July 2006 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.

Learning symptoms of stroke can save vital brain cells

One of the most insidious things about strokes — bleeding or blood clots in the brain that kill brain cells — is that they don’t hurt, so victims can wait hours to call for emergency care or even weeks to see a doctor. Learning the symptoms can be a lifesaver, as the victim needs to get to a stroke center within three hours for treatment to be effective, say neurologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“The main thing is getting to recognize a stroke and come for help,” says Dr. Mark Johnson, assistant professor of neurology.

The symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding other people.
  • Sudden trouble with vision in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or trouble walking.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

There are several factors that increase the risk of stroke: smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. Controlling those can decrease your risk.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/neurosciences to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in neurosciences.

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

Thin is in, but not necessarily for bra straps

Women should take care with underwear support as summer fashion trends minimize. Wearing a thin bra strap too tightly can lead to a nagging headache, say doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“The binding from the strap puts pressure on the trapezius muscle, which causes strain and knotting of the muscle and may cause headaches or pain that radiates down the arm,” says Dr. Karen Kowalske,  UT Southwestern’s chairwoman of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The pain may take days or weeks to resolve, but there is virtually no permanent damage.

Full-busted women should wear bras with straps that are significantly wider than a standard strap with some padding if possible. Regular straps are too narrow and spaghetti straps are worse.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/rehabilitation to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in rehabilitation.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto

Burning feeling of bladder infection treatable with antibiotics, follow-up cultures

Dr. Philippe Zimmern,  professor of urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, hears the same troubling symptoms nearly every day — “It burns when I go to the bathroom, and I go all the time … Do you think I have a bladder infection?”

Bladder infection is a common diagnosis in women. Symptoms range from frequent urination with burning, to sudden onset of bloody urine, new onset or worsening incontinence, pain or pressure over the pubic area or lower abdomen, all the way to fever, chills and flank pain.

“An important step is to obtain a urine culture before any treatment is initiated,” Dr. Zimmern says. “A urinalysis is a good screening test for infection but urine culture is key to determining the organism and its sensitivity. This information is essential to guide the selection of antibiotics and is more likely to eradicate the infection than an empirical treatment based on symptoms alone.”

The treatment can be started as soon as the urine has been collected and sent to the laboratory, as it may take 24 to 48 hours for the results of the culture.

Once the symptoms have disappeared, Dr. Zimmern says the urologist needs to address two issues: First, is the infection gone? And second, where did the infection come from, so that a recurrence can be prevented? 

A follow-up urine culture a couple of weeks after completion of the treatment should return negative if treatment has been successful. Many infections, however, recur shortly after the end of the initial treatment and it is never clear without a follow-up culture if it is a persistent condition or a new infection. A one-time infection is rarely studied extensively but recurrent infections warrant a more complete assessment of the kidneys and bladder, both in terms of anatomy and function.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/urology to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in urology.

Media Contact: Toni Heinzl

Workweek air conditioning, weekend exercising a dangerous summer combination

The business axiom “Work hard, play harder” doesn’t apply if you’re not ready for scorching outdoor activity.

“In the past, the typical people who used to get in trouble were the ones who couldn’t fend for themselves — the very young and the very old,” says Dr. Paul Pepe, chairman of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “But what we see a lot of today are the young weekend warriors who have been in super cool environments all week and get out, exercise and get into trouble.”

As the mercury rises, there are several precautions to take to stay healthy and hydrated. Dr. Pepe offers these tips to stay safe outdoors:

  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing.
  • Stay in a well-ventilated area, even if you’re working indoors.
  • Water, water, water. Too much sugar and caffeine is not good if you’re outdoors.
  • Avoid alcohol — a cool beer might sound good but it only dehydrates you more and impairs your ability to know that you’re getting into trouble.
  • Use a buddy system so that you can keep an eye on each other.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/patientcare/medicalservices/hospitals/stpaul.html to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in emergency medicine.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto


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