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Students try to evade summertime sickness

By Caitlin Couillard
On May 22, 2013

The summer season is an exciting time for students — classes are out and the weather is hot; but with the changing season comes allergies, stronger sun exposure and dehydration if students do not exercise proper care of their bodies.

A poll taken by the Central Florida Future found that, when asked the last time they went to the doctor in the past six months, 17 out of 30 students said they made a visit to the doctor’s office. Out of those 17, 13 said they went because they were ill; the other four were simply for check-ups. Regular check-ups are one way to make sure students maintain good health.

Brynne Eastman, a senior marketing major, said despite being allergic to pollen, cats and amoxicillin she usually does not visit the doctor.

“I use over-the-counter stuff like Zyrtec,” she said.

Allergies are one of the common occurrences Megan Pabian, marketing coordinator for UCF health services, sees in students. About one in five Americans suffers from allergies, which tend to get worse in the spring season and carry on into the summer.

Pabian said some of the most common allergy triggers are pollen, pet dander and dust.

Most allergy symptoms can be relieved using over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec and Allegra. Other medications, such as Clarinex, need to be prescribed by a doctor.

One way to prevent allergies from worsening is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, Pabian said, can take years to accomplish. This form of therapy helps build up immunity to allergens through serum injections done on a regular basis. This process will eventually make you “immune” to the allergen.

Students who have already begun immunotherapy are eligible to continue receiving their injections at UCF Health Services. For one injection the cost is $14 per visit, and $17 each visit if two or more shots are needed.

For many students who are experiencing symptoms but are unsure about what they are actually allergic to, a visit to an allergist may be necessary.

Another way to stay healthy during the summer months is to keep skin protected. Skin care is extremely important not just for beauty, but also for preventing sun damage and skin cancer.

Julia Storti, a registered nurse practitioner at Advanced Dermatology in Oviedo, said it is important to wear SPF 15 or higher every day, whether it be in a daily moisturizer or sunscreen alone to protect your skin.

“I get people on a daily basis with pre-skin cancer and skin cancer … probably up to 10 patients daily,” she said.

The consequences of sun damage can range from short-term effects such as sunburn and discoloration, to long-term effects like wrinkles, premature aging, brown spots and skin cancer.

One of the best things you can do to stay healthy and hydrated is to drink plenty of water rather than any other drinks. Pabian said the few nutrients that juices and sports drinks provide do not outweigh the amount of calories they contain.

“Get your nutrients from food,” she said.

With the summer sun blazing ahead, students should be sure to take advantage of the services UCF provides and take preventative measures whenever possible.

Students pay $10.30 per credit hour for a state-mandated health fee which allows them to visit the UCF Health Services physicians without paying for the office visit. Although there is no cost for the doctor’s visits, students would be responsible for fees associated with any tests, scans or other procedures that might be needed.

For information on the health services students can receive on campus, visit hs.ucf.edu.

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