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Health Iowa staff members make every effort to address as many questions as possible in a timely manner, however, not all questions are answered. Written responses are general in nature and should not be used as specific diagnoses or treatment of conditions. Search the Q&A to see if your question has already been answered.

If you have a specific, personal health issue, contact your healthcare provider. University of Iowa students can call 335-8394 to schedule an appointment.

Recent Questions

"Is it safe to be on adderall? Because I have been taking it for 4 years and I think I'm dying."

Adderall is a prescription drug used to help with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Hyperactive Deficit Disorder. It is a stimulant which has a calming effect and allows for better concentration. This drug is a safe medication if used as prescribed. I am not sure what symptoms you are displaying, but it sounds like something is going on and I would suggest you contact your physician to voice your concerns.

For more information on Adderall visit these links:
Adderall, Is it safe?


Amanda Woods
Health Iowa Intern
Health Iowa/ Student Health Service

Paul Natvig, MD
Staff Psychiatrist
Student Health Service

Written: 04/08/08

Question Link : /question/default.aspx?q=1016

What exactly does a dietitian do?

Dietitians, like the one at Student Health, work directly with clients and patients regarding their nutrition needs. Often dietitians discuss the patient’s current eating habits, complete a dietary analysis, and recommend diets that will allow the patient to get the recommended amount of nutrients needed to maintain a healthy weight. They also help create diet plans for people interested in weight loss, athletes or people that require special diets. Dietitians may work in hospitals, grocery stores, schools, public health or private settings.

A nutritionist is also someone with a background in nutrition, but anyone can use this term even if they have had no formal nutrition education or training. Not all nutritionists are registered dietetic practitioners. Dietitians are often referred to as "nutritionists," but registered dietitians have more education and training than nutritionists.
Interested in meeting with the dietitian? Health Iowa offers free one-on-one consultations with the dietitian for University of Iowa students. If you would like to make an appointment, please call 319-335-8394.

Lindsey Sirowy, BA
Graduate Assistant
Health Iowa/Student Health Service

Written 8/26/2008


Question Link : /question/default.aspx?q=1015

How do you prevent the spreading of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus?

Before we begin answering this question, it’s best to define Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus, also known as VRE. Enterococcus is the bacteria that are in your genital and digestive tract with the potential to cause infection. Vancomycin is what is referred to as the “antibiotic of last resort”. When you take antibiotics for bacterial infections, the bacteria may resist antibiotics. The last resort is to take the very powerful antibiotic Vancomycin. When you have VRE, taking Vancomycin for the infection caused by Enterococcus is ineffective, hence the name Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus. If you are a generally healthy person, the chances of getting VRE are very low. For some people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems, VRE can be especially dangerous because it can lead to serious infections.

Preventing the spread of VRE comes down to washing your hands. The most common way to contract VRE is through human contact and by washing your hands you help eliminate the chance of getting VRE. In hospitals, the highest risk environment for contracting VRE, it is especially important to stay on top of hand washing. It is especially important to make sure you are taking the proper safety procedures if you work in a hospital; for example, wearing gloves, and using hand sanitizer after patient contact or touching door handles.

For more information check out this website: Overview of VRE

Stephanie Beecher, BA
Graduate Assistant
Health Iowa/Student Health Service

Written 8/25/08

Question Link : /question/default.aspx?q=1014

How should I feel if I am having an anxiety attack?

Different levels of anxiety may occur with most people. Some anxiety is good as it can prepare you for an unsafe environment or motivate you with a big school project; however, excessive worry for no reason can be detrimental to one’s health.

Symptoms vary for anxiety attacks depending on each person. People who have excessive anxiety many times cannot recall the last time they felt relaxed or at ease as it disrupts their normal, daily lifestyle.

Some of the more common anxiety symptoms are:

• Feeling on edge
• Restless sleep
• Irritable
• Hard time concentrating
• Muscle tension
• Shortness of breath
• Stomach ache
• Diarrhea
• Headache
• Distracted

Anxiety can be treated by learning different coping skills and strategies. More severe anxiety may need medications and psychotherapy. Stress management consultations are free to all University of Iowa students who are interested in learning management techniques. Please call Student Health Service at 319-335-8394 to make an appointment. If a more in-depth look is needed into what you are experiencing, please make an appointment with one of the psychiatrists at Student Health Service (319-335-8394) or a psychologist at the University Counseling Service (319-335-7294).

For related information about anxiety, please visit

Amanda Truppe
Graduate Assistant
Health Iowa/Student Health Service

Written 8/27/08

Question Link : /question/default.aspx?q=1013

I have a friend who is way under the recommended weight for her height and age. My friends and I are concerned she may have an eating disorder and don't know how to confront her about the problem. She doesn't think anything is wrong with her. For a whole day all she ate was a fruit roll-up and she thought that was normal. She also thinks she has "fat parts" on her body and considering how skinny she is, we don't think that is normal. We're not sure how to confront her on this. Do you have any suggestions what may be wrong or how we should go about this problem?

Confronting a friend about the possibility of an eating disorder can sometimes be difficult. You may not know what to say or how you can help. It seems that your friend’s lack of eating would most likely be anorexia nervosa. According to, people with anorexia are obsessed with food and their weight and body shape. They attempt to maintain a weight that's far below normal for their age and height. In extreme cases, they may be skeletally thin but still think they're fat. To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia may starve themselves or exercise excessively.
Although anorexia centers around food, the disease isn't only about food. Anorexia is an unhealthy way to try to cope with emotional problems, perfectionism and a desire for control. When someone has anorexia, they often equate their self-worth with how thin they are. It's not known specifically what causes some people to develop anorexia. As with many diseases, it's likely a combination of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors.
According to the University of Iowa Student Health website, there are some tips for friends for how to help someone with an eating disorder. One of these is:

  • Realize that you are in exceedingly difficult circumstances. Sometimes you may feel angry, frustrated, helpless, afraid, powerless and enraged. Your friend may seem helpless and pathetic at certain times and at other times stubborn and resistant. She has come to have great power in the family despite this seeming contradiction--and she doesn't even realize it. Naturally you feel confused and distraught.
  • Accept the fact that there are no quick answers or cures to an eating disorder. Psychotherapists and physicians cannot work magic. If your loved one/friend is to recover, then she must make changes in attitudes and behaviors. Also, the family must be willing to make some attitude and behavior changes to accommodate your loved one's new insights and growth.
  • Avoid monitoring your child's/friend's eating and weight gain. Such power struggles are "no win" battles and will only reinforce an adversarial relationship. Also, she will be less able to perceive you as caring if you engage in such battles. Eating and weight gain are her responsibility.

To view the rest of the tips, click here: TIPS  

University of Iowa Student Health Service

Ashley Musselman
Health Iowa Intern
Health Iowa/Student Health Service

Kathy Mellen, MA, RD, LD
Health Iowa/Student Health Service

Written 4/28/08

Question Link : /question/default.aspx?q=1012