November 2007 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.

Vaccinations: Roll sleeves up for flu season, as well as other adult needs

Think you don’t need any vaccinations because you’re well past puberty?

When you’re rolling a sleeve up to get the flu shot this year, you might take a minute and ask whether any other immunizations are due, or overdue.

Dr. R. Doug Hardy, an infectious disease specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says that while immunizations are one of the 10 greatest American achievements of the past century, only children’s vaccines are well utilized.

“People need to be more aware of the value of adult vaccines,” Dr. Hardy says.

He said the numbers are low partly because many adults incorrectly assume that the vaccines they received as children will last a lifetime. Still others weren’t immunized as children.

Dr. Hardy says adults should discuss the recommended vaccination schedule with their doctor and determine whether they should be immunized against any of the following conditions: 

  • Influenza
  • Pneumococcal (polysaccharide)
  • Hepatitis A/B
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal

Visit to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in infectious diseases.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Use moisturizing eye drops on long flights

Getting on a plane to visit friends and relatives during the coming holidays?

If your eyes feel dry or gritty while flying, try using over-the-counter moisturizing eye drops before boarding flights. Use drops at regular intervals, perhaps even hourly, while in the air.

New research at UT Southwestern shows that the relative low humidity typical on planes makes tears evaporate faster than usual, causing the dry-eye sensation.

The symptoms have a direct correlation with the duration of the flight and occur in many people who otherwise do not have dry-eye complaints or problems, researchers have found.

“Low relative humidity alone is sufficient to cause large increases in evaporative rates in patients with and without dry eye,” says Dr. James McCulley, chairman of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study involving 29 patients with and without dry eye syndrome. “These findings could account for a significant portion of dry-eye symptoms in situations such as commercial airline travel and outings in arid climates.”

The effect on contact lens wearers could be even greater, Dr. McCulley says, so consider removing contact lenses in conjunction with the eye drops until the flight is over or you are out of the arid environment.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in eyes (ophthmology).

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Sensible nutrition doesn’t have to disappear during Thanksgiving feast

Dieters have been known to cringe at the mere mention of Thanksgiving.

But dietitians at UT Southwestern say everyone can breathe easy: Many traditional holiday foods are nutritional gems.

Lona Sandon, a clinical nutritionist at UT Southwestern, says roasted turkey is a great source of protein and zinc, key nutrients for keeping your immune system healthy. Fresh roasted ham is another good protein source.

“Look for meat that is pale-pink with only small amounts of white marbling (fat),” Ms. Sandon says. “Also avoid cuts that have been cured as these are typically very high in sodium.”

Diners looking for a boost shouldn’t skip the cranberries, which are naturally low in fat and come packed with vitamin C and disease-fighting antioxidants.

Ms. Sandon says diners should keep the butter and brown sugar to a minimum, but the often-maligned sweet potato is another nutritional gold mine with vitamins A, C, B-6 and potassium.

“They’re also low-fat and a good source of fiber,” she said.

Ms. Sandon offers the following facts about other time-honored Thanksgiving foods:

  • Pumpkin and winter squash are other great sources of vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber. An added bonus: a slice of pumpkin pie has half the calories of a slice of pecan pie.
  • Wild rice has more potassium, iron, calcium and niacin than plain white rice.
  • Raw or roasted almonds and walnuts contain heart-healthy fats, protein and fiber. Pecans — not pecan pie — have similar heart-healthy benefits. 
  • Green beans pack vitamin C and fiber.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Kids and the kitchen A combination that calls for care

Children are eager to assist parents with the creation of holiday treats. While the season presents a great family opportunity for youngsters to learn about cooking, adults need to closely supervise their kitchen activities at all times.

“Children should never be left unattended in the kitchen,” says Dr. Pam Okada a pediatrician and emergency department physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Young children do not understand what injuries a hot stove or cooking appliance can cause.

“Parents also need to pay attention to where they place hot food or liquids. It takes only a second for a young child to pull a tablecloth down and be scalded by what falls on them.”

Dr. Okada also recommends adults not hold a child while cooking and that everyone in the kitchen wear close fitting attire. Children who wish to help with food preparation should be assigned basic tasks that do not require them to be around heat, sharp utensils or electrical appliances.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in pediatrics.

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford


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