Vomiting/Diarrhea (Acute Gastroenteritis)

Acute gastroenteritis, commonly known as AGE is a sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. AGE can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. Sources of the illness are usually unknown. A patient can have one or all symptoms.

When vomiting, a patient can become dehydrated and lose electrolytes. Electrolytes help our bodies function, so it is very important to stop the vomiting as soon as possible. If excessive vomiting occurs, a patient usually complains of weakness, dizziness and body aches.

Diarrhea is also a symptom of AGE. Diarrhea is the way the body gets rid of the virus or bacteria. Contamination from the diarrhea is usually how AGE is passed from one person to the next. Good hand washing after each bowel movement is strongly recommended. Over the counter medication such as Imodium AD can help with symptoms, but is not a substitute for change in diet.

Wait two hours after your last episode of vomiting and slowly start clear liquids. We recommend about ¼ of a cup every 15 minutes for one hour. Advance as tolerated. Stay on clear liquid diet for 24 hours. If unable to tolerate clear liquids seek medical attention ASAP.

AGE Clear Liquid Diet includes: water, Gatorade, Jell-O, 7up or Sprite, Beef or Chicken Broth (FAT FREE)

After tolerating clear liquids for 24 hours advance to the BRAT (or bland) diet. Continue with the clear liquids as well. If vomiting resumes with the BRAT diet, return to the clear liquid diet for another 24 hours. If diarrhea does not subside after 3 days after changing diet, then seek medical attention. 

BRAT Diet: bananas, white rice, applesauce, toast, crackers, baked or boiled potato. Avoid dairy: butter, margarine, milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream; greasy or fried food; processed foods; fresh fruits or salads (except the banana and potato).

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Influenza vs. Cold

So you think you have the flu? Well, maybe not. It may be the common cold. Both influenza and the common cold are viruses and they both make you feel miserable, however listed below are the differences. This is to help you determine what you have and how to best treat it!

Signs and symptoms




Greater than 101

Less than 101

Body Aches







Moderate to severe


Symptom Onset




Dry, unproductive (no phlegm/mucus)

Hacky, productive (phlegm/mucus)




Nasal Congestion



Sore Throat



Chest Discomfort

Often severe

Mild to Moderate





If you think you have Influenza seek medical attention immediately. There are anti-viral medications a physician can prescribe for you. These medications can lessen the time and severity of the illness. It WILL NOT cure you. Also you must start on the medications within 48 hours of the first symptom. Antibiotics WILL NOT help with influenza or the common cold.    

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Chickenpox and International Students

It is the medical recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association that all entering college students without history of the disease, previous immunization or a negative antibody titer receive the chickenpox vaccine in the two dose series described below.

Why You Should Get The Vaccine?
Chickenpox (Varicella) is a very contagious common childhood disease. It is usually mild in small children, but can be serious especially in adults. Developing chickenpox would mean being quarantined and missing seven to 10 days of class (longer if complications develop).

  • The chickenpox virus can be spread from person to person through the air or by contact.
  • It causes a rash, itching, fever and tiredness.
  • It can lead to severe skin infections, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.
  • A person who has had chickenpox can develop a painful rash called shingles years after initial exposure.
  • About 12,000 people are hospitalized for chickenpox each year in the United States.
  • About 100 people die each year in the United States as a result of chickenpox.
  • People who do not get the vaccine until 13 years of age or older should get two doses, four to eight weeks apart. People who are not 18 years old can get the shot for $3 at the Benton County Health Department. People over 18 years old can get the vaccine from the doctor's office of their choice.

Who Should Not Get The Vaccine?

  • If you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin or a previous dose of chickenpox vaccine.
  • If you are moderately or severely ill, you should wait until you recover.
  • Pregnant women should wait until after birth.
  • Women should not get pregnant for one month after getting the vaccine.
  • These people should check with their doctor regarding the vaccine: Those with HIV/AIDS or any immune disease; Those being treated with drugs that affect the immune system (steroids); Anyone with cancer; If you have recently had a transfusion.

What Are The Risks of The Vaccine?

  • A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of the chickenpox vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small.
  • Getting the vaccine is much safer than getting the disease.

How Can I Learn More?
Call the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): 1-800-232-2522 or 1-800-232-0233
Website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/
This information is taken form the Website of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Head Lice

Head lice are parasites that live in human hair, eyebrows and eye lashes. They feed on human blood several times a day. Head lice are found worldwide but infestation is common in school age children and their household.

Head lice move by crawling, they do not jump or fly. They are spread usually by person to person contact. The spreading of lice can also occur by coming in contact with the infested person’s belongings, such as clothing, brushes or towels. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.

Symptoms: Itching is the most common symptom of head lice. This is due to an allergic reaction to the bite. It may take four to six weeks after infestation for the itching to begin. Other symptoms are: tickling or the feeling of something moving in the hair, sleeplessness and sores on the scalp from the scratching.

Treatment: Over the counter medications are recommended, however they do not kill the nits (eggs), it kills the adult lice only. It is very important to comb the nits out using the nit comb that comes with the medication. The patient can NOT comb their own hair; this must be done by another person. A second treatment is recommended on day nine to kill newly hatched lice before they can lay eggs. 

All bedding, including pillow and blankets must be washed. Clothes, sweaters, scarfs, hats and hair accessories must be washed. If items cannot be washed in hot water they should be dry cleaned or placed in a garbage bag tied up for two weeks. Vacuuming floors, carpet and furniture will also help collect the hair that may have viable nits attached. 

There are other alternative treatments that can be used with over the counter medications. Placing mayonnaise or olive oil in the hair and cover with a shower cap and left over night and shampooing hair with regular shampoo that has tea tree oil added to it are two of the most common methods. These treatments should not be used alone to treat head lice.

For more information go to www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice.      

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Arkansas Act 1233 of 1999 requires colleges and universities to notify students and their parents or guardians of the increased risk of meningococcal disease among students who live in close quarters like residence halls.

Recently, an improved vaccine has been released and the Center for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American College Health Association have come out with a recommendation that "all college students under 25 years of age who live in residence halls may choose to be vaccinated to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease."

The ACIP press release said "college freshmen who live in dormitories are six times more likely than other people to be infected with meningitis. They have the country's highest rate of the disease at 5.1 cases per 100,000. While the disease is rare, it is devastating.

The new vaccine is effective for more than eight years, while the old vaccine lasted for just three to five years. The old vaccine also didn't prevent people from being carriers of the bacteria; the new one does."

Please consult your private physicians on this matter and let me know if I can be of any assistance to you regarding this or any other concerns you might have about your son or daughter. You may contact the nurse by calling 479-524-7320 or by email RHostler@jbu.edu

What is meningitis and meningococcal infection?
Meningitis is an infection that can lead to a dangerous swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The disease can be caused by either viruses or bacteria. The symptoms you feel and how a doctor treats the infection depend on what kind of organism is causing it.

The bad news is that if meningococcal infection goes untreated, it can lead to permanent disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures or amputation; it can even lead to death. The good news is that if it's caught early, meningitis is curable in most cases. Of course, it's even better to prevent the disease altogether.

There are two kinds of meningitis, each caused by a different type of organism:

  • Viral Meningitis: This is the more common form of the disease. Viral meningitis is usually not as serious as bacterial meningitis, and patients usually get better with minimal treatment.
  • Bacterial Meningitis: This form of the disease is often referred to as meningococcal meningitis. Because it can be easily spread, meningococcal meningitis can cause outbreaks in a specific area, such as a college campus. Infection can cause serious illness, long-lasting effects on the nervous system or death within 24-28 hours.

A risk on the rise for college students

Since the early 1990s, there has been an increase in meningitis outbreaks in the United States. In fact, the number of cases has nearly doubled among young adults (15-24 years of age) from 1991 to 1996. Fortunately, this type of meningococcal infection can potentially be prevented with a vaccine. Meningitis vaccination can protect against strains A, C, Y and W-135. Now you can see why it is so important to protect your child against meningitis before sending him or her off to college.

Why are college students at greater risk?
College students in general have a greater risk of meningococcal infection than the general population because of activities that are often a part of college life, such as smoking, being around someone who smokes (passive smoking), going out to bars, drinking alcohol and living in a dormitory.

Your child can be at risk because the infection is easily spread through direct contact with oral secretions. Such contact includes coughing, sharing of utensils or kissing. And, of course, even if they live off campus and don't smoke or drink themselves, all college students are at a greater risk for meningococcal infection because of the close contact they have in classes and activities with other students.

Since the early 1990s there has been an increase in meningitis outbreaks in the United States. And about one-third of all outbreaks from 1991 to 1996 occurred in schools, universities or other organization-based setting. That is why ACHA recommends that students consider vaccination to reduce their risk of potential fatal meningococcal disease.

Is vaccination safe?
Yes, the meningitis vaccine is generally safe and effective. However, some reactions (eg, soreness or redness at the injection site, mild fever) can happen with all vaccines. In addition, some precautions apply. Some vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy. Some are not safe to use if a person has compromised immune system or certain health conditions. No vaccine protects 100 percent of susceptible individuals. For further information please see your physician for Prescribing Information. Check with your child's physician, local public health clinics or student health services if you have a question or concern.

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