When you get home, take a shower (seems like reasonable advice regardless) and pay special attention to wash any broken skin with soap and water.

Eyes: If you wear contact lenses, consider leaving them at home. At a minimum, take out the contacts as soon as you get home and wash or replace them. Skanky water (a recurring theme) + contact lenses + horseplay + late night = increased risk for funky mirror lake eye infection, especially if the cornea has been abraded by friction from the contact lens.

Hypothermia: Our colleagues in the Emergency Department at the OSU Wexner Medical Center tell us that many of the students who end up in the ER in the hours during and after the Jump suffer from hypothermia. This isn’t surprising given typical midnight temperatures in Columbus in late November coupled with the dubious heat-retaining properties of a wet pair of speedos. The nature of the Jump does not lend itself to staying warm and snuggly, but it also does not require coursework in computational astrophysics to appreciate that intoxication makes hypothermia all the more dangerous.

Soul: Friends don’t let friends do the Mirror Lake Jump alone. Go with a friend. Keep track of your friend. If there’s trouble, ask for help. Call 9-1-1. Do the right thing.

If you Jump, please be safe.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Ebola: Message from STEVEN GABBE, MD and ANDREW THOMAS, MD

October 16, 2014

Dear Students and Colleagues:

In light of the news that a Dallas nurse who has tested positive for Ebola was in Ohio from October 10-13, we want to share some information with the university community about this situation.

We can assure you that you are at no risk of contracting Ebola if you have not had direct contact with a person with active symptoms of the disease. Direct contact would include exposure to an infected person’s body fluids or providing care to an individual with active symptoms. Simply shaking hands with an individual is considered a very low risk contact. Being in the near vicinity of another individual or passing an individual in the street is considered of no risk.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Student Life’s Student Health Center continue to be at a high level of preparedness for any potential case of Ebola Viral Disease (EVD). We continue to be in close contact with Columbus Public Health, the Ohio Department of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other hospitals across the state to aggressively monitor all developments in this situation. We are focused on reducing the risk of exposure as well as rapidly implementing protocols for providing care in our medical facilities or responding to public health concerns across campus. We are confident that we are prepared to care for a potential Ebola patient and plan to do so in the safest environment possible.

The CDC’s recommendation is to seek medical care immediately:

If you have traveled to the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone or if you have been in direct contact with a person with active EVD,

AND, if you develop a fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees F/38.0 degrees C or higher) and any of the other following symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, headache, muscle pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.

If you meet these criteria for both known exposure AND symptoms, you should limit your contact with other people until you seek medical treatment. Do not travel anywhere besides a healthcare facility.

We will share additional information about the university’s preparedness procedures and additional resources. Until then, more information about Ebola can be found at the CDC website:

As always, the health and safety of all of our students, faculty, staff, patients, visitors and the community is our priority.
Steven G. Gabbe, MD
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, The Ohio State University
CEO, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Andrew Thomas, MD
Senior Associate Vice President for Health Sciences, The Ohio State University
Chief Medical Officer, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Condoms are a beautiful thing!

Condoms are a beautiful thing!

Condoms are a beautiful thing.  They are effective at preventing both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  They are inexpensive and easily obtained.  They are small and compact and easily kept in a wallet or purse.

However, they are only beautiful when they are used correctly.

WebMD reports the most commonly reported condom use errors are:

  • Not using condoms throughout sexual intercourse
  • Not leaving space at the tip
  • Not squeezing air from the tip
  • Putting the condom on inside out
  • Not using only water-based lubricants
  • Incorrect withdrawal

These types of errors reduce the effectiveness of condoms to about 85%. To get the maximum protection from your condom, follow these guidelines:

  • Use a NEW condom every time you have sex, be it vaginal or oral and make sure the condom is in place before there is any genital contact.
  • Make sure there is at least a ½ inch space at the tip of the condom for semen collection.  Some condoms have a built in reservoir tip for this purpose.  If yours does not, then just pinch the end while placing the condom to allow for this extra space.
  • After ejaculation and before the penis gets soft, grip the rim of the condom and carefully withdraw. Then gently pull the condom off the penis, making sure that semen doesn’t spill out.
  • Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it in the trash where others won’t handle it.
  • If you feel the condom break at any point during sexual activity, stop immediately, withdraw, remove the broken condom, and put on a new condom.
  • Ensure that adequate lubrication is used during vaginal and anal sex, which might require water-based lubricants. Oil-based lubricants (e.g., petroleum jelly, shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, body lotions, and cooking oil) should not be used because they can weaken latex, causing breakage.

If you’re interesting in learning more about condoms or in obtaining a few of these beautiful things for your own protection, check out the Condom Club at the Student Wellness Center.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth – what is that?

Foot and mouth.  Normally when I hear those words, I think of those embarrassing situations where something is said that shouldn’t have been, you know, ‘Open mouth, insert foot’.  But at Student Health, when foot and mouth is mentioned, it’s more likely to be due to Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.  And lately, we’ve it’s been mentioned a few times.

Rash/blisters on hands and feet

Rash/blisters on hands and feet

Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease is a viral illness that’s typically associated with young children, but can occur in adults.  The disease starts gradually with a fever, sore throat, poor appetite, and just not feeling well.  After a couple of days painful sores develop in the mouth.  A skin rash may also develop on the palms or soles of the feet.  In some cases fingernail or toenail loss may occur.  (These do regrow without requiring medical treatment.)

This is a contagious disease that is spread through close person-to-person contact, saliva, fluid from blisters, stool, and respiratory droplets in the air after a cough or sneeze.  Pretty much the same way as most viruses.

The best way to avoid getting Hand, Foot, and Mouth is to wash your hands often with soap and water, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and avoid close contact with someone who is infected.

If you do become ill with the disease, treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Over the counter medications to relieve fever and pain
  • Mouthwashes or sprays that numb the mouth

To aid with the discomfort of mouth sores:

  • Suck on popsicles or ice chips
  • Drink cold beverages
  • Avoid acidic foods and beverages such as citrus, fruit drink, and soda
  • Avoid salty and spicy foods
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water after meals

If your symptoms worsen or just don’t seem to get better after a couple days, seek medical treatment.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, M.D.