March 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.

Careful healthcare consideration can heighten conceptual hopes

Infertility affects approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of couples in the United States, says Dr. Lisa Halvorson, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

In general, the first specialist to consult will be a gynecologist with expertise in infertility - medically defined as the inability of a couple to conceive after one year without using artificial controls. For men, a urologist with an interest in male infertility should be contacted.

There are situations in which it is best to seek help early, Dr. Halvorson says. A woman's ability to get pregnant decreases as she ages. Any woman over 35 should consider evaluation after six months of attempting to get pregnant. An early visit to the physician would also be considered if a woman has irregular menstrual cycles, has had a pelvic infection, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, pelvic surgery, radiation to the pelvis or chemotherapy. Warning signs in males include infection, surgery, dilated veins in the scrotum, chemotherapy and/or radiation in the genital region.

"The good news is that the majority of the time, it's possible for a couple to have a happy, healthy baby  — the question is when and how," Dr. Halvorson says.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/obgyn to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in gynecology and obstetrics.

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

Psoriasis linked to pathways of obesity

For years, dermatologists have noticed that many patients suffering from psoriasis also were obese, and many have wondered whether obesity was a cause.

"It was sort of a chicken-and-egg question. Is obesity driving psoriasis or is psoriasis leading to obesity?" says Dr. Christopher Hansen, a resident in dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center who recently participated in a psoriasis study. "It appears psoriasis precedes the onset of obesity. The explanation could be patients with psoriasis — particularly severe psoriasis — may practice different social behaviors. They may not go out as much, may not exercise as much, and may be more sedentary."

While psoriasis is not a life-threatening disease, the study indicates that its impact on the patient's quality of life may be greater than suspected, says Dr. Paul Bergstresser, chairman of the department of dermatology at UT Southwestern. The study also found that psoriasis sufferers were more likely to smoke and that smoking worsens symptoms.

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

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Don't downgrade your healthy eating habits at workweek's conclusion

Weekends can spell disaster for otherwise healthy eating habits, nutrition experts say.

"I think the weekend phenomenon is a reward people feel like they deserve at the end of the work week," says Bernadette Latson, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "It's a good idea not to be overly restrictive, but when people begin the weekend indulgence at lunch Friday, that's three days, or almost half the week."

Dinner at a good restaurant once a week is usually sufficient in keeping people feeling satisfied and not deprived. But a single meal need not turn into a weekend of high-calorie meals, said Ms. Latson.

She also suggests that a Saturday night spent cooking a big meal is a good way to curb the desire to eat anything and everything throughout the weekend. "Cooking is a great way to socialize, have good meals to eat at home and to prepare things to take to lunch later in the week," she says.

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

Media Contact: Katherine Morales


With planning, initial doctor's office visit needn't be frenzied

Visiting a doctor for the first time can feel overwhelming because there is so much medical history to cover in a short span of time. But there are several things you can do to make your visit more productive and help you get the best possible care from your new doctor, says Dr. Shelley Roaten Jr., chairman of the department of family and community medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

His tips include:

  • Briefly jot down concerns or questions you may have for the doctor, but don't wait until the end of the examination to ask them. "It's helpful to tell the doctor at the beginning of the visit because these concerns may influence what is done in the first examination," advises Dr. Roaten.
  • Bring your medications, or a list of them, to the visit. And remember to include information about when, how often and what dose you take. Also, include any vitamins or supplements that you take regularly.
  • If you receive a questionnaire from the new doctor, complete it at home or in the waiting room and bring it with you during the visit.
  • Call your new doctor's office and ask whether they require your medical records be sent there in advance. Otherwise, provide a list of the names and addresses of previous physicians to be kept in your chart so that medical records can be requested, if needed.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto


When nature's evening call becomes bothersome

Defined as waking up at night to void one or more times, nocturia is a benign condition associated with a lot of discomfort and a great impact on one's quality of life.

"Nocturia has been associated with an increased risk of falling and can result in excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased work performance, and depression," says Dr. Philippe Zimmern, professor of urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Although nocturia occurs more commonly among the elderly, it can be seen at any age. The most common causes are an increase of urine production at night, a reduced bladder storage capacity, or a combination of both. Other causes include diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure and sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea syndrome.

This problem also could be self-inflicted by excessive evening intake of fluids, caffeine or alcohol.  But it is a very treatable condition, Dr. Zimmern says.

To sort out the mechanisms at hand, the urologist reviews overall fluid intake, drug intake (including diuretic medications) and a three-day voiding diary, recording the time and volume.

Because a resulting fall can be a catastrophic event, simple measures such as lighting, nonskid floors, and a bedside commode or urinal should be considered. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause and often necessitates behavioral modification as well as pharmacotherapy to either relax the bladder wall to allow better storage or to decrease the nighttime fluid production.

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

Media Contact: Toni Heinzl  

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