Joseph 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
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.
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.
Shingles 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
Have you been vaccinated
for chickenpox or shingles?
Blustery 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:
How do you stay warm when temperatures take a dive?
Life 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.
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!
conversations:Toddler Tantrums Itchy and PregnantPost-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?
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.
Every 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
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.
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?