Here, help me light this….

July 4th.

Parades…..Picnics…..Flags……Fireworks.  We all have different traditions around holidays, but fireworks and the Fourth of July go together for most people in the United States.

As we prepare for the weekend festivities surrounding Independence Day, some thoughts about safety and fireworks:

  • Nearly 10,000 people are treated in emergency departments EVERY YEAR for fireworks-related injuries – most are children
  • 5% of these are hospitalized
  • In 2007, about 3000 injuries were caused by firecrackers, sparklers, and rockets – the most common fireworks purchased by nonprofessionals
  • Most commonly sites of injury are hands, eyes, head, face, and ears
  • Most fireworks displays are safe for handlers and observers when done by professionals
  • Most home fireworks are illegal under various local, state, and federal laws
  • In 2006, $34 million in damaged property resulted from fireworks-related fires

So play it safe and leave the colorful explosions to the professionals.  You can learn more about firework safety here


Source: CDC Fireworks Factsheet 6/25/10

Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine)

Trouble with Erectile Dysfunction? Eat Pistachios!

Researchers in Turkey took 17 men with erectile dysfunction and gave them 100 grams of pistachios for lunch every day for 3 weeks.  They measured their International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scores and penile color Doppler ultrasound (PCDU) parameters before and after and found that both were improved on the diet.  Not only that, but their cholesterol levels improved too. They published the results of their research in the International Journal of Impotence Research if you want more details.

We’ve known for a while that nuts are a healthy source of protein, fiber, good fats and other healthy phytochemicals.  Pistochios are apparently also a great source of anti-oxidants and arginine – two substances that help improve blood flow and blood vessel dilation. 

This is pretty exciting news – I don’t know exact prices, but I’m pretty sure a bag of pistachios is cheaper than a box of Viagra – but before you go out and raid Whole Foods in preparation for your Summer of Mad McLovin’ 2011 Tour, it’s important to put this in perspective.  It was only 17 guys, who were all older and had bad cholesterol so their erectile dysfunction was due in large part to blood flow problems.  For most college and graduate students the plumbing is fine; the problem usually lies elsewhere, either above or below the belt.

That being said, unless you have an allergy to nuts it probably won’t hurt to see if pistachios give you a little boost.  Just don’t rely solely on the produce department – if you’re having problems with erectile function, make sure you see your health care provider to get checked out.

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

Do YOU know if you have HIV?

Order-It-Yourself Testing

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day.  Does this mean this is the only day to think about HIV testing?  Think again, Brutus. We just want all Buckeyes to be more aware of this important test.  The CDC recommends that EVERYONE from age 13 to 64 be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. If you have risk factors, such as multiple sexual partners, injecting drugs, or participating in higher risk sexual activity, then get tested at least once a year. 

HIV takes about 3 months after infection to show up on a blood test, so if you have a risky encounter, you want to get tested a couple times in the months to follow, to catch the infection early. 

Catching the infection early is the key.  Early detection helps get infected people to medical care, which allows for treatment to help slow disease progression.  In many cases, that means before the person develops immune suppression.  Early detection also allows time for people to learn other things they can do to stay healthy and avoid exposing other people to infection. Ultimately, that means healthier people, fewer people with advancing disease, fewer HIV deaths, and fewer new infections.

And if you test negative, then no worries??  Hang on, don’t start tweeting your newfound healthy status yet.  A negative test is your sign that you need to think about your future exposure risks, so you can stay negative. 

And, don’t forget, this is but one disease you might pick up during a hook-up. The GYT site can educate you on other risks, and Student Health can do a full sexually transmitted disease screening, to assess your status for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, and other infections to be named later. No time for a full screening?  You can also access STD tests through our OIY program

Stay safe.  Get Tested.

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Men suffering from “Doctoritis”

photo: getty images

Don't get lost in the crowd!

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month.  So, who needs to be made aware of the important health issues facing men?  It looks like the men themselves.

The Columbus Dispatch recently ran an interesting story about how often men seek out health care, both when they are sick and when they aren’t.  In a 2007 survey, more than half of the men interviewed had not seen their doctor within the past year and almost a third said that they will endlessly delay going to the doctor when they have health concerns.  Ironically, nearly all of these men felt that they were in good to excellent health.  How would they know!?  Are men delusional, or just wimps when it comes to seeing a doctor?

In fact, it goes deeper than that.  Men can view illness or injury as a sign of weakness or a threat to their masculinity.  Many men thrive on the sense that others are dependent on them for security and protection, and refuse to allow their human frailty to get in the way.  Male college students often view themselves as invulnerable to the usual slings and arrows of life and fail to do simple things that can protect them, such as wear a coat in the winter or a condom in bed. 

Also, the last time most men were told they had to see a doctor was when they went out for the baseball team in high school.  On the other hand, women are encouraged to see their doctor regularly throughout their entire lives for pelvic exams, breast exams, pap smears, and later on, mammograms and bone density tests. 

There’s no need to avoid us, guys.  There are few simple and (relatively) painless things you can do to stay healthy, and we can help you out with some of them.

  • Get your blood pressure checked regularly
  • Make sure your immunizations are up-to-date
  • Get screened for depression, elevated cholesterol, and STD’s if you have risk factors
  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Check out Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age for more details.  And remember – you’re only being weak if you DON’T take care of yourself!! 

Gretchen Koontz, RT
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Safe biking tips from Pelotonia

The Pelotonia folks posted a great article about how to beat the heat on your bike this summer on their blog The Rider on Monday.  You should check it out – lots of great advice. 

And while you’re there, take some time to look around the site and learn more about Pelotonia and all of the people here in Columbus and beyond who are raising money to help Ohio State researchers understand, prevent and treat cancer.  You can join the fight or donate to the cause while you’re at it!

Go Bucks!

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

Does HPV affect men?

genital wart caused by HPV infection

Q: I heard HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) causes cancer in women, but does it affect men too?

A: Absolutely!  It is estimated that up to 75-80% of all sexually active individuals – men and women – will become infected with HPV at some time in their lives.  HPV is spread by direct contact with infected skin or mucus membranes (such as the vagina, anus or mouth) so even if you’re wearing a condom, the skin around it that is uncovered can be exposed to the virus.  While most men infected with HPV have no symptoms, there are several conditions that can be caused by the virus:

Genital Warts

These can appear as flesh-colored growths on the penis, testicles, groin or anal area. They can be raised, flat or cauliflower-shaped. Warts can be treated with topical medicine or frozen off but they often return.  Warts may clear on their own, but they may also become larger or begin spreading over the skin surface. There are over 100 types of HPV; the types that cause genital warts usually do not cause cancer but it is possible to become infected with more than one type at a time. 

Anal Cancer

A few specific types of HPV are implicated as the leading cause of anal cancer but this isn’t known for sure.  Anal cancer is more likely to occur in men who engage in receptive anal intercourse but both anal HPV and anal cancer can occur in men who have never engaged in this activity.  HPV can be spread to your partner’s anus if you have warts or other HPV types on your penis or in your mouth and you perform insertive anal intercourse or oral-to-anal sexual activities.

Penile Cancer

Penile cancer, like anal cancer, is widely attributed to specific types of HPV.  This cancer is very rare, occurring in only about 1 in 100,000 circumcised males in the US.  In other regions of the world such as South America, Africa and Asia, the incidence of penile cancer is far greater and accounts for up to 10% of all malignant tumors in these regions. Penile cancer affects approximately 7,000 men annually worldwide.

Throat Cancer

Throat cancer has had a dramatic increase in recent years.  HPV can be spread from the anogenital areas to the mouth and throat (and vice versa) via oral sex.  HPV can lead to tumors of the throat, tonsils and tongue.  Oral sex isn’t necessarily safe sex!  You should use condoms and dental dams even for oral sex.

Angela Walker, Med IV (OSU COM)

David Lehnus, CNP (OSU SHS)

How to prepare for a zombie apocalypse!

As you’re finishing up finals and heading off to enjoy a well-earned summer break (except for you poor grad students, who will not get a break for the next 5-7 years depending on funding), it is our job to send you off with health and safety in mind.  Sure we could talk about sunscreen or poison ivy or other summer-related health issues again, but there is a more serious threat to your health that we need to warn you about.  Zombies.

Yes, you’ve seen the movies and read the books, but would you know what to do if you were confronted with a zombie apocalypse in real life?  Well thanks to the CDC, now you do.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – your online source for credible health information! – has an outstanding series of emergency preparedness guidelines, and has recently published a guideline for how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse.  We encourage you to read this vital health information closely and make all the recommended preparations.

For real?  Yes, your tax dollars and mine helped write the Zombie Blog.  What is the worst that can happen if you follow their recommendations?  You’ll have some water you can drink, some peanut butter or canned tuna (don’t forget the can opener) you can eat and some warm blankets tucked away for a VERY rainy day.   

Make sure to allow some extra time if you would like to come in for a consult regarding zombie preparedness – or any other prospective public health emergency. 

Jo Hanna Friend D’Epiro, PA-C, MPH
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Do a shot before summer break

Get your vaccination

Getting ready to leave campus for the summer?  Maybe you will be traveling, or visiting family, or starting that summer job at the retirement home or hospital.  Maybe you are doing all of the above?  If you are, then consider getting your vacinations updated before you leave campus.

One that is really worth talking about is the pneumonia vaccine, because the Centers for Disease Control just changed their recommendations for this vaccine and they could actually impact you.

The pneumonia vaccine used to only be recommended for people over 65, or for those who had certain chronic medical conditions.  But now, anyone 19 years of age or older who smokes or has asthma is being advised to get it.  People tend not to think of asthma as a chronic lung disease for some reason, but it is and if someone with asthma gets pneumonia, they’re at a much higher risk for having a bad outcome from it.  And we all know that smoking damages your lungs and weakens their ability to withstand infections.

If either of these conditions applies to you, you only need to get one shot and most of you will be good until you are 65 years old.  Depending on the rest of your health status, some people might need a booster shot 5 years after the first one.   If you have any questions about whether or not you need to get a pneumonia vaccine, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment to get one, contact our Preventive Medicine department and they’ll be glad to help you out.

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