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 8:44 a.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

Ways to Connect

Shutterstock

Most years, Texas sees only about 20 cases of mumps statewide. But the current outbreak in North Texas includes more than twice that many in Johnson County alone. Cases also have been reported in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties. 

Shutterstock

Tens of millions of Americans currently use statin drugs. Doctors have based that on cholesterol levels and various lifestyle factors. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests age should also figure into the decision. 

Shutterstock

After a downturn in 2015, a rare disease affecting the nervous system is on the rise again. The CDC says 89 cases of acute flaccid myelitis has been confirmed this year in 33 states, including Texas. Five of those were in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. 

Shutterstock

Osteoporosis doesn't only affect older women. Men can also develop the bone-thinning disease, although at a lesser rate.

Shutterstock

Many of us assume the over-the counter medicines we buy will work for anyone, but you have to read the label to know if they’re really safe for you. A toxicologist explains what you'll see.

Shutterstock

They're two problems that go well beyond mere “tummy trouble.” Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease sound similar – and share some similar symptoms – but one can have far greater consequences. Here's the difference between the two.

Shutterstock

A recent CDC study found seven out of 10 U.S. adults, ages 65 and older, have hypertension, but nearly half do not have it under control.  A hypertension specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center says the reasons go further than just forgetting to take needed medication.

Shutterstock

It's often used as a major ingredient in sweets: desserts, lattes, even ale. But put all the sugar and cream aside, and pumpkin can also be a healthy food choice. 

Shutterstock

After a mammogram, no one wants to hear the words, “We found a spot on the image.” But it can be a problem for women with high density breast tissue – and it may or may not have to do with breast cancer. 

Shutterstock

Some of the 24 million people in the U.S. with asthma, or inflammation that narrows the airways, suffer severe symptoms: Like persistent shortness of breath. The inability to speak in full sentences. Or a chest that feels closed. Two new studies tout possible new treatments for severe asthma. 

Shutterstock

Women  experience menopause around  51 years old, on average. But combing through 32 studies involving 310, 000 women, researchers in the Netherlands concluded menopause before the age of 45 may increase risk for cardiovascular disease and death. 

Shutterstock

The extra lengths some go to for exercise.  Hot yoga’s grown in popularity over the years.  but exercise in a hot environment can be dangerous if you’re not careful. 

Shutterstock

The old saying goes “it pays to be nice.” Turns out a smile, saying good morning or paying the tab for the person behind you at Starbucks may payoff with  better health. A behavioral health counselor  talks about the health benefits of random acts of kindness. 

Shutterstock

There are more than three million cases of urinary tract infections in the U.S. each year. Antibiotics are the usual treatment. However, some believe cranberry juice can help.  

Shutterstock

The American Heart Association has recommended new limits on kids consuming sugar: Ages 2 to 18 should consume no more than 25 grams of sugar a day. No food or drink with added sugars for children younger than 2. 

Shutterstock

A new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center has found work productivity can be a key factor in measuring a patient’s recovery. The study’s lead author explains.

Shutterstock

A new UT Southwestern Medical Center study of electronic medical records from six Dallas-Fort Worth area hospitals found 20 percent of patients had one or more unstable vital signs when they were released within 24 hours of discharge. Doing so can lead to serious consequences. 

Shutterstock

Results from a recently published study show men twice as likely as women to die from sudden cardiac death. It’s the largest cause of natural death in the U.S., causing about 325,000 adult deaths each year.

Shutterstock

A biopsy involves removing tissue to find out if you have a disease or the extent of it. The FDA recently approved a less-invasive “liquid” biopsy for a certain form of lung cancer. But the possibilities are far greater.  

Shutterstock

It’s estimated more than 24 million Americans, age 40 and older, have cataracts. This painless clouding of the lens of the eye can cause serious problems.  But cataracts can be easily treated, especially if you catch certain symptoms early. 

Shutterstock

A recently-published study shows some weight loss medications actually do help, but they’re not cures. An expert in non-surgical weight loss at UT Southwestern Medical Center says users of the drugs need to be clear about what they’re taking.

Shutterstock

Sales of meat substitutes are soaring because of concerns about personal health and the environment. But not all products are as healthy as advertised. Reading the nutrition label is important. 

Shutterstock

Fever, sneezing, a rash are obvious signals something may be physically wrong. But the body also sends “silent” signs you may ignore - signs of something far more serious. Here are six of them, according to Dr. Sentayehu Kassa, lead staff physician at Parkland Hospital's Vickery Health Center. 

Shutterstock

Sweets laced with marijuana. Police are seeing more cases of pot-laced cookies and candies made and sold in states where recreational use of marijuana is allowed, and then imported into states like Texas where marijuana remains illegal. Moreover, they look like the kind of regular treats kids would consume.

Shutterstock

A study published in 2015 found more than half of American adults had diabetes or pre-diabetes in 2012. Managing the disease usually involves medication, especially insulin. But exercise can also be effective - even preventive at times. 

www.webmd.com

The Food and Drug Administration has approved changes to the nutrition facts label on packaged and processed food, beginning with larger, bolder type to make it easier to read. What  you will and won’t find on the label has also changed.

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."

Shutterstock

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. 

Shutterstock

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.

Shutterstock

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. 

Pages