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flu season

Flu season is upon us again. According to the CDC and the Maryland Department of Health and Hygiene, there is widespread flu around the country and the state. Influenza is a respiratory illness with sudden symptoms that can include high fever, body aches, headache and cough.

We expect that this will be a busy flu season. This news is no cause for alarm, but it does give us the opportunity to practice effective prevention techniques for this type of illness.

Be a healthy Mustang and get a flu shot; it is not too late! Giant Pharmacy will be in the Wellness Center on Friday, January 31 from 11am-3pm to administer flu shots! Stop on in and get protected!

FLu Shots

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also closely monitoring the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China. These viruses usually cause mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness like the common cold and are different than the influenza virus. The Wellness Center continues to monitor the CDC as well as the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding the spread of this new virus. Please follow the link for information about coronaviruses:

To keep yourself healthy this semester you should:

  • Wash your hands frequently and use the hand sanitizing stations that are located around campus.
  • Avoid those who are ill, if possible.
  • Clean high touch surfaces in your room and/or office with anti-bacterial cleaner (bleach wipes are very effective).
  • Cough into your sleeve or a tissue, not directly into your hands, and wash your hands immediately.
  • Avoid touching your face when you are ill and when healthy; this spreads germs!
  • Avoid sharing food, utensils, cups and water bottles.

The treatment for influenza for otherwise healthy people is “supportive” – meaning that our recommendations will often be that you rest, drink plenty of fluids and take fever-reducing medicine if you are diagnosed with the flu. Anti-viral medications (Tamiflu® and Relenza®) are generally not recommended for healthy people with the flu. In addition, most people who are infected with these illnesses will not require medical care. This means:

  • If you are sick, stay home and in bed. Avoid crowded places like the dining hall, classrooms, and restaurants to prevent spreading your illness to others. You should continue to do this until you have not had a fever for 24 hours.
  • If your home is within reasonable driving distance, we recommend that you go home to recover.
  • Recruit a friend (your “Flu Buddy”) to help care for you and bring you food when you are sick.
  • Take fever reducers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) if you have a fever. If your fever persists for more than three days in spite of fever reducers, please seek medical care.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centers unless you are truly sick, as these locations will be crowded with many sick people with influenza. This may put you at risk of getting the flu.
  • Contact the Wellness Center at 443-352-4200 if you need medical advice or are unsure of what to do after reading this message.

For students who have chronic medical problems (ex. asthma, diabetes, obesity), it is important to visit the Wellness Center within 48 hours of developing flu-like symptoms.

For more information, visit this site:

Stay well and have a wonderful spring semester! The Wellness Center is here to answer any questions you may have.

In Health,


Julie Sanz, MSN, CRNP
Stevenson University Wellness Center



The recent vaping-related lung injury and deaths are alarming and the providers at the Wellness Center felt that it was necessary to address this topic. You may not be surprised to know that there are many students on campus who use electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vape. Granted, the vape store planted directly across campus does not help. This blog will give you a quick background on e-cigarettes and vaping products, why these devices are unhealthy, and give you an update on the outbreak of lung injury/deaths.

Vaping is the popular shorthand for using e-cigarettes to “vaporize” nicotine.1 These devices were marketed as a “safer” way to inhale nicotine as it removed the risks associated with burning tobacco or cigarettes. These devices rapidly evolved into products with hundreds of flavor combinations and chemical compounds, including THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and other marijuana extracts.1 The components of the liquid substance in e-cigarettes vary among brands. Many of these chemicals can cause toxic effects on the body, not due to the nicotine, but rather from the number and concentration of chemicals used to flavor the liquid.2,3 The base liquid of e-cigarettes is a blend of water, vegetable glycerine, and propylene glycol.2 When propylene glycol and glycerol (commercial name for glycerine) is heated in e-cigarettes, it creates compounds that release formaldehyde.2,4 Formaldehyde is a Group 1 carcinogen which means that it has the potential to cause cancer.2

"This risk for cancer is 5 to 15 times as high as the risk associated with long-term smoking."4

When inhaled, most of the formaldehyde quickly breaks down in the cells lining your respiratory tract and is breathed out.5 Even with low concentrations of formaldehyde, rapid onset of nose and throat irritation, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, and wheezing can occur.5 “Higher exposures can cause significant inflammation of the lower respiratory tract, resulting in swelling of the throat, inflammation of the windpipe and bronchi, narrowing of the bronchi, inflammation of the lungs and accumulation of fluid in the lungs.”5 Also, high levels of formaldehyde will cause it to enter your blood. Once in your body, formaldehyde is rapidly broken down into other chemicals, most of which leave your body in the urine.5 A recent study with adolescents showed that although vaping may be less hazardous than tobacco smoke, those who used e-cigarettes had higher quantities of toxic chemicals in their urine compared to the control group (non-tobacco users).6

As of October 29, 2019, there have been 1,888 confirmed cases of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products, a rise from 1,604 cases reported the week prior.7 37 deaths have been confirmed with their age ranging from 17 to 75 years old.7 THC is present in most of the samples tested by the Food Drug Administration (FDA).7 At this time, the FDA and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not identified the cause(s) of the lung injury with the only commonality among all cases being the use of e-cigarette or vaping products.7 The products containing THC, particularly those purchased from the street or informal sources such as friends, family members, illicit deals, are linked to most of the lung injury cases.7 Due this data and the continued ambiguity of the cause of lung injury, the CDC recommends that you DO NOT use e-cigarettes, vape, or use products that contain THC.

Also, for those who may not have heard, beginning October 1, 2019, the legal age to buy ANY tobacco product including e-cigarettes is now 21 in Maryland unless you are active duty military personnel.

If you are interested in information on vaping or smoking cessation, please contact the Wellness Center at (443)352-4200. You can also call the Maryland Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a FREE evidence-based counseling program available 24/7. Visit for more information.


By: Sudin Thomas, MSN, FNP-BC



1Rowan, H. (2019). Vaping by the numbers. Kaiser Health News. Retrieved from

2Johnson, J. (2019). Does vaping without nicotine have any side effects? Medical News Today. Retrieved

3Bahl, V., Lin, S., Xu, N., Davis, B., Wang-Y., & Talbot, P. (2012). Comparison of electronic cigarette refill fluid cytotoxicity using embryonic and adult models. Reproductive Toxicology, 34(4), 529-537. Retrieved from

4Jenson, R.P., Luo, W., Pankow, J.F., Strongin, R.M., & Peyton, D.H. Hidden formaldehyde in e-cigarette aerosols. (2015). New England Journal of Medicine, 372, 392-394. Retrieved from

5Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR). (2008). Toxic substances portal – Formaldehyde. Retrieved from

6Rubinstein, M.L., Delucchi, K., Benowitz, N.L., & Ramo, D.E. (2018). Adolescent exposure to toxic volatile organic chemicals from e-cigarettes. Pediatrics, 141(4). Retrieved from

7Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2019). Outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Retrieved from

Healthy Summer

We are continuing our series on summer tips for a healthier YOU. Here is part 2 covering the three remaining tips! (If you missed part one Click Here!)

3. Protect your mind

We think of summers as a time of relaxation, however, as college students, many are busy and stressed with summer internships and jobs, summer school, or studying for certifications. Even vacation plans can become stressful due to complex relationships or
from photo-shopped images of “body goals” bombarding your social media.

What can you do about it?

  •  Take several 5 minute breaks throughout the day.5 You do not have to be at home in a quiet room to complete this exercise. Examples include:
  • Take a short walk away from your work station.
  • Stand up and stretch or walk in place WITHOUT looking at your computer.
  • Get out of your chair whenever you take phone calls at your desk.
  • Have a drink of water or eat a light snack.5
  • Download one of the following apps for stress reduction, mindfulness, and relaxation Click Here

4. Protect your body

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. adolescents.6 Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and distracted driving are among the most common causes of death.

Driving Under the Influence

  • In 2016, 58% of drivers aged 15 and 20 who were killed in motor vehicle accidents after drinking and driving were also not wearing a seat belt.6
  • In 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
  • Marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use.7
  • In 2017, the highest percentage of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes were between the aged of 21 and 24 (27%).8 

What can you do about it?

  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you plan on driving.
  • The average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour.8
  • Only time will sober a person up. Drinking strong coffee, exercising or taking a cold shower will not help.8
  • Buckle up if you are in a car (as a driver, front passenger, or in the back seat)!

No Texting

Distracted Driving

  • Distracted driving is not a term that was created to discourage drivers from using their cell phones. It involves ANY activity that diverts attention from driving such as eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the car radio, navigation or entertainment system, and talking or texting on your phone.9
  • Your performance while driving when on the phone (phone call, texting, checking email, updating your Insta) is equivalent to being legally drunk.10 Even when using hands-free devices, scientists found that talking on the phone distracts us to the point where we devote less brain power to focusing on the road.10 A MIT researcher found that the moment in which a driver hears a ringtone or social media notification and decides to pick up the phone is when the driver loses the most situational awareness and become vulnerable to crashing.11
  • Maryland law states you are not allowed text or use a hand-held phone when driving.12

What can you do about it?

I’m sure we all know how to resolve the issue of distracted driving – just avoid it! It may be easier said than done since we have become accustomed to multitasking and have an unhealthy obsession with our cell phones. However, here are a few tips to help manage some of the most common distractions.

  • Turn your phone off or switch it to silent before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it is out of reach.13
  • Record a voicemail that tells callers you’re driving. If you have an iPhone (with iOS 11 and later), select the “vehicle” icon to use the “do not disturb while driving” feature.13
  • If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.13
  • If you’re using a GPS, enter the destination before you start driving. 13
  • Remain focused on driving. You are saving lives just by doing that.

5. Protect your health

With time off over the summer, don’t forget to get your annual physical! It’s time to ditch the pediatrician and find a family (or adult) primary care provider. While you’re at it, don’t forget getting your teeth cleaned every 6 months and your annual eye exam with an optometrist!

Drink Water

Making Healthy Choices

  • By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “eating healthy,” but what does that really mean? Check out this link to learn more about how to include variety of foods and beverages from each food group to build healthy eating styles.
  • Avoid dehydration by drinking WATER instead of sugary drinks. Did you know symptoms such as headaches and fatigue could be due to dehydration?
  • You need to drink half your weight in ounces to meet the bare minimum water requirement that your body needs to function.14
  • Only 22.9% of U.S. adults aged 18 to 64 met the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise between 2010 and 2015.15 Adults should exercise at least 150 (2.5 hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity.15 You should also include muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
  • Adolescents aged 15-24 account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STI) that occur in the U.S. each year.16 If you are sexually active, use latex condoms correctly and consistently. If you have latex allergies, it is important to note that synthetic non-latex condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms. Natural membrane condoms are not recommended for STI prevention. Finally, be sure to get tested for STIs at least once a year.16


By: Sudin Thomas, MSN, FNP-BC






1American Academy of Dermatology. (2018). Skin Cancer. Retrieved on May 5, 2019 from

2Environmental Working Group. (2019). What’s wrong with High SPF? Retrieved on May 5, 2019 from

3FDA U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2011). Questions and Answers: FDA announces new requirements for over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen products marketed in the U.S. Retrieved from

4American Optometric Association. (2019). Adult vision: 19 to 40 years of age. Retrieved from

5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Five minutes or less for health weekly tip: Take a break. Retrieved on May 1, 2019 from

6Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Teen drivers: Get the facts. Retrieved on May 14, 2019 from

7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Impaired driving: Get the facts. Retrieved on May 14, 2019 from

8MADD. (2019). Stats. Retrieved from

9National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.) Distracted Driving. Retrieved on May 14, 2019 from

10Hamilton, J. (2008, October 16). Multitasking in the car: Just like drunken driving. National Public Radio, Inc. Retrieved on May 16, 2019 from

11Roeder, A. (2018, May 2). With multitasking increasing behind the wheel, experts ponder how to keep drivers’ eyes on the road. Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved on May 16. 2019 from

12MVA Online. (n.d.) Distracted driving. Retrieved on May 14, 2019 from

13Governors Highway Safety Association. (2013). 10 tips for managing driver distraction. Retrieved on May 16, 2019 from

14Elkaim, Y. (2013, September 13). The truth about how much water you should really drink. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved on May 14, 2019 from

15Gray, S. (2018, June 28). A shocking percentage of Americans don’t exercise enough, CDC says. Fortune. Retrieved on May 14, 2019 from

16Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). How you can prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Retrieved on May 14, 2019 from

Tips for a healthy summer- part 1

The summer is just around the corner, but before you rush out to the campus bookstore to sell your books back and plan to sleep in until 3pm, let’s talk about summer safety!

Part 1 of our 2 part series will cover two summer health tips!

1. Protect your skin

Incidence rates

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer daily.1 Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of color. People with skin of color are prone to skin cancer in areas that aren’t commonly exposed to the sun such as palms of hands, soles of feet, the groin, inside the mouth, or even under their nails.1

Risk factors

Exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet (UV) light is a risk factor for all types of skin cancers. Even one episode of sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma.1


What can you do you about it?

  1. Use sunscreen products:
  1. When purchasing sunscreen products, look for the words “broad spectrum” which means the product protects against both UVA and UVB rays.2-3 UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and non-melanoma skin cancers. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and are harder to block with sunscreen products.3 UVA rays suppresses the immune system, contributes to skin cancer, and can cause early skin aging.3
  2. The higher the SPF does NOT mean the better the protection. Getting a higher SPF exposes you to more chemicals and may provide a false sense of security. SPF 30 blocks nearly 97% of UVB rays, SPF 50 blocks about 98%, and SPF 100 blocks about 99%.2
  3. Use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating. Reapply the water resistant sunscreen every 2 hours or more often if swimming or sweating.
  1. Limit time in the sun, especially between 10am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.3
  1. Perform regular skin self-exams. Here’s a great video providing the steps in how to do so.
  1. It’s never too early to see a dermatologist for a skin exam. They can decide how often you will need to be examined based on individual risk factors, history sun exposure, and family history.3


2. Protect your eyes


We discussed how the sun’s rays are bad for our skin, but did you know they are just as bad for our eyes? UV rays, as well as blue light from our beloved electronics and LED lights, can damage the retina (processes light and sends signals to the brain for visual recognition).4

What can you do about it?

  1. Sunglasses are not only a great fashion accessory, but can help decrease the risk of developing cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision). Look for ones labeled “UV400” that can block out 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75 to 90% of visible light.4
  2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap.4

Stop by the Wellness Center to pick up a free pair of Mustang sunglasses!


Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Summer Health Tips series!


By: Sudin Thomas, MSN, FNP-BC



1American Academy of Dermatology. (2018). Skin Cancer. Retrieved on May 5, 2019 from

2Environmental Working Group. (2019). What’s wrong with High SPF? Retrieved on May 5, 2019 from

3FDA U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2011). Questions and Answers: FDA announces new requirements for over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen products marketed in the U.S. Retrieved from

4American Optometric Association. (2019). Adult vision: 19 to 40 years of age. Retrieved from

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