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

Fear of Flying

Yesterday’s tragic accident has no doubt magnified the fear of flying for many people (and let me add prayers of sympathy for those directly affected, as well as kudos to the brave pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, and flight attendants who helped save the rest of the passengers.) Despite the fact that this type of accident has not happened before, and is very unlikely to happen again, hearing and reading the horrific details add fuel to any anxiety surrounding flying. If you suffer from this fear, know that you are not alone- and that your family physician can offer you a … Read more

Getting ANXIOUS for FINALS? Try This!

Intense test anxiety affects up to 20% of college students, and this time of year is the worst. Finals are approaching, projects and papers are due, and added pressure from mistakes earlier in the semester can push students over the edge. What’s the difference between appropriate “nerves” and serious test anxiety?

With a typical student, test day adrenaline might cause extra bathroom trips up until the test starts, a racing heart and anxious anticipation, but once she starts answering questions, the physical symptoms subside enough for the student to focus effectively.

The student with intense test anxiety, however, accelerates … Read more

What’s the BUZZ? Caffeine vs. Alcohol

We all know that caffeine is a stimulant, and most of us have a daily dose to fight fatigue and pep us up. So why create caffeinated ALCOHOLIC drinks? Doesn’t that seem counter intuitive to put a stimulant (caffeine) with a sedative (alcohol)? A recent interesting high quality study, Acute impact of caffeinated alcoholic beverages on cognition: A systematic review points out a few facts you might want to share with your favorite college student…

  • Energy drinks combined with alcohol DO decrease fatigue and “PERCEPTION of intoxication”
  • However, despite FEELING unimpaired, complex tasks such as driving definitely ARE impaired.
Read more

Can’t (cough) Stop (cough) COUGHING?

COUGHS often seem to hang around FOREVER, and this year’s flu season has been a prime culprit.

Allergies certainly can cause coughs as well, but typically allergy coughs are more the dry, annoying, clear-your-throat variety, rather than the wet sounding coughing fits (that worsen every evening and prevent sleep) which come from viral respiratory infections. Typically there are a few days of headaches, fever, body aches, sore throats and stuffy nose, but then the cough itself may persist for up to SIX WEEKS after the initial illness.

Is there anything that can be done for a cough that wont go … Read more