Start the Year Off Right – Set Reachable Goals

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 9:45 AM comments (0)

Reachable-GoalsI am going to work out for an hour every day. I will lose 20 pounds in the next three months. I’ll be back down to my weight in high school by the end of the year. Do any of these goals sound like your own for the year?

If so, and you have a thoughtful plan on making it a reality – good for you! If you tend to say the same thing every year and don’t see the progress you’d like, this year try to set an attainable goal with key milestones to keep you on track and motivated.

Thomas Hudgins, MD, a physician at NorthShore and a triathlete, gives the following suggestions for setting health and weight goals you can stick to this year:

  • Choose activities and exercise routines that you enjoy. You will find that you’ll be much more likely to stick to a routine if it involves doing something that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy running, choosing a weight-loss routine that focuses heavily on running probably isn’t going to be something that you’ll stick to long-term. Remember, activities as simple as walking and going up the stairs can help get you on track.
  • Don’t stress out about the numbers. While it is good to check your progress on a scale from time to time, don’t let the numbers rule your success. Getting into shape may involve weight loss, but it also involves muscle strengthening and toning.
  • Be flexible. Be willing to change things up, if needed. It’s great to have a reachable goal in mind, but it’s just as important to be able (and willing) to make adjustments to your routine to help you get there.
  • Partner up. Working out with someone else can help keep you motivated. If you don’t have a family member or friend that can join you, consider participating in a class or group workout activity.
  • Set short-term goals. While keeping your long-term goals in sight, don’t forget to set short-term goals and reward yourself periodically for reaching those closer milestones.

What goals do you have this year? How do you plan to stick to them?

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Kid-Friendly Home Remedies for the Common Cold

Monday, December 23, 2013 9:00 AM comments (0)

common cold

It’s cold and flu season. There’s no way around it. If it hasn’t happened already, it won’t be long before the common cold and the flu start making the rounds at your child’s school. And kids in school are particularly susceptible because regular hand-washing probably isn’t at the top of their to-do lists. 

Parents, it’s the perfect time to prepare for the sick days ahead. Susan Roth, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some effective home remedies for parents with little ones stuck at home with a bad cold.

What home remedies have worked for you?

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Celebrate a Healthier Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:25 PM comments (0)

holiday eatingAre your waistbands a little tighter each year when January arrives? It’s not just your imagination. Studies show that the average American gains between one and two pounds during the holiday season, and up to 14% of Americans gain five pounds or more. This fairly small gain tends to increase body fat percentage, which may partially explain why we often have the illusion of a more significant increase around the holidays. 

Holiday parties, rich holiday food, the cold weather keeping you indoors and holiday stress can all contribute to this seasonal weight gain.  And, though the gain may be modest, for many it could stick around for the rest of the year.

Weight loss doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution this year. Start your year off right with these simple tips from Jeni Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, and enjoy the holiday season full of health and zero regrets:

Focus on maintenance not weight loss. Enjoy the holidays! If you start out trying to deny yourself the food that you enjoy, you’re likely to overindulge eventually. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays; try to maintain your weight. The holidays can be stressful enough without the added pressure of a diet. 

Have a healthy snack before you head out the door. Holiday parties are a great time to catch up with friends and family, but they aren’t the best place to find healthy snacks. When your favorite high-fat holiday fare is on offer, it’s not easy to practice moderation, especially if you show up hungry. Eat a healthy snack before you hit the buffet line to avoid overindulging. If you don’t have time to eat beforehand, grab a small plate and ensure most of it is filled with healthy fruits and veggies. 

Keep moving! The weather outside might be frightful, but don’t let that keep you from staying active during the holiday season. There are many outdoor activities that not only embrace the cold but are big calorie-burners for the entire family, like ice-skating and cross-country skiing (no hills required). Make these family activities and you’ve started a new healthy holiday tradition. Keep it simple, layer up and go for a walk; take the stairs at work before your holiday days off instead of the elevator; do your holiday shopping at the store instead of online. 

Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables. Seasonal fruits and veggies aren’t just a summer thing. Apples, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and pumpkin are all in season during the colder months of the year, and they can be prepared in a multitude of healthy and delicious ways. Fill your plate and don’t regret it.

Make some small substitutions that make a big difference. Healthy substitutions can make a huge difference when it comes to calories and fat. Use lower-fat ingredients in your holiday cooking to create healthier versions of your favorite holiday foods.  Consider substituting skim milk for whole. In many baked goods, applesauce can replace oil. And the best thing about making these healthy substitutions is that, in terms of taste, you won’t notice a thing. 

How to you maintain your weight during the holidays?

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Don’t Stress the Holidays

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:13 PM comments (0)

holiday stressStress is our body’s reaction to something which upsets the normal balance of life, something more than our usual day-to-day duties and obligations. Stress often triggers a “fight or flight” response. During stressful events, the adrenal glands release adrenalin, a hormone that activates the body’s defense mechanisms, causing the heart rate and blood pressure to increase, muscles to tense, digestion to slow and pupils to dilate. These physiological responses give us the strength and focus to escape or to fight when faced with an acute threat. This once ensured the survival of our species when predators were a true threat. 

Today, when many think of “stress,” they think of something negative. Stress is not a pure evil though. The world we live in now may be filled with less literal predators, yes, but the “fight or flight” response to stress can still be useful. It can help us make good, productive decisions when faced with a deadline at work or school, and we often experience cognitive and emotional growth as a result of some stressful experiences as well. 

Some are better equipped to handle stress though. Temperament plays a role in how susceptible people are to stress. Most parents have probably observed that one child might be especially fussy by nature and need extra soothing, compared to another who is calmer and can more easily accept and feel comfort. If one does not handle stress well, it can manifest in a variety of ways physically, including headaches, stomach pain, sleep issues, regular illnesses, anxiety and depression. Chronic stress can trigger a secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can cause heart disease, obesity and the suppression of one’s immune system. That’s why it’s imperative to find ways to both harness the power of stress and find ways to cope with and reduce stress levels when they become too high.

The holidays can be an especially stressful time for many people, from holiday shopping that becomes too much to handle, to travel that makes the holidays feel far from festive. 

Zahava Davidson, Head of the Division of Individual and Relational Psychotherapy at NorthShore, shares some ways to manage your stress levels during the holidays and beyond:

Regular exercise. Often the holidays become an excuse for letting a regular exercise routine fall by the wayside. Don’t do that again this year. You might have less time during the holidays, but make time for exercise. It’s a great stress-reducer and even a short walk each day can do wonders.

Make a list. Finding a better way to manage your time could help you avoid those skyrocketing stress levels altogether. Prioritize your schedule. Chances are, the big things are stressing you out. Which are most important? Which will take the most time? Acknowledge they need to be done, get them out of the way and then enjoy the holidays with your family. 

Eat a balanced diet. It’s all about taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. If your stress levels are high, you are more susceptible to illnesses, so you need to keep your body healthy too. Try to eat a balanced diet. Yes, this is important even during the holidays. Also consider limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption. 

Sleep! Start each day off right. Getting enough sleep each night makes handling stress much easier. When you’re tired, you are more likely to lose your temper or become easily agitated. When you’re well rested, you can better handle whatever the holidays might throw at you, and maybe even enjoy it. 

Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything on your own. You might be hosting the big meal or you might be hosting family at your house for the week, but that doesn’t mean you have to do all the work. Those who have a strong network of family and friends are better able to handle stress. Let your family and friends take some of the weight off your shoulders.

Try meditation and mindfulness. The holidays can leave some with the feeling that they don’t even have time to think. You do. Or you should make time for it. Find time to be alone with your thoughts. For an extra boost of stress relief, consider combining this time with a massage, aromatherapy, yoga or acupuncture to relax your body as well.

Acknowledge that holidays can trigger depression. If your family has recently lost a loved one, or certain relatives and friends will be out-of-town, realize that it’s normal to feel grief during the holidays. Allow yourself to feel those emotions, and seek support from community, religious or healthcare resources.

Stick to your budget. The cost of food, gifts, travel and entertaining during the holidays can create a financial burden that greatly adds to stress. Plan in advance how much money you can afford to spend, then stay committed to your budget. If your budget is small, create more affordable ways to celebrate such as exchanging homemade gifts or asking guests to bring a potluck dish.

How do you cope with the stress of the holidays?

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The Tough Stuff: When Eating and Sleeping Don’t Come Easily for Your Child

Thursday, December 05, 2013 1:55 PM comments (0)

veggie haterAre your kids getting the sleep they need each night? Is your picky eater turning down fruits and vegetables at every meal? Are bedtimes and mealtimes a daily struggle in your home? This is the “tough stuff.”

Lindsay Uzunlar, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, answers these tough questions, sharing bedtime and mealtime solutions and tips to ensure every member of the family—large and small—is getting the sleep and nutrition they need to thrive.  

When should your child start to regularly sleep through the night? When should you be worried that they aren’t sleeping through the night or are waking up too frequently? 
Your child is biologically able to sleep through the night around 3-4 months, so with your help they should be able to sleep through the night by six months—meaning sleeping between 6-7 hours without waking up. If your baby is still waking up frequently at nine months, talk with your pediatrician about some possible sleep-training strategies. Consider talking to your pediatrician about sleep-training techniques earlier than six months, or even during pregnancy. 

How do you set bedtimes? How much sleep do children need?
A lot of babies need help learning when and how to sleep so this is where you can make a big difference. Observe when your child seems become naturally sleepy or when he starts to be fussier. When that time comes, put him to bed drowsy but not sleeping. 

The key to remember is that you are in charge of bedtime, from infancy until they leave your house.  Setting bedtimes is really important and can vary depending on age. Children will naturally start to go to bed later as they need less sleep. A newborn needs up to 15-17 hours of sleep; a six-month-old needs 13-14 hours; 9-24 months need about 12 hours; school age between 9-10 hours and adolescents 8-9 hours.

How long is it normal for a child to wet the bed? Is a family history of bedwetting a contributing factor? What can you do to stop it? 
It is still normal to have nighttime wetting up to the age of six, especially if there is a family history. There are different techniques that you can try. The simplest is just having scheduled wake-up times. With this technique, you set your own alarm and wake him up to take him to the bathroom. In a perfect world, you could wake him up before you go to bed (assuming you go to bed later than him) and then not worry about it for the rest of the night.

How do you wean an infant of needing a pacifier to remain asleep at night?
As you may have realized, children use pacifiers as a self-soothing object. So the key to helping them transition to good sleeping without is to replace the pacifier with something else. For instance, this is a great time for a teddy bear or blanket. Put them to sleep with both the pacifier and the new object so that they can learn to associate both with self-soothing. Then you can take away the pacifier and ideally he or she won't notice its absence too much. You can work on having the pacifier gone over the next 2-3 months. I would recommend that you take all pacifiers away at once, that way when he wants it, you can 100% truthfully say that they are "all gone."

What do you do if your child refuses meat? How do you ensure he or she gets enough protein? 
Vegetarianism is fine for kids but it is understandable to worry about protein intake. There are other sources of protein besides peanut butter and meat. Some other good sources are: eggs, milk, soy products and whole grain cereals. Try to make sure your child gets a combination of these at each meal. 

How do you handle a picky eater who won’t eat anything other than his or her favorite and probably unhealthy foods?
It takes kids about 10-15 tries of a food before they will like it. So making sure that they take a “no thank you” bite will help give them exposure to the new foods. You can also try introducing new tastes of food mixed with their favorites such as peas with macaroni and cheese. Your child should be eating the same dinner that everyone else is eating. If they don’t want it, then accept their opinion and let them know that this is the only thing that will be prepared tonight. He or she will be more likely to eat what has been prepared if they know that they don’t have other options. The key to helping instill change is consistency. So it is important that anyone who consistently cares for your child be on the same page about introducing new foods. 

What are some strategies to help children learn to explore more food types if they have texture sensitivities?
For texture sensitivities, it’s a good idea to attempt “try and try again." It can take kids awhile to get used to new things, tastes and textures, so just encourage a single bite each meal and if he or she takes it, consider that a success! If you find that this is taking longer than you think it should, speak with your pediatrician.

Are dairy and gluten considered safe for children? Are they a necessary part of a child’s diet?
Dairy-free and gluten-free diets are very popular right now; however, they are only necessary for a select number of people and otherwise are part of a healthy diet. Children who experience gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, stomach cramping, vomiting or bloating after eating one or both of these may have a sensitivity. In that case, it is a good idea to see your pediatrician about safely removing these from the diet. If they don't experience these symptoms, they are fine and your children can continue eating food with dairy and gluten without issue.

When should babies start drinking animal milk? Do you have recommendations on cow vs. goat?
To help with brain growth, babies should remain on breast milk or formula until 12 months old. After that, trying cow's milk is best as it has a more complete set of nutrients. Goat's milk is an option if you feel your child may not be tolerating the cow's milk,but in that case, he should be taking a multivitamin with it.

 

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Embodying the Giving Spirit: NorthShore Employee, Donor, Volunteer and Patient Diane Cole

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 9:15 AM comments (0)

Some know Diane Cole as the Senior Director of Finance for NorthShore’s Research Institute, Foundation and Department of Family Medicine, but others, including many NorthShore patients, know her as a committed and active NorthShore volunteer and donor.  

diane coleDiane’s commitment to giving back has afforded her unique insight into the patient experience at NorthShore, which was only deepened this year when she became a patient herself. Diagnosed with breast cancer in February, Diane underwent treatment at Kellogg Cancer Center. After treatment, Diane and her husband organized a paintball tournament fundraiser to support the research of Katharine Yao, MD, Director of NorthShore’s Breast Cancer Surgical Program. 

Diane tells us why giving back is so important and how it has impacted her life:  

How do you give back?
I donate through NorthShore’s Employee Combined Appeal to support Medical Education, volunteer for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and push wheelchairs at NorthShore Glenbrook Hospital. In the past, I have helped out at the Hospitals’ Gala and the American Craft Exposition (ACE), which raises funds to support ovarian cancer research conducted at NorthShore.

Why do you give back?
NorthShore is worth the effort.  It’s a good place with caring, compassionate people who work hard every day to help others. Volunteering also makes me feel useful in a personal way.

What impact has giving had on your life?
Giving back feels good.  I’ve made some exceptionally nice new friends along the way. Hosting the fundraiser gave me new appreciation for the important work that NorthShore Foundation does every day.

Is there one experience as a volunteer that stands out?
Two come to mind: When I volunteered to push wheelchairs at Glenbrook Hospital, I stood by the Ambulatory Care Center entrance near Kellogg Cancer Center. There was a lady who had just lost a loved one after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was heading out the door and broke down in tears in the lobby. I walked over to see if she was okay. She shared her story and I just listened. I gave her a hug. I can’t say I’ve ever hugged someone I didn’t know. I hope she is doing okay.

I volunteered to escort guests from the front of Evanston Hospital to the Burch Building where the Red Kite Society was hosting an event for children with autism. One little boy who attended was blind. He took my hand and we walked together from one end of the hospital to the other. I was moved by how happy he seemed. It made me think of how much I take for granted.  

What would you say to others to encourage them to give back too?  
Giving back is rewarding in ways you may not expect. You learn from other volunteers and, in my experience as a NorthShore volunteer, from the patients I’m helping.  

Join Diane in giving back here. Learn more about volunteer opportunties at NorthShore here

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Giving Makes a Profound Impact: Associate Board Member Mike Jelinske

Friday, November 29, 2013 9:00 AM comments (0)

JelinskeMike Jelinske has been a member of the Associate Board of NorthShore University HealthSystem for nearly two years. The Associate Board is a group of young professionals whose philanthropic events and service programs benefit NorthShore and the surrounding community. An important asset on the member recruitment team, he has brought in many new faces and is now the board’s president-elect. In addition to his work with the Associate Board, Mike is an associate at RoundTable HealthCare Partners in Lake Forest.

Mike tells us why he is so passionate about giving back and why he would encourage others to do the same:

How do you give back?
For me, giving back is more than just a monetary commitment; it’s about providing my time, energy and skills to help an organization make a truly positive impact on someone’s life.

Why do you give back?
I give back because it’s incredibly rewarding, especially if you’re passionate about the cause! 

What impact has giving had on your life?
It has had a profound impact. My general attitude in life is to try to make the world a better place and enjoy every minute of every day. By giving and serving others, I get closer to accomplishing that goal. 

What would you say to others to encourage them to give back in some way?
The most successful relationships I have are with people and organizations I do more for than they do for me. As the proverb proclaims, “What goes around, comes around.”

Join Mike in giving back here. Learn more about the NorthShore Foundation and its auxiliaries here.  

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Mind Games: Your Brain Needs a Good Workout, Too

Friday, November 22, 2013 1:08 PM comments (0)

mind exercisesEveryone knows your body needs exercise to stay in peak shape. But did you know your brain does too? Physical exercise is essential to the health of both your body and brain, but you can do even more to keep your brain in shape. Challenging your brain with cognitive exercises is another great way to keep your mind sharp.

Chad Yucus, MD, Neurology at NorthShore, answers questions and shares some ways to give your brain the workout it needs to stay sharp at any age:

Do brain teasers and puzzles actually help to keep your mind sharp? Are certain types of puzzles and activities better than others?
There are many types of cognitive activities that help to keep the brain sharp, involving word games and number games, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, computer games and board/card games.  There is no strategy that is particularly better than another, but learning a new hobby, game and/or language is a good way to keep the brain sharp.

Why would a new hobby be helpful?
Learning a new skill or starting a new hobby that requires skills you don’t typically use can be helpful because it challenges you to keep learning and function in a way that is not familiar. It’s a great way to stay mentally active whatever your age.

Who benefits from cognitive exercises and activities?
Everyone. 

How do you keep your brain healthy to prevent memory loss?
There is no strategy to truly prevent memory loss, but there are strategies to delay the effects of any pathology (changes caused by disease) that may be developing in the brain.  This is based upon building a cognitive reserve before any problems begin to develop. These strategies include the cognitive exercises above, physical exercise, social activities—spending time with friends, planning events—regular sleep patterns and a low-cholesterol Mediterranean diet.  

How much time should you devote each day to cognitive exercise?
Think of it in terms of regular physical exercise. Your brain and the rest of your body need about the same each day, approximately 30-60 minutes of cognitive and physical exercise every day is a good place to start.

How do you exercise your brain?

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Childhood Epilepsy: What to Do in the Event of a Seizure and How to Prevent Injury

Friday, November 15, 2013 12:49 PM comments (0)

epilepsy smallCurrently about 325,000 American children under the age of 15 have epilepsy, with 200,000 new cases being diagnosed each year, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of America.  Epilepsy is a disorder involving repeated seizures, or episodes of disturbed brain function associated with changes in attention and/or behavior. Although some children will outgrow the disorder or can have it easily managed through medication, others may be more severely impacted throughout their lives.

Kent Kelley, MD, Pediatric Neurology, tells parents, caregivers and teachers what they should know in the event of a seizure as well as some steps they can take to prevent harm from seizures before they happen:

  • Always make sure your child is carrying or wearing some form of medical identification, if appropriate. Teachers and caregivers should be made aware of your child’s disorder and how to act should a seizure occur.
  • Monitor your child’s surroundings for potential hazards. Avoid nearby objects that could cause harm if your child were to have a seizure, such as a hot stove or lawn mower.
  • Even if your child has not experienced a seizure for some time, don’t adjust the dosage of medication without the advice and supervision of your child’s physician. In addition, before giving your child any other medication, check to make sure there will not be a negative reaction with his or her seizure medication. If you have questions, call your physician or pharmacist.
  • In the event of a seizure:
  1. Make sure that clothing isn’t restricting the neck and causing difficulty breathing.
  2. Do not try to hold the child down or restrain him or her.
  3. Remove any objects that could cause harm from around the child.
  4. After the seizure has subsided, position the child on his or her side to help keep the airway clear.
  5. Call 911 if the seizure lasts for longer than five minutes, the child cannot be awakened, or if another seizure begins shortly following the first. Depending on the type of seizure, different actions may need to be taken.

 

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Drug Facts: Molly, or MDMA

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 2:12 PM comments (0)

drugsMolly, a supposedly pure form of the drug MDMA, is seeing a spike in use among young people. Users of Molly see it as a safe, inexpensive drug with few long-term negative side effects, like addiction. Many celebrities, including most recently Miley Cyrus, have quite literally been singing its praises.

But Molly, known previously in the 1980s and ‘90s as Ecstasy, is an illegal drug and it comes with many risks. A mind-altering drug that is a stimulant and hallucinogenic, it boosts both serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. Users of the drug report feelings of happiness, euphoria, empathy, decreased anxiety and fear, as well as enhanced sensory perception, which makes it a popular dance club drug.

Jerrold Leikin, MD, Medical Toxicology and Emergency Medicine at NorthShore, dispels some of the myths surrounding Molly:

  • Myth: It is safer than other drugs.
    Truth: A stimulant, like speed or amphetamines, it comes with many of the same dangers. It can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. It can cause tremors, cramps, nausea, chills, blurred vision and dehydration, especially if combined with hours of dancing. High doses of the drug in the bloodstream can increase one’s risk of seizure and heartbeat irregularity.  There have been cases of brain bleeding requiring surgery after use of Molly.  It has also been known to cause hyperthermia, or a rapid increase in the body’s temperature, which can cause life-threatening heat stroke. 
  • Myth: There are no after effects or long-term negative side effects.
    Truth: As the drug wears off and serotonin levels drop rapidly, users report a depression that can last for several days and range from mild to severe. And while prolonged use eventually begins to diminish users' highs, which means a relatively low risk of physical addiction, it also means that many users take larger doses to achieve a high, increasing the risk of overdose. Over time, repeated use may cause memory loss. Bleeding from the brain can be deadly, and brain surgery to prevent death carries many potential risks and complications that may result in permanent damage and neurologic dysfunction.
  • Myth: Unlike Ecstasy, Molly is pure.
    Truth: Molly is short for “molecule” and as such, it is a myth that all Molly is Ecstacy and is pure.  Those involved in the drug trade make different molecules from MDMA and call them “Molly” to evade governmental regulation and law enforcement.  Other chemicals are sold under the name “Molly” as well.  This results in a mixture of different molecules with unknown short-term and long-term effects that have not been fully studied by scientists. Additionally, it could be cut with potentially hazardous chemicals or it could be a completely different drug altogether.  There is no way for the user to know what is actually in that powder or pill.

How do you talk to your kids about drugs?

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