The Healthy Nook - UAF Student Health & Counseling

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Student Health and Counseling Center provides medical and counseling services to the UAF campus students. Our articles are written by staff members and are to help keep students informed about good physical, mental and emotional health.

Other updates will help keep students informed of our outreaches and events they may be interested in participating in.

Ask our medical or counseling professionals anything related to medical or mental health

ARCTIC ROCK THERAPY KSUA 91.5 on Fridays 2-3 pm


NEW RADIO SHOW: Arctic Rock Therapy, the official radio show of the UAF Student Health and Counseling Center, and the ONLY heavy metal mental health radio show in the arctic!

The show will be on Fridays from 2-3pm.

If you ever have any events/services for UAF students that you would like announced on our show, please email them to Jessica McKay at   We will announce them on the air.  We are open to announcing any events/services for UAF students.

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Say Ahh Hypothyroidism by Donna Patrick, ANP

Say Ahh   Hypothyroidism


Q: What is hypothyroidism?

A: Hypothyroidism is the medical term for when a person does not make enough thyroid hormone.  It is a condition that makes you feel tired. The thyroid gland in your neck makes thyroid hormone. This hormone controls how the body uses and stores energy.

Q: What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

A: Some people with hypothyroidism have no symptoms. But most people feel tired. That can make the condition hard to diagnose, because a lot of conditions can make you tired.

Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Getting cold easily
  • Developing coarse or thin hair
  • Getting constipated (having too few bowel movements)
  • Menstrual irregularities in women

If it is not treated, hypothyroidism can also weaken and slow your heart. This can make you feel out of breath or tired when you exercise and cause swelling (fluid buildup) in your ankles. Untreated hypothyroidism can also increase your blood pressure and raise your cholesterol—both of which increase the risk of heart trouble.

Q: Is there a test for hypothyroidism?

A: Yes. Your health care provider can test you for hypothyroidism using a simple blood test.

Q: How is hypothyroidism treated?

A: Treatment for hypothyroidism involves taking thyroid hormone pills every day. After you take the pills for about 6 weeks, your blood will be retested to make sure the levels are where they should be. The dosage may need to be adjusted depending on the results. Most people with hypothyroidism need to be on thyroid pills for the rest of their life.

Tagged: uaf chcuafhealth and counselingstudent health and counseling centersay ahhsay ah Donna patrick


What does L-Carnitine have to do with Fatigue & Nerves

                                                         CARNITINE, FATIGUE, AND NERVE FUNCTION

A substance needed for cellular energy production is L- carnitine. This quasi amino acid is normally found in the body, and is easily interconverted from one form to another. Some is obtained from eating red meat and dairy products, and the body can also synthesize it from other dietary amino acids. A few people with specific medical conditions have actual deficiencies which are alleviated by supplementation; for this reason it is sometimes called vitamin B(t). It has been tried as treatment for many other situations. It is sometimes touted as beneficial for body building; unfortunately, there is no evidence that it helps athletes or otherwise healthy people perform better when exercising, nor with weight loss. There is some evidence that some (not all) people with fatigue due to hepatitis, celiac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, advanced age, multiple sclerosis or cancer can obtain modest relief when taking a supplement. One cause of male infertility may also be improved, as could some persons with certain types of heart disease, and those taking the seizure medication valproic acid. One small study (ie, statistically not very significant) indicated slight benefit in diabetic weight loss when combined with orlistat, an over the counter medication that blocks fat absorption.

 Larger studies need to be done to provide more solid evidence of benefit from L-carnitine supplementation.  Supplementation has been reported for fatigue in vegans, persons with ADHD, anorexia or Lyme disease; no studies have been performed in persons with these issues except with ADHD due to the fragile X syndrome, in which case it may be helpful.

Consumption can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, heartburn, gastritis, diarrhea, and a fishy body odor. L-carnitine should not be consumed as a supplement by persons with thyroid disorders or a history of seizures without consulting their medical provider.

Another form of L-carnitine, acetyl-l-carnitine, is used for several nerve-related conditions. There is some evidence of improved cognition in those with mild age-related (over 65) or chronic alcoholic-related cognitive impairment, and in depression in the elderly. Doses tested ranged from 1500 to 4000 mg daily, divided into 2-3 doses.  Pain from diabetic neuropathy may be decreased with the higher doses of this form of carnitine.

Although these two forms of carnitine can be interconverted by the body, because research has been done on one substance or the other, that product should be used. The cost of these products can vary wildly; comparison shopping is recommended. In addition, and as is true with all supplements, the FDA does not regulate these products for purity or to ensure they contain what they claim.


Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, accessed 9/24/2012

Up-to-Date, accessed 10/9/2012

Tagged: L-carnitineFatigueNervesJune ThomassonUAF CHCChcUAF


check out upcoming events: Lose to Win, Food Bites, Say Ahh columns, NEW Arctic Rock Therapy Radio broadcast 91.5 KSUA and so much more →

Check out your UAF Student Health and Counseling Center serving students across the UAF campus and providing quality medical care and professional counseling services.  474-7043 for an appt.

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Fall Semester - Classes and Services begin Thursday, August 30.

The UAF Student Health and Counseling Center will be in full swing on Thursday, August 30th, when classes begin.  This is our official start date for medical and counseling services.  If you need an appt. please call 474-7043.

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Health Fair with Your UAF Student Health and Counseling Staff

Wednesday, April 25 at MBS from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  Thursday, April 26, at the Wood Center from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm.  Don’t miss out.

Tagged: UAF Health and CounselingHealth FairUAF


UAF Student Health and Counseling Holiday Schedule

Happy Holidays!!  Our revised Holiday schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, Dec 13 we will be closed from 11:00 am - 1:15 pm

Friday, Dec 16 we will close at 1:00 pm.

The week of December 19 - 22 our office will be open from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

We will be providing limited services during this week.  We will close on Dec 23 for the Holiday break and will remain closed from December 26 through January 2nd. (subject to change)

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Migraine Headaches, by Donna Patrick, ANP

Tagged: migraineDonna Patrickuafchcsay ahh


Food Bites tonight at Lola Tilly from 5 -7 pm with Nancy Bayer, ANP

December: “Snacks: America’s FOURTH Meal”.  Learn about the pros and cons of snacking and ways to “Snack Smart and Think Outside the Bag”.

Tagged: chcuaffood bitesNancy Bayer


SAD Seasonal affective disorder

SAD  Seasonal affective disorder

Written by Donna Patrick, ANP 

Q: I hear people talking about SAD. What is it?

A:  Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is when an individual experiences episodes of depression which occur at a certain time of the year, usually in the fall and winter.  People who live in areas with long winter nights are more susceptible to SAD.  If you find yourself feeling depressed in the winter months but much better in the spring and summer you may be experiencing SAD.  The cause is unknown but it is believed to be related to the lack of sunlight which in turn may upset sleep- wake cycles.  A brain chemical called serotonin may also be affected.

Q: What are the symptoms of SAD?

A:  The symptoms usually begin slowly in late autumn and are quite similar to symptoms of depression.  They are:

·         Increased need for sleep. Feeling drowsy during the day even when you have had plenty of sleep the night before.

·         Increased appetite associated with cravings for foods high in carbohydrates such as bread and pasta.

·         Marked increase in weight.

·         Irritability or moodiness.

·         Interpersonal difficulties.

·         Heavy, leaden feelings in arms or legs.

·         Diminished interest in your usual activities.

Q: What can I do if I think I have it?


·         Go outside during the middle of the day when the light is the brightest for at least 10 minutes. Longer is better.

·          Exercise.  Go for a long walk outside during the brightest part of the day

·         Keep active socially

·         Try to eat a healthy diet low in simple carbohydrates and saturated fats.

·         If symptoms are severe you can use antidepressant medications and talk therapy.

·         Use  light therapy

Q: What is light therapy?

A: There are two types of light therapy:

·         Use of a light box which emits bright light. You sit in front of it for about a half hour, usually in the morning. We lend these out on a limited time basis.  You must call to make an appointment with a counselor to be evaluated for one.

·         Dawn simulation:  a dim light goes on in the morning while you sleep, and it brightens over time, usually 30 minutes.


Tagged: SADDonna Patrickchc uafuaf