'Doc' responds to warts, flu concerns

My girlfriend has vaginal warts. Can I also get vaginal warts?



Dear Fred,

Your concern is good. Your knowledge of anatomy is not so good! The male equivalent of vaginal warts is possible and transmitted by sexual intercourse without a condom. Warts of either sex are termed venereal warts and are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

There are approximately 70 different types of HPV based on different DNA. A few of the subtypes of HPV are very aggressive and can cause cervical cancer and, rarely, squamous cell carcinoma of the penis.

All lumps, bumps and wart-like spots in the genital area of men and women should be checked. Women should get a yearly pap smear looking for early cervical cancer.

Warts visible to the naked eye and abnormal cells on a pap smear can be treated with various methods, including freezing and various acids or peeling agents. However, because viruses live inside human cells there may be HPV infection present and nothing to see. The HPV virus can remain dormant for months to years. All patients with a history of venereal warts, even if treated, should always use latex condoms.

I got a flu shot last year and still got


sick. Why didn't it work?


The flu shot (influenza vaccine) protects against the virus Influenza A only. The symptoms of the "real flu" are a sudden onset of high fever (over 102 degrees Fahrenheit), cough, severe body aches and headache. Flu season is from approximately December through April. We have not seen any Influenza A yet this year.

People who need the flu shot include people over the age of 65, patients with chronic medical conditions (heart disease, lung disease, diabetes), people with immune problems (HIV) and health care workers. I recommend the flu shot to all students with asthma.

The flu is a virus and therefore antibiotics do not help it go away. There is a medication that may decrease the length of illness if started within 48-72 hours. The main treatment is bed rest, fluids, cough syrup and aspirin or Tylenol.

There are hundreds of upper respiratory illnesses which cause low grade fever (below 101 degrees Fahrenheit), sore throat, nasal congestion and headaches. The flu shot does not protect against these so people receiving it may still get colds and infections. Again, antibiotics do not usually help these infections. You can treat the symptoms with rest, fluids, decongestants (Sudafed) and aspirin or Tylenol.

Why can't I ever get antibiotics for my sore throat at Student Health?


Most sore throats are caused by viral infections. Viruses live and reproduce inside of human cells, therefore it is very difficult to kill a virus without destroying the cell. There are few anti-viral medications that cure viruses (common cold, HIV, herpes). Most viral infections get better on their own with the help of our body's immune system.

Group A strep throat is a bacterial infection (not a virus) only diagnosed by a throat culture. An antibiotic should be started within nine days of the symptoms to prevent complications of Group A strep throat. The complications include rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease and kidney problems. Antibiotics may also help decrease the length of symptoms from strep throat (fever, sore throat). Antibiotics do not help and are not indicated for sore throats caused by viruses. Side effects of antibiotics include shock, yeast infections, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Sore throat remedies such as gargling with warm salt water, hard sour candy and lozenges, and anti-inflammatory medicines (aspirin, Tylenol) are safe and helpful.

Playing Doctor is a bi-weekly column where Student Health personnel answer health-related questions. If you have a question (sex questions welcome), drop it off at the Arizona Daily Wildcat Letters to the Editor box or send them to us marked Attention Health Q&A. Anonymous letters are fine.

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