Doc Is In / Opinion

Your Health Questions, Answered:

I’m so stressed out about graduating that I can’t focus to get my reading done. Do you think I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is usually something that occurs in several settings (academically, occupationally and socially) and starts in childhood. So my suspicion is that since this is a recent development for you, worry and anxiety are likely just impacting your ability to focus. Stress and worry impair our concentration more than we realize.

Just a few suggestions to help reduce the stress: Reduce caffeine intake and increase exercise (this improves memory, sleep and reduces anxiety). Deep breathing also helps to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system by slowing your heart rate and breathing as well as engaging your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain that helps you concentrate!

– Janet Osimo, Psy.D., Psychologist

 

Graduation can certainly be a stressful time for many students. Uncertainties, insecurities and environmental stressors can cause the mind to spin, adversely affecting your ability to focus. Because of the prevalence of attention disorders, it is common for many to think of ADHD when struggling with inattention and focus problems. However, a formal diagnosis of ADHD embodies very specific, long-standing symptom criteria with impairment in multiple areas of your life. It is likely that the pressure you are currently under has temporarily interfered with your ability to focus, retain information or feel engaged in your academic material.

To help you through this, set aside some time to identify your obstacles and stresses associated with graduation. Prioritize these needs and make a plan for action each day by breaking down obstacles into smaller manageable tasks. This will help you feel a sense of progress and reduce your sense of overall anxiety, improving your ability to sustain your focus while reading, etc. It is important to recognize factors that are out of your control and attempt to consolidate your efforts on those factors that are within your control. Talking with a mental health professional can help you clarify your needs and learn valuable coping tools to manage this difficult process.

– Lauren Guy, Psy.D., Psychologist

 

Allergy season is soon upon us. Are there any preventative treatments I can start now to curb my spring allergies before they get out of control?

Avoid airborne pollens, get the dust out of your household and consider preventive medicines. Since dust and pollens are often allergy triggers, avoid them whenever you can. Keep windows closed and avoid outdoor exposure when it’s really windy. If you’re heavily exposed, rinse out your nose with saline (salt water) spray. It’s better to clean frequently using a vacuum, dust often and damp mop all floors. Better yet, live without any carpeting, especially in your bedroom. Also, wash your bedding in warm or hot water weekly.

Some daily medicines to use are non-sedating anthistamines like Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine) or Allegra (fexofenadine); these are available at the Student Health pharmacy and most stores. They block your body’s allergic response once you start encountering whatever triggers your allergies; however avoidance and cleanliness may be even more effective.

- Monica Mattice, F.N.P. and Mary Ferris, M.D.

 

Is one ounce of wheatgrass really equivalent to the nutrients in 2.5 pounds of garden vegetables?

No…

Here’s some background: Wheatgrass is a sprouted grain that grows naturally in pastures. It was first popularized as a health food by Ann Wigmore, a Lithuanian immigrant to the United States. Wigmore became convinced of the healing power of grasses partly because she observed that dogs and cats nibble on grass when they feel ill (and then throw it up) and partly because of her interpretation of the biblical story of King Nebuchadnezzar who went insane and spent seven years living like a wild animal and eating grass. The Bible says he recovered his sanity, which Wigmore attributed to all the grass he ate.

Today, wheatgrass is promoted for all kinds of health benefits from cleansing the lymph system, building blood, removing toxic minerals from cells, preventing hair from going gray, curing cancer and more.

Some general info on wheatgrass:

• Chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives plants their color, has no known nutritional role in the human body, a fact that doesn’t stop promoters from making extravagant claims about it.

• There is no evidence to suggest that wheatgrass or chlorophyll are substitutes for 2.5 pounds of vegetables.

• Searching medical literature for “wheatgrass” yields very few entries, none suggesting that it has any health benefits for humans.

• Wheatgrass provides vitamins and minerals, but not nearly as many as you would get from some foods that taste much better.

• Nutritionally speaking, it’s a better value to spend your money on good, organically produced food, rather than wheatgrass shots.

 

- Betsy Reynolds-Malear, M.P.H., R.D. Nutrition Specialist

 

A version of this article appeared on page 8 of the Monday, April 15, 2013 print edition of the Nexus.

 

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