January 2009 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.

One can equal four in blood donation equation

Everyone knows that two plus two equals four, but when it comes to donating blood, one can also equal four.

“One person can donate one pint of blood that can save up to four lives,” says Dr. Laurie Sutor, associate professor of pathology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Blood is needed in emergencies, but also on a regular basis for people with cancer and heart and sickle cell diseases.

Anyone at least 17 years old who weighs 110 pounds or more is eligible to donate.

“Donating blood can be easy, and besides the emotional benefit of knowing you potentially helped save several lives, blood donors enjoy refreshments and camaraderie with others from their community,” Dr. Sutor says.

Tips for making the most of the donation experience include:

  • Drink extra water or juice before donating;
  • Eat breakfast or lunch — you will feel better after donating;
  • Avoid fatty foods beforehand;
  • Wear comfortable clothing for easy access to your veins; and
  • Relax — think of the benefits that can outweigh any temporary discomfort.

January is National Blood Donor Month.

New Year’s Ease for pregnant women

Pregnant women who overindulged in holiday goodies should make a New Year’s resolution to be very cautious about dieting until after the baby is born.

“While it’s not a good idea to gain too much weight during pregnancy, women should not deprive themselves or their babies of nutrition by overcompensating with a weight-loss diet,” says Dr. Frances Rosenbaum, assistant professor of obstetrics/gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Instead, they should focus on eating a variety of healthful foods.

Women with high-risk conditions such as diabetes should be vigilant about remaining on a doctor-supervised diet to make sure blood sugar and other factors stay controlled, Dr. Rosenbaum says.

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

Troublesome restless legs can be brought under control

Simple changes in diet and exercise can help relieve some of the frustrating symptoms of restless leg syndrome, says a movement disorders specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“Sometimes the irresistible movements of this condition can be caused by something as simple as a nutritional deficiency,” says Dr. Shilpa Chitnis, assistant professor of neurology at UT Southwestern.

Restless leg syndrome is characterized by overpowering, “antsy” urges to move the legs, particularly when sitting or lying down. The thrashing around can disrupt sleep and relationships. The arms or torso can also be involved.

There is no definitive test for RLS, but doctors can use a history of symptoms to diagnose the disorder, which affects up to 10 percent of the population, with about 3 percent experiencing severe symptoms.

If the condition is diagnosed, a physician can:

  • Test for levels of ferritin, a molecule that stores iron, and prescribe supplementation if necessary;
  • Identify correctable causes of neuropathy;
  • Take a medical history to identify drugs, such as antihistamines or dopamine antagonists (e.g. metoclopramide), which might be worsening the condition;
  • Recommend an exercise plan to reduce symptoms;
  • Outline a healthful diet, including reduction of caffeine; and
  • Prescribe medications that might relieve symptoms.

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

Talk and walk to prevent post-holiday bulge

As the holiday season winds down, finding the perfect 2009 calendar isn’t our only challenge. We also need to keep our waistlines in check.

Dr. Linda Michalsky, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center, offers tips to help keep in shape during and after the holidays. These include:

  • Move! Gather your friends and relatives for a talk-as-you-walk after the meal and circle the table two or three times before getting seconds or dessert.
  • Limit portions to half or less than half what you would normally take for everything but your favorite dish.
  • Wait 15 to 20 minutes before going back for seconds or dessert. Limit both. If you cut a piece of pie or cake in half, someone will grab the other half immediately.
  • Use smaller plates. If you only have large plates, leave some room so that part of the plate is visible.
  • Drink water between other beverages.
  • Choose a seat away from the food tables.
  • Bring low-calorie foods you like.

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

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear


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