Beyond the Baby Blues – Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:26 AM comments (0)

Postpartum DepressionBaby has arrived – and sometimes with that arrival come feelings of anxiety, mood swings and depression. For many new moms, the baby blues (occasionally feeling down during the first few weeks after birth) are common and not a cause for concern. However, some women suffer from more prolonged, severe depressive symptoms.

It’s important to remember that having a baby in itself can be an emotional journey, and feeling down once the baby is born is not something that should cause embarrassment. In fact, one in eight women is affected by postpartum depression after birth and may require treatment.  For some women, these difficulties can begin during pregnancy.

If you’re a new or expectant mom struggling with depression or anxiety it’s important to know that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you can feel better.  Psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and diet and exercise modifications are some of the options that are effective in treating depression during pregnancy or postpartum.

Jo Kim, Ph.D., of the NorthShore Perinatal Depression Program, recommends new moms be aware of the following symptoms that may signal postpartum depression:

  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in social activities and interactions
  • Lack of energy
  • Extreme exhaustion and fatigue
  • Change in mood – extreme irritability, sadness, anxiety or guilt
  • Lack or loss of interest in your baby
  • Inability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Thoughts that you’re not good enough, you’re a bad mother or that the baby would be better off without you
  • Feeling hopeless, like things are never going to get better
  • Suicidal thoughts

What tips did you use for staying positive and healthy after your baby was born? What adjustments in your lifestyle were the hardest to make?

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NorthShore offers a free, 24-hour crisis hotline at 866.364.MOMS (6667). This confidential line is staffed by licensed mental health professionals.

Healthy Vision – Seeing a Clear Picture

Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:03 PM comments (0)

Healthy VisionThink for a moment of all the things that you do on a daily basis that require good eyesight—making meals, driving to work or to run errands, checking your email, counting money or watching television. Since proper eyesight is so important to everything we do, being proactive with prevention and not overlooking problems as they develop is a must.

Just like working to maintain a healthy weight, taking care of your eyesight can also become part of your daily routine.

Marian Macsai, MD, Ophthalmologist at NorthShore, offers these quick tips on how you can protect your eyes and maintain vision health:

  • Get a dilated eye exam. Not only will an ophthalmologist be able to determine if you need corrective lenses, but many common eye conditions (such as macular degeneration and glaucoma) do not have early warning signs. A dilated eye exam can also help identify damage to your eye. This exam can also be used to follow systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes that can affect vision.
  • Don’t smoke! Not only is smoking bad for your eyes, but research suggests it is also linked to an increased risk of future eye damage and conditions including macular degeneration.
  • Eat a nutritious diet and maintain an appropriate weight. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help keep your eyes healthy and help you maintain a normal weight.
  • Learn about your family’s eye health conditions and overall medical history. Knowing your eye health history can help determine if you are at greater risk for eye disease. While not all eye conditions are hereditary, it is helpful to know what you may be more prone to and what preventive steps can be taken.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses when you are outside to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays. If your job or sporting hobbies require protective eyewear, be sure to use them. This protective gear can include goggles, safety glasses and shields.


What do you currently do to protect your eyes and maintain healthy vision? Do you know your family’s eye health history?

Arthritis Pain – Methods for Treatment

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:03 AM comments (0)

Arthritis PainThere are many supplements on the market to help treat arthritis pain—some more widely accepted and used than others. One of the more common supplements, glucosamine, has become a popular treatment option, but has also been under some debate about its effectiveness.

Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, Director of the Integrative Medicine program, says that clinically she has seen that glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM has been helpful for treating arthritic pain. However, she also recommends that if you have concerns you can go off of it. If your arthritis pain comes back and you haven’t done anything differently, you can always go back on it.  It can have interactions with medications like the blood thinner, warfarin, so be sure to check with your doctor whether you may safely take this supplement.

She also provides some tips and recommendations for alternative treatment methods of mild-to- moderate arthritis:

  • Use herbs like turmeric and ginger regularly in your cooking. Turmeric can be made into a thick paste with sea salt and water, and applied to the outside of the joint for at least 10 minutes as needed or daily.  This acts as a cool compress to reduce an inflamed or achy joint.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil or ground flaxseeds) have an anti-inflammatory effect and are excellent for heart health.  
  • Vitamin D is very important for bone density and can help with body pain when replaced in deficient individuals. Note that it is possible to overdose on Vitamin D, so you should consult with your physician for advice on vitamin D dosing.
  • Try drinking sour cherry juice daily because it can take the edge off of arthritis pain. Flavor the tart beverage with a small amount of sweetener like Stevia or other fruit juice if necessary. Tart cherry juice is available in grocery and health food stores. 
  • Reduce your refined sugar intake.  
  • Keep your weight in check and exercise regularly.  
  • Pain is often associated with your mind – body connection. Be sure that you are sleeping well and managing stress in a healthy way.

What methods do you employ to reduce pain? Have you seen a connection between your lifestyle (diet, sleep and stress levels) with your pain?

Spoon-Fed to Self-Serve: When to Transition Your Baby

Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:07 AM comments (0)

baby foodThe first year of your baby’s life will involve various dietary changes. For the first three to four months, your infant will only need breast milk or formula.

As your baby begins to hold his head up, is teething and shows interest in food (at around four to six months), you can start to introduce pureed foods and cereals (iron-fortified) into his diet.

This transition may be messy at first. Over time your baby will become more independent (and interested!) in feeding himself. When do you know it is a good time to hand the spoon over?
 
Sharon Robinson, MD, Pediatrician, at NorthShore provides some tips on how you can transition your child from being spoon-fed to beginning to eat on his own:

  • Encourage your baby to hold, touch and sample food on his own.
  • Let your baby help you put the spoon into his mouth during feedings. Once he is comfortable on his own, let him do it by himself.
  • Offer your baby finger foods. You can then gradually transition to a spoon.
  • Plan to eat your meal at the same time as your baby. This will reinforce correct behaviors and encourage independence.
  • Be patient and don’t rush your baby. At first more food may end up on the ground than in your baby’s mouth. Over time your baby will learn how to eat properly with making such a mess.

When did your kids start eating solid foods? How old were they when they began feeding themselves? What were some of their favorite foods?

Pelvic Health Conditions: Pelvic Organ Prolapse – Multiple Solutions

Monday, May 14, 2012 10:37 AM comments (0)

Pelvic ProlapseA common condition amongst both young and old women is pelvic organ prolapse. This condition happens when the uterus or vagina gets displaced and drops down.

While many women tend to ignore or live with this often disfiguring and uncomfortable condition, it can also lead to other problems including recurring bladder infections, difficulty emptying bowels and have a negative effect on sexual activity.

Dr. Tomezsko explains the various lines of treatments for prolapse:

  • Pelvic floor muscle rehab
  • Non-surgical procedure—done during an office visit—involving the vaginal placement of a supportive device.
  • Other minimally invasive vaginal or scarless procedures


According to Dr. Tomezsko, the majority of women can have great improvement with the rehab and non-surgical options.

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With all of the pelvic health conditions we have discussed this week, it is important for women to know that many conservative, non-invasive treatment plans exist for these common and chronic conditions.

Did you find the pelvic health information posted this week to be helpful? What other related topics might you be interested in learning more about?

Pelvic Health Conditions: Overactive Bladder – Common Problem, Easy to Manage

Friday, May 11, 2012 1:55 PM comments (0)

Overactive BladderWhat is an overactive bladder? This condition - more common in older women - is characterized by an urgent and frequent need to urinate and sometimes results in some leakage of urine before reaching a bathroom. This condition is often successfully treated with behavior modifications and bladder retraining, but can sometimes require additional treatments.

Dr. Tomezsko walks us through the common techniques for treating an overactive bladder:

  • Learn regulate your fluid intake. Think about what and when you drink and train the bladder accordingly.
  • Talk with your physician about what types of medications can help with the management of this condition.
  • Consider a minimally invasive procedure if problems continue after trying more conservative methods. This procedure involves using Botox injections in the bladder to decrease the muscles of the bladder’s ability to contract, which then eliminates the sense of urgency to urinate.

How much liquid do you drink on a daily basis? Do you find that you have to go to the bathroom more frequently when you don’t regulate your intake?

Pelvic Health Conditions: Urinary Leakage – Easy to Treat

Wednesday, May 09, 2012 8:51 AM comments (0)

We’ll be featuring a series of posts over the next week about the symptoms and treatment options for various common chronic pelvic health conditions in women.

Urinaryt LeakageChronic pelvic health conditions in women—including urinary leakage, overactive bladder and pelvic organ prolapse—are common and affect 20-40 percent of the adult female population. The good news is that they are generally very treatable with conservative, non-surgical methods, or minimally invasive surgical methods.

Urinary leakage caused by a cough, sneeze or doing exercise (otherwise known as stress incontinence) is quite common in younger women. It can affect a woman’s daily life—limiting an active lifestyle, playing with kids, etc.

Janet Tomezsko, MD a urogynecologist at NorthShore’s Center for Pelvic Health gives her advice about common urinary leakage treatments:

  • Prescribed physical therapy program to strengthen or rehabbing the pelvic floor muscles.
  • A minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedure where a small sling is inserted in the vagina to support the urethra allowing it to close more fully. This procedure is for women who are done having children.

Does it surprise you to know that 20-40% of women at one point in their lives will have a pelvic health condition? What education and resources would be most helpful to you for learning more?

Sun Safety – Limit Your Risks of Developing Skin Cancer

Monday, May 07, 2012 8:42 AM comments (0)

Sun Safety

As the summer approaches, many of us will spend more time outdoors enjoying the weather and the sunshine. While the sunshine can be good for you by improving your mood and giving you a boost in Vitamin D, without the proper protection it can also be harmful to your skin and body.

Aaron Dworin, MD, Dermatologist at NorthShore, offers his advice on how to protect your skin and limit your risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma:

  • Limit your exposure to the sun. Spend more time in the shade, especially during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Generously apply sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection) when you know you’ll be out in the sun. Sunscreen should be used any time you know you’ll be outdoors for an extended period of time, even if it’s cloudy outside. Be sure to frequently reapply sunscreen as needed. Fears of not getting enough Vitamin D when using sunscreen are unproven and often overblown.
  • Avoid going to the tanning bed. Despite claims that tanning beds are safe, both UVA and UVB rays can damage your skin.
  • Dress appropriately for the sun. Wear a hat to shield your face, head and ears; wear sunglasses to protect your eyes (100% UVA & UBA protection is best); and wear clothing that limits your skin’s exposure to the sun.
  • Avoid trying to get a tan by sunbathing or applying tanning oils.

How often are you outside in the warmer months? What do you do to protect yourself from the sun?

Dairy – More Than Just a Glass of Milk

Thursday, May 03, 2012 8:29 AM comments (0)

Dairy BenefitsDairy in your diet can make a real difference. Not only may consuming dairy products reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, but it may also help reduce your risk of osteoporosis and hypertension, help you maintain a healthy body weight and play a beneficial role in cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.

With all of these potential health benefits it’s recommended to have 3-4 servings of dairy each day.

Melissa Joy Dobbins, registered dietitian at NorthShore, shares ways she serves up dairy with her family to ensure everyone gets the recommended 3-4 daily servings.

Milk

  •          Choose milk as your mealtime beverage.
  • Low-fat chocolate milk is another good option to help mix it up.
  • Use a milk frother to make your own fat-free lattes at home.

Reduced Fat Cheese

  • Don’t feel like meat? Eat cheese, you’ll get your protein plus calcium.   
  • Shredded cheese is a great addition to salads, soups and casseroles.
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers are a convenient and nutrient-rich snack.   

 Yogurt

  • Make your own “frozen yogurt.” Place the cup or tube in the freezer and enjoy.
  • You can make chocolate yogurt by mixing 1-2 packets of hot chocolate mix with a quart of plain fat-free yogurt.

 Whey

  •  Make a whey protein smoothie after your workout.  Simply add a scoop of whey protein powder to your favorite smoothie recipe.

Are you getting the daily dairy you should? What tips do you have to reach the recommended servings?

Important Seizure Tips: Helping Out and Staying Safe

Tuesday, May 01, 2012 12:13 PM comments (1)

SeizuresWhat do you do if you are around someone having a seizure? If you’ve had a seizure, what lifestyle changes do you need to make to reduce your risk of further injury? These are important questions to consider when dealing with epilepsy.

Jaishree Narayanan, MD, Neurologist at NorthShore, provides her insight on ways to assist someone having a seizure and what you should do after suffering from a seizure:

Seizure Assistance
Aside from never putting anything into a person’s mouth suffering from a seizure or forcibly holding them down, the following guidelines (TRUST) should be followed:   

  • Turn the person onto his or her side (the left side is best).
  • Remove all harmful objects from the episode area.
  • Use something soft (such as a pillow, blanket or sweatshirt) under the person’s head.
  • Stay calm.
  • Time the seizure. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes or multiple seizures are observed, call 911 immediately.

After a Seizure: Precautions to Consider
After suffering from a seizure it is important to limit your risk for injury if another episode should occur. This can be done by following the precautions below:

  • Do not drive for a period of 3-6 months after a seizure.
  • Do not take unsupervised baths.
  • Do not go swimming without someone by your side with close supervision. 
  • Do not climb up roof tops, ladders or onto other elevated areas.
  • Do not work with live electrical wires or operate machinery. 
  • Do not engage in any activities that would put you or people around you in danger due to your seizures.

Were the above tips helpful? Would you feel comfortable knowing what to do now if someone around you was suffering from a seizure?

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Have questions about seizures and epilepsy? Join Sofia Dobrin, MD for an online chat on Thursday, May 3 from 12-1p.m. Submit your early questions.

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