March 2002 Health News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

CHILDREN SHOULD BRAKE FOR A HEALTHY BREAKFAST

A balanced breakfast for children is often forgotten or replaced with sugary snacks during the hustle and bustle of a busy morning. But children who skip breakfast are often less attentive and have problems recalling information while at school, says Cindy Cunningham, an instructor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

“Breakfast is the time that children ‘break the fast’ from the previous evening, and children are especially sensitive to the fast. The body needs some fuel after it has gone 10 to 12 hours without food,” says Cunningham. “Hungry children are easily distracted, irritable and tired.”

Some healthy breakfast meals include a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk, yogurt with fruit or cheese melted on toast. Cunningham adds that breakfast does not always have to consist of the “traditional” foods.

“Sandwiches, soups or leftovers from another meal are also good alternatives. And if time is an issue, prepare portable meals like bagels with peanut butter or low-fat granola bars.

Media Contact: Amy Shields

DENTAL HEALTH TAKES MORE THAN TOOTHPASTE AND FLOSS

Using your teeth to tear off clothes tags or crunch on ice or hard candy can wear down the surface of your enamel.

Over time these habits can actually chip the enamel or break the tooth at the gum line, said Dr. David McFadden, an associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Enamel protects the subsequent layers of the tooth from pressure, bacteria and attrition. Even though enamel is the hardest substance in your body, it can still incur damage.

“When you chew food, pressure is equally distributed over the entire surface area of your mouth,” said McFadden. “But the force drastically increases when the focal point is concentrated on a small surface area, as is the case when you eat hard candy.”

So to preserve your teeth from undue pressure, McFadden suggests chomping sensibly.

Media Contact: Ione Echeverria

SAW PALMETTO MAY NOT BE A GOOD ALTERNATIVE

One out of four men will develop an enlarged prostate in his lifetime. Symptoms include frequent urination, a weak or slow urinary system and incomplete emptying of the bladder, says Dr. Claus Roehrborn, chairman of urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Despite over-the-counter herbal products, like saw palmetto, that are touted as treatments for enlarged prostate symptoms, Roehrborn says men experiencing symptoms should see their physician.

“There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend things like saw palmetto for now,” Roehrborn said. “Men should not take any over-the-counter remedy before seeing their doctors. The symptoms of an enlarged prostate can be the same as for more serious problems such as prostate cancer or kidney disease.”

Media Contact: Mindy Baxter

SURGICAL OPTION MAY OFFER BETTER AID TO HEARING-LOSS PATIENTS

New implantable hearing aids may provide an attractive alternative for patients with moderate to severe hearing loss, says Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

With an implantable hearing aid, a rare-earth magnet is attached to the middle-ear bones. An external component passes along signals that vibrate the magnet. That, in turn, vibrates the bones. Those vibrations are translated by the cochlea into electrical signals and sent to the auditory nerve.

The result, says Roland, is improved hearing.

“An implantable hearing aid is a wonderful new option for people who do not like the sound quality of conventional hearing aids,” says Roland. “Every recipient we have implanted at UT Southwestern has been satisfied with their implantable hearing aid. They prefer it to their old conventional hearing aid and wear it regularly.”

Media Contact: Wayne Carter

FLU-LIKE VIRUS CAN SPELL TROUBLE FOR KIDS AND ELDERLY

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) isn’t the flu, but its cold and flu-like symptoms are surging in children for the second consecutive year, says Dr. Hasan Jafri, assistant professor of pediatrics and an infectious disease specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

“RSV can cause bronchitis and pneumonia in several high-risk groups such as prematurely born infants, children with heart disease or immune deficiencies and children up to 3 years of age who suffered from asthma or any other chronic lung ailment within six months prior to showing RSV symptoms,” Jafri warns.

Jafri also advises medical care for any infected baby up to 6 weeks of age. “Be sure to suction their little congested noses to help infants breathe,” he says.

RSV is mild to most adults, but the elderly and others with immune deficiencies also are at high risk for RSV.

Jafri says you can prevent infection by maintaining high nutrition, washing hands regularly and regularly cleaning bathrooms, other home and day-care surfaces, toys and eating utensils.

Media Contact: Worth Wren

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