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Ask the Health Nuts

My coworker is a smoker and the smoke smell really bothers me. What do I do? 

If I have asthma, will smoking marijuana cause an asthma attack?

How do I tell my partner I don't want to do anything sexual? 

Do I have a yeast infection? 

It's 4am and I still can't sleep. Help! 

If I get an genital exam will my parents find out? 
Are e-cigarettes able to be used on campus? What are NAU's policies on the use of e-cigarettes?

I have a coworker who is a smoker. He sits in the cubicle right next to me and the smoke smell has really been bothering me. I frequently get dizzy and go home at the end of the day with a headache because of this. I have talked to my supervisor about the issue twice already, and she said she is trying to find a solution, but nothing has been done. How do I approach the situation from here? Also, when is the proposed tobacco-free campus policy scheduled to be implemented?

First off let us congratulate you on your decision not to use tobacco products!  This is the single best thing a person can do for their health!  Secondly, as frustrating as this is for you, it is important to remember exactly how difficult it is for people to quit using tobacco products.  It seems like a “no brainer” but once someone is hooked, the withdrawal symptoms and cravings become overwhelming. Be sure to address this issue with care and concern for the person who smokes and try to avoid angry or judgmental approaches.   Let’s take a look at some different ways to address this issue.

You made a great choice in talking with your supervisor. Next time you chat with her, try to offer up a solution that works for both of you. Here are a few questions you can ask your supervisor:

  • Can I swap offices with someone else, or move to another space?
  • Can we get a better air filter in my office? 
  • Can I move closer to an open window?
  • Can I be allowed longer fresh-air breaks if I start to get a headache?
  • Could I do any of my work from home, if I start to feel dizzy?

You can also bring it up with your coworker directly. Try something like this: “Lately when you come back to the office after smoking, the smell of cigarettes is making me feel sick. I’m sensitive to tobacco smoke and it gives me headaches. I wonder if there’s anything we can do to help minimize the smell of smoke?” Keep in mind that your coworker probably isn’t aware of how much his clothes smell like smoke, and he won’t be able to completely rid his clothes of the scent unless he quits smoking. 

Have you ever asked your co-worker about his attempts to quit? Support and encourage him to seek out resources that can help him kick the habit. Health Promotion has free Quit Kits, and we can even refer him to the AshLine. According to the CDC, almost 70% of adult smokers report that they want to quit tobacco completely. A little support and encouragement can go a long way!

If you are not able to find a solution, you may want to contact Human Resources and ask for their help. In the meantime, you can try these strategies to freshen up your workplace:

  • Open all windows and turn on fans to increase ventilation
  • Clean all hard surfaces daily
  • Use a HEPA filter
  • Use air freshener in your office
  • Get a houseplant that absorbs toxins and freshens the air 
Stay posted to hear more about the tobacco free policy, 
The Health Nuts

If I have asthma, will smoking marijuana cause an asthma attack?

There is no definitive evidence saying that smoking marijuana will directly lead to an asthma attack, however there has been research done on the effects marijuana can have on the lungs.  Just like tobacco cigarettes, marijuana usually involves inhaling smoke.  Marijuana smoke is very similar to tobacco smoke and contains many of the same particles, such as carcinogens, that can cause cancer.  Smoke from tobacco or marijuana can irritate the lungs, and may cause acute inflammation.  Marijuana smoke is usually inhaled deeper and held longer than tobacco smoke, leaving you more exposed to the carcinogens and other irritants in the smoke.  Due to this, general irrigation of the lungs can occur after marijuana use.  Symptoms can include, wheeziness, shortness of breath, and phlegm production.

So, if you have asthma and decide to smoke marijuana, your lungs may become irritated.  Your symptoms may be more sever because of your chronic condition, and could possibly lead to an asthma attack.  It is suggested that people with asthma avoid smoking marijuana and cigarettes.  

How do you tell your partner you don't want to do anything sexual right now without being rude?

It's great that you know and understand what you are feeling and thinking in regards to sex right now! A lot of times people don't really know what it is that they want which can lead to a lot of confusion on their part.

Communication, as I'm sure you know, is one of the foundations of a healthy relationship. Talking to your partner about sex, whether you do want a sexual relationship or not, can be a difficult and intimidating thing to talk about. Especially because we all have those worries of "What if they get mad or upset". There are a few steps that you can take. Be sure to do it in a private space where there are little to no distractions, you are both in a good mood and not upset about other things in life (tests, homework, tv), and try to use "I" statements. We never want to sound accusatory when we talk to our partners because it causes people to go on the defense. Then explain why it is that you do not want anything sexual at the moment with your "I" statements, keeping eye contact, and having confident body language. 

If you ever need anymore help with healthy relationships be sure to check out our Creepy or Cute presentation! Or you can follow us on Twitter (NAUHealthPromotion) or like us on Facebook (NAU Health Promotion) to keep up on other Health Promotion events. 

Keep talking, The Health Nuts

I have what seems to be like a yeast infection but it goes to other areas seeming like an anal fissure. I have small cuts that bleed and itch badly when I wipe. To top it all off, I might have a urinary tract infection? Is it possibly that this could all just be from a yeast infection?

It sounds like you are paying attention to what is going on down under, which is a good place to start! The most common symptom of a yeast infection is extreme itchiness in and around the vagina. Other symptoms include:

  • Burning, redness, and swelling
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Soreness
  • A thick white vaginal discharge

Yeast infections can affect all the genital tissues. Sometimes the yeast will spread to the outer skin and cause additional lesions and sores. This might be what you are experiencing.

A vaginal yeast infection can be a sign an underlying, more serious condition, so it is very important that you see a medical provider. Although your symptoms may point to a yeast infection, it could also be another type of vaginal infection. The only way to be sure is to see your health care provider. While it may be tempting to grab for an over-the-counter antifungal cream, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your doctor. Your medical provider can do a simple test to see if you have a yeast infection, a UTI, or something else. This will ensure that you receive the right course of treatment.

-The Health Nuts

It's 4am and I can't sleep. I've tried everything and I'm going crazy. Help!  

If counting sheep doesn't work for you, the Health Nuts can help! Most college students need 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep each night is just as important as eating healthy and exercising! If you can clock-in those 9 hours, you'll see some exciting benefits:

Better Memory! You’ll be able to learn and retain new info.

Better Health! You’ll boost your immune response, making it easier for your body to fight off illness.

Better Concentration! Completing homework assignments and writing essays becomes easier because you can focus.

Better Mood! You’ll manage stress better and will be less likely to feel anxious, irritable, sad or worried.

One of the best things you can do if you are struggling to fall asleep is to create a "winding-down" period at night. This means putting your phone and laptop to bed, too! Try to avoid using technology for one hour before bed. The  bright light of cell phones, tablets and computer screens send the wrong message to your body: it is telling you to stay awake. Here are some other Health Nut favs: 

  • Avoid caffeine after 3pm
  • Minimize sleep distractions: use an eye mask and ear plugs
  • Keep naps to 10-20 minutes
  • Exercise daily. Try to finish your workout routine by 8pm, because exercising right before bed can keep you awake. 

Sleep tight, The Health Nuts

If I get a genital exam is there any way my parents would find out? Or if I just go in for a check-up and end up needing to take prescription medications would they find out?

This is a great question! If you are over 18 you are considered a legal adult which means your parents cannot inquire about your medical visits. The nature of your medical visit is confidential and will show up on your LOUIE account as a “Campus Health Services” charge. It will not state that you had a genital exam. BUT if your parents pay your expenses through LOUIE, they might see this “Campus Health Service” charge.

There is a reason why we word it this way. Your parents (and anyone else looking at your account) won’t know if you had a sore throat, a massage, or a genital exam. It will all look the same.

If you need a prescription you can fill it at the campus health pharmacy. Again, this charge will be a “Campus Health Service” charge—it won’t state that you picked up a prescription. In fact, you can buy a variety of things at the campus pharmacy: athletic clothes, granola bars, greeting cards—and they show up as a “Campus Health Services” charge too. You can pick up a prescription and also buy a cute stuffed frog to give to that special person in your life. Your parents won’t be able to tell the difference.

Keep in mind that if you are covered under your parents’ insurance policy, your parents might receive an invoice. Though it might not give the details of your visit, it could raise some questions about why you went to see the doctor. One thing you could do is pay cash for your visit, in order to avoid a charge to your insurance. 

If you have any other questions about confidentiality you can call Medical Services.

-The Health Nuts 

Are e-cigarettes able to be used on campus? What are NAU'spolicies on the use of e-cigarettes?

Great question. Currently, e-cigarettes are allowed on campus. You are not allowed to use them inside buildings and must remain at least 20 feet away from building entrances, just like the rules for other tobacco products. However, NAU is going tobacco free very soon. We expect our new policy to go into effect within the next year. When this policy is implemented, all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, will no longer be allowed on campus. The Health Promotion Office will be providing cessation resources throughout the year if you are interested. ASHline is a great resource for getting help, and you can feel free to call the Health Promotion office at 928-523-6867 for more resources. Thanks for asking!

-The Health Nuts