What’s going on at Student Health?

If you’ve visited Student Life Student Health Services (SLSHS) lately or even just walked past the building, you might be wondering what’s happening?  There are fences around half the building, entrances are closed, areas are covered in plastic, and in general there seems to be a lot going on.  Well, you are correct, there is a lot happening and we are very excited about it all!

10/08/2014 Wilce Student Health Center

10/08/2014 Wilce Student Health Center

We are undergoing renovations of both our ground and first floors.  This will include a new entrance from the south, off the main sidewalk, new pharmacy, clinic, registration, and appointment space on the ground floor, and renovated areas on the first floor.  The renovations should be done just in time for us to celebrate our 100th anniversary on The Ohio State University campus.  Here’s a rendering of how it should look when it’s all finished.


I know that all of the construction, fences, blocked hallways, opened hallways, etc can be confusing and very disruptive, but please bear with us.  These things are all temporary and the end result will be well worth any inconvenience that is experienced.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Free hearing screenings Oct 16 & 28 2014

With October designated National Audiology Awareness Month and National Protect Your Hearing Month, now is a great time to visit an audiologist for a hearing screening and learn the signs of hearing loss. The OSU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic is offering free screenings on Thursday (10/16/2014) and Tuesday (10/28/2014).
— > Contact: 292-6251
— > Read more: speechhearingclinic.osu.edu

A Week of Activities – Mental Health Week

Feeling a little stressed or depressed about the upcoming week.  Wondering what you might do?  The Office of Student Life Counseling and Consultation is sponsoring a series of Mental Health awareness activities to raise awareness and decrease the stigma of mental illness.

Here’s a list of what’s available:

  • Oct 7, 10am RPAC Meeting Rooms 1 & 2:  Preventing, Indentifying, and Managing Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
  • Oct 7, 5-6pm, Younkin Success Center:  Stress Reduction Workshop
  • Oct 7, 5-7pm, green space between Baker and Smith-Steeb:  “Live Well Hut”, meet a therapy dog, get wellness goodies, and learn ways to improve your mental health
  • Oct 8, 10:30am, Ohio Union, US Bank Theatre: PeaceLove presents “Getting Better”
  • Oct 9, 4:30pm, Ohio Union, Dance Room 2: Yoga for relaxation and stress reduction
  • Oct 10, 12:30-4:30pm, Suite 100, 700 Ackerman Rd: Strees Screenings
  • Oct 10, 5-7pm, courtyard outside Haverfield House:  “Live Well Hut”, get wellness goodies, and learn ways to improve your mental health
  • Oct 11, 11am-3pm, Ohio Union, Great Hall Meeting Room 3: Positive Psychology Activities

You can find out more at buckeyewellness.osu.edu.

Condoms – They’re Not Just For Men

When most people think of condoms they think of male condoms, but did you know that there also female condoms?  A female condom is a pouch that is inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.  How does it compare to the male condom?

  • Pregnancy Prevention
    • Female condom: 75% effective
    • Male condom: 85% effective
  • Protection Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases
    • Female condom: some protection
    • o Male condom: better protection
  • Availability
    • Both can be purchased at a drug store without a prescription
  • Cost
    • Female condom: $1.50 – $4 each
    • Male condom: $0.50 – $1.50 each

Although the male condom does appear to outweigh the female condom when it comes to prevention, protection and cost, the female condom is still an option and options are good.

****Using the female and male condom at the same time is not recommended.

What’s In a (Brand) Name?


Shakespeare never had to worry about prescription medications, but he was on to something when he wrote this line for Romeo and Juliet.  The name of the medicine on the bottle you pick up from the pharmacy is often completely different than what your doctor told you she was giving you.  So what’s the deal?  Does a dose by any other name smell as sweet?

For the most part, yes.  Prescription medications have at least two different names, a brand name and a generic name.  Brand names are made up by drug companies and are designed to be catchy and easy to remember to help boost sales.  Generic names are based on a drug’s chemical structure or mechanism of action.  Drug companies can pick any brand name they want, but the generic name must be approved by the FDA.

To be approved by the FDA, the generic medication must go through rigorous testing to verify that the amount your body absorbs is therapeutically equivalent to within 10% of the brand name with regards to dosage, effectiveness, safety, and how it is taken.  Any generic medication carried by your pharmacy will be considered the same as the brand.

Pharmacies will default to the generic version of a drug if one is available because it is usually a lot cheaper.  Generic manufacturers can charge much less because they don’t have to cover the huge cost of researching and developing a new drug.  That’s why drug companies are allowed to keep a new drug exclusively brand name for about 7-8 years after introducing it to the market.  Different pharmacies may use different distributors and wholesalers to purchase these medications, so even generic medications may end up looking different from time to time.

There are some instances where your doctor might want you to have the specific brand name drug.  In this situation, she will write “DAW” or “dispense as written” on the prescription.  If your doctor does this, the pharmacy isn’t allowed to fill your prescription with a generic equivalent even if one is available.  If your doctor doesn’t specify, the pharmacy will use the generic.

Brand name medications are more expensive than their generic counterparts, but there are some things you can do to save some cash.  Always ask your doctor if there is a generic option for the treatment she is prescribing for you.  If not, drug companies will sometimes offer manufacturer coupons to help bring down the cost of your copay.  Ask the pharmacist about this when you pick the medication up or check the drug manufacturer’s website; these discounts are often available online. 

If you have any other questions about the medications you are taking, the pharmacy staff at the Wilce Student Health Center is always willing to help.  Feel free to stop by or give us a call.

Alex Heine, PharmD Candidate, 2012
College of Pharmacy
The Ohio State University

Jason Goodman PharmD, RPh
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Exercising with Asthma


Today we have a guest post from our colleagues at the OSU Asthma Center, a top-notch group of clinicians dedicated to keeping Ohio State students breathing easy.

Exercise is important for staying healthy during college and grad school.  But if you have asthma, exercise can be a challenge because it can cause constriction of the breathing (bronchial) tubes and make breathing difficult.  This is referred to as exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB).  EIB is estimated to occur in 80% of asthmatics and up to 20% of people without asthma.  Athletes appear to be more susceptible.

What are the symptoms of EIB?

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, air quality and pollen count impact EIB

Is there a test for EIB?

Eucapnic voluntary hyperventilation (EVH) is the recommended test for diagnosing EIB.  We can perform this test at the OSU Asthma Center.

Does my asthma need to be under control to exercise?

If you feel that your asthma is not well controlled, you should not exercise.  Be sure to see your health care provider for an evaluation, and if you are experiencing severe symptoms go to the emergency room.

How do I know if my asthma is controlled?

Your asthma is under control if you are able to go to school, work, exercise and sleep with minimal symptoms.  Other indications that your asthma is under good control include:

  • Only needing your rescue medication ≤ 2 times per week during the day
  • Only needing your rescue medication ≤ 2 times per month during the night
  • Your peak flow is greater than 80% of your personal best reading                                        

What can I do to prevent EIB?

  • Talk to your provider about medicines for preventing EIB during exercise. 
  • Warm-up (break a sweat) for 5-10 minutes then rest for 5 minutes before exercise. 
  • Consider exercising indoors on days with extreme temperatures or poor air quality.
  • When exercising in the cold, breathe through your nose as much as possible and wear a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth to help warm the air before it hits your lungs.

What if treatment is not helping?

There are a number of other conditions besides asthma that can cause symptoms similar to EIB, such as vocal cord dysfunction, acid reflux or heart problems.  If you are not responding to treatment, see your health care provider.  The specialists at the OSU Asthma Center can perform testing to establish the right diagnosis and manage your condition.

When do I need to see a specialist?

The following are all situations in which discussing a referral to a specialist with your primary health care provider would be a good idea.

  • Persistent breathing symptoms despite warming-up and preventive medicines.
  • You are unable to reach your exercise goals due to your breathing.
  • You are a competitive athlete and require documentation for use of bronchodilators during competition.
  • You desire formal testing or more education about EIB

For more information about living well with asthma, check out our website and our facebook page!

Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, CNP
The OSU Lung Center

Is It Really Dangerous to Use My Cell Phone in a Medical Facility?


Q: Is It Really Dangerous to Use My Cell Phone in a Medical Facility? 

A:  Good question.  It seems that as soon as you get within 100 yards of a hospital, signs start warning you that your cell phone could single-handedly cause mass casualties: pacemakers will shut down, defibrillators will start firing, EKG machines will miss heart attacks; satellites will fall out of the sky; the coffee machine in the doctors’ lounge will stop working…

And to be honest, I have seen cell phones cause a little static at the Student Health Center.  A couple of weeks ago, a nurse was doing an EKG on one of my patients and when his cell phone rang, it caused the tracing to go a little fuzzy for a few seconds.  So I did a little investigating.

Turns out that there’s probably nothing to worry about.  A recent study done at the Mayo Clinic showed that cell phones didn’t cause any interference with medical equipment in a hospital.  They did 300 tests on everything from pacemakers and ventilators to brain wave monitors and blanket warmers, and didn’t find one instance of interference.  These findings support a previous study done at Mayo back in 2001 that showed that cell phones interfered with EKG’s enough to hinder interpretation about 7% of the time, but the interference was never enough that significant abnormalities would be missed and it only occurred when the cell phone was within 3 feet of the EKG machine.

So if you’re getting an EKG done it wouldn’t hurt to take your cell phone out of your pocket, but otherwise you can feel fairly safe that your cell phone won’t do you (or anyone else) any harm.  Unless of course, you annoy everyone in the waiting room by talking about the last episode of Glee with your best friend at the top of your lungs – the Mayo studies didn’t say anything about how often cell phones cause people in medical facilities to have books thrown at them.

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


Could this be you?

Health care providers can be funny about confidentiality, and by “funny” I mean anal retentive, obsessive compulsive and paranoid.  Not only did our mothers raise us better than to try to get your attention by yelling across a room, “Hey! Guy with herpes!” it’s also the law that we keep your personal health information private.  And frankly, nobody here wants to go to jail over a pap smear confidentiality breach. 

While we’re always mindful of our obligation to protect your privacy, we’re also always on the lookout for new ways to reach you more effectively.  With that in mind, I recently chanced upon an interesting study from 2006 entitled, “Texting decreases the time to treatment for genital Chlamydia trachomitis infection.”

At a sexual health clinic in the UK, patients were divided into two groups. One group received cell phone text messages about their STI testing results (discreet messages like ‘all of your results were negative’ or ‘please call/return to the clinic’ with a phone number).  The control group got the traditional “phone-tag” method.   

The results of the study were interesting. The time to treatment for the texting group was SEVEN AND A HALF DAYS shorter than the traditional phone notification group!  Not only that, but it required a lot less manpower for the clinic staff, which translates into cost and time savings to provide more clinical services.

So here’s my question for you, young Buckeyes.  Would you be willing to have less secure communications with Student Health Services for the sake of quicker notification and treatment? Would you be willing to waive a bit of your privacy rights for the sake of a faster information turnaround?  Post a comment and let us know – we promise we won’t tell anyone…

Victoria Rentel, MD (Ohio State Student Health Services)

Are we all drug addicts?

As I grabbed the Dispatch off my front porch yesterday, I was greeted by an interesting headline.  Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, was fined $2.3 billion because of “unlawful prescription-drug promotions.”  Apparently, the corporate giant encouraged its employees to shower doctors with financial perks and other incentives to get them to prescribe their medications for “off-label” indications.  Many medicines are used to treat conditions for which they were not specifically approved by the FDA, but it is illegal for drug companies to market them as such. 

The idea that what medicine we’re prescribed can be determined by something other than pure medical science – especially when that other something looks an awful lot like corporate greed – is infuriating and scary.  But what really struck me about this story is what was behind it… literally.  The entire back page of the front section of the paper was covered with a color advertisement taken out by a local grocery chain who – for a limited time! – is offering FREE 14-day supplies of antibiotics because they “Care About Your Health.”

Free prescriptions!?  How does a store make money by giving away antibiotics?  I’m no marketing guru, but I believe the term is “loss leader”: if you come in for the free antibiotics, the theory goes, you’ll also pick up some laundry detergent or beer or kitty litter and they’ll make a tidy profit.  So why aren’t they giving away free milk, or Oreos (besides the obvious safety concerns over the stampede that would surely ensue)? 

Maybe it’s because you can’t buy antibiotics without a prescription so they don’t have to worry about losing too much money.  Or maybe it’s because the psychological associations we make with medicines are more powerful than the ones we make with Oreos (albeit not by much): on some level we’re all worried that we won’t be able to afford health care when we need it nowadays so the idea of getting vital medication for free really strikes a nerve. 

You could argue that getting people to choose one pharmacy over another isn’t quite the same as promoting the use of a medication in a way it wasn’t intended, but you could also argue that it isn’t all that different either.  Maybe you’re going on vacation next week and you’re already in your doctor’s office for a check-up and hey, it’s free, so you ask for a script “just in case.”  Or you’re prone to urinary tract infections and money is tight this month so you want to get some antibiotics now while they’re free.  Or your doctor tells you that you have a cold and you don’t really need an antibiotic but gives you a script for one to fill now in case it doesn’t get better by next week.  In a real sense, these are all “off label” uses of antibiotics that occur all the time and that can have a negative impact on your health and the health of the community.

My point is this: the grocery store is doing exactly what Pfizer got in trouble for – using financial incentives to influence the behavior of health care consumers in a way that is more about profit than good medicine.  The only difference (besides a few billion bucks, give or take) is that the people getting the perks are the prescribe-ees (i.e. us) as opposed to the prescribers.  Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you to decide, but either way, a big part of being an educated health care consumer is recognizing that when it comes to your health, there are often forces at work that you may not even be aware of.

John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU SHS)