Many typically associate cancer with a specific part of the body, like the breast, prostate or colon; however, it can develop
and affect more just a part of the body. Approximately 43,000 people are diagnosed with leukemia each year. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Blood cells, both white and red, are made in bone marrow. With leukemia, bone marrow produces an
abnormal amount of white blood cells, which cannot function like normal white cells. As the disease progresses, the accumulation of these abnormal cells can cause anemia, bleeding, infections and eventually could spread to other areas of the body.
Leukemia can develop in both children and adults, and is the most prevalent cancer found in children under 14 years old. Depending on the type of leukemia, symptoms may become apparent almost immediately or gradually develop and become more noticeable over
the course of months or even years. Treatment plans will vary depending on the type of leukemia, as well as your age and current health.
Alla Gimbelfarb, MD, Hematology at NorthShore, identifies some of the signs and symptoms of leukemia that many overlook :
Has leukemia touched someone in your family? During National Leukemia/Lymphoma Month help raise awareness about its signs and symptoms.
Practicing multiple days during the week. Competing in tournaments on the weekend. Participating in rigorous training camps
and leagues in the off-season. Playing the same or multiple sports year round. Does this resemble your child’s sports schedule?
Youth sports are becoming more competitive at younger ages, often requiring participation beyond the normal season to make the cut and see more starting time during games. As the pressure to participate increases and youth sports become more “professional,”
your child’s risk for injury increases too. Sports are a great way to keep your child involved and active, but year-round practices for the same sport can lead to some health concerns as well, including stress fractures, ligament tears and musculoskeletal
Eric Chehab, MD, a NorthShore affiliated orthopaedic surgeon, offers some tips to help keep your kids active and injury-free:
For additional information about sports injuries, including sports-specific tip sheets, visit the Stop Sports Injuries website:
What do you to keep your kids active? How do you make sure they aren’t overdoing it?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide was the 10th leading cause of the death in the U.S. in 2009. That
year there were 37,000 suicides, with one million reported attempted suicides. In the same year, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Suicide is a major health issue but it’s also a potentially preventable one. While there are several risk factors for suicide, any person who expresses suicidal thoughts or the intent to commit suicide should be taken seriously. Risk factors for suicide
Knowing and acting on the signs of suicide exhibited by others could save thousands of lives each year. If someone appears depressed and/or expresses suicidal thoughts, it's important to listen closely and take that person seriously. It's especially important
to be concerned if someone exhibits any of these signs and has also attempted suicide in the past, as most successful suicides were preceded by one or more attempts.
Benjamin Shain, MD, PhD, Psychiatry at NorthShore, shares some of the warning signs of suicide and discusses what you can do to help a person
who might be contemplating suicide:
What should you do if you notice these behaviors in a friend or family member?
First, discuss your observations or concerns with the person and/or other friends or family members. Make sure to listen to the person’s concerns and what might be stressful for them. It's essential to urge the person to speak to their primary care physician
and/or a mental health professional. If you believe they are an immediate risk to themselves, call 911.
“How are you feeling?” is probably one of the first questions your doctor will ask during your annual visit. If you haven’t
needed to see your doctor between physicals, your answer will most likely be, “Fine.” It won't be until later that you remember all the miscellaneous symptoms, heath issues, and aches and pains from the last year.
Don’t miss another opportunity to maximize your time with your doctor. By planning and preparing beforehand, you ensure that you’ll remember to ask the correct questions during the limited time you have with your primary care physician.
Curtis Mann, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, offers some tips on how to make the most of your time with your doctor:
Do you have a yearly physical? How do you make the most of your annual visit?
Kidney stones can cause pain that ranges from mild to excruciating; however, stones typically do not cause symptoms until they move from the kidney into the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder). So how do they form? Kidney stones develop
when urine consists of more crystal-forming substances than the urine can dilute. Often there is no single definitive cause of kidney stones but there are factors that increase one’s risk for developing them. Determining the type of kidney stone can be helpful
in determining its cause and preventing recurrence.
Main kidney stone types:
Amanda Macejko, MD, Urologist at NorthShore’s Jon and Carol Water Center for Urological Health, answered several questions about kidney
stones, including hereditary risk factors, and how best to treat and prevent recurrence:
If there is a family history of kidney stones, are you at an increased risk for developing them at some point?
Stones can certainly have a hereditary component. So, yes, if there is a family history one could be prone to developing stones. One of the best things you can do to decrease your risk is to make sure you drink plenty of water (2.5-3 liters of water daily).
Is there a particular group of people who are at higher risk of developing kidney stones?
Peak incidences of stones occur in people between the ages of 30-60. Caucasians and people who live in warm, dry climates are at higher risk of developing stones. Additionally, people with higher body mass index (BMI) are also at increased risk.
Aside from drinking a lot of water, what other preventative measures can be taken to avoid recurrence of kidney stones?
The stone prevention diet includes: limiting salt intake, avoiding foods high in oxalates and limiting consumption of animal protein. Salt intake increases calcium in the urine so we recommend avoiding canned, processed and fast foods which contain a lot of
For people with calcium oxalate stones, foods high in oxalate should be avoided, which includes tea, spinach, nuts, and, I’m sorry to say, chocolate. Animal protein, including red meat, chicken, fish, should also be limited. It is important to note that
calcium restriction is not recommended.
I've had multiple stones over the years, do I need further tests?
For someone with multiple stones or a strong family history of stones , I highly recommend a metabolic work up. This involves blood work and a 24-hour urine collection (48 hours the first time). This helps your physician figure out what your specific risk factors
are for stone formation, as well as look for possible underlying medical conditions. We perform this service in the Stone Clinic which is staffed by myself, Dr. Park (urology) and Dr. Sprague (nephrology).
Can kidney stones cause renal failure?
Nonobstructing stones in general should not cause renal (kidney) failure; however, untreated obstructing stones may eventually cause renal impairment.
Should you always go to the hospital for kidney stones?
This is really important. If your pain is tolerable with pain medication, whether over the counter or prescription, then you can probably follow up with your primary care doctor or urologist in the office to work out a plan. However, if your pain is not well
controlled or you have significant nausea/vomiting, you will need to go to the emergency room. Typically they will be able to control your pain and/or nausea and you can return home. Most importantly, if you have fever (higher than 100.5˚ F.) or shaking chills,
you need to go to the emergency room immediately. An obstructing stone associated with an infection is very serious and can be life-threatening.
If someone has a kidney stone but would rather attempt to pass it at home, what can he or she do to ease the pain from home?
Most patients take some form of pain medication whether it be over the counter or a prescribed narcotic while they are passing a stone. Additionally, we often prescribe an alpha-blocker. These are the same medications used to increase the flow of urine through
an enlarged prostate. These medications have been shown to help relax the ureters and increase the rate of stone passage.
What can be done for larger stones that cannot be passed on their own?
Kidney and ureteral stones that are too large to pass often require treatment. Common outpatient treatments include shock wave lithotripsy or ureteroscopy. Shock wave lithotripsy is a procedure performed under anesthesia in which we break the stone using sound
waves. After the procedure you then pass the fragments. In ureteroscopy, a small scope is passed through the urethra and bladder and into the ureter. The stone is broken up with a laser fiber and the fragments are subsequently removed with a tiny basket.
Have you ever had a kidney stone? What do you do to prevent them?
Over the last 40 years, food portion sizes have grown substantially in the U.S. And since larger portions mean higher calorie counts, Americans have been steadily increasing in size as well. With obesity rates at an all time high, portion control should
become a primary consideration when attempting to lose weight in a healthy way.
The experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem have created an infographic that puts food portion sizes into perspective. How much have portion sizes increased over the years? What does a real serving size look like? How can you avoid overeating at mealtimes?
Let our latest infographic with portion control tips help you avoid weight gain and maintain a properly portioned diet! Click on the image below for the full
To embed this infographic on your website, find the embed code
What’s wrong with gluten? There’s nothing wrong with it—unless you happen to be one of the two million men and
women in the U.S. who suffer from celiac disease.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. People who suffer from celiac disease are unable to eat gluten because it causes an inflammatory reaction in their small intestines. This inflammation can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine
and prevent the body’s absorption of nutrients and vitamins. If left unchecked, this intestinal damage can cause weight loss, bloating and diarrhea. The body is then deprived of important nutrients, which can damage organs including the heart, bones, kidney
There is no cure for celiac disease but eliminating gluten from your diet can reduce symptoms and give your intestines an opportunity to heal. Signs and symptoms of celiac disease vary from patient to patient. They range from more typical symptoms like diarrhea,
weight loss and bloating to essentially no symptoms at all. It’s important to discuss any of the following signs, symptoms or issues with your doctor because 70% of patients who have celiac disease go undiagnosed.
How do you know if you have celiac disease?
David Labowitz, DO, MPH, Gastroenterology at NorthShore, shares some of the signs and symptoms of celiac disease:
Do you have celiac disease? If so, what were your symptoms? How difficult was it for you to remove gluten from your diet?
Headaches can be more than just a pain, interrupting your day-to-day life and making it difficult to concentrate on even
the simplest tasks. The key to finding your way through the pain could be determining its type and trigger.
There are many types of headaches and they vary in severity from person to person and type to type:
What could be triggering your headaches?
Steven Meyers, MD, Neurologist and Head of the
Headache Program at NorthShore, discusses some common headache triggers:
Do you suffer from headaches? Do you know your headache triggers?
Schedules fill up quickly, days are busy and sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day
to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. And, unfortunately, it’s often our exercise regimens that are the first to fall by the wayside. But don’t give up! Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being.
Thomas Hudgins, MD, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at NorthShore, shares some effective ways to maximize the time you have for exercise:
What is your go-to workout plan when you’re short on time?
Food allergy is a reaction by the immune system that occurs quickly after eating a food. Symptoms occur with ingestion of even a tiny amount of a food and can range from rash or mild itching of the mouth and tongue to life-threatening and life-ending reactions.
Many people who think they have a food allergy actually have food intolerance. Food allergy is estimated to affect six to eight percent of children under five, and three to four percent of adults.
Intolerances to food will affect most people at some point in their lives. For example, lactose intolerance occurs when your body can’t break down milk sugar leading to bloating, cramping and diarrhea. While food intolerances can be uncomfortable they are
less serious than food allergy and are not life-threatening.
Common food allergies for adults:
Common food allergies in children:
How do you determine if you have a food allergy to a specific food? Understanding the symptoms of an allergic reaction is important. In allergic reactions, symptoms develop within seconds to a few hours of ingesting the food. Symptoms occur each time you
ingest the food allergen. In fact, 85% of food allergic reactions occur have ingesting the same eight foods: milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut/tree nuts, fish and shellfish. Symptoms can range from mild to severe—itching in the mouth; hives or eczema; swelling
lips, face or tongue; trouble breathing; diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain; dizziness and fainting are all symptoms of allergic reactions. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to foods.
Rachel Story, MD, Allergist at NorthShore, highlights some approaches your physician might take to determine if you suffer from a more mild
food allergy and what might be triggering your reactions:
Food allergy can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the airways with throat closing or difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse and fainting. This type of reaction must be treated immediately
as it could result in death. All people with suspected food allergy should be evaluated by a physician as they may need to carry medications to treat accidental ingestions of food allergens. Over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
and cetrizine (Zyrtec) are used to treat mild reactions. Severe reactions are treated with an injection of epinephrine that can be administered using an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, AuviQ).
There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for food allergy. However, much promising research is ongoing and there is hope for a treatment for food allergy in the next 5 to 10 years.
Are you allergic to a food? How did you discover your food allergy?