Double Sunrise Young Women's Health: early teen to college years

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One infection that can be very dangerous to young women's health is meningitis. In fact, bacterial meningitis can even lead to death in a young person. We are surprised that many high school and college age young women (and their parents) are not aware of some easy and basic steps to prevent meningitis.

Meningitis is an infection that affects the nervous system. It is a rare but frightening infection, striking 3,000 US citizens each year and college freshmen in dorms have a sixfold increased risk. beginning withflu like symptoms, without early treatment, meningitis can lead to swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column, hearingloss, limb amputation and even death. This infection is contagious and can be spead through the air by respiratory secretions and direct contact with infected persons by saliva, for example when sharing another's untensils, or even a water bottle.

Living in a college dorm puts students at risk for infections, including meningitis. Students coming from all over the world are living in a common space. They do not always follow the important simple health habits like:

  • Don't share your drinks, toothbrush, chapstick or razors.
  • Eat healthy foods and get enough rest to strengthen your immune system.

  • It is common for health care providers to offer immunization against meningitis to students entering college. Immunizations won't protect you (30%) against all strains of the bacteria, but they will protect you against most (70%). We urge you to take advantage of immunizations.

    Remember that you can protect yourself from all infections by practicing healthy habits each day. We suggest that you anticipate some situations that may put your health at risk. For instance, what can you say when your close friend reaches for your water bottle to take a drink? Use your journal to come up with a number of different responses that you feel comfortable using when the situation arises. You may use certain responses with those you feel more comfortable with, and another with someone you don't know well. The important point is to practice healthy habits each and every day and anticipate healthy responses to threats to your well being.

    Written 6/01
    Revised 8/02

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