Why does your nose run when it’s cold?

The Nose: A built-in humidifier

When I was walking my dog this weekend, my nose started to run.  That got me to wondering why this occurs.  Why does your nose run when it’s cold?

It turns out that this is a good thing.  Your nose is your own personal built in humidifier.   Its job, in addition to odor detection, is to warm and add moisture to the air you breathe before it gets to your lungs.  You inhale the cold, dry air on a wintry day and your nose automatically starts producing fluids to protect your lungs.  Sometimes the nose does a really good job of producing that moisture and the excess drips out.

Another factor in a drippy nose is condensation.  Have you ever been out on a really cold day and seen your breath?  That’s the result of your warm breath hitting the cold air and forming condensation or water droplets.  The same thing happens with your nose.  You breathe warm air out your nose.  It hits the cold air and drips start happening.

If you want to avoid the whole drippy nose thing, try wearing a scarf over your nose and mouth.  Air breathed through a scarf is warmer and moister and will cut down on the drips.

And, if you’re in need of some nose humor:  If your nose runs, and your feet smell, you’re built upside down!

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Stomach bug back on campus

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We have seen a LOT of students with a viral gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”) here at Student Health over the last couple of weeks.  Here’s what you should look out for and/or do if you think you’ve been hit with it.

Watery diarrhea is the main symptom: anywhere from 2 or 3 loose stools per day up to living on the toilet all day.  Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting (some people will only have this without the diarrhea)
  • Stomach cramps, pain, or tenderness
  • Fever or chills
  • Appetite loss
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration

The most common cause is an infection by a virus that is spread by coming into contact with an infected person or by touching an object that has the virus on it.  Sometimes people are worried that they may have “food poisoning.” While it is certainly possible to get a similar illness from eating bad food, a viral infection is more common and for the most part, you treat them the same way.

To avoid catching the stomach virus, be sure to wash your hands a lot to prevent the spread of germs; don’t share cups/utensils/toothbrushes, etc.; and be sure you’re cooking and storing food properly.

Even though this is sometimes called a “24-hour stomach bug,” symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days and you may feel weak and fatigued for up to a week.

The mainstay of treatment is rest and replacing the fluids you are losing through vomiting and diarrhea.  Suck ice chips or drink small amounts of clear fluids often. Replace lost fluids and electrolytes with products such as non-caffeinated beverages (Sprite, Ginger Ale, GatorAde, PowerAde).  Stay away from orange juice, that will just cause irritation.  Once you feel like you can keep food down, stick with bland foods like rice, wheat, potatoes, bread, cereal, and lean meat like chicken.  Milk and dairy products can sometimes irritate your stomach after a stomach flu, so minimize them for a day or two and try to avoid fatty or greasy foods like hamburgers and pizza for a few days.

Most of the time, the stomach flu will resolve on its own and you can manage it at home.  Loperamide (Imodium AD) is available over-the-counter for diarrhea.  If the nausea is severe, we can prescribe you anti-nausea medication at the student health center.   Be sure to contact the student health center if:

  • Symptoms last longer than 2 days
  • You see blood or mucus in your stool
  • You can’t keep fluids down
  • You have signs or symptoms of dehydration: dry mouth, lightheadedness or dizziness

John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU SHS)

Revised by Tina Comston, M.Ed.


Five Numbers You Need to Know By Heart

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, killing about 600,000 Americans each year.  There are five numbers, however, that each person should know to help keep their cardiovascular system healthy.

“These are the numbers doctors use to assess someone’s risk for getting heart disease, both short term and throughout their lifetime,” says Dr. Martha Gulati, director of preventive cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital. “When you monitor these numbers, you are empowered to work with your doctor to improve your heart health.” 

  • Blood pressure – This is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. It’s measured as two numbers – the systolic pressure, as the heart beats, over the diastolic pressure, as the heart relaxes between beats. A normal blood pressure is under 120/80. Talk to your doctor if it is higher than that. Simple lifestyle changes can help you lower your blood pressure and potentially avoid medication.
  • BMI – Body Mass Index is the measurement of your weight for your body surface area and it’s considered a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. A recent national survey commissioned by Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center found nearly 2 out of 3 Americans don’t know what’s considered to be a healthy BMI. Use this BMI calculator to get your number. A BMI less than 18.5 is underweight. Below 25 is normal. A BMI of 25 through 29.9 is overweight, and 30 or higher is considered obese. “Knowing where you lie within that spectrum is really important because sometimes people will be very accepting of their weight thinking ‘Well, that number sounds reasonable.’ But is it reasonable for their height?” Gulati said.
  • Waist circumference – Fat that is carried around the abdomen increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Measure your waist at the belly button, not where your clothing waistband sits. Gulati says women should be at least less than 35 inches and men should be less than 40 inches at the waist.
  • Cholesterol – While the body makes all of the cholesterol it needs, it is also readily found in food. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and atherosclerosis, or build-up of plaque in the arteries. Gulati says it’s important to know your total cholesterol number and your low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, number. That’s the bad cholesterol that can cause problems. A healthy cholesterol number is below 200. A healthy LDL number is below 100.
  • Blood sugar – This reading tells doctors how much glucose is in the blood. High levels of blood glucose cause diabetes, which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. A healthy fasting blood sugar number is under 100 after not eating for eight hours.

Reposted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

See original article at:… http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/mediaroom/releases/Pages/5-Numbers-You-Need-to-Know.aspx

Is Your Bra a “No Phone Zone”?

Are you one of the 40% of college females who has taken to the practice of storing their cell phone in their bra?  What about one of the 3% who report doing it more than 10 hours a day?  You’re in luck, two enterprising college students have invented the JoeyBra.  This bra features a side pocket big enough to hold your phone.

But – is this really a good idea?  What about the whole cell phone next to the skin causes cancer thing?

To date there is no scientific evidence proving or disproving a correlation between cell phones and cancer.  The technology is just too new for there to have been sufficient long term studies.  It could actually take as long as 20 to 30 years to accumulate and study the clinical cases where the cell phone is suspect.

Some doctors, however, say that they are seeing evidence of breast cancer that could be connected to the storage of cell phones in the bra.  Both Donna Jaynes, 38, and Tiffany Frantz, 21, were diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither had genetic or family risk factors, but both were in the habit of storing their cell phone in their bra.   The locations of their tumors were relative to where they stored their phone.

Should you declare your bra a “No Phone Zone”?  That’s up to you, but keep in mind that phone manufacturers do provide a recommendation for safe storage in their documentation.  For the IPhone that safe distance is at least 5/8 of an inch away from the body.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, M.D.