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Campus Health treats break ills

By Arek Sarkissian II
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday March 25, 2003

Many students get sick because of lack of sleep, excessive drinking

Students returning from Spring Break aren't complaining of the normal aches and pains Campus Health is used to. In fact, the number of students coming into the clinic yesterday was about average for normal Monday traffic.

Rather than common injuries or illnesses related to spring break, more students visited the clinic yesterday to treat a respiratory virus that began sweeping the campus more than one month ago.

According to Carrie Torrington, nursing coordinator for Campus Health, the respiratory virus starts as congestion in the chest, then leads to irritation of the throat and congestion in the sinuses.

The virus was escalated by students who indulged in immune system killing activities, like drinking, during the week off, Torrington said. Students also tend to lose their normal hygienic habits on spring break, neglecting to do things like washing their hands or getting proper sleep, she said.

"Basically, the only thing you could do to prevent this is to do what your mother always told you to do," she said.

The weakening of the immune system from partying could also lead the virus to foster a bacterial infection. As the body begins to kill the virus, the moist areas provided by the mucous in the chest are the perfect place for breeding bacteria, she said.

However, the usual suspects from spring break weren't too scarce at Campus Health yesterday.

A handful of students visited the center complaining of diarrhea, which Torrington said can sometimes be treated at home by staying away from certain foods and, as with many sicknesses, staying hydrated. However, students who are suffering from vomiting, dizziness, fever, headaches or bloody stools should seek medical attention immediately. Some students may also need to begin the re-hydration process medically if the diarrhea is severe enough.

Still present at Campus Health were a few spring break induced injuries. Some students came in complaining of pain from stingrays and jellyfish stings, which Torrington warned could become a problem if pieces of the fish are still in the skin.

A list on a small pink sheet of paper on the check-in desk at Campus Health gave a brief summary of where students had visited over break. Torrington said the list shows that while some went as far away as the Bahamas, Cuba or even Vancouver, trips to Mexico weren't as popular.

"We noticed that students were going to other places. A lot of them went home or just stayed in the U.S.," she said.

She added that many students told her they decided to stay in the country as the thought of war grew to reality.

But for Akash Arora, an optical sciences and engineering sophomore, neither the war nor the spread of the respiratory sickness stopped him from visiting a friend's ranch in the Sonoran Capital of Hermosillo. However, he did come down with a minor case of diarrhea.

"I guess it was from the spiciness of the food. I just had to get used to it," he said.

Torrington said even salsas made south of the border could contain the parasitic bacteria that make students sick.

Melisa Cassidy, a microbiology junior, said it was easy for her to stay healthy during the break. She stayed home to catch up on work.

"I just didn't have the money. I had so much to do anyway," she said.

For more information or questions about spring break ailments, call Campus Health at 621-9202.

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