September 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.

Care must be taken when outside during summer’s dog days

As temperatures soar past 100 degrees across the country, people need to remember to stay cool and hydrated if they are going to be outside. Doctors report seeing more weekend warriors being treated in the emergency room for heat-related illnesses.

“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. “Now, young men and women who work in super-cool office environments and spend the weekends playing outdoors are getting into trouble because their bodies haven’t had a chance to adapt to the hot weather.”

If you’re going to be outdoors during these triple-digit days, Dr. Pepe offers these tips to stay safe:

  • 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 beverage 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 to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in emergency medicine.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto

For hearing’s sake, turn down the volume

These days it seems everyone owns an iPod or another personal music device. Although these entertain children without disturbing others around them, the music’s channeled volume can be harmful if it’s too loud, doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center warn.

Sounds above 80 to 85 decibels can potentially harm hearing, and exposure in the 90- to 95-decibel range for extended periods of time can cause hearing loss. At their maximum, personal music devices can reach a volume of 120 decibels.

Dr. John McClay, a pediatric otolaryngologist, says limiting the hours children listen to enclosed music systems is the first step to preventing hearing loss.

“Parents should also teach their children to keep volumes under 80 decibels. The child’s hearing should be checked immediately if the parents notice any hearing changes or possible loss,” he says.

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

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford

Hydrate, but resist notion that diet beverages deliver long-term health, satisfaction

A recent study suggests that people who drink more than one diet soda each day develop the same risks for heart disease as those who down regular soda.

Lona Sandon, a registered dietician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the findings are just another reason parents should consider limiting their children’s intake of soda. Children who drink large amounts of sweetened drinks are prone to develop a taste for sweeter foods, which can lead to weight gain.

“Studies have linked sugary drink consumption to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes among children and teens and to the development of high blood pressure in adults,” says Ms. Sandon. “The sugar and acid in all soda also causes the degradation of tooth enamel and increases the risk for tooth decay.”

As with all foods, Ms. Sandon says moderation is the key. To limit a child’s intake, she suggests parents decrease their own soda consumption.

“Children learn good nutrition by example. If parents are reaching for water, children will do the same. It’s also helpful to have healthy substitutes for soda, such as a glass of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice.”

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

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford

Start of schools means increased risk of brain injury in sports

As student-athletes take to the field with the resumption of school, the risk of brain injury from collisions also returns, says Dr. Ramón Díaz-Arrastia, a neurologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Helmets can help reduce the risk, Dr. Díaz-Arrastia says, but athletes must also resist the urge to return to the game once they’ve suffered an injury from a blow to the head. Even one blow can injure brain cells, making them more vulnerable to a second injury, even if the second hit is mild.

“The risk of increased injury with repeated blows is something that’s getting more and more attention from neurologists and athletic trainers,” he says.

Other common sources of brain injuries are accidents from driving carelessly, drinking and driving, or from school-day biking without a helmet, Dr. Díaz-Arrastia says.

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

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie


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