Growing Bacteria at Bio-Med

by Randall Hatfield, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2022 — Sanitation and cleanliness has always been a topic of concern in schools. Throughout the pandemic, Bio-Med encouraged students and staff to partake in sanitization measures like desk-wiping, but how effective and consistent are these measures, and are any surfaces within the school being neglected?

The Hive conducted an experiment throughout the Bio-Med Science Academy Rootstown campus to see where the building’s bacteria may reside. Commonly touched surfaces where bacteria may gather, like the stair railings, the slide, the soap dispenser, and microwave were swabbed for growth and examination.

The Hive found a diverse range of bacterial growth quantities on building surfaces. Some displayed significant growth, while others maintained a relatively sparse growth plate.

“While most species of bacteria are harmless to humans, ensuring consistency in sanitizing student spaces, including those which are not currently disinfected, could be an effective way to ensure the health of the Bio-Med community going forward.”

Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

Though sanitization measures are still recommended, freshmen Wyatt Bartholomew and Madelynn Cross stated that they rarely wiped down their desks after class.

“[Teachers] do not have us do that [anymore],“ Bartholomew told The Hive.

A possible explanation for the decline in cleaning could be that, as pandemic fears eased, wiping desks began to fade from the minds of students and staff, and the practice became less frequent, leaving bacterial colonies an opportunity to redistribute themselves throughout the building.

A Yale University study demonstrated that bacterial growth on desks in three grade 7-12 schools completely regrew within around two days if not sanitized consistently. The study also verified that the majority of bacteria on the desks were sourced from humans, most likely the students sitting there. The fast regrowth could lead to an increase in bacteria transmission between school surfaces in-between cleanings.

If commonly touched spaces harbor a large number of bacteria growth, it could become easier for students to pick them up from that space and transfer the bacteria to other areas. This transference could also dull the effect of surface cleaners, by enabling rapid reintroduction and regrowth after disinfection.

Growth on a plate sampled from the bottom of the building’s metal slide, which connects the third and fourth floor. The growth shown could be a result of its difficulty to clean and its frequent use by students. Photo by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

Results of the Slide Sample

The slide was installed in the building during its 2020 expansion and serves the student community as an alternative to taking the stairs down between floors. 

“That’s a bunch of kids’ butts,” stated Cross about the growth on the slide plate. 

The plate incubated a large colony of bacteria within a few days of its samples being taken, quickly generating bacterial colonies and bringing the amount of bacteria on the slide into question. 

“I don’t think many people clean that, because it would be hard to clean,” Bartholomew said as he observed the plate. “You’d have to stand on the steps or something.” 

Because the slide is so frequently used, students who go down it may bring its microorganisms with them, further spreading bacterial growth throughout the building and onto more surfaces. 

Pictured above is a sample taken from a microwave in the cafeteria. The handle to the door was swabbed and incubated, allowing any bacteria to grow. Photo by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

Results of the Microwave Sample

The cafeteria microwave demonstrated a large amount of bacterial growth.

An image of a filamentous bacteria species. The bacteria’s name comes from its slender, threadlike appearance. Filamentous bacteria are typically found in the gut microbiome of animals.  Photo obtained from Frontiersin.org.

After seeing the sample results, Bartholomew stated, “I think the microwave should be a lot cleaner. I don’t use the microwave, and I think they should get new ones, because they don’t work as well as they used to.”

In regards to the sample, Elissa Fusco, the 11th grade Biomedical Engineering teacher remarked, “This [bacteria]…might be filamentous. That might be why it gave you a different color than the other [plates].” 

“Filamentous [bacteria] looks almost very hairlike,” She detailed. “[They] are kind of hard to find, because what they’ll do is just merge together and form this lawn, but you have a little bit that you can see on the very edges.”

Bacterial “lawns” are large masses of bacterial growth, caused by one or more bacterial colonies growing to cover an entire growth plate in a sort of bacterial mat.

The large amount of growth on the microwave may be a result of filamentous bacteria’s tendency to quickly form bacterial lawns, though the species and source are unknown.

A sample incubated from the frequently-used Rootstown Campus stairwell, near the railings on the fourth floor. The opaque areas of the surface indicate bacteria growth on the plate. Photo by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

Results of the Stairwell Sample

The building’s main stair railing, another location swabbed for the experiment, is an integral part of its infrastructure, often used by Bio-Med students coming up and down daily.

“I would have thought there was more,” Bartholomew stated about the railing sample. “The janitor [cleans] it after school. I think I’ve seen him do it a few times.”

“I [use the stairs] every day, actually,” senior Sarah Bungard said. “Maybe even four times a day…. I come down for lunch time, and then I go back up for class again.”

As a senior, Bungard has “open campus” privileges, meaning she can leave the building during periods where she does not have a class.

When asked about how many people she encounters on the stairs, Bungard recalled, “That depends on the day. In the morning, it’s usually a good amount depending on what time I come in…. Sometimes it’s very aggressive, and there [are] a lot of people.”

Bungard continued, “I personally do not [use the railings] usually, because I have a feeling that they are gross. I do not pay that much attention to what other people do, but I’d say I don’t see people using them that much.”

Observing the plate shows a relatively low amount of growth. Due to the railing’s cleanings, it is possible that the bacteria found was residually left over from students entering the building in the morning, and may have been disinfected during routine maintenance.

A sample taken from the soap dispenser on the building’s fourth floor restrooms near rooms 405 and 407 of the Rootstown Campus, sometimes referred to as the junior wing. Initially, the sample displayed a minor amount of growth, but over the course of the incubation period, the bacterial colonies disappeared and died out, possibly due to soap residue. Photo by Randall Hatfield, staff writer.

Results of the Soap Dispenser Sample

Another area swabbed, the fourth floor soap dispenser, is frequently touched by students going into and coming out from the nearby restroom. Despite its frequent use, the sample showed a lack of visible bacterial growth. 

Fusco explained her thoughts on the lack of growth on the soap sample, stating, “If you had any soap antibiotics — I’m not sure if that’s antibacterial soap, I think that it is — if you got any residue on that, that could’ve potentially killed off your samples.” Soap residue may have been transferred to the surface during normal student hand-washing, preventing growth. 

The fourth floor restrooms use GOJO Green Certified foam hand cleaner. The product’s description reads, “Kills germs on hands while providing a rich, luxurious lather,” further supporting Fusco’s claims, and providing an explanation for the cleanliness of the plate. 

This type of soap could reduce the amount of bacteria on student hands, lowering the probability of microbial transfer from student hands to school surfaces.

The results of The Hive’s overall experiment could have been affected by several factors, including the time and method of incubation. 

“It probably would’ve been good to check [the growth] every day,” Fusco reflected about the experiment’s methods, “The moment you put it in, check the same time the day after, and then the day after that… eventually, because of how basic that luria broth agar is, you’re just going to end up getting a bacterial lawn. You might just have one dominant bacteria take over the whole thing.” 

A bacterial lawn is the term for a dense growth of bacteria, similar to the colonies present in the slide and microwave samples. It can form when a bacteria is present in large quantities, or possesses qualities that enable it to grow quickly. 

Bio-Med senior Olivia Opritza and a few of her peers conducted an experiment similar to The Hive’s two years ago for a sophomore research project. 

Opritza explained, “We went to each campus at Bio-Med and swabbed door knobs, two in each building to look at how much bacteria was growing in each building and if that correlated with the number of COVID cases in each building.” 

Recalling the results, she said, “We realized that there wasn’t much of a correlation between the different buildings and their bacteria levels, and then that didn’t correlate with their COVID cases. There was just a large amount of bacteria in their petri dishes.” 

“I think [sanitation] has been getting worse as the pandemic has been progressing,” Opritza added. “People have been a lot more lax with how they sanitize desks, and it’s definitely not as clean as it used to be.” 

Disinfecting regularly, especially in areas that are often overlooked could be key to preventing the overgrowth and spread of bacteria throughout the building. 

Another study demonstrated that different antibacterial cleaners could have different effects on bacteria growth. The National High School Journal of Science tested the use of nine different antibacterial cleaners on school surfaces over the course of two years. The results demonstrated that out of the nine products tested, those containing bleach and ammonium compounds were the most consistent at eliminating bacteria. 

The cleaning sprays that Bio-Med uses are bleach-based, likely meaning that the cause of the growth is an issue in the frequency of cleaning and not the product used. 

Still, despite the effectiveness of the cleaner, bacteria can still freely propagate if areas like the slide and microwave are left untreated. While most species of bacteria are harmless to humans, ensuring consistency in sanitizing student spaces, including those which are not currently disinfected, could be an effective way to ensure the health of the Bio-Med community going forward.


Building Administrator Joe Boal did not respond to The Hive’s query. 

Bio-Med Health

Monkeypox Madness: Is There Another Pandemic on The Rise?

by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2022 — Monkeypox infection rates are rising, according to the Ohio Department of Health, and many Bio-Med students wonder how the virus will impact their educational experience during the school year.

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) explained that monkeypox is currently known to spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or their bodily fluids, touching surfaces recently touched by someone with monkeypox, contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person, sexual intercourse, and from an infected animal’s scratch, bite, or product, such as meat or milk.

“I know it’s a rash that started mainly on rats and monkeys in Africa, but I also know it spread to multiple different countries. I heard a bit about it spreading through populations with men in the LGBTQ community, but I don’t recall if that was a misconception,” said Katherine Lennox, a junior at Bio-Med Science Academy.

 A “sanitation station” pictured in Bio-Med 11th Grade Jenna Bates’s room. The station is a table with supplies to wipe and disinfect desks after each core, the supplies include: paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and disinfectant spray. Photo by Alex Levy, staff writer.

There is currently a misconception that monkeypox only spreads among men in the LGBTQ+ community, and while the virus can affect any person, it is currently most prevalent in the gay male population, according to the World Health Organization.

“Monkeypox can be spread between any people with prolonged skin-to-skin contact,” said NPR’s Ari Shapiro, “but the reality is, this disease is not affecting everyone equally. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, 99% of the people diagnosed with monkeypox are men and 98% of those who specify their sexual orientation are men who have sex with men.”

Many high schoolers feel that the virus wouldn’t have a significant impact on the student body, because there is less of a chance for sexual transmission.

Lennox doesn’t think monkeypox would affect students within the high school age range, saying, “I don’t think it’s a major concern in our age group, and I don’t think that there’s a lot of ability for it to spread through direct contact.”

Kay Conley, the Director Of Administration and Support Services at the Stark County Health Department, explained that, because of how monkeypox spreads, it is unlikely to have outbreaks in schools.

“Monkeypox is not easily spread like COVID was. It’s transmitted from person to person through close contact,” said Conley. “For the general population, the risk of getting monkeypox is low, including schools, early care and education programs, and other settings serving children and adolescents.”

The recommended prevention plan from the CDC includes sanitizing surfaces and promoting behavioral changes, including abstinence and contact tracing of sexual partners in areas with a high case rate, especially for men in the LGBTQ+ community. Bio-Med follows the guidelines by encouraging students and teachers to wipe their desks with disinfectant at the end of each class.

The current monkeypox vaccine, the JYNNEOS vaccine, is pictured in a San Francisco pharmacy. The vaccine is currently in a shortage due to high demand and the CDC recommends that high risk groups (such as men in the LBGTQ+ community) are given the vaccine first. The vaccine is given in two separate doses and it takes two weeks after the second dose for the vaccine to be fully effective. Photo obtained from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Another prevention method for monkeypox is the JYNNEOS vaccine, also known as the smallpox vaccine. Doses of this vaccine are currently being distributed to locations with the highest number of cases, such as New York and California.

Conley commented on how people can prevent monkeypox in their community.

“In Stark County at this time, cases are very low. Prevention measures are typical of all communicable diseases: Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox; Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used (Do not share eating utensils/cups or handle bedding/towels clothing of a person with monkeypox.); and wash your hands often,” they said. “Also due to the data, there is a recommendation to reduce or avoid behaviors that increase risk of monkeypox exposure such as a temporary break from activities until two weeks after your second dose of vaccine. Some of these high risk activities can include having multiple sexual partners and attending private or public sex parties or events. Using condoms may offer some protection, but they alone may not prevent all exposures.”

Doctor Tara Smith is a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University’s college of public health. Public health is the science of preventing diseases in a community instead of in individual patients.

Smith explained how public health organizations are attempting to make it easier for the public to find the most current, reliable information on monkeypox.

Smith reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “I’ve talked about plagues and pandemics for a long time and never wanted to see one first hand. At the beginning of 2020, I tried to see what the pandemic plan was for Kent State and Ohio. I ended up working with Kent for virus-response protocols. I also ended up working with public health agencies and did a lot of communication about the pandemic. I was a resource for the history of plagues, the history of coronaviruses, and updating policies throughout the pandemic. I was on the front lines in administrative response and communication.”

Smith also discussed how monkeypox may look compared to COVID.

“I hope it will be less prevalent,” said Smith. “We are already seeing in New York City that cases of monkeypox are slowing and declining due to the response of vaccination campaigns. And so far, we have only seen one large outbreak of monkeypox. We’re also not starting at ground zero like we were with COVID-19; Nigeria already has experience with monkeypox, and there is already a vaccine. I also have hopes that public health officials are getting knowledge to the public on the spread of monkeypox.”

Many students worry about whether monkeypox will lead to another pandemic outbreak, like the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

Lennox attended school virtually during the 2020–2021 school year to protect an immunocompromised member of her household. She was unsure if she would do so in the event of a large monkeypox outbreak.

“It depends on if there is a rise in the number of monkeypox-related fatalities, and it depends on how Ohio and Portage handle it and on the information at the time,” she said.

Rootstown High School sophomore Kyo Williams also attended school virtually during the 2020–2021 school year due to an immunocompromised family member.

Lacy Schlute’s papers with information on monkeypox are pictured. Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, chills, swollen lymph glands, exhaustion, headache, respiratory symptoms, and a pus-filled rash. Photo by Alex Levy, staff writer.

“I know what monkeypox is, and I am fairly familiar with the side effects,” stated Williams. “If an outbreak were to happen, I personally would go into lockdown again.”

Williams explained that with changing guidelines for the virus, they feel the best thing to do is to try to isolate themself.

Williams stated, “As a person with a guardian who is at a higher risk of contracting viruses, I just want to take whatever extra precautions I can in an academic setting.”

Bio-Med freshman English teacher Brian McDonald shared this feeling. McDonald was also quarantined for a portion of the 2020–2021 school year to protect an immunocompromised member of his family. He observed that many of his students chose to remain virtual for the school year after the initial COVID-19 quarantine.

“It was a tricky year, because everyone was virtual for the first portion of the year. For my family, our advice was to remain isolated until we were all fully vaccinated,” he said.

 An infographic with an overview of monkeypox including the definition, symptoms, and details of what can be done to reduce the spread of monkeypox. Photo obtained from The Illinois Department of Public Health.

Many reflected on the COVID-19 protocols after initial quarantine and fear that those methods may be inadequate at preventing all viruses, including monkeypox.

Wiliams said, “While being online was a huge preventative measure for myself, in the case of a future virus, I would still ask more of my school when it comes to contact-tracing and supporting students in that situation.”

McDonald agreed, saying, “I wasn’t really confident in all of the precautions we took as a school. I know people were trying to do their best, but as a teacher, you are in close contact with a lot of students throughout the day, and not having a vaccine readily available was problematic when there were outbreaks.”

Elissa Fusco, the Biomedical Engineering teacher at Bio-Med, felt as though the school was more successful than most schools in virus prevention, but that at some point, the virus was nearly impossible to prevent.

“I’m lucky that my room is big, so I had enough space for social distancing and the tables in my room are already three feet apart,” said Fusco. “In terms of all viruses, Bio-Med helped to provide teachers with resources. I’m grateful we had masks offered and provided for us.”

Fusco also explained how she is personally adapting to the new guidelines on monkeypox while being in a health-oriented class.

“I think that it is really important to make sure that you are using straightforward, reliable, and current information,” expressed Fusco. “And I try to tell my students that in class and teach them about where they are finding their information.”

Lacy Schulte is the Clinic Coordinator of School Health at Bio-Med. Schulte helps to advise virus protocols in Bio-Med. She also works at Akron Children’s Hospital.  

Schulte explained how she keeps the guidelines up-to-date with the changing information on monkeypox and COVID-19.

“We do a lot of evidence-based research, and a lot of the administration team at Akron Children’s Hospital will do the research and relay the information to us. Trying to keep up to date on all new treatments and prevention plans,” she said.

Schulte expressed her current understanding of the monkeypox outbreak as a healthcare employee.

“So far, it doesn’t sound like the virus is likely to put someone in a critical condition, and so far it sounds pretty treatable. I don’t know too much about the treatment regimen, but it doesn’t seem like the scope of the virus would be anything like COVID was,” said Schulte.

Smith concluded, “I wrote an article on monkeypox early on in order to try and close some of the miscommunications about the virus. I think we need to keep emphasizing that the information we have is current from when it was presented. People need to realize that information evolves with viruses. What was once true about vaccines and masks has changed, and sometimes faulty information that’s presented was actually correct for the time. There is change involved in pandemics —flexibility, unknowns, and questions that are being answered and better understood all of the time.”

To find more information on monkeypox and other viruses, the CDC’s website can be found here.

Bio-Med Health STEM

Blood on Backorder

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

Pictured is Tessa Wood, a junior at Bio-Med Science Academy, who donated blood for the second time this year on March 10, 2022. Wood described the process as “pretty quick and fun.” As a part of donating Wood got to track where her blood went after she donated, and in her case, it went to UH Portage Medical Center in Ravenna, OH. Wood encourages others to donate saying, “If there’s any time to donate blood it’s now. Most people don’t know you can donate under 18 but you can donate as soon as 17 in Ohio.” Photo provided by Tessa Wood

MARCH 2022 – The American Red Cross reported January 11, 2022 that the United States is experiencing a national blood crisis, another unprecedented change caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis is being referred to by the American Red Cross as “the worst blood shortage in over a decade.” The organization described the effect of the shortage, stating, “The dangerously low blood supply levels have forced some hospitals to defer patients from major surgery, including organ transplants.”

The American Red Cross is one of the leading health organizations around the world that works to aid in humanitarian efforts in the medical field. In the U.S., the American Red Cross accounts for donating and collecting more than 40 percent of the country’s blood and blood component supply. In addition, the American Red Cross is the leading facilitating agency for blood drives in Northeast Ohio and is responsible for collecting and providing blood for many hospitals in the local area.

Christy Peters is the regional communications director for the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. During the month of January, the peak of the national blood crisis, there was less than a one-day supply of Type O blood, Peters said in an interview with Record-Courier, “We’d like to see a five-day supply.”

In Northeast Ohio, major hospitals affected by the national blood crisis include University Hospitals, Mercy Health, and Cleveland Clinic. The Record-Courier interviewed Dr. Christine Schmotzer,the Division Chief of Clinical Pathology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in February of 2022.

In the published article, Schmotzer described University Hospitals’ strategy, which has been to monitor its blood supply amounts cautiously. She further added that its blood bank has been working with other divisions of the hospital, “looking for ways we can safely decrease usage so we can have enough to cover as many patients as possible.”

WKSU, a local radio station based in Kent, Ohio, conducted an interview with Dr. NurJehan Quraishy, who works in transfusion medicine at Cleveland Clinic. In regards to the blood supply at the hospital, Quraishy said, “There might be a delay, but we have managed.” There is also a new process Quriashy described as “triaging,” where the hospitals evaluate if patients can wait to receive blood until the next shipment.

The American Red Cross said that, “On certain days, some hospitals may not receive as much as one-quarter of the blood products requested.” The organization noted that this crisis has led doctors and hospital staff to make, “difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.”

The cause of the national blood shortage has been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing Omicron variant. During the beginning of the pandemic, the American Red Cross noted a 10 percent decline in volunteer donations, citing low turnout of donors due to the safety risks posed by the epidemic. In Northeast Ohio, some of the added struggles have included recent winter weather and worker shortages keeping donors at home, worsening the low blood supply.

Pictured is a blood drive from March 11, 2022, on the NEOMED campus. This blood drive was facilitated and run by the Red Cross in the NEW Center to allow students of both the university and Bio-Med to donate blood. This is an example of a string of blood drives the American Red Cross has been running recently to get more donors to give blood. Photo provided by Tessa Wood

The effects of the pandemic go further than that, according to Jim McIntyre, who works for the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. He said, in an interview with Cleveland 19 News, that part of the reason for the sudden national blood supply crisis is because hospitals put off elective surgeries during the height of the pandemic in 2021. Now that COVID cases have started to fall, hospitals are reducing those procedures as the amount of emergency cases from the pandemic has dropped.

Through the challenges of the pandemic, the American Red Cross has remained “grateful for donors,” and understanding of donors and what is best for them. The American Red Cross encourages all Americans and Northeast Ohioans to come to their blood drives and donate if possible. McIntyre said to WKSU, “People can make appointments to donate blood. It’s the only way to mitigate the shortage.” The Red Cross plans to continue working tirelessly to ramp up Blood Drives and slowly curb the effects of this national blood crisis. Ultimately though, they “need the help of the American people.”

For those interested in donating blood or blood products,  visit The American Red Cross’s website to find upcoming blood drives in the local area.

Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Mercy Health, and the American Red Cross did not respond to The Hive’s request for comment on the situation.

General Interest Health STEM

Disorders, Not Diets

by Mallory Butcher, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2021 – Guilty. Empty. Fat. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, the fear of obesity weighs on four out of every five children as young as 10 years old. About one in every 10 people suffer from some form of eating disorder. Teens especially are one of the hardest-hit groups by these problems.

Eating disorders are characterized by disruptive behaviors while eating that cause some form of distress. An infamous example is anorexia nervosa, a disorder where one starves themselves and causes extreme weight loss. Eating disorders are often co-diagnosed with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other anxiety disorders.

 A jar of peanut butter and a bunch of bananas sit on a scale next to a glass plate holding cucumbers, bread, an apple, and a cheese stick. People with eating disorders often weigh their food to get exact proportions or keep track of their own weight. Photo by Mallory Butcher, staff writer.

“I always had an issue with my body image,” Sophomore Alyssa Swidas said. “I just wouldn’t eat at all, and then sometimes, I would be so starving I’d just go sneak in the cabinets and eat everything. Like I’d just get so hungry.” 

In her early teen years, Swidas developed bulimia nervosa, a condition where one will eat an abnormally large amount of food, only to then compensate for the caloric intake using various means. This compensation can include self-induced vomiting, strenuous physical activity, laxatives, fasting, or a combination of the above. These behaviors are also called bingeing and purging.

Swidas also brought up that while she was untreated, her issues with anxiety and depression spiked. She commented, “I would get sick and nauseous and shaky and I would get like really — I didn’t know how to act, I was, like, bipolar, tired, and then I was wide awake.” 

Another student, Sophomore Trever Baldwin, also struggled with eating disorders, but in his family, he was not alone.

“I was very young at the time,” Baldwin recalled from memories of his older sister. “I did notice that she’d be gone for some periods of time and that her toothbrushes were really, like smashed down because she would throw up.” 

Baldwin’s sister, similar to Swidas, developed bulimia nervosa in her early teen years. People with this condition may brush their teeth aggressively to mask the smell of vomit from their breath.

Baldwin’s own condition, pica, started at a young age when he would eat things such as but not limited to paper. Pica is a condition that causes a person to crave certain things, even though those items are not food. Pica is suspected to be caused by a nutrient deficiency, but stress is another factor in development. 

According to Baldwin, sawdust, wood, pencils, and materials similar to glass are often targeted by those with pica. He explained, “Particularly with sawdust and stuff, it’s really bad for your digestive system, and something that I had experienced when I was littler was popsicle sticks. You chew them up, and they get strainy and splintery, and you can chew them up more and they turn into a paste. That ends up splintering your insides, and you get a really bad stomach ache, and it just lasts for days.” 

As mental health information becomes widespread, those with conditions can more quickly identify symptoms and find help. However, according to both students, education on the topic scales from lacking to non-existent.

“Not even a little bit,” laughed Baldwin when asked about any education he had received. “I knew about pica, and I didn’t know why I had it or what it was, and I knew my sister had something but nobody ever told me what was going on with other people and myself.” 

Symptoms vary from disorder to disorder, and each person has had their own experiences, but some of the most common symptoms include vitamin deficiency, major weight loss, dizziness or fainting, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux, anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion, fear of/embarrassment eating with others, dental or bone decay, and sessions of rapid, uncomfortable eating. If you or someone you know has shown these symptoms, talk to a doctor, a dietitian, a therapist, or a medical professional right away.

Healing in the aftermath of an eating disorder can pose difficulty to many attempting the process. Activities one might find mundane, such as having breakfast or eating out can induce anxiety. For many, eating with others can become a challenge. Those recovering can experience relapses or temptations to do so. 

Swidas concluded, “It’s hard to keep on top of, you know, eating on a schedule because I’d avoid it, but I started really small by eating something small normally like a granola bar and then going to lunch and eating a little bit and then, you know, eating at a good time every day, like at the same time, instead of avoiding, you know, of course.”

To those currently struggling or attempting recovery from an eating disorder, help can be found contacting the National Eating Disorders Association and the Hopeline Network.

General Interest Health