Q&A - Summer 2012

Q: What’s the ‘proper’ number of bathroom breaks each day?

A: “On average, you should be going about six times a day, depending on your fluid intake, bladder capacity, and whether you completely drain your bladder. A person with a smaller bladder may have to go up to eight times a day. The bladder of the average healthy adult holds around 10 to 15 ounces of fluid. To stay within these limits, the average adult should drink about six to eight glasses — approximately 65 to 70 ounces — of fluids a day, according to the National Kidney Foundation.”

Fluid sources: Just about any liquid — water, juice, soda, tea, coffee, milk, soup — counts toward the daily fluid recommendation.

Tip: To avoid nighttime trips to the bathroom, don’t drink after dinner or before bedtime. If you take medications such as a diuretic, which prevents water retention in the body, do it in the morning or after lunch.

Philippe Zimmern, M.D.
Professor of Urology

Q: My heartburn is getting to be a nuisance. Are there any effective home remedies?

A: “Heartburn often is caused by a reflux of acid from the stomach up into the esophagus. If medicine isn’t handy, a stick of chewing gum may give some quick, temporary relief. Gum stimulates the production of alkaline saliva and encourages swallowing. Swallowing clears acid from the esophagus, and the alkaline saliva neutralizes any remaining acid. You may have heard that milk is good for heartburn, but that’s not the case. While milk does buffer stomach acid, it also stimulates the stomach to produce more acid.”

Consider this: If you’re planning to indulge in foods likely to cause heartburn, take a histamine receptor blocker beforehand. They slow the production of stomach acid. Over-the-counter brands include Pepcid, Tagamet, Axid, and Zantac.

Stuart Spechler, M.D.
Professor of Internal Medicine

Q: Are tanning beds safe?

A: “Exposure to ultraviolet light — from tanning lamps or the sun — can damage the DNA in your skin cells and cause skin cancer and wrinkling. The most common of all cancers in the U.S., skin cancer is also one of the most preventable. Sunless tanning lotions and bronzing cosmetics are a safer way to tan. They don’t protect you from the sun, however, so make sure you wear sunscreen, too.”

Play it safe in the sun with these tips:

  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Make sure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, including sunglasses and a hat that shades your face.
  • Seek shade and remember the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Stan Taylor, M.D.
Professor of Dermatology

Have a question for our doctors?

Drop us a line at editor@utsouthwestern.edu and we may address your query in a future issue.