Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

University of North Texas Ph.D candidate Ethan McBride prepares the precursor to the illegal drug PCP in a trailer.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you thought meth labs disappeared after the final season of “Breaking Bad,” you’d be in for a surprise. Fewer people are illegally cooking drugs in Texas, but it’s still happening. A new tool tracks down illegal chemicals — in the air.

Flickr.com

When they can’t get opioid painkillers, a growing number of addicts turn to anti-diarrhea medication like Imodium for a cheap high,  but with serious consequences. Some call it "the poor man's methadone."

In Texas, State Offers Little Help With Zika Prevention

Jun 3, 2016
Texas Tribune

More rain is coming, and so are more mosquitoes.

Christopher Connelly/KERA

Childhood obesity rates may be improving in some cities, but the stats are still staggering. According to one recent survey, a third of American children are overweight. One elementary school in Fort Worth has made wellness a priority, and it’s a strategy that’s starting to pay off.

UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern Medical Center just opened a $17 million microscope center – not the kind we used in science class, but super-powered microscopes. Michael Rosen with UT Southwestern talks about what these microscopes will find.

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Epilepsy affects about three million people in the U.S. alone. But while people associate seizures with the disorder, a lot of myths persist about epilepsy. 

WIKIPEDIA

There’s a class every month at the downtown Dallas Public Library that teaches people the ins and outs of bike-riding in North Texas. It’s called Bike Commuting 101, and it covers everything from bike gear and safety to state biking laws. This week, the cyclists prepared for Bike to Work Day on Friday. 

Christopher Connelly/KERA

Four years ago Joe Hernandez was told he had cataracts and his vision would get worse. It did.

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Enlarged prostate is a problem common to men over 50. Doctors usually recommend medication or various forms of surgery to address the problem. However,  the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 approved a quicker, less invasive alternative treatment using steam.

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Scientists are thinking up new ways to prevent Zika and west Nile Virus in Texas. Still, some say the older ideas might be better.

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Millions of people use statins to lower cholesterol, but some have complained about muscle pain after taking the drug. A recent study from the Cleveland Clinic found links between the pain and the medication. 

In North Texas, we’re all about convenience. The drive-through Starbucks, burger joint, even drive-through bank. Still, there aren’t any drive-through health clinics. But there are clinics on wheels — they’re run by Parkland Health & Hospital System. The clinics have been crisscrossing Dallas for more than a decade, serving the people in the community who need it most.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you grow up in a stable home, with supportive parents, it can be hard to see all the paths that lead to homelessness. But they’re there — like trap doors in a dark house.

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Speak too long or too loud and you can end up hoarse or worse if you don’t learn to use your larynx correctly. It's the sound source for the human voice, and it regulates breathing and swallowing. 

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Women are graduating from medical school in greater numbers than ever before. In 1970, women made up under 10 percent of graduates. Today, it’s nearly 50 percent. When it comes to who is getting published in top medical journals, though, women are behind. Doctors say the gender gap in medical research isn’t just an academic concern — it has implications for our health.

Christopher Connelly/KERA

Cataracts, the clouding of eye lenses, are the leading cause of curable blindness worldwide. They’re incredibly treatable, but for people who have lost their ability to see clearly, not being able to get the surgery can mean a life with no livelihood.

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About 50,000 people are diagnosed with some form of head and neck cancer each year, most often older men. But research indicates an increase among younger people - partly because of an rise in cases of the HPV virus.

Courtesy of SEE International

Dr. Helena Ndume is sometimes called a miracle doctor. That’s because she’s returned the gift of sight to more than 30,000 people in her home country of Namibia, in southwestern Africa, by treating cataracts. She’s in Fort Worth this week, where she’ll train local doctors to do surgeries overseas.

UTSW

If a hospital is doing well financially, what does that say about its patients? Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center evaluated the relationship between a patient’s health and a hospital’s profit.

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Millions of people use various types of fitness trackers (wrist bands, clip-ons and smart watches) to help keep in shape. However, some online product reviews question their reliability.

Imagine this. You're a 15-year-old student in a remote village with maybe a couple of hundred residents, miles from the nearest town. There's no TV. Cellphone service is spotty. The dirt road to your village floods regularly. Your link to the outside world is the family wind-up radio.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Several buildings in downtown Dallas have been turned into makeshift conference centers, classrooms and deal sites for entrepreneurs and investors. It’s part of Dallas Startup Week. We caught up with one of key players in the local startup scene to find out what’s new.

In the U.S., we guzzle down data – on our phones and computers – and generally don’t think much about where all that content is stored. It’s stored in places called data centers, and they’re a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the 21st century. The problem: Many of them are stuck in the past. A few companies building data centers in Texas though are trying to boost energy efficiency.

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Sepsis is the body's overwhelming response to infection. It's potentially life-threatening, and recently killed actress Patty Duke. More than 200-thousand cases of sepsis are reported each year, but you can survive it if it’s caught early. 

If you want to see a doctor and don’t have health insurance, you might want to head to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on Saturday -- it's hosting a health clinic for adults and kids. 

Illustration/Molly Evans / KERA News

You’ve probably heard of the credentials M.D. and Ph.D. -- maybe RN or NP. How about PSc.D. or D.PSc.? Those letters signify someone practices pastoral medicine -- some call themselves doctors of pastoral medicine.

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In our series, "Vital Signs,"  living with artificial devices like stents, valves and grafts intended to improve blood flow to the heart. Doctors in the U.S. insert the devices in about a million procedures each year. But after that, the work falls to the patient.

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Sold over-the-counter, activated charcoal can be beneficial when used by a medical professional. But some people use it on their own for such things as high cholesterol, hangovers or stomach pain at serious risk to their health.

Editor's note: This post was originally published on March 28 and has been updated to reflect the announcement from the World Health Organization terminating the "Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa." WHO notes that "all three countries have now completed the 42 day observation period and additional 90 day enhanced surveillance period since their last case that was linked to the original chain of transmission twice tested negativ

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