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Through education, I strive to guide and empower people to be in control of making the choices that work best for them.                                                                                 -Aimee Masi

March 26, 2015

4 questions you need to ask about your colonoscopy

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancers are the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and yet the disease is preventable and treatable, especially when detected early.

A colonoscopy is an important method for screening for colon cancer, rectal cancer or other colorectal diseases

“Once you’ve decided it’s time to get a screening colonoscopy, the next step is to make sure that you get a high-quality one,” says Neil Gupta, MD, MPH, director of endoscopy at Loyola University Health System.

Dr. Gupta, who has performed thousands of colonoscopies, published numerous studies on colonoscopy and quality in healthcare and taught physicians around the world about endoscopy, said patients should ask these four questions.

March 24, 2015

From our nutritionists’ table

Glass of vegetable juice

Separate the facts from the fads in healthy eating

From the cabbage soup diet to the “blood type diet” to the HCG diet, many people are constantly searching for a way to drop pounds quickly and painlessly.  Often these fad diets are hard to follow, restrictive, nutritionally unbalanced and worse, leaving us feeling like failures.

So, how can you recognize a fad diet? Ask these questions:

  • Does it promise quick weight loss?
  • Does it seem too good to be true?
  • Is it based on selling a company’s product?
  • Does it lack valid scientific research?
  • Does it label foods good or bad?
  • Does it take into account and/or discuss physical activity?

Instead of finding the “right diet” for you, focus on making half of your plate fruits and vegetables and eating at the table at every meal. Make physical activity part of your day by taking the stairs, exercising during TV commercials and taking walks throughout the day.

Instead of ritualistically measuring weight and tediously counting calories, fats and carbohydrates, make food fun and focus on health.

-From your registered Loyola dietitians

February 26, 2015

What women need to know about commonly ignored sign of heart disease

Medical illustration of a heartLoyola University Health System internal medicine physician Anita Varkey, MD, urges women to protect their health and prevent a common warning sign of heart disease.

Angina is characterized as pain or discomfort in the chest that results from plaque buildup in the arteries causing reduced blood flow to the heart.

“With angina, the pain can be mild, so just because a woman doesn’t feel like she is having a traditional heart attack doesn’t mean that she should ignore chest discomfort,” said Anita Varkey, MD, who also is an associate professor of internal medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

February 24, 2015

Loyola lung transplant patient completes Hustle up the Hancock

Bob SenanderCongratulations to Loyola Medicine’s Hustle up the Hancock team – including lung transplant patient Bob Senander – who climbed 94 flights of stairs Sunday, February 22, 2015, to raise awareness about lung disease.

Mr. Senander, 69, completed the climb in 2 hours and 50 minutes alongside the nurses and a doctor who cared for him.

“It was a great weekend, and hopefully this will help others suffering terminal lung disease,” Mr. Senander said.

He took on the challenge less than a year after having lung transplant surgery.

Mr. Senander, of Winfield, Illinois, made headlines last May when he became one of five people to undergo a lung transplant at Loyola University Health System in little more than 24 hours. It was the first time in Illinois that five successful lung transplants had been performed in such a short time.

Before his transplant, Mr. Senander had been fighting for his life. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2009. This is a disease marked by scarring of the lungs and difficulty breathing. There is no cure and most people only live for three to five years after diagnosis.

Mr. Senander used supplemental oxygen for five years before undergoing a successful lung transplant that saved his life.

“Mr. Senander is truly my champion and my inspiration,” said Jennifer Johnson, RN, lung procurement coordinator, LUHS. ”I am thankful to him for having faith in himself and in our team.”

February 9, 2015

From our nutritionists’ table

Bowl of fruit saladHow to choose foods that reduce cancer risk

The best treatment for cancer is prevention. There are many ways to reduce your cancer risk, several of which include making these lifestyle decisions:

Following a diet with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can reduce cancer risk. Aim for different colors to get a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – compounds that help protect cells from damage. For example, try adding blueberries and banana to oatmeal in the morning or stir frying with red peppers, Brussels sprouts and onion.

January 9, 2015

Tread lightly to protect yourself from a bad fall

Winter is officially here and sidewalks are slippery. Nearly 1 million people tumble every year in the U.S. and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 20,000 people die annually due to fall-related injuries. Don’t become a statistic from a fatal fall; tread lightly and don’t be too confident.

“Many falls can be successfully avoided or the impact minimized by applying a few basic strategies,” said Mike Ross, author of The Balance Manual and an exercise physiologist at Gottlieb Center for Fitness, part of the Loyola University Health System. 

Ross teaches balance classes year-round at Gottlieb, primarily to individuals who are 50 and older.

December 31, 2014

5 weight-loss strategies to avoid in the new year

Is your New Year’s resolution to lose weight? Here are five bad strategies to avoid, shared by Aaron Michelfelder, MD, of Loyola University Health System:

Bad Strategy No. 1: I’ll lose weight at the gym. Working out is good for your health and can help to maintain your weight. But exercise alone is not very effective in shedding pounds. To lose weight, you will need to eat fewer calories.

December 16, 2014

From our nutritionists’ table

To avoid holiday pounds, arm yourself with a game plan 

The holiday dinners, the eggnog, the gifts of chocolate – let’s face it, temptations are lurking around every corner during the holiday season. With obesity on the rise, you may be wondering how to make the right choices during this busy time of the year.

December 11, 2014

Do you really have time for the flu?

This may be a year to remember when it comes to the flu. The Cook County Department of Public Health reports that the flu has hit earlier and harder than in the last two years. And a flu outbreak prompted one La Grange Park high school to close for a few days this week.

Loyola Medicine has seen a jump in the number of flu cases over the past few weeks. Loyola physicians last week recorded 76 confirmed cases of the flu, nearly double the number of cases seen during last season’s peak week. (To see current Loyola, Cook County, Illinois and U.S. flu statistics, check out Loyola Flu Central.)

One concern is that a flu strain that was predicted to hit the U.S. – the H3N2 virus – has mutated slightly since the flu vaccine was formulated. Loyola physicians and public health officials, however, are urging people to get the flu shot because it still will lessen the severity of symptoms of the mutated strain and completely protect against the other predicted flu strains.

November 25, 2014

Don’t get burned while frying a turkey

Is Thanksgiving dinner a recipe for disaster? Thanksgiving Day has more than double the number of home cooking fires than an average day, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. More than 4,000 fires occur annually on Thanksgiving as families deep-fry turkeys, boil potatoes and bake pies, all with children underfoot.

“Splashes, spills, slips, burns and cuts are just a few of the many cooking hazards that occur during the Thanksgiving meal preparation,” said Arthur Sanford, MD, burn surgeon at Loyola University Health System. “Adults doing the cooking are often injured but sadly children often also get into harm’s way.”

November 24, 2014

Top heart surgeon Ed McGee, MD, joins Loyola

Internationally known cardiothoracic surgeon Ed McGee, MD, is joining Loyola University Medical Center as head of the heart transplant and assist device program.

Loyola’s cardiothoracic transplant team is greatly enhanced with the additional expertise of Dr. McGee. Previously, he was surgical director of heart transplantation and mechanical assistance at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

November 17, 2014

How to live well and live with diabetes

Diabetes, which affects more than 20 million Americans, can be thought of as being as corrosive to one’s health as rust is to a car. In many cases it doesn’t take long before the damage has a permanent effect. However, with education and disease management people can live long, productive lives. In this video, José Rodriguez talks about how determination and help from Loyola’s Living Well with Diabetes program turned around his health.

October 29, 2014

Avoid the fright of landing in the ER on Halloween

The thrills and chills of Halloween should be from trick-or-treating or during a trip to the haunted house. Overlooking some details, however, could mean a trip to the scariest place of all – the ER.

“Nothing is scarier than a trip to the emergency room,” said Mark Cichon, DO, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine at Loyola University Health System. “In a season devoted to frights, it is our goal to keep everyone safe.”

October 27, 2014

From our nutritionists’ table

Shopping strategy leads to healthier eating

One of the most important steps in eating a healthy, balanced diet is your trip to the grocery store. Being prepared before you head out is imperative. Two tips to live by are: 1.) Try to shop when you AREN’T hungry so you don’t give in to impulse purchases, which can also put you over your budget. And 2.) Decide what meals you plan to prepare in the next few days and create a list before you leave the house. If you go in with a plan, you are much more likely to stick with it.

October 17, 2014

Scary part of Halloween is in the trick-or-treat bag

For most kids Halloween is all about the candy. It is estimated that each child’s bag of goodies contains about 4,800 calories, has 3 cups of sugar and 1½ cups of fat. The real horror in the Halloween trick-or-treat bag is how it adds to an already scary epidemic of childhood obesity.

“Kids and teens love Halloween. It’s filled with fun parties, costumes and free candy. Halloween can be a great time as long as parents make sure their child doesn’t go overboard eating all that candy,” said Garry Sigman, MD, director of the Pediatric Weight Management Program at Loyola University Health System.


September 29, 2014

Stay connected with Loyola online

Do you ever have trouble remembering when your next doctor’s appointment is? Or have you wanted to ask your doctor a question that wasn’t so urgent you needed to call?

Loyola has an online service that lets you check your appointments, send a message to your physician and more. Loyola’s free and secure online service, myLoyola, lets you communicate with your doctor, make and check appointments, view test results and even pay your bill and manage your account.

It’s easy to sign up. You need an access code, which you can find on the After Visit Summary you received on your most recent office visit. You may also request one on the myLoyola site or by calling (888) LUHS-888 / (888) 584-7888. Your doctor’s office can also provide one the next time you are there.

If you already have a myLoyola account, sign in and see what’s new, including easier online bill payments, account tracking and health information.

September 26, 2014

What women can do about postpartum hair loss

New mothers have a lot of changes they have to handle after giving birth. Perhaps one they weren’t expecting is hair loss, but about 50 percent of women reportedly do experience this, usually starting around the third month after delivery.

Postpartum hair loss is due to a fluctuation in estrogen levels. Estrogen, which increases during pregnancy, stimulates hair growth.  And the drop in estrogen levels that women experience after pregnancy can cause some hair loss.  This loss is temporary and women can expect to return to a normal rate of hair growth and shedding around one year after delivery.

September 18, 2014

The pros, cons of supplements

Entire stores are filled with multivitamins and supplements that pledge to help with everything from depression to athlete’s foot. With so many options out there, it can be difficult for patients to know what is beneficial or even where to start.

“Today more than ever it’s important for patients to work with their physician or nutritionist when considering supplements. Some are beneficial, but others can be dangerous, especially when it comes to interacting with other supplements or medications,” said Aaron Michelfelder, MD, an integrative medicine and family medicine physician at Loyola University Health System. “In general there is no benefit from taking a supplement just for the sake of supplementing. So talk to your doctor about what would be beneficial for you.”

September 12, 2014

From our nutritionists’ table

Chicken Chop SueyFun Food Facts

*Chop suey was created in America by a Chinese cook who worked in a California mining camp in the 1800s. He made a stir fry of a variety of vegetables, called it tsa sui, which in Mandarin Chinese means “various things.” Americans, however, heard it as chop suey.

*French fries are not from France. They were first made in Belgium in 1876. The term “french” refers to the way of cutting the potatoes before cooking.

September 5, 2014

Athletes: Drinking too much water can be fatal

One always hears about how important it is to drink enough water while exercising, but in rare cases people have actually died from overhydration, according to sports medicine physician Dr. James Winger of Loyola University Medical Center.

Overhydration by athletes is called exercise-associated hyponatremia. It occurs when athletes drink even when they are not thirsty. Drinking too much during exercise can overwhelm the body’s ability to remove water. The sodium content of blood is diluted to abnormally low levels. Cells absorb excess water, which can cause dangerous swelling in the brain.

August 28, 2014

Does your child need the HPV vaccine?

As the school year starts in full swing many parents wonder if their child should receive the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for girls ages 11-26 and boys 11-21. There are a lot of questions and controversy around this vaccine, but many pediatricians say it comes down to protecting people from a leading cause of death.

August 15, 2014

How to help kids with back-to-school anxiety

As the days of summer dwindle, children’s anxiety levels often increase. In addition to getting school supplies, registration completed and vaccinations up to date, it’s important for parents to talk to their kids and understand how they feel about heading back to school.

August 7, 2014

Female triathletes at risk for pelvic-floor disorders

Female triathletes have more than blisters to worry about. A study conducted at Loyola University Health System finds they are also at risk for abnormal bone density, pelvic-floor disorders, decreased energy and menstrual irregularities.

The study, recently presented at this year’s American Urogynecologic Society meeting, found that 1 in 3 female triathletes suffered from a pelvic-floor disorder such as urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence and pelvic-organ prolapse. Also, 1 in 4 had one component of the female athlete triad, a condition characterized by decreased energy, menstrual irregularities and abnormal bone density from excessive exercise and inadequate nutrition.

July 31, 2014

Is your child’s school ready for kids with food allergies?

Backpacks. Crayons. Glue sticks. EpiPen?  For more and more school-age children the Epipen® is becoming a necessity for completing the back-to-school supply list. In fact, allergic conditions are one of the most common medical conditions affecting children in the U.S.

“Accidental exposure to allergens at school is a major concern for kids with severe allergies since any exposure could be fatal,” said Joyce Rabbat, MD, pediatric allergist at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.


July 29, 2014

State changes immunization requirements

Parents are starting to see the back-to-school commercials on TV and thinking of the things they have to do to get their children ready for the first day of school. To avoid the rush at the doctor’s office, they should schedule appointments now for their children’s school or sports physicals. And they should also know that the state of Illinois has made some changes to students’ vaccination requirements.

July 18, 2014

From our nutritionists’ table

Is grilling healthy?

It can be! Grilling is a lighter way to cook meats and vegetables, while still adding quite a bit of flavor. Based on research findings, eating moderate amounts of grilled meats such as fish, lean meats and poultry is fairly healthy, so long as you don’t char it.

Research has shown that grilling meats for a long time at high heat may trigger the formation of carcinogens, heterocyclic amine (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).  PAHs come from the smoke, while HCAs come from blackened bits of charred meat.

July 11, 2014

Bugs: Tips to help you avoid bites this summer

Summer means more bugs, including pesky mosquitoes and ticks. Our specialists have tips about which insects are harmful, what diseases they carry and how to safely avoid them.

“Mosquitoes and ticks are the two pests you primarily want to avoid because they can carry infectious diseases,” said Jennifer Layden, MD, PhD, infectious disease specialist at Loyola University Health System. “Ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and mosquitoes can spread West Nile virus.”

To avoid these pests, you may buy insect repellent. But what levels of protection do they offer?

July 3, 2014

What if fireworks meant no texting for life?

With Independence Day nearly here, emergency departments and trauma centers nationwide are beginning to treat patients injured by fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, hand and finger damage are the most common fireworks injuries and account for 32 percent of all reported injuries.

That can have huge financial, social and emotional implications. It can also change how you communicate for life.

June 24, 2014

Safety tips for summer grilling, fire pits, campfires

Summer means cooking out and gathering with friends and family around the fire pit or campfire. It also means a seasonal increase in trips to the emergency department and burn unit for burn injuries.

“The old adage of ‘When you play with fire, you get burned’ is true; you must always be very serious and attentive when fire is involved,” said Richard L. Gamelli, MD, director of the Burn & Shock Trauma Research Institute, director of the Burn Center and senior vice president and provost of the Health Sciences Division at Loyola University Chicago. ”Injuries due to fire happen easily and fast, especially when children are involved or alcohol has been abused.”

June 20, 2014

The truth behind the ‘5-Second Rule’

The burger patty that slides off the plate, the ice cream treat that plops on the picnic table, the hot dog that rolls off the grill – conventional wisdom has it that you have five seconds to pick it up before it is contaminated.

But is that fact or folklore?

June 12, 2014

Bounce house safety tips may save you ER trip

Summer block party season is here and that means inflatable bounce houses will be springing up in neighborhoods across the country. As kids jump into this fun summer activity it’s important to ensure they are safe.

“Bounce houses are a great way to get kids active and are considered a relatively manageable risk since the severity of injuries is usually less than that of a trampoline. Still, injuries and fractures are fairly common from bounce house play and parents need to supervise the children,” said Teresa Cappello, MD, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.


June 4, 2014

From our nutritionists’ table

Should I be taking a multivitamin?

Research indicates it is best to receive vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants from their natural food sources.  For the majority of people, if you are eating a well-balanced diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and lean meats, then you are likely meeting your nutrient needs. Those people with specific conditions or restrictive diets, such as for osteoporosis or a known vitamin-deficiency, may benefit from supplementation. It is best to discuss these concerns with your health-care provider to determine if you have any specific needs.  Bottom line? Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.

- From your registered Loyola dietitians

May 29, 2014

Balance even more important as we age

Trips and falls can happen at all stages of life, but as we start to age they can become more numerous. Aging can magnify the impact of risk factors associated with falls and also brings up new and often less obvious factors that affect balance and stability. The causes of balance issues could come from a number of different sources, many that don’t have a seemingly direct connection to balance or falls.

“Maintaining good balance becomes even more important as our joints and bones begin to weaken, making the impact of a trip or fall even more devastating,” said Jason Rice, MD, primary care internist at Loyola University Health System.

May 22, 2014

Don’t let GI cancer rob you of your future

Did you know that colorectal cancer ranks second in all cancer-related deaths in the U.S?  However, with early detection and treatment 9 out of 10 people recover and are alive and kicking five years after diagnosis, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the goal of reducing our patients’ risk of colorectal cancer, Loyola has launched a multidisciplinary program to screen patients at increased risk of the disease.

May 15, 2014

With stroke you have to act F.A.S.T.

At Loyola, we know that seconds count when it comes to stroke. The faster you receive treatment, the more brain cells we can save. If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY. If you are having a stroke, do not try to drive to the hospital. Call 9-1-1 or ask someone else to make the call. Even if the symptoms decrease, you need to seek medical attention.

May 5, 2014

Best to avoid alcohol before pregnancy

Women should refrain from drinking alcohol before they try to become pregnant, according to maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Loyola University Health System.

“A woman can conceive at any point in her cycle, so women should avoid alcohol well in advance of becoming pregnant,” said Jean Goodman, MD, lead investigator, division director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Loyola University Health System. “We recommend that women begin taking folic acid supplements starting three months prior to conception. This is an ideal time to refrain from alcohol use as well because you are in the mindset of preparing your body for pregnancy.”

May 1, 2014

How to help your daughter prevent an ACL injury

As more girls and young women become involved in soccer and basketball, they and their parents should know that these student athletes are more prone to debilitating ACL knee injuries. But a simple stretching and exercise program could help prevent many of these painful and often season-ending ligament tears. Dr. Pietro Tonino, director of orthopaedic Sports Medicine at Loyola, urges these students and their parents to look into bringing this injury prevention program to their schools.

The numbers are eye opening. Female athletes who play basketball and soccer are two to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared with male athletes, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

April 15, 2014

Allergies? The Gottlieb Allergy Count can help

Thanks to a few days of gusty winds and precipitation, the pollen levels in Chicago have really taken off.

“Allergy patients are already complaining of itchy eyes, scratchy throats and stuffy noses,” said Joseph Leija, MD, who conducts the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official allergy count of the Midwest.  “Even people who have not been officially diagnosed with allergies may be suffering.”

Just days into the season, the tree pollen on April 1 was already just a few hundred short of reaching the “high” level, which was a fivefold increase from the previous day’s reading.

But maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised.

Chicago ranked 53 in the top 100 “Spring Allergy Capitals 2014” list compiled by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

April 10, 2014

From our Nutritionists’ Table

Prebiotics, probiotics: What’s all the hype about?

You may have heard about prebiotics and probiotics and how they are great for your health. And that’s true, but on top of everything else, they taste good, too.

Nutritionists say that a few of the benefits of adding more prebiotics and probiotics into your diet are improved immune health, enhanced gastrointestinal function, weight loss, prevention of colon cancer, decreased risk of food-borne illnesses and fewer symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, if you suffer from these conditions.

April 7, 2014

Careful with your skin after long winter

As families prepare to escape to warmer climates for vacation, they should exercise caution when exposing their skin to the sun after a long winter indoors. Loyola University Health System pediatric dermatologists warn that kids are especially at risk.

“Protecting your child’s skin from the sun after they have been bundled up all winter is critical to prevent long-term sun damage and premature aging,” said Lily Uihlein, MD, pediatric dermatologist at Loyola University Health System.

Loyola dermatologists warn that those traveling to tropical climates are at an even greater risk for sun damage.

“The sun tends to be more intense in areas closer to the equator, giving you more exposure to harmful UV rays,” said Wendy Schumacher-Kim, DO, pediatric dermatologist. “Children also have delicate skin, placing them in even greater danger in warmer climates.”

April 2, 2014

New Immediate Care center at Park Ridge open

If you live or work near Park Ridge, we have good news for you. Loyola University Health System has opened an Immediate Care center at the Loyola Center for Health at Park Ridge, located at 1030 W. Higgins Road (crossroad with North Cumberland Avenue).

The Immediate Care center, which opened this month, will offer residents access to the expertise of Loyola’s patient-care team on a walk-in basis, with no appointments necessary. It will be open during hours when many physicians’ offices are closed.

March 28, 2014

Some tips about nutrition and pregnancy

What are some foods that women should concentrate on eating during the first trimester? The second? The third?

Consuming a balanced diet during all trimesters is important. A balanced diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, dairy and healthy fats.

Whole grains: Breads, cereals, pastas and brown rice

Fruits: All types of fruits, whether fresh, frozen or canned, without added sugar

Vegetables: Eat a variety of colorful vegetables, whether fresh, frozen or canned, with no added salt

Lean protein: Choose protein from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans/peas, peanut butter, tofu and nuts

Low-fat or fat-free dairy: Milk, cheese and yogurt

Healthful fats: Vegetable oils, including canola, corn, peanut and olive oil are good choices

March 20, 2014

Osteoarthritis of the hands

Dr. Shelley Noland, a specialist in plastic, reconstructive and orthopedic surgery, talks about the causes of osteoarthritis and how it can alter a person’s life in this video. Treatment can involve anti-inflammatory medicine, splinting and rest. Sometimes the patient and doctor will decide the best option is surgery. Surgical options include resurfacing the joint or fusing the joint.

March 12, 2014

Fecal incontinence: Treatments are available

Dr. Dana Hayden, a colorectal surgeon at Loyola, talks about a subject a lot of people are afraid to talk about: fecal incontinence, or loss of control over stool movement. One of the most common reasons is injury during childbirth. Also surgery or radiation to  can cause fecal incontinence. But there are many reasons why people can experience this. There is a huge spectrum of treatment options – surgery isn’t the only option. Watch video.

March 7, 2014

From our Nutritionists’ Table

What is intermittent fasting and can it help me lose weight?

Intermittent fasting plans vary, but all share the same general principle: At certain times you eat nothing or much less than usual and the rest of the time you eat what you normally would or perhaps a bit less. Losing weight is all about reducing the calories you take in and/or increasing the calories you expend.  Based on this logic, then, yes, intermittent fasting could aid in weight loss. When you have just consumed a meal or snack, your body metabolizes food for fuel and stores what is not needed right away in your liver and muscles for later use.  Eating too much leads to the extra energy being stored as fat in the body.

February 18, 2014

What you can do to lower risk of acne scars

Does your teen or pre-teen suffer from acne? Acne affects around 95 percent of people at some point in life. It is a chronic skin disease that usually starts around puberty or shortly before.

Unfortunately there isn’t a cure for acne but much can be done to make it better. Mild acne can be treated at home with acne cleansers and other products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

February 6, 2014

How to help a child with eczema

Does your child have red, dry, itchy skin? Is your child waking up in the middle of the night to scratch?

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is one of the most common skin conditions in infants and children, and may develop as early as a few weeks of age. Skin with eczema is dry, itchy, inflamed and prone to skin infections. Children with atopic dermatitis often flare during the winter months when it is cold and dry.

January 31, 2014

Tips to find the right doctor

One of the most intimate and crucial relationships we have is with our physician. Finding the right doctor is a lot like finding the right relationship partner. This Valentine’s Day maybe it’s also a good time to ponder finding “Dr. Right.”

“There are a lot of great doctors out there, but finding the right one for you can be difficult,” said Anita Varkey, MD, internal medicine physician at Loyola University Health System. Varkey says the first question to ask is, “What kind of doctor do you need?”

“We all need a good primary care physician. You should think of your primary care physician as your “go to” doctor. Who do you go to when you have a question about your health or need a prescription refill?” Varkey said.

January 23, 2014

From our Nutritionists’ Table

My daughter told me my New Year’s resolution should be to eat a “superfood” every day to reduce inflammation.  What are “superfoods” and will they reduce inflammation?

“Superfoods” carry claims that they reduce inflammation, but inflammation can be a protective process. It’s the body’s way of healing itself after an injury or exposure to a harmful substance.  However, chronic inflammation is not good for you because it attacks healthy cells and may play a role in heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

January 16, 2014

Key to change in weight is a change in behavior

How do you know where to start? Actually, a lot of research has been conducted on this topic. One such organization, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), consists of about 4,000 Americans who have each lost, on average, about 30 pounds and have maintained this loss for five years.

“This registry provides a tremendous source of information about the behaviors associated with successful weight-loss maintenance. I often help my patients identify and incorporate these same behaviors into their own lives,” said Jessica Bartfield, internal medicine and medical weight-loss specialist at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care.

January 9, 2014

Guidelines help parents with kids’ online devices

Smartphones, laptops, tablets and video games were happily crossed off the wish lists of many young children and teens this Christmas. But for parents, giving children electronic devices has to be about more than just saving Christmas, it has to be about making sure kids are safe when they start getting online.

January 3, 2014

How to take the edge off of the winter blues

The first Monday after the holidays can be a depressing time for people coping with the post-holiday letdown and a type of depression triggered by short days called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

And this year the first Monday will be especially blue, due to the added stress of the brutal cold in the forecast, said Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Angelos Halaris, who specializes in treating depression.

December 17, 2013

Gifts to show your elderly relative you really care

For the 133 million Americans living with chronic conditions, the best holiday gift is something that will make navigating a daily routine easier. There are almost 40 million people age 65 and older, making up almost 13 percent of the population.

“Sweaters, pajamas, candy and perfume are all very nice, traditional and thoughtful gifts for the compromised, but if you want to really show them you are concerned about their well-being, check out your local pharmacy for gifts they’ll use every day,” said Debbie Jansky, assistant nurse manager, Home Health Services at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

December 13, 2013

For allergy sufferers, dust, mold, nuts can ruin holidays

Artificial Christmas treeGetting out the boxes of holiday decorations from years gone by is a time-honored tradition. But in addition to stirring up memories, it also stirs up allergies.

“The dust from the boxes and on the decorations that have been packed away in dank basements or dusty attics is triggering reactions in allergy and asthma patients,” said Joseph Leija, MD, allergist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. During the allergy season (March through October), Dr. Leija provides the official allergy count for the Midwest that is carried by Chicago’s major media outlets.

Carol Leopold suffers from severe allergies, and so do her 12-year-old twins. “My husband and daughter are fine, but fresh Christmas trees and fur from Santa’s suit make my sons and I choke up and stop breathing,” she said. “I still go all out for the holidays –  but with three artificial trees, silk poinsettias and lots of carefully scrutinized nut-free foods,” she said.

December 5, 2013

Baby, it’s cold outside!!

Dr. Tony Pangan, medical director of primary care at the Loyola Center for Health at Burr Ridge, talks about what you can do to keep your kids safe this winter in this video. Hypothermia and frostbite occur more quickly in kids than adults. We may forget, but children are not small adults.

November 26, 2013

How to have picture perfect skin for the holidays

You know it’s the holidays. It’s colder outside, the heat is blasting at your job and time for a good night’s sleep just cannot be found.

But these things aside, it is still the most wonderful time of the year because you get to see your friends and family in festive settings with delicious treats. With all of this going on, your skin can, well, act out. With acne, cold sores, dry puffy skin and eczema. What can you do?

November 12, 2013

What you should know about endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition found in 5 million women in which the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (called the “endometrium”) grows outside of the uterus.  The tissue can grow anywhere in the body, although it is found most commonly in the pelvis.  It is most often found behind the uterus, on ovaries and inside of ovaries creating cysts.

Most women with endometriosis experience pain with their menstrual periods.  This pain is usually more severe than most women have and can be associated with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The other feature of pain that may be different in women with endometriosis is that the symptoms of pain can radiate or be felt in other parts of the body such as the legs and back.

November 4, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

I need help with overeating when I am stressed. What can I do?

Nine million Americans call themselves “emotional eaters.”  Emotional eating can be caused by stress, boredom or the desire to silence emotions such as fear, sadness or anxiety.  Emotional eating can also be the result of positive emotions, for example the happiness of sharing a dessert at a special dinner or celebration of a holiday feast. Researchers have also demonstrated that high fat foods activate certain chemicals in the body that create a sense of contentment and fulfillment.

October 29, 2013

How many calories are in that Halloween bag?

For most kids Halloween is all about the candy. It is estimated that each child’s bag of goodies contains about 4,800 calories and has 3 cups of sugar and 1½ cups of fat. The real horror in the Halloween trick-or-treat bag is how it adds to an already scary epidemic of childhood obesity.

“Kids and teens love Halloween. It’s filled with fun parties, costumes and free candy. Halloween can be a great time as long as parents make sure their child doesn’t go overboard eating all that candy,” said a pediatric weight management specialist at Loyola.

October 21, 2013

Candy, candy everywhere

Chocolate bars, caramels, sour lemons, wherever you go next week, there will be candy. Parents will be tempted by it at the office and kids will compete for who can trick-or-treat for the biggest stash. Halloween marks the beginning of the yearly holiday spread for most adults while kids who suffer temporary tummy aches from all the sugar may later end up at the dentist’s office for cracked teeth or cavities.

Yes, even more frightening than Halloween itself can be the mountains of leftover candy that will take over offices across the country on Friday, Nov. 1. Many co-workers, trying to keep temptation out of their houses, bring candy into the office. But you may be sorry you brought it in.

October 17, 2013

How to help prevent a trip to ER during Halloween

Halloween. With good reason it’s a favorite holiday for lots of people, not just kids. You don’t have to shop for gifts. No angst over your love life. No family arguments.

It’s candy and pretending to be some wild character for a while, or seeing adorable kids dressed up and having fun. But just to make sure everyone has a good time and doesn’t get injured, here are a few tips to avoid going bump in the night and taking a ride to the ER.

October 9, 2013

Top 10 nutrition tips for marathon runners

With marathon trainees about to take to the streets of Chicago, Loyola University Health System’s sports dietetics specialist offers the top 10 nutrition tips runners can follow to help them cross the finish line come race day.

October 7, 2013

Flu Facts: Vaccinations

The flu shot was first distributed in the 1940s by the U.S. government to soldiers. Loyola University Health System was one of the first academic medical centers to offer mandatory flu vaccines to not only its employees but also vendors, medical students and volunteers.

October 4, 2013

Trees help boost immunity during walk in woods

Work, home, even in the car, stress is a constant struggle for many people. But it’s more than just exhausting and annoying. Unmanaged stress can lead to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

“The American lifestyle is fast-paced and productive, but it can be extremely stressful.  If that stress is not addressed, our bodies and minds can suffer,” said Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, professor of Family Medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

September 24, 2013

The benefits of superfruits

You may have heard of “superfruits” that pack an extra wallop in nutrition and antioxidants, but which fruits qualify for this group?

Some of the more exotic superfruits are acai, goji, mangosteen, noni, pomegranate and starfruit. However, you don’t have to go to a specialty grocery store to get fruits in this category. More common superfruits are blueberries, cranberries and red grapes.

September 18, 2013

The dreaded lice letter

They’re small, creepy and suck your blood. Every parent dreads it, but it’s inevitable—the “lice letter.” Though a lice infestation is about as common as a cold, trying to rid your life of them can be as much of a head-scratcher as those disgusting bugs themselves.

September 11, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

Can you define what “sugar-free,” “reduced sugar,” “no added sugars” and “sugar alcohol” mean?

I’m diabetic and my dietitian told me that I will likely still need to limit my intake of foods with these terms on the label.

September 6, 2013

Psoriasis and sunlight

Much has been written about the dangers of sun exposure, but 20 minutes of sun can be healing for those with psoriasis, said Julie Moore, MD, dermatologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. “I encourage my patients with the skin disease psoriasis to sit out on their deck and bathe their afflicted arms, legs or feet in the sun.”

August 22, 2013

How to talk to your daughter about puberty

Some parents may shy away from talking to their daughters about puberty, but Loyola University Health System obstetrician and gynecologist Akua Afriyie-Gray, MD, stresses the importance of sitting down with your tween when the time comes.

“Most girls enter puberty without much education on the topic,” Dr. Afriyie-Gray said. “Parents should be proactive about talking to their daughter about puberty, so that she knows what to expect when her body begins to change.”

August 15, 2013

Stay safe when heading back to school

Children walking to school

Part of heading back to school is actually getting your kids back to school safely. On average, there is one pedestrian death every two hours in the U.S. and a pedestrian injury every eight minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Parents need to go over and enforce safety rules when kids head back to school, says Loyola pediatrician Bridget Boyd, MD. “Talk to your kids and have them verbally repeat the rules back to you. Don’t just go with a head nod – make sure they know the rules and why they are important.”

August 9, 2013

Advice from our sports doctors

Little league player slides into baseHow much is too much for kids and sports?

Sports medicine specialist Neeru Jayanthi, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center, offers this tip to help prevent injuries in young athletes: A young athlete should not spend more hours per week than his or her age playing sports. For example, a 12-year-old should not spend more than 12 hours a week playing sports. The reason is that younger children are developmentally immature and may be less able to tolerate physical stress.

July 31, 2013

How to help your overweight teen

While it is hard to lose weight at any age, overweight tweens and teenagers have a higher chance of becoming obese adults than normal-weight teens, said Dr. Garry Sigman, medical director of Pediatrics at Loyola University Health System.

If you think that your teen will just grow out of it, statistics are not on your side. You have to be proactive to change the course of your child’s future health.

So what should you do?   Dr. Sigman recommends this course of action for children, which is easier to remember as the acronym S-H-A-P-E-S (developed by the University of California at San Diego):

July 25, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

What is the difference between organic and conventional farming?

Organic farming is designed to reduce pollution and encourage soil and water conservation. Farmers and ranchers who harvest organic fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. If a food item contains a USDA Organic label, it means it is grown and processed according to the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Is organic food more nutritious? Research is ongoing but based on scientific research thus far organically grown and traditionally grown foods are comparable in nutrient content.

July 17, 2013

Health tips for the Ramadan fast

Ramadan is a time for people of the Muslim faith to reflect, refocus and retrain themselves in an effort to draw nearer to God. It is a month of self-training, self-discipline and self-control. It’s a time to develop personal character by making a conscious effort to control emotions. From dawn until dusk Muslims are to abstain from sexual intercourse, eating and drinking, which includes taking anything orally including water and medications. To ensure one is able to fully engage in these religious activities it is important to prepare and consider your health so you can optimize the benefits of the month.

July 12, 2013

Scars and cancer

It’s not a well-known fact, but scars from trauma to the skin such as cuts and exposure to radiation can develop into skin cancer years after the damage has occurred. Signs that may alert you that your scar is no longer just a scar include pain, redness, bleeding or skin breakdown. Your dermatologist would perform a skin biopsy to determine if indeed your scar has turned into skin cancer. Under a microscope skin cancer cells look very different from the cells in scar tissue. Do you have a changing scar? You owe to yourself to see a dermatologist to help determine if it has transformed into cancer. When skin cancer is detected in its early stages it’s often fully curable with surgical removal.

July 3, 2013

What if your fireworks meant no texting for life?

As the Fourth of July approaches, emergency departments across the country are already beginning to treat patients injured by fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, hand and finger wounds are the most common injuries caused by fireworks and account for 32 percent of all injuries reported.

June 25, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

Is Chinese food good for you if it has no MSG?

MSG stands for monosodium glutamate. While some people have side effects if they consume MSG, most people can eat foods containing it without any issues. The problem with MSG is it contains sodium. Most Chinese food is still high in sodium even if it does not contain MSG.

June 19, 2013

Don’t run on empty

It’s running season. But before you put on those running shoes think about what you are putting in your body.

Get fueled. Long-distance runners are at risk of having low bone density, stress fractures and irregular periods if the energy input does not correspond to their energy output. It is important to provide your body with enough energy to perform at its best and prevent unwanted injuries. Men typically require about 6 to 10 percent more calories than women as they typically burn more calories on average and require more energy for their muscle function. Runners can calculate their caloric needs by following this general guideline, but it’s best to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before starting a running program.

June 13, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

With an ample supply of yogurt choices in your supermarket, making the best choice can seem overwhelming.  You may have noticed several Greek yogurt options, but is this really different and what makes Greek yogurt special?

Greek yogurt is considered superior to regular yogurt, but why?  Greek yogurt contains more protein and less carbohydrate due to its unique straining process.  The straining process removes the watery whey giving it a thick, creamy texture.

June 6, 2013

What is the most common cause of a heart attack?

The cause of a heart attack or death of heart muscle tissue is due to blockage of blood flow in a coronary artery that feeds the heart muscle. The disease process that leads to blockage of arteries is called atherosclerosis, which means hardening or fatty buildup of the arteries. As humans age, we all develop some amount of fatty buildup in our arteries similar to pipes in a house developing grim buildup over the years. But there are factors that may worsen or accelerate that buildup and increase the risk for a heart attack. Some of these factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of routine exercise and a diet high in saturated fat. Fortunately, many of these factors can be treated, which reduces the risk of fatty buildup and a heart attack.

June 3, 2013

When to be worried about a bug bite

The warm weather has arrived and so have the insects. This time of year we often see patients who have concerns about insect bites.

Mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and chiggers are among the many pests that “bug” us this time of year. Other pests like bees, yellow jackets and wasps bring the risk of being stung, which is when an insect embeds its stinger into the skin.

May 31, 2013

Quick group sports physicals not enough

Parenting a teenage athlete is a juggling act — monitoring homework, keeping up with practice and training schedules, weeks packed with competitions or games. It may seem like a never-ending “to-do” list and that yearly sports physical can seems like just one more thing in a busy parent’s life. But the quickest way of checking it off the list could be detrimental to a teen’s health.

“Sports injuries are a small portion of what is affecting our teens’ health and well-being. The sports physical required by schools and sports leagues just skims the surface and doesn’t dive deep enough into the real issues that affect a teen’s health,” said Jerold Stirling, MD, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Some of the deeper issues such as mental health, social and emotional challenges can’t be addressed in a school gym surrounded by hundreds of other kids or with a quick exam at a retail store.”

May 21, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

Is juice OK for my kids?

Picture the typical kiddy party. The kids are running around playing and nearby is their trusty juice-filled sippy cup or juice box. Let’s see, it tastes good, gives them energy and won’t slow the play time down. It’s the perfect kid food, right? No, let’s look at why.

Juice is not bad for you, but it is a concentrated form of carbohydrate calories. Juice does provide nutrients but is not the best choice for all the fruit servings in a healthy diet.

May 16, 2013

It’s not too early to check off school physical

It’s true, the kids are still in school, but it’s not too early to start thinking about your child’s back-to-school physicals and vaccines for next year.

“Come August, doctors’ offices will be jam-packed with last-minute appointments, so get a jump-start on it now,” said Dr. Heidi Renner, primary care physician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

May 6, 2013

It’s asthma season

Finally, the cold spring blasts have made way for balmy breezes. Along with allergies, our physicians are seeing more asthma flare-ups at our Immediate Care centers in Burr Ridge, Homer Glen and River Forest.

Asthma is a respiratory disorder that affects the lungs by causing airway constriction and inflammation.  It is commonly inherited.  People who suffer from allergies or eczema are predisposed to having asthma.

May 1, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

It’s time to fire up the grill. Summer memories often include blue skies, red-checkered tablecloths and tasty grilled brats and steaks. But getting sick from your picnic is a sure way to ruin all the fun.

What are some tips so all the food stays safe?

April 25, 2013

Don’t get injured while golfing around

There is nothing like breaking out the golf clubs after a long winter hibernation and hitting the golf course. Golf is a great way for people of all ages and activity levels to get moving and enjoy the outdoors. However, injuries are common in golf, especially to the ankles, elbow, spine, knee, hip and wrist. Most injuries occur from repeating the same swing motion over and over again. This places stress on certain muscles, tendons and joints. However, a few trips to the gym before your golf outing could avert injuries.

Golfer’s Elbow
One of the most common injuries is medial epicondylitis, better known at Golfer’s Elbow. This is an inflammation of the tendons that attach your forearm muscles to the inside of the bone at the elbow.

April 19, 2013

Testing children for high cholesterol

It’s been pretty well publicized that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.  We now know that atherosclerosis, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke, begins in childhood. If this condition is diagnosed in childhood, there are opportunities to delay or even prevent heart attack and stroke in adulthood.  Many children with high cholesterol levels have inherited this condition from their parents, and since most parents of young children are just young adults themselves, they may not yet know they too inherited cardiovascular disease.

April 12, 2013

Rule of thumb for a balanced diet

In an initiative to help lead more Americans toward the path of healthy living, 18 cooking websites and five media companies are working with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. The websites will feature healthy recipes that follow the guidelines of the MyPlate campaign.

MyPlate is part of a larger initiative with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices.  MyPlate illustrates the five food groups using a familiar mealtime visual, a place setting (choosemyplate.gov).    More than 3,000 recipes will be featured on a new Pinterest page (http://pinterest.com/MyPlateRecipes/).  Recipes may be for a main or side dish that meets at least one part of the MyPlate criteria.

April 5, 2013

How to find the right running shoes

Thousands of people will kick off Chicago’s running season this Sunday when they step out for the city’s most popular 8K race – the Shamrock Shuffle. Having the proper footwear will be important to protect their feet and prevent injuries. Loyola University Health System podiatrists suggest the following tips when selecting a running shoe:

March 27, 2013

A prescription for life

Imagine a prescription that you can use every day, costs little or no money and if used properly, results in no negative side effects. That prescription is walking. Walking has been shown to help prevent diabetes, heart disease, depression (by increasing the brain’s endorphins, a chemical related to preventing depression), osteoarthritis and even improves memory.

March 15, 2013

diaper rash


I’m a new mom. Do you have any tips for diaper rash?


Almost every parent has to deal with it – diaper rash. Though the problem is common, it’s also extremely painful and uncomfortable for the child and can leave parents at a loss for how to comfort their little one.

Diaper rash is caused by the skin’s reaction to irritants such as excessive moisture, lotions, wipes, diapers or a child’s waste, a Loyola neonatal expert said. Breast-fed babies may be more prone to diaper rash since they tend to produce looser stool more frequently.

Parents should put a barrier cream with zinc oxide on a baby’s bottom with each diaper change during times of frequent stools. This keeps a barrier between the child’s skin and the moisture that causes the irritation. When choosing a cream, make sure it’s thick. In this case, the thicker it is, the better.

Diaper rash can be caused when the skin is exposed to a new product such as lotion, a new brand of paper diaper or wipes. If you’ve tried a new product on the baby’s skin and notice a rash, go back to the old product for a few days. Then, try the new product again. If the rash happens again, don’t use the new product.

Parents should also stay away from wipes with alcohol or fragrances as they tend to irritate the skin more. Even wipes that are marketed for use on sensitive skin can still irritate fragile skin, so if your child has diaper rash, try not to use any wipes. Instead try using a small squeeze water bottle with warm water to clean the bottom and pat dry with a soft, clean washcloth.

If a child does develop diaper rash:

  • Expose the affected area to as much air as you can. Consider having the baby take a nap on a burp rag or open cloth diaper
  • Change diapers often
  • Oatmeal baths and soaks can help ease the pain of the raw skin
  • If a child is older than 2 months, consider pain-relief medication

The No. 1 cause of diaper rash is loose stool, so if your child is starting to get sick be sure to apply a barrier cream often. Most diaper rashes will go away with time and the proper treatment. Still, there are times when what appears to be diaper rash might be something more.

If the rash is causing pain and not improving with the normal treatment, it’s possible that it could be a yeast rash. Healthy babies have yeast in their stool and diapers are a perfect breeding ground since yeast like to live in dark, warm, wet places. If the rash looks bright red, is in the skin folds and doesn’t get better after three days of treating it, you might want to have your pediatrician take a look to make sure there isn’t anything concerning.

Contact your pediatrician if:

  • The child has a fever unrelated to another illness
  • The raw skin oozes pus
  • The rash is scabbed over
  • The redness is spreading
  • There is an abscess or boil

Diaper rash isn’t an emergency and most likely will go away in a few days, but if you are concerned your pediatrician can always take a look.

March 14, 2013

From our Nutritionists’ Table

juice cleanseI’ve been thinking about doing a juice cleanse. Will it really do everything it claims?

Don’t be fooled by the growing popularity of juice cleansing. These programs can be pricey and, unfortunately, won’t do much for you. Here are some claims associated with this trendy regimen and why it likely won’t work:

Claim: A juice cleanse will detox your body

Reality: Your body is already set up to “detox” itself. It is the job of your liver, kidneys and intestines to neutralize and excrete dangerous toxins.   In fact, consuming nothing but juice can actually work against these organs.

March 12, 2013

I have been having tenderness of the breast and nipple area. I also have really bad lower back pain. I looked online what this might mean: pregnancy. I took a pregnancy test and it came out negative. What could this mean?

Soreness in the breasts can be hormonal, such as occurs with pregnancy or just prior to a period. The pain can be worsened by an increase in caffeine consumption in the form of coffee, tea or chocolate. Lower back pain can be caused by many things, including cramping of the pelvic structures such as premenstrual irritation. If you do not get a period soon, and if the symptoms persist, see a health-care professional.