October 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.

Best advice in cold-and-flu season? Make friends with soapy, hot water

Homespun medical advisers had it all wrong when they warned you that going outside with wet hair would cause you to catch a cold.

The same goes for the advice touting a drab of whiskey or brandy as a cold treatment. And the warning that the flu shot causes the flu? Also off the mark.

Dr. Doug Hardy, an infectious-disease specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says people shouldn’t depend on myths — even plausible ones — when they’re trying to stay healthy.

“The simplest and best germ-fighting tactic is to wash your hands often, especially if you’ve been interacting with people or if you’ve been in a high-traffic, public place like a shopping mall,” said Dr. Hardy, who added that getting a flu shot is an important preventive measure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest recommended targeted groups for 2008-09 flu shots include: Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday; pregnant women; people 50 years of age and older; anyone with certain chronic medical conditions; people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu, household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated).

Most of these groups are recommended for vaccination because they are at high risk of having serious flu complications or they live with or care for people at high risk for serious complications.

Some other old wives’ tales worth forgetting:

  • I won’t pass on my cold if I don’t breathe on anyone.
  • You can’t get one cold right after another.
  • You’re more likely to catch a cold from someone who sneezes than by holding someone’s hand.

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

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Bypass beats banding in weight-loss surgery matchup

A rare side-by-side comparison of the two most popular weight-loss surgeries favored gastric bypass procedures for faster results, a new study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers showed.

“Gastric bypass patients lost more weight and did so faster and more consistently than patients receiving gastric bands,” said Dr. Nancy Puzziferri a UT Southwestern bariatric surgeon and lead author of the study in Annals of Surgery. The study reviewed more than 1,500 patients, whose outcomes were measured four times during the two years after surgery.

Although bypass came out ahead, the study also showed that more than 90 percent of both bypass and banding patients who initially lost at least 40 percent of their weight successfully managed to keep it off two years after surgery.

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

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Help the planet and your waist: Eat green

Looking to reduce your carbon footprint? What you eat may be just as important as what you drive.

Nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center offer tips to keep both your waistline and the environment in check.

  • Buy local and seasonal. Farmers markets remain your best bet, but many grocery stores have started offering a greater selection of locally grown foods. There’s no scientific proof that eating local foods is better for you, but the food is generally fresher and more nutrient-dense.
  • Limit your reliance on processed and packaged foods. Fresh foods have fewer fats and refined flours than many pre-packaged foods, so they’re good for both you and the planet.
  • Doggy bag leftovers. Only buy and prepare what you intend to eat. If you go out or make too much at home, repurpose the leftovers for another meal later in the week. Both leftover meat and vegetables make great additions to pizzas, salads, soups, tacos or pasta dishes.
  • Make friends with a cow. You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but occasionally replacing beef with chicken or eggs can help reduce your carbon footprint. So does opting for grass-fed beef, because it reduces the demand for cattle feed.

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

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Female urinary infections require medical attention

Half of all women will develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetimes. The maddening, yet easy-to-treat ailment occurs when a bacterial infection flares up in the urinary tract. Dr. Philippe Zimmern, a urologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says women should seek treatment immediately after symptoms are detected.

“Symptoms of a UTI can include frequent and urgent urges to urinate, sharp pain during urination and cloudy urine,” he says. “Soreness may also be felt in the lower abdomen, back or sides.”

Dr. Zimmern adds that proper diagnosis and treatment by a physician is important to ensure an infection is treated correctly and does not spread to the kidneys. Antibiotics are often prescribed.

Good personal hygiene can aid prevention. Women should wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or urination and wash the skin around and between the rectum and vagina daily. Washing the body before and after sex can also decrease UTI risk.   

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

Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford


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