Keeping the Roads Safe on New Year’s Eve

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 10:28 AM comments (0)

Designated DriverHoliday schedules fill up quickly with special events and gatherings of friends and family that often involve the consumption of alcohol.  Many people drink more often and consume more in these weeks than at any other time during the year and are not used to assessing their own ability to drive, particularly on winter’s sometimes more dangerous roads.  This all adds up to conditions in which drunk or impaired driving is not only possible but likely, which is why December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that DUI arrests peak between Thanksgiving and the end of December, and that the average daily death rate caused by drunk/drugged drivers increases from 36 to between 45 and 54 on Christmas and New Years Eve respectively.  In addition, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 25,000 people will experience injuries during the same period as a result of accidents in which the driver is impaired.  These numbers reflect a decline over previous decades, but each incident represents a family devastated, a son, daughter, husband, wife or friend not returning home. 

Ina Sherman, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor at  NorthShore’s Doreen E. Chapman Center, shares her suggestions for helping to ensure that everyone out on the roads reaches their holiday destinations safe and sound:

  • Designate a driver. The most important thing you can do is ensure there is a designated driver. Designated drivers have saved thousands of lives over the years. Make a plan before you leave for a party that includes a designated driver.  And remember, a designed driver always has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.00. That means no drinking at all.
  • Have non-alcoholic options available. The drink you have in your hand doesn’t need to be alcoholic and maybe it wouldn’t be if there were other options available. Make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages available for those who don’t want to drink or would like to switch to something non-alcoholic later in the evening. Consider including one or two mock-tail recipes on your drink menu. 
  • Use extra caution on the roads. You have designated a driver, but there might be others on the road who haven’t. Make sure to be extra vigilant out on the roads during the holidays. Keep your eyes on the road and if you see anyone driving erratically, be sure to report them and their location to the authorities!

Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year. 

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?

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?

Keep the Season Bright: 12 Holiday Health and Safety Tips [Infographic]

Friday, December 13, 2013 9:53 AM comments (0)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so don’t let an illness, injury or accident keep you from celebrating a happy, healthy holiday season with your family and friends.  Whether you’re outside shoveling snow or inside preparing your favorite seasonal dishes, our 12 holiday health and safety tips are sure to help keep the season bright.

This year, share our holiday safety infographic with your friends and family to spread holiday health tips as well as cheer. Click on the image below to see our full holiday safety infographic

holiday infographic

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?

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.

 

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

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.  

Taking GERD out of the Holidays

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 4:27 PM comments (0)

GerdIt’s that time of year again, the time of year when moderation at mealtimes goes right out the window. Thanksgiving, office holiday parties, after-work drinks, any occasion where food brings friends and family together all make it difficult to spare a thought or two for what and how much food we’re putting into our mouths. And, unfortunately, all that immoderation can cause more than just a little weight gain by the end of the year.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, irritating the lining of the esophagus and causing the symptoms of GERD, which include acid reflux and heartburn. Acid reflux and heartburn are common but a person is diagnosed with GERD only when these symptoms begin to occur frequently, or when they start to interfere with one’s daily activities. 

Help take the possibility of GERD and its symptoms out of your holiday celebrations with these tips on GERD management and prevention from Mick Scott Meiselman, MD, Gastroenterology at NorthShore: 

Don’t eat too much. It won’t be easy with the many food-centered events around the holidays, but try to watch the amount of food you consume at each meal. Sometimes heartburn isn’t caused by what you eat but how much you eat. And it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re eating something that is actually good for you; eating too much in one sitting increases your likelihood of suffering heartburn later.

Don’t eat too quickly. Savor your special holiday favorites not only because they taste good but because eating slowly is good for you too. Eating too quickly might be the cause of frequent heartburn. If the holidays have you running around and eating on the go, start to make a point of sitting and slowing down at each meal. This also comes with the added benefit of possibly preventing you from eating too much without realizing it. 

Don’t eat or drink too late. Reflux is overtly impacted by gravity. The majority of people with reflux have an ineffective Lower Esophageal Sphincter (or LES) which helps keep your stomach contents from moving up into your esophagus. Thus any food or liquid contents in your stomach when you lie flat will find their way into your esophagus. It is extremely important that you have an empty stomach at bedtime, so don’t eat any solid food for three hours before you go to bed, and no liquids beyond the hour before bed, and none in the middle of the night. 

Avoid high-fat foods. Another difficult directive during the holidays but many of those traditional holiday foods are high in fat and calories. High-fat foods tend to take longer to digest and sit longer in the stomach; thus, they cause more discomfort and increase the likelihood of triggering GERD symptoms. Fats also relax the LES. Moderation is key but there are also many delicious alternatives to some of your high-fat holiday favorites.

Avoid acidic foods. Acid causes heartburn. Foods high in acid, like tomatoes and citrus fruits and juices, can trigger heartburn on an empty stomach. Try to avoid them if possible or limit them if not. 

Limit coffee, caffeinated sodas, alcohol. All these drinks stimulate acid production and are likely to cause heartburn. Cut them out or keep their consumption to a minimum. Mixed drinks, like Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers, which contain juice and alcohol, would certainly be a trigger for heartburn. Consider decaf and herbal teas instead.

Limit or avoid chocolate and mint. Chocolate and mint also relax the LES, and allow reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. You should especially avoid these late at night.

Do you know what triggers your GERD symptoms?

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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