Watch Your Step – Avoid Foot and Ankle Injuries this Season

Friday, February 17, 2012 7:46 AM comments (0)

Foot-Ankle_InjuryWhat do you do to avoid slipping? Do have a preferred method for staying injury-free?

Our feet and ankles get a workout every day – even if it’s just from walking around the house or to and from the car running errands. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, one hour of strenuous exercise puts up to one million pounds of pressure on your feet. Now imagine how much additional stress your feet and ankles can be subjected to when roads and sidewalks are icy and snowy.

Lan Chen, MD, an orthopaedic physician at NorthShore offers her insight on how to avoid a foot or ankle injury this season:

  • Wear the right shoes for the right weather.  High-heeled boots may be fashionable, but flat or low-heeled boots with good traction soles are best for the snow.  Avoid wearing long flowing dresses or coats as they can get tangled with your feet and cause you to lose your balance.
  • Use caution and check for slick walkways or roads when exiting your car or home.  Keep doorways clutter-free and watch out for slippery areas. Most importantly, keep your hands free for better balance and support in case you begin to fall.
  • Don’t ignore an injury.  If you have pain, swelling and inability to put weight on your foot or ankle, or just feel as if something isn’t right, seek medical attention.  Some seemingly minor sprains can lead to significant ligament and cartilage damage resulting in long-term pain, instability and, ultimately, arthritic changes if they are not treated.
  • If you aren’t able to immediately see your doctor, use the R.I.C.E method:
    o    R: Rest your foot or ankle.  Staying off it will minimize pain.
    o    I: Ice your injury to help reduce swelling.  Never put an ice pack directly  
         onto bare skin; use a thin towel to cover the ice pack and ice for 20
         minutes at a time.
    o    C: Compress the area of swelling with an ACE wrap or an elastic brace.
    o    E: Elevate the foot above the level of the heart. 

National Donor’s Day – How to Become an Organ/Tissue Donor

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 11:01 AM comments (0)

Organ DonorOrgan and tissue donation is an important decision that can help significantly enhance and save the lives of others. There are many myths about organ and tissue donations, and it’s important to know the facts before you choose to become a donor.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

  • A new person is added to the national waiting list every 11 minutes.
  • An average of 18 people die each day waiting for a transplant.
  • One organ donor can save up to 8 lives.

The process for becoming a donor in Illinois and other states has changed in recent years. Effective January 1, 2006, a new law—First-Person Consent legislation—makes your decision to become a donor legally binding without necessary consent from witnesses or family members at your death. This new law keeps your family from needing to make a quick decision about your end-of-life wishes.

To join the First-Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, complete one of the following Web forms:

If you are under 18 years of age, you cannot sign up for the registry; instead, donation decisions will need to be made by your parents when and if necessary. You can opt out of the registry at any time.

If you still have questions, please refer to the following websites’ frequently asked questions:

Do you know someone who has benefited from an organ donation? Is it something that you would consider?


Childproofing your Home – Keep your Kids Safe

Monday, February 13, 2012 2:16 PM comments (1)

Child Proof

Accidents involving children happen. The good news is that most of these accidents can be prevented by proper childproofing and preparation. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, accidents disable and kill more children than disease, drugs and kidnapping combined. It’s important to childproof your home early and to make adjustments as they get bigger and become more active and mobile.

Julie Holland, MD, pediatrician at NorthShore shares a few key tips for childproofing your home:

  • Cover all electric outlets. Be sure that cords for small appliances/electronics (radios, coffee makers, toasters and computers) are not within reach.
  • Secure all furniture and large electronics. Bookcases and shelves should be fastened and anchored to the wall, so they cannot be pulled or tipped over.
  • Be sure that televisions are properly installed to the wall and/or are properly positioned on a console. When selecting furniture to place your TV on, confirm that the weight limit is sufficient and appropriately sized for your TV. Make sure that your child cannot reach the TV or the electric cord, as either of these can cause the TV to topple over.
  • Place all small objects, trinkets and decorations out of reach. A good test for height is to go on your hands and knees. If you can reach it, so can your child.
  • Put soft covers on all furniture that has sharp edges. Cover any areas (especially fireplaces) with screens or pads.
  • Store all cleaning supplies, alcohol and other hazardous materials in a top cabinet. Be sure that all cabinets and drawers are properly secured and locked.
  • Confirm that all window blinds and curtains do not have cords hanging within reach, as these can be a choking hazard for young children. Do not place furniture too close to windows.

What have you done to childproof your home? What other child safety tips would you like to learn more about?


For more household safety lists, visit:
•    KidsHealth
•    Safe Kids USA


Beat the Odds: Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Women’s (and Men’s) Heart Health

Thursday, February 02, 2012 8:32 AM comments (1)

Go Red for WomenDespite popular belief, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Women, in many cases, tend to get heart disease 10 years later than men.

While the symptoms of heart attack and heart disease can vary significantly between the two sexes, the recommendations for prevention do not. Mark Lampert, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, shares his insight on what lifestyle changes women (and men) should be mindful of to promote heart health:

  • Be physically active – regular exercise is better than doing nothing.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Be mindful of your intake of saturated fats and carbohydrates.
  • Don’t smoke! When it comes to heart disease, smoking is like adding fuel to the fire.
  • Get your other medical problems checked out and in order. Whether it’s high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma or something else, make sure you see your doctor.

Can you relate to the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women video? What ways are you ensuring your heart is healthy?


Breakfast – The Most Important Meal of the Day

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:26 AM comments (1)

BreakfastBetween the morning rush of getting out the door on time and organizing schedules, breakfast isn’t always top of mind. However, it should be.

Michael Rakotz, MD, Primary Care Physician at NorthShore, notes that it is the most important meal of the day, especially for kids. He offers his insight on some healthy breakfast options to help fuel you and your kids throughout the day:

  • Unsweetened Oatmeal
    Sweeten it with raisins, apples, blueberries, or a bit of honey.
  • Eggs – Free Range Recommended
    Free-range hens that roam around eat grass. Their eggs will have more Omega-3s and nutrients. If you don’t have time to make eggs in the morning, make hard-boiled eggs the night before.
  • Yogurt and Fruit
    Greek Yogurt has more protein, making it a good choice for a growing child. Be sure to read yogurt labels to watch out for added sugar.
  • Whole Grain Toast
  • Cereal
    Be sure to read the label, as health claims like “contains whole grains” don’t always mean it’s the best option. It’s best to eat cereals that have 5 or less grams of sugar per serving.

What is your daily breakfast go-to food? Do you change it up throughout the week?


Stroke: A Brain Attack Requiring Immediate Action

Friday, January 27, 2012 10:28 AM comments (1)

A stroke—sometimes also referred to as a “brain attack”—is caused by an interrupted supply of blood to the brain from the heart. Without the proper blood flow, the brain cannot function correctly. Given that the brain is a vital organ—literally controlling everything we do from speaking, to walking and breathing—it is very important to know the signs, symptoms and risk factors involved with stroke.


Barbara Small, RN, nurse specialist at the NorthShore Stroke Program outlines some the common facts:

Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Carotid Artery Disease
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Overweight
  • Lack of Exercise

Common Stroke Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially occurring on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, please call 911 immediately.

What are you doing to reduce your risk for stroke?


Additional Resources


Protecting Young People from HPV Infection

Thursday, January 26, 2012 8:56 AM comments (1)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus simply spread by skin-to-skin contact. There are many different types of HPV (nearly 200). However, 40 of these types can infect the genital areas, mouth or throat of men and women during sexual contact.HPV

Over 80% of sexually active women and more than 50% of sexually active men will have acquired genital HPV infection at some point during their life. This makes genital HPV the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, most people who become infected remain unaware of it and infect their partners before they clear it on their own.

Some HPV types result in genital warts; other types are associated with cervical, vaginal, oral, anal and penile cancers. Fortunately, parents and patients can take important steps to help reduce HPV infection risks.

Kenneth Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers tips on reducing HPV infection risks:

  • Communicate: Talk to your children and teens about safe sex and STIs. Let them know that their risks can be reduced by abstinence (including oral sex), by delaying sexual initiation, by limiting the number of sex partners and by using latex condoms during sexual contact.
  • Vaccinate: HPV vaccine helps prevent the most common types of sexually acquired HPV. The vaccine is available for males and females ages 9-26. Three doses of the vaccine are recommended, and the greatest protection is achieved if all doses are completed before sexual initiation and exposure to HPV. Notably, 75% of new HPV infections occur between ages 15-24 years, and over half of these new infections occur within the first 3 years after sexual initiation.

Have you spoken with your child or his/her primary care physician about this vaccine?


Diabetes - Knowing the Symptoms and Your Risk

Monday, January 23, 2012 8:20 AM comments (1)

This past week, diabetes has taken the spotlight after celebrity chef Paula Deen announced that she has Type 2 diabetes. As the most common form of diabetes, this condition affects more than eight percent of children and adults in the United States.

Mary Bennett, RD, LDN, CDE, a Diabetes Education Manager at NorthShore, identifies who is at risk for being diagnosed with diabetes. She also talks about key symptoms to be mindful of in her video interview.


According to Bennett, the following risk factors exist for diabetes:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Lack of physical exercise (less than 150 minutes each week)
  • Being overweight
  • High blood pressure (more than 130/80)
  • Being over 40 years old
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds or having had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Being African American, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic, Eastern Asian or Pacific Islander

What are you currently doing to help reduce your risk of diabetes?


Fitness First - Losing Weight and Staying on Track

Friday, January 20, 2012 8:02 AM comments (1)

Getting and staying fit, isn’t always about losing weight. It’s also about increasing your cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, joint flexibility and energy levels – all while fitting it into your normal routine and lifestyle.

April Williams, Exercise Physiologist at NorthShore’s Center for Weight Management has some tips to keep your exercise route on track:

  • Check in with your physician first if you’re new to exercising. This is especially important if you have other underlying health concerns.
  • Start slow. If you haven’t been exercising frequently, there’s no reason to rush into a rigorous routine.
  • Pick three days a week to go to the gym and exercise (starting out with 30 minutes) and work your way up from there. Gradually increase your workout sessions to last 45-60 minutes five times a week. Don’t feel you have to work out for five days in a row; be sure to give yourself rest days in between to relax and recover.
  • Partner with a friend or family member. Choose someone who is also committed to exercise, and either go to the gym or take a walk with them. Listening to books while exercising can also help make the experience more social and make the time go by faster.
  • Schedule time in your calendar in advance for exercise. We all get busy and it’s easy to overlook exercise when other life events occur (shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc.)
  • Keep an exercise log. This way you can measure your progress.
  • Skip the gym if it’s not for you, and look into doing exercise routines and workouts at home. There are plenty of free options and resources available.

What does your exercise schedule look like? What keeps you motivated to workout? Which types of exercise do you enjoy most?


Have fitness questions? Join April Williams on Tuesday, February 7 from 11a.m.-noon for an online chat about how to stay fit in 2012. Submit your questions in advance and save the date.


Managing Your GERD Symptoms

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 8:14 AM comments (1)

It happens to the best of us – we overindulge during the holidays, on a night out or at a family dinner and experience stomach pains, acid reflux and heartburn. It’s estimated that Gastroesophagael Reflux Disease (GERD) regularly affects close to 50 percent of the adult population.

This digestive disorder happens when stomach acid and/or bile flows up into the esophagus leading to acid reflux, heartburn and in severe situations even esophageal cancer.

Mick Meiselman, MD, NorthShore Gastroenterologist and a GERD expert, offers suggestions to reduce GERD symptoms:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Simply gaining 10 pounds can aggravate the condition and increase painful symptoms.
  • Limit your consumption of fats, as they can delay emptying of the gastric chamber and increase the likelihood of reflux.
  • Decrease the intake of caffeine, including chocolate, coffee (regular and decaffeinated) and caffeinated tea.
  • Avoid heavy consumption of alcohol.
  • Avoid late-night eating. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down.
  • Raise the torso (6-8 inches) when sleeping. This can be done with either an adjustable bed or a wedge pillow.
  • Take it easy and relax. Stress magnifies the symptoms of reflux; exercise is a good way to combat stress and help maintain a healthy weight.

Which of these recommendations works best for you? Which of these recommendations is the hardest to follow?

If you think you may be at risk for GERD, take our GERD Risk Assessment.

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