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What causes constipation and how is it treated?

People often fear the worst about constipation.  Constipation is very common and only rarely signifies something serious.  Just because the average person has a bowel movement daily doesn’t mean you have to—if normal for you is every 3, 5, or 7 days that is okay so long as it’s not adversely affecting your life. In many cases, people with constipation struggle with it all their lives and are looking to be certain nothing more serious is going on and for a way to treat their symptoms.  Even in people with relatively new onset of constipation, there usually is a simple solution.  It is certainly reasonable to have your constipation assessed but in the absence of other warning signs for more serious disease, additional testing related to constipation is not always essential.

What are the causes of constipation?

Colonic inertia

  • Most cases of constipation are caused by colonic inertia, which is simply a slow moving colon.  Different people are made differently, and the muscles and nerves that are supposed to act in concert to push stool along just work a little slower in people with constipation.  In such cases, if we could look at the colon under the microscope it would look normal but if we took an x-ray of how quickly it pushed stool through, it would on average move things along more slowly.

Pelvic floor dysfunction

  • If ...

Breast cancer awareness: What's good for our breasts is good for the rest

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Sports teams are wearing pink, survivors are telling their stories, and pink ribbons are everywhere. Women battling the disease and people who care for them are educating others about the importance of early detection. People who may never have been personally touched by breast cancer are showing their support by volunteering, raising funds for research and getting involved in other ways. It is a world of PINK! And that’s a good thing.

But……sometimes it feels like we spend so much time talking about breast cancer we forget to talk about our general health. Breasts are important, but so is the rest! There are things you can do to both decrease your risk of breast cancer and improve your health overall:

  • Get moving! You don’t have to run marathons. Even moderate walking 30 min, 4-5 days a week is beneficial. Adding resistance or weight training is ideal. Life is busy, but if you look you will find ways to fit exercise into your daily routine. You’ll be decreasing cancer risk and preventing osteoporosis. Plus, inactive women have more heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression than active woman.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. It can make a big difference - especially avoiding weight gain after menopause. Keeping your body mass index (BMI) <25 is ideal. (Click here for a tool to help calculate your BMI). Gaining even 20lbs during the course of adulthood has been shown to increase risk of breast cancer for some women.

  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in:

More tips for feeding picky eaters

In my last post, I shared a few tips about what to expect and how to help encourage your child to eat more. Here are some more tips to help your child eat more variety of foods, including more vegetables:

How can I get my child to eat more variety?

  • Offer a "nibble tray". At snack time, fill a muffin tin or ice cube tray with bite-sized portions of colorful, nutritious foods. Try cooked macaroni, cheese cubes, kidney beans, grape halves, broccoli florets, ready-to- eat cereal, and canned pineapple tidbits.
  • Let children cook. Your child is more likely to eat what he has helped to make.
  • Children can help wash vegetables, tear up lettuce, scrub potatoes, or stir batter.
  • Be playful. Call these finger foods playful names that a two-year-old can appreciate, such as: apple moons (thinly sliced), avocado boats (a quarter of an avocado), banana wheels, broccoli trees (steamed broccoli florets), carrot swords (cooked and thinly sliced), cheese building blocks, egg canoes (hard- boiled egg wedges), little O's (o-shaped cereal). "Olive or raspberry fingers" are much more appealing to be nibbled off their fingertips.
  • Serve new foods over and over again. A food not eaten at first may ...

Healthy tips for parents and kids to help prevent the spread of colds and the flu

Summer has ended, the kids are back in school, and fall is officially here. Which means….cold and flu season is upon us! Hospitals are already seeing documented cases of seasonal influenza. There are no known cures for colds and flu, so cold and flu prevention should be your goal.

Why do we care about preventing influenza? The flu can be very dangerous for children, causing illness, hospital stays and death each year. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports about 20,000 children below the age of 5 are hospitalized from flu complications each year.

The most effective way for preventing the flu is to get the flu shot. It works better than anything else. (Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older). There are additional strategies you can employ to help ward off those nasty viruses.

Here are 6 tips you can use to help prevent colds and the flu:

What causes bedwetting and when to be concerned

Bedwetting (also called nocturnal enuresis) is a very common childhood problem.  The number of children with this problem varies by age. For example, at five years of age, an average of 16% of children will have a bedwetting accident.  By 15 years of age and older, 1-2 % continue to wet the bed.  For most children, this will improve or resolve without any treatment as they get older.

What can cause bedwetting?

Bedwetting may be related to one or more of the following:

  • The child’s bladder holds a smaller than normal amount
  • Genetics (parents who had nocturnal enuresis as a child are more likely to have children with the same concern)
  • Diminished levels of vasopressin (a hormone that reduces urine production at night)
  • The mechanism for the bladder and brain to talk to each other is “off line”
  • Underlying medical/emotional concerns (i.e. diabetes, urinary tract infection, ADHD, etc)

When does a child achieve dryness at night?

Typically, children will learn to stay dry during the daytime first, then they will achieve night time dryness. This whole process generally can take up age 4-5.

When is bedwetting a concern? 

Typically, when ...

Tips for reducing hot flashes for women with breast cancer

Hot flashes are the most common complaint from women going through menopause. And for women who are breast cancer patients, the problem is often more acute. Surgery, chemotherapy and estrogen blocking medications can bring on hot flashes or make them worse if you already have them. And for women who must discontinue hormone replacement therapy, the instant onset of hot flashes and night sweats can severely impact quality of life.

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can easily and safely employ to decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. Everything I recommend here is non-estrogenic so while it is generally safe for breast cancer patients and survivors, you should always check with your oncologist before trying any new supplement.

First, a few notes on diet. I recently had a patient who stopped eating refined sugars for general health reasons, and her hot flashes nearly disappeared. Your mileage may vary on this one but there are clear health benefits from lowering sugar intake, so it may be worth a try. You might also try ...

Feeding Tips for Picky Eaters

It is important that children develop healthy eating habits early in life. Here are some ways to help your child eat well and to make meal times easier.

What to Expect:

  • After the first year of life, growth slows down, and your child's appetite may change.
  • It's normal for your child to eat more on some days and very little on other days.
  • A child may refuse to eat in order to have some control in his life.
  • A child may be happy to sit at the table for 15 to 20 minutes and no longer.
  • A child may want to eat the same food over and over again.

How can I encourage my child to eat more?

  • Set regular meal and snack times. Avoid feeding your child in between these times, so that they are hungry at meal and snack times. If you want your child to eat dinner at the same time you do, try to time his snack-meals so that they are at least two hours before dinner.
  • Limit juice and milk between meals. Offer water between meals, which will satisfy thirst without spoiling the appetite. Serve drinks at the end of the meal.
  • Respect tiny tummies. Keep portion sizes small. Here's a rule of thumb – or, rather, of hand. A young child's stomach is approximately the size of his fist. A good serving size for a young child is 1/2 slice of bread, 1 oz of meat, or 1/4 cup of fruit or vegetable pieces.
  • Respect changing appetites. Offer ...
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