Northside Family Practice
Northside Family Practice
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Time to get serious about obesity

It seems like every week there is another article in the newspaper about obesity. This problem is starting to get the attention it deserves. We as a country are getting heavier and it’s not only the busy adults. It is the children as well. The recent International Congress on Obesity suggested that our youth may be the first generation not to live as long as their parents!

Roughly 2/3 of adults are classified as overweight and 1/3 as obese. These numbers are expected to continue increasing for both adults and children. The major reasons implicated for our increase in weight is the expansion of sedentary activities such as TV, computer, and video games and the increased availability of unhealthy, processed foods.

We are seeing diseases such as Type 2 DM and hypertension, typically thought of as diseases of adults, at earlier ages. As a result, we are destined to see complications of these diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure, earlier in life.

As adults, we must set a good example by eating healthy and exercising. Buy healthy food for your family. Do activities together as a family such as hiking, swimming, or biking. Limit the amount of time family members watch TV, surf the internet, and play video games.

We should make exercise a daily, must-do activity. One of the most popular excuses is not having enough time to exercise. However, despite working longer hours, most of us still watch a fair amount of television.

There are endless numbers of ways to get moving and burn calories, so all of us should find some activities that we enjoy. Even if you insist that you still don’t have enough time to exercise, there are other ways to increase the number of daily calories burned. Park further away from the store or work and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Housework, gardening, and playing with your kids are activities which burn calories, too.

Eating healthy is a challenge as well for many of us. It takes time to change your eating habits. I am a firm believer that smaller, more frequent meals result in fewer calories consumed and improved metabolism. Also, educate yourself on which foods are healthy and which are not. A simple rule is to eat food in its most natural state (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats) while avoiding food that comes in a box or bag.

Plan your meals in advance. Don’t wait until you’re hungry to decide what you’re going to eat. Plan your exercise routine ahead of time, as well. Look at your personal and work schedule to decide when you will exercise. Finally, always check with your doctor before starting any intensive exercise program.

This generation of children is likely more overweight because their parents are more overweight. If we are not good examples of health through our exercise and eating habits, then we cannot expect the same of our children. It’s time for all of us to get serious about this issue.

Allergies

Spring is here and so is allergy season. For many of us, it’s a time of suffering with the usual sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, affects about 35 million Americans.

Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergens, substances that initiate an allergy. The allergens most responsible for hay fever in the spring are the pollen of trees, grasses, and weeds. In addition, molds can contribute later on due to increased moisture from spring showers.

An important component of any allergy management plan is avoiding those troublesome pollens and molds. Allergy sufferers should be aware of the amount of pollen and mold in the air before venturing out. Minimizing outdoor activity on days when the pollen count or humidity is high or on windy days when pollen and mold fill the air will help minimize allergy symptoms. Daily allergen reports can be found at the National Allergy Bureau website at www.aaaai.org/nab.

Here are some additional tips to help you reduce exposure to seasonal allergens:

  • Keep windows closed at night to prevent pollens or molds from drifting into the home.
  • Use an air conditioner and dehumidifier to keep air clean, cool, and dry.
  • Keep car windows closed when traveling.
  • Take vacations to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach or sea.
  • Use a paper mask when mowing or raking which stirs up pollens and molds.
  • Avoid hanging sheets or clothing out to dry, pollen and molds collect on them.
  • Take a shower after spending time outdoors to remove pollen and mold that may be on your skin and hair.
  • In addition to avoiding allergens, which many times is not possible, treatment involves medication. Medications for allergic rhinitis include oral pills, nasal sprays, and eye drops. If avoidance and medication are unsuccessful, then your doctor may suggest immunotherapy (allergy shots). If you’ve had allergies in the past, one of the best ways to help prevent allergy attacks is to start taking medication prescribed by your doctor about a week before peak allergy season.


  • There is no reason to suffer unnecessarily with allergies. Most people will respond well to one or a combination of the above treatments. Your doctor can help you decide which therapies are best for you.

    Stress and Your Health

    You can see it in the faces of frustrated commuters and hurried shoppers, and it’s evidenced by the rise in divorces and bankruptcies. It’s STRESS. Things like managing finances, making deadlines, and taking care of children can put a constant strain on our lives.

    This stress may not only make you feel crazy, it may be harmful to your health! When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release “stress hormones”, which include cortisol and adrenaline, into your bloodstream. These hormones help your focus, speed your reaction time, and increase your strength. They also increase your heart rate and blood pressure.

    The problem comes when stressful situations occur too often that the body has no time to recover. This continuous activation of stress hormones can interfere with many of the body’s normal processes. Short-term and, more importantly, long-term health problems can develop and existing problems can worsen due to stress. Some of the conditions caused or worsened by stress are:

  • Weight gain and obesity. Cortisol causes an increase in your appetite.
  • Immune system suppression. Increase cortisol can make you more susceptible to infection.
  • Cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and strokes. In addition to increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, cortisol can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Digestive problems such as stomach aches and diarrhea. Stomach ache can also be a sign of gastritis, a precursor to stomach ulcers.
  • Depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Asthma and migraine headaches can be triggered.
  • Skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and hives can worsen.
  • Stress is a part of life and nearly impossible to stop. However, there are ways to control it. You can manage stress by either changing your environment so that the demands aren’t so high and/or learn how to better cope with the demands in your environment.


  • Here are some helpful techniques:

    Look after your body. To handle stress, eat a healthy diet, get adequate rest, and exercise. Exercise can help by distracting you from stressful events and releasing that nervous energy.

    Learn to relax. Try deep-breathing exercises. You may also want to try medication, yoga or tai chi to help focus your mind, calm you anxiety and release your physical tension.

    Inhale through your nose to a count of 10. As you inhale, your upper abdomen should rise — not your chest. Exhale slowly and completely, to a count of 10. Repeat five to 10 times. Try to do this several times every day, even when you’re not feeling stressed.

    There are numerous books out there on these practices. Additionally, therapeutic massage may help tight muscles and frazzled nerves.

    Change your outlook. Sometimes simply choosing to look at situations in a more positive way can reduce the amount of stress in your life. Step back from the conflict or worry and ask what part of it is troubling you most. Are things really that bad or is your reaction out of proportion? Try to avoid anger and frustration, as they are emotions that can lead to loss of control. Take a break, talk to someone close and get a different perspective on your troubles.

    Get help. If you are unsuccessful trying to change the patterns of thought and behavior that trigger your stress response, seek help from a trained professional. Your doctor, psychologist, or clergy should be able to assist you.

    Stress management requires continuous practice as you go through life and deal with change. Even if you take everyday frustrations in stride, your stress response can still surge when you find yourself dealing with sudden issues, such as job loss, illness or loss of a loved one.

    If stress is getting the better of you and you fear its long-term effects, don’t be afraid to seek help. You may not find a quick or permanent fix, but in time, you’ll recognize the signs that pressure is building and learn the best ways to deal with it.