Health

Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. But in some states, access to facilities that perform abortions remains limited.

In part, that stems from another Supreme Court ruling from 20 years ago that let states impose regulations that don't cause an "undue burden" on a woman's abortion rights.

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The cedar fever season might have arrived a little late this year, but it is packing a punch now that it is here.

The Allergy and Asthma Center in Georgetown reported a pollen count of 6,646 grains per liter of air on Monday, a new high for the season. Caused by the pollen of mountain cedar (or ashe juniper) trees, cedar fever plagues Central Texas every winter, leaving its victims with a cough, sore throat, and a runny nose.

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Fewer than 1 in 5 Austinites identifies as a smoker, according to the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. And those who smoke are finding it harder to do so -- Austin bars, restaurants and parks ban smoking. Major employers like UT and Samsung prohibit smoking on their campuses.

Now there’s a push to ban smoking at bar and restaurant patios as well.

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The familiar orange water coolers are poised to return to Austin’s hike and bike trail, after the city council agreed today to waive permitting fees for the businesses that operate the watering stations.

RunTex has been bringing water to Lady Bird Lake since 1990, but the coolers were removed last November after concerns about their security and sanitation. 

Paul Carrozza of RunTex estimates that his store spends $100,000 a year transporting water and ice to the trails. The store spends $3,000 a month in paper cups alone. 

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UT researchers have developed 61 new strains of genetically-engineered bacteria, which they say could improve and transform vaccines.

The strains of E. Coli are part of a new class of adjuvants, which are substances mixed in with vaccines that stimulate and improve the human body’s immune response to vaccinations. M. Stephen Trent, an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at UT who worked on the research, said these new strains gives the medical field more options for vaccine development.

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An early, widespread flu outbreak in Texas is putting a strain on the supply of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, a Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson said Wednesday.

Tamiflu is a prescription drug that both fights flu symptoms and prevents the spread of the flu to the rest of the body. But because of Texas’ flu outbreak, Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said there are small spot shortages of the drug.

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The Commissioners Court didn’t renew an Austin/Travis County EMS contract last night. They’ll wait until next week to do that. But county commissioners did show some love for a new proposal that would create a unit of paramedics roaming the city in trucks tending to those sick and injured Austinites in need of assistance.

Sounds familiar right? Strangely enough, they’re not ambulances. 

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Today President Obama is expected to release details of proposals from a gun violence task force convened in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.

In the days following Sandy Hook, many experts and pundits spoke of the need for better mental health care and screening.

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 Audio FileSafePlace and Austin Children's Shelter form LIFT AllianceEdit | Remove

Family violence affects more than 18,000 Austin women and children each year. Now two local non-profit groups are joining forces to address the problem.

SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter are coming together to form LIFT Alliance. The alliance will allow kids at the Austin Children’s Shelter to attend a school operated by SafePlace. In return, clients at SafePlace can take part in the teen parenting program at the children’s shelter.

The number of suicide deaths in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year — more than the 295 Americans who died fighting in Afghanistan in 2012. The numbers were first reported by the AP; NPR has confirmed them.

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Hospitals and clinics in Austin and Travis County are reporting high levels of flu activity. Across Texas, six kids have died so far this year from flu-related illnesses.

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Hispanics are 10 percent less likely to get vaccinated than non-Hispanic whites. According to a CDC survey, in March of 2012, less than 40 percent of Hispanic adults had been vaccinated. That's compared to around 50 percent of non-Hispanic white adults.

Tamir Kalifa/Texas Tribune

Updated, Friday, 4:55 p.m.:

Travis County District Judge Stephen Yelenosky on Friday refused to grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction to be included in the Texas Women’s Health Program. 

If you haven't caught the flu yet or don't know someone who has, you might want to buy a lottery ticket today. You're one lucky person.

As The Associated Press writes, "from the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms." More than 40 states report "widespread" outbreaks. The flu's been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children, the AP adds.

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A new study by the Pew Center on the States gave Texas a D for its pediatric dental health, as a leading state legislator says the state of Texas spent more Medicaid money on orthodontia for children than all the other states combined.

The Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact unit wondered about that.
And KUT’s Emily Donahue spoke with Gardner Selby of the Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas to get the scoop.

A new study by The Pew Center on the States gave Texas “D” for its pediatric dental health.  This as a leading state legislator says the state of Texas spent more Medicaid money on orthodontia for children than all the other states--combined.

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A new report grading states on dental health gives Texas low marks when it comes to providing low-income children with dental care. The report from the Pew Center on the States finds Texas has been slow to improve access to dental sealants – which can prevent cavities.

This year's flu season started about a month early, prompting federal health officials to warn it could be one of the worst in years. They're urging everyone to get their flu shots.

But like every flu season, there are lots of reports of people complaining that they got their shot but still got the flu. What's up with that?

Well, as Michael Jhung of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, there are lots of possible reasons.

Tamir Kalifa / Texas Tribune

The Health and Human Services Commission on Monday said a new survey it commissioned shows the Texas Women’s Health Program has a greater capacity to serve impoverished women than its predecessor, a joint state-federal program that ended after the state moved to exclude clinics affiliated with abortion providers. 

It's well known that routine physical activity benefits both body and mind. And there are no age limits. Both children and adults can reap big benefits.

Now a study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores whether certain factors may help to explain the value of daily physical activity for adolescents' mental health.

A new facility for older Austinites is scheduled to open soon in south Austin. It will serve those with memory impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia. The “Silverado Senior Living” plans to house 90 people.  Right now, the only facilities like it are in Round Rock.  But, the needs of Austin’s elderly population continue to grow at a fast pace.

Silverado Senior Living is a private facility. Loren Shook is the company’s CEO.  He says “there are thousands of people within the city of Austin that are suffering from this disease [Alzheimer’s] and we are very confident there is sufficient resources in the market for people to afford our services ”

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