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Fake news or facts? How to tell if a health site is trustworthy

Graphic of computer screen with medical icons

We’re all a bit worried about the spread of illness these days, so where should we look for the most accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information? While Google can be a useful tool, relying too heavily on the web for health info is risky—how do you know if the information you’re getting is reliable? Which sources might be spreading “fake news”? How can we tell the difference?

More than half of students who responded to a Student Health 101 survey said they question the reliability of a health information source at least twice a week. Here’s how to know what to look for in a health website and recognize red flags so you can sort the best from the bogus.

Infographic: Is this health site trustworthy or unreliable? How to tell the difference

Trustworthy

  • Uses plain language
  • Acknowledges uncertainties and unknowns
  • Based on a meta-analysis of multiple studies when possible
  • Cites peer-reviewed, published medical studies
  • Content largely created within the last five years
  • Cites studies involving lots of human participants

Bogus

  • Packed with scientific-sounding jargon
  • Breakthrough! Miracle cure! Exclamation points!
  • Few sources
  • Biased funding source
  • Sources generally older than five years
  • Cites studies involving a dozen mice

“I’m a nurse, so I look at [articles] with a critical eye. There are certain articles that are produced to get clicks, and there are some articles that are backed by science and logic. These aren’t always one and the same.”
—Graduate student, University of North Dakota

Plain language

What to look for

Trustworthy language isn’t overly technical. But it shouldn’t be “dumbed down” to the point where it isn’t accurate anymore, says Dr. Niket Sonpal, associate program director of the Internal Medicine Residency at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in New York. 

Example

“According to the findings, eating nuts on a regular basis strengthens brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory, and other key brain functions. In other words, they help boost your brain power.” 

red flag iconRed flag: Scientific-y jargon

You don’t want the terms to be so technical that you can’t understand them—if you can’t understand what it’s saying, or if it sounds like your kid sister is playing doctor, look for another resource.

Student voice

“My professors have told me that it should be explained as if you were explaining it to your grandmother (given that she isn’t a research scientist!).”
—Sonya M., fourth-year undergraduate, Northern Illinois University

Acknowledges uncertainties

What to look for

The info should acknowledge when research is incomplete or conflicting. “Sometimes, caveats are what make a claim truly applicable or not,” says Dr. Sonpal. Unbalanced articles are often trying to sell a product or belief.

Example

“The groundbreaking study found that adopting a confident posture can actually change your brain chemistry; however, similar studies have been unable to replicate those results so far.”

red flag icon

Red flag: Miracle cures and price tags

Miracle cures and so on are usually a sales pitch. Don’t fall for it. “Any article claiming a miracle cure that isn’t already a part of the evidence-based clinical guidelines set forth by a medical society should always be considered suspect,” says Dr. Sonpal. On that note, also look out for price tags. “Online health information should always be free—if an article is charging you for free information, it’s likely off,” Dr. Sonpal says.

Student voices

“I tend to stay away from websites or articles that are backed by certain diet movements, such as the vegan or paleo diet groups, because they tend to be biased towards that lifestyle and only present data to glorify them. This skewing of data and misrepresentation of results is misleading.”
—Lucas J., second-year undergraduate, Marian University, Indiana

“Accurate science usually doesn’t come packaged with a clickbait headline like ‘You won’t believe…’ or  ’18 simple tricks that will surprise you.’”
—Elliece R., third-year undergraduate, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Based on a meta-analysis or systematic review

What to look for

Ideally, you want the content to be based on a meta-analysis or systematic review. These analyze data from many studies on the same topic. Meta-analyses are much more comprehensive and broadly applicable than any individual study. 

Example

“A meta-analysis of 37 studies conducted over the past five years concluded that practicing mindfulness and meditation does in fact help reduce depression.”

red flag icon

Red flag: Few sources

Reliable health information is based on large, broadly applicable bodies of research. If the majority of the sources are the work of the same researcher or only apply to one very specific group (such as elite runners or grandmas in rural areas), tread carefully.

Student voice

“I like seeing statistics and reviews. I also research many different articles/reports and compare their information to see what sorts of things overlap.”
—Joree S., fourth-year undergraduate, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Cites peer-reviewed, published medical studies

What to look for

If it isn’t based on a meta-analysis or accredited review, the health content should at least be based on a peer-reviewed study done by researchers affiliated with universities or other respected institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Example

“According to a joint research effort between Harvard and Johns Hopkins, regular aerobic exercise promotes longevity.

red flag icon

Red flag: Biased funding source

Be wary of research sponsored by an organization that has an interest in the outcome (e.g., a study on soda and obesity sponsored by the soft drinks industry).

There should be no obvious conflicts of interest involving the author(s) or the organization(s) that sponsored the research. Additionally, the content shouldn’t assume that correlation equals causation. For example, researchers may find that people who do trampoline workouts have more joint problems. But that doesn’t mean trampolines cause joint problems—those jumpers might also be marathon runners.

Up-to-date information

What to look for

All or most of the content has been created within the past five years. “Many times, the medical community has been wrong or has advanced so much that old treatments are almost considered barbaric and archaic,” says Dr. Sonpal. 

Example

Scientists have been studying the benefits of exercise on depression since the 1970s, but a 2017 study that explored running as a treatment for depression made the case even more compelling.”

red flag icon

Red flag: Old sources

Some websites cite older information. This is OK if it’s a reputable source, like a university medical school, and it’s referencing a landmark finding, such as “smoking causes cancer.” Make sure the older research is paired with recent studies that expand upon or refine it. “If old studies are the only ones cited, that’s concerning, but if it’s a mix, that’s usually fine,” says Dr. Sonpal.

Student voice

“Trustworthy sites will work to keep the data as up to date as possible.”
—Rebekah S., sixth-year undergraduate, Rowan University, New Jersey

Human participants (and many of them)

What to look for

Ideally, the research cited will have involved a large number of human participants. If the findings were only based on a dozen mice, the information can’t be applied to humans yet. “Animal studies should always be considered the beta version of clinical information—they’re the step before human studies,” says Dr. Sonpal. 

Example

“To test the effects of sleep deprivation on school performance, researchers recruited 500 high school and college students and had them keep sleep journals for two months.”

red flag icon

Red flag: Cites studies using animals (especially small sample sizes)

“What happens in a rat won’t necessarily happen in us, especially if it was just one rat—we need to see it happen in larger studies,” says Dr. Sonpal.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Information on diseases, healthy living, travel health, and emergency preparedness from the US government
  • Contains a wealth of data on different health conditions and topics such as occupational health and global health
  • Vital Signs monthly report highlights recent studies and advances in public health
  • Contains official government recommendations and warnings on everything from tattoos to tuberculosis 

Cochrane Collaboration

  • An independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, caregivers, and other people interested in health
  • Summarizes the latest research to help you make the best health choices

Mayo Clinic

  • Consistently rated one of the best hospital systems in the US
  • Information on diseases, symptoms, treatments, procedures, and medications
  • Symptom checker feature

Medline Plus

  • From the US National Library of Medicine
  • Information on various health topics, medications, and supplements
  • Videos on topics such as surgery and anatomy, as well as interactive tutorials
  • Games, quizzes, and calculators (for BMI, breast cancer risk, etc.)

Patients Like Me

  • Online, disease-specific communities where over 600,000 members share stories and advice on over 2,800 conditions
  • Free place to discuss symptoms and treatment options and ask experts questions
  • Sells anonymous health data to companies and nonprofits developing health care products to help them understand the real-world experience of disease and treatment

PubMed

  • Collection of over 24 million medical- and health-related studies from the National Library of Medicine, life science journals, and online books
  • You can search by topic, type of study, publication date, and free full-text availability

CampusWell

  • Evidence-based content on a variety of health topics
  • Reviewed by health and wellness experts
  • Tailored to your school

*Name changed

Get help or find out more
Article sources

Niket Sonpal, MD, associate program director of the Internal Medicine Residency at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in New York.

American Heart Association. (2015). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

Belluz, J. (2014, December 10). Why so many health articles are junk. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2014/12/10/7372921/health-journalism-science

Belluz, J., & Hoffman, S. (2015, March 11). Stop Googling your health questions: Use these sites instead. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2014/9/8/6005999/why-you-should-never-use-dr-google-to-search-for-health-information

Caufield-Noll, C. (2012). Finding reliable health information on the internet: Overview of medlineplus.gov. [Slideshow]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/JHBMC_CHL/medlineplusoverview?next_slideshow=1

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov

Cleveland Clinic. (2014). [Website]. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/healthy_living

Cochrane Library. (2015). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.cochranelibrary.org/

EurekAlert. (2014). Educated consumers more likely to use potentially unreliable online healthcare information. Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/hfae-ecm082714.php

Flaherty, J. (2014). Spotting bogus dietary advice. Tufts Magazine. Retrieved from

https://www.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2014/discover/dietary_advice.html

Health on the Net Foundation. (2014). About HONcode. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Patients/Visitor/visitor.html

Mayo Clinic. (2015). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org

McCoy, T. (2014, December 19). Half of Dr. Oz’s medical advice is baseless or wrong, study says. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/12/19half-of-dr-ozs-medical-advice-is-baseless-or-wrong-study-says/

Medline Plus. (2015). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov

National Cancer Institute. (2012). Evaluating sources of health information. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/cancerlibrary/health-info-online

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2013). Finding and evaluating online resources on complementary health approaches. Retrieved from https://nccam.nih.gov/health/webresources

National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Evaluating internet health information. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/webeval/webeval_start.html

National Network of Libraries of Medicine. (2014). Evaluating health websites. Retrieved from https://nnlm.gov/outreach/consumer/evalsite.html

NHS Choices. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/

Patients Like Me. (2015). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.patientslikeme.com/

PubMed. (2015). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

Scholarly Open Access. (2015). [Website]. Retrieved from https://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/

Science-Based Medicine. (2013). [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org

Spurious Correlations. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tylervigen.com/

University of Connecticut Health Center. (n.d.). Evaluating websites for consumer health information. Retrieved from https://library.uchc.edu/departm/hnet/rbevalwebsite.html

US Food and Drug Administration. (2013). How to evaluate health information on the internet. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/BuyingMedicinesOvertheInternet/ucm202863.htm

Stuck at home? 7 dos and don’ts to make the best of social distancing

female relaxing on couch

While the idea of being able to binge-watch your favorite Netflix show and staying home doing nothing for a few weeks sounds like heaven, it can get old…quickly. Social distancing may sound like a strange term, but it really just means all of us keeping to ourselves as much as possible until the worst of this is over.

Do I need to socially distance, even if I feel healthy?

Yes. Social distancing isn’t just about protecting you, it’s about reducing the total number of people who get sick and slowing down the spread of COVID-19. Keeping your distance—by staying home as much as you can and aiming for at least six feet between you and others when possible—will lessen the burden on our healthcare system and ultimately reduce the number of deaths related to COVID-19. Most importantly, stay away from those in the higher risk groups for complications and death from COVID-19. Even if you feel healthy, you could be carrying the disease to others. Higher risk groups include:

  • Anyone over age 65 (e.g., your grandparents or parents).
  • People with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, and liver and heart disease.
  • Those with weakened immune systems (e.g., people with autoimmune conditions).

So, what to do while you’re spending a lot more time on your own? We’ve got you covered.

checkmark icon

Do: Create a daily routine

Establish a daily routine that will help keep you busy. Wake up, make your bed, make yourself breakfast, exercise, practice some self-care, and schedule in time to do your online classwork. Create a routine that works best for you.

x icon

Don’t: Lose connection

Just because you’re isolating doesn’t mean you can’t socialize. Keep in touch with your family and friends from afar: Call, video call, or text them!

checkmark icon

Do: Exercise

Create a lit playlist with your favorite jams to listen to while you work out at home. Don’t know what exercises you enjoy? Don’t worry, CampusWell has your back! We have plenty of videos you can follow with a variety of different exercises. This is a great time to experiment and try out a new exercise in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s a list of different workouts you can try out:

x icon

Don’t: Panic

Remain calm and keep a positive attitude. Find information from reliable resources. Understanding the virus can reduce anxiety. If you are under the age of 65 and healthy, you are at low risk of complications from COVID-19.

If you do feel anxious, try meditating!

checkmark icon

Do: Stock up on all your daily needs

Remember when you are social distancing, you should stay home and avoid contact with others. Stock up on your prescriptions, non-perishable food, water, and your favorite snacks of course. Try out grocery delivery services if you need more food items; just keep in mind that they may have longer waits than usual so try to order early.

x icon

Don’t: Online shop

While it’s good to stock up on essentials, try not to go crazy online shopping. Watch out for sites like Amazon and its quick purchase button. Shopping can sometimes be used as a coping mechanism, so be mindful of your purchases in order to keep up with your financial wellbeing.

checkmark icon

Do: Catch up on all the things you’ve been meaning to do

Make the most of your free time! This is a great chance to finally start a hobby or read a book you’ve been putting off for weeks. Reorganize your closet, start a DIY project, or create that blog!

GET HELP OR FIND OUT MORE

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Article sources

Godin, M. (2020, March 16). Are people with asthma at high risk for coronavirus? Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/5802423/coronvirus-asthma-high-risk/

Mandavilli, A. (2020, March 16). Wondering about social distancing? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/smarter-living/coronavirus-social-distancing.html

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). People at higher risk for severe illness. Retrieved from https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina/people-higher-risk

Help stop the spread of coronavirus: 5 steps to proper handwashing

how to wash your hands

Handwashing is our first line of defense against disease, including coronavirus (COVID-19) and the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing your hands “is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.”

You’ve probably heard a lot about handwashing lately with the spread of COVID-19, but stick around. There’s a right way and a wrong way to wash your hands—and 95 percent of people are doing it wrong—according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health. If you’re spending any time at the sink, you might as well make your efforts worthwhile.

So what’s the right way to wash your hands—you know, the way that will actually remove the infectious germs you’re trying to avoid? The CDC recommends the following five-step method. (Don’t worry, it only takes 20 seconds.)

Infographic: The correct ways to wash your hands

Step 1: Wet

Wet your hands with warm or cold water—yes, cold works too!—then turn off the faucet and apply soap.

Step 2: Lather

Rub your hands together with the soap to work up a lather. Remember to get the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails—germs love to hide in these places.

Step 3: Scrub

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hint: time yourself by singing “Happy Birthday” or the chorus from Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.”

Step 4: Rinse

Rinse your hands well under running water.

Step 5: Dry

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer. Don’t skip this step. Bacteria spread more easily when your hands are wet, so wiping them on dirty jeans or grabbing a door handle without drying your hands completely can undo the work you just did.

Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

GET HELP OR FIND OUT MORE
Article sources

Borchgrevink, C. P., Cha, J., & Kim, S. (2013, April). Hand washing practices in a college town environment. Journal of Environmental Health, 75(8), 18–24. Retrieved from https://msutoday.msu.edu/_/pdf/assets/2013/hand-washing-study.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, June 13). Handwashing: Clean hands save lives. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

Morris, R. (2013, January 11). Help resist flu by washing and drying your hands appropriately. Retrieved from https://waterandhealth.org/disinfect/resist-flu-washing-drying-hands-appropriately/

What you need to know about COVID-19

what is coronavirus

Last updated: August 13, 2020

Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which causes the disease COVID-19 is all over the media. While a new virus strain spreading throughout the world is alarming, it’s important to keep the facts straight and understand our risk as best we can. The most important things to know are that wearing a mask, washing your hands properly, and social distancing are key to slowing the spread of disease. Learn more about the virus and prevention measures below, and always check with your local government or public health agency to find out how COVID-19 may be affecting your community.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms such as:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches or chills
  • Headache
  • Sudden loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Runny nose and/or congestion
  • Fatigue

The illness can range from mild to severe, with some cases resulting in death. It is currently believed that symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. However, recent data shows that a significant number of infected people can be asymptomatic (meaning they do not develop any symptoms). These people can still spread the virus to others, as can those whose symptoms have not shown up yet (pre-symptomatic).

If you feel sick, stay home. If you feel like you need medical attention, call your health care provider first. This is important as it will help stop the spread of infection. However, if you feel your symptoms are severe or if you have any of the following emergency warning signs, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion, or are difficult to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Who is at risk?

Everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19. Severe complications from the virus can happen in anyone, but certain groups are at higher risk.

Older adults (e.g., over age 60) and those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and lung disease are most at risk for serious complications from COVID-19.

How does it spread?

The virus appears to spread via close contact (within about six feet) with an infected person. It spreads via contact with droplets from an infected person’s nose or mouth that are released when they cough, sneeze, talk, sing, shout, or exhale. Studies are showing that the virus may be more likely to spread via prolonged interactions, particularly indoors. Frequently touched surfaces may also be contaminated. Wear a mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands to try to prevent the spread of infection.

Does social distancing really make a difference? 

Yes. You should be practicing social distancing right now—even if you feel completely healthy and you don’t think you know anyone who has COVID-19. Keeping your distance—by staying home as much as you can and aiming for at least six feet between you and others when possible—will lessen the burden on our healthcare system and ultimately reduce the number of deaths related to COVID-19.

Should I wear a mask in public?

Yes. In recent studies, mask wearing has been shown to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wear a double-layered cloth mask any time you will be around others who are not part of your household—especially if you are somewhere where it’s hard to maintain social distancing. The CDC still asks that we reserve medical-grade masks for frontline healthcare workers. The CDC does not recommend the use of face shields or masks with valves or vents, as they are likely to be less effective.

What to do if you are sick

  • hand washing | what is coronavirusStay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible. Try to stay in one room and use a separate bathroom from the people you live with, if one is available. Don’t leave the house except to get medical attention.
  • Avoid sharing things like cups, dishes, utensils, etc. with others. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • If you feel you need medical attention, call your health care provider first and describe your symptoms, especially if you may have been in contact with someone who has or may have COVID-19. This helps the health care facility prepare and can reduce the spread of disease.
  • Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and running water, and dry them thoroughly. If you can’t wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol or higher. Rub your hands all over with the sanitizer until they are dry.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue and throw it away immediately in a lined trash can, then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, then wash your hands.

How to get tested

Check your state or local health department website to find testing locations in your area. If possible, call ahead to arrange for your test and let them know of any symptoms you are having or if you suspect you were in contact with someone who has COVID-19. Find more information on testing and types of tests here. Wear a mask and avoid close contact with anyone (including those you live with) if you suspect you may have COVID-19.

Where can I get the most current updates? Article sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March 18). Are you at higher risk for severe illness? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 16). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [entire website]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March 4). How it spreads. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March 16). Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 25). What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html

Grady, D. (2020, February 29). How does the coronavirus compare with the flu? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/29/health/coronavirus-flu.html

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Rapoza, K. (2020, February 25). Coronavirus update: Italy mortality rate similar to China’s. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2020/02/25/coronavirus-update-italy-mortality-rate-similar-to-chinas/#43d6b3d26c43

Young, L. (2020, February 26). Canada warns of evolving risk as new COVID-19 case linked to Iran appears in Canada. Global News. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/6598256/canada-covid-19-risk/

Ask the doc: “Are UTIs preventable?”

woman with bladder pain

—Antonio S., Suffolk University, Massachusetts

Some urinary tract infections (UTIs) are preventable. And while they tend to be regarded as a women’s problem—or, more accurately, as a problem for anyone born with a vagina—in fact, anyone can get a UTI. The anatomy of the vagina does make it much more susceptible to infection than the penis, however.

What causes UTIs?

Most urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli, a bacterium found in the gut, but other bacteria can also cause these infections. The rectum is very near the vagina, where the urethra is located. If non-sterile bacteria from the rectum manage to ascend the urethra, they can infect the bladder, causing a UTI. Anyone born with a vagina has a short urethra, so it’s not that long of a trip for bacteria to get into the bladder.

How do I know if I have a UTI?

Symptoms can include:

  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination and/or an urge to urinate even when your bladder is empty
  • Low-grade fever
  • Bloody or cloudy urine

A UTI is a “simple” bladder infection called cystitis. Sometimes, the bacteria can travel all the way up to the kidneys and infect them too, causing pyelonephritis. Both infections are fairly readily diagnosed and treated, but since a UTI can lead to a kidney infection, you’ll need to treat it right away. For that matter, a UTI may feel so uncomfortable that you’ll want to treat it right away.

How to prevent it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have some general guidelines that can lower your risk of a UTI:

  • Empty your bladder before and after sexual activity
  • Stay hydrated and urinate regularly
  • Take a shower instead of a bath
  • Avoid douching or using any sprays/powders in the genital area

I’ve dealt with this complaint with many patients over the years and we almost always can make things better. If you frequently get UTI symptoms, you should definitely speak with a health care provider who is experienced at dealing with them. Not all of your episodes of discomfort may be due to UTIs, but it’s worth talking the situation through and considering all the possibilities.

Apps and podcasts we love: Another round

Another round podcast

Liam K. is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Oregon Institute of Technology.

 

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 starsTracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu host the Another Round podcast every Tuesday, covering a variety of topics like current politics, social issues, career advice, relationships, board games, and much more. Each episode includes a guest who is knowledgeable on that week’s topic. The hosts make the podcast fun to listen to, but they also know when to get serious.

One of the more serious issues they focused on for today’s social issues is the “Me Too” movement. They also cover women’s experiences within the workforce and encourage the listener to stand up for themselves and to do what’s best for them.

On the more fun side, Another Round has lots of nuggets of advice scattered throughout their podcast. When I was listening to episode 19, for example, I learned that LinkedIn allows you to customize your profile page URL, which I didn’t know!

Tracy and Heben have a natural ability to allow the conversation to instinctively form. They connect with their guest and have the listener wondering where the conversation will go. I love that they don’t try to solve an issue—rather, they interview people to learn from their experience. The podcast doesn’t offer just one definitive solution; it offers a viewpoint, and I respect that.

I would recommend this podcast to someone who’s interested in today’s social issues—but who also needs something to listen to for a laugh when doing the dishes.

Episodes listened to:

Episode 19: Was that a microaggression or just Tuesday?
Episode 38: Let black girls be funny
Episode 109: Me too

6 reasons to go to the career center today

resume, job application, and notebook on desk

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You understand the importance of locating your classes and the best coffee shop—but where’s your school’s career center? If you don’t know, go find it. There’s more happening there than the standard job search (though they’re great for that too), and students who stop by a few times a year gain a powerful advantage.

“The earlier students start to explore careers, the more time they have to test out their interests, build essential skills, and gain exposure and experience in possible fields,” says Jean Papalia, director of graduate student career services at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Nearly 86 percent of students have used their career center for résumé help at least once, according to a 2017 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). More than half of students are making use of career counseling and internship assistance.

young businesswoman using laptop on stairs

Here’s how your career services can help:

1. Find four full years of opportunities

“I thought that my career services office would only help me find full-time jobs when my four years were up,” says Lexi K. at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, “but they helped me find summer jobs, apply for on-campus opportunities, [get] semester-long internships, etc.”

2. Check out your potential future(s)

The self-assessments offered at career centers are not designed to tell you what to do but instead to give you ideas that aren’t already on your radar. The questions touch on your values, motivation, skills, and interests. “The career center also hosts career fairs and employer meet-and-greets, so they’ve provided me with plenty of opportunities for exposure and learning what kinds of employers and fields would be interested in someone with my degree,” says Anthony S., a third-year undergraduate at University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

3. Pick your area of study and know what to do with it

Weighing your major, minor, and elective options? Considering their impact on your career opportunities can help set you up for getting employers’ attention. “The various personality and aptitude tests I took were helpful in narrowing my potential career path and interests,” says Noa S., a fourth-year undergraduate student at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

4. Network with alumni

Your predecessors are often open to requests for informational interviews and might even connect you with a specific opportunity or strategic contact. “Networking is a key component of career exploration and job search success,” says Papalia. “Alumni are especially supportive and always willing to provide information and advice.”

5. Develop your best résumé and cover letter

Selling yourself on paper is not as easy as you think. Check out your school’s drop-in sessions or workshops for assistance with selecting content, formatting, organization, grammar, and layout flair. “My résumé would be terrible without my career center’s help. Not only with formatting but also content and how to alter the résumé for each job. They were also happy and supportive when I got a position,” says Emily O., a fourth-year undergraduate student at St. Louis University in Missouri.

6. Own that interview

Whether your mock interview occurs over the phone, via Skype™, or in person, you might be paired with a career counselor, another professional, or a fellow student who has interviewed already. “I didn’t know that such a thing existed or that it would be helpful to practice with a real recruiter and no penalties,” says Kayla G. at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Jake A., a fourth-year undergraduate student at University of the Pacific in California, added: “Mock interviews helped me get more comfortable with doing more interviews.”

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Article sources

Cynthia Dantes, director, career service, public health and professional degree programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Massachusetts.

Jean Papalia, director of graduate student career services, Tufts University, Massachusetts.

College Parents of America. (n.d.). How the college career office can help your college student. Retrieved from http://www.collegeparents.org/members/resources/articles/how-college-career-office-can-help-your-college-student

Fouad, N. A., Guillen, A., Harris-Hodge, E., Henry, C., et al. (2006). Need, awareness, and use of career services for college students. Journal of Career Assessment, 14(4), 407–420.Retrieved from http://jca.sagepub.com/content/14/4/407.abstract

National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2012, December 5). Student survey: Class of 2012 used career center at same rate as class of 2011. Retrieved from http://www.naceweb.org/s12052012/student-career-center-use.aspx

Student Health 101 survey, February 2015.

Ask the trainer: “How can you change up your workouts to keep them interesting?”

Happy guys doing yoga

Aliza B., SUNY Empire State College, New York

Let’s face it: Doing the same thing every day could get a little boring and result in us lacking the motivation to exercise. Changing up your workouts not only helps keep your mind engaged in exercise, but also it can boost your fitness level as you add new physical stresses to the body.

When we first start exercising, whether it’s lifting weights, using the elliptical machine, running, or yoga, we may notice a change in our bodies. Muscles may become more toned and flexible, and our weight may change. Over time, as our body adapts to the stresses we’re placing on it (exercise), it stops changing as much. This is a good time to start stressing it differently so that our bodies are challenged by different types of activity.

Here are four ways you can change up your workouts:

1. Increase the intensity.

Working harder over the same amount of time will increase your energy expenditure and boost your metabolism, giving you more bang for your buck. For example, if you normally use the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and cover three miles of distance in that time, try aiming for four miles in the same amount of time. The increased effort will get your heart pumping and the sweat dripping!

2. Increase the weight.

If you normally perform sets of 15 repetitions with a given weight, increase the amount of weight so you can only comfortably perform six to eight reps. This stresses the muscle tissue differently and helps you gain more strength.

3. Increase the repetitions.

If you normally lift heavier weights, decrease the weight and do more reps. Try 20–30 reps. You may feel your muscles burning as you get up into the higher reps. That’s OK—you’re building endurance in them.

4. Change the activity.

Do you lift weights all the time but don’t stretch much? Try yoga. Are you a full-time yogi but you never lift or do cardio? Try to add in a bit of both. And for the cardio lovers who never touch a weight, try lifting. Doing different activities helps keep our muscles balanced and our minds engaged. You might find doing something different is really challenging because your body isn’t used to it. Use that challenge as an opportunity to grow, both mentally and physically.