Seasonal allergies, also referred to as “hay fever,” are rampant in the south.  Seasonal allergies, like other allergies, develop when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment that typically causes no problem in most people.  It can cause sneezing, itchy or red eyes, sore throat, itching of the throat or ears, stuffy nose, headaches, and or a runny nose. Many people have seasonal allergies as children or young adults and, the life-long symptoms can wax and wane over time.

According to recent news broadcast that aired on WWLTV, The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says New Orleans is one of the worst places to live for people who have allergies.  Conferring is Dr. Ken Paris, a pediatric allergist and immunology specialist with LSU Health Science Center, “Allergy season is pretty much year round in New Orleans.  It starts in the spring with tree pollen and extends into the summer with grass.  Since we don’t always freeze in the winter, grass pollen can go into the winter months.”

Seasonal allergies are usually diagnosed by your doctor or a medical provider after having performed an exam and possibly allergy testing.  Although allergy testing is not performed at Loyola Student Health, you can be treated based on your symptoms and/or referred to a local allergist.  Allergy shots are usually reserved for those individuals with severe allergies that have been tested by a specialist.

Treatment for seasonal allergies includes salt water nose rinses; steroid nose sprays, antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra, and decongestants.  In fact, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently released two steroid nasal sprays, Flonase and Nasacort that assist in decreasing the inflammation that occurs in the nasal passageways during the allergy season. These medications, once only available by prescription, are now sold over the counter in the allergy section at your local drugstore.

The best way to prevent seasonal allergies is to know your triggers, start taking antihistamines 2-4 weeks before the environmental exposure, and to try to avoid those exposures as much as possible.  According to the medical website www.uptodate.com, ways to prevent exposures include the following:

  1. Stay indoors on windy days.
  2. If you are outside, change and wash your clothes as soon as you remove them.
  3. Keep your windows to your car and homes closed during the spring and, use the air conditioner.
  4. Take a shower before bed to wash off the pollen from your hair and skin.
  5. Use dust mite pillow covers.

For more information about this topic and other health-related concerns, please call Loyola’s Student Health Services at 504-865-3326

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Special guest post from Abbie Levenson, Social Work Intern:

A little self-disclosure here, but I love The Oscars. It can be entertaining and satisfying to see deserving people be rewarded for their extraordinary talents in acting, directing and even costume design and sound editing. Although it has been about a week since the award ceremony, there is one Oscar acceptance speech that everybody is still talking about. Graham Moore, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay category for The Imitation Game, delivered an inspirational and heartfelt message to the people who are “different.”

Here is an excerpt from his speech:

“I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here,” he said. “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.” To see the speech in its entirety, go to The Huffington Post.

Moore’s speech raises awareness of suicide, and it is important to know the signs of suicidal thinking. Here are some signs:

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.

• Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

• Talking about being a burden to others.

• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

• Sleeping too little or too much.

• Withdrawn or feeling isolated.

• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

• Displaying extreme mood swings.

• Preoccupation with death.

• Loss of interest in things one cares about.

• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.

• Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.

• Giving things away, such as prized possessions.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, you can call the UCC and make an appointment with a counselor. In case of an emergency, call 911 or head to the emergency room to prevent a suicide attempt or death. You can also call LUPD who can get you in touch with a counselor in the event of a crisis after-hours or on weekends. Remember to take thoughts or plans of suicide seriously, but know that help is available and that life can get better!

Here are some numbers you can call to receive help:

• The UCC: (504)-865-3838

• LUPD: (504)-865-3434

• The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

• 911

 

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Life at Loyola can be fun and exciting while at the same time stressful and demanding.  A visit to the University Counseling Center (UCC) could be your answer to staying balanced as you navigate the responsibilities of being a student this spring.  Your on-campus UCC provides mental healthcare for all currently enrolled Loyola students including residential, commuter, full-time and part-time.  Our staff in the UCC provide a range of experience and expertise and are made up of a licensed psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, a licensed professional counselor and a license-eligible professional counselor.  The UCC also has a part-time contracted psychiatrist on staff.  You can check out our individual biographies on our main page at http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/bios/dept/counseling.

We are located on the second floor of the Danna Student Center, directly above the Orleans Room (OR).  Office hours are Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:45pm.  We provide individual counseling, group counseling, couples counseling, ADHD testing, and medication management appointments.  Counseling services are provided for concerns such as anxiety, relationship difficulties, adjustment issues, ADHD, and depression, just to name a few.  UCC staff can also make referrals to local specialists and psychiatrists in the area, if needed.

If you would like to make an appointment, simply call (504)-865-3835 or visit the UCC in the Danna Student Center.  It is best to call or stop by to schedule your appointment as soon as you need assistance.  If you need assistance after-hours or on weekends for a mental health emergency, please call LUPD at 504.865.3434 and ask to speak with the counselor on-call.  A UCC staff member is on-call 24/7/365.

There is no cost beyond your tuition for an appointment at the UCC.  However, there are fees for prescriptions.  If you receive a prescription from the UCC consulting psychiatrist, you will need to have that medication filled at a local pharmacy.  We can provide you with a list of nearby pharmacies.

Strict confidentiality laws are firmly respected in the UCC.  All medical records are kept strictly confidential and are not a part of the student’s academic record.  Medical records are only released with the signed consent of the student.  For more information on the UCC, please visit our website at http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/counseling.

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Have a great Mardi Gras!

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Join us for Carnival at Loyola! The fun starts at 12:30 at the St. Ignatius Statue in the Peace Quad!

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Curious about the calorie count in King Cake? A one-inch slice has  100 calories. That means 25 minutes of strolling along the parade route will burn off those calories! HEAL will be giving out King Cake, along with info on how to stay healthy during Mardi Gras in the One Loyola room from 11-1. Stop by!

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For more tips and a FREE tee-shirt, stop by the One Loyola room today between 11-1!

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By Guest Poster, Abbie Levenson, Tulane School of Social Work Intern

Today is Groundhog Day, but perhaps like our friend Bill Murray, every day is Groundhog Day for you. Whether it’s biting your nails, scrolling through Facebook while you’re in class, or even having too many drinks when you consume alcohol, you might find yourself constantly engaging in behavior that is difficult to stop. If you’re looking to break a bad habit, here are a few tips:

Develop a strategy to put an end to your bad habit. Habits can be situational, such as when you are bored or stressed. Think of ways to avoid the behavior or moderate it, such as setting a time limit for how long you can be on Facebook before starting your homework, or alternating between an alcoholic beverage and water when you drink.

Be present. Habits tend to be unconscious actions: we sometimes don’t even realize that we are doing them. Striving to be in the moment and becoming aware will help you catch yourself from engaging in your habit.

Swap bad habits for good ones. Remember that some habits are good habits! Try to substitute your usual bad habit for a good one. If your bad habit is to watch TV right before you go to bed and you feel that it affects your sleep, try reading a book instead.

Tell your friends and family. Sometimes we need help in breaking our habits. Let your friends and/or family know that you are attempting to break your habit, and they can encourage you to keep trying and point out when you have a slip-up.

Need more tips? Check out MindTools.Com for more info. Good luck, and happy Groundhog Day!

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Join us this spring at the University Counseling for the emotional wisdom group! This is an eight week psychoeducational group that focuses on four primary topics (mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance). All students are welcome to join! Please email Alison Cofrancesco (aacofran@loyno.edu) for more information.

Core Mindfulness Skills – teaches you to observe yourself and control attention

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills- gives you tools to express your beliefs, needs, and boundaries while enhancing your relationships.

Emotion Regulation- helps you recognize more clearly what you are feeling and learn to deal with emotions without being overwhelmed. Emotion regulation brings awareness to emotions and triggers for emotions

Distress Tolerance- cultivating skills to both “tolerate” and “down regulate” when need to cope arises in the moment. Distress tolerance skills help to reduce physical and cognitive vulnerability to stress and distress.

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