UTMB Health News

  • UTMB scientists uncover how Zika virus causes microcephaly

    UTMB scientists uncover how Zika virus causes microcephaly

    The findings are key to unraveling the mysteries of why the Zika virus causes birth defects GALVESTON, Texas –A multidisciplinary team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered the mechanisms that the Zika virus uses to alter brain development. These findings are detailed in Stem Cell Reports. There are currently 70 countries and territories reporting active Zika transmission, according to the World Health Organization. While a Zika infection typically results in mild or symptom-free infections in healthy adults and children, the risk of microcephaly in the developing fetus is an alarming consequence... more »
  • UTMB researchers discover reason for permanent vision loss after head injury

    UTMB researchers discover reason for permanent vision loss after head injury

    GALVESTON, Texas – Research from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has shed new light on what causes the permanent vision loss sometimes seen in the wake of a head injury. The findings are detained in The American Journal of Pathology. When someone suffers a head trauma, sometimes there is damage to the optic nerve that is responsible for passing information between the eyes and the brain. When the optic nerve is injured, there are tears and swelling in the affected area that causes the nerve cells to die. This type of injury is called traumatic optic neuropathy, or TON, and results in irreversible vision loss. At... more »
  •  UTMB, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas launch new affiliation

    UTMB, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas launch new affiliation

     UTMB, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas launch new affiliation   GALVESTON, Texas –  The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas have signed a clinical affiliation agreement. This affiliation, effective Jan. 1, will build on the strengths of both organizations to provide the most advanced patient care for adult and pediatric patients in the Beaumont area and the surrounding region. Physicians, medical staff and executives from Baptist Hospitals and UTMB Health will work closely to increase quality and access to care for patients in need of multiple medical special... more »
  • UTMB researcher is co-inventor of a faster and more accurate test for diagnosing Zika

    UTMB researcher is co-inventor of a faster and more accurate test for diagnosing Zika

    GALVESTON, Texas – Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center, have developed a new detection test for Zika that is faster and more accurate than currently available tests. The new test can detect Zika in a very small sample of blood in less than four hours. The new test is detailed in EBioMedicine. One of the obstacles to stemming the tide of the recent Zika outbreak has been the lack of a rapid, accurate test that can quickly determine whether someone has been infected with the Zika virus or not. While there is a... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Goals for healthy children in 2017

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON Once again the magic of the holiday season is complete; we are looking forward to a new year and a new beginning. We can all wipe the slate clean and start over once again. Your children can be part of that optimistic time of year when we swear off sugar, vow to drink more water and sign up for the gym. And, while as adults, we sometimes saddle ourselves with major pressure, the goals you and your child can set are much more manageable. The goals for your child are totally attainable. 1. I will clean up my toys. 2. I will brush my teeth at least twice a day. 3. I will wash my hands after going to the... more »
  • UTMB awarded $10 Million from CDC to help stop spread of vector-borne diseases

     Will help fight diseases caused by Zika, West Nile and others GALVESTON, Texas – To help stop the spread of diseases carried by arthropod vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $10 million to The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to establish the Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases. The Center’s work will protect public health in the region, the nation and beyond. “With UTMB’s unparalleled expertise in arthropod-borne diseases, we along with our partners, are uniquely positioned to improve lives all across the... more »
  • UTMB researchers develop first chikungunya vaccine from virus that does not affect people

    GALVESTON, Texas – Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have developed the first vaccine for chikungunya fever made from an insect-specific virus that doesn’t have any effect on people, making the vaccine safe and effective. The newly developed vaccine quickly produces a strong immune defense and completely protects mice and nonhuman primates from disease when exposed to the chikungunya virus. The findings are detailed in Nature Medicine. “This vaccine offers efficient, safe and affordable protection against chikungunya and builds the foundation for using viruses that only infect insects to... more »
  • UTMB develops an oral vaccine against Salmonella

    UTMB develops an oral vaccine against Salmonella

    GALVESTON, Texas – Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have developed a vaccine against salmonella poisoning designed to be taken by mouth. The findings are detailed in an article published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. In earlier studies, the UTMB researchers developed potential vaccines from three genetically mutated versions of the salmonella bacteria, that is Salmonella Typhimurium, that were shown to protect mice against a lethal dose of salmonella. In these studies, the vaccines were given as an injection. However, oral vaccination is simplest and least invasive way to... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Recommendations for raising children in the digital media age

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON Infants, toddlers and preschoolers are now growing up in environments saturated with a variety of traditional and new technologies, which they are adopting at increasing rates. Although there has been much hope for the educational potential of interactive media for young children, there are also fears about their overuse during this crucial early period of rapid brain development. Research in the area still remains limited. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a policy statement in Pediatrics Volume 138, No. 5, November 2016. This statement reviews the existing studies on television, videos, and... more »
  • UTMB receives NIH funding to implement a school-based healthy relationship program in Houston-area schools

    UTMB receives NIH funding to implement a school-based healthy relationship program in Houston-area schools

    GALVESTON, Texas – The National Institutes of Health has awarded The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston a $3.07 million grant to evaluate a program designed to help teenagers to learn ways to resolve conflicts, better ways to deal with peer pressure and prevent violence. Jeff Temple, a psychologist at UTMB, will lead the study that will be conducted in Houston-area middle schools. The study calls for a rigorous evaluation of a new and enhanced version of “Fourth R,” a program previously shown to be effective in reducing risky behaviors among high school students. “Middle school is a critically... more »
  • What's the skinny on supplements for weight loss?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA ”The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” — Chinese Proverb Recently, a newspaper reporter asked me about the use of Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss. I told her that I knew it was safe but probably not dramatically effective. I would do more research and get back to her. Still, since so many patients come to me for natural solutions to their problems, including weight loss, I figured it was time to dig into the subject more deeply. In the spirit of medical education, I turned the project over to my diligent medical students Amanda Vela and Jaime Eller, who were... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Reading truly is fundamental

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON Nothing is more important to success than learning to read. Those who can’t read have fewer advantages than those that can. Reading is just as important for babies as it is for adults. Early exposure to reading increases the chances of success in school, and children who share books with their caregivers at an early age have less difficulty mastering reading once they enter school. Sharing books with children at an early age helps them to develop their vocabulary, communication skills and imagination. The U.S. Department of Education suggests that you begin reading to your baby at 6 weeks of age because... more »
  • August is National Immunization Awareness Month

    Galveston County Daily News
    By SELWYN ROGERS It was a typical Tuesday in my former job as chair of surgery at Temple University in Philadelphia, but that morning I felt sluggish. Although I wasn’t feeling well, I knew I had three surgical operations to perform that morning followed by an afternoon full of meetings. I trudged out of my apartment and started the 15-minute drive to work. A few miles into my commute, a feeling of illness suddenly enveloped me. I had to pull over and call my chief resident to cancel the morning’s surgeries. I turned the car around and headed back home to bed. The next three days were a blur of sore throat and fever; it was... more »
  • Digital forms of dating violence are on the rise-what school nurses need to know

    Digital forms of dating violence are on the rise-what school nurses need to know

    GALVESTON, Texas – Many teens experience physical or sexual abuse within their romantic relationships and now dating violence can also be perpetrated digitally by harassing, stalking or controlling a romantic partner via technology and social media. School nurses are often some of the first to identify such problems and play an active role in preventing them from happening in the first place. They are also in a natural position to act as first responders for victims of an abusive romantic relationship. Information on how school nurses can help these teens experiencing cyber abuse is described in a recent article in NASN School... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Backpacks not just a fashion statement

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON Backpacks are great for kids to carry items back and forth from school to home, but backpacks that weigh more than 15 percent of your child’s body weight may cause health problems for your child. Neck, shoulder and back pain may develop from carrying a heavy backpack everyday. The spine is made of 33 bones (called vertebrae) that have disks in between them that act as natural shock absorbers. A child carrying an unusually heavy backpack leans their head and chest forward to compensate for the weight of the back, which puts stress on the back and neck. If your child uses only one strap to carry her backpack,... more »
  • Baby’s Checkup and a Shot for Mom

    Baby’s Checkup and a Shot for Mom

    A nearly $1.5 million grant will support a unique opportunity for young moms to get anti-cancer vaccine at baby’s appointments GALVESTON, Texas – In the first months of baby’s life, parents usually concentrate on their newborn’s health. But the postpartum period is also a good time for mom to catch up on an important vaccination for herself. The many doctor’s visits needed for a newborn present a convenient way for mom to get all three shots of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Many young women are missing out on the HPV vaccine, which can prevent several kinds of cancer, including cervical cancer and t... more »
  • I'm just tired all the time

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Friday afternoon: I am covering an acute care clinic for patients needing immediate attention without an appointment ... because they just got sick in the preceding few days and need to be seen quickly. Visits are rarely long nor require heavy medical thinking: colds, urinary tract infections, sprains, refills and so on. The last patient of the day complains of fatigue. I feel an immediate sinking feeling as I review her chart. Really, how acute can fatigue be? Did you not sleep last night? Maybe the new baby kept you up or perhaps your loud neighbors did? Nope, it is nothing like that. The patient has had... more »
  • Medical Discovery News-Few things as satisfying as a good night's sleep

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DRS. DAVID NIESEL AND NORBERT HERZOG I can think of few things as satisfying as a good night sleep. As I age, it seems harder and harder to achieve. Sleep is extremely important to humans and there are some significant consequences to not getting enough. Sleep is essential in a diverse range of organisms ranging from nematodes, insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals. In humans, sleep loss contributes to obesity, elevated blood pressure and metabolic disorders. It can also lead to changes in cognition, behavioral changes and neurological issues affecting judgment, reaction time and mood. The sleep cycle has four stages foll... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-How to keep your sleeping baby safe

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their recommendations for ways parents can keep their sleeping baby safe. These recommendations are for healthy babies up to a year of age. There are some babies with certain medical conditions who may need to sleep on their stomachs. Your baby’s doctor can tell you what is best for your baby. Things you can do to help keep your baby safe. • Place your baby on his back every time he goes to sleep until a year of age. If the baby has rolled from his back to his side or stomach, he can be left in that position if he is able to roll from tummy to back and back... more »
  • Oh my aching back — are there non-drug treatments?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA “My back hurts, doc. What can I do?” Chronic low back pain is the fifth leading cause of visits to primary care physicians and the single most common reason adults use complementary and integrative methods in the United States. Up to 20 percent of the population will develop chronic back pain, and 35 percent of those with back pain episodes will suffer a recurrence despite any treatment. The rate of deaths from overdoses for prescription opiates has been escalating since the early 2000s. Twenty percent or more of suicide cases have opiates on board. Meanwhile, deaths from cocaine and heroin have... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Back to school tips to keep your child safe

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON The following is from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for returning to school in 2016. For many children (and their parents) the first day of school is upsetting. There are several suggestions for making the first day easier. • Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. • Point out the positive aspects of starting school. She’ll see old friends and meet new ones.... more »
  • What's for breakfast?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Last week I had the pleasure of giving a combination nutrition lecture and cooking demonstration for some first year medical students. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute staff and second year medical student, Mauli Dalal, ably assisted me. Mauli is a leader of the student initiative, Food for Thought, at the St. Vincent’s Student Run Clinic. We covered some basics of nutrition including healthy fats, types of carbs and complete proteins. We also gave the students tips on effective clinical nutritional counseling followed by preparing and sharing some tasty ways to create a healthy breakfast. One key... more »
  • What's for breakfast?

    Galveston County Daily News
     By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Last week I had the pleasure of giving a combination nutrition lecture and cooking demonstration for some first year medical students. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute staff and second year medical student, Mauli Dalal, ably assisted me. Mauli is a leader of the student initiative, Food for Thought, at the St. Vincent’s Student Run Clinic. We covered some basics of nutrition including healthy fats, types of carbs and complete proteins. We also gave the students tips on effective clinical nutritional counseling followed by preparing and sharing some tasty ways to create a healthy breakfast. One key... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Pool safety tips for you and your children

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, from 1990 to 2000, drowning was the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among American children ages 1 to 19. Children ages 0 to 4 and adolescent boys are at the highest risk of drowning. Young children are most likely to drown in the bathtub or after accidentally falling into the water. Adolescent boys are 4 to 6 times more likely to drown than girls mostly because they think their swimming skills are better than they really are, and they are more likely to take risks. Teaching your child to swim does not necessarily make him or her safe in the... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-How to keep kids safe on trampolines

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON Trampolines are popular among children and teens and even among some adults. Although they are fun, landing wrong can cause serious injuries. Injuries can occur even when a trampoline has a net and padding and parents are watching. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a strong statement against the use of trampolines at home. More information can be found at www.healthychildren.org. If families choose to use a trampoline anyway, they should take precautions to make the experience as safe as possible. How do most injuries occur on trampolines? • About 27 to 39 percent of injuries happen... more »
  • On preventing summer miseries

    Galveston County Daily News
    By MARSHA CANRIGHT Correspondent No beautiful day at the beach should end in the emergency department. The number of accidental injuries goes up in summer months with common miseries like a blistering sunburn, red ant bites, food poisoning, jellyfish stings, fishhooks, dehydration and burns from outdoor grilling. There are more serious dangers too. The heat can sneak up on you and cause serious illness; car and bicycle accidents increase between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and ocean riptides can cause even strong swimmers to panic and risk drowning. Not all injuries are preventable, but trying a few safety measures may help you dodge... more »
  • Observing life from womb to tomb: Humans depend on each other

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA As a family physician, I have been blessed to stand witness to the bookends of life. From womb to tomb, it has been an incredible experience to see families bringing life into the world and supporting those who are passing on. We physicians also get to closely observe the journey in between: the shots, the first tooth, the first step, the runny nose, the hospital stay, the developing athlete, the evolving scholar, the budding artist, the graduations, first job, weddings and other major life events. Our patients truly become our extended family. Last week, I met with a group of medical students who had just spen... more »
  • Medical Discovery News Sleep is good for the waistline

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DRS. DAVID NIESEL AND NORBERT HERZOG You are likely to have heard Americans are getting fatter. Eating fast and processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle are likely contributors. Today, almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight, and this is a public health disaster. Officials in New York City sounded the alarm and intervened by banning trans fats, but that is hardly enough. It is recognized that there are many other causes. By definition, you are considered obese if your body mass index is higher than 30. Another prevalent health issue in the United States is problems with sleeping. Almost 20 million people have sleep apnea, and... more »
  • Stop your belly aching

    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA When someone is constantly complaining, somebody else may finally have to say, “stop your bellyaching.” Well, if your belly aches, you might feel fretful and complain a lot, or you might just give someone else a bellyache or a headache. Maybe it’s contagious. When I was a medical student, ulcers, gastritis, heartburn, non-ulcer dyspepsia and other bellyaches were considered largely to be due to stress. Large bottles of Maalox and Valium were consumed, often to little effect. Surgery to cut nerves and reduce acid in the overactive stomach and to open drainage was a common procedure, the... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-How to keep your children safe in cars this summer

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON Hot weather is here. Every year there are new reports of children dying after being left in hot cars. Hopefully, this annual reminder will prevent another death. The inside of a car can heat up very quickly — even when the temperature outdoors is mild. On an especially hot day, the interior of a car can heat up to 122 degrees in less than 20 minutes, and within 40 minutes, it can get so hot that a child left inside a car for that length of time can die. Many parents think that leaving the window of the car open slightly will keep the temperature lower, but fail to realize that it will still remain too hot in... more »
  • Going nuts about heart health

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Did you know that nuts are a great nutrient for heart health? We tend to think of nuts as snacks loaded with salt, fat and calories. However, excellent research over the years has found that nuts help reduce cardiac events as much as 40 percent. Nuts should be eaten by the handful, not the bagful. A handful of nuts can pack up to 150 calories so titrate them carefully. We like to portion out our daily nut ration in a small bowl or a Saki cup. Much of the research on nuts has been done on walnuts and almonds, but good ol’ Texas pecans, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and so on are all likely... more »
  • Skin cancer affects young and old

    Galveston County Daily News
    By RICK COUSINS Correspondent Although everyone fears cancer in general, one type of this dreaded disease is the most likely to affect the largest number of Americans at some point in their lives: Skin cancer. And, importantly, it is among the most curable cancers as long as it is detected and treated early. Ignored, it can, at times, prove deadly. Our guide to this topic is Dr. Sharon Raimer, who chairs the Department of Dermatology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. She noted that your skin is your largest bodily organ, a fact that offers cancer a large area to aim for. Most people know that skin cancer comes in two common... more »
  • The final journey: how to prepare for a good death

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA “A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” — Albert Einstein, 1921 How will you handle life’s final journey? No matter your ... more »
  • Arthritis part 2: How to take care of daily stiffness, pain

    Galveston County Daily News
    Arthritis part 2: How to take care of daily stiffness, pain Editor’s note: This is the second of two articles providing a current overview of arthritis. While the symptoms of arthritis often wax and wane, the underlying disease is generally progressive. What’s a patient to do when bringing stiffness, pain and a limited range of motion into their busy, daily routine? Dr. Emilio Gonzalez, who serves as both director and chief of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Division of Rheumatology, explained the options. First for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Gonzalez had good news. Recent clinical work has made it... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Mental health as important as physical health in children

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. SALLY ROBINSON Like adults, children also suffer from depression, anxiety and uncontrolled behavior from time to time. What if these feelings have become an insurmountable problem for your child? When should you seek help for your child? A frank discussion with your pediatrician is a good place to begin understanding the seriousness of your child’s problem. According to the Surgeon General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “in the United States, 1 in 10 children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause some level of impairment. Yet, in any given year, it is estimated that... more »
  • Part 1: What is arthritis?

    Galveston County Daily News
    Editor’s note: This is the first of two articles providing a current overview of arthritis. It would be hard to overemphasize the impact of arthritis on Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented that just short of 50 percent of adults up to 65 years old have some form of it. For adults 65 and older that number rises to 62 percent. Surprisingly, almost 300,000 children under 18 also suffer from arthritis or a related condition. | In all, as the population ages, almost 80 million of us in the United States will be diagnosed with this disease by the year 2040. It is a problem that won’t be solved... more »
  • Medical Discovery News-Organisms that live in, on us are important

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DRS. DAVID NIESEL AND NORBERT HERZOG Bacteria and viruses live on and in us as part of our normal flora or microbiome. In fact, microbes outnumber our own cells somewhere between 10 to 1 and 100 to 1. But there are even more creatures that we share our lives with, parasites and vermin. That sounds disgusting. Vermin? Really? Studies of these creatures are actually quite revealing about human evolution and migration. For example, all of us harbor a mite that lives in the hair follicles on our faces called Demodex folliculorum. They are tubular in shape with iddy biddy legs and live deep in our follicles. Somewhere between 23 to 100... more »
  • A look at the role of religion, spirituality in medicine

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA A few centuries ago, religious and theological concepts dominated an era when medicine offered little to allay the ravages of plague, cholera and other diseases of mankind. Because medicine at that time was impotent and the therapies offered not only ineffective but often dangerous, traditional religion with its prayers and rituals filled the breach. More or less. If a child was ill, helpless parents could at least pray and hope for God’s mercy to deliver the child from a high fever or other affliction. Maybe the child got better. As medicine improved, we developed and understood the germ theory,... more »
  • The soul cannot be measured

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA As a physician, I have studied the human body intimately. Through cadaver dissections, autopsies, physical exams of tens of thousands of patients, I have seen the body through many lenses and in its manifold forms. X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, nuclear scans, scopes of every orifice have given me astounding views of this incredible organism we call man. An engineering professor patient refers to the body as an unbelievably complex, self-regenerating machine. And yet, it is so much more than a machine. In all this looking and seeing, though, I have never caught a glimpse of the soul. Well maybe once. I might... more »
  • Spirituality can help heal mind, body

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA ”Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” — Dr. Albert Schweitzer When things are going well in our lives, it is easy to assume that all is going to be fine forever. However, when faced by an illness, family problem, financial or job challenge, we must dip into the well of our courage and deepest values. As my patients with cancer tell me, their support in their times of stress are primarily family, friends and their faith community. This... more »
  • Medical Discovery News-Medication used to treat withdrawal symptoms could be addictive

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DRS. DAVID NIESEL AND NORBERT HERZOG Some who use kratom to ease their withdrawal symptoms from heroin addiction are discovering that this is also an addictive drug that can reignite the cravings for the heroin they are trying hard to conquer. The use of kratom as a painkiller or to treat depression or for the mild high it provides is gaining in popularity, but its potential dangers are not well understood. Kratom is legal in most states and is sold under a variety of names. It is available in powdered form at head shops, convenience stores and online. There are even bars that sell beverages made with kratom in Colorado, Florida,... more »
  • When the doctor becomes the patient

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. MICHAEL M. WARREN Doctors get sick. When we do, we have to face the same troubles that the non-physician does. We have to fill out the same forms to get into the hospital. We have to deal with our insurance companies, and we face all the old and new rules to save money. Books and movies have been produced about doctors’ attitudes before and after they develop illnesses of their own. It not only makes good reading but often educates the physician about the world of medicine, from the patient’s point of view. Nowhere that I know of in the medical school curriculum is a course about what it’s like to be a... more »
  • Soup is ultimate soul food

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA My dad, whose parents had moved from the old country in Poland to the United States in the early 1900s often said, “I could live on soup.” I suspect they often had to as they were poor farmers. Cabbage soup with some salt pork may have been a meal away from starvation and scurvy. He lived to 93, by the way. Soup is the ultimate in recycling. You can take bones from other dishes (sorry Fido), wilted vegetables and cooking water to make a stock. Then add an infinite variety of nutritious ingredients. Basically, you can start with leftovers and end up with an entree that is healthy for your family, eas... more »
  • Planning key to successful, healthy dining out

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA ”The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” — Arnold J. Toynbee In last week’s article, I described the joys and health benefits of cooking at home: control of portion size, ingredients, seasonings, freshness, mindful eating. Meal preparation can even be a form of meditation as you slice, dice, stir. Cooking at home can thus be as Toynbee urged both work and play. The same day that piece was published though, a retired nurse in for her acupuncture visit reminded me that eating at home was fine but they loved dining out even more. We recently attended a... more »
  • Antibiotics not always helpful for sinuses

    Galveston County Daily News
    By RICK COUSINS Correspondent Weather patterns can sweep in copious amounts of pollen and smoke here each spring, thereby raising your risk for a seasonal sinus attack. WebMD notes that 37 million Americans will suffer along these lines annually, leading to some $5.7 billion in related costs and lost income. Since there’s no vaccine and little chance of avoiding the triggers, what’s a Gulf Coast resident to do when sinus pain and congestion strike? Dr. Julie McKee, a distinguished teaching professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said that the first step is not to rush to the doctor, demanding an... more »
  • Victor S. Sierpina-Cooking at home helps control nutrition

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA “Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.” — Julia Child The famous chef’s words could apply to virtually any area of life. This month, we will focus on the theme of nutrition and cooking. Cooking at home gives us more control of ingredients and seasonings and allows us to adjust flavoring according to personal preference. Certainly some people do not cook out of lack of knowledge or even being afraid to cook. It does require advance planning which helps us avoid impulse eating and fast food. One reader told me not to encourage men to cook. He... more »
  • Salad with whole grains and other traditional foods with a twist

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor S. Sierpina Last week, I wrote about the Seeding Galveston program, which delivers freshly picked, locally grown produce weekly to your home. You get what is in season. This will alter the way you cook and how you eat. It is healthier because fresh vegetables right from the garden retain all their nutrients and taste so good you will want to eat more of them. One example is the large variety of greens they bring. Many folks in the South have grown up with collard and mustard greens cooked by Grandma. Other types of greens that are in season and can be used much the same way are chard, broccoli greens, and kale. These are... more »
  • Breastfeeding, vaccinations help reduce ear infection rates in babies

    Breastfeeding, vaccinations help reduce ear infection rates in babies

    GALVESTON, Texas – In what would be considered good news for many parents a new study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston finds the rates of ear infections during a baby’s first year have declined; the investigators suggested that higher rates of breastfeeding, use of vaccinations and lower rates of smoking may be the major contributors. The study was recently published in Pediatrics. The new study, led by Tasnee Chonmaitree, professor in the department of pediatrics, found that rates of ear infection have dropped significantly since similar studies were conducted in the late 1980s and 1990s. The rates of... more »
  • Common plastics chemical BPA linked to preterm birth

    Common plastics chemical BPA linked to preterm birth

    GALVESTON, Texas – Higher concentrations of the common plastics chemical and environmental pollutant Bisphenol A, or BPA, in a pregnant mother’s blood may be a contributing factor in preterm births, according to a new study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The new study, led by Ramkumar Menon, assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UTMB, in collaboration with Winthrop University Hospital and Kaiser Permanente Southern California, found that pregnant women with higher levels of BPA in their blood were more likely to deliver their babies early compared with women with lower le... more »
  • An active, diabetic life

    Galveston County Daily News
    By RICK COUSINS Correspondent Diagnosis of a serious, chronic life-threatening disease or disorder can push the pause button on life. It’s not unreasonable to remap one’s existence around the newly discovered illness and conform every waking minute to its demands for mitigation. But for Zach Toth, it came more like a declaration of war. After the shock of finding out that he had, and would always have, Type 1 — or juvenile — diabetes, he hit, not the ceiling, but the road. Tearing up waves with his surfboard in far-flung places in open defiance of the control the disease could have exacted on his days had he held... more »
  • Secondhand smoke and allergies in kids

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DRS. DAVID NIESEL AND NORBERT HERZOG You probably know at least one child who suffers from food allergies. Scientists have been studying why so many children face this problem, and now they’ve identified another cause: secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke comes from a burning tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by someone smoking. Secondhand smoke from tobacco products is a complex mixture of thousands of different chemicals. Hundreds of these chemicals are toxic and at least 70 are carcinogenic. Even brief exposure to these chemicals is not considered safe. It can lead to molecular changes that cause cancer and changes in the... more »
  • Women should begin mammogram screenings at 40, local experts say

    Galveston County Daily News
    The goal of regular mammograms is to reduce deadly breast cancer by early detection, when treatment is more effective and less harmful, experts say. But experts have not agreed on when early detection should start. Some of the latest studies done by a government task force show that mammograms do the most good later in life, and women should get one every other year starting at age 50. But other health groups, including specialists from the University of Texas Medical Branch, encourage women to get mammograms every year, starting at age 40. One in 69 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their 40s, experts... more »
  • The global threat of antibiotic resistance

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DRS. DAVID NIESEL AND NORBERT HERZOG The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is reaching epidemic proportions, and if new antibiotics aren’t created to combat even common bacterial infections, we may find ourselves without the ability to combat even the common illnesses. Can you imagine going back to the dark ages before penicillin? While first-world countries use the most antibiotics, a new report reveals that antibiotic use in second- and third-world countries is steadily increasing. While this may be good in terms of treating and preventing diseases, it has some serious consequences for the global threat of antibiotic... more »
  • Dr. Victor Sierpina - Dangerous guidelines

    Galveston County Daily News
    One of my patients is a delightful, beautifully coiffed, cognitively sharp 92 year old. Her occasional spikes of blood pressure in the 170-200 range caused us anxiety despite the lack of neurological or cardiac symptoms. Tinkering with her medications caused side effects without improving the problem. Finally, she stopped checking it so much and continues to do just fine on lower medication dosages. Frankly, I shuddered at a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine recommending lowering blood pressure to below 120 systolic in those older than 75. The conclusion of... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina - Managing holiday stress with positive thoughts

    Galveston County Daily News
    By VICTOR S. SIERPINA Perhaps the upcoming holiday season fills you with dread, anxiety and anticipatory stress rather than joy, light and gratitude. Many people struggle with issues at this time of year, generating a torrent of letters to Dear Abby seeking advice on holiday blues. Families try to balance where to have celebrations, who to invite, what to do with distant, poorly-behaved relatives, step-relatives, exes. All these pressures to resolve family and relational issues seem to peak at the holidays. They put more pressure on everyone rather than allowing us to simply enjoy being together. One stress-busting technique that might be... more »
  • University of Texas Medical Branch-UTMB team develops breakthrough in life support care

    Galveston County Daily News
    By JOSEPH BAUCUM The Daily News Life support care could soon undergo significant improvement thanks to technology recently created by a collection of researchers and engineers led by Dr. Donald Prough, chair of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Department of Anesthesiology. The group created an instrument that allows medical professionals the ability to more accurately localize endotracheal tubes within patients by using a pulsed laser light to generate an ultrasound signal that identifies the exact position of the tube. The development is noteworthy because endotracheal tubes are the principal component of life... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Siperina-Making sense of the announcement that red meat causes cancer

    Galveston County Daily News
    By VICTOR S. SIERPINA In a recent stunning announcement, the World Health Organization listed red meat, especially processed meats like bacon and sausage, as carcinogens. Loud wailing and gnashing of teeth was heard from wurst-lovers in Frankfurt, Germany, barbecue aficionados in the Texas Hill Country and Jewish delis in New York. To put things in perspective, the risk of colorectal cancer from eating red meat is very low. From a baseline lifetime risk of about 5 percent, those who consume red meats and processed meats might increase their risk about 1 percent to a still low 6 percent. In comparison, smoking cigarettes increases risk... more »
  • Inside UTMB-Elliott is president-elect of Texas Academy of Family Physicians

    Galveston County Daily News
    By UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL BRANCH Dr. Tricia Elliott is president-elect of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. Elliott, an associate professor, is the director of UTMB’s family medicine residency program. A graduate of UTMB, Elliott is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a member of the Harris County Academy of Family Physicians. The TAFP is dedicated to uniting family doctors and empowering them to provide a medical home for patients. Armendariz-Batiste honored for excellence The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has named Josette Armendariz-Batiste into the 2016 Circle of Excellence.... more »
  • Vaccine Hero

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DRS. DAVID NIESEL AND NORBERT HERZOG Vaccines are so successful, they have almost eradicated some of the diseases that they prevent, such as polio. The MMR vaccine provides effective protection against the childhood diseases mumps, measles and rubella, to the point that very few cases were seen in the United States. Unfortunately, because some parents are refusing this vaccination for their children, these dangerous diseases are undergoing a resurgence. In the 1990s, an unsubstantiated study that has since been retracted linked the MMR vaccine to autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health... more »
  • Victor S. Sierpina-The healing encounter

    Galveston County Daily News
    By VICTOR S. SIERPINA As a patient, you might or might not expect a visit to your doctor to be a “healing encounter.” That may sound like a pretty intense event. The healing encounter is about facilitating the creation of health that transcends the physical and results in less suffering and an overall improved quality of life. I propose that every contact with any kind of health care provider ideally should offer healing, hope, and a positive way forward to each of us. This is not always easy in today’s “speed dating” type of 15-minute office or hospital visits. These encounters often feel hurried and... more »
  • Hospital administrators: Multi-talented bureaucrats

    Galveston County Daily News
    By MICHAEL M. WARREN Leadership. The United States has a President; your local high school has a principal. IBM has a chairman of the board. And hospitals have administrators. Obviously, it takes more than doctors and nurses to run a hospital; housekeepers, food services, technicians and accountants are but a few of the services that combine to become “the hospital.” But who is the unsung organizer? Who is responsible for coordinating the multitude of services and people, to ensure that the hospital runs efficiently and that you receive the best possible health care? The hospital administrator is an integral part of... more »
  • Do new cancer concerns mean meat should go?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By JOHN WAYNE FERGUSON The Daily News Does a new warning putting meats like bacon and hot dogs in the same health classification as cigarettes mean people should drop their favorite foods immediately? It might be a good idea in the long run to cut back on processed meats, but the excited reaction about the announcement last week could have drowned out the nuance, some health experts say. “One of the most frustrating things for the scientists that produced this paper, and for people reading, is the ridiculously sensationalized headings that we’re seeing that bacon is as bad as smoking,” said Dr. Doug Paddon-Jones, a... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Your stereotypes about aging might be killing you

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor S. Sierpina For many years, I have cited Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the sage of the power of positive thinking, regarding aging. He once said, “Age does not of itself bring degeneration and disability. Rather it is the belief that this is so that brings them about.” I learned this truth as a young doctor and shared it with patients for many years, wondering if I would still believe it when I was older myself. In fact, in my observations of older adults over the years, I have found that attitudes about aging and health are closely tied to quality of life and emotional and physical health. Someone using each ache and... more »
  • Vaccine Smarts-What vaccinations do I need to protect my grand baby?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. RICHARD RUPP and BRIDGET HAWKINS Dear VaccineSmarts, I’m going to be a grandmother for the first time. It’s an exciting time for my family. My friends (all grandmothers) tell me that I’m supposed to get some vaccines to protect the baby. What vaccines do I need? Donna Santa Fe, Texas Dear Donna, The strategy of protecting babies by vaccinating family and caretakers is called cocooning. Typically, cocooning is recommended for the prevention of whooping cough (pertussis) and the flu in infants. Both of these diseases, spread through coughing and sneezing, are particularly severe in babies due to their... more »
  • Townsend is president-elect of American College of Surgeons

    Townsend is president-elect of American College of Surgeons

    The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston’s Dr. Courtney M. Townsend Jr., the Robertson-Poth Distinguished Chair in General Surgery, was named the president-elect of the American College of Surgeons at its recent 2015 clinical conference in Chicago. “Being selected by my colleagues in the American College of Surgeons to serve as president-elect is one of the highest honors I could receive,” said Townsend. “I look forward to leading the organization and representing all its members.”  “We’re extraordinarily proud of Dr. Townsend and this well-deserved honor,” said Dr. David... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-It's not your fault

    Galveston County Daily News
    By VICTOR S. SIERPINA If you have struggled as many do to lose weight, you might feel frustrated, ashamed or guilty that no matter what, those pounds seem to hang onto you like a too tight inner tube or a rear end cushion. Here is some encouraging news from Dr. Gerry Mullin, Associate Professor of Johns Hopkins Department of Gastroenterology: It is not your fault. Dr. Mullin has just written a popular new book, “The Gut Balance Revolution,” that turns traditional approaches to weight loss on their head. From beginning to end, he emphasizes the importance of perseverance. He should know. He was a 290-pound high school senior... more »
  • Keeping Kids HealthyVitamin D updated

    Galveston County Daily News
    By SALLY ROBINSON The Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children (healthychildren.org) have recommendations about the amount of vitamin D to be taken daily for all infants. It is recommended that all infants, children and adolescents take 400 IU daily. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with rickets which is a condition of weakened deformed bones. New information now suggests that vitamin D has a role in immunity and reduces the risk for certain chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The primary natural source of vitamin D is from cholesterol being changed in the skin with exposure to UVB light (sunshine). Natural sources... more »
  • Are you ready for flu season?

    Galveston County Daily News
    Fall is one of the most pleasant times of the year in the Houston-Galveston region. Cooler temperatures are settling in after a long, hot summer, football is back, and holiday festivities are just around the corner. However, along with a long-awaited change in season, an unwelcome guest has arrived — influenza. Oct. 4 officially marked the beginning of flu season, which usually peaks between December and February. It’s important to remember that the flu virus doesn’t discriminate — even healthy people can catch it. The virus easily spreads to others because people may be contagious an entire day before they begin... more »
  • UTMB offering free screening mammograms for women Sunday, Oct. 18 and Nov. 8

    UTMB offering free screening mammograms for women Sunday, Oct. 18 and Nov. 8

     Uninsured Galveston County women between 40-64 are eligible to receive free mammograms at local churches GALVESTON, Texas – In an effort to reach uninsured women in Galveston County, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and The Ruth Kempner Endowment for Breast Cancer Screening are collaborating to provide free screening mammograms in Galveston. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has reported that a significant number of uninsured women in Galveston County do not receive annual screening mammograms. To reach those women, UTMB will be taking the mobile mammography van to churches in Galveston... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-A local look at family caregivers

    Galveston County Daily News
    By VICTOR S. SIERPINA and MICHELLE SIERPINA The 2015 report Caregiving in the U.S., documents 43.5 million unpaid family member caregivers in the U.S. Thirty eight percent of those report high emotional stress from the demands of caregiving. Those statistics don’t lie, but they don’t tell the stories of real people’s lives. Here are some touching examples of challenges of family caregivers in Galveston County. A wife in her 80s reports that after her husband’s extended hospitalization and lengthy rehab, he was unable to walk, at risk of falls, with occasional incontinence, and vascular dementia. “I had to... more »
  • Galveston-Front-line innovators

    Galveston County Daily News
    By SHANNON DAUGHTRY As a nurse at The University of Texas Medical Branch’s Blocker Burn Unit, Jason Sheaffer and his staff are always looking for new ways to help provide their patients with the best care. Occasionally, that can mean treating a burn so severe that it requires a nurse to irrigate it for near seven hours, he said. That traditionally has involved having a nurse stand by a patient’s bedside keeping a constant flow of water, he said. But Sheaffer knew there had to be a better, more efficient way to do it. That inspiration is what Sheaffer took to the medical branch’s MakerHealth Space — the fi... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Have to ... choose to ... get to ...

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Do you ever feel overwhelmed with life? So many things simply need doing and you have not enough time to do them. You might feel like a victim of one more demands on your time and energy. Try this simple gratitude exercise from the Naikan book mentioned last week. Medical students in UTMB’s Physician Healer track were assigned to create a list of routine daily activities and apply the following to them: 1. I have to … 2. I choose to … 3. I get to … Such a process helped remove a sense of helplessness, victimhood, or the burdensomeness of daily activities. Once we... more »
  • Nation’s First Medical Makerspace Opens Inside Texas Hospital

    Nation’s First Medical Makerspace Opens Inside Texas Hospital

    MakerNurse and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston today unveiled The MakerHealth™ Space at UTMB, the first makerspace in the country for health care providers. Supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the MakerHealth™ Space in John Sealy Hospital will empower nurses and other medical staff to bring their ideas for improving health care to life and spread their innovations throughout the health care system. more »
  • Planting trees whose fruit we will never eat

    Galveston County Daily News
    The week before last, I made a house call to Robert, a patient on hospice. He was listless, semi-comatose, with pinpoint pupils from the morphine, and yellow as a gourd from cancer-related liver failure. His devoted wife, along with friends, family, and the hospice care team were keeping him as comfortable as possible as he transitioned from life after a decadelong courageous battle with colon cancer. Even after spending some time with him talking, examining, reading, praying, I wasn’t quite sure he could hear or understand me. At that point, I started to feel like I had done what I could for him. Now I was there for his family.... more »
  • UTMB receives CDC funding for a school-based healthy relationships program in Houston-area schools

    UTMB receives CDC funding for a school-based healthy relationships program in Houston-area schools

    GALVESTON, TX – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston a $1.05 million grant to study the implementation of a school-based healthy relationship program for teens. The study to be conducted in Houston-area high schools will allow researchers to implement “Fourth R,” a program shown to be successful in reducing risky behaviors. Principal Investigator Jeff Temple, who is an associate professor in UTMB’s department of obstetrics and gynecology and vice president of the Galveston ISD school board, said the program would help teenagers deal with pressu... more »
  • The doctor healer track at UTMB

    Dr. Victor S. Sierpina Today, I describe an antidote to loss of empathy during medical school, an all too common casualty of medical education. One study showed that up to 70 percent of graduating medical students entering internship met clinical criteria for “burn out.” This results in depersonalization, loss of human connection, and decreases in motivation, compassion, and empathy. It is a catastrophic, unhealthy cascade. Medical educators strive to prevent such a negative outcome while still being charged with producing highly skilled, qualified, and competent medical graduates. One approach that is now in its third... more »
  • The Myopia pandemic

    Galveston County Daily News
    Norbert Herzog and David Niesel You’ve probably heard of pandemics — the plague, influenza, HIV — but you might not have seen coverage of the growing myopia pandemic. Before you consider bathing in sanitizer, you should know that myopia isn’t contagious. Another word for it is nearsightedness. Myopia is a condition in which close objects are seen clearly but distant objects are blurred due to the elongation of the eye or too much curvature of the cornea. This causes light entering the eye to focus in front of the retina rather than on it. Myopia is different from hyperopia, which is the kind of nearsightedness... more »
  • How to prevent backpack-related injuries

    Galveston County Daily News
    By SALLY ROBINSON The American Academy of Pediatrics made the following recommendations about backpack safety in 2014. Backpacks are great for kids to carry items back and forth from school to home, but backpacks that weigh more than 15 percent of your child’s body weight may cause health problems for your child. Neck, shoulder and back pain may develop from carrying a heavy backpack everyday. The spine is made of 33 bones (called vertebrae) that have disks in between them that act as natural shock absorbers. A child carrying an unusually heavy backpack leans their head and chest forward to compensate for the weight of the pack,... more »
  • UTMB, MD Anderson to collaborate on League City Campus

    The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have signed a first-ever clinical collaboration agreement, which today was approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents. The agreement includes MD Anderson leasing land to construct an outpatient cancer center on the UTMB League City campus. This new construction will become part of MD Anderson’s Houston-area network, which includes four clinical care centers and currently serves nearly 16,000 patients each year. The agreement marks the first time local UT System sister institutions have joined to provide clinical... more »
  • Obesity and diabetes: Is your gut in control?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By PROFESSORS NORBERT HERZOG AND DAVID NIESEL Your body is like a forest, providing a home to microscopic flora and fauna. In fact, your body is home to up to 100 times more microbes than your own cells, which make up your microbiome. While we provide them residence, these microbes help us out by providing a first line of defense against disease trying to invade our bodies, even breaking down food during digestion and producing vitamins. Now, the microbes that live in the digestive tract are helping us understand diabetes better. According to the Human Microbiome Project sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the microbiome... more »
  • The benefits of empathy

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Clinical empathy is defined as “a cognitive attribute that involves an ability to understand the patient’s inner experiences and perspective and a capability to communicate this understanding.” If this seems like something you would like to have in your physician or other health care provider, it is for a good reason. There have been a number of studies that show that besides the sense of connection you will have with someone showing empathy, there are measurable improvements in clinical outcomes. 1. In a study of over 700 clinical encounters with patients who had the common cold, those... more »
  • Oil and vinegar

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA The Latin derivation of the word ‘salad’ simply meant “with salt.” A little sprinkle of salt over green herbs, maybe with a drizzle of olive oil was the essence of a salad. This is a far cry from our current prepared dressings containing hundreds of calories of unhealthy fats and other chemical ingredients. So instead of store-bought salad dressings, why not do it yourself? You control taste, ingredients, and freshness. The easiest way to make a healthy homemade dressing is whisking your own vinaigrette. Stir in a small bowl: ¾ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup of red... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Salads: Simple is best

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina Often when I called my dad to see how he was doing, he’d start with saying, “I’m making a salad.” He died at 92 and taught me the value of how enjoying a salad regularly is a truly healthy habit. Eating salads is an easy way to get close to our daily goal of 5 to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables. A half-cup of salad is pretty small so a typical lunch or dinner salad can garner 2 to 3 servings of veggies. These days, making a salad is easier than ever. Pre-washed, pre-cut, packaged spinach, romaine lettuce, mixed greens, arugula, kale, radicchio/endive, collards, mustard greens, and... more »
  • Vaccine Smarts-Two doses of meningitis vaccine now necessary for kids

    Galveston County Daily News
    By RICHARD RUPP Dear VaccineSmarts, My youngest son had his meningitis vaccine when he was 12. Now I am being told that he needs another before he goes away to college. My oldest child attended college about 10 years ago. She only needed one shot. Did something change? Lisa, Kemah Dear Lisa, Your question comes at an excellent time of year. Children are required to have the vaccine before entering seventh grade and many colleges and universities require vaccination for incoming freshman. The meningitis vaccine protects against a bacteria known as meningococcus. The bacteria gets its name from its propensity to cause... more »
  • Seibel Foundation gives UTMB $3 million  for student center at Jennie Sealy Hospital

    Seibel Foundation gives UTMB $3 million for student center at Jennie Sealy Hospital

    The Abe and Annie Seibel Foundation, administered by Frost Bank, is providing $3 million toward a student center in the new Jennie Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston The center will encompass the hospital’s fifth floor and will have a wide array of resources for UTMB students and medical residents. The floor will include a large classroom exclusively for residents and students, workstations for individual and collaborative learning and on-call rooms for residents. The fifth-floor student center will be named the Seibel Student Center. “This transformational gift from the Seibel Foundation... more »
  • UTMB, chamber of commerce partner on small business health symposium

    UTMB, chamber of commerce partner on small business health symposium

    People get yearly checkups so why not your small business? Just like going in for a physical at a doctor’s office, it can be a good idea to review the policies and insurance coverage of a small business. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce are working together to bring a wide range of experts to meet with small business owners about the health of their businesses at the first Small Business Health Symposium on Sept. 8. Topics will range from health coverage to legal representation, budgeting, and educational and staff development opportunities, said Craig Kovacevich, asso... more »
  • Bottle of Red? Bottle of White?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina The old Billy Joel song posed the dynamic of choosing the right color of wine. This has long been debated with oenophiles, those that study and love wines, each with strong opinions, including how to pair wines with foods. The classic alignment is white wines with salads, chicken and fish dishes, even desserts. Reds are traditionally recommended for heartier fare such as soups, stews, roasts, red meat, aromatic cheeses, and so on. Like food, the appreciation of wine incorporates aromas providing character, flavor, mouth feel, and a sense of appreciation or distaste. Most chefs and even snooty sommeliers agree... more »
  • MEDICAL DISCOVERY NEWS-A way out of our continuing antibiotic crisis

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Norbert Herzog and David Niesel Antibiotic resistance occurs when strains of bacteria that infect people — such as staph, tuberculosis, and gonorrhea — do not respond to antibiotic treatments. In America, 2 million people become infected with resistant bacteria every year and at least 23,000 die each year because of those infections. If nothing is done to stop or slow the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, the World Health Organization warns that we will find ourselves in a post-antibiotic world, in which minor injuries and common infections will be life-threatening once again. The crisis arose primarily from three... more »
  • Staying hydrated vital to health

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA While there is a debate about the health benefits of red or white wine, which I will cover in next week’s column, there is no debate among health care experts about the benefits of water. In fact, most of us don’t take in enough. I recently picked up a copy of a complimentary journal called Bay Area Health and Wellness. It is free by calling 832-323-3020 or you can get if online at www.txhwmagazines.com. It’s user-friendly, evidence-based, and a practical source for health information. An article called Sip on This! by Darlene Staheli, a health coach, particularly intrigued me. Reading... more »
  • IT'S YOUR HEALTH-How do you become a doctor? Practice

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Michael M. Warren Medical students are a vital part of your health care, because without medical students, there would be no doctors. We’ve all got to start some place, right? To put it another way, just as the kids in boot camp become seasoned soldiers, medical students are the future doctors of the world. “That’s fine doc,” you say, “but I don’t want them practicing on me or my family. I want a ‘real doctor.’” Well, let me assure you, I don’t want them practicing on you or your family either! Not until medical students have completed their entire program, have... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Some tasty recipes

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina The average American family has about a dozen or less meals they prepare on a regular basis. In my Polish-American working class family, they were chicken noodle soup, Hungarian goulash, ground beef mixed with onions, peppers, and rice, fish sticks, Polish sausage and sauerkraut, hot dogs and baked beans, and a few others that showed up on the table regularly. Of course we always had a mix of cooked vegetables and salads served by my health conscious mom who worked hard to stretch the tight grocery budget. Like so many things, changing our eating habits is often a challenge. One way I have played with in the... more »
  • It's Your Health - Today's nurses a far cry from Nightingale

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. MICHAEL M. WARREN Although there were nurses before her time, Florence Nightingale is generally credited with bringing pride and respectability to the nursing profession. And while the “Lady of the Lamp” might relate to the compassion and dedication that continues to be the core of the nurses’ code, she would hardly recognize today’s nurses, nor would she understand one fraction of their duties and responsibilities. No longer relegated to emptying bedpans and changing the bedding, the modern nurse works in a variety of settings including hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, industry, governmental... more »
  • Falling into Tai Chi

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA A fall in an older adult can be a serious matter. A hip fracture can lead to disability and frequently results in death in up to 50% within a year. The reasons for falls are complex, usually involving weakness, poor sight, balance, medication side effects, drops in blood pressure, chronic diseases, and bone and joint problems. Identifying ways to reduce the risk of falls and the fear of falling is a major health challenge in older adults. One approach that has been widely studied and found to reduce falls by 25-50% is the ancient, slow-moving, graceful martial art known as Tai Chi. The flowing, measured movements... more »
  • Wellness challenge

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S, Sierpina Here is a quote by Phillips Brook that emphasizes the value of taking on new challenges in our lives: “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” For any of us to grow into a newer, better version of ourselves, we must accept challenges which by definition require us to stretch our limits into our unexplored and possible selves. Just picture a toddler learning to walk. No longer satisfied with just crawling or cruising the furniture, he or she takes a tentative few steps and... more »
  • It's Your Health-How you can overcome the ‘hospital blues’

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Michael M. Warren No one enjoys being sick or hospitalized. It isn’t bad enough that you’re in pain or feeling awful; but now you’re in a strange bed, in a strange environment, often sharing a room with a stranger who snores, and the TV doesn’t even carry your favorite channel. Who can blame you for feeling just a bit sorry for yourself? But wait! What about your family? Not only do they feel somewhat lonely and abandoned but they may feel helpless, too. How can they help? Contribute to your recovery? Do something? Anything? Family members should talk to your doctor or nurse; they can visit the patient... more »
  • Medical Discovery News-Dollars and sense of Alzheimer’s

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Norbert Herzog & David Niesel As people age, they begin to worry about developing dementia and its most common cause, Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that can affect your cognitive abilities, the ability to function in daily life and orientation. If that’s not devastating enough, those with Alzheimer’s only live four years to eight years on average after diagnosis. In America, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death. Today 5.1 million of those 65 or older are living with this disease, a number that is only expected to grow as the population ages — by 2050 it... more »
  • Kitchen cures for what ails you

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina Iinvite you to share your story about some remedies your mother may have taken from the kitchen to soothe your miseries as a child. Many of these were stout, traditional applications surviving from the pre-scientific era. Their evidence was their effectiveness, economy and safety. Often given out of hope, history, and even the hysteria of not knowing what else to do, home remedies are truly the first line of primary care. Think back to your childhood: a skinned knee, an insect bite, a cold sore, a cough, sore throat, toothache, fever. Likely there was a home cure for all of these. I grew up in a family tha... more »
  • Doctor's simple advice for men: a few simple steps can lead to a healthier life

    Doctor's simple advice for men: a few simple steps can lead to a healthier life

    By Dr. Selwyn O. Rogers When I moved to Galveston last year, I was overweight and out of shape. An annual visit to the doctor diagnosed me with hypertension and an abnormal glucose level. I was anything but a model for wellness. And I was about to become the Chief Medical Officer at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Confession is good for the soul and hard on the ego, but if I can grab control of my life, anybody can. It wasn't long before I copied the behavior of healthy islanders and began jogging on the beach and cycling on the sea wall. The result for me is better controlled blood pressure and glucose and I lost 10 percent of... more »
  • UTMB nursing programs receive CCNE accreditation

    UTMB nursing programs receive CCNE accreditation

    GALVESTON, Texas – Three degree programs at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Nursing have been reaccredited for 10 years, the maximum time granted by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, the CCNE is an autonomous accrediting agency, contributing to the improvement of the public’s health. CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of nursing education programs. “UTMB’s School of Nursing is committed to continuous pursuit of academic excellence by providing the best in professional nurses at... more »
  • Celebrate the virtues of olive oil

    Galveston County Daily News
    By  Dr. VICTOR S. SIERPINA As a child, I had a generally negative experience with olive oil. My mom, who mostly cooked with Crisco, lard, bacon fat, and butter had a tiny pyramid-shaped bottle of cheap Pompei olive oil in her pantry. I don’t know what she used it for in the usual spectrum of Polish cooking like maybe frying kielbasa in it, but I know I tasted it straight a few times and found it atrocious. Olive Oyle was also cartoon character as Popeye’s less than attractive, scrawny, screechy girlfriend. Over the years, though, I have developed a love relationship with the health benefits of Olive Oil. Not Popeye’s... more »
  • Fear of hospitals is unfounded

    Galveston County Daily News
    by DR. MICHAEL M. WARREN My uncle says he gets sick to his stomach just at the thought of hospitals. He says they “smell funny.” Actually, I know lots of people who hate hospitals. Not me. I spend half my life in a hospital. I’m glad I’m a doctor. Of course, hospitals have not always enjoyed the best of reputations. A long time ago, they were places where people went only if they could not afford a doctor at home, or if they were about to die. The sad truth is that before modern sterile procedures and antibiotics, it was often safer to be treated at home. There was less chance of infection and maybe even a better... more »
  • It's Your Health-Is vanity worth it?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Michael M. Warren I was reading the advertisements in my local paper the other day. I will let you guess which paper. I came across an ad for hearing aids. This was for a tiny device placed well into the ear and cannot be seen by anyone. It is quite expensive, but I am pretty sure that most of the cost goes into the development and production of a device of such a small size. On one hand it is quite amazing that such an improvement exists in hearing aids and other health care devices can be so miniaturized as to be impossible to see or for anyone else to know of their presence. On the other hand, it made me wonder why a demand... more »
  • Both sides now

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Some of you may remember the old ballad by Judy Collins: “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from win and lose and still somehow, it’s clouds illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all.” This is a metaphor for life. Clouds often symbolize sadness and depression but can be bright, fluffy, and filled with water and rainbows. Perhaps you got up one morning recently to look out at a cloudy sky. Gloom, depression, irritation, getting soaked, and your newly washed car getting spotted. Dang. The day is off to a bad start. That is unless you are from California... more »
  • What is a health & wellness coach?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor S. Sierpina Are you having trouble making changes in your lifestyle? Have you tried time and again to improve your diet, your exercise, your fitness, or sustain your motivation to change only to fall short? If so, you may benefit from a Health and Wellness Coach. According to a recent expert panel consensus: “Health and Wellness Coaches are professionals from diverse backgrounds and education who work with individuals and groups in a client-centered process to facilitate and empower the client to achieve self-determined goals related to health and wellness. Successful coaching takes place when coaches apply clearly... more »
  • MIND your diet for brain health

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA With increasing frequency, I have the unenviable task of informing a patient or their family members that they have dementia. Often, the patient themselves has not realized that they have problems other than occasional attention lapses, even though family members have observed major behavioral and memory problems. Perhaps nothing creates so much anxiety among those of us who are growing older than the loss of our higher mental functions. The old term, senility, or even kindly tolerance of eccentric age-related forgetfulness has been overshadowed by the specter of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.... more »
  • UTMB receives Advanced Center of Excellence in COPD designation

    UTMB receives Advanced Center of Excellence in COPD designation

    The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for its chronic obstructive pulmonary disease program by demonstrating continuous compliance with national standards for health care quality and safety in disease-specific care. UTMB received the commission’s seal after enduring a rigorous on-site review earlier this month. The commission's advanced certification for COPD, developed in conjunction with the American Lung Association, provides standards for outpatient and ambulatory care settings including staff education requirements, use of spirometry, smoking cessation, r... more »
  • Son donates kidney to save father’s life, strengthens bond

    Galveston County Daily News
    Rick and Dayne Boutwell have a close relationship. And it’s not just because they are father and son and spend a lot of time together fishing and sailing off the Gulf Coast. On March 10, Dayne donated one of his kidneys to his father, ultimately saving his life. “It was a no-brainer — I was 100 percent going to give my kidney to my dad,” said 36-year-old Dayne. Rick still has a tough time telling the story without tearing up. He received a kidney from his sister 16 years ago when he was 50, but found out that it was failing and he would need another transplant. Dayne, who lives in League City and visits his father i... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-How to make summer outdoor meals safe for your family

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Sally Robinson Spring has arrived and after an extra cold winter, everybody is ready to get outside for some picnics, backyard barbecues, dips and cold, dressed salads. In other words, it is the season of rapidly spoiling food and food-borne illnesses. Overall, the incidence of food-borne illnesses has dropped over the past decade. Much of this is due to food safety programs by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration at the food production level. Still, according to an article by staff writer Judith Rusk of the journal Infectious Diseases in Children, food-borne diseases cause 76 million illnesses, 325... more »
  • Participate in your own nutritional good health

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina Perhaps no other topic is so widely debated, discussed, and as confusing as nutrition. One study confounds another. Long held sacred cows like cholesterol management in diet, eating eggs, artificial sweeteners, and so on seem to be slaughtered daily in the media and scientific journals. Daytime food shows have been so popular as we love to talk about, shop for, cook, and, of course, eat food. They often add to the noise and disinformation about nutrition and health. Nonetheless, they are closely watched as eating is the very human thing we all do. Once we have enough food to survive, we hope to make the right... more »
  • UTMB assumes a leadership position in health care administration

    UTMB assumes a leadership position in health care administration

    GALVESTON, Texas: The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute as an organization to develop benchmark procedures in the area of health care administration. Accreditation gives UTMB the responsibility to oversee the development and documentation of ANSI's proposed American National Standards. As an accredited standards developer, UTMB will recruit volunteer experts from across the country to participate in monthly virtual meetings where the panel will draft technical reports and standards for public review and approval. Once completed, UTMB anticipates these standards... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-When is your child too sick to go to school?

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Sally Robinson Most children get sick at some point during the school year. In fact, the average school-age child gets about 6 to 9 common colds per year. Many parents sometimes send their children to school sick and other children catch what they have. Sometimes it is difficult for parents to tell if their child is too sick to go to school. It can also be hard for parents take off work, especially in single-parent households or families in which both parents work. But it is extremely important to keep children home if they are sick because they can expose other children to whatever they have. Here are some basic guidelines to... more »
  • More information about acupressure and its effects

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina After last week’s column about tapping on your acupressure points to bring energy and balance to sports and other performance, I received an unusually large number of enthusiastic comments. So, I thought I’d follow up with a more general coverage of acupressure. I also wanted to offer a clarification that some of my readers brought to my attention this week. Tapping is done bilaterally over the paired meridians on the face and body points except when the point is in the midline, above and below mouth, and on the sternum. The index and middle finger are used to tap firmly a half dozen times or more... more »
  • Chocolate's flavonols good for the mind

    Galveston County Daily News
    By NORBERT HERZOG and DAVID NIESEL Peanuts creator Charles Schulz once said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” New research shows he might be right. In one study, certain compounds in cocoa called flavonols reversed age-related memory problems. Flavonols, found in a variety of plants, are potent antioxidants that help cells in the body deal with free radicals. Free radicals arise from normal cellular processes, as well as from exposure to environmental contaminants, especially cigarette smoke. Unless your body gets rid of free radicals, they can damage proteins, lipids and even y... more »
  • Tapping into your inner energy

    Galveston County Daily News
    By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA Some years ago, I was introduced to the Emotional Freedom Technique. At the time, it seemed a little strange to me so I put it aside. Lately though, my interest has been reawakened through a new approach to using it for sports psychology. EFT is a simple method of helping us notice our disturbed feelings, problems with performance, anxieties, negative expectations, and so on. It is a tool for releasing and replacing them through a process of physical and mental exercises. Once they are cleared, we can be free to affirm a new, positive experience. Such a process can be used not only for improving performance... more »
  • LOL-Laughing Out Loud

    Galveston County Daily News
    Dr. VICTOR S. SIERPINA “Laughing is the shortest distance between two people.” Victor Borge, actor. Have you noticed how a heartfelt laugh can fill a room like liquid sunshine. A friend of mine is instantly recognized in a room by his loud and infectious laugh. Everyone can quickly tell when he is at the gym or other social setting by the sound of his cheerful laugh. Like the recently deceased Tom Magliozzi of Car Talk fame whose signature laugh on the radio show made even the most tense people smile, my buddy’s easy and natural outbursts of laughing out loud just bring joy to those around him. My little granddaughter... more »
  •  UTMB to open new clinic in Texas City

    UTMB to open new clinic in Texas City

    GALVESTON, Texas – The University of Texas Medical Branch’s new Texas City Primary and Specialty Care Clinic is opening Monday, March 30. The 35,000-square-foot facility, with 61 exam rooms, is designed to better serve patients. The clinic combines services previously provided at other UTMB Health clinics in the area into one convenient location.Services that will be provided at the new clinic include: Audiology Cardiology Ear, Nose and Throat Family Medicine/Internal Medicine Pediatric Primary Care Urology Ophthalmology will also be provided in the new clinic beginning in... more »
  • UTMB earns highest recognition from American Heart Association

    UTMB earns highest recognition from American Heart Association

    For the second year in a row, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has received the American Heart Association’s highest recognition, the Gold Quality Achievement Award, for continuing to achieve resuscitation standards set under the AHA’s Get with the Guidelines program. Last year, UTMB was the first hospital in Texas to receive this award. The award signifies that UTMB has reached an aggressive goal in using guidelines-based care to improve outcomes for patients who suffer cardiac arrests in the hospital. The Get with the Guidelines — Resuscitation program was developed with the goal of saving the lives... more »
  • Pain more than simply a physical reaction

    Galveston County Daily News
    By UTMB’s Victor Sierpina: Writer CS Lewis once said, “when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.” In his same book, “The Problem of Pain,” Lewis further noted, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” Pain is much more than a physical event, the... more »
  • Faster diagnosis, earlier treatment

    Galveston County Daily News
    A new rapid test for Ebola has received emergency approval from the Federal Drug Administration and should be available soon for use in affected areas, said Robert Cross, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. The kit was developed by Corgenix, a medical diagnostic research company, and tested using live Ebola virus in high containment conditions at the Galveston National Laboratory, Cross said. Follow-up field studies were conducted in Sierra Leone this November by Cross and other medical branch researchers. “The test is a simple pinprick to the finger, captured on a test strip, which works something... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-The secret behind the appropriately offered hug

    Galveston County Daily News
    BY DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA A longtime motto of the American Holistic Medical Association is “Hugs Heal.” Sounds kind of corny right? Well, this group of unabashed huggers has discovered that nothing makes a connection better and faster with a hurting person than an appropriately offered hug. By the way, hug “heart to heart” by putting your head over the left rather than right shoulder. The electricity of the heart to heart makes for a different kind of warmth in a hug. A study of foundling babies in Great Britain during the early 1900s showed an amazing tale of the importance of touch. Orphaned babies left in... more »
  • Discussing sexuality for seniors

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor S. Sierpina and Dr. Tristi Muir  Despite the media and entertainment industries’ constant emphasis and exploitation of sexuality in the youth culture to sell products, services, films, and so forth, the mention of sexuality in aging persons remains a somewhat awkward and infrequently discussed topic. There may be a number of reasons for this. Maybe good judgment, a more proper sense of decorum, and a natural modesty develop as we age — in some people at least. Maturity also brings with it a sense of perspective of deeper values in life that the raging hormones of youth do not have time for nor even fathom.... more »
  •  UTMB Community-Based Clinics earn highest level of national recognition for patient-centered care

    UTMB Community-Based Clinics earn highest level of national recognition for patient-centered care

    Five University of Texas Medical Branch primary care clinics were recently recognized for having the highest level of patient-centered care. The National Committee for Quality Assurance gave them Level Three Patient-Centered Medical Home certification — its highest level of achievement. The UTMB Community-Based Clinics provide the most common outpatient services, including health and wellness visits, with the goal of making access to care easier for community residents. The recognized clinics are: Pediatric and Adult Primary Care Clinic, Alvin Pediatric and Adult Primary Care Clinic, League City Pediatric ... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy-Tour your house to identify where you can remove toxins

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Sally Robinson It’s important for parents to remember that not all poisons are in the garage or basement. A number of poisons can be found throughout the house. Small children are both curious and fast, so parents have to exercise special care not to leave dangerous products open or within their reach. Take a tour of your house or apartment to see if some of these dangerous conditions exist. • In the kitchen, check that all detergents, bleaches, cleaners and especially drain cleaners, as well as soaps and bug killers are not under the sink in an unlocked cupboard, but up high in a cupboard with a childproof lock.... more »
  • Magic of the neti pot

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina I want to tell you about the Aladdin’s lamp of nasal health, the neti pot. Shaped like a little lamp or teapot, it is a simple and perfectly designed way of delivering salt water into irritated nasal passages. You put a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, more or less, in the neti pot, dissolve it with warm, clean water, then with your head over the sink and turned to the side, simply pour the solution into each nostril. This flushes out mucus, debris, pollen, and inflammatory cells and molecules. The sinuses are like little side closets off the nasal passages, with tiny openings called ostia.This little door into a... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Hand washing: A key to good health

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor Sierpina ‘Out, damned spot. Out, I say!” Thus, spake Lady MacBeth in the fifth act of the famous Shakespearean play. And she wasn’t chasing her dog named Spot out of the castle. This quote from Lady MacBeth came as she compulsively washed her hands, to cleanse them of the blood of someone she helped to murder. She would wash her hands repeatedly, up to a quarter of an hour at a time, only to mutter, “will these hands ne’er be clean?” Hand washing has had somewhat of a bad rap over the centuries. Pontius Pilate famously cleansed his hands in a bowl of water, to absolve himself of his role in... more »
  • No-calorie soft drinks, weight and your gut bacteria

    Galveston County Daily News
    By VICTOR S. SIERPINA Do you know anyone who drinks a lot of diet sodas and just cannot seem to lose weight? It has been known for some time that these artificial, no-calorie sweeteners not only do not encourage weight loss but may actually promote weight gain and even diabetes by continuously stimulating our desire to taste sweetness. When they were invented by the food industry, these new-to-nature molecules promised to offer a positive option to sugar. They seemed to be a healthier alternative that promised to change our habits and health risks from drinking the high fructose, sugary soft drinks that have defined American billboard cult... more »
  • Vaccine Smarts: Programs in place to keep vaccines safe

    Galveston County Daily News
    The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has a series of programs to detect safety issues that may occur once a vaccine has been approved. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is an early warning system. It depends on the public to report adverse events following vaccination. more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Find your inner peace

    Galveston County Daily News
    By VICTOR S. SIERPINA Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu once said, “Stillness and tranquillity set things in order in the Universe.” The Danish sage Søren Kierkegaard likewise encouraged us to times of quietude: “Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.” This is a remarkable attitude in our very busy, constantly moving world where activity, productivity and busyness are equated with our value as a human being. Is this really true? Perhaps the things we busy ourselves with are not all that important, taking too much time and effort while accomplishing little or nothing... more »
  • Only about half of teenage girls receive HPV vaccine at the CDC’s recommended age

    Galveston County Daily News
    By University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston It’s a virus that is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer, but a new study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston indicates that only about half of the girls receive the vaccine at the recommended age to best protect themselves. Human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is responsible for 99.7 percent of cervical cancers and several other cancers. The HPV vaccine protects against 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that girls get the... more »
  • UTMB offers latest treatment for stroke victims

    Galveston County Daily News
    By UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL BRANCH The University of Texas Medical Branch offers a new minimally invasive procedure to remove blood clots that has been shown to help patients better recover from a stroke. The procedure currently only is available in about half of the advanced stroke centers in the United States and UTMB is the only stroke facility in Galveston County that offers this procedure. A recent study in the “New England Journal of Medicine” found that the procedure, called an intra-arterial treatment, is significantly more effective than intravenous drugs that dissolve clots. The study, conducted in the Netherlan... more »
  • Study: Never-smoking teens are exposed to secondhand smoke in and out of homes

    Galveston County Daily News
    By The University of Texas Medical Branch Many teens who have never smoked are being exposed to the health dangers of tobacco. A new study by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in collaboration with East Tennessee State University, the Indian Institute of Technology and World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, examined the prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure worldwide among teens who had never smoked. The study found that one-third of those teens are exposed to secondhand smoke inside the home, and that more than two-fifths of the teens are exposed to secondhand smoke outside the home. The study was... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Enjoy veggies in a nice smoothie

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor S. Sierpina When a recent freezing cold front blew in, I decided to get out and harvest my winter garden. Besides mustard greens, lettuce, herbs, and Swiss chard, I had some beautiful lancinate blue-green kale. Well, right away I made a nice kale salad, described in another article on this website. However, the gift of a fresh turmeric root from my chief resident inspired me to use some of the kale to make a smoothie. I had seen these before and even tasted a kale or spinach smoothie a time or two. It turns out to be a great way to start your day and getting on your way to getting the recommended five to 10 servings of fruits... more »
  • MultiShare Plan now enrolling members

    MultiShare Plan now enrolling members

    In 2008, the University of Texas Medical Branch developed the successful MultiShare Plan, a program designed to help small businesses in Galveston County provide health benefits to employees. The Texas Department of Insurance recently increased the program’s funding that will reduce costs for participants and expand benefits to family members. “This increase will allow us to help more people,” said Craig Kovacevich, associate vice president of health care transformation at UTMB. “It is also recognition from the state that UTMB has a solid, sustaining program. “ The MultiShare Plan will now offer enrollment ... more »
  • Vaccine Smarts: Forecasting flu strains each year not an exacting science

    Galveston County Daily News
     Dear VaccineSmarts,   The CDC came out and stated that this season’s flu vaccine is less effective than normal because of a mismatch. What does that mean?  How did it happen?   Don, Texas City, Texas   Dear Don,   Traditional flu vaccines protect from three strains of the flu while the newest formulations offer protection from four strains.  A mismatch occurs when the current vaccine does not cover the predominant flu strains circulating around a community.    Many flu strains circulate every flu season. The strains differ across regions of countries and around the globe.... more »
  • Keeping Kids Healthy: Hearing loss in children on the rise

    Galveston County Daily News
    By UTMB’s Sally Robinson: The latest song is blasting through the earphones of the teen’s iPod. It’s so loud the other kids can hear it, even though they’re a good 10 feet away. We’ve all heard the noise: Whether it’s coming from a car radio, a concert, or yes, even those personal music players that are so popular, it seems the volume on life is cranked up and the knob ripped off.    Can you hear your mother’s words ring in the back of your mind? “Turn that down, you’re going to go deaf!” Nearly 27 million Americans age 3 and older suffer from some sort of hearing loss.... more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-The cough that won’t go away

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor S. Sierpina Still coughing? A few days ago I was swapping home remedies with a lively Italian grandmother on how coughs were treated in our families. Her favorite was a mix of honey, lemon juice and a splash of bourbon. During a recent hospitalization for a bronchial infection, her cough was unremitting so she asked the nurses for her favorite cough syrup. Our professional and patient-centered nurses agreed to bring the honey and the lemon juice. The rest of the recipe would be fine if someone brought it in and they just didn’t know about it. Wink, wink! Well, she was in the office a couple weeks later and though a... more »
  • The spirit of Christmas giving all year long

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Dr. Victor S. Sierpina "Find a need and fill it” is a wise saying by a minister I have long admired. This is definitely the guiding light of the Luke Society that has been filing needs in Galveston for over 30 years for the underserved, homeless, and social outcasts, many with mental health disorders. Since 1995, they have, under the leadership of internist Dr. Fritz Zaunbrecher, held a street medical ministry to serve those who have little or no other option for health care. Dispensing supplies of blood pressure medications, antibiotics, asthma inhalers and more to over a hundred people weekly is a major effort... more »
  • UTMB addresses health disparities among Hispanics

    Galveston County Daily News
    UTMB’s Hispanic Center of Excellence is working to reduce disparities through the recruitment and training of culturally competent medical students and through faculty development. more »
  • Dr. Victor S. Sierpina-Five tips for handling those holiday blues

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Victor S. Sierpina This is the time of year when everyone is acting cheerful and happy, so why do I feel blue? Just know you are not alone. The holiday blues are a common phenomenon and may seem paradoxical in just the time of the year when we are in the midst of planning to enjoy friends, family, feasts and fun. In fact, this is not always such a cheerful time for some. Those who have lost family members, those who are financially stretched, or those who already feel their life activities are too stressful may not look forward to the holidays. Holding unrealistic expectations that everything will go perfectly is another source of... more »
  • Forty-four UTMB physicians honored as Texas Super Docs

    Galveston County Daily News
    Forty four University of Texas Medical Branch physicians were selected by their peers as outstanding practicing doctors in Texas. The doctors are featured in the December edition of Texas Monthly, which every year conducts a survey. Thousands of medical professionals were asked to nominate one or more doctors based on one question: “If you needed medical care, which doctor would you choose?” The medical brach’s Texas Super Doctors are: Karl E. Anderson, gastroenterology; Patricia S. Beach, pediatrics; Thomas A. Blackwell, internal medicine; Kelly D. Carmichael, orthopedics; Fernando Cesani-Vasquez, radiology; Vincent R. C... more »
  • Our Bodies, Our Lives-Rainforest is a reservoir for new medicines

    Galveston County Daily News
    Dr. Tristi Muir On a recent trip to Brazil, I immersed myself in an exploration of the richly diverse Amazonian rain forest. I was awed to learn that so many of the plants that filled this paradise have been used throughout human history to make medicines, poisons, hallucinogens, rubber, building materials and so much more.While it makes sense that native people use the plants to support their lives, it is astonishing to learn that approximately 70 percent of the new drugs introduced in our country in the past 25 years are derived from nature. Despite the expanding sophistication of bioengineering, Mother Nature retains the crown as the... more »
  • Select toys that are safe, age appropriate for children

    Galveston County Daily News
    By Sally Robinson U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was created in 1973 to develop safety regulations for all consumer products. The CPSC spends more than half of its budget every year testing children’s toys, as well as other items on the market for children. When buying presents for your child, select toys that are age-appropriate. No matter how mature you think that your child is, he or she should not play with toys that are meant for an older age group. Age-appropriate levels for toys are determined by safety factors rather than by intellectual and developmental factors. When choosing toys for infants, toddlers or presch... more »
  • Forty-four UTMB physicians honored as Texas Super Doctors

    The Bay Area Citizen
    Forty four University of Texas Medical Branch physicians were selected by their peers as outstanding practicing doctors in Texas. The UTMB doctors are featured in the current edition of Texas Monthly, which every year conducts a survey for a special section in December. The doctors were selected by their peers and represent the physicians who are trusted and sought out by colleagues for medical care. Thousands of medical professionals were asked to nominate one or more doctors based on one question: “If you needed medical care, which doctor would you choose?” “This is a tremendous honor, especially when it comes from your... more »
  • UTMB recognized as a Level 3 Epilepsy Monitoring Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers

    UTMB was recognized as a Level 3 Epilepsy Monitoring Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers, in validation of its commitment to improving the lives of patients with epilepsy. A Level 3 certified center provides the basic range of medical, neuro psychological, psychosocial and treatment services needed to treat patients with refractory epilepsy. Third-level centers do not perform resective epilepsy surgery - the most common form of treatment for uncontrolled seizures - but do provide services such as noninvasive evaluations and implantation of the vagus nerve stimulator, a pacemaker-like device that helps regulate electrical... more »
  • UTMB first hospital in Texas to receive Gold American Heart Association Award

      GALVESTON, Texas — The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is the first hospital in Texas* to receive the Get With The Guidelines — Resuscitation Gold Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. The award signifies that UTMB has reached an aggressive goal in using guidelines-based care to improve outcomes for patients who suffer cardiac arrests in the hospital.   Last year, UTMB was the first hospital in Texas to receive the program’s silver award.   The Get With The Guidelines — Resuscitation program was developed with the goal to save lives of those who experience... more »
  • UTMB Level 1 trauma center status renewed

    UTMB Level 1 trauma center status renewed The Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons has reverified the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston as a Level 1 Trauma Center, the highest level of trauma care available. The Level 1 Trauma Center at UTMB is one of three centers for adults in the greater Houston area and is the lead trauma center for a nine-county region of Southeast Texas.    “We are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication that our staff put forth every single day to make sure that we are always prepared to provide the highest level of trauma care,”  said Donna Sollen... more »
  • UTMB Family Medicine receives highest level of national certification in patient-centered care

    Three years ago, the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch began a journey toward a new model of primary health care delivery known as the Patient-Centered Medical Home. In early December, after passing a rigorous battery of performance reviews, UTMB Family Medicine received the highest level of certification for its new patient-centered efforts from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. All three UTMB Family Medicine clinics — Island East Family Medicine, Island West Family Medicine and Dickinson Family Medicine — are now official NCQA Level-Three Certified Patient-Centered Family... more »
  • Surgical intensive care unit at UTMB a Beacon for nursing care

    National award recognizes exceptional patient care and healthy work environments The surgical intensive care unit treats the most complicated cases in health care, whether through trauma or disease; a place where lives hang in the balance, literally, on any given day. The SICU at John Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has been recognized recently for its exceptional care with a gold Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. “The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based... more »
  • UTMB first hospital in Texas to receive American Heart Association award

    The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is the first hospital in Texas to receive the Get With The Guidelines — Resuscitation Silver Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. The award signifies that UTMB has reached an aggressive goal in using guidelines-based care to improve patient outcomes from in-hospital cardiac arrest. The AHA program aims to help hospital teams save more lives threatened by cardiopulmonary emergencies. Participating hospitals follow the most up-to-date scientific guidelines for treating patients who suffer a cardiac arrest in the hospital. “Shortening the time to... more »
  • UTMB receives international recognition for minimally invasive gynecology

    The University of Texas Medical Branch is one of only four hospitals in Texas to receive the Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology designation, signifying the highest level of laparoscopic gynecological expertise. The AAGL — the world’s premier professional society dedicated to minimally invasive surgery in gynecology — has designated only 44 Centers of Excellence in the United States. “Earning the Center of Excellence designation signifies our ability to consistently deliver the safest, highest-quality care to our patients,” said Donna Sollenberger, executive vice president and chief executive... more »
  • UTMB is Magnet for nursing - Nurses rank among the best in the nation

    The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston achieved a milestone in nursing Tuesday that puts it among the nation’s elite hospitals. After a lengthy application and review process, the hospital received Magnet Recognition by the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Nurses Association. Only 395 hospitals in the United States have earned this recognition. UTMB joins 30 hospitals in Texas, including six in the Texas Medical Center, to achieve this elite status. The announcement came via a conference call from Craig Luzinski, director of the  Magnet Recognition Program, who said it was his “honor and... more »
  • Time to prepare for funeral is now

    Galveston County Daily News
    In his weekly column, UTMB Dr. Michael Warren writes about the wisdom of making one’s own funeral plans in advance in order to ease the burden on survivors. Having all the financial arrangements taken care of can be a particular help for grieving family members. more »
  • Most accidents happen at home

    Galveston County Daily News
    In his It’s Your Health column, UTMB Dr. Michael Warren notes that accidents are a leading cause of trips to the doctor’s office and emergency room. Statistics show that most accidents occur in the home so a quick review of common problem areas such as the entry, kitchen and bathroom may prevent that trip in the first place.   more »
  • Chores can help kids build planning, life skills

    Your health By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly What are chores and why is it important for children to have to do chores? Chores are simple tasks that help build planning skills and teach basic life skills. These skills will help your child for the rest of his life with such tasks as cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and household maintenance. The better parents are able to teach these skills while the child is young, the more capable the child will be to do more complicated tasks later in life. It’s important for the parent to spend time teaching how to do a chore, such as making a bed. However, it’s also important the... more »
  • Don’t let donating your blood needle you

    Your Health By Michael Warren Donating blood isn’t anywhere near as much fun as a candlelight dinner for two, but it’s a whole lot more rewarding and a lot less expensive.  Blood is one of the world’s most precious commodities; it is perishable and its only source is another human being. The number of people willing to be donors limits its supply, and no amount of money in the world can buy it if a donor is not available.  So why don’t people stand in line to replenish the blood bank’s supply? After all, transfusion technology is highly sophisticated and safe. All donations, even yours, are... more »
  • Tips to keep kids safe as they return to school

    Your health By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly  As children lament the end of summer, now is the time for parents to prepare to keep children safe as they return to school.  The beginning of a new school year is a great time to get annual physicals. Texas mandates that all children entering public schools have current immunizations and vaccinations.  This year, there are new requirements for immunizations affecting mostly kindergartners and seventh-graders. Visit with your children’s heath care provider for these important shots.  Also, keep in mind that classrooms can be rife with germs, so make room for h... more »
  • Don’t be confused by ER procedure

    Your Health By Michael Warren  For many people, an emergency room is their introduction to a hospital. Imagine: You are in pain or feel ill; you’ve been waiting for two hours; you wish the crying kids would shut up; you wish your spouse would shut up; you’d just like to take a nap; but, most of all, you wish someone would come to take care of you and make the hurt go away.  Knowing what is going on and why these people are scurrying around looking frazzled won’t make the hurt (or kids) go away; but it could make your situation a whole lot less frustrating.  The first person you see should be a medical... more »
  • Make sure your child is ready for school

    Your health By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly A new school year is about to begin. As you prepare your child for his or her time in the classroom, remember there is more to getting ready for school than just buying supplies.  If your child will be walking or riding a bicycle to school:  • Make sure he wears a helmet that meets safety standards.  • Map out her route to school before the first day.  • Teach your child to obey all traffic signals and signs and to look left, then right, and then left again for moving vehicles before he crosses the street; to cross at an intersection; and to never dart... more »
  • You’re not stuck if a needle has the solution

    Your Health By Michael Warren  I have a confession. I’m scared of needles. It’s not an uncommon fear. Most people don’t like having sharp objects stuck into them, regardless of the payoff.  As they say, no one promised us that life would be a rose garden, so maybe we have to think of the occasional needle as the thorn in our side.  As with so many other areas of medicine, it may help alleviate some of your fears if you understand just what needles can do for you.  Doctors do not enjoy giving shots to patients, but the information and results that can be gained through their use are invaluable.... more »
  • Play it safe at the beach this summer

    Your health By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Hot summer days on the beach provide a number of ways to get hurt.  Fortunately, the crop of jellyfish seems to have landed earlier in the year, but occasional stings have been reported. Not all species sting, but the sea nettle and the Portuguese man-of-war cause pain when they sting.  A new sunscreen — Safe Sea — is reported to repel jellyfish. Short of that, watch for warning systems at beaches that notify beachgoers when jellyfish are in the water. Galveston beaches use a blue flag to warn of jellyfish. Treatment for jellyfish stings isn’t part of the usual... more »
  • Keep kids cool this summer as weather heats up

    Your health By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Most people know the average, normal human body temperature is about 98.6 degrees. The body is comfortable and wants to stay at this temperature.  When the weather gets above 100 degrees, the only way for the body to cool itself and stay at 98.6 degrees is to sweat. Sweating is effective in keeping the body at its normal temperature, but the body has to have plenty of water to produce sweat. When your body runs out of water, you can overheat quickly.  Your body produces about half a gallon of sweat every hour in a hot environment, and unless you’re drinking water at the same ra... more »
  • Protect your child’s skin from sun’s harmful rays

    Your health By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly  Sunburn is the skin’s reaction to ultraviolet radiation exposure. Uultraviolet rays can cause invisible damage to the skin, which can lead to premature aging of the skin, as well as skin cancer.  Most of the damage the sun causes to our skin happens when we’re children. Even a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s chance of getting skin cancer.  Unprotected skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes outdoors and tanned skin is damaged skin. Most sun damage usually occurs during daily activities, rather than just during trips to the pool or the... more »
  • First aid is a critical help in an emergency

    Your health By Michael Warren  A teenager loses control of his bike, falls and cuts his arm severely. Someone calls for help. But the young man could actually bleed to death before an ambulance arrives if no one nearby is qualified to apply even the simplest first aid to stem the flow of blood from an injured artery.  You do not have to be a doctor or nurse to understand how to apply pressure to an arm to stop bleeding or how to help a child who’s fallen into a backyard pool. Indeed, first-aid classes are available in most towns and usually at a very reasonable cost. Such an investment is particularly worthwhile when... more »
  • Keep your kids safe this pool season

    Your health By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly  Drowning is second only to accidental injuries when it comes to causes of death for children younger than 14. Drowning can happen very quickly, in some cases, in less than two minutes after a person’s head goes under water. Drowning occurs when a person gets too much water in their lungs, and when that happens, the lungs can’t get enough oxygen to the brain or the rest of the body. Many drownings occur when children accidentally fall into a swimming pool, but they can happen anywhere there is water.  Point out depth markers on swimming pools to your child. Children may... more »
  • Even in an emergency, you have rights

    The Your Health column is written by health and medical experts at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The column focuses on topical health issues that we believe are of interest to your readers. It is e-mailed every Tuesday.  Your health By Michael Warren  A victim of the recession, you have no job and no health insurance. One evening, very late, you think you’re having a heart attack. You go to the nearest emergency room, worried you cannot pay for treatment. What can you do?  The first person you should see when entering an emergency room is a medical person, the so-called “triage” nurs... more »
  • A healthy future is in your own hands

    The Your Health column is written by health and medical experts at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The column focuses on topical health issues that we believe are of interest to your readers. It is e-mailed every Tuesday.  Your health By Michael Warren  Cancer is one word that strikes fear into the hearts of almost everyone. But we must accept its existence and deal with its effects.  Cancer is one of the major causes of death each year. There are many kinds, ranging from the easily treated (if caught early enough), such as some types of skin cancer, to the devastating, harder-to-treat tumors, such as... more »
  • Your Health: Improper use of child safety seats is common problem

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Accidents happen when you least expect them. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14. In 2002, approximately six children ages 14 and under were killed every day in automobile accidents. Child safety seats can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 69 percent in infants under 12 months and by 47 percent in children ages 1 to 4 years. Child passenger safety seat inspection stations across the country have determined that 81 percent of safety restraints are used incorrectly and one-third of children under age 14 are riding in the wrong type of restraint for their age... more »
  • Your health: Frequently asked questions about HPV

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly In last week's column, we presented information and statistics about the human papillomaviruses infection. As promised, you will find some frequently asked questions that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided on its Web site about the safety of this vaccine below: How long does vaccine protection last? Will a booster shot be needed? The length of vaccine protection (immunity) is usually not known when a vaccine is first introduced. So far, studies have followed women for five years and found that women are still protected. More research is being done to find out how long... more »
  • Your health: Important information about the HPV vaccine

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly When most of today's middle-aged adults were children, we averaged seven vaccine injections during our formative years. Today's youngsters will receive approximately 36 vaccine shots in the course of their childhood. And we are being told that now there is available another vaccine for our female children to guard against the human papillomaviruses infection. As parents and concerned adults, we naturally have a lot of concerns and questions about this virus, the vaccine and the protection it will have for our daughters or other young women in our lives. First, let's discuss some of the facts that are... more »
  • Your health: Encourage children to eat healthy school lunches

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Teaching your child to eat healthy at home is important, especially when it comes time during school days. School cafeterias have made an effort to improve the standards of the types of food they serve, and now many offer a variety of healthy foods - but your child can still choose an unhealthy mix of food. Look over the school lunch menu with your children and emphasize the healthy options on the menu, such as fruit, milk, vegetables, lean meats and foods made with whole grain. Encourage your children to stay away from fried items on the menu. Find out whether items such as chips, soda and ice cream... more »
  • Your health: Children's nosebleeds common but usually not serious

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many children get the occasional nosebleed. When it happens, it can be disturbing for both the parent and the child, because it seems as if a lot of blood has been lost. But if your child gets a nosebleed, it is important that you remain calm and try to keep your child calm. The amount of blood lost is usually minimal, and nosebleeds are not very serious. The nasal membrane, or lining of the nose, keeps dust and other particles from going through the nose into the body. Nosebleeds occur when small blood vessels in the nasal membrane break. Unexpected nosebleeds can happen when the nasal membrane has... more »
  • Your health: Early intervention recommended for infant hearing impairment

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Hearing loss in infants and children is not a common occurrence, but the effects, when it occurs, may devastate parents. Repeated temporary interruptions in hearing during the intense period of development in the six months after birth can have permanent effects on language facility later in life. Infants need to receive auditory feedback if they are to learn the speech motor skills involved in talking. Some signals that a child may have hearing difficulties are: If he or she has a speech or language delay. Uses gestures to communicate instead of speech. Watches you closely when you... more »
  • Your health: Teach your children how and when to call 9-1-1

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Teaching your child how and when to call 9-1-1 can be one of the easiest and most important lessons that she will ever learn. Because time is important during an emergency, your child should be prepared beforehand so that she will know what to do. Children need to know exactly what constitutes an emergency. Ask your child what he thinks an emergency is and what he should do in an emergency situation. Questions like, "What would you do if someone tried to break into the house?" or "What would you do if there was a fire?" will give you a chance to talk about the child's role in these... more »
  • Your health: Parent-child relationships depend on good communication

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Good communication is important in any relationship, but it's especially important for your relationship with your child. Building a communicative relationship with your child can help her develop a healthy personality, as well as good relationships with you and others. Healthy communication helps your child: · Know that you care for and love him. · Realize and believe that she is important to you. · Learn to tell you directly what he feels or needs. · Learn to manage her feelings safely. Here are some tips for building good communication with your child: · Let yo... more »
  • Your health: Eliminate standing water, use DEET to prevent West Nile

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus has been on the rise. In 2004, there were 2,539 diagnoses and 100 deaths; in 2005, 3,000 diagnoses and 119 deaths; in 2006, 4,269 diagnoses and 177 deaths. Texas, which has about twice the population of the Midwestern states, suffered 354 reported cases of West Nile disease and 32 deaths in 2006. While only one person in a group of 194,000 people in Illinois died of West Nile disease, only one in a group of 1.7 million people in Texas died. We accept dangers much greater than this every day. Although the family is in much great... more »
  • Your health: Severe rash from poison ivy may require medical attention

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Some plants, such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac can cause an allergic reaction in the form of a rash or swelling. An allergic reaction to these plants is caused by a substance called urushiol, which is a colorless, odorless oil that is contained in the plant's leaves. Mild rashes from poisonous plants can be treated at home. These rashes cause discomfort due to itching, burning and blistering, but severe rashes that cover most of the body, require medical treatment. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a poisonous plant include an itchy or burning rash that appears within 2 to 3 days. The... more »
  • Your health: Make outdoor meals safe for family, guests

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Hot and humid days have come early to Texas this year. Along the Gulf Coast, perceived temperatures - what it feels like when heat and humidity are combined - run more than 100 degrees. Hot weather is also the time for picnics, backyard barbecues, dips and cold, dressed salads. In other words, it is the season of rapidly spoiling food and food-borne illnesses. In the past seven years, according to Dr. Dawn Norton, an epidemic intelligence service officer for the Food-born and Diarrheal Diseases Branch of the Centers for Disease Control, bacterial food-borne illnesses have dropped about 23 percent. Much... more »
  • Your health: Tips on caring for children's stitches

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many kids will need stitches at some time in their lives. The most common places for children to get cuts that require stitches are the hands, feet, chin and forehead. Cuts that require stitches are usually one-quarter inch deep, have jagged edges, are large and gaping, and are on the face, eyelids, lips, and the palm of the hand or fingers. For deep cuts or scrapes that are bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth, paper towel or bandage to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop within 10 minutes and appears to need stitches, take your child to the doctor. Getting the cut stitched... more »
  • Your health: Protect children from lawn mower injuries

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 10,000 children are treated each year for injuries related to lawn mowers. Many of these injuries occur in older children and teens. However, small children are at risk of injury also. Lawn mowers have the potential to cause serious injuries. The blades are sharp enough to slice and even amputate, and objects that get caught in the blades fly out with great force. Though doing yard work together may be a fun family activity, children should not be around when you are mowing. Some tips to prevent lawn mower-related injuries include: ... more »
  • Home alone: Is your child ready?

    Galveston County Daily News, June 27, 2007 Column by Sally Robinson and Keith Bly GALVESTON -- Here comes summer and many parents are faced with the decision of what to do with their children for summer vacation. Day camps, babysitters, or day care works for younger children, but older children may not be interested in going to camp and may feel that they are too old for a babysitter. How can you tell if your child is ready to stay home alone? Ask yourself the following questions to determine if your child is ready to stay home alone. Read more . . . more »
  • Your health: Avoid dehydration when seeking fun in the sun

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Glaciers are now melting and retreating. In the past decade, Texas and rest of the United States have experienced some of the warmest annual temperatures ever recorded. In Galveston County, it’s already humid and beginning to feel sticky and hot. Soon the temperature may rise enough to be truly dangerous. You don’t necessarily have to exercise or work outdoors to be threatened by the heat. Too often, older people die in homes or apartments that don’t have air-conditioning. Or they may have air-conditioning but don’t have the money to pay for the electricity to use it. On hot, sun... more »
  • Your health: Don't let giardiasis and pinworms interfere with summer fun

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Two of the most common types of parasitic infections that occur during the summer months are giardiasis and pinworms. Giardia lamblia is a common microscopic parasite that attaches itself to the lining of the small intestines. It interferes with the body's ability to absorb fats and carbohydrates from digested food. Kiddy pools are often a source of giardia, which is normally associated with food-borne outbreaks or fresh water, such as springs or creeks. Even kiddy pools that are treated and maintained with chemicals may be a source of this parasite, because chorine degrades in sunlight, and it... more »
  • Your health: Hand washing is best defense against spreading germs

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly If someone asked you about your first defense against getting sick and spreading illness, what would you say? A survey showed that most parents feel that diet and exercise, regular check-ups and immunizations are the best way. But the fact is that hand washing is the most effective way to keep germs from spreading. Bacteria and viruses can be transmitted through contaminated water and food, droplets released through a cough or a sneeze, dirty hands, contaminated surfaces and a sick person's body fluids. Germs can also lurk in many places that you wouldn't suspect, such as on toys, pens, pencils and... more »
  • Your health: 'Growing pains' affect 10 percent of children

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Between the ages of 3 and 5, many children begin to have pains in their limbs, mainly in their legs, at night for no apparent reason. These pains, known as ‘growing pains,' affect about one in 10 children. Boys and girls experience them equally. Growing pains are not caused by bone growth, as many people think and the pain may come and go for many years, but will normally end during the teen years. Though the exact cause of growth pains is unknown, it may be linked to several things, including tiredness in the muscles, poor posture, or stress, though each of these suspected causes is not present... more »
  • Your health: Brightly colored clothing, fragrances factors in bee stings

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly An allergic reaction is the greatest risk that can occur with an insect sting. The second and more common risk is an infection at the sting site. Here are some sensible tips to avoid being stung: • Stay away from stinging insects such as wasps and bees and avoid their hives and nests. The hive views this as a threat and will attack. • If the hive needs to be sprayed with insecticide, wait until dark when the insects are less active and keep children away from the area. • Be cautious when choosing the clothing you or your children wear outdoors. Insects are attracted to... more »
  • Your health: Warm-ups, stretching key to avoiding sports injuries

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly A cry jolts the air from across the field. You rise from the bleachers, heart in your throat as you realize your child has been injured. More than 3.5 million children ages 15 and younger are treated for sports-related injuries each year in the United States. Children are more susceptible to sports injuries because they are still developing and growing, and most of these injuries occur during practice rather than during an actual game. Many elements contribute to sports injuries in children. Some of those elements include equipment that is ill-fitting or too large for the child; the child not stretching... more »
  • Your health: Parents can take steps to stop bullying at school

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Bullying is not new in public and private schools. Arriving students have always suffered a temporary pariah status upon entering a different school. Big kids have long insulted, abused and in other ways lord it over the smallest students. The clique that runs the school uses various forms of verbal abuse to ridicule those who are different. Recent studies, though - one in Maine and another by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - found that there is a strong association between bullying or being bullied and four violence-related behaviors - carrying a weapon, carrying a weapon in school,... more »
  • Your health

    Leukemia and lymphoma are most common childhood cancers By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Two similar and common types of childhood cancer that affect entire systems of the body are leukemia and lymphoma. Leukemia is cancer that affects bone marrow, which is the spongy center of the bones where blood cells are made. It is the most common type of childhood cancer - 35 percent of all children diagnosed with cancer have leukemia. It is most common in children under age 10. Blood consists of three main types of cells: white blood cells (also called leukocytes), red blood cells (erythrocytes) and platelets. Leukocytes protect the body agains... more »
  • Your health: More competition leads to more sports injuries for girls

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Sports Medicine and Fitness, between 1982 and 2001, 50 percent of the catastrophic injuries to female athletes were in cheerleading. The increasingly competitive nature of the sport has lead to ever more dangerous stunts like tosses and pyramids. If your daughter participates in cheerleading, athletic dance or ballet, she may be more exposed to a group of conditions caused by intense competition - eating disorders, amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation), and resulting decreased bone mineral density. Delayed menstruation in teenage girls is mos... more »
  • Your health: Along with birds and bees, allergies herald spring

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly It's officially springtime - the weather is getting warmer, birds are singing, flowers are blooming. And if your child has springtime allergies, her nose is more than likely beginning to run.   Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is common in infants and children, but the condition is inherited from their parents: if one parent has allergies, a child has a one in four chance of having allergies. If both parents have allergies, the chances increase to three out of four. Seasonal allergies usually develop around age 5. Asthma is an early sign of developing allergies and is usually diagnosed between... more »
  • Your health: Addiction is not a personal weakness

    By Kathryn Cunningham and Eliza Quigley Why does one person use drugs and become addicted while another doesn't? Why do addicts have trouble stopping drug use and staying clean and sober? The answers to these questions are lodged in the brain. The brain sets the stage for an individual's sensitivity to the euphoric first effects of an abused drug and then it adapts with repeated exposure to that drug. The chronic, relapsing nature of addiction is caused by the brain changes that occur during this disease process. The challenge of science and medicine - and a focus for the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Br... more »
  • Your health: Heavy backpacks not good for children's health

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Backpacks are great to help kids to carry items back and forth from school to home, but you should know that backpacks weighing more than 15 percent of your child's weight may cause health problems. Neck, shoulder and back pain may develop from carrying a heavy backpack every day. The spine is made of 33 bones called vertebrae that have disks in between them that act as natural shock absorbers. A child carrying an unusually heavy backpack leans his head and chest forward to compensate for the weight on her back, which puts stress on the back and neck. If your child uses only one strap to carry her backpa... more »
  • Your health: Poison Prevention Week good time to review home safety measures

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly It's important for dad and mom to remember that not all poisons are in the garage or basement. A number of poisons can be found throughout the house. Small children are both curious and fast, so parents have to exercise special care not to leave dangerous products open or within their reach. Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24, is a good time to review the safety of your home. Take a tour of your house or apartment to see if some of the following dangerous conditions exist: · In the kitchen, check that all detergents, bleaches, cleaners and especially drain cleaners, as well as soaps and bug... more »
  • Your health: Cotton swabs not safe for removal of earwax

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a thick, sticky liquid that has a very important job - to trap anything that flies, crawls or is blown into the ear canal, such as dirt, pollen, tiny insects and bacteria, and to keep it from going further into the ear where it can cause damage. Earwax also contains special chemicals that maintain the ear canal's acid balance and fight infections inside the ear canal. So earwax is not a bad thing - its job is actually to keep your ears clean. Earwax isn't really "wax" like paraffin in a candle. It is actually closer in composition to the oil produced by glands... more »
  • Your health: Avoid overuse of OTC medications; Over-the-counter cold and flu drugs among those most commonly abused

    By Jon D. Thompson Treating that winter cough, runny nose or sinus headache without a doctor's prescription has never been easier. But with the growing availability of more powerful over-the-counter drugs, consumers need to be even more diligent about reading labels this year. "Over-the-counter" does not mean "absolutely safe." Indeed, pain relievers and cough-and-cold preparations are among the top substances involved in human poison exposures. Here is some advice for people treating this season's cold or flu symptoms at home: · Beware of doubling up on combination products: Many of the most popular OTC cold... more »
  • Your health: Teach children about indoor and outdoor safety

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Parents consider their home safe for their children, but evidence indicates that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children under age 14, and half of these injuries occur at home. Parents can avoid, or at least minimize, such accidents by taking the following preventative steps and giving children basic safety guidelines beginning in their preschool years. For safety indoors: · Teach your child the difference between indoor and outdoor toys. For example, learning that your furniture is not playground equipment will not only help your furniture last longer, but your... more »
  • Scientists study immune system failures

    United Press International, Newstrack-Science, Feb. 15, 2007 GALVESTON, Texas, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. medical scientists say they have discovered a technique that might lead to prevention of a fatal, virus-caused immune system failure. When a virus infects a person, it triggers a series of biochemical reactions in immune-system cells that usually result in the elimination of the virus and the infected person's recovery. But in the case of some of the world's deadliest pathogens -- including the 1918 influenza, Ebola, Marburg and Lassa fever viruses -- a sudden immune overreaction sends the infected person into a shock-like state from which he ... more »
  • Your health: Diet-obsessed parents may misguide daughters

    By Gwenn Brehm If restrictive dieting has become a top priority for you, you are not alone. According to a recent survey by the Calorie Control Council, 33 percent of Americans - 71 million people - are trying to lose weight, the highest number of dieters in the last 15 years. And with news that an estimated 65 percent of Americans are overweight, the dieting trend is unlikely to slow. Before rushing off to that next aerobics class, it may be wise to assess the impact your dieting lifestyle could be having on your children. Children whose parents are overweight, or those whose parents obsess about their diet, are more likely to develop an... more »
  • Your health: Things to do if a dog bites your child

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Bites or scratches from animals can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body very easily, even if the cut does not look infected. Any animal, even your own pet, can carry diseases. Because they bite more than 4 million people (mostly children under 13) in the United States every year, we will focus on dogs. Teaching children how to be safe around dogs, - whether they are family pets or strange dogs - can help prevent these injuries. Teach your child the following tips to avoid getting bitten by animals:   · Never approach strange animals, especially dogs that are on... more »
  • Your health: Antibacterial products not good for baby's bath

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly The skin is a wonderful covering to have for our bodies. It's soft to the touch and sensitive to a range of emotions through touch. It allows easy and complicated movement. If you cut it, it immediately starts to heal. If you get an infection, cells come swarming to neutralize the invader. It protects us against infections caused by bacteria and viruses, and its pigments protect us against the sun's ultraviolet rays. It keeps the body cool by allowing sweat to evaporate from its surface. It keeps the body warm by closing the pores. Skin mediates between the ideal environment inside and the conditions in... more »
  • Your health: Surgery is only cure for appendicitis

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly The appendix is a small, finger-shaped structure attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. The appendix does not serve any purpose in the body. The appendix can become infected when it is blocked by something, such as a piece of food that was being digested, or if a person has had an intestinal infection. This infection is known as appendicitis. There is no way to prevent appendicitis, and the only way to treat it is to remove the organ surgically. If an infected appendix is not removed, a life-threatening situation occurs, because it may burst and spread its infection... more »
  • Your health: Tips to protect family from electrical shocks

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Electric shocks cause about 1,000 deaths in the United States each year. These injuries may occur when electricity passes through the body from a mechanical source or from lightning. Lightning accounts for about one-fifth of all deaths from electrical shock. Only about 3 percent to 15 percent of people who suffer electrical injuries will die, though many of them may suffer amputation or may be disfigured by burns resulting from the electrical shock. Children, especially toddlers, may be electrocuted when they bite into electrical cords, poke metal objects into unprotected outlets or appliances or use el... more »
  • Your health: Flu season is upon us

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly If you have been watching TV or reading newspapers, you know that the flu season has come to Texas. Office mates, teachers, neighbors and relatives have started sneezing. The tissue boxes you finally find are usually empty just when you are holding back a gigantic sneeze. Worried parents are swamping doctor’s waiting rooms and emergency rooms with feverish children. Many of these children will be diagnosed with the flu. Often the most significant impact is on harried parents who must schedule doctor visits while juggling work and other activities. Of course, parents who are worried about their chi... more »
  • Your health: Toddlers may benefit from iron supplements

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Iron is a mineral that the body uses to make hemoglobin, which is a pigment in the blood that carries oxygen to every part of the body. If the body does not get enough iron, then hemoglobin production decreases and this affects the production of red blood cells. A less-than-normal amount of hemoglobin and red blood cells in the bloodstream is known as anemia. Children are at a higher risk for anemia during rapid growth periods, such as infancy and adolescence, as well as during the toddler years — between ages 1 and 3 — because toddlers stop drinking formula and eating infant cereal, which ar... more »
  • Your health: Healthy resolutions promise lifelong benefits for family members

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly When we think of New Year’s resolutions, we’re more likely to think of how soon we’ll break them than to imagine we’ll keep them throughout the year. In fact, we hardly hear of such resolutions for more than a week at the turn of the year. But we want to offer some resolutions for 2007 that parents need to think seriously about keeping, because families who adopt these habits over the course of many weeks will improve overall physical, social, emotional and mental health of the whole family. Resolve to: · Agree on sensible sleep practices for the family. Remember to... more »
  • Your health: Obese children need help from parents to improve health

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly In the past 20 to 30 years, the number of overweight children has doubled. Almost one child in five is considered overweight. Obesity can lead to risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, liver disease, asthma, as well as low self-esteem and depression. The likely cause of the increase in the number of overweight children is the same as that for the rise in adult obesity: overeating and lack of physical activity. Here are suggestions to help your family start a program to improve eating habits and increase physical activity. &bull... more »
  • Your health: Know when to call the doctor about a young child’s cough

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Coughing is the body’s way to clear air passages. It is a symptom of illness, not a disease. Therefore, the illness that is causing your child to have a cough may require treatment. Coughing can be caused by many things, such as the common cold, inhaling small particles from the air, smoking, asthma, bacterial or viral infections that affect the lungs, or severe illness, such as pneumonia. Older children and adults can usually tell whether their cough is caused by inhaling dust or smoke particles or by an infection. But when your younger child coughs, you might not be able to tell whether your... more »
  • Your health: Ensure your children’s safety with age-appropriate toys

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was created in 1973 to develop safety regulations for all consumer products. The CPSC spends more than half of its budget every year testing children’s toys, as well as other items on the market for children. When buying presents for your child, choose toys that are appropriate for his age. No matter how mature you think your child is, he should not play with toys that are meant for an older age group. Age-appropriate levels for toys are determined by safety factors rather than by intellectual and developmental factors. When choosing toys for infants,... more »
  • Your health: Children’s headaches often associated with other conditions

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many adults know what it’s like to have headaches, but children also get them. In fact, by the age of 5, 25 percent of children have had at least one headache, and by the age of 15, 75 percent have experienced a headache. Even though a headache may feel as if the pain is coming from the brain, what usually causes the pain comes from outside the skull, in the nerves, blood vessels and muscles that cover the head and neck, or from increased pressure in the blood vessels inside the skull. The muscles and blood vessels can swell or tighten and put pressure on surrounding nerves. Children can develop... more »
  • Your health: Use guidelines to decide when children are too sick for school

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Most children get sick at some point during the school year. In fact, the average school-age child gets from six to nine common colds per year. Coping with these frequent illnesses is not easy. Sometimes it is difficult for parents to tell if their child is too sick to go to school. And even if the illness is obvious, it can be hard for parents to take off from work, especially in single-parent households or those in which both parents work. As a result, many parents sometimes send their children to school sick, increasing the chances that other children will catch what they have. But it is extremely... more »
  • Your health: Growing old doesn’t meant giving up

    By Tia McCurdy If you don’t have an elder in your life, it’s easy not to pay attention to this segment of the population. My Mom is a focus in my life but — as an aging baby boomer — I’m also paying very close attention to this business of aging, looking down the road and wondering what life will be like. I have the pleasure of being around seniors in my work, and what’s clear to me is that the older I get the younger old looks. I can clearly see that I have much to learn about growing older with humor, grace and a robust portion of gratitude. You’ve heard the expressions “attitude of... more »
  • Your health: Many common items pose strangulation risk to children

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many common household items that wouldn’t normally be considered dangerous can pose serious strangulation or entrapment risks for young children. Please keep the following suggestions in mind when childproofing your home. · Remove drawstrings from hoods, jackets and waistbands of your child’s clothing. The strings can get caught on furniture or playground equipment. If your child has mittens that are attached with a string, cut the string. · Don’t put necklaces or headbands on your baby. · Never leave a child alone in a stroller, as small children may slide down... more »
  • Your health: Many common items pose strangulation risk to children

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many common household items that wouldn’t normally be considered dangerous can pose serious strangulation or entrapment risks for young children. Please keep the following suggestions in mind when childproofing your home. · Remove drawstrings from hoods, jackets and waistbands of your child’s clothing. The strings can get caught on furniture or playground equipment. If your child has mittens that are attached with a string, cut the string. · Don’t put necklaces or headbands on your baby. · Never leave a child alone in a stroller, as small children may slide down... more »
  • Your health: Strategies for diabetics and others; Making it through the holidays without weight gain or elevated blood sugar

    By Lynn Maarouf Statistics tell us that the “average” American gains about seven pounds over the holidays. Texans, with access to tortilla chips and salsa, fried turkey, jalapeno cornbread and pecan pie might gain even more! People who have diabetes, in addition to having to worry about weight gain, also have to think about blood sugars and how high they go after a meal with rolls, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes and a piece of lemon pie for dessert. Holidays can be a catastrophic time for blood sugars. During the holidays, people are under more pressure to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods they might not usually choose. In... more »
  • Your health: Parents can take steps to help children avoid abduction

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Perhaps nothing is more terrifying to a parent than to think that one day their child may be abducted. Unfortunately, almost daily we hear reports of missing children or near abductions. Though not every parent has to face the experience of having a child go missing, it is important to teach your child to be cautious without causing her to become too afraid or anxious According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Justice, 90 percent of all missing children have misunderstood directions, miscommunicated their plans, gotten lost or run away. Of the 10 percent of missing children that are abducted, th... more »
  • Your health: Take precautions to avoid E. coli infection

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Escherichia coli, more commonly referred to as E. coli, is a common bacteria, and one of the many types of bacteria that lives and works within a person’s digestive system. Most species of E. coli do not pose any threat to humans; however, some can cause serious disease, such as those heard about recently in the news. These dangerous strains of E. coli are a major cause of diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe. E. coli, since it is common in stool, can end up in food or water that has been contaminated with it. Undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk, raw fruits and vegetables, and... more »
  • Your health: Less time for TV viewing means more time for other things

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Turning off the TV gives families a chance to think, read, create and do things together. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that kids watch an average of five hours of television every day. Children who watch too much television spend less time playing, reading and interacting with others, and they are more likely to be overweight and aggressive. According to the American Academy if Pediatrics, children under age 2 should not watch any television and children over age 2 should be limited to two hours per day. Parents should also be aware of what their children are watching. The age-group... more »
  • Your health: Cause of scoliosis unknown but surgery helps severe cases

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to curve too much in the wrong direction, affects approximately 6 million people in the United States. The condition develops gradually and often is not detected until a child is between 10 and 14 years old. No one knows what causes the most common type of scoliosis, idiopathic (meaning “unknown cause”). It is not caused by poor posture, diet, exercise or the use of backpacks. It is thought to be hereditary, so other family members may have it. Though it occurs equally in girls and boys, girls are more likely to develop more severe cases. A spine... more »
  • Your health: Shopping carts can be dangerous place for children

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Most parents don’t think of the dangers their child may face from something as ordinary as a shopping cart. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 24,000 children in the United States were treated in emergency rooms for shopping cart-related injuries. Some of these injuries were severe and even resulted in death. The most common shopping cart injuries involve falls, carts tipping over, falling off a cart while riding on the outside, becoming trapped in a cart and being hit or run over by a cart. More than 74 percent of shopping cart-related injuries affect the head or... more »
  • Your health; Managing chronic disease … making good choices

    By Colleen Stegman Bruce is 83 years old and lives life to the fullest. He likes to travel and enjoys eating out with his family. He’s active in church, has a great sense of humor and feels energetic and happy most of the time. Ken is 75 years old. Most mornings he has no energy and doesn’t want to get out of bed. He often feels isolated and hopeless, and spends much of his day worrying about his failing health. Ken is married and feels his wife nags him too much about his poor diet and lack of exercise. Both Bruce and Ken share something in common, a chronic disease called diabetes. Yet they manage their disease and control... more »
  • Your health: Communicating with youngsters not child’s play

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Good communication is important in any relationship, but it’s especially important for your relationship with your child. Building a communicative relationship with your child can help her develop a healthy personality, as well as good relationships with you and others. Healthy communication helps your child: · Know that you care for and love him. · Realize and believe that she is important to you. · Learn to tell you directly what he feels and/or needs. · Learn to manage her feelings safely. Here are some tips for building good communication with your... more »
  • Your Health: West Nile most likely to affect those with weakened immune systems

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Every summer we hear warnings that West Nile virus has popped up in our area. West Nile virus, first discovered in 1937 in Africa, is suspected to have entered the United States around 1999. The disease is passed from an infected mosquito to humans, but not everyone bitten by an infected mosquito will get the virus. West Nile is not passed from human to human and it is spread by a specific species of mosquito, the Culex. The severity of West Nile virus depends on who acquires it. A child with a normal immune system may get mild ‘flu-like’ symptoms and not feel ill, while people over age 50... more »
  • Your Health: Make nutrition a big part of those back-to-school lunches

    By Dr. Russell LaForte So, you've bought your kids school supplies and crammed their bags full of books, but are you ready for them to go back to school? As your child returns to school this month, you may be wondering, how can I keep my child eating right this next year at school. First, recognize that nutrition begins at home. Setting a good example yourself is an important step. Showing your child how to eat healthy will lead to better choices in the school cafeteria, as well. If you make your children’s lunches, have them participate. The younger they start forming good habits, the better. Complex carbohydrates such as breads,... more »
  • Your Health: Parents urged to avoid distractions when children are in the water

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly One of the best ways to cool off during those hot summer days is to play in water. Children love to play in the water, whether they are at the beach, on a boat, swimming in a pool or wading pool, or at a water park. However, while water can be an enjoyable source of exercise for children, it can also be extremely dangerous. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children between 1 and 14 years of age. Drowning can occur in many different situations, including while boating or swimming — or even in the bathtub — and it can happen in as little as one inch of water. A... more »
  • Your Health: Contamination can lead to recreational water illness

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly When people think of risks associated with swimming they usually think of sunburns or drowning. Most swimmers don’t realize that the water itself can make them sick. Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are spread by swallowing, breathing or coming in contact with water that has been contaminated in swimming pools or hot tubs, and at water parks, lakes, rivers or oceans.  Symptoms of RWIs include skin, ear, respiratory, eye and wound infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea, which is caused by germs such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shingella, and E. coli. If contaminated water i... more »
  • Your Health: Breastfeeding: Good for Baby — Good for Mom

    By Elizabeth Reifsnider National Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, offers a great opportunity to remind ourselves that breastfeeding is the best way to nourish infants and provide them with a head start in life. Here are some of the many benefits of breastfeeding, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics: • Breastfeeding protects babies from illness. • Breastfed babies have fewer allergies. • Breastfed babies have fewer dental cavities. • It is thought that breastfeeding may protect babies from becoming obese as young children. Some research has also shown that breastfed babies have a higher... more »
  • Your Health: Heat stress, hot cars are threat to children in summer

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Every year there are new reports of children dying after being left in cars for hours in hot weather. In fact, every year an average of 25 children die after being left or getting trapped in hot vehicles. The inside of a car can heat up very quickly – even when the temperature outdoors is mild. On an especially hot day, the interior of a car can heat up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 20 minutes, and within 40 minutes, it can get so hot that a child left inside a car for that length of time can die. Even leaving the window of the car open slightly does not do enough to keep the temperature... more »
  • Your Health: Swimmer’s ear infection can spread to cartilage and bone

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Swimmer's ear, also known as otitis externa, is an infection of the outer ear and skin in the ear canal. It is different from an inner ear infection (otitis media), which is usually accompanied by cold symptoms, such as a runny nose or congestion. Swimmer’s ear occurs when water gets stuck in the ear canal after swimming or bathing. Water can irritate the skin in the ear canal and bacteria or fungus can invade and cause an infection. This infection is similar to an infection that can occur on the skin from a cut or bite, and it is not contagious. To prevent swimmer’s ear, you can buy... more »
  • Your Health: Make children part of hurricane preparations

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Hurricanes can be especially frightening for children because they don’t know exactly what is happening. Preparing for a hurricane often involves a lot of work for adults, and children are left feeling helpless and afraid. Keeping them informed of what is happening and making them part of the preparation can help to ease their fears. Preparing your family for a hurricane is extremely important. If you develop a plan that each member of your family knows, then it will reduce stress for both you and your child. Contact the local emergency management office or Red Cross chapter for information on how... more »
  • Your Health: Apnea treatment varies with type

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Apnea is a brief pause in a person’s breathing pattern, usually for about 20 seconds or longer. Everyone experiences these pauses from time to time; however, sometimes these pauses in breathing can cause problems.There are several causes for apnea, including: ·        enlarged tonsils or adenoids (glands located in the neck) ·        being overweight ·        congenital abnormalities of the face, neck or throat ·       ... more »
  • Your Health: Bedwetting in children is often a reaction to stress

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Bedwetting is more common than most people think. In the United States, about 5 million children over the age of six wet their beds at night. Though it can be frustrating for parents and children alike, enuresis (bedwetting) is not a disease but a common symptom. Bedwetting is rarely a sign of a kidney or bladder problem; instead, it is usually a reaction to stress, or it is associated with a sleep disorder or slower than normal development of bladder control. It is also believed to be hereditary, meaning that a family member may have wet the bed as a child. Bedwetting can be embarrassing for a child,... more »
  • Your Health: Choose sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB exposure

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Sunburn is the skin’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. UV rays can cause invisible damage to the skin, which can lead to premature aging of the skin, as well as to skin cancer. Most of the damage that the sun causes to our skin happens when we are children. Even a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s chance of getting skin cancer. Unprotected skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes outdoors, and even if skin does not turn red, it may still be burned; tanned skin is damaged skin. Most sun damage occurs during daily activities, rather than just during trips to the poo... more »
  • Your Health: Even 6-week olds benefit from reading

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Nothing is more important to success than learning to read. Those who can’t read have fewer advantages than those that can. Reading is just as important for babies as it is for adults. Early exposure to reading increases the chances of success in school, and children who share books with their caregivers at an early age have less difficulty mastering reading once they enter school. Sharing books with children at an early age helps them to develop their vocabulary, communication skills and imagination. The U.S. Department of Education suggests that you begin reading to your baby at 6 weeks of age... more »
  • Your Health: Exercise safely – especially when it’s hot and humid

    By Gerald Cleveland, M.A. If it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Together they are a one-two punch that can send even the most dedicated fitness buff in Southeast Texas running for cover. However, your exercise plans don’t have to go down for the count just because of the weather.  According to fitness experts, you don’t have to forgo exercise or the beautiful outdoors. You just have to exercise caution — heat stroke is not part of a sensible fitness regimen. It’s good to know the basic guidelines if you want to be active outside. A great place to start is with the heat index. Developed by the... more »
  • Your Health: Anemia may increase severity of fifth disease

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Fifth disease is a common viral infection that normally appears in school-age children in late winter and early spring. It is caused by parvovirus B19, which is a human virus and not the same parvovirus that affects pets. Humans cannot pass parvovirus B19 to pets, and pets cannot pass the virus to humans. It is named “fifth disease” because it was the fifth rash-related infection identified. Fifth disease begins with a low-grade fever, headache and mild cold-like symptoms. These symptoms disappear in a few days and then a distinctive red rash appears on the face that makes a child appear as... more »
  • Your Health: School-aged children need 9-12 hours sleep every night

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many parents don’t realize that their child may not be getting enough sleep every night. Most people feel that eight hours a night is plenty of sleep for a school-aged child. However, children aged 5 to 12 years need about nine to 12 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is important for children because it has an effect on their mental and physical well-being, and the hormone that stimulates growth is released while a child sleeps. Symptoms of sleep deprivation in children include: Moodiness and irritability Tendency to “explode” or throw tantrums Over-activity or hyperac... more »
  • Your Health: Flu prevention is in your hands

    By Steven R. Shelton Pandemic flu is an issue everybody is talking about these days, and with good reason. Reports of avian flu transmitting from bird-to-bird and bird-to-human have received international coverage. The H5N1 avian virus has spread through three continents faster than any infection in our lifetime. World health and agriculture officials are concerned, governments are mobilizing, health agencies are issuing guidelines and checklists for planning and preparedness. It’s little wonder that many people may be in a quandary about what is going to happen and what they can do about it. Here’s the good news: there are... more »
  • Your Health: Keep baby’s skin clean to prevent or treat diaper rash

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Diaper rash is a common problem for infants. In fact, most babies get at least one diaper rash at some point; some get them frequently. Diaper rash is an inflamed area of skin that appears in the diaper region, around the buttocks, thighs and genitals. It is red and puffy and may be slightly warmer than other areas and can cause discomfort. There are several reasons that diaper rash may appear, including: Skin contact with urine or feces Sensitive skin Bacterial or yeast infection Introduction of new foods or drinks (citrus fruits and juices can cause rashes in children sensitive... more »
  • Your Health: First things first: is it a bite or a sting?

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Spring is here, and with it comes warm weather, more daylight — and bugs. Many insects have bites or stings that can cause problems, but the key to treating the problems is in understanding the difference between a bite and a sting. Venomous insects inject painful, toxic venom through their stingers. The stings are painful and red, and can cause swelling up to 12 inches from the site of the sting. This is called a local reaction. A person who is allergic to the venom of the insect may have a systemic, or “whole body,” reaction. Redness, hives and swelling may occur, and this type of rea... more »
  • Your Health: Colonoscopy is best diagnostic tool for colon cancer

    By Dr. Karen Szauter When former NBC Today Show co-host Katy Couric lost her first husband to colorectal cancer in 1998, Americans mourned her loss. But when Couric used her sadness and celebrity status to spread awareness of the taboo subject throughout the United States and beyond, we realized something very powerful was coming from something very tragic. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in the United States. In 2001 it was estimated that 135,400 people would be diagnosed and 56,700 people would die from this preventable disease. If we catch something early we can make such a difference. If a patient skips (a... more »
  • Your Health: Sibling rivalry teaches children how to manage conflict

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly It’s normal for brothers and sisters to argue and compete for their parents’ attention. Sibling rivalry teaches kids to manage conflicts, share, cooperate and express their ideas and feelings. Children can learn how to deal effectively with conflict through their interactions with brothers and sisters. When they argue, they are learning that they are not always going to get along with everyone, even those with whom they are closest. Telling your children that sometimes people feel angry, sad and frustrated with those around them will give them a healthy view of reality. Teaching your... more »
  • Your Health: Symptoms of ‘mono’ vary, rest is best treatment

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly You’ve probably heard of “mono” or mononucleosis. It is an infection that produces flu-like symptoms and usually goes away on its own in a few weeks. The Epstein-Barr virus, a common virus that most children encounter at some point, usually causes mono. Other organisms, including cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, HIV, toxoplasma, rubella and hepatitis, can occasionally cause mono. Infants and young children infected with Epstein-Barr virus, or EBV, usually have mild symptoms, if any. Older children, teens and young adults, exposed to EBV often develop mono. Mono is spread through kissing,... more »
  • Your Health: Mammograms are first line of defense against breast cancer

    By Drs. Tuenchit Khamapirad and Morton Leonard Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women today. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that more than one million women develop breast cancer every year worldwide. The highest risk factors for breast cancer are gender, age and a family history of breast cancer. No one is immune to this disease, but the most effective way for women to protect themselves is early detection of tumors through methods such as self-examination and mammograms. The best mode of defense against breast cancer is awareness. Know whether breast cancer runs in your family. Know... more »
  • Your Health: Family fire safety plan could save lives

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly When a fire starts in a home, there are often only minutes to escape. That’s why it is important that you keep your home fire-safe and devise a plan of action for your family in the event of a fire. The first step to making your home fire-safe is to install smoke alarms. Alarms dramatically increase the fire survival rate of every member of the family — two-thirds of home fires that kill children under age 5 occur in homes without a working smoke alarm. Parents should install an alarm on each level of the home and outside bedrooms or other sleeping areas. Remember to test alarms monthly and... more »
  • Your Health: Symptoms determine whether baby has colic or illness

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly About 25 percent of all newborns cry inconsolably for hours at a time, several times a day, even when healthy and well fed. This condition, known as colic, usually begins at about 2 to 3 weeks of age, intensifies around 6 weeks of age and improves by about 3 to 4 months. Babies with colic will often scream and cry for two to three hours at a time and often seem as if they are in pain. The causes of colic are not known, but it is not thought to be from abdominal pain, food allergies, iron in infant formula, or gas, even though most babies with colic will pass a lot of gas and draw their legs up while... more »
  • Your Health: Even 6-week olds benefit from reading

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Nothing is more important to success than learning to read. Those who can’t read have fewer advantages than those that can. Reading is just as important for babies as it is for adults. Early exposure to reading increases the chances of success in school, and children who share books with their caregivers at an early age have less difficulty mastering reading once they enter school. Sharing books with children at an early age helps them to develop their vocabulary, communication skills and imagination. The U.S. Department of Education suggests that you begin reading to your baby at 6 weeks of age... more »
  • Your Health: Seek treatment for toddlers with symptoms of pica

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Most children put non-food items in their mouths at some point. For example, a child may put dirt from a sandbox in her mouth. This is a normal exploration of their environment. However, some children may develop pica, an eating disorder characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings to eat items other than food. The word “pica” comes from the Latin word for magpie, a bird known to eat almost anything. Pica is most common in children between age 2 and 3, and in those with developmental disabilities, such as autism and mental retardation. Children with pica may crave and eat non-food... more »
  • Your Health: Childhood warts often go away on their own

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Nearly 50 percent of children get a wart at some point. Warts are passed from person to person by a virus known as the human papillomavirus, and not from touching frogs or toads. They can occur on any area of the body, but they are usually found on fingers, hands and feet. Warts are skin lesions caused by a virus and are contagious. However, touching a wart doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get one. There is no way to prevent warts, but good hand washing can decrease the chance that a wart will form if your child has been exposed to someone with warts, especially in areas where your child... more »
  • Your Health: Children need guidelines when using the Internet

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly The Internet can be a valuable resource for both adults and children, but there are potential dangers for children that must be considered. A child may come across material that is sexual, hateful, violent or otherwise inappropriate. In addition, some Web sites ask visitors to enter personal information. Parents should not allow their children to enter personal information without first reviewing the site's privacy policy, which Web sites are required to provide to visitors if they ask for personal information. Here are some basic Internet guidelines for you and your child: 1. Make online rules for... more »
  • Your Health: Older houses may pose lead danger to children

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 25 percent of children in the U.S. live in homes or apartments that have significant amounts of lead in contaminated paint, dust, soil or plumbing. High levels of lead in a child’s blood can cause a variety of problems with both physical and cognitive development (the ability to learn and understand). Early symptoms of lead poisoning include headaches, abdominal pain, irritability, anemia, loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation, decreased activity, poor attention span, noticeable learning difficulty, slowed speech development and... more »
  • Your Health: Household items pose strangulation risk for children

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many common household items that wouldn’t normally be considered dangerous may pose serious strangulation or entrapment risks for young children. Please keep the following suggestions in mind when childproofing your home: • Remove drawstrings from hoods, jackets and waistbands of your child’s clothing. The strings can get caught on furniture or playground equipment. If your child has mittens that are attached with a string, cut the string. • Don’t put necklaces or headbands on your baby. • Never leave a child in a stroller alone, because small children can slide down... more »
  • Your Health: Every home needs a well-stocked first aid kit

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Many injuries are not threatening and do not require medical attention, but having a well-stocked first aid kit can be important in an emergency. Knowing how to treat minor injuries and having the following basic supplies can make a difference. Some pre-packaged first aid kits do not contain all that your family may need, so consider creating your own. Here’s what you will need: • a container, such as a fishing tackle box or art supply box • first aid manual (you may want to consider taking a first aid class as well) • sterile gauze • adhesive tape • band-aids (in... more »
  • Your Health: Specialists help solve speech and hearing problems

    By Deborah L. Carlson, Ph.D. Many people have questions regarding speech and hearing problems: • What are the most common hearing and speech problems? • Who treats them? • What are the signs of hearing and speech problems? First, let’s look at hearing problems. Over 30 million Americans have a hearing loss and for 80 percent of them, the loss is permanent. More than two-thirds of individuals with hearing loss are over 45 years of age. Hearing loss may be related to injury, illness or exposure to loud noise, or may result from the normal process of aging. A sudden or gradual onset may occur, depending on the cause.... more »
  • Your Health: Rotavirus can lead to dehydration in children

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children in the United States, with more than 3 million cases each year and 55,000 hospitalizations of children under age 5 for dehydration resulting from the infection. Rotavirus infections occur most often during the winter months. Almost all children contract the virus before age 5. Typically, the older the child the milder the infection, but even adults can contract the virus. A rotavirus infection is most dangerous for infants, because their smaller body weight makes them more susceptible to dehydration. Signs of a rotavirus infection... more »
  • Your Health: Many American children face lives of neglect and abuse

    By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly   Periodically, we feel we should update you with facts about the state of children in America. We will give you information, numbers and statistics compiled by the Children’s Defense Fund. The stated mission of the Children’s Defense Fund is “to leave no child behind and to ensure every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start and a moral start in life, and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.” Did you know the following?   • A child is abused or neglected every 35 seconds — 906,000 a year... more »
  • Your Health: Let forgiveness and gratitude bring joy to old age

    By The Rev Helen W. Appelberg, D.Min. What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “positive aging?” Some might ask, “Do you want me to get excited about living longer to have a whole new set of choices thrown at me about how and where to live my life?” Others would question, “How can you use the word ‘positive’ when living longer means that my opportunities are shrinking?” How do you feel, do you consider an extended life a gift, or a burden and a time of decline? In the book “Aging as a Spiritual Journey,” author Eugene Bianchi talks about the very nature of aging as a time of spi... more »