Don’t Drop the Ball this New Year!

Happy New Year’s from Ohio State Student Health Services!

We know many of you probably have big plans for tonight, and those plans probably include alcohol.  While it’s fun to ring in the New Year with a toast or 2, things can get a little dangerous when you overdo it with the booze, especially when you don’t normally drink a lot.

A lot of emphasis is put on the dangers of drinking and driving on New Year’s Eve – which is obviously extremely important – but getting drunk can lead to other kinds of accidents too.  Like having unplanned sex with inadaquate protection, or leaving drunk voice-mails on your ex-boyfriend’s phone, or posting photos on your Facebook page that you really DON”T want your boss/professor to see tomorrow. 

But don’t take it from me, take it from the ultimate authority – Grandma!  On New Year’s Eve, don’t drunk-text your grandma, have a designated driver you can trust, log off of Facebook and back up your birth control!

Student Health Services wishes you a safe and happy 2013!!

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

Merry Christmas, Baby!

Happy Holidays from the staff of The Ohio State University Student Health Services!

However you celebrate the season, we hope that you and your loved ones have a healthy and happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

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

Are immunizations paid for at the Student Health Center?

Get your vaccination

Q: Are immunizations covered at the Student Health Center?

A: If you have the Comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan, many immunizations are covered with no cost sharing under the Preventive Services benefit.  That means you have no out of pocket expense for these immunizations.  The following immunizations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are covered at 100% under the Comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis A&B
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) for students under 27 years of age only
  • Influenza
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal
  • Tetanus-Diphtheria toxoids (Td)
  • Tetanus-Diphtheria-Acellular Pertussis (TdaP)
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)

The following immunizations are covered at 50% under the Comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan.  You will be responsible for half of the cost of the immunization and administration fee:

  • Polio
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever

The price for all immunizations can be found on the SHS website.

Preventive Medicine services including immunizations are specifically excluded under the WilceCare Supplement.  For more details on the WilceCare Supplement or the Comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan, see the Student Health Insurance website.

Immunizations are considered preventive medicine services by most insurance plans.  Due to recent changes in health care laws, these services may be covered when given at the Wilce Student Health Center.  To find out how or if your plan will cover immunizations at Wilce (or any other facility) you will need to contact your insurance company.

Michael Bower, CPC-A
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

How do I know if a mole is skin cancer?

Over the past year or two, I’ve noticed two moles have come up around my hip area. Should I be worried? Could this possibly be a symptom of skin cancer? Can I get tested for that on campus?

We’ve covered skin cancer from a few angles.  How to use sunscreen correctly to prevent skin cancer.   How the incidence of melanoma – the worst kind of skin cancer – from UV light exposure has increased dramatically over the last three decades, particularly in young women.  Even whether spray tanning is a safer alternative.  But we’ve never talked about what to do when you have a mole that’s bothering you.

In this situation, a picture really is worth a thousand words.  Click on the photo to the right for an excellent visual guide and remember your ABC’s when it comes to figuring out if a mole is worrisome.  Moles that are skin cancer tend to:

Asymmetry – have one half that looks different than the other half

Border – have a jagged or uneven edge

Color – have different colors

Diameter – be larger than the eraser on the end of a pencil (about 6mm)

Evolution – change shape or color over time

Many moles and birthmarks are totally normal, even if they meet some of these criteria, but as a dermatologist once told me in med school – nobody has microscopic vision and the only way to tell for sure if a mole is abnormal is to look at it under the microscope. 

This is called a skin biopsy, and to answer your 2nd question, yes you can get tested for that on campus.  In fact, we can do skin biopsies right here at the Student Health Center and send the tissue sample over to the pathologists at the medical center to analyze.  We also have a great network of dermatologists here in town that we can refer you to if a mole is really large or in a cosmetically important area like the face. 

If you have any concerns at all about a mole, come in and see us.  We are more than willing and able to help you decide if it is something to be worried about, and we can get you the treatment you need if it is.

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

My doctor said that my vitamin D level is low. Is that really bad?

It’s well established that Vitamin D is important in the regulation of the body’s calcium levels and bone development.  If people don’t get enough, they are at risk of diseases like rickets and osteoporosis.  But researchers have more recently discovered that vitamin D receptors are found on almost all tissues of the body.  This has caused a “boom” in vitamin D research; scientists are investigating its role in everything from heart disease and diabetes to depression, cancer and the common cold. 

You get Vitamin D in two ways: by consuming it in foods or supplements, and by making it in your skin when sunlight hits it.  Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in a lot of foods – unless you’re a really big fan of cod liver oil or mackerel, you wouldn’t get nearly enough – so many foods are fortified with it.  Almost all of the milk sold in the U.S. is fortified with Vitamin D, as are many cereals, juices and yogurts. 

This time of year in Columbus ain’t exactly the most Vitamin D friendly environment – the sun seems to head south for the winter – so it’s not unusual for people around here to have a low Vitamin D level.  But what does that really mean?  How low is too low?  And does having a low Vitamin D level increase your risk for depression, high blood pressure, the flu?  We don’t know for sure.  There’s even a lot of debate going on right now about whether or not the current cut off for a “normal” Vitamin D level is too high and that a lot of people are being told they have a deficiency when they really don’t. 

That being said, people build up the majority of their bone density during their twenties so it wouldn’t hurt to take a daily adult multi-vitamin containing around 600 IU of Vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis later in life.  It’s also a good idea to get some regular sunlight exposure whenever you can; even if it’s cold, it’ll turn on your skin’s Vitamin D factory.  But don’t overdo it – taking too much (over 4000 IU) can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels and kidneys.  And excessive uv radiation exposure can damage your skin and put you at risk for really bad things.   

The National Institutes of Health has a great site about Vitamin D supplements, and the Mayo Clinic also provides a lot of good information.  And of course, you can always make an appointment to see us if you’re worried about your Vitamin D level.   

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