It’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
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.
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?
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.
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?
Q: How many people are affected?
Q: Why do many people experience
depression before the holidays?
Q: How can people combat seasonal depression? Any concrete tips?
Are you affected by the change of the season? What do you do to stay active even with less sunshine?
Worried 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.
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.
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.
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?
There is no magic age for when it’s best to transition your toddler from a crib to the “big-kid”
bed. Much of the timing depends on your child’s readiness as well the need to free up the crib for a new little brother or sister. In most cases, toddlers transition to a bed between the ages of 18 months to 3 years.
Whether you are mid-transition
or only in the planning stages, Susan Roth, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers helpful tips to make the change a smoother one:
Have questions about transitioning your toddler from a crib to a bed? Join NorthShore's new online community, The Parent 'Hood, to ask and answer questions as well as connect with
our team of medical experts. Check it out here.
This time of year, 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 most are not used to assessing their own ability to drive, particularly on winter’s
more dangerous roadways. This all adds up to conditions in which drunk or impaired driving is not only possible and more 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 you and your friends and family celebrate responsibly and that everyone out on the roads reaches their holiday destinations safe and sound:
Do you make sure to designate a driver at each holiday celebration?
Ready or not, the holidays are on their way. Soon millions will flock to airports or hit the highways on the way to celebrations across the country and beyond. Don't let the stress of this season's travel take a toll on your health and holiday
NorthShore University HealthSystem shares some simple holiday travel tips to help you arrive at your destination happy, healthy and ready to celebrate with your friends and family all season long.
For exhausted new parents, it can be a relief when your infant finally settles down to sleep for the night
(or even just a couple of hours) but there can be fear as well. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can happen even when all the right safety measures are practiced. The exact cause of SIDS is unknown. SIDS is most common in infants less than
six months of age but can occur between one month and one year.
While nothing can prevent every case, there are ways to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS. William MacKendrick, MD, Neonatologist at NorthShore, shares safe sleeping recommendations every parent should practice:
Have your own questions about safe sleeping or another parenting topic? Join the conversation in our new online community:
The Parent 'Hood.
Don’t let your Thanksgiving favorites leave you feeling guilty the
next day. Start things off right with veggie-packed appetizers that are sure to please even holiday food traditionalists.
Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Adult Endocrinology Group, shares one of her favorite
Recipe makes 6 servingsServing size 2/3 cup
Ingredients: 2 cans artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained (16 oz.) 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise (4 oz.)2/3 cup cooked spinach or frozen spinach that has been thawed (4 oz.)2/3 cup white extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 oz.)
Nutrition Information (per 2/3c serving):
Calories: 149Total Fat: 10Total Carbohydrate:
8Fiber: 2Protein: 6
Counting calories isn’t at the top of many to-do lists on Thanksgiving Day, and it
still doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and a few substitutions, your Thanksgiving can be a little healthier and every bit as delicious.
Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at
NorthShore, breaks down this decadent day, sharing health tips for before and during the big meal:
Before the Dinner
At the Table
What do you do to keep holiday eating