Back-to-School – Safety Tips for Beyond the Classroom

Monday, August 20, 2012 1:17 PM comments (0)

Gearing up for school often involves more than just prepping for the classroom and after-school routine. While the roads may seem a little less trafficked in the summer months with no more school drop off and carpooling schedules, as the new year starts it’s important to refresh our minds about street safety.

Street-safetyJacque Quick, RN, gives some quick reminders for drivers for keeping you, your kids and others safe on the road:

  • Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. 
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully. 
  • Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after-school hours. 
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving. 
  • Use caution when you open a car door. Be alert for the bicyclist!

She also reminds kids to be safe by making sure to:

  • Cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. 
  • Never run out into the street or cross the street in between parked cars. 
  • Walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them.

What safety tips do you remind your kids of before returning to school?

Back to School – Get your Exam, Shots and Screening Scheduled Early

Thursday, August 16, 2012 7:22 AM comments (0)

ImmunizationsSummer vacation is here! While it may seem early, it’s often best to get your child’s required physical and immunizations scheduled and completed before it gets too close to class being back in session. This way your kids can have all appropriate screening and their vaccines updated so they are kept safe from illness and don’t infect others.

Kenneth Fox, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, gives parents some tips on preparing for back-to-school shots: (Please note this is just a sample list of vaccines needed. Please refer to your office guidelines for shots).

  • Children should have the primary series of all the following vaccines by 0-12 months of age:
    o Diphtheria , tetanus and pertussis (Whooping cough)
    o Polio
    o Haemophilus influenzae Type B
    o Prevnar 13 (Pneumococcal)
    o Measles, mumps and rubella
    o Hepatitis (A and B)
    o Varicella (Chickenpox)
    o Rotavirus (oral)

Booster doses of several of these occur between 12 and 18 months and then again between ages 4 -6 years. Influenza vaccines are yearly beginning at 6 months of age.

  • Children age 10 years old should have booster doses of Tetanus and pertussis vaccine (Tdap).
  • Meningitis vaccine (Menactra) is at age 11. 
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine for girls and boys  (3 doses) can begin as early as age 9 and should be completed before child becomes sexually active. 

Most kids don’t like being pricked by needles or look forward to getting shots. Dr. Fox gives some advice on how to ease the pain of getting shots:

  • Be honest, direct, clear and calm.
  • Give some notice. Don’t give it too early; one day is fine for most kids.
  • Bribery is often effective. Offer your child special treats for easy cooperation, promise Band-Aids and fun for after the visit.
  • Explain that vaccines are not optional and are necessary to keep us healthy. 
  • “Blow the pain away.”  Have your child blow gently at the site of vaccine.

When do you usually schedule your child’s back-to-school appointments? Do you have any tips to help with shots?


For more information, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health, Immunization Program website.



Safety First - The Prescription for a Long, Fun Fall Sports Season

Monday, August 13, 2012 11:41 AM comments (0)

Fall-SportsAs summer vacation winds down, you and your kids may be getting ready for the upcoming academic year and school sports season. This preparation may include revisiting equipment needs, as well as scheduling an annual or sports physical.

Depending on the sport and school, many students who plan to play on their school’s sports team are required to get a sports physical before he or she is allowed to practice or play. Even if your child isn’t playing a sport, physicals are recommended for students starting in kindergarten through high school.

Cherise Russo, DO with NorthShore, gives her recommendations for prepping for the school sports season:

  • Schedule an annual physical with your child’s physician. Physicals are an opportunity to get a comprehensive look at your child’s growth, weight, body functions, mental state and maturity. They help to provide a good year-over-year baseline for your child’s health record. Make sure to schedule your child’s back-to-school physical at least two weeks before tryouts and practices in case any tests or labs have to be checked prior to receiving clearance.
  • Do an equipment evaluation. Depending on the sport, your child may need new equipment and clothing. Be sure that helmets, shoes and clothing fit appropriately. It’s also not a bad idea to see if any of the guidelines or safety measures on equipment has changed since the last year.
  • Prevent Heat Illness.  Heat illness ranges from heat cramps to heat stroke.  When heat illness strikes, it is important not to try to practice through it! Inform your athlete to notify coaches if he or she is not feeling well during practice.  Be prepared before the first day of practice.  Gradually increase workouts and intensity approximately two weeks before practice.    Wear loose-fitting clothing and stay well hydrated.  Urine should look like lemonade and not concentrated like apple juice.
  • Start good hydration habits. Two hours before exercise an athlete should drink at least 16 oz of fluids.  During exercise, drink at least 7–10 oz every 20 minutes or sooner if thirsty.  After a workout or competition, drink 24 oz (3 cups) per pound body weight lost through sweat. These are general guidelines and vary among individuals.  It is also helpful to try to drink fluids with electrolytes, like sodium, as drinking only water may make things worse. It is best to limit and eliminate the consumption of caffeinated beverages.
  • Get to know your certified athletic trainer (ATC).  Reassure your athlete that he or she shouldn’t  be afraid to see the athletic trainer if  an injury is suspected. The athletic trainer can help your child get back to playing at a top performance level sooner.

How many sports are your kids involved with at school?

Best and Healthiest Meal Choices – Know the Do’s and Don’ts

Thursday, August 02, 2012 9:05 AM comments (0)

Healthy-MealJust as athletes need to properly stretch and hydrate before and after a workout or event, they also need to be making smart meal choices. What you eat—regardless if you are an athlete or not—will greatly impact your health.

It can often be hard to determine which foods are best, especially with the myriad of options available at most grocery stores. A good place to start is learning how to make smart nutritional choices when it comes to fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Michael Rakotz, MD, Family Medicine physician at Northshore, gives advice on the best meal choices for both athletes and non-athletes alike:

  • Focus on eating “good” fats. These include vegetable oil, olive oil and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (such as seeds, nuts and fish).
  • Avoid transfats and limit your consumption of saturated fats.
    o    Transfats (think commercially baked goods) can be deadly. Try to avoid anything that says “partially hydrogenated” on the label. Make smarter pit stops – skip the fast food whenever possible.
    o    Saturated fats should be consumed on a limited basis. These include fatty cuts of red meat, pork (bacon) and whole fat dairy products (whole milk, yogurt and cheese). Choose leaner cuts of beef and pork, and if possible, eat meat and eggs from cows and hens that are grass fed.
  • Skip the white, choose whole wheat. Selecting the most enriched carbohydrates can be confusing. It’s always better to choose a whole grain bread (whole wheat, whole oat or whole rye should be the first ingredient); you’ll get more fiber and less of a rise in blood sugar. Processed white bread provides very little nutritional value and contains higher amounts of sugar. It’s best to choose whole wheat over white; this applies to rice (brown is better than white), pasta and most baked goods. Choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes, and make sure to eat the skin (which contains much of the fiber).
  • Pass on any sweetened drinks (made with either sugar or high fructose corn syrup).  In moderation, natural sugars (like those that come from fruit) are best. Check labels carefully and try to limit the grams of sugar in anything you buy.
  • Eat nuts in moderation. A handful a day is a good serving size since nuts are very high in calories. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber and good fat. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, those who eat a handful of nuts a day lower their risk of heart disease. Some good options include: almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts.
  • Make smart protein choices. Eat lean meat, pork and poultry. Eat fish twice a week and limit you consumption of red meats to no more than two times per week.

What smart meal choices do you make to maintain your health?

Stretching – A Few Short Minutes Could Improve Performance

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 4:36 PM comments (0)

It’s hard enough sometimes to get into a regular workout schedule, but then to add an extra 5-10 minutes to each session for stretching can make it even more difficult. Fortunately, the benefits of stretching both before and after a workout can make this extra time worth it.Stretching

April Williams, MS, RCEP Exercise Physiologist at NorthShore, discusses the benefits of stretching pre and post workout:

  • Reduces injury. There is nothing worse than pulling or tearing a muscle from working out. Warming up your muscles before a workout can help reduce muscle strain and pain during exercise. The same holds true for when your workout is complete. To help energize your muscles before an activity you could do a dynamic warm-up. This type of warm-up involves moving, much more than just holding a stretch, and can help prepare your body for your activity. This could consist of doing 10-15 repetitions of lightly skipping, walking lunges, side stepping exercises, etc.
  • Improves muscle soreness and stiffness. Just as you may need a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning, your body also needs some time to prepare for strenuous activity. Stretching will give you a greater range of motion during your workout, in your activities of daily living and can also help relieve stress.
  • Improves circulation. Stretching can improve blood flow, making for an easier warm-up, workout and cool down.
  • Enhances flexibility. Have you ever noticed that after time goes by without working out you may not be able to reach your toes when stretching your legs? Continued stretching exercises will make you more limber and flexible. This is especially important since not all of our muscles get used on a day-to-day basis. Stretching is something that should be done on a daily basis because as we get older, our muscles tend to get shorter/tighten, and if they are not stretched they may not work properly. Stretching is a wonderful way to help protect against this loss as we age.

Be sure that you are gently stretching all major muscle groups, especially after working out.  It will be easier for you to get a better stretch once your muscles are already warm from your activity. The following stretches are good starting points for any workout, and can be customized depending on your needs and activity:

  • Arm stretches. This can include doing arm circles (in both directions), stretching your arm across your chest or behind your head. Another option is to give yourself a big bear hug, switching out which arm is on top. Plan to hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds. Make sure you never bounce or have short, quick movements.
  • Leg stretches. This should include hamstring and quadriceps. You can do many of these stretches either standing up or sitting down. You can stretch your calves by leaning against a stationary object. Bend your front leg slightly and leave your back leg straight with the heel on the ground. Don’t forget to change legs to get the other side, too!

Do you stretch before and after you exercise? How long to you usually stretch for?

Proper Hydration Is Key for Endurance Athletes

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:40 PM comments (0)

Proper-HydrationWhether you’re training for a big race or involved in minimal daily physical activity, drinking water is essential to keeping your body hydrated and healthy. For most people the recommendation is to drink eight glasses of water. However, if you are an endurance athlete training for a marathon or triathlon, this amount of water may not be sufficient to refuel your body.

Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, marathoner and triathlete, gives his advice on what endurance athletes can do to stay properly hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout. Measure your weight before and after a workout to determine how much fluid you’ll need to rehydrate. (Remember: A loss of two pounds is the equivalent of one liter of fluid).
  • Replenish your electrolytes. When you sweat, your body loses sodium, calcium, potassium and other important minerals. Drinking just water after an intense workout won’t help replenish these electrolytes. A sports drink, such as Gatorade, or coconut water will help. Check out a side-by-side comparison of the two beverages.  

To view tips on how to train for a race in the summer heat—including avoiding certain times, monitoring your weight and urine—view our previous post.

What do you drink to stay hydrated after a strenuous workout?

Motivated to Work Out? Planning Your Exercise Routine

Sunday, July 29, 2012 9:16 AM comments (0)

Workout-MotivationHas watching the London games made you eager to start a new exercise routine? While your training schedule probably won’t be as grueling, diving right into a new routine can be difficult. Beginning slow and identifying your workout goals is a great starting point.

Carrie Jaworski, MD, Sports Medicine physician at NorthShore, gives the following tips for starting a new exercise routine:

  • Choose an activity that you enjoy doing. You’ll be more likely to stick to it. This could include walking, cycling, running, swimming, jumping rope, or even playing basketball or soccer with your kids.
  • Find 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week to exercise. Keep in mind that you can break these 30-minute workouts into shorter intervals. Maybe given your schedule it’s easiest for you to work out for 10 minutes in the morning and 20 in the evening. Do what’s best (and most convenient!) for you.
  • Mix it up. Aim to do aerobic exercise three to five times per week and strengthening workouts twice a week.
  • Work to perceived exertion. You should be able to carry on a conversation without feeling winded or out of breath.
  • Prevent injuries. Be sure to properly stretch before and after your workout. If you do get injured, remember P-R-I-C-E: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

What weekly workout activities do you enjoy most? How do you stick with your routine?

Heat Stroke - Something you Should Sweat

Monday, July 23, 2012 4:51 PM comments (0)

Heat StrokeA day of fun in the sun can lead serious ailments if you’re not careful. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated and seek shade when you’re enjoying outdoor activities. Learn how to beat the heat this summer by learning the signs and symptoms of heat stroke.

Rick Gimbel, MD, an emergency medicine physician, shares some of the facts and warning signs for identifying heat stroke:

  • Heat stroke is the most serious heat condition, and can often be avoided if other heat-related symptoms aren’t ignored.
  • As your core body temperature rises in the heat, various symptoms may arise. Commons signs of the onset of a heat illness include: thirst, excessive sweating, nausea, cramps, headaches, dizziness and fainting.

    If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to drink plenty of fluids (water is best), seek a cool place (either indoors or in the shade) and rest. It may also help to take a cold shower or to ice the body.
  • Prolonged exposure to humidity and the sun can head to heat stroke—an indication that the body temperature is above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. When not properly treated, heat stroke can be fatal. If you suspect you or someone you know may have heat stroke, immediate medical attention is required. Delaying treatment may lead to brain and organ damage or death.

Have you ever experienced heat cramps, exhaustion or stroke? When do you usually know you’ve had too much sun?

Sexual Health – Common Concerns for Men and Women

Thursday, July 19, 2012 11:53 AM comments (0)

Sexual-healthTalking to your physician about sexual health issues may not always be an easy, comfortable conversation – even if conditions are common in men and women of all ages.

Sexual disorders can be a result of cancer treatments and other health concerns, menopause, medication and environmental/lifestyle factors. With the right treatment, these disorders can often be minimized and resolved.

Jeffrey Albaugh, PhD, Urology Clinical Nurse Specialist at the John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health, identifies sexual disorders found in both men and women:

  • Desire Disorder – This disorder is linked to a lack of sexual desire/libido. Our busy lifestyles can play a leading role in this disorder, as anxiety, stress and depression can all influence one’s sexual desire.
  • Arousal Disorder – This disorder refers to difficulty becoming or staying aroused/excited. In men this is most commonly seen as erectile dysfunction (ED), which can be easily treated with a variety of non-invasive and surgical treatment options. Sexual arousal is dependent on blood flow and nervous system functions, and can often be impacted by health concerns such as diabetes, heart problems, high cholesterol, etc.
  • Orgasm / Climax Disorder – One’s ability to orgasm is often dependent on the type of stimulation. In men this disorder can refer to premature, rapid or delayed ejaculation disorders. In women it can consist of having difficulty reaching climax (both with and without a partner).
  • Sexual Issues arising from cancer treatment – This includes penile rehabilitation in men after prostate cancer treatments.

What other sexual health topics would you like to learn more about?

Relax, Unwind – Health Benefits of Massage

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 7:58 AM comments (0)

Massage-BenefitsDim lighting, soothing music and invigorating scents can all be recipes for relaxation. And, in our busy lives, it’s often nice to have some downtime to focus on relaxation and rejuvenation of both the mind and body.

Massage therapy has been around for centuries and can be used for various wellness purposes. Massage therapy comes in many forms – including shiatsu, contemporary western massage, Swedish massage and tissue release.

Charlotte Walker, a massage therapist in NorthShore’s Integrative Medicine program, identifies some of the potential health benefits of massage therapy:

  • Enhance circulation and reduce blood pressure
  • Relieve muscle tension and stiffness
  • Cleanse the system
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Stimulate nerves and relax the body
  • Restore the body’s flow of energy
  • Decrease anxiety

As is the case with any alternative treatment option you may be undergoing, it is important to inform your physician about this treatment, especially if you are being treated for any specific health conditions.

Have you ever gotten a massage? How often do you go?

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