Turning the Food Pyramid Upside Down!


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just released a new set of dietary guidelines. These are released by the USDA and the Department of Human Health Services (HHS) every five years – they are what gave us those famous food pyramids we all studied in grade school.

The old food pyramid has gone through many revisions throughout the years, and its’ a good thing – with 34% of adults and 17% of children currently obese in the US, we could all use a pointer or two on healthy eating habits.  The new guidelines are by far the most extensive to date because they not only focus on what you eat, but also eating behaviors.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks
  • Keep trans fats consumption as low as possible
  • Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats (butter, margarine, shortening) and added sugars.
  • Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium
  • Alcohol should be consumed in moderation-up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men

To see the complete guidelines, check out the links below.  As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” Now is the time to start building healthy lifestyle!



Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

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

Making Polio Disappear for Pennies a Day

While Student Health works to educate and inform our campus about getting your vaccines updated, efforts are ongoing around the globe to deal with vaccine-preventable diseases, and the toll they take around the world, a toll that is unfortunately measured in the lives of children.  Take a look at this video from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to see what they and countless others are doing to make polio go the way of the dinosaurs.

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

What a patient’s death taught me, and what it can teach you

Cancer Vixen

One of the very first patients I cared for as a medical student here at Ohio State was a young man with end-stage AIDS.  Since there wasn’t much to do for him medically; and since AIDS still made lots of people – including doctors – pretty antsy at the time; and since a 3rd year medical student is about as useful on the wards as a screen door is on a submarine, he quickly became “my” patient.

He and I spent a lot of time together as he succumbed to the cruel attacks being waged against his weakened immune system.  He was scared; I was scared; he was pissed off at dying with only a clueless med student for company; I was pissed off at being so useless.

So we talked.  Or rather, he talked and I listened.  It was driving me nuts to not be “doing” anything, and as his condition detioriated the stories became less and less coherent, but I discovered something pretty amazing.  It helped.  It didn’t cure him, or even forestall his death, but it helped ease his suffering in a very real way.  It’s one of the most important lessons I learned in all of my years of medical training.

That is why I am very excited to announce that Professor Jim Phelan and I are offering a new course next quarter: English 361, Narrative and Medicine.  Not only will the class fulfill an arts & humanities GEC requirement, it will allow you to explore how telling and listening to stories of illness – yours or someone else’s – can often be more helpful than any medication or surgery.  The course will also offer some distinctive views of illness and treatment and how both patients and practitioners deal with their experiences.

It should be a great class.  Professor Phelan is a world-renowned expert in the field of Narrative Studies and a winner of the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award.  I will bring my perspective as someone who practices both the art of medicine and the art of narrative.  We’ll investigate a range of perspectives offered by classic writers such as Tolstoy and Chekhov as well as those offered by some contemporary writers employing new narrative forms such as Marissa Marchetto in her graphic memoir Cancer Vixen

BTW, if you’re interested in hearing more about my experience with that patient, I wrote an essay about it in the Los Angeles Times a few years ago.  Or better yet – enroll in English 361!

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

You’ll huff and you’ll dust and you’ll sniff your brain down!


According to a 2006 survey, 11% of high school seniors had abused inhalants.  Most users stop by late adolescence so you don’t see too much huffing (or sniffing, snorting or dusting) on college campuses, but since a small percentage of users continue into adulthood you might run into it.     

Inhalants are gas or vapors in common household products that produce a high when inhaled in concentrated quantities. Common examples include glue, keyboard cleaner, spray paint, air fresheners, liquid eraser (WhiteOut), vegetable cooking spray, and whipped cream. 

Inhalants produce their high by quickly passing through the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they travel to the brain and dissolve into the fatty tissue surrounding it.  While the high only lasts a few minutes, the effects – especially with repeated use – can last a lifetime.  Inhalants block the ability of blood to transport oxygen so major organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and muscles can’t work properly.  For more details, check out the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition and livestrong

It’s also important to know that it isn’t just chronic use that is dangerous.  Up to 22% of people who’ve died from “sudden sniffing syndrome” – a condition where the heart flips into an irregular and lethal rhythm – were first time users.  So trying it just once can kill you. 

If you are concerned about yourself or a friend, get help!  Talbot Hall at OSU East provides alcohol and drug recovery services 24/7/365, and the fine folks at the Student Wellness Center and Counseling and Consultation Service can direct you to other helpful resources as well.

Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

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

Nothing says “I love you” like peeing in a cup!

Love - Fear

Order-It-Yourself Testing

The Student Health Center

Stumped as to what to get that special someone in your life this Valentine’s Day?   A box of chocolates is so ‘been there done that’.   Those handmade “coupons” for a free back rub or carrying her books to class were cute last year, but she ain’t falling for that again.  And while checking out The Mechanic would be a blast with your buddies, it just doesn’t set that romantic tone you’re looking for.

Well, fret no more my friends.  Student Health Services has the perfect gift for your valentine this year – Order-It-Yourself lab testing!!

What says “I love you” better than a pee-in-the-cup Chlamydia test? 

Feeling tired, honey?  Well why don’t you go to the Student Health Center and get screened for anemia and diabetes?  It’s on me.

The man in your life putting on a few extra pounds?  Well nothing will get him more motivated for Speedo season than a quick peek at his cholesterol levels.

All of these wonderful tests and more are available at the Student Health Center.  And the best part is that you don’t need an appointment or even have to see a health care provider to get them.  Check out our information page for prices and other information.

Just one word of caution.  Nothing lights the flames of passion like a visit to the Student Health Center so be careful that you don’t get burned by those fireworks tonight!

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

Keep Online Dating Fun and Safe!


With Valentine’s Day soon upon us, many of the 1,500 (!) online dating sites are offering free or discounted memberships.  If you meet that special someone online, moving your relationship from cyber space to real life can be difficult, and sometimes dangerous.  Here are a few things you can do to protect your hard drive and your heart!

Computer Safety

If you are like me and completely computer illiterate, these issues may not have crossed your mind, but they are vital to protecting you and your online identity.

  • Use a secure computer connection so that people can’t hack into your account.  Avoid public WiFi hotspots and make sure your WiFi at home is password protected.
  • Create a separate email account with a secure password that you only use for these sites.  It should not include any identifying information like your name, phone number or address.

Get offline and face-to-face as soon as possible!  

You wanted to meet people, so meet them!  While putting off the initial get together may seem like the safer thing to do, getting face-to-face ASAP allows you to see if they are who they say they are.  The longer you put it off, the more opportunity they have to create a false front and/or find out things about you that could be used in harmful ways.

Make it early, make it public, and always have an escape route!

When you do decide to meet in person you absolutely, positively, without fail, no ifs ands or buts MUST do the following:

  • Always get yourself to the meeting place (i.e. don’t let them pick you up).  This ensures that you have a way to get out if needed and just as importantly, keeps the person from knowing where you live if you decide not to keep in contact.
  • Make sure someone you trust knows where you are going and when you expect to be back.  In fact, have them call you at a set time no matter what – this will give you an easy out if things aren’t going well, and it will let the person know that you’ve got people waiting for you.

Do your OWN background check!

Some dating sites say that they do “background checks” on users, and other companies will offer to run background checks for a fee.  But unless the FBI has started an online dating site that I haven’t heard about, don’t waste your time or money.  Databases can be incomplete, access can be restricted, and information can be hidden.  Nothing replaces your instincts.  If someone appears too good to be true, then that’s what they are until proven otherwise.

Please, please, please check out some of these safety tips on the sites below to learn more ways to protect yourself and get the most out of your dating experience!

Online Dating Safety Tips      New York Times     Livestrong

Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

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

OSU docs pioneer new treatment for sleep apnea!

The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital

Monday’s Lantern had a story about a group of OSU researchers who were the first scientists in the United States to implant a nerve stimulator in the diaphragm of a person with central sleep apnea.  Go Bucks!!

Sleep apnea is a condition where the normally rhythmic breathing cycles are interrupted during sleep.  These non-breathing (apnea) episodes can have serious health consequences: increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and stroke; poor school or work productivity; even increased risk for accidents due to daytime drowsiness. 

Symptoms of sleep apnea include excessive daytime fatigue or sleepiness, poor attention or concentration, non-refreshing sleep and headaches.  Sounds pretty familiar, right?  But before you rush into the Student Health to get your robo-respirator, note that this device is indicated for central sleep apnea (CSA), not obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  What’s the difference?

Generally, central sleep apnea is limited to people with heart failure, stroke or brain injuries.  These conditions cause damage to the parts of the nervous system that signals your body to breathe.  This is a pretty rare condition, especially among college and graduate students. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by blockage of the airways that prevents breathing, even though the brain’s breathing signals are working just fine.  It can be caused by anatomic problems like big tonsils, a short neck or small jaw, but far and away the biggest risk factor is obesity.  Our muscles relax during sleep and excess weight on the chest, abdomen and neck can cause the muscles to collapse and close off the airway.  Because of this, OSA causes severe SNORING, while CSA does not.

OSA used to be identified primarily in middle-aged, overweight men (like me), but unfortunately with the obesity epidemic in our country, the rates are increasing in younger adults and even children.  If you’re having any of the symptoms mentioned above, or your neighbors down the hall can hear you snore, you should see your health care provider. 

OSA is diagnosed by an overnight sleep study test called a polysomnogram.  It’s usually treated with a machine that delivers air at a high pressure through a mask to keep the airways open during sleep called CPAP.  Throat surgery or oral appliances to alleviate the obstructions are sometimes used as well.

But the absolute mainstay of treatment is weight loss.  So there’s another reason added to the very long list of reasons to watch your weight and get active.  LOSE WEIGHT = BETTER SLEEP = BETTER SCORE on your physics midterm??  Let’s hope!!

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Discover Your Inner Julia!


A group of medical students who are into health and wellness here at Ohio State have started a really cool new blog, Med Students: Discovering Your Inner Julia.

The Julia in question is of course Julia Child (world famous chef and posthumous movie star) and the blog is a place to find and share tasty recipes and healthy eating tips.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.  It’s fairly new, but they already have a lot of really good recipes and tips up there.  And since the blog is 100% by students for students, they always keep the focus on what’s important to you – quick, easy and tasty.

You don’t have to be a medical student to contribute to the blog – anyone can join the conversation.  Share a recipe from back home; let everyone know where to get those hard-to-find ingredients; share your tips for going vegetarian; see what other students are doing to eat healthy.

Check it out, and in the words of the great woman herself, “Learn to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!

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