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?

Achy Stomach and Digestive Issues – When Is It a Problem?

Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:55 AM comments (0)

Digestive-ProblemsDigestive problems—such as cramps, bloating, diarrhea and gas—are common ailments to many Americans. These symptoms can be influenced by the food we eat, the lifestyle we live and our family history of gastrointestinal issues.

Inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are both related to symptoms of the bowel.  That is why they are commonly confused with one another.

Eugene Yen, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore and director of the Crohn’s and colitis program, offers his advice on the differences associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and IBS:

  • The main difference between the two is that IBS does not involve inflammation of the bowel, and thus is treated differently.
         o    Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are treated with medications and
               sometimes surgery.
         o    IBS can often be managed with diet and lifestyle changes, and
               sometimes with different medications.
  • Symptoms of both of these conditions can be similar. In addition, many patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease have IBS symptoms. In other words, patients who have their IBD under good control can sometimes get abdominal pain and diarrhea in the absence of intestinal inflammation.
  • It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between IBS and IBD, so if you have been experiencing intestinal issues, we recommend seeking the consultation of your physician.

Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms of IBS? What other information do you want to know about the topic?

Bite to Itch – Summertime Insect Protection

Monday, July 09, 2012 9:31 AM comments (0)

Insect BitesWith warm weather comes bugs that bother – whether they bite, sting or carry disease and illness. Although the cases of people with West Nile virus and Lyme disease have been relatively small, it is better to exercise proper prevention than to suffer the consequences these conditions may bring.

Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Medicine physician, provides the following tips for avoiding insects and treating bites:

  • Wear insect repellent with DEET, being certain to avoid contact with your mouth and eyes. Some repellents will work for mosquitoes, ticks and other pesky insects. Remember: It’s always best to follow the directions on the bottle. For additional prevention, use a repellent on your clothing; typically these are not suitable for skin and contain permethrin.
  • Dress appropriately if you plan to be in a wooded or grassy area. Pants and long sleeves are best, and are an excellent way to limit your skin exposure. Once you’re back inside it’s a good idea to shower. Not only will this wash away the repellent, but it may also wash away any ticks that haven’t yet latched onto your body. You’ll also want to be sure to check your entire body thoroughly for ticks (especially your ears, waist, head, belly button, arms and legs).
  • Avoid areas with standing water, as these are often hotbeds for mosquitoes and ticks.
  • Resist walking barefoot in the grass. Bees can often be on the ground and this will help you avoid being stung. It’s also wise to avoid perfumes and bright colors, as these may attract bees.
  • Treat your bites. If you do get bitten and develop a bite that is red or raised try:  1) applying an ice pack for 10-15 minutes 3-4 times a day and 2) taking Benadryl for itching will both provide symptomatic relief from the local insect bite reaction.  Bites rarely develop into a skin infection (cellulitis), but this usually takes several days. If there is any question, call your doctor to have it evaluated.
  • Know the signs of having a potentially dangerous anaphylactic (rapidly progressing allergic) reaction to a bite. Reactions are most commonly associated with stings by bees, wasps or hornets. Hives, swelling (of the face, eyes, tongue and lips), throat tightness, difficulty breathing, vomiting or feeling faint/lightheaded are all signs of potentially dangerous anaphylaxis, and you should contact your doctor immediately or call 911.

What do you do to avoid bug bites in the summer? Have you ever found a tick on your body?

Cluster Headaches are a Seasonal and Painful Affliction

Friday, July 06, 2012 7:59 AM comments (0)

Cluster-HeadacheDubbed ‘suicide headaches,’ cluster headaches strike without warning. Symptoms include pain on one side of the head (usually behind the eye or temple) that occur seasonally, in the spring and late fall.

Dr. B.T. Horton, the researcher who first identified these headaches in 1939, said his patients had to be constantly watched for fear of suicide because the pain is so excruciating.

Steven Meyers, MD, Neurologist with NorthShore, offers the following known facts about cluster headaches:

  • Tend to strike young adults and men more often than women
  • Put African Americans at more risk than Caucasians
  • Can last for days, weeks or longer
  • Most often occur at a precise time of day or night, in a regular pattern
  • Pain can mysteriously ease almost as quickly as it begins
  • May be triggered by changes in daylight in the spring and fall. The cyclical nature suggests a connection to the body’s biological clock.

While there is no cure for cluster headaches, there are treatments that can decrease the severity of pain, shorten the duration and even prevent them. The key is correct diagnosis. Relatively rare, they affect less than 1% of the population and are frequently mistaken for migraines. Be sure to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and relief.z

Do you suffer from cyclical, painful headaches? What do you do to relieve headaches?

Burgers and Brats – Quick Grilling Safety Tips

Tuesday, July 03, 2012 8:06 AM comments (0)

Grilling SafetyFire up the grill, it’s summertime! The warmer weather encourages people to wheel the grill out of the garage and more actively use the public grills available at parks. While picnics and grilling can be fun, it’s important to remember to be safe.

Jerry Leikin, MD, Medical Toxicologist at NorthShore, offers the following instructions for ensuring proper food preparation and grill safety:

  • Check the temperature. Most meats (including poultry, ground beef and pork) should be cooked to 160-165 degrees. Depending on how well done you like your steak, temperatures can vary. If it’s pink, chances are it isn’t completely done.
  • Exercise proper food handling to avoid contamination. Keep all food and surfaces clean. Don’t reuse plates or utensils that have been in contact with raw meats or meat juices.
  • Dress the part. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing that may be able to catch on fire quickly. It also might not be a bad idea to wear closed-toed shoes. If you’re worried about stains, then keep that grilling apron on.
  • Use your grill strictly outdoors. Grills should not be used indoors or in enclosed areas (including your garage), as they release carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases. Keeping your grill in the open air may also reduce the chances of unwanted fire.
  • Keep gas and other flammable materials away from the grill. These items should not be located near your grill at any time as they increase the risk of fire.
  • Watch your kids. Grills heat up fast and the last thing you want is for someone to get burned or hurt right before mealtime. Make sure you warn your kids about the dangers of a grill and don’t let them get too close.
  • Stay well hydrated. When the grill and temperatures are hot, you want to be sure you are getting enough fluids to avoid any sun-related illnesses.

What are some of your favorite foods to grill?

Fertility and Acupuncture

Thursday, June 28, 2012 8:48 AM comments (0)

Fertility AcupunctureConception difficulties and infertility aren't as uncommon as one might think; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 10 percent of women between the ages of 15-44 in the United States have difficulty getting or staying pregnant.

There are many fertility treatment options available, including conventional biomedical treatments, such as fertility medications, artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, and traditional methods, like Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. Many couples have found great results with a combination of treatments.

Ultimately, the right choice is the one that works. While there is no preferred method for everyone, in many cases, the age-old treatment of acupuncture has been shown to help enhance fertility and increase a woman’s chances of conceiving.

Nicole Hohmann, Acupuncturist with NorthShore's Integrative Medicine Program, shares some of the health benefits of fertility acupuncture treatments:

  • Regular periods. Menstrual cycles and ovulation often regulate with acupuncture treatment. Studies have shown that when menstrual cycles are predictably regular a woman has a much higher chance of conceiving.
  • Fertility Improvement. Acupunture has been shown to increase fertile cervical mucous, which can help predict ovulation and the best time periods for conception.
  • Better health. Overall signs of enhanced health may be experienced throughout acupuncture treatment, including reduced premenstrual symptoms, increased energy and an improvement in sleep patterns.
  • Herbs tailored to your cycle. Acupuncture might be combined with Chinese herbal medicines as well. Different herbal formulas may be given at different points in a woman's cycle to help support follicle development, ovulation and uterine lining, and implantation.
  • Benefits for men, too. Acupuncture also treats low sperm count and poor morphology in men.
  • Stress reduction. Fertility challenges can increase stress. Acupuncture can enhance one's sense of well-being and reduce stress, which are essential when trying to conceive.

Has acupuncture worked for you or someone you know? 

Best Sunscreen Choice – Spray, Stick or Lotion?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 8:54 AM comments (0)

SunscreenWhen you plan to be out in the sun for an extended period of time (or even a short while), wearing some form of sun protection is better than nothing. But, with all the options on the market today, how do you know which sunscreen is best for complete sun protection?

Reshma Haugen, MD, Dermatologist at NorthShore, talks about the different types of sunscreen and offers suggestions on which are better than others:

  • Select a sunscreen that works best for you. Spray, stick and lotion sunscreens can all be equally effective, if used correctly. Be sure to read the directions on how to best apply. You’ll also want to make sure you apply sunscreen to all areas of the skin. Some find it easier to do this with lotions, while others prefer the spray. If you are using a spray sunscreen, it’s best to apply a thin layer that you can then rub in with your hands.
  • Choose a sunscreen that offers Broad Spectrum (both UVA and UVB) protection. This choice will help reduce the risk of skin cancer and help prevent early skin aging.
  • Pay attention to the numbers. Sunscreen SPFs (sunscreen protection factor) range from 4 to 100.  A sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher is recommended.  A sunscreen with an SPF value between 4 and 14 can only help prevent sunburn, but not necessarily reduce the risk of skin cancer.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours. While it’s important to select a sunscreen that is water resistant, it’s also important to realize that you will still need to reapply.

What type of sunscreen do you prefer to use? Do you use sunscreen every time you are outside in the sun?

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?

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