Promoting Urological Health

Friday, August 31, 2012 10:48 AM comments (0)

Urological-HealthUrologists treat all conditions involving the urinary system in both men and women, including the kidneys and bladder. They also treat all conditions involving the male genital system (prostate, penis and testicles).

While urinary incontinence and bladder infections are some of the first conditions that may come to mind, urologists treat other major diseases, including cancer, kidney stones, infertility and sexual health concerns.

Even though urological conditions differ in severity, they are relatively common. The American Cancer Society estimates that urological cancers –of the bladder, kidney, prostate and testicles—account for nearly one quarter of all cancers in the United States. In infants and children, abnormalities of urological organs occur more commonly than in any other organ system.

Charles Brendler, MD, Co-Director of the John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health, identifies some of the key preventative measures for maintaining urological health:

  • Visit your physician annually for a physical exam and laboratory tests. All men over 50 should undergo an examination of their prostate annually as part of their routine physical check-up, and men between the ages of 50-75 should undergo a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test to check for early prostate cancer.  If you have a family history of urological conditions, share this information with your physician.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (especially water) throughout the day, especially during the hot summer months. Staying properly hydrated will decrease the risk of developing both kidney stones and bladder cancer.
  • Make healthy diet choices and maintain a normal body weight. Unhealthy saturated and trans-fats, along with obesity, not only increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but also promote the growth of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
  • Avoid smoking. In addition to being the major cause of lung cancer, smoking is also the leading cause of bladder cancer.
  • Maintain proper hygiene. This may decrease the risk of developing bladder infections, particularly in women.

What are you doing to reduce your risk of urological conditions? What other questions do you have about urological health?


Living with Asthma

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 8:45 AM comments (0)

Asthma SymptomsBreathing isn’t something that many of us ever have to actively think about or struggle with – unless maybe we’ve pushed ourselves too hard in a workout. However, asthma—a common disorder affecting more than 34 million Americans—caused by an inflammation of one’s airways can significantly impact breathing.

There are many different treatment and coping mechanisms available for those who have asthma. Rachel Story, MD, Allergist at NorthShore, provides some brief information about what can be done to help prevent and reduce asthma symptoms:

  • Allergens can trigger asthma.  Many people with asthma have allergies, which can trigger asthma symptoms. Common allergens include house dust mites, animal dander, molds and pollen. Avoiding allergic triggers and treatment of allergies will help your asthma.
  • Irritants can trigger asthma. Smoke, fumes, strong odors, pollution, weather changes and humidity can trigger asthma symptoms.  No one should smoke around you, in your home or your car.  On days of high pollution and humidity staying in an air-conditioned environment can help control your asthma.
  • Viral and bacterial infections such as the common cold and sinusitis will trigger asthma. During the cold and flu season (and all year!) be sure to wash your hands to prevent infections. Also, be sure to get your flu shot in the fall.
  • Asthma has different triggers in different people so individualized therapy is important. Personalized plans for treatment may include:

    o   Identifying allergic and irritant triggers and putting environmental
         controls in place to reduce symptoms
    o   Medications such as a rescue inhaler to improve breathing when you
         have symptoms and (for some people) a daily medication to prevent
    o   An asthma action plan that tells you what to do on a daily basis and
         when you’re having symptoms

What do you do to manage your asthma conditions? Has your asthma improved as a result?


A Curved Back – Identifying Scoliosis

Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:50 AM comments (0)

Scoliosis TreatmentOur backs are responsible for helping with movement, posture and overall support. Without a healthy, strong backbone we couldn’t do much. Some children develop an abnormal curve in the spine (otherwise known as scoliosis), that if not properly treated can lead to problems. While there isn’t a set determining factor—such as genetics—for developing scoliosis, it is more common in females.

Our backs are responsible for helping with movement, posture and overall support. Without a healthy, strong backbone we couldn’t do much. For unknown reasons, some children develop an abnormal curve or curves in the spine (otherwise known as idiopatic scoliosis, an example of the unknown reason), that if not properly treated can lead to problems. While there isn’t a set determining factor—such as genetics—for developing scoliosis, it is more common in females.

Some of the common signs to look for when identifying scoliosis include:

  • Prominence (“hump”) on the back or ribs
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven wait
  • Clothes not fitting right on both sides of the body

Eldin Karaikovic, MD, PhD, identifies some of the scoliosis treatment options:

  • Regular doctor check-ups – Depending on the curve progression, it may only be necessary to visit a physician every 4-6 months to measure progress until skeletal maturity.
  • Braces – Braces, now usually made from plastic, are designed to fit each individual patient. These braces typically do not include the neck and chin. Although they should be worn most of the time (23 hours), they can be removed for sports, showering and other activities. 
  • Genetic Testing – While a single "scoliosis" gene has not been identified, the condition does run in families. Within the last year a test has become available to predict possible progression of spine curvature. This test –only available currently for Caucasians—is painless and reduces the amount of radiation and follow-up visits needed. 
  • Surgery – If other treatment methods do not prove successful, surgery is another option. This is often done based on the degree of curvatures and its rate of progression.

Do you know anyone who has or had scoliosis?


Back-to-School – Safety Tips for Beyond the Classroom

Monday, August 20, 2012 1:17 PM comments (0)

Gearing up for school often involves more than just prepping for the classroom and after-school routine. While the roads may seem a little less trafficked in the summer months with no more school drop off and carpooling schedules, as the new year starts it’s important to refresh our minds about street safety.

Street-safetyJacque Quick, RN, gives some quick reminders for drivers for keeping you, your kids and others safe on the road:

  • Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. 
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully. 
  • Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after-school hours. 
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving. 
  • Use caution when you open a car door. Be alert for the bicyclist!

She also reminds kids to be safe by making sure to:

  • Cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. 
  • Never run out into the street or cross the street in between parked cars. 
  • Walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them.

What safety tips do you remind your kids of before returning to school?


Back to School – Get your Exam, Shots and Screening Scheduled Early

Thursday, August 16, 2012 7:22 AM comments (0)

ImmunizationsSummer vacation is here! While it may seem early, it’s often best to get your child’s required physical and immunizations scheduled and completed before it gets too close to class being back in session. This way your kids can have all appropriate screening and their vaccines updated so they are kept safe from illness and don’t infect others.

Kenneth Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, gives parents some tips on preparing for back-to-school shots: (Please note this is just a sample list of vaccines needed. Please refer to your office guidelines for shots).

  • Children should have the primary series of all the following vaccines by 0-12 months of age:
    o Diphtheria , tetanus and pertussis (Whooping cough)
    o Polio
    o Haemophilus influenzae Type B
    o Prevnar 13 (Pneumococcal)
    o Measles, mumps and rubella
    o Hepatitis (A and B)
    o Varicella (Chickenpox)
    o Rotavirus (oral)

Booster doses of several of these occur between 12 and 18 months and then again between ages 4 -6 years. Influenza vaccines are yearly beginning at 6 months of age.

  • Children age 10 years old should have booster doses of Tetanus and pertussis vaccine (Tdap).
  • Meningitis vaccine (Menactra) is at age 11. 
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine for girls and boys  (3 doses) can begin as early as age 9 and should be completed before child becomes sexually active. 

Most kids don’t like being pricked by needles or look forward to getting shots. Dr. Fox gives some advice on how to ease the pain of getting shots:

  • Be honest, direct, clear and calm.
  • Give some notice. Don’t give it too early; one day is fine for most kids.
  • Bribery is often effective. Offer your child special treats for easy cooperation, promise Band-Aids and fun for after the visit.
  • Explain that vaccines are not optional and are necessary to keep us healthy. 
  • “Blow the pain away.”  Have your child blow gently at the site of vaccine.

When do you usually schedule your child’s back-to-school appointments? Do you have any tips to help with shots?


For more information, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health, Immunization Program website.




Safety First - The Prescription for a Long, Fun Fall Sports Season

Monday, August 13, 2012 11:41 AM comments (0)

Fall-SportsAs summer vacation winds down, you and your kids may be getting ready for the upcoming academic year and school sports season. This preparation may include revisiting equipment needs, as well as scheduling an annual or sports physical.

Depending on the sport and school, many students who plan to play on their school’s sports team are required to get a sports physical before he or she is allowed to practice or play. Even if your child isn’t playing a sport, physicals are recommended for students starting in kindergarten through high school.

Cherise Russo, DO with NorthShore, gives her recommendations for prepping for the school sports season:

  • Schedule an annual physical with your child’s physician. Physicals are an opportunity to get a comprehensive look at your child’s growth, weight, body functions, mental state and maturity. They help to provide a good year-over-year baseline for your child’s health record. Make sure to schedule your child’s back-to-school physical at least two weeks before tryouts and practices in case any tests or labs have to be checked prior to receiving clearance.
  • Do an equipment evaluation. Depending on the sport, your child may need new equipment and clothing. Be sure that helmets, shoes and clothing fit appropriately. It’s also not a bad idea to see if any of the guidelines or safety measures on equipment has changed since the last year.
  • Prevent Heat Illness.  Heat illness ranges from heat cramps to heat stroke.  When heat illness strikes, it is important not to try to practice through it! Inform your athlete to notify coaches if he or she is not feeling well during practice.  Be prepared before the first day of practice.  Gradually increase workouts and intensity approximately two weeks before practice.    Wear loose-fitting clothing and stay well hydrated.  Urine should look like lemonade and not concentrated like apple juice.
  • Start good hydration habits. Two hours before exercise an athlete should drink at least 16 oz of fluids.  During exercise, drink at least 7–10 oz every 20 minutes or sooner if thirsty.  After a workout or competition, drink 24 oz (3 cups) per pound body weight lost through sweat. These are general guidelines and vary among individuals.  It is also helpful to try to drink fluids with electrolytes, like sodium, as drinking only water may make things worse. It is best to limit and eliminate the consumption of caffeinated beverages.
  • Get to know your certified athletic trainer (ATC).  Reassure your athlete that he or she shouldn’t  be afraid to see the athletic trainer if  an injury is suspected. The athletic trainer can help your child get back to playing at a top performance level sooner.

How many sports are your kids involved with at school?


Best and Healthiest Meal Choices – Know the Do’s and Don’ts

Thursday, August 02, 2012 9:05 AM comments (0)

Healthy-MealJust as athletes need to properly stretch and hydrate before and after a workout or event, they also need to be making smart meal choices. What you eat—regardless if you are an athlete or not—will greatly impact your health.

It can often be hard to determine which foods are best, especially with the myriad of options available at most grocery stores. A good place to start is learning how to make smart nutritional choices when it comes to fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Michael Rakotz, MD, Family Medicine physician at Northshore, gives advice on the best meal choices for both athletes and non-athletes alike:

  • Focus on eating “good” fats. These include vegetable oil, olive oil and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (such as seeds, nuts and fish).
  • Avoid transfats and limit your consumption of saturated fats.
    o    Transfats (think commercially baked goods) can be deadly. Try to avoid anything that says “partially hydrogenated” on the label. Make smarter pit stops – skip the fast food whenever possible.
    o    Saturated fats should be consumed on a limited basis. These include fatty cuts of red meat, pork (bacon) and whole fat dairy products (whole milk, yogurt and cheese). Choose leaner cuts of beef and pork, and if possible, eat meat and eggs from cows and hens that are grass fed.
  • Skip the white, choose whole wheat. Selecting the most enriched carbohydrates can be confusing. It’s always better to choose a whole grain bread (whole wheat, whole oat or whole rye should be the first ingredient); you’ll get more fiber and less of a rise in blood sugar. Processed white bread provides very little nutritional value and contains higher amounts of sugar. It’s best to choose whole wheat over white; this applies to rice (brown is better than white), pasta and most baked goods. Choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes, and make sure to eat the skin (which contains much of the fiber).
  • Pass on any sweetened drinks (made with either sugar or high fructose corn syrup).  In moderation, natural sugars (like those that come from fruit) are best. Check labels carefully and try to limit the grams of sugar in anything you buy.
  • Eat nuts in moderation. A handful a day is a good serving size since nuts are very high in calories. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber and good fat. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, those who eat a handful of nuts a day lower their risk of heart disease. Some good options include: almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts.
  • Make smart protein choices. Eat lean meat, pork and poultry. Eat fish twice a week and limit you consumption of red meats to no more than two times per week.

What smart meal choices do you make to maintain your health?


Stretching – A Few Short Minutes Could Improve Performance

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 4:36 PM comments (0)

It’s hard enough sometimes to get into a regular workout schedule, but then to add an extra 5-10 minutes to each session for stretching can make it even more difficult. Fortunately, the benefits of stretching both before and after a workout can make this extra time worth it.Stretching

April Williams, MS, RCEP Exercise Physiologist at NorthShore, discusses the benefits of stretching pre and post workout:

  • Reduces injury. There is nothing worse than pulling or tearing a muscle from working out. Warming up your muscles before a workout can help reduce muscle strain and pain during exercise. The same holds true for when your workout is complete. To help energize your muscles before an activity you could do a dynamic warm-up. This type of warm-up involves moving, much more than just holding a stretch, and can help prepare your body for your activity. This could consist of doing 10-15 repetitions of lightly skipping, walking lunges, side stepping exercises, etc.
  • Improves muscle soreness and stiffness. Just as you may need a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning, your body also needs some time to prepare for strenuous activity. Stretching will give you a greater range of motion during your workout, in your activities of daily living and can also help relieve stress.
  • Improves circulation. Stretching can improve blood flow, making for an easier warm-up, workout and cool down.
  • Enhances flexibility. Have you ever noticed that after time goes by without working out you may not be able to reach your toes when stretching your legs? Continued stretching exercises will make you more limber and flexible. This is especially important since not all of our muscles get used on a day-to-day basis. Stretching is something that should be done on a daily basis because as we get older, our muscles tend to get shorter/tighten, and if they are not stretched they may not work properly. Stretching is a wonderful way to help protect against this loss as we age.

Be sure that you are gently stretching all major muscle groups, especially after working out.  It will be easier for you to get a better stretch once your muscles are already warm from your activity. The following stretches are good starting points for any workout, and can be customized depending on your needs and activity:

  • Arm stretches. This can include doing arm circles (in both directions), stretching your arm across your chest or behind your head. Another option is to give yourself a big bear hug, switching out which arm is on top. Plan to hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds. Make sure you never bounce or have short, quick movements.
  • Leg stretches. This should include hamstring and quadriceps. You can do many of these stretches either standing up or sitting down. You can stretch your calves by leaning against a stationary object. Bend your front leg slightly and leave your back leg straight with the heel on the ground. Don’t forget to change legs to get the other side, too!

Do you stretch before and after you exercise? How long to you usually stretch for?


Proper Hydration Is Key for Endurance Athletes

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:40 PM comments (0)

Proper-HydrationWhether you’re training for a big race or involved in minimal daily physical activity, drinking water is essential to keeping your body hydrated and healthy. For most people the recommendation is to drink eight glasses of water. However, if you are an endurance athlete training for a marathon or triathlon, this amount of water may not be sufficient to refuel your body.

Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, marathoner and triathlete, gives his advice on what endurance athletes can do to stay properly hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout. Measure your weight before and after a workout to determine how much fluid you’ll need to rehydrate. (Remember: A loss of two pounds is the equivalent of one liter of fluid).
  • Replenish your electrolytes. When you sweat, your body loses sodium, calcium, potassium and other important minerals. Drinking just water after an intense workout won’t help replenish these electrolytes. A sports drink, such as Gatorade, or coconut water will help. Check out a side-by-side comparison of the two beverages.  

To view tips on how to train for a race in the summer heat—including avoiding certain times, monitoring your weight and urine—view our previous post.

What do you drink to stay hydrated after a strenuous workout?

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