July 2008 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.

Stay cool during summer’s dog days

As the mercury rises across the country, people should stay cool and hydrated if they are going to be outside. The parade of weekend warriors treated in emergency rooms for hot weather-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion is increasing, physicians report.

“In the past, the typical people we saw 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 triple-digit days, Dr. Pepe offers these tips:

  • 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 recognize danger signs;
  • Use a buddy system so that you can keep an eye on each other.

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

Media Contact: Connie Piloto

Finding welcome relief from heat rash

Hot, humid weather can lead to heat rash or prickly heat, which occurs when sweat glands clog and sweat becomes trapped beneath the skin.

The condition often results in a patch of little red bumps, usually arising on the neck, upper chest, elbows or groin, or under arms or breasts, where skin folds touch. It can occur at any age, but is more often found on the elderly and on babies, who may be overdressed and have trouble cooling off.

“Heat rashes aren’t serious, but they can be annoying,” says Dr. Amit Pandya, professor of dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Heat rash should fade away after those affected move to a cooler environment and expose the affected area to more air. Loosen clothing around the affected area or wash the area with a cold cloth, then let it air dry. Try calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching.

To help avoid heat rash, try drying the area after a shower and using powders such as baby or talcum powder. Occasionally, a yeast infection may occur in affected body folds, which appears as more intense redness and small bumps. This is especially common in people with diabetes. An over-the-counter medicated cream or powder designed to treat yeast and fungus may be used for such infections. If you are uncertain as to the cause of the rash, consult a physician.

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

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Be sure to get your shots before heading abroad

Individuals headed to the Beijing Olympics and other international destinations should get their jabs in early.

Though the risk of contracting a serious disease is slight, hepatitis A and B and measles are problematic and malaria is a present in some rural areas of China.

Dr. Doug Hardy, an infectious-disease specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center Dallas, says people headed overseas are more likely to develop traveler’s diarrhea than a serious disease but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

“More than 3 million people are expected to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games from all over the world, including some from areas without access to all the preventative vaccines available in the United States,” Dr. Hardy says. “It’s important to make sure you’re up-to-date on all routine and travel-related vaccines before departing for China or any other international destination.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travelers headed to developing countries be vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. The CDC also recommends that individuals visiting certain destinations be vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal meningitis, rabies and yellow fever.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/infectiousdiseases to learn more about clinical services in infectious diseases at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Baby blues or depression? Neither has to interfere with motherhood for long

Many women experience emotional swings in the first two weeks after childbirth, commonly called the “baby blues.”  Symptoms include crying spells, sadness, irritability and difficulty sleeping.

“A woman who has just given birth experiences hormonal changes which may compound stressors such as financial or relationship problems, anxiety about motherhood or a lack of support, leaving a new mother more vulnerable to sadness,” says Dr. Anna Brandon, staff psychologist of the Women’s Mental Health Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

To cope with these feelings, Dr. Brandon suggests napping when the baby sleeps and asking for help with motherhood’s physical and emotional demands from a partner or family, friends and support groups. 

If these symptoms last longer than two weeks and keep a mom from functioning well, Dr. Brandon says a health care provider should be contacted right away. Longer duration and greater intensity could indicate an episode of Major Depressive Disorder with a postpartum onset. 

“Although the baby blues generally resolve in a few days, postpartum depressive episodes beg attention to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of mother and child,” Dr. Brandon says.

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

Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson


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