Vital Signs | KERA News

Vital Signs

Vital Signs is a weekly consumer health chat featuring leading North Texas medical figures. Hosted by Sam Baker, topics range from flu to skin cancer to exactly what a New Year’s cocktail does to your body.

Listen every Monday at 8:22 a.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

Ways to Connect

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The majority of patients with depression have problems with sleep, usually insomnia. But about 10 to 12 percent have the opposite problem.

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College students, like grade schoolers, also face vaccinations before heading off to school. After hundreds of cases reported on college campuses a few years ago, Texas in 2011 required a shot against bacterial meningitis for all college students.

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In this segment of Vital Signs, some new hope for patients with vitiligo. It's an auto-immune disease that causes you to lose color in your skin. Vitiligo isn't life-threatening for the two million people in the U-S who have it, but it can be very stressful.

Dr. Amit Pandya, a professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, talked about vitiligo and a treatment he’s refined to restore the discoloration.

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The medical journal Pediatrics recently published study results on a new tool developed to help doctors identify children under two with abusive head trauma. Some call it shaken baby syndrome.

Dr. Glenn Hardesty has witnessed such cases as an emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. He explained the medical and legal reasons for the new tool.

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Many just roll up pot and light a match. But  a growing  number of people are going to dangerous lengths to get a greater buzz.  It involves extracting the active ingredient from marijuana and turning it into a wax-like substance. You then heat a small bit or “dab” of it and inhale the vapor.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Ashley Haynes of the North Texas Poison Center explained to why pot dabbing is a bad idea.

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In this edition of Vital Signs, a growing trend in social media called sunburn art: Using various materials and deliberate overexposure in the sun to create patterns on the body.

Dr. Travis Vandergriff is an attending Dermatologist with Parkland Hospital System and an Assistant Professor in the Dermatology department of UT Southwestern Medical Center. He explained how sunburn art works and why he considers it dangerous.

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In this edition of the KERA series, Vital Signs, the risk of drowning in portable pools.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated one death every five days during warm weather months occurs in portable pools - from above-ground types to the small inflatable or "kiddie" pools.

Shelli Stephens-Stidham, Director of the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas at Parkland Hospital System, talks about what leads to such incidents.

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State health officials have reported dozens of cases statewide this summer of stomach-related illnesses from cyclospora, a parasite. Several of those cases have been in North Texas.

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Hospital stays can be stressful for anyone. Worse, though, for about seven million patients each year who suffer from delirium. It’s a sudden state of confusion that can last from hours to days and well after release.

Megan Wheeler, an adult clinical nurse specialist, has been involved in Baylor Scott White Health’s research on preventing delirium in elderly patients. 

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About 17,000 people are diagnosed with cancer that began in or next to the brain every year in the United States. These are called primary brain cancers.

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In our series about real life health, Vital Signs, another look at delayed cord clamping.

Many doctors believe waiting as long as two or three minutes before cutting the umbilical cord provides a newborn with extra blood that can prevent iron deficiency.  But a new study of four year olds who had delayed cord clamping found a slight improvement in boys of social and motor skills.  

KERA’s Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Sheri Puffer, an OB-GYN with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.

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There have been at least two dozen deaths from recent flash flooding in Texas.

Some of those helping state teams search for flood victims work in UT-Southwestern’s emergency medicine department.

West Nile Virus Came To Texas Early This Year

Jun 1, 2015
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West Nile Virus season usually shows up in Texas in June, but it came early this year. About two weeks ago, Mesquite had the first mosquito trap in Texas this year to test positive for West Nile. Harris County reported the state’s first human case around the same time.

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Last week's segment of our consumer health series, Vital Signs, told you about fragility fractures, and how they often can be a first sign of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. Your diet can boost good bone health. 

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In our consumer health series, Vital Signs: Fragility fractures. Fall from a standing height or less and your body should be able to withstand it without fracturing a bone. When injury does occur, it may mean you have osteoporosis.

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A large number of patients at Dallas County’s Parkland Hospital System have Type 2 Diabetes. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 Diabetes doesn’t require insulin injections – at least not right away – but it’s just as serious if it’s not managed properly.

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The initial symptoms suggest just about anything, but they may be signs of an inflammatory disease many don’t know about. Sarcoidosis can affect multiple organs – most often lungs and lymph glands.

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Researchers are finding work stress can contribute to physical and mental health problems.

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Tylenol and other products containing acetaminophen are prescribed often for pain relief. But there’s been ongoing debate about whether it does anything for lower back pain. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal says no.

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The National Kidney Foundation says they send a half-million people to emergency rooms each year because of kidney stones - hard objects made from chemicals in the urine. They’re very small, but at a couple of centimeters or more, kidney stones can be quite painful. Dr. R. Carrington Mason, a urologist with Methodist Health System, explains what causes the pain.

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If you don’t manage it carefully, diabetes can lead to several complications, including damage to the eyes. The most common form is also is one of the leading causes of blindness among adults in the U-S.

In our consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Noel Santini, chief of Adult Medicine for Parkland Hospital’s Community Medicine Division, explains why regular screenings are key to dealing with diabetic retinopathy.

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A new study suggests a vegetarian diet, or one based on vegetables and fish, could lower your chances of getting colon cancer. The study focused on 77,000 Seventh-Day Adventists. Dr. Ronney Stadler, a colorectal surgeon with Baylor Medical Center in Irving, explains for KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

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Beginning late 2015, North Texas cancer patients won’t have to leave town to get proton beam therapy. It’s an advanced form of radiation treatment using energized particles or protons to destroy cancerous cells.

Dr. Andrew Lee is medical director of The Texas Center for Proton Therapy. He launched a similar operation at M-D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Lee talked about proton therapy for our consumer health series Vital Signs.

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Google "coconut oil" and you’ll see this popular product touted for a range of uses: from cooking to its use as a health food to treat a variety of illnesses. But does coconut oil live up to those claims? 

Sharon Cox, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, talks about this in our consumer health series, Vital Signs.

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A study released in the journal Circulation found young and middle-aged women can have a harder time in various ways recovering from a heart attack than men. The study also found the poorer recovery was due in part to greater stress among women.

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In this edition of our consumer health series, Vital Signs - the most aggressive form of breast cancer.

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Our consumer health series, Vital Signs, recently identified six foods to help maintain good cholesterol levels. The suggestions are good for anyone to follow, but  a new report from the advisory committee behind the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines says healthy adults no longer have to worry so much about cholesterol.

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High cholesterol is one of the leading risk factors contributing to heart disease, heart attack or stroke, but your diet can help prevent that.

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It’s been recommended for some time that a low-dose aspirin a day helps to avoid heart attack and stroke. But a study out last month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests some people take the drug "inappropriately."

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Cancer of the pancreas – an organ that lies behind the lower part of your stomach - accounts for only two percent of cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year. But it’s the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in this country. 

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