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Go Red For Women on February 1st

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It’s hard to believe that February is right around the corner. As everyone knows, February 14th is Valentines Day, but did you know that Go Red For Women day is on February 1st, and this American Heart Association initiative is to raise awareness about heart disease in women. Heart Disease is the Number One cause of death for both men and women, and this is why I try to educate my patients on the risk factors for heart disease and signs/symptoms of a possible heart attack.

Some Risk Factors For Heart Disease:

  • Tobacco Use: These days, this not only includes cigarette use, but also vaping nicotine. In addition, exposure to secondhand smoke raises your risk for heart disease and heart attack.

  • High Blood Pressure & Elevated Cholesterol: With regard to blood pressure, all levels above 120/80 raise your risk for heart disease. Both children and adults are more likely to develop high blood pressure if they’re overweight or have diabetes. With regard to cholesterol, talk with your Family Doctor about having your cholesterol tested and what the results mean. Routine blood tests can show whether your blood cholesterol levels are healthy.

  • Unhealthy Diet: Foods that are high in saturated and Trans fats and cholesterol increase the “bad” cholesterol in your system. In addition, a high salt diet can raise your risk of high blood pressure. Added sugars can raise your chance of diabetes and obesity.

  • Lack of Physical Activity & Obesity: Inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are active. Especially with children and teens, it’s important to limit screen time and to encourage more physical activity.

  • Cold Weather: Even though it’s not a major risk factor, especially those already with heart disease, if your’re involved in cold weather activities (like shoveling snow), it’s very important to listen to your body if you have any of the following signs or symptoms below.

Signs and Symptoms of Possible Heart Attack:

  • Chest Pressure of Pain

  • Pain in Arms, Neck, or Jaw

  • Difficulty with Breathing

  • Breaking out in Cold Sweat & Nausea

As I tell all of my patients, it is important to know your risk factors for heart disease and to work with your Family Doctor in taking steps like changing your lifestyle to improve your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. In addition, it’s very important to know signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke. If you start to have any of those symptoms, it is very important to call 911 and/or to go the ER immediately.

Addendum: Thanks to WKBN for including me in their story on their website. Also check out and click on, “Salem Doctor raises awareness for Go Red For Women Day.”

Keep Your New Years Resolution This Year!

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January 1st is right around the corner, and this is always a time to think of a New You in the New Year. Every year, among our goals are better physical health and better financial health (see graphic below). Unfortunately, according to a recent study, only less than two weeks into the new year is when people start to fail on their resolutions. And, in this same study, only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

Here are Five Tips To Help Keep Your New Years Resolution:

  1. Start Small: Many of my patients have lofty goals of losing a lot of weight, eating completely healthy, and eliminating stress. Keep it simple. Start slow, celebrate those small wins which will add up to your long term goals

  2. Change One Behavior At A Time: It’s easy to visualize the ideal and perfect you. But, it’s also easy to overwhelm yourself with trying to change everything at once. Work toward changing one thing at a time.

  3. Talk About It: The more you share your goal with others, the more they will support you through this process. Don’t go at it alone. Your support system should keep you on track in a loving and caring way to help you achieve your goal.

  4. Track Your Progress: One of the ways you can keep yourself accountable is to write down your progress somewhere. Some people keep a notebook and write themselves notes. Other people use smartphone apps and send themselves electronic reminders. These will show you how far you have come, and what you can continue to improve.

  5. Don’t Beat Yourself Up; The road to your goal will be bumpy, and you will have setbacks every once in a while. If you have a bad day, this is not a sign to give up completely. Re-evaluate things, lean on your support system, and get back on track tomorrow.

For my patients trying to achieve their health goals, I tell them that it took a long time for you to be smoking this much, or to get to this weight, or to be stressed out about things. It will take a long time to get back on track. With time, dedication, patience, commitment, and support from others, you will be able to achieve your New Years goals!

Holiday Health Tips

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Even though the holidays are a very busy, this is still a time of year to make your health and wellness a priority. I have Five Holiday Health Tips to keep a happy and healthy holiday season.

  1. Get Your Flu Shot: Yes, flu season will be upon us soon, and there is still time to get your flu shot. Also check with your doctor to see if you are also a candidate for other adult immunizations like pneumonia vaccine and shingles vaccine.

  2. Fight Holiday Stress: Even though the holidays are supposed to be a happy time, there will be those out there suffering from Depression during the holidays. I talk to my patients about this a lot. Check on those friends and family and co-workers and neighbors who may be struggling this time of year.

  3. Have A Healthy Snack Before Holiday Party: The holidays are also a time to overindulge. Never arrive to a holiday party hungry, because this will definitely set you up to overeat (and maybe over drink which leads to my next tip)

  4. Beware of the Excessive EggNog: Those holiday work parties are a great time to enjoy some alcohol and spirits. But, just like trying not to overeat, definitely do not over drink. And, of course, do not drink and drive.

  5. Look Toward 2019: It’s never too early to start thinking about goals and hopes and dreams for the coming year. Those New Years Resolutions are a good start, and I’ll have more to say about that coming up soon in a future article. Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Health Tips

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner! One of the things I love about my job is asking my patients about their Thanksgiving plans and their holiday traditions. And, even though most of us associate Thanksgiving with family and friends, for many of us, Thanksgiving means food.

Here are Four Tips to help you have a Healthy Thanksgiving with credit to this article:

  1. Fruits and Vegetables: At least one third of your plate should consist of vegetables and fruits. This will help you control your hunger, while getting adequate nutrients.

  2. Use a Small Plate: Researchers from Cornell University found that a 30% reduction in plate size can lead to an average 30% reduction in food consumption

  3. Save Your Calories: Save your calories for your main Thanksgiving meal. Reduce complex carbohydrates, consume moderate fat, and focus on lean protein. If you are going regular exercising, then try not to skip, but also do not increase your exercise, as this may make you more hungry.

  4. Don’t Beat Yourself Too Much: Because this will give you more stress. The joy of eating with your family and friends will be so much more, if you are conscious that the food you’re eating is becoming a part of you.

Halloween Health Tips

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Of course, when Halloween comes to mind, thoughts of candy and sweets come to mind. Did you know that the average child accumulates between 3,500 and 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night? And, the dangers are not only sweet related. Did you know that there are more child pedestrian accidents on Halloween than any other day of the year?

Last year, I shared with you some Halloween Safety Tips. This year, here are five Halloween Health Tips that I saw from this Time Magazine article.

  1. Fill Up Before Trick Or Treating: Having a meal and having the child feeling full before going trick-or-treating, hopefully will decrease their chance of munching on their treats before getting home.

  2. Hand out Non-Sugary Foods and Toys: instead of the traditional candy, think about giving out alternative treats like animal crackers, sugar free hot chocolate packets, cereal bars or granola bars. Plus, kids sometimes may choose cool toys like glow sticks, play-doh, or even stickers.

  3. Trick-or-Treat Exercise: Unfortunately, I’m seeing more parents driving their children around for trick-or-treat. Encourage walking from house to house. Not only is it great exercise, but it’s great socialization for the kids and for the neighborhood.

  4. Keep Your Favorite Sweets & Hide The Rest: Don’t keep all of the candy around. Keep only a few pieces around, and freeze the rest or hide the rest. Try to limit to 1-3 pieces of candy a day. Place with their school lunch or a piece of candy when they get home from school.

  5. Or, Give Away The Rest: When trick or treating is over, have the child make two piles: One pile of their favorite candy, and the other pile. Consider giving the other pile of candy to the local children’s hospital, to the food pantry, to the local nursing home, or anyone who you think you can give back to.

Mysterious Paralyzing Illness strikes Columbiana County Boy

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This past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Ohio Department of Health confirmed that there are four cases in Ohio of a mysterious paralyzing illness that is being characterized as a “Polio-like” illness that attacks the nervous system.

The four cases were confirmed to be in Columbiana County, Cuyahoga County, Mercer County (in Ohio), and Pickaway County. The Ohio Department of Health states all four cases are between ages 1-13, and all four boys were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The medical name for this condition is called “Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM),” and this is a rare neurological condition that affects the spinal cord. The neurological symptoms usually start about five days following some upper respiratory symptoms. As of this writing, twenty-two states, including Ohio, have been affected. Here are some quick facts you need to know.

Symptoms of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (see graphic below as well)

  • Facial Droop/Weakness

  • Difficulty Moving The Eyes

  • Drooping Eyelids

  • Difficulty with Swallowing or Slurred Speech

Is Acute Flaccid Myelitis Contagious?

  • Short Answer: No, probably

  • Long Answer: The fact is that this is still a mysterious illness, and scientists still don’t know the exact cause, why it’s happening more now, which kids are at higher risk, and how to best treat this disease. (see this article from NBC News)

The good news is that this is considered still a rare disease. The CDC states that less than one in a million people in the United States will get Acute Flaccid Myelitis every year. The best general information right now on this is from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention website on Acute Flaccid Myelitis. I also encourage you to check out this interview with our friend Dr. John Cox, from Wee Ones Pediatrics in Youngstown, when he was on WFMJ-TV. Of course, if you have any questions, I encourage you to contact your doctor to discuss further.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: I Touch Myself Project

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Tennis star Serena Williams recorded a version of the 1990 hit song, ‘I Touch Myself,” to help raise awareness for breast cancer. You can see and hear a preview of it below. Ms. Williams is participating with the I Touch Myself Project named after the song sung by Chrissy Amphlett who passed away from breast cancer in 2013.

I encourage you to check out these links from the American Cancer Society and the National Breast Cancer Foundation which will give you a lot more information than I will share below. Here are some brief facts and risk factors about breast cancer to keep in mind.

Breast Cancer Facts

  • 1 in 8 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer

  • Breast Cancer is 2nd leading cause of death in women

  • Over 260,000 new cases of breast cancer in women in 2018

  • Approximately 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2018

  • More than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in USA

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

  • About 60-70% have No risk factors

  • Genetic Risk

  • Lack of Physical Activity

  • Poor Diet

  • Overweight/obesity

  • Drinking Alcohol

There are so many other topics to mention, especially about testing, diagnosis and treatment. But, the most important things at this point are to know the facts, and to know your risks. In addition to reviewing the information above, I encourage you to visit your Family Physician and/or our personal medical provider.

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Back To School Health

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As summer is quickly coming to a close in the next few weeks, back to school is getting closer for kids, parents, and their families. As you start to prepare for your child to return to school, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to your child's health. Most of this information is from the American Academy of Pediatrics, but I highlighted some important areas below.

1) Make that Doctor's Appointment: Especially before entering kindergarten, 7th grade, and 12th grade, there are required immunizations that need to be completed. Check with your doctor about this, or review this chart from the Ohio Department of Health. In addition, many children require sports physicals and paperwork to be done before school starts. Finally, some children need paperwork completed for medications to be given at school. Does your child need an Epi-Pen? Did you know there's a shortage? Check out this report from WKBN about the Epi-Pen shortage.

2) Change that Sleep Schedule Now: Studies have shown that sleep is critical for school success. For adults, it takes us about a week to get used to a new sleep/wake schedule. However, especially for young children, it can take longer than that. So, consider starting that new sleep schedule now. As a part of developing that school sleep routine, the first step is to have your child turn off electronic devices well before bedtime.

3) Kids need Breakfast: Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. I also encourage parents to check into what cafeteria items will be available at school, and most schools have this on their website. In addition, some children also may qualify for free or reduced price food, but parents need to check into this with their school.

4) Backpack Safety: Choose a backpack with wide paded shoulder straps and a padded back. Remind your child to always use both shoulder straps. Pack light, and remove unneeded items. The backpack should never weigh more than 10-20% of your child's body weight.

5) Bullying: Teach your child to be comfortable with when and how to ask a trusted adult for help. Monitor your child's social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.

Addendum: Thanks to WKBN-TV in Youngstown, Ohio for this article entitled, "A Salem Doctor Is Preparing You To Help Your Kid To Get Back In The Classroom"

Heat Stroke Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

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As back-to-school quickly approaches, football practices and other fall sports practices are kicking into high gear. With the heat and humidity of August right around the corner, kids always need reminders to prevent heat related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Unfortunately, every summer, there are a few news stories from across the country of middle school and high school students passing away from heat stroke. What are these illnesses and how can we prevent them? That's what will be outlined in this article. I encourage you also to check out this article from Johns Hopkins and this article from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Heat-related illnesses refer to the terms "heat cramps," "heat exhaustion," and "heat stroke." All of them have similar symptoms, but they go from the mild heat cramps, to the moderate heat exhaustion, to the life-threatening heat stroke.

Question: What are symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke?

  • Heat Cramps: Painful cramps (especially in the legs), Flushed, moist skin
  • Heat Exhaustion: All of above symptoms PLUS Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue, Weakness, Faint Feeling
  • Heat Stroke: All of the above PLUS Fever over 104F, Palpitations, Confusion, Agitation, Seizues, Coma, Death

Treatment for heat-related illnesses are similar in that the person should be moved to a cool place and rest. Give cool fluids. Place cool cloths on skin. And, if these treatments are not helping or if more severe symptoms like heat stroke, then take child to the ER immediately, or call 911 immediately.

How can heat stroke be prevented? Drink plenty of fluids, of course. Drink water and sports drinks, and avoid caffeine because this can make dehydration worse. Dress your child in light colored and lightweight clothing, especially on hot days. Teach your child to take frequent drink breaks to avoid becoming overheated.

Thanks also to WKBN-TV for interviewing me on this topic: "Staying Hydrated Throughout Sports Seasons," including the video above.