Caregiver and Competitor: Dr. Joseph Alleva Sets a Fitness Example for His Patients

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 2:59 PM comments (0)

Dr. AllevaJoseph Alleva, MD, Division Head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, walks the walk: he encourages his patients to keep active and sets an example by staying active himself. Dr. Alleva trains in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, competing annually in senior division (over 45) championship. By varying his work out and pushing himself physically, Dr. Alleva prevents overuse injury, manages stress levels and maintains his fitness level.

Here, Dr. Alleva tells us what inspired him to get involved in the world of MMA and how he has overcome his own injuries to continue to compete in the sport he loves:

As a doctor, you encourage your patients to stay fit. How do you keep yourself fit and healthy?
I train in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu , both of these disciplines are critical in MMA (mixed martial arts). In the gyms I train in, there are MMA fighters both professional and amateur; therefore, when they want to hone their skills with regard to these disciplines they will train with us. 

How long have you been involved in these sports? What first piqued your interest in/passion for martial arts?
I have been involved in this sport since my early teens. My older brother was a golden glove boxing champion. I was inspired by him and also was his training partner. 

You’ve competed at the senior level world championship in Judo. What steps have you taken to continue competing at such a high level?
I try to qualify for the senior championships in judo and or Brazilian jiu-jitsu annually, so I train in these disciplines through the year and cross train—swim, weight train, bike, run—to avoid overuse injury, control my weight and remain conditioned. I train daily and there are days when I get in a second session of training.

Have you had to overcome any injuries?  How have you prevented further injury?
Ironically, I contend with neck and lower back problems on and off. I can sympathize with my patients who have experienced pain that has prevented them from doing the things in their lives that they enjoy. 

Dr Hudgins (also part of our spine center) has managed my diagnostic tests, treatment and rehabilitation. With his supervision I have been able to maintain my competitive spirit.

What does competing mean to you?
Staying active has long been established as having many health benefits—cholesterol control, diabetes control, pain control, heart health, weight maintenance and more. But, beyond this it helps me manage my stress and by setting goals and varying my activities it makes it a fun activity. That's the key to maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercise never feels like a burden. 

Comment

Shingles: Reducing Your Risk and Pain

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 11:53 AM comments (0)

shinglesShingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in the body. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles.

Shingles is a painful blistering skin rash that often appears in a strip or band on a single side of the face or body. The rash may not be the first sign of shingles. Before the rash develops, people often have pain, itching  or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears. Other symptoms can include fever, headache and chills. 

The rash produces chickenpox-like blisters and irritation, and pain can be very severe. In most cases, blisters will heal within 2-4 weeks and pain will subside with the rash. However, severe cases of shingles can leave the skin permanently scarred or discolored and pain caused by damaged nerve fibers can last long after shingles blisters have healed. 

Matthew Plofsky, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, shares information on how to shorten the duration of the infection, lessen the severity of symptoms and possibly prevent shingles altogether: 

Relieving symptoms and reducing severity: 

  • Antiviral drugs. The prompt use of antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of a shingles infection and help you heal quickly. Antiviral drugs also help prevent complications associated with a shingles infection.
  • Over-the-counter painkillers. Aspirin and acetaminophen may help with pain as will anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen. 
  • Keep skin clean. The infected area should be kept clean, dry and exposed to air as much as possible. You shouldn’t scratch shingles blisters at any time but make sure your hands are clean and that you are only touching infected skin with clean, dry hands. 
  • Keep skin cool. Ice and cold compresses applied to a shingles rash can help relieve pain and inflammation. 
  • Over-the-counter lotions. Calamine is an effective treatment for mild itchiness. 

Preventing shingles:

  • Vaccinate! The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends shingles vaccine for people aged 60 years and older. Even people who have had shingles can receive the vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. Almost 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime, and the risk increases as you get older.
  • Prevent chickenpox. Adults can possibly prevent two infections with one vaccine—chickenpox and shingles. If you’ve never had chickenpox, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get the chickenpox vaccine and you’ll help prevent a future case of varicella zoster infection. The chickenpox vaccine is given to most infants before they reach one year.

Have you been vaccinated for chickenpox or shingles?

Comment

Bundle Up! Recognizing the Signs of Frostbite

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 12:09 PM comments (0)

Avoiding-FrostbiteBlustery winds, snow banks and icy paths don’t always make for pleasant trips outdoors to run errands, participate in winter sports or shovel. And, although there isn’t anything we can do to change the outdoor temperatures, we can be sure to dress appropriately when outside to avoid getting too cold or suffering from frostbite.

Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Department physician at NorthShore, tells us how to stay warm in the frigid outdoors and how to recognize the signs of frostbite if you've been outside too long:

  • Cover your head and ears by wearing a hat. You lose a lot of your body’s heat from your head, so wearing a hat will help keep you warm and comfortable.
  • Dress in layers. Wearing layers will allow you to change and remove clothes if necessary. On particularly cold days you may want to consider wearing long underwear. Don’t forget to put on gloves or mittens.
  • Know the signs of frostbite and when to seek medical attention. These signs include:
    o    Pain – stinging, burning, throbbing or aching
    o    Numbness
    o    Discoloration of the skin—often appears gray, white or yellow
    o    Blistering of the skin
  • Limit the amount of time you’ll be outside on very cold days. If you are starting to get very cold, go indoors and warm up. If your face, hands or feet start feeling numb it may be a sign that you’ve been outside too long.

How do you stay warm when temperatures take a dive?

Comment

Join the Conversation! NorthShore’s New Online Community—The Parent ‘Hood

Monday, January 05, 2015 12:24 PM comments (0)

pedsLife can be hectic, especially the life of a parent, which is why we hope to provide our community members with a place to find the answers they need. NorthShore’s new community is an online destination for parents to share their experiences and support each other, as well as connect with our team of medical experts, from obstetricians to pediatricians. Carl Buccellato, MD, OB/GYN at NorthShore, and an active expert member of the community, says, “I hope my experience both as a physician and a parent will be a resource for expecting parents” of the Parent ‘Hood.

The community will cover a variety of topics, from pregnancy issues like gestational diabetes and nutrition to parenting topics like how best to address your toddler’s tantrums and childhood vaccinations. You can join the conversation now!

On-going conversations:
Toddler Tantrums 
Itchy and Pregnant
Post-Partum Hair Loss

Sign up and start your own conversation:
Click "New Post"

Read articles on health topics relevant to parents in our community:
Blogs and Online Medical Chats

Watch videos from NorthShore physicians and NorthShore patients stories:
Featured Videos

What topics would you like to see in The Parent 'Hood?

Comment

Celebrate a Happy and Healthier New Year: Make a Big Impact with Achievable New Year's Resolutions

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 2:26 PM comments (0)

Make the commitment to improve your health one small step at a time. Big changes can be hard to maintain but small incremental improvements can make a big impact on your overall health.  

Celebrate a healthy New Year throughout the year with the help of these four simple New Year’s resolutions from NorthShore University HealthSystem.

resolution infographi

Comment

Managing the Meltdown: How to Handle Tantrums in Children

Monday, December 29, 2014 12:02 PM comments (0)

tantrumsEvery parent has been there at one point or another—at the mercy of his or her child’s tantrum in the checkout line at the grocery store, in a crowded restaurant or at home.  In a matter of minutes, your child goes from quiet and well-behaved to completely inconsolable. 

The good news is that temper tantrums are entirely normal, especially in toddlers. For toddlers, tantrums are often brought on by a young child’s inability to understand and cope with his/her emotions, emotions related to hunger, tiredness or feeling overwhelmed and over-stimulated. 

While it’s not possible to prevent every single emotional meltdown, there are ways to manage them. Leslie Deitch Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, discusses some of the best techniques for approaching tantrums:

Don’t overschedule. Try not to overexert your child by packing too much into the daily schedule. This is not to say that every day needs to be the same, but when possible try not to push your child to the limits with errand running. A hungry or tired child is much more likely to act out. If you know you have a long day ahead, let your child know in advance so he or she will be better prepared for the change of pace.

Be consistent with your approach. Try your best to manage your child’s behavior during every tantrum. Encourage communication during a tantrum. Say, “Use your words” or ask clear questions to better understand what might be causing your child’s frustration. Lastly, do not give in. Letting your child have his or her way during a tantrum won’t help break the cycle, even if it ends the immediate tantrum. Ideally, you don’t want to give your child any attention—positive or negative—while he or she is having a tantrum. So, as long as you are not in public and your child is not going to hurt him or herself, the best approach is to completely ignore your child until the tantrum stops.

Distract. Distract. Distract. If you can, try to divert your child’s attention away from what may have prompted the tantrum in the first place. Be sure that you recognize that he or she maybe be upset by a situation, but then offer different options or new activities. For example, if your child has a tantrum over wanting a new toy or treat at the store, you can suggest that you find the “new” toy she got most recently when you go home. A similar approach can be tried with treats. If necessary, try to avoid going down aisles at stores that might prompt meltdowns.

Celebrate (and embrace) the good times. Let your children know when they are behaving well and encourage this type of behavior. Tell them how happy it makes you when they listen and follow the rules. Along with acknowledging good behavior (and even rewarding it), be sure your children know how much you love and care for them. Much of what triggers tantrums is children wanting to express their emotions and wanting attention.

Have questions about tantrums? Get answers from other parents and our team of experts in our new online community The Parent 'Hood. Find out more here: The Parent 'Hood

Comment

Taking GERD out of the Holidays

Monday, December 22, 2014 9:49 AM comments (0)

GerdIt’s that time of year again, the time of year when moderation at mealtimes goes right out the window. Holiday parties, after-work drinks, celebrations with the entire family, 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?

Comment

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

Friday, December 19, 2014 3:23 PM 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.

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

Comment

Have the Winter Blues? Dr. Farra Discusses Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 1:32 PM comments (1)

Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the days get shorter and the temperatures continue to drop during winter, some people experience depression-like symptoms brought on by seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a type of depression that can affect anyone but is most common in people who live in areas where winter days are short and there is a limited supply of sunlight.

Robert Farra, Ph.D., Director of the Adult Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, Department of Psychiatry, answers questions on SAD, from symptoms to treatment options:

Q: What are the symptoms of SAD?

  • Feeling sad or moody
  • Loss of interest in usually pleasurable things
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Gaining weight
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the day

Q: How many people are affected?

  • It is estimated that a half million (500,000) people in the U.S. have SAD.

Q: Why do many people experience depression before the holidays?

  • Typically the days of little sunshine
  • Stress of the season

Q: How can people combat seasonal depression? Any concrete tips? 

  • Light therapy may help. Sitting in front of a high intensity fluorescent lamp (usually 10,000 Lux) for 30 mins to 2 hours can help. 
  • Sometimes people respond better to an antidepressant and specialized treatment called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
  • Depression, regardless of cause, shows up as negative thoughts and feelings.  Ruminating about negative thoughts and feelings can bring us down.
  • CBT teaches that negative thoughts and behaviors, while influenced by such things as a lack of sunlight, are still within a person’s ability to change.

Are you affected by the change of the season? What do you do to stay active even with less sunshine?

 

Comment

The Height of the Season: Flu Myths vs. Facts

Monday, December 15, 2014 10:46 AM comments (0)

flu seasonWorried about catching the flu this season? There are many things you can do to prevent the spread of the flu—washing your hands regularly, getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine—but one of the best is to make sure you get vaccinated. 

Kenneth Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, addresses some of the pervasive myths surrounding the flu and the flu shot to give you your best shot for dodging the bug this season:

Myth: I got the flu shot and got the flu right away.
Fact: The flu shot is not 100 percent effective but it is effective. The vaccine reduces a person’s risk of developing significant symptoms by 60%.

Myth: The flu shot is effective immediately.
Fact: It takes a period of two weeks for the flu shot to take effect.

Myth: Only the elderly and young children are affected by the flu.
Fact: The elderly and children younger than two (as well as people with other underlying medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, cerebral palsy, COPD, diabetes, kidney or liver disease) are at highest risk for flu complications. Those with compromised immune systems are also at especially high risk. But, the flu can strike anyone.  Some of the most serious cases can occur in people who were previously healthy.

Myth: People suffering from the flu should always go to the hospital.
Fact: Healthy people should take care of themselves at home: get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and take Tylenol or Advil. Be watchful of other health issues though. If you are suffering from labored breathing or dehydration, you should go to the emergency room.

Myth: You should feed a cold and starve a fever.
Fact: Maintaining nutrition and staying hydrated is important when you are sick with the flu, so the answer is feed and feed.

Myth: Getting the flu shot once per season is always adequate.
Fact: One flu shot per season is adequate for almost everyone, with the exception of children under nine years old who should get two doses of flu vaccine (separated by  four weeks) during the first flu season they are immunized.

Myth: Flu and cold symptoms are the same.
Fact: Flu symptoms include a fever, cough, congestion, chills, fatigue, body aches, and often sore throat and headache. Cold symptoms are fewer in number, much milder and last just a few days.

Myth: The flu lasts 24 hours.
Fact: Children are typically ill 7-10 days but can shed the virus a few days before their symptoms begin and up to 2 weeks after the start of symptoms. Adults are typically ill 5-7 days but shed the virus 1 day before symptoms begin and usually up to 5 days after the start of symptoms. Some symptoms like fatigue may last for several weeks in kids and adults. 

Myth: There is no way to protect yourself from the flu.
Fact: The flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent the flu and to reduce the risk of its complications. Also, thorough and frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with contaminated surfaces, getting adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration all reduce a person’s flu risks. Being watchful of complications and seeing your doctor if serious symptoms arise (like difficulty breathing and dehydration) reduce your risks of harm. Staying home when ill with the flu and covering your mouth when coughing also reduces the risks of spread in the community. 

It’s not too late to get vaccinated this flu season. Have you had your flu shot?

Comment
× Alternate Text