Summertime Swimming - Enjoy the Water, Not the Risks

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 9:03 AM comments (0)

Water-SafetySwimming, floating and splashing are all fun summer activities to do in the water when the sun is out and the temperatures are high. Whether you’re at the pool or the beach, it’s important to be mindful of water safety.

Jacque Quick, Trauma Nurse at Evanston Hospital, provides the following quick tips for water safety:

  • Teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
  • Never swim alone. This applies to both children and adults.
  • Only dive in designated areas. Diving into shallow water may result in serious head or neck injury.
  • Actively supervise children around water at all times, even if a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Have a phone nearby to call for help in case of an emergency.
  • Avoid currents by swimming in designated areas. If you are swept away by currents, try to remain calm and swim parallel to the shoreline until you are no longer being pulled by the current.
  • Wear a life jacket. Life jackets are a requirement for boaters or passengers under 13 years of age.
  • Utilize flotation devices, if desired. Floatation devices such as arms bands or tubes can also be helpful to a swimmer, but are not considered life saving equipment.
  • Avoid swallowing water (both at the pool and beach).
  • Encourage children and adults to take swim lessons in order to be comfortable in the water.
  • Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside-down and out of children’s reach.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Learn CPR.

What are some of your favorite water activities? What safety tips do you swear by?

Summer Safety – Stay Healthy this Season

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:24 AM comments (0)

Summer-SafetySummer is a great time to be outdoors and to take advantage of the weather. With the temperature changes and increased sunshine, come some summer safety concerns.

Julie Holland, MD, a pediatrician at NorthShore, shares a few quick tips on how you can ensure your family stays safe this summer:

  • Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors and reapply it frequently while outside.  Use a sunscreen that has both UV-A and UV-B protection, and an SPF 30 or more.  Children under 6 months should stay out of the sun.
  • Stay hydrated. It is important to drink enough fluid to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Be sure to drink plenty of water before going outdoors and drink fluids while outdoors, especially if you are exercising.   As a general rule, water is the best fluid to drink.
  • Know your plants. Nothing ruins summer fun like the itchy and uncomfortable rash of poison ivy!  As a general rule of thumb, avoid eating berries or fruits you may find in the woods and be sure to avoid plants, such as poison ivy and oak. These plants typically have three leaves (“leaves of three, let them be”) and may have a red tint to them in the spring.
  • Avoid insect bites and stings.  Mosquitoes, bees and ticks are best avoided as well. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.  Long-sleeved tops and long pants protect skin from mosquito and tick bites. Repellents containing DEET are also effective at reducing bites and mosquito netting can be purchased to protect infants outside.  Bee stings can be reduced by limiting use of perfume, avoiding bright colors and floral patterns, and keeping food (especially sweets and fruits) covered.
  • Wear a helmet. Summer is a great time to be more active, which may include biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc. Be sure to protect your head during these activities and wear a helmet. Remember that Moms and Dads need helmets as well as kids!

What do you do to keep your family safe and healthy during the summer? What are some of your favorite family activities?

Men’s Mental Health – Getting Support When Needed

Thursday, June 14, 2012 2:28 PM comments (0)

Men's Mental HealthNo matter what your sex, our lives are often stressful. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious between balancing work, societal pressures and our personal lives.

When it comes to talking with others about these pressures and the emotional impact they may have, men typically tend to keep to themselves. While many men may open up to close friends and family members, mental health issues and concerns frequently aren’t addressed during a visit to the doctor.

Robert Farra, PhD
, gives the following recommendations to men about how to maintain good mental health:

  • Learn to live consciously and deliberately. Avoid living on autopilot, “just going through the motions.”  Take a class on mindfulness so you can learn to appreciate each moment of your life.
  • Don’t brood about things. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust.
  • Consider the two rules of life:
    Rule # 1:  Don’t sweat the small stuff.
    Rule # 2:  It’s all small stuff!

Some of the most common mental health conditions suffered by men include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alcoholism/Problem drinking
  • Excessive stress

What do you do to help reduce stress and anxiety? Would you be comfortable talking to your physician about mental health issues?

Men’s Health – Five Tips to a Healthier Life

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:45 AM comments (0)

Men's HealthIt's the start of Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day is just around the corner. This makes it a perfect time to think about the health of the men in your life (and your own!). Making simple changes to your daily habits may help reduce your risk for illness and other medical conditions.

Matthew Plofsky, MD, Family Medicine Physician at NorthShore, recommends the following five tips for promoting health and wellness:

  1. Visit your family doctor when you are “well,” not just when you are sick.
    Regular physical examinations are important to help us screen you for preventable and treatable illnesses.  31% of adult males over the age of 20 will develop high blood pressure, which frequently goes undetected. Additionally, diseases such as diabetes, colon cancer and prostate cancer can be prevented or treated through early detection.

  2. Live a “healthy life.
    Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 cause of death in industrialized nations.  You can help prevent the onset and progression of this through appropriate measures.  A heart- healthy diet is an important step in this prevention.  Additionally, 45 minutes of exercise on most days of the week can help you achieve a healthy weight.

  3. Practice what you preach.
    Accidents remain a common cause of injury for all ages, including adults.  Don’t just tell your children to wear their bike helmets, put yours on also.   Buckle your seat belt, don’t drink and drive, and lock up your firearms if you have them in the house.

  4. Take an “emotional pulse.”
    In our hectic and busy lives we encounter many stresses.  How are you dealing with those stressors?  Do you need help with counseling or treatment?  Depression and anxiety as well as other emotional issues frequently go undetected, but also are treatable.

  5. Expand your horizons.
    Take some time for yourself. Consider travel or sports. Develop a hobby.  Take a course that may interest you. 

What do you do to promote healthy habits? Have you changed your routine recently in an effort to be healthier?

Gearing Up for Endurance Training – Beat the Heat

Friday, June 08, 2012 7:55 AM comments (0)

Endurance TrainingReady, set, go! You registered for the big race and now you’re all set to begin your training routine. Ramping up your endurance can be easy when the temperatures are cool during daytime and nighttime hours. But what do you do about training when the temperature and heat index continue to rise?

While staying on schedule and continuing training is vital to your conditioning and mental preparation, when it’s hot outside it’s important to make some adjustments in your routine to avoid injury, dehydration and fatigue.

Carrie Jaworski, MD, sports medicine physician, offers the following tips for those training for endurance races this summer:

  • Know your sweat rate and start out your workout fully hydrated. Dehydration is one of the biggest problems people face when training in the heat. Being dehydrated by as little as 2% of your weight can significantly hamper your performance and being 3% or more dehydrated puts you at risk for heat illness. An easy method to figuring out your fluid needs is to:
         o    Determine how much sweat you lose with your workouts. This can be
               accomplished by establishing a baseline weight (weigh yourself in
               the morning after going to the bathroom).
         o    Return from your workout and before going to the bathroom, weigh
               yourself again.
         o    Subtract out any fluid you consumed during your run.
         o    Plan to replace about one liter of fluid for every pound you lose.
  • Monitor your urine. Your urine is a quick and easy indicator of hydration status. It is best to always have your urine resemble lemonade, not apple juice. Certain foods and medications can alter your urine color so ask your physician if you are not sure. Don’t overdo your water intake as it can put you at risk for low sodium levels known as hyponatremia. If you are gaining weight post-exercise, or your rings feel tight, you are likely drinking too much.
  • Choose appropriate clothes. Many options exist for keeping cool while training. Look for clothes that are lightweight and light in color. Wicking fabrics will help to keep the skin cool.
  • Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen liberally and reapply often, especially if you sweat a lot. Don't neglect the backs of your legs and your neck.
  • Know the signs of heat illness. It is normal to feel tired after a good workout, but extreme fatigue, weakness, a racing heart and/or changes in mental status/alertness can be due to heat illness. The best advice is to prevent this from happening altogether by following the above tips. You can also reschedule workouts during times when the heat index isn’t soaring and slow your pace. If despite your best efforts, things go wrong you should:
         o    Cool off immediately.
         o    Use an ice bath or apply ice bags/cold towels to your armpits, neck
               and groin.
         o    Seek medical attention immediately if symptoms are severe.


Are you currently training for a race or run? What do you do to beat the heat?

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Does the heat put a cramp in your fitness routine? Join experts at NorthShore on Saturday, June 16 from 8a.m. – 12:45p.m. for an educational morning at the Chicago Botanic Garden—complete with a healthy eating demonstration, work-out demonstration and panel discussions on skin care, heart health, and sports injury care and prevention. Space is limited for this free event. Register today for Total Care for the Athlete at Heart.

Cancer Survivorship: Tips for a Caregiver

Wednesday, June 06, 2012 9:23 AM comments (0)

Cancer SurvivorshipBeing diagnosed with cancer, at any stage, can be overwhelming and highly emotional. Not only does this news immediately affect the person who is diagnosed with the disease, but it also impacts their loved ones.

As one moves through diagnosis to treatment, often friends and/or family members will serve as caregivers.  National Cancer Survivors’ Day—held on June 3, 2012—is and an opportunity to recognize and celebrate life, and all of those who have been impacted by cancer.

Carol Flanagan, RN, Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program, offers the following words of wisdom to cancer caregivers:

  • Get educated. Learn as much as you can about the disease. While you won’t be able to relate firsthand to what your family member or friend is undergoing, knowing what is going on with his or her illness and emotions can help you provide a better support system.
  • Be positive. It’s normal to be nervous and scared. Maintaining a positive attitude, and bringing fun and laughs into your loved one’s daily life, will help ease the stress of the situation. Staying positive will also help keep you healthy and upbeat, two things that may be very hard to maintain through the journey.
  • Identify a team. Involve other friends and family members in the care process. There will be days when you’ll need a break, and having a network of caregivers can be very helpful both to you and to your loved one. If it’s helpful, create a “to-do” list that can be shared among various caregivers.
  • Be resourceful. Find out what resources are available in your community for people going through a similar journey. Helping with this research can take some of the stress and anxiety of the disease off of the person with cancer. Be sure to look for online resources too. Feel free to join a couple groups of your own, if it will be helpful.

If you’ve cared for a loved one with cancer, what advice would you give others?

Is It a Cold or a Sinus Infection?

Friday, June 01, 2012 8:31 AM comments (0)

Cold-SinusAt one time or another—and maybe even multiple times each year—we’ve all had the symptoms of a cold. The familiar prolonged running nose and sniffling, and the sinus pressure that comes along with it. How do you know if it’s just a common cold or a sinus infection?

Ilana Seligman, MD, Pediatric Otolaryngologist at NorthShore breaks down the differences between a cold and a sinus infection. She also recommends when you should see your doctor if symptoms persist:

Common Cold
There is no real way to prevent getting a cold. Instead, it’s recommended to wash your hands frequently, and not to share cups and toothbrushes. If you do have a cold, there isn’t much a doctor can do, since prescribing antibiotics is not recommended. Most colds typically last 7-10 days, and common symptoms include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Clear or colored nasal discharge


Sinus Infection
A sinus infection is an infection or inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities. Very few colds—only 5-10%—will turn into sinus infections. Common signs your cold is a sinus infection include:

  • Continued nasal congestion after 10 days
  • Significant headaches, teeth or facial pain
  • High fever or persistent drainage


If you experience these symptoms it may be a sinus infection, and time to consult your physician. Common treatment often includes prescribing antibiotics.

Do you know when you have a cold versus a sinus infection? What home remedies to you defer to when you have a cold?

Beyond the Baby Blues – Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:26 AM comments (0)

Postpartum DepressionBaby has arrived – and sometimes with that arrival come feelings of anxiety, mood swings and depression. For many new moms, the baby blues (occasionally feeling down during the first few weeks after birth) are common and not a cause for concern. However, some women suffer from more prolonged, severe depressive symptoms.

It’s important to remember that having a baby in itself can be an emotional journey, and feeling down once the baby is born is not something that should cause embarrassment. In fact, one in eight women is affected by postpartum depression after birth and may require treatment.  For some women, these difficulties can begin during pregnancy.

If you’re a new or expectant mom struggling with depression or anxiety it’s important to know that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you can feel better.  Psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and diet and exercise modifications are some of the options that are effective in treating depression during pregnancy or postpartum.

Jo Kim, Ph.D., of the NorthShore Perinatal Depression Program, recommends new moms be aware of the following symptoms that may signal postpartum depression:

  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in social activities and interactions
  • Lack of energy
  • Extreme exhaustion and fatigue
  • Change in mood – extreme irritability, sadness, anxiety or guilt
  • Lack or loss of interest in your baby
  • Inability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Thoughts that you’re not good enough, you’re a bad mother or that the baby would be better off without you
  • Feeling hopeless, like things are never going to get better
  • Suicidal thoughts

What tips did you use for staying positive and healthy after your baby was born? What adjustments in your lifestyle were the hardest to make?

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NorthShore offers a free, 24-hour crisis hotline at 866.364.MOMS (6667). This confidential line is staffed by licensed mental health professionals.

Healthy Vision – Seeing a Clear Picture

Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:03 PM comments (0)

Healthy VisionThink for a moment of all the things that you do on a daily basis that require good eyesight—making meals, driving to work or to run errands, checking your email, counting money or watching television. Since proper eyesight is so important to everything we do, being proactive with prevention and not overlooking problems as they develop is a must.

Just like working to maintain a healthy weight, taking care of your eyesight can also become part of your daily routine.

Marian Macsai, MD, Ophthalmologist at NorthShore, offers these quick tips on how you can protect your eyes and maintain vision health:

  • Get a dilated eye exam. Not only will an ophthalmologist be able to determine if you need corrective lenses, but many common eye conditions (such as macular degeneration and glaucoma) do not have early warning signs. A dilated eye exam can also help identify damage to your eye. This exam can also be used to follow systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes that can affect vision.
  • Don’t smoke! Not only is smoking bad for your eyes, but research suggests it is also linked to an increased risk of future eye damage and conditions including macular degeneration.
  • Eat a nutritious diet and maintain an appropriate weight. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help keep your eyes healthy and help you maintain a normal weight.
  • Learn about your family’s eye health conditions and overall medical history. Knowing your eye health history can help determine if you are at greater risk for eye disease. While not all eye conditions are hereditary, it is helpful to know what you may be more prone to and what preventive steps can be taken.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses when you are outside to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays. If your job or sporting hobbies require protective eyewear, be sure to use them. This protective gear can include goggles, safety glasses and shields.


What do you currently do to protect your eyes and maintain healthy vision? Do you know your family’s eye health history?

Arthritis Pain – Methods for Treatment

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:03 AM comments (0)

Arthritis PainThere are many supplements on the market to help treat arthritis pain—some more widely accepted and used than others. One of the more common supplements, glucosamine, has become a popular treatment option, but has also been under some debate about its effectiveness.

Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, Director of the Integrative Medicine program, says that clinically she has seen that glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM has been helpful for treating arthritic pain. However, she also recommends that if you have concerns you can go off of it. If your arthritis pain comes back and you haven’t done anything differently, you can always go back on it.  It can have interactions with medications like the blood thinner, warfarin, so be sure to check with your doctor whether you may safely take this supplement.

She also provides some tips and recommendations for alternative treatment methods of mild-to- moderate arthritis:

  • Use herbs like turmeric and ginger regularly in your cooking. Turmeric can be made into a thick paste with sea salt and water, and applied to the outside of the joint for at least 10 minutes as needed or daily.  This acts as a cool compress to reduce an inflamed or achy joint.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil or ground flaxseeds) have an anti-inflammatory effect and are excellent for heart health.  
  • Vitamin D is very important for bone density and can help with body pain when replaced in deficient individuals. Note that it is possible to overdose on Vitamin D, so you should consult with your physician for advice on vitamin D dosing.
  • Try drinking sour cherry juice daily because it can take the edge off of arthritis pain. Flavor the tart beverage with a small amount of sweetener like Stevia or other fruit juice if necessary. Tart cherry juice is available in grocery and health food stores. 
  • Reduce your refined sugar intake.  
  • Keep your weight in check and exercise regularly.  
  • Pain is often associated with your mind – body connection. Be sure that you are sleeping well and managing stress in a healthy way.

What methods do you employ to reduce pain? Have you seen a connection between your lifestyle (diet, sleep and stress levels) with your pain?

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