Nope, Not A “Quack Shack”! University Health Services

My fellow Texas Aggies are no doubt familiar with the name “Quack Shack”, the less than complimentary old Army nick name for the campus health center at Texas A&M. Sadly, many college campus health centers suffer from similarly undeserved negative images, despite being staffed with excellent, well-trained, caring, compassionate physicians, nurses and other providers. Please look closely at your campus clinic’s website to fully explore what is available at your (or your college student’s) school. At the end of the day, I can only speak with authority about the University Health Services at the University of Texas in Austin, because … Read more

College Student Essential: the Medication Box

August has arrived, which means panic is setting in for many families as they pack up their high school graduate and send them off to college. Pinterest-driven dorm room goals shift much of the focus (at least for girls) to inspirational quotes, photo displays and twinkling lights.  Mothers alternate between doing everything for their “baby” one last time, to cramming in last minute instructions on washing clothes and paying attention to car maintenance. As a college physician, I’d like to add two important items to your shopping list (if your child takes any medications on a regular basis…prescription or not):… Read more

Nuts About Healthy Eating: Why I Learned to Love Nuts

I did not grow up eating nuts, and in fact, I didn’t even LIKE nuts. I picked them out of brownies or cookies and scraped them off sundaes. Today, however, I not only include nuts in my diet but I actually LOVE them! What made me change?

For twenty years, every day in my private practice, I asked patients to tell me what they had eaten the day before- officially called a 24 hour dietary recall. I learned you can be a vegetarian, but still have poor nutrition (think pop tarts, chips and sweets). I learned most people forget or … Read more

The Chocolate Milk Conspiracy

Does your kid love chocolate milk, but vow that “regular” milk makes her tummy hurt? When I told MY parents this, they laughed and assumed I was milking the system for more sweets. As I grew older, I realized that certain dairy products battled my GI tract, while others peacefully coexisted. Pizza was fine, but a milkshake? Not so much.

Well, guess what? That kid chugging chocolate milk and avoiding regular milk may simply be lactose intolerant. Hold on-doesn’t chocolate milk have the same amount of lactose as regular milk? Yes, but…

Lactose intolerance refers to the inability to … Read more

Stinging “No-See-Ums” of the Sea

Have you ever jumped into the ocean and suddenly felt something stinging your arms or legs?  I’m not talking about jellyfish here, but the “no-see-ums” of the sea.

The picture above is from the Na’ Pali coastline in Hawaii. While snorkeling there, a small group of the swimmers (including myself and one daughter) were bothered enough by invisible “stings” to get back on the boat. Meanwhile the majority of snorkelers were completely fine, despite swimming right next to other people who were being stung. Back on the boat, mosquito bite-looking lesions appeared everywhere we felt stings, with some people having … Read more

Meningitis Vaccine: Boost Before College

 

Do COLLEGE STUDENTS really need the Meningitis Vaccine, and didn’t my daughter get this shot during middle school?

YES and probably YES, but read on…

Talk to Jamie Schanbaum, now a paralympic champion and passionate vaccine advocate. Jamie lost her fingers and legs to bacterial meningitis back in 2008, when she was a college sophomore at the University of Texas. Or talk to the family of Texas Aggie Nicolis Williams, who died from bacterial meningitis during college in 2011. These families led the charge that resulted in Texas passing the first legislation that requires the meningococcal … Read more

Best Years of Your Life?

College years are unquestionably awesome, often dubbed “the best years of your life”. However, as you recover from high school grad parties and start dorm room preparation, consider adding another topic to the “last-summer- gotta-cram-in-every-bit-of-parental-advice” talks: not EVERY day in college is quite so awesome. Shouldn’t it be obvious to our kids that they should expect ups and downs? Possibly not…

In our home, our kids grew up hearing stories time and time again about fun-filled Notre Dame or Texas Aggie football weekends, road trips, dorm parties, and cherished school traditions. Our dearest college friends are called “Aunt” and “Uncle” … Read more

Weight Loss Success: Make New Habits or Break the Old?

Which works better for weight loss: creating new healthy habits or getting rid of bad ones?

A small but clinically significant study was recently published in the International Journal of Obesity that addressed this question. The good news is that BOTH interventions produced sustained weight loss at one year, with the 21 adults who created new habits having a 6.2% weight loss (roughly 12.5 lbs) and the 22 adults who worked on breaking unhealthy habits having a 4.8% (10.1 lbs) weight loss.

The intervention group that tried new habits followed the researcher’s “Top Ten Tips” which included fairly predictable weight … Read more

Should You Be Gluten-Free?

I LOVE when patients ask me if they should be GLUTEN-FREE. Why? Because the gluten-free diet is inherently healthy (if you do it without searching out the elusive gluten-free twinkies) and because I have been following a GF diet for about seven years, so I have far more personal opinions and advice about this diet than your average non-GF doc.

Who NEEDS to be Gluten-Free? People with Celiac Disease. Anyone with this autoimmune disorder needs to COMPLETELY avoid gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. If they do eat gluten, their body basically overreacts and the … Read more

Sunscreen 101

See that shot glass? BURN that image into your memory, because believe it or not, that’s how much you should use every time you apply sunscreen! What else do you need to know? Here’s my Sunscreen 101.

Let’s start with SPF. What does it mean? Sun Protection Factor is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to protect the wearer against UV radiation from UVB. Note that the sun produces both UVA and UVB, and BOTH cause damage that can lead to skin cancers. Right now, though, the SPF only addresses the UVB protection. So, SPF means that compared to bare … Read more