Allergy season has arrived at AHS

With spring right around the corner, students have much to look forward to. Seniors are wrapping up their final year at AHS and underclassmen are anticipating an eventful summer.
Despite the good times that lie ahead, many students are faced with a looming threat: seasonal allergies.
Like other types of allergies, seasonal allergies develop when the body’s immune system overreacts to something in the environment, usually during spring, summer or fall when certain plants pollinate.
Almost everyone agrees that allergies really bring you down. No one wants to be sneezing all throughout your springtime endeavors.
“My seasonal allergies impair my ability to breathe during sports events,” junior Annika Yugner said.
However, students shouldn’t surrender to their allergies. Luckily enough, there are many methods to cope with seasonal allergies.
The first step should be consulting an allergist. It is critical to ensure your symptoms are purely seasonal and not year round.
More than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round symptoms. Your best resource for finding what’s causing your suffering and stopping it, not just treating the symptoms, is an allergist.
Working with your allergist, it is important that you monitor pollen and mold counts.
Luckily, weather reports in newspapers and on radio and television often include this information during allergy seasons.
Although it may deprive you of all that healthy Vitamin D, keeping windows and doors shut at home and in your car will help reduce your exposure to pollen.
To further avoid pollen, know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts.
In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening.
The easiest of precautions is to take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
Depending on the severity of your allergies, your allergist may also recommend one or more medications to control symptoms. Some of the most widely recommended drugs are available without a prescription.
One of the most effective ways to treat seasonal allergies linked to pollen is immunotherapy (allergy shots).
These injections expose you over time to gradual increments of your allergen, so you learn to tolerate it rather than reacting with sneezing, a stuffy nose or itchy, watery eyes.
“Allergy shots are effective because they allows parents to be aware of basic daily items that could give their children allergic reactions,” junior Alex Yi said.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it is also crucial to understand the triggers related to your symptoms.
While the term “seasonal allergies” generally refers to grass, pollen and mold, there is a different group of triggers that are closely tied to particular seasons.
In regards to the upcoming seasons of spring and summer, insect bites and stings and chlorine in indoor and outdoor swimming pools are triggers tied to those two seasons.
All of this information is lengthy for allergies that only affect you during a certain season.
Seasonal allergies are extremely difficult to handle. However, many people are effected by allergies year round.
Allergies affect an estimated 40 million to 50 million people in the United States. Some allergies may interfere with day-to-day activities or lessen the quality of life.
Year-round allergies are just as severe if not more than seasonal allergies. Some examples of year round allergies include food, pet and drug allergies.
Food allergies are estimated to affect 4% – 6% of children and 4% of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additionally, while any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all reactions: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat or soy.
In regards to a pet allergy, the two most common types are allergies related to dogs and cats.
Unlike food and pet allergies, there is no common drug that a wide population of people are allergic to.
The best method for preventing allergic reactions to these examples is simply avoiding them. As a matter of fact, avoiding anything that makes allergic will logically reduce your chances of a reaction or the development of symptoms.
Whether you suffer from seasonal allergies or year round allergies, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure your own well being.
Taking precautionary steps such as allergy shots keeps you healthy and provides valuable information about your own health.
Simple steps such as avoiding your allergens will keep you healthy and active during the time of beautiful weather and freedom from obligations.




AHS sets the standard for CPR training

It’s understandable to resent CPR training if your first high school kiss was with a CPR dummy. It seemed like forever to get rid of that rubbing alcohol taste from your lips while simutaneously trying to stop blushing from making out with plastic.
It’s a common occurrence your freshman year at AHS to participate in CPR training. The training is part of your physical education curriculum and involves both classroom and hands on learning.
CPR – or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation – is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. Immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest.
Being CPR certified can provide you with many benefits and opportunities.
Not only does being CPR certified open up job opportunities such as life guarding or jobs in the medical or law enforcement fields, but it also provides you with a lifelong skill that will always be beneficial.
You never know when CPR is needed and being able to perform the basic functions can save someone’s life.
Performing CPR which keeps the blood flow active – even partially – extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site.
With such an important skill, the training at AHS should properly prepare students so they are trained to the best of their ability.
“The CPR training at Hayfield was lack luster. I wouldn’t say they ran it that well because I don’t think I would be able to perform CPR if needed,” Hayfield sophomore Hanah Mounier said. “The final test was poorly set us as well, even if you messed up you still passed.”
Although AHS sets a strong precedent for what CPR training should be which in turn emphasizes the importance of it, the confirmation of completion system is faulty.
Multiple juniors, all of which had completed their CPR training, were marked as incomplete in the system.
“Despite having completed the CPR training, it still said that it was incomplete,” junior Emily Shawish said.
Students went to talk to the coordinators of the CPR training and the IB coordinator Linda Bradshaw to help confirm their completion of their training.
“Considering that the training is mandatory, I was stressed out,’” Shawish said. “Luckily I was able to talk to Ms. Bradshaw and change my status.”
Besides the minor mishap with the confirmation system, AHS still takes it CPR training very seriously.
CPR training is important. It can save your life, your children’s lives, your parents’ lives, or even a stranger’s life. Getting trained is easily accessible to anyone who wants it and not hard to complete.
Despite many high schools providing CPR training in recent years recent studies suggest that less than half of those who suffer from cardiac arrest receive any type of CPR assistance from a bystander.
If you encounter a situation where you need to perform CPR and you’re uncomfortable, use this tale as a guide. In recent news, a man from Tuscon performed CPR by following the rules outlined by Mike Scott from The Office: compress the chest to the beat of “Stayin Alive” by the BeeGees.
Although CPR training seems like a universally good thing, some students disagree with the training being mandatory for graduation.
“It would be more beneficial to have more classes surrounding life saving procedures than the standard classes we have now in order for it to be a graduation requiremnet.” said junior Michael Brown.
Despite mixed feelings, CPR training is a necessary skill and AHS provides a good training program.




Is the energy rush worth it?

The school day is long and many students stay up late consistently due to their many obligations or plain procrastination. Something has to keep drowsy students awake throughout the 7-hour day. A substance that many students turn to for energy is caffeine.
“I can’t function without coffee in my system,” junior Syndey Wuhrer said. “I need my daily coffee to make sure I stay awake and not accidentally kill someone.”
Caffeine can be found in many products such as coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks in the form of seeds, nuts and leaves.
Caffeine usually comes in two main forms. It can be found naturally which is the type in drinks such as coffee and tea. However, there is also synthetic (man-made) caffeine, which is added to some medicines, foods and drinks. For example, energy drinks and “energy-boosting” gums and snacks.
Caffeine itself is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body.
Caffeine is most commonly used to improve mental alertness.
Most people consume caffeine from drinks. The amounts of caffeine in different drinks can vary a lot, but it is generally: An 8-ounce cup of coffee: 95-200 mg, A 12-ounce can of cola: 35-45 mg, An 8-ounce energy drink: 70-100 mg or An 8-ounce cup of tea: 14-60 mg.
Caffeine has many effects on your body’s metabolism. It can stimulate your central nervous system, which can make you feel more awake and give you a boost of energy. However, it can also interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body or increases your blood pressure.
You are able to feel the effects of caffeine for up to four to six hours.
The most unhealthy way of consuming caffeine is found in energy drinks. The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can vary widely, and sometimes the labels on the drinks do not give you the actual amount of caffeine in them. There’s limited data showing that energy drinks might temporarily improve alertness and physical endurance. There is not enough evidence to show that they enhance strength or power. But what it is known that energy drinks can be dangerous because they have large amounts of caffeine. And since they have lots of sugar, they can contribute to weight gain and worsen diabetes.
Although caffeine can be beneficial to helping you stay awake during the school day, it is important to be smart about how much caffeine you are taking in. It is important not to build a dependency on caffeine, adequate rest is the better alternative.




Students need to make healthy choices

As the long school day drags on, many students try to find some kind of safe haven where they can just relax.
For most students, the lunch room is exactly that place.
Students have an opportunity to talk to friends and, more importantly, take a 30 min. break from the heavy burden of pay attention in class.
Lunch is also a time where students fuel themselves with food that will give them energy until they arrive back home.
Some students are fortunate enough to bring lunch from home but a majority of students at AHS purchase lunch from the lunch lines.
Every day, students are met with the same problem; the choice between the healthy option or the unhealthy option.
Most students choose the unhealthy option which, disappointingly, is the more accessible option.
Once their 30 mins. of freedom is over, students leave their safe haven with a bad taste in their mouths.
Processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt have become a mainstay of lunches in schools across America. Experts say these unhealthy school lunches are a contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic.
An estimated 17% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If schools serve unhealthy food, this could negatively affect anyone’s health which would in turn affect their academic performance.
However, a change for the better comes with its challenges. There are many obstacles to improving unhealthy school lunches, not the least of which is money.
Schools receive $2.68 for each free meal served through the National School Lunch Program, a federal meal program. That $2.68 must cover payment not just for the food, but also any labor, facility, and structural costs a school incurs. Additionally, schools are mandated to use part of that money for milk purchases. Not only is that money not enough to help food services but 65% of AHS students benefit from free or reduced lunch.
Despite the many obstacles that schools face, their lunch program has experienced mixed results.
Most menus now include more whole grains and more fruit and vegetable options and less salt.
But they also offer an abundance of factory-farmed animal products and heavily processed foods, like corn dogs, tater tots, and cheese pizza.
At AHS, the cafeteria offers plenty of healthy food to students. “We’re offering a variety of deli items including salads, vegetable wraps and healthy sandwiches,” said Michael Soleto, the Food Services Kitchen manager. “Also, students are also always able to order vegetarian meals.”
The AHS lunch program is also making improvements to the quality of the food that is provided. “Since the beginning of my time working in FCPS schools, the salads have evolved by adding more variety for the students…I also hear that there will be more changes coming as far as variety is concerned,” Soleto said.
Like AHS, the government isn’t entirely ignoring the issue of unhealthy school lunches. The Healthy School Meals Act of 2010 (H.R. 4870) was introduced in Congress in March and referred to committee. A key provision is a pilot program for selected schools to offer plant-based protein products and nondairy milk substitutes. Although America’s school lunches have improved since Congress strengthened the standards for the national school lunch program in 2010, they have a long way to go.
Although schools across America still include unhealthy food in their menu, it is up the students to choose their food wisely.
When health is concerned, it is the students responsibility to make the healthy choice, as there are plenty of healthy food choices at AHS.




Why St ives apricot is bad for your skin

Why St ives apricot is bad for your skin

Ladan abdi

St ives apricot scrub is America’s top facial scrub brand may be a staple in your shower caddy. It is used to clean, smooth, and illuminate skin which contains 100% natural exfoliants (like walnut shell powder) and apricot fruit extract leaving skin feeling super soft and smooth. But is apricot scrub good for the skin?

Unfortunately for consumers, use of St. Ives as a facial exfoliant leads to long-term skin damage that greatly outweighs any potential benefits the product may provide. St. Ives’ primary exfoliating ingredient is crushed walnut shell, which has jagged edges that cause micro-tears in the skin when used in a scrub.

It is extremely rough, perhaps to rough. Dermatologists disagree on how beneficial scrubs are generally, but St. Ives is intense even among scrubs, with chunks of walnut harder than your average (water-polluting) plastic micro bead. The problem [with scrubs] is that with over-zealous or too often use, they can irritate and cause more inflammation when you use it on active acne it can sometimes cause discoloration or scarring as you may traumatize already tender, inflamed acneic skin.”

A class action lawsuit recently filed claims that the popular scrub can damage skin and “is unfit to be sold or used as a facial scrub.

Kaylee Browning and Sarah Basile filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in central California against Unilever, the parent company of St. Ives. According to Top Class Actions, the plaintiffs claim the crushed walnut shells in the scrub can damage skin, and they balk at the use of “dermatologist tested” on the label. They allege that no dermatologist would recommend the scrub and believe the company should disclose that the scrub can cause microscopic tearing of the skin. They’re seeking $5 million.

In several stories about the lawsuit, Unilever declined to comment on the case and gave the same statement: “We can say that for over 30 years, consumers have loved and trusted the St. Ives brand to refresh and revitalize their skin. We are proud to be America’s top facial scrub brand and stand by our dermatologist tested formula.”




Sleep deprivation hits students hard

As junior Tommy Chang sits through his classes throughout the day, he finds it harder and harder to pay attention. Words blur as he drifts in and out of sleep. Chang is sleep deprived, or suffering from a lack of sleep.
Chang is an IB diploma candidate and gets loads of work every day. The IB diploma is the most demanding track in high school and the work takes tolls on students like Chang.
In addition to the heavy workload, Chang, like many high school students, as other responsibilities and methods of procrastination to attend to.
“I’ll usually get home and do my chores, then start my homework, eat lunch, either finish up or watch a show, then go to bed,” Chang said when asked about his after school routine.
Once all of his homework and responsibilities are out of the way, Chang finally gets to unwind and go to sleep. By this time, however, it is already late at night and his sleep schedule stays unchanged.
A high school student can suffer from sleep deprivation for many reasons. However, the main cause is the deadly combination of procrastination and a heavy workload. Everyone’s work load is dependent on the rigor of their classes but no matter what classes you take, you’re bound to have a lot of work.
Chang, like many high school students, has his own method to manage his time more effectively.
“I’ve been trying to use my agenda to improve my schedule recently,” Chang said when asked how he could break his unhealthy sleeping habits. “I find that making a checklist really improves my efficiency when I have a lot of assignments.”
Although Chang is making strides to fix his sleeping habits, he still suffers from sleep deprivation. “I’m usually tired during school, especially during the middle of the school day,” Chang said.
When a student is suffering from sleep deprivation, it greatly affects their academic performance in school. Chang is no different.
“My lack of sleep affects my performance in school sometimes,” Chang said. “Most of the time I can make sure I’m paying attention, but occasionally I’ll drift off or zone out.”
Despite the issue of sleep deprivation being prominent in high schools like AHS, not much can be done to help students. Work loads cannot be altered too much and the habit of procrastination is one that is hard to break. To get enough sleep every night, students must take initiative to be on top of their school work and other responsibilities.
According to assm.org, the primary effect of sleep deprivation is excessive daytime sleepiness. A sleep deprived person is likely to fall asleep when forced to sit still in a quiet situation, such as during a meeting or class.
Sleep deprivation can affect your mood as well. Common moods among sleep deprived teens are irritability, anxiety or lack of motivation. Sleep deprived teens can also suffer from lack of concentration, lack of energy, forgetfulness and fatigue.
Another problem that exists within sleep deprivation are the methods used to combat the effects. Many teens turn to caffeine to cop with their sleepiness and some even turn to drugs such as adderall. These methods can, rather than help ones sleep deprivation, build a dependence on these artificial energizers.
There are positive and healthy ways to help your sleep deprivation however, According to medicalnewstoday.com, some suggestions for good sleep habits include: going to bed when tired, following a routine for bed and wake-up times and avoiding food 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
Also, medicalnewstoday.com recommends engaging in regular exercise during the day, keeping the bedroom quiet, dark and coo and turning off electronic devices when you go to bed.
Director of CDC’s Division of Population Health Wayne Giles recognizes that Americans do not get enough sleep in general, “As a nation we are not getting enough sleep,” Giles said.
Giles also recommends techniques that anyone can do to get a good night sleep, “Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”
Many students like Tommy Chang struggle through their school day without a sufficient amount of sleep. If a student is suffering from sleep deprivation, it is important to contact a doctor or make sure to work on your sleep schedule.




Narcan: Why it needs to be on school grounds

With the growing problem of opioid overdoses in America, Naloxone is almost a necessity on school grounds. An opioid overdose can happen on AHS grounds at any time so it is important that the nurse and school officials are able to access narcan when necessary.
Narcan could save someone’s life, without it our school community is not taking the necessary precautions to be as safe as possible.
Around the country, narcan is becoming more and more available on school grounds while AHS has not followed suit.
“There are only some officers on the street that have been trained,” School Resource Offier Adam Curcio said. “If there was something like that [an opioid overdose] I’d have to call rescue.”
Learning about narcan, its benefits and its importance is important to understand why it is a necessity on school grounds.
Narcan is a brand name nasal spray version of the drug naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it reverses the effects of opioid use, and an opioid overdose. It does this by knocking the drugs out of the opioid receptors in the central nervous system.
Naloxone can be administered as a shot, while Narcan is specifically a nasal spray that can be given during an overdose. While narcan and naloxone are technically prescription drugs, there has been a big national push to make them as widely available and as accessible as possible. In most states, you can purchase narcan over-the-counter, and it’s even becoming increasingly available in schools.
The effects of naloxone are to temporarily block opioid receptors and prevent opioid drugs from working. Naloxone cannot be used to get high, so it has no potential for misuse.
There is no evidence that extended use of naloxone can cause harmful physical effects or dependence. People who take naloxone do not develop a tolerance to its effects and there have been no reported deaths from naloxone overdose.
Without narcan available on school grounds, the protection against opioid overdose is little. Nurses and school officials in AHS should be trained to administer narcan in case of an emergency.
Without narcan, student health and safety is not completely safe.




NO ESCAPE: Opioid addiction shocks America

Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.

Despite the opioid epidemic being widely reported, little has been done to change the current state of the issue. It seems that this epidemic skyrocketed out of nowhere. To fully understand the epidemic, it is first important to understand how it started.

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers. Due to this, healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.

The rising rate of prescription painkillers being sold resulted in the widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. This caused the rate of opioid overdoses to rise dramatically.

In 2015 alone, 33,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose. That same year, an estimated 2 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers.

Within a suburban community like Fairfax County, problems such as opioid addiction is often overlooked.

When AHS students were asked about whether they think that opioid addiction is a problem in our community, many students said no and were even confused to what an opioid actually is.
This, however, is not the case. According to fairfaxcounty.gov, Fairfax County has more than 100 drug-related deaths, 80 of which were related to opioid overdose.

The numbers are evidence: the issue of addiction and overdose to opioids has become a public health crisis. Health care providers know the effects of the drugs that they mass produce but little is done to stop the flow of prescribed pain killers. The profit that comes from highly addictive painkillers is too great for the corporations to resist.

With little to no help in the prevention of opioid sales, government departments such as the Department of Health and Human Serivces, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration work to stifle the epidemic.

In response to the opioid crisis, HHS is focusing its efforts on five major priorities. These priorities are improving access to treatment and recovery services, promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs, strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance, providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction and advancing better practices for pain management.

The NIH, a component of HHS, is the nation’s leading medical research agency helping solve the opioid crisis. To help, the NIH met with pharmaceutical companies and academic research centers to discuss safe, effective, non-addictive strategies to manage chronic pain, new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid use disorders and improved overdose prevention and reversal interventions to save lives and support recovery.

In a statement by FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, he discusses what needs to be done in order to limit the flow of prescribed opioids. “Patients must be prescribed opioids only for durations of treatment that closely match their clinical circumstances and that don’t expose them unnecessarily to prolonged use, which increases the risk of opioid addiction.” Gottlieb said.
In another statement by Scott Gottlieb, he discusses what actions the FDA has already taken to help reduce the cases of opioid addiction.

“First, we set out to cut the rate of new addiction. We did this in part by taking new steps to rationalize the prescribing of opioids, and amounts dispensed, as a way to reduce exposure to the drugs in the medical setting,” Gottlieb said.

“Second, we’ve stepped up enforcement of the marketing and sale of illicit opioids. One way that we’re doing this is by targeting online sites that enable the illegal sale of these drugs and their shipment through the mail,” Gottlieb stated.

“Finally, we’ve undertaken new efforts to support novel product innovation. This includes innovation in treatments for opioid addiction, and efforts to promote their more widespread use. It also includes steps to advance the development of non-addictive treatments for pain. We have great concern for the millions of Americans who live with chronic pain and for whom traditional treatment options have been exhausted,” Gottlieb said.

Despite the actions taken by various government departments, highly addictive opioids are running rampant in the streets of America.




Flu shot vaccine proves to be essential

It’s flu season across America. People across the country are getting vaccinated in preparation for the risk of catching the flu. Like many schools, AHS is vulnerable to the widespread infection of students. AHS has already seen a case of the flu this school year. Some Americans have their doubts about the flu vaccine. Before vaccinating it is important to know the facts.

What is the flu?

The flu is caused by a virus. Common symptoms of the flu include: Fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache and feeling very tired. The flu is worse than the common cold. It’s a common cause of problems like sinus or ear infections. It can also cause serious complications such as pneumonia or worsening of long-term health problems, like asthma or heart failure. However, these serious complications only occur when the flu goes untreated.

Who needs to get the flu vaccine?
Everyone age 6 months or older needs to get the flu vaccine every year. It’s part of the routine vaccine schedules for children, teens, and adults. No one under the age of six months should receive the flu vaccine.

What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?
Side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days. These side effects aren’t the flu — the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. Side effects include: Pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given, headache, muscle aches, fever or upset stomach

Where can you receive a flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines are offered in many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers and even in some schools.
Even if you do not have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or workplace.

Why should you get the flu vaccine?
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and the influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.
Getting your flu shot is a very important part in staying healthy.
To prevent the spread of flu and keep healthy, get your flu shot as soon as possible.




The dangers of the quick striking meningitis B

A recent commercial promoting the meningitis B vaccine depicts an animated college boy leaving home without being properly vaccinated. The images of the commercial are not the focal point whereas the facts provided within are.

The commercial states that meningitis B progresses quickly and can be fatal, even with 24 hours. It also states that although meningitis B is uncommon, 1 in 10 infected will die. The commercial heads warning to the notion that many teens are not vaccinated, stressing the importance of this vaccination before college. The thought of contracting meningitis B is scary to any parent or teen due to the deadly effects it has.

Many wonder, where does meningitis B come from? Meningitis is first Meningococcal disease which is a serious illness caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitis. It can lead to meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and infections of the blood. There are at least 12 types of N. meningitis, called “serogroups.” Serogroups A, B, C, W, and Y cause most meningococcal disease.

There are also two vaccinations that are recommended for teens to get before college. One vaccine is meningitis vaccine ACWY which is recommended for 12-14 year olds plus a booster shot for 16 year olds. Chances are that you have received vaccine ACWY. The other vaccine is meningitis vaccine B which is much less common among teens and adults due to the fact that the vaccine was made in late 2014. The vaccine is suggested for ages 16-23 but preferred for 16-18 year olds.

Who is at risk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone can get meningitis but certain people are at increased risk. One of the groups of people that are at an increased risk are adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old. Due to the increased risk, it is very important that rising college freshmen and 16 year olds are immunized.

How is it spread?
The bacteria that cause meningitis live within the nose and throat. The bacteria can be spread easily through behaviors such as coughing and sneezing, sharing drinks and eating utensils, kissing and living in close quarters. The meningitis bacteria can be spread easily and fast so it is important to be cautious if you have not been vaccinated.

What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms of meningitis may appear mild, similar to those of a cold or flu. However, the symptoms of meningitis can progress rapidly. Symptoms include headache, sudden fever and stiff neck.

It is very important that students receive their proper vaccinations to reduce the risk and possible spread of meningitis.




FDA introduces regulations on flavored e-cigarettes

Flavored e-cigarettes have been all the rage for the past two years at AHS. JUUL, the most popular brand of flavored cigarettes among teens, has surpassed e-cigarette brands manufactured by the major tobacco companies in popularity. JUUL has become so popular that rather than referring to their use as “e-cigarette use” or “vaping,” it is referred to as “JUULing.” It seems as though teens are a major factor in the JUUL’s massive popularity.

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, approximately 2.1 million youth (which includes middle and high schoolers) were e-cigarette users. The number of youth using e-cigarettes, including JUUL, is alarming and raises serious health concerns that e-cigarettes could be an entryway to nicotine addiction and the use of regular cigarettes for some kids.

The JUUL company itself claims that the nicotine used is from “nicotine salts found in tobacco leaves” which they claim “accommodates cigarette-like strength nicotine levels.” The widespread teen use of e-cigarettes and their danger of addiction is reason for the FDA labeling the situation an “epidemic.”

JUUL faces allegations from the FDA that their popular flavored e-cigarettes are marketed to teens. From an outsider point of view, it is hard to believe that flavors such as mango, cucumber and fruit are designed to attract adults. In an FDA statement from April, the FDA cites 1,300 retailers and 5 major manufacturers for violations related to youth sales of JUUL e-cigarettes. These retailers include smoke shops, 7-11’s and gas stations. Although the retailers listed are one way for youth to access JUULs and other e-cigarettes, most teens get their JUULs online. The FDA also issued 12 warning letters to other online retailers that are selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies. According to a statement made by the FDA on Sept. 12, “The FDA had previously issued more than 60 warning letters and fines to businesses that sold JUUL brand products to minors. The agency also recently sent letters to JUUL Labs and several other companies requiring them to submit important documents to better understand the reportedly high rates of youth use and the particular youth appeal of their products.”

When asked where he gets his JUUL and JUUL products, Michael Brown said “I can’t disclose that information. That is classified from the public.” There are about four smoke shops in Annandale which are possible locations for teens to purchase e-cigarettes. The teens’ ability to purchase depends on whether the store clerks check ID.

The first step to the growing problem of teen use of e-cigarettes resides with its accessibility. The next step to the problem includes the contents of a JUUL or other e-cigarette. Cigarettes contain nicotine along with other dangerous chemicals such as methanol and tar. Although JUULs and other e-cigarettes do not have the dangerous excessive chemicals, they contain nicotine which is the addictive element in cigarettes. Therefore, the combination of addictive content in a JUUL or other e-cigarettes combined with teen use introduces an early addiction of nicotine for youth.

Early addiction can cause serious problems for a developing mind. The effects of being addicted to nicotine can disturb your daily life in school and at home. Not only can addiction affect school life but it can affect your life at home as well. It is a common scene at AHS to see students taking a JUUL break in between classes in the bathroom.

Taking time out of your day to JUUL reduces your time to complete homework and sucks time out of your social life. Additionally, the effects of vaping can affect your focus during and after school.

The worst part of the teen addiction to e-cigarettes has yet to come. If the user decides that he or she wants to quit, the process is an extreme challenge.

Junior Duc Ngo speaks about his process of quitting: “I have quit vaping, it was quite a bad experience,” Ngo said. “It started with a slight uneasiness, in the second day of quitting, anxiety sets in.

The anxiety gets worse as the second day goes on. Stomach aches start to happen. You’ll get very uncomfortable, you hands will shake, you will feel like throwing up.”
Ngo also spoke about some of his own personal experiences with quitting in addition to the basic effects. “I tried making myself throw up but I didn’t eat anything before because I was too anxious so I couldn’t expel anything,” Ngo said.

Finally, he added some reassurance to e-cigarette users that are thinking of quitting but not without heading warning to more intense users: “It all ends on the third day though, keep in mind my experience might be pretty average when it comes to severity,” Ngo said.

To address the trend of e-cigarette use among teens, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement, “We’re expanding our Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan. It encompasses a series of steps to stop youth use of tobacco products, especially the rising use of e-cigarettes.” The Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan incorporates three steps. These steps include preventing youth access to tobacco products, curbing the marketing of tobacco products aimed at youth and educating teens and their families about the dangers of using any tobacco products. In addition to the Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, the FDA released “The Real Cost” ads which educate teens about the dangers of using e-cigarettes.

In addition, the ads are designed to communicate to teens in a compelling way about the risks of using e-cigarettes. According to the FDA, in the first two years “The Real Cost” ads have prevented nearly 350,000 teens from initiating cigarette smoking.

The FDA clearly as a straightforward plan of action to prevent the selling of JUULs and other e-cigarettes to teens. JUUL or any e-cigarette containing nicotine can be addicting.

Senior Kassie Peralta can’t go a day without using JUUL. “I would say no, because when I see it I’m tempted to use it,” Peralta said. “That’s why I don’t own one, I only borrow.”




Beat the flu before it beats you

Once again, the flu season is almost here. With school just starting, this means that the summer season will be coming to an end as well. This means that the days will begin to get shorter and the evenings will quickly get cooler as well.
With the start of cold weather, also comes deadly and sometimes, life-threatening germs, such as the Type A and B viruses that cause influenza, or most commonly known as the “flu.” However, it is not only the flu that you should take serious precaution in. You should also prepare for the common cold.
Due to the overwhelming amount of stress that you are facing because of school, your immune system may be affected. Thus, making you weak and likely to fall victim to the cold, or even worse: the flu. Once this occurs, you will most likely be on best rest from a couple of days to even three weeks if you are unlucky enough to catch the flu. For these reasons, watch out for every sneeze and cough that comes your way, because you are at risk of contracting nasty viruses.
Many would ask you, “Have you had your flu vaccine yet?” One must admit that getting vaccinating should always be the first step in prevention. It is your best bet in battling the Type A and Type B bacteria. However, aside from vaccination, there are also many other precautions and preparations that can be taken. To prevent future sniffles and the piling of dirty tissues in your bedroom, follow these four unusual and straightforward steps to beat the flu and the cold before it begins.

 

No sharing

Do not share drinks, food, mascara or even chapstick with any of your friends. They may have a mild case of the flu or the cold that you are unaware of. Due to this possibility, you should take precaution in sharing germs and saliva with your best buds, unless you want to be knocked out in bed with a runny nose and red eyes right alongside them.

 

Use tiger balm

Forget the chicken noodle soup and blankets, tiger balm and eucalyptus oil are all you need. In many East Asian cultures, many use these two remedies to cure clogged up noses, stomach and body aches. It works like a charm. Not only does it give off a delightful scent, but it also warms up your body. Prevent illnesses by rubbing it on your neck and chest every night.

 

Look, don’t touch

Due to many students touching the handrails, lockers, and walls every day, there are a million germs on them. For this reason, make sure to not touch anywhere on your face after reaching any of these locations. Use hand sanitizer after touching anything. If not, head straight to the rest room to wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

 

Bring on the pillows

Get a good night’s rest by placing one or two pillows on top of one another. Propping your head up while you are sleeping assists in clearing up your nasal passages, ensuring that you are sneeze-free. Another benefit is that it is much more comfortable for your head and beneficial for your back and neck. Say goodbye to back pains and neck cramps.