Hang Over Sloopy, Sloopy Hang On!

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one drink of alcohol


Where's my liver? (CDC)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a new report on binge drinking in the US, especially among 18-24 year-olds, and the results are concerning.  Read more about it here.  This brings to mind a question we received from a student a few years ago:

Q: My 21st birthday was yesterday. I went out drinking with my friends and now I have a horrible hangover. What kind of things can I do to get rid of it?

A: Hangovers are still not completely understood by the medical community, but we have a pretty good idea that they come from a combination of dehydration, low blood sugar, and buildup of alcohol breakdown products in your system. Despite all the dubious home remedies out there – a beer in the morning (a little hair of the dog that bit you), those bogus pills sold in gas stations, McDonald’s fish sandwiches (?) – nothing has been scientifically proven to cure hangovers.  However, a few things can help.

The first thing you can do is keep hydrated. Next time you’re at the bar, try to drink a glass of water on the rocks in between drinks. Also remember to drink a nice big glass before you go to bed. This will help counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

The best thing to do on the morning after is replace the glucose and electrolytes that you have lost. This can be done with a glass of orange juice or Powerade. Another thing to do is exercise. Some studies have shown that increasing tissue oxygenation through exercise has a beneficial effect on curing hangovers.

While these steps can help with a hangover, the only proven way to prevent one is to abstain or at least drink in moderation. Party Smart here at Ohio State has more information about responsible drinking, the effects of alcohol and the local laws governing its use.

If you are worried that your drinking is starting to cause you problems, you can talk to us here at Student Health or our friends at the OSU Counseling and Consultation Service and Student Wellness Center. We are all here to help you.

John Vaughn (OSU Student Health Services)

Don’t lose your cookies

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Ever run though the kitchen when your mom or dad or grandparent was whipping up a batch of cookies, and grab a finger-ful of raw cookie dough from the bowl?  Very sugary, very smooth, maybe a chocolate chip or two – yummy.  Sound like fun?  But, you were always warned that the raw eggs will make you sick. 

Well, beware.  The New York Times Health section recently ran an article looking at disease outbreaks associated with uncooked cookie batter, and came up with an interesting suspicion – maybe the concern is not limited to raw eggs.  Researchers studied packaged cookie dough, which uses pasteurized eggs, and still found that infections were occurring.  The source?  They suspect that flour may be the source, as it was the only raw ingredient that went into the mix. 

Further research will be needed to know if this is true, but the bottom line is that if you buy food that is intended to be cooked or baked before you eat it, then you should avoid eating it raw.  A simple solution, so long as you can keep your fingers out of the mixing bowl.

Stomach upset?  Come in to Student Health Services, our healthcare team can help.

Healthy eating!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

Poop transplants!?


Kidney transplants?  Old news. 

Liver transplants?  Yawn. 

Face transplants?  Been there, done that, saw it in People

Poop transplants!?

Hah!  New I’d get you with that one.

That’s right, people.  Doctors are now transplanting “healthy” poop into the colons of patients with an intestinal infection called Clostridium Difficile (“C. Diff”) and it looks like it could actually be a very promising treatment.   Researchers in Oklahoma City performed fecal transplants on 77 patients with C. Diff that didn’t respond to standard treatment with antibiotics and had a 91% success rate in eradicating the infection

Why the heck are we talking about a medical treatment that is so gross?  Is the Student Health Center going to start offering poop transplants?  Well no, but many antibiotics that we commonly use to treat infections are associated with an increased risk of C. Difficile infection – even in young, healthy people – so it’s worth chatting about. 

C. Difficile is actually one of many “good” bacteria that normally live in our intestines, where it helps to prevent infections.  When we take antibiotics to treat other kinds of infections, they kill off some of these “good” bacteria in our gut as well as the ones they’re supposed to be killing.  This allows C. difficile to overgrow and release toxins that damage the cells lining the intestinal wall and cause severe diarrhea. 

The most common symptoms are watery diarrhea that occurs 3-5 times a day and is associated with abdominal cramping.  Symptoms usually start while you’re still on the antibiotic or 5-10 days after you stop.  Rarely, symptoms can develop up to 10 weeks later. 

In severe cases, the diarrhea will be more profuse and have blood or pus in it, and will be associated with dehydration, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and weight loss.  This is a serious condition called pseudomembraneous colitis which requires immediate treatment.

Most of the time, C. Difficile is treated by simply stopping the antibiotic that caused it to happen.  If necessary, a different antibiotic pill will be prescribed for 10-14 days.  If that doesn’t work, stronger antibiotics will be given through an IV along with the pills.  And if that doesn’t work… well, we send you to Oklahoma for a poop transplant.    

Probiotics have been shown to shorten the duration of diarrhea related to antibiotics, but research looking specifically at whether they can prevent or help treat C. difficile infection have been inconclusive so they are not routinely recommended. 

So the moral of the story, kids, is to use antibiotics as sparingly as possible.  Believe us when we tell you that your cold is just a cold or your sore throat isn’t strep.  Sometimes – in fact, most of the time – doing “nothing” is the best way to go.

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

Can you learn about safe sex from porn movies?

Men's Services

photo: tbdhu.com

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Use protection

CNN Health recently ran an interesting story about efforts in Los Angeles to pass a law requiring the use of condoms in all adult films produced in the city.  Safer sex advocates hope that seeing condoms used in these films may help to make them more acceptable to the public.  

But will it?  Is a message that encourages a positive health behavior more likely to be received if its delivered within a fictionalized story (and believe me guys, porn moves are fiction with a capial “F”) as opposed to a news report or public service announcement?

It’s a good question, and one that a professor right here at Ohio State tried to answer last year in a research study published in the journal Human Communication Research.  Emily Moyer-Gusé and her colleague at UC Santa Barbara (go Banana Slugs!), Robin Nabi, compared how college-aged participants responded to televised messages regarding unprotected sex and the risk for unintended pregnancy. 

Their findings?

  • Presenting this information in a news format, with interviews with young people coping with an unexpected pregnancy, had LITTLE EFFECT on the participants’ likelihood to use birth control.
  • Presenting the same information in a dramatic setting (in this case, an episode of the TV show “The OC”) led the female subjects to commit to taking action to prevent pregnancies in the future.
  • The male subjects, on the other hand, were actually LESS LIKELY to take action after watching the drama.

The researchers surmised that the women were more emotionally in touch with the characters in the TV drama so the show’s message had more impact, while the men may have been turned off by the storyline and therefore less receptive to the health message.

But can porn movies teach anybody anything about the realities of sex?  I doubt it.  Guys have never exactly paid too much attention to their storylines, so I’m guessing that adding condoms to the prop department won’t do that much to promote the cause of safe sex.  Hopefully I’m wrong.

But in the meantime, always wear a condom regardless of what you see onscreen.  Your risk of getting an STD is even higher than the risk of pregnancy without one, and you could probably do without either situation in your life right now. 

If you are having unprotected sex, be sure to call Student Health to come in and Get Yourself Tested.

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

When it comes to “perfect” sex, timing is everything!


My doctor put me on an antibiotic for a sore throat, and the pharmacist warned me that it is going to interfere with my birth control pills.  Two of my sorority sisters said they use “pulling out” whenever they need extra protection.  Does this really work?  And should I worry about the antibiotic making my pills less effective?

These are two great questions!  Let’s knock out the easy one first – do antibiotics interfere with birth control pills?

We covered this question in detail a few months ago, but the short answer is that as long as you’re taking your pills at the same time every day (give or take 2 hours) then back-up contraception shouldn’t be necessary.  If you’re having problems taking your pills consistently because of your illness – your sore throat is so severe that you can’t swallow them, or you’re vomiting and having diarrhea to the point that your body can’t absorb them, then you should use some back-up protection just in case. 

Now, on to the question of whether withdrawing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation (“pulling out,” “the withdrawal method,” “coitus interruptus”) will prevent pregnancy. 

Whenever we talk about the effectiveness of any form of birth control, we look at two very important statistics: annual pregnancy rates during typical use and during perfect use.

Perfect use is where everything works according to plan and instructions: you never miss a pill; you use a condom every time and nothing slips off or breaks; your boyfriend pulls out in time, every time. 

But as we all know, life ain’t perfect.  So we also look at the typical use rates of pregnancy – how effective the method is in the real world, where condoms slip and pills get skipped and guys forget to retreat.

For women counting on the withdrawal method alone, 4% will become pregnant each year with perfect use while 27% will become pregnant each year with typical use.  To give you a comparison, 2% of women using condoms alone will become pregnant with perfect use while 15% will become pregnant with typical use. 

As you can see, the withdrawal method isn’t very good.  It puts tremendous pressure on the male partner.  He has to be able to reliably tell when he’s going to ejaculate and have the control to pull out.  This is difficult under the best conditions; throw in extenuating circumstances like alcohol or drug consumption and it gets even harder (no pun intended).  

The big question you have to ask yourself is, “What would a pregnancy mean to my life”?  If it is not an option, then make sure to take your pills consistently, keep a box of condoms close by and forget about withdrawal.  Or better yet – tell your boyfriend to get you some hot soup and himself a cold shower.  You need to take it easy until you feel better!

Beth Askue, MS, CNP
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Trouble losing weight? You might have a caloric handicap.


I recently came across an interesting blog post on NPR called Losing Weight: A Battle Against Fat and Biology.  You should check it out – it brings up an interesting concept called a “caloric handicap” that helps explain why it so hard to lose weight and even harder to keep it off once you do.

Basically, the premise is that your body fights your attempt to lose weight.  Weight loss always comes down to taking in less calories than you expend.  The problem is that once you go into a state of less coming in than going out, your body takes that as a sign that starvation is on the way and starts sending out hormones to not only slow down your metabolism but increase your appetite.  (Unfortunately, these systems developed at a time when starvation was a real possibility – if our early ancestors had fast food drive throughs and 1400 calorie Frappa-lattes, we’d all be better off right now.)

So, to use NPR’s example, a person who weighs 230 pounds and loses 30 pounds cannot eat as much as someone who has always weighed 200 pounds.  The difference in the number of calories that the dieter can eat vs. the number that the naturally thinner person can is that dieter’s caloric handicap – and it can be up to 500 calories a day.

None of this information makes it easier to drop those pounds and keep them off, but at least it lets you know that it isn’t just a matter of will power – so give yourself a break.  The other take home point is that exercise is the key – no matter what type of diet you do, without a good 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, it most likely won’t last. 

So hit the RPAC, park farther away from your building, take the stairs, do whatever you can to burn those calories.  I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but you gotta keep trying.  If you ever need help, come in and talk to our nutritionists – they can give you some great advice.

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

Smoking can make your nipples fall off!


Now THAT is a blog title that’ll get your attention, huh?  I wish I could take credit for it, but it actually belongs to Dr. Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon in Detroit.  Dr. Youn is a pretty funny guy and gives some good advice – you should definitely check out the post.  

Now I realize that gravity has yet to inflict its cruelties on most college and grad students so there aren’t a lot of breast lifts getting scheduled around campus.  But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from Dr. Youn’s terrifying tale of necrotic nipples. 

We did a post a while back on reasons to quit smoking you might actually care about and we talked about peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – impaired blood flow to the extremities which can lead to tissue damage and amputation.  Like many of smoking’s ill effects, PAD mostly affects old people and is therefore easy to blow off.  But there are all kinds of surgeries that young people may run into, and as Dr. Youn so vividly points out, ones who smoke are at a higher risk for poor wound healing, which can lead to heavier scarring and/or higher risk of infection after surgery.

So don’t smoke, Young Buckeyes.  Your nipples – and the rest of you – will thank you for it.

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

The single best thing you can do for your health

I recently came across this YouTube video featuring Dr. Mike Evans, a family physician and professor in Toronto who answers the question, “What is the single best thing we can do for our health” in a new and very engaging way.  (Spoiler alert!  It’s exercise.)

One of the main reasons we have a hard time keeping our New Year’s resolutions is that they quickly seem too overwhelming to tackle.  With a simple little change in perspective, this video helps to bypass that roadblock.  Somehow, thinking “I just have to limit my sitting and sleeping to 23 1/2 hours a day” seems so much easier than saying, “I have to find 30 minutes to exercise every day.” 

Good luck!  

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

Buckeyes Head to Head with the Gators

photo: www.scottcounseling.com

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Use protection

The Buckeyes and Gators meet today at the Gator Bowl. This is a great time to see how a Buckeye compares to a Gator in some of the dimensions of health that are studied by our colleagues at the OSU Student Wellness Center

Substance abuse – How many students have used prescription drugs not prescribed for them in the past 12 months?

          OSU = 15.6%           UF = 19.9%

Unhealthy Eating – how many students report their weight being outside the healthy weight range (Body Mass Index 18.5-24.9)?

          OSU = 37.2%           UF = 32.9%

Sexual Health – how many students report having had no sexual partners in the past 12 months?

          OSU = 27.3%           UF = 29.1%

Stress – how many students report having felt so depressed that it was difficult to function anytime in the past 12 months?

          OSU = 30.4%           UF = 29.4%

These few snapshots of our campuses show how similar we are with our esteemed opponents. That is why our student health and student wellness programs are so important.  Come see us for advice to make your lifestyle a healthier one. 


Roger Miller, MD  (OSU Student Health Services)


OSU: http://slra.osu.edu/posts/documents/exec-summary.pdf

UF: http://healthygators.ufsa.ufl.edu/surveys/healthy-gators-student-survey/healthy-gators-student-survey-2010-findings