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Health Blog

Welcome to the ongoing series of blog posts from UTMB Health focusing on key aspects of maintaining your health

Integrative therapies can help improve hospice care

One of the most common complaints at the end of life is pain, writes Dr. Samuel Mathis. While medication can help, acupuncture or acupressure can be very helpful without affecting an individual’s mentation. It can be difficult to find traveling acupuncturists, but acupressure is something that families can learn and perform themselves.

Olive oil: Tasty for cooking but also good for your health

A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology confirms something we all suspected: Olive oil is good for your health. Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discuss why. It is a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet, which has been touted for years for its health benefits. Other studies have demonstrated that this diet may be important in reducing the incidence of stroke and the onset of dementia.

What to know about young children and COVID vaccines

After a long wait, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended them for this age group regardless of whether they have had COVID-19. Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp answer some common questions about the vaccines for young children in the Vaccine Smarts column.

Palliative and hospice care often are misunderstood

Hospice is comfort care without curative intent. The patient no longer has curative options or has chosen not to pursue treatment because the side effects outweigh the benefits. Palliative care is comfort care with or without curative intent. Drs. Victor S. Sierpina and Rebecca Burke explain the differences.

Don’t lose sleep over monkeypox

Human cases regularly occur in Africa but what has caught the media’s attention is that cases are spreading worldwide. Considering COVID-19, this may seem worrisome but monkeypox is not worth losing sleep over. Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp explain why.

Be careful around lawn mowers

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports approximately 9,000 children a year are treated for lawn mower-related injuries. Many of these injuries occur in older children and teens. However, small children are at risk of injury also. Dr. Sally Robinson advises safety.

Vaccines still powerful tools despite challenges

ew vaccines are being developed all the time, as witnessed by the COVID vaccines and the just released Prevnar 20 for prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia and a PCV 15 for kids. While it is a “one-and-done” vaccines, boosters are needed for other vaccines such as COVID. Dr. Victor S. Sierpina writes about it in his column.

Take it easy on the energy drinks

At morning lectures, many students in the lecture hall have an energy drink in front of them. But a report that one young man may have developed heart failure from his habit of consuming an average of four energy drinks per day may cause concern. Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discuss this case. Fill those water bottles.

Playing outside still needs supervision

“The first rule is making sure the boundaries are secure and hopefully fenced,” wrote Dr. Sally Robinson. “Children should be taught to stay within the boundaries and not to wander off, but children also need a responsible person to supervise outdoor play so they don’t get hurt. Always supervise children on trampolines and provide constant touch supervision around pools and other bodies of water.”

New research suggests ways to prevent cancer metastasis

“Our concept of metastasis has changed over the years,” wrote Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in their Medical Discovery News column. “Not long ago, doctors and scientists thought metastasis was a natural stage of the cancer that happened as tumors grew. Treatment relied on removing the primary tumor by surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.”

The world can be seen in a bubble

“As adults, if we allow ourselves, we might also wish to recapture such light joy to balance the heaviness of our daily stress and gloomy news reports,” wrote Dr. Victor S. Sierpina. Meditate this weekend by blowing bubbles.

COVID booster offers many benefits for children

In 5- to 11-year-olds, the booster more than doubles the antibody levels found after the second dose. Additionally, boosting has been shown in other age groups to further improve the antibodies so that they better bind the virus and provide more protection against variants. Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp discuss this in the latest Vaccine Smarts column.

The war on cancer turns 50

“Now after 50 years and an estimated $100 billion in funding, we can assess where we are and our progress toward this landmark goal of defeating cancer,” write Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in Medical Discovery News. “One reminder — cancer is not a single disease but a collection of hundreds of diseases.”

Cannabinoids, medical marijuana merit deeper study

Dr. Victor S. Sierpina sees patients who are using this centuries-old remedy for a broad variety of conditions, despite Texas’ prohibition against its use. “Like our endogenous endorphin system of opiate receptors, the endocannabinoid system is a network throughout our body in multiple organs and cells, which accounts for why cannabinoids impact so many conditions from pain, mood, insomnia, cancer, nausea, appetite and others.,” he writes. “Endocannabinoid deficiency is being considered as the cause for a range of poorly characterized and challenging diseases such depression, migraine, ADHD and irritable bowel syndrome.”

We need to remove stigma around mental disorders

“Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak,” writes Dr. Sally Robinson in her column. “Many people need help to get better. Treatment varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy or both. Studies show that people do get better and many recover completely.”

Children in sports should be given opportunities to succeed

Unfortunately, sports are all too often seen as the prime demonstration of intense competition. Children can be involved in sports activities of all levels and have successful and gratifying experiences and not have the pressures of intense win-loss events, writes Dr. Sally Robinson.

Vaccine offers hope for multiple sclerosis treatment

In Medical Discovery News, Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel report on an mRNA vaccine that might open new avenues for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. “While this treatment is extremely promising, keep in mind there’s a long road and a lot of research that will be required before this becomes a treatment for humans,” they advise.

Preparation makes telemedicine more productive

“If your doctor offers telehealth visits for you, there are a few things you can do to better prepare for these visits to ensure you get the most of your virtual time together,” advises Drs. Victor Sierpina and Michelle Sierpina. “First, write it down. Write down whatever issues or concerns you want to speak about.” Sharpen your pencils.

Do pregnant moms need a COVID booster?

Women are at higher risk of serious complications from COVID when they’re pregnant. Should they get a COVID booster? Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp examine the question in the recent Vaccine Smarts column.

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