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.
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?
Winter has arrived--with a venegence. Shovels and snow plows are out of storage for the season, and there's probably a layer
of frost covering the windows. Winter can be quite beautiful from the safety of your home, but it can be dangerous as soon as you step out the front door, from an increased risk of frostbite and slip-and-fall injuries to impaired road conditions.
With proper preparation and attentiveness to potential hazardous seasonal conditions, many of the risks of winter can be greatly reduced or avoided altogether.
Timothy Sanborn, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, offers the following winter safety tips:
How do you prepare for winter weather?
Jeni Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, shares her tips and suggestions for making clean eating part of your 2014.
Have you made a New Year's resolution to lose weight each year for as long as you can remember? Make a change this year. Instead of vowing to lose weight and beating yourself up when you come up short, change the way you think about food by changing the
way you eat. This year, practice clean eating.
When you eat “clean,” it means you focus on consuming whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, dairy, whole grains and heart healthy fats like avocados and olive oil. Clean eating also involves avoiding many of the pitfalls
of dieting, like skipping meals and replacing healthy whole, unprocessed foods with diet foods that may contain high levels of sodium and sugar.
Do you try to eat "clean" in your family?
Do you make a New Year’s resolution every year? How long does this resolution stick around on your to-do
list? Many of us start the year with the best intentions only to fall back into our old, unhealthy habits by February or March. This year, make healthy positive changes instead of resolutions and look forward to a healthier year ahead.
Richard S. Katz, MD, Internal Medicine at NorthShore, shares some healthy changes he would tell all his patients to make this year:
What healthy changes do you plan to make this year?
Holiday 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:
Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year.
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?
Are 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?
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
Stress 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
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?
Are 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.