Menopause: Is the Change Near?

Posted on : 03-04-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Health Tips, menopause

Pillai, AnandaSubmitted by Anadavally Pillai, MD
Family Practice Physician

Simply put, menopause is the transition to the time when women no longer experience menstrual flow and can no longer become pregnant. Symptoms usually begin about two years before menstruation ceases (called peri-menopause) and continue 1 to 3 years after. It can take up to 9 years to complete the menopause process. This is a period of profound hormonal transition. Stereotypically, women are said to experience loss of sex drive, depression, irritability and mood swings. My patients often comment that they have a difficult time sleeping and become irritable as a result of hot flashes at night. And if that isn’t enough, you can expect to gain 2 to 5 pounds during the transition usually ending up in the tummy area.

To ease the symptoms associated with menopause, I offer my patients the following advice:


  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing made of natural fibers
  • Avoid eating rich or spicy foods
  • Drink lots of water
  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid hot beverages


  • Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet and take vitamin supplements
  • Exercise regularly for energy and to relieve stress
  • Minimize your exposure to stressful situations
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine – mediation, yoga, massages
  • Talk to other women who have gone or are going through menopause


  • Avoid using deodorant soaps or scented products in the vaginal area
  • Use water-soluble lubricants for increases comfort during intercourse
  • Avoid using oils and petroleum-based products which can lead to infection

If your symptoms become too bothersome, discuss possible medical treatments – such as hormone replacement therapy or alternative herbal treatments with a physician.

10 Colonoscopy Myths Busted

Posted on : 03-04-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Cancer, colon cancer, Health Tips, screening

target-your-business-strategy-to-capture-sales-from-women-on-pinterest-this-winter-holiday-2012There is nothing glamorous about having a colonoscopy. But the fact is it could save your life! A screening colonoscopy is the preferred way to detect colorectal cancer early and treat it effectively, but misconceptions continually prevent people from scheduling this painless procedure. So, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox would like to set the record straight and dispel those myths once and for all.

Myth #1: “I’m not at risk for colon cancer.”

Fact: While certain genetic traits and ethnic backgrounds increase risk factors for colorectal as well as other types of cancers, but the truth is everyone has some risk of developing the disease. Dr. Reza Gamagami, colorectal cancer specialist at Silver Cross Hospital, recommends a colonoscopy beginning at age 50, or earlier if you have a personal or family history of the disease. Other risk factors include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Myth # 2: “Colon cancer only affects men.”

Fact: Colon cancer affects both men and women. Each year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 die from it—over half are women! Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Myth #3: “I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t need a colonoscopy.”

Colorectal cancer is often dubbed “the silent killer” because it usually presents no symptoms. Colonoscopies are effective because they can detect cancer in polyps long before they become an issue. Symptoms like blood in the stool, anemia and stomach pain are typically only present when the cancer has taken hold. Some individuals with certain gastrointestinal diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease), may have a risk of developing colon cancer earlier than age 50 and should talk to their physician about regular colonoscopy screening starting at an age earlier than 50 years.

“Please don’t wait to schedule your colonoscopy,” said Dr. Gamagami. “The vast majority of colon cancers are found in patients who did not have any pain or other symptoms.”

Myth #4: “A colonoscopy isn’t accurate.”

Fact: Advances in technology have greatly improved the diagnostic capabilities of colonoscopies as well as the overall patient experience, according to Dr. Gamagami. They are among the best, safest ways to detect the presence of pre-cancerous growths.

Myth #5: “I won’t be able to handle the prep.”

Fact: It’s no secret that preparing for a colonoscopy is often the worst part of it. You will be on laxatives for at least a day prior to the procedure and you’ll need to stay close to a bathroom. Remember, the cleaner your colon, the better the physician can detect polyps, which is, after all, why you’re there.

Myth #6: “Colonoscopies are painful.”

Fact: Prior to the procedure, patients are given a combination of a narcotic and sedative called “conscious sedation.” Patients actually sleep through the procedure so they don’t feel any discomfort. If a doctor does find a polyp, they can usually remove it during the procedure.

Myth #7: “Colorectal cancer can’t be prevented, so the test is not necessary.”

Fact: Colorectal cancer is among the most preventable forms of  cancer. Through colonoscopy, polyps and other pre-cancerous conditions of the colon are easily detected and can be treated, resulting in significantly better outcomes for patients. Furthermore. it is easy to detect in its pre-cancerous stages through screening methods like colonoscopies. Because it is such a slow growing cancer, if a patient’s initial colonoscopy is negative, they typically usually won’t need one for another decade, although those with genetic or other risk factors may require one more frequently.

Myth #8: “If cancer is detected, it may not be curable.”

Fact: Colon cancer is preventable and highly treatable when caught at an early stage. People who are diagnosed early have over a 90 percent chance of surviving. There are highly effective surgical options for colon cancer patients, and Silver Cross Hospital is a leader is the area making these options available to patients.

Silver Cross has been designated as part of an elite group of nationally recognized General Surgery Epicenters due to the demonstrated excellence of Dr. Gamagami as an educator for general colorectal robotic surgery. Dr. Gamagami performs complicated abdominal procedures laparoscopically through just a few small incisions using the da Vinci robot. At Silver Cross Hospital, we have performed twice as minimally invasive colon resections to cure colon cancer than any other local community hospital. According to Dr. Gamagami, 85% of his patients benefit from this new technology as compared to less than 10% in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Myth #9: “When you have a colonoscopy, you will have to be out of work for several days.”

Fact: The actual procedure only takes about 30 to 60 minutes. So, relatively short, but you must take into account arrival time, prep time and post-procedure time. Most patients miss only one full day of work.

Myth #10: “I can’t afford to have a colonoscopy.”

Fact: You can’t afford not to have one. It could save your life. Many insurance plans have a screening colonoscopy benefit for members age 50 or over. Medicare and Medicaid cover a screening colonoscopy at 100 percent if you are age 50 or over and haven’t had the test in the last 10 years.

Gattos_logoAnd if de-bunking all these myths wasn’t enough, Gatto’s Restaurant is giving a $20 gift certificate to everyone who has a screening colonoscopy at Silver Cross Hospital before Sept. 30, 2015. Don’t wait any longer.  Click here or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) for a free referral to a physician who performs colonoscopies and tell them Gatto’s sent you.

Posted on : 03-03-2015 | By : tsimons | In : colon cancer, screening


Sinus Problem Solutions

Posted on : 02-25-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Aches & Pains, Events, Health Tips, News, Rehabilitation

sinusEach year, millions of Americans suffer from severe sinus infections with painful symptoms of nasal congestion, facial pressure, and headaches. Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox is offering a free program that will inform area residents about the causes and treatments for sinus pressure.

Sinuses are hollow air spaces within the bones between your eyes, behind your cheekbone, and in the forehead. Sinuses generate mucus, which helps keep the inside of your nose moist. “If the tissue in your nose is swollen from a cold, allergies, or environmental causes, it can block the sinus passages,” said Ankit Patel, M.D. “Then your sinuses can’t drain, and you may feel discomfort.”

Common Sinus Problems

Sinus Blockages: Each sinus has a narrow opening, called the transition space, which drains any fluid. If a blockage occurs, mucus backs up.

Deviated Nasal Septum: Another common issue is a deviated nasal septum, which is the thin wall of bone and cartilage inside your nasal cavity that separates your two nasal passages. Ideally, your septum is in the center of your nose, equally separating the two sides. But in many people, the septum is positioned to one side, making one nasal passage smaller than the other. A deviated septum is one reason some people have sinus issues, which can also lead to obstructed breathing and snoring.

Narrow Sinuses: More often, people just have variations in their anatomy that creates a longer, narrower path for the transition spaces to drain. This may lead to recurrent infections.

Sinus Sensitivity and Allergies: Finally, some people are sensitive to tobacco smoke, dust particles and foods. This sensitivity triggers a dilation of blood vessels in the nose, which may releases chemicals from cells in the nose that cause swelling.

If you suffer from sinus problems, try these tips to prevent future occurrences:

  • Apply a warm, cloth to your face several times a day to help open the transition spaces.
  • Consume a lot of fluids to thin the mucus.
  • Inhale steam two to three times per day.
  • Use a nasal saline spray several times a day.
  • Clean the nose with a salt water solution from a neti pot using distilled water.
  • Try a humidifier to moisten the air you breathe to help open sinuses.
  • Try antihistamines and decongestants. Oral decongestants should be avoided by cardiac patients.

Finally, if you have recurrent sinus problems, you might talk to a physician about surgery to clean and drain the sinuses or outpatient balloon sinuplasty.

Learn More

Patel,Ankit396606The inflammation of the sinuses is one of the most common problems doctors treat. Join Dr. Ankit Patel, ear, nose, throat, head and neck surgeon, Tuesday, March 10 to learn more about the latest medications and outpatient surgical treatments to alleviate sinus symptoms and pain. The free Aches & Pains: Sinus Pressure program will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. This talk is part of an Aches & Pains Lecture Series which also includes an upcoming seminar on low back pain March 31. All participants will receive a gift bag that includes a complimentary low back screening performed by a physician with Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital, and other items to help you stay active. Register to attend at online or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

I Matter: Dairy Queen Blizzards

Posted on : 02-25-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Business Sponsors, I Matter Benefits

We’ve had our fair share of blizzards this winter but nothing beats the one that can be found at the Joliet Dairy Queens!  So pull out your I Matter card and head on over for this special BOGO deal!

blizzardBuy One Blizzard & Get Second for Free
(same or smaller size)

2310 Essington Rd.

1410 E Washington St

Please present this offer for discount at time of purchase.  Offer expires April 15, 2015

i matter logo 2Not only does ice cream give you that reassurance that spring is just around the corner, but if you have been feeling under the weather, it has been known to smooth a sore throat and satisfy a sweet craving all at once. Take this opportunity to reward yourself for getting your annual health screening – mammogram, heart test, etc. You deserve to treat yourself and your favorite gal pal for taking care of her health too!

Could it be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Posted on : 02-25-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Aches & Pains, Events, Health Tips, Rehabilitation, screening, Video

Do you experience pain, numbness or tingling in your wrist or fingers? You may have carpal tunnel syndrome – a painful condition of the hand and fingers caused by compression of a major nerve where it passes over the carpal bones through a passage at the front of the wrist, alongside the flexor tendons of the hand. It may be caused by repetitive movements over a long period, or by fluid retention, and is characterized by sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning.

Occupational therapists with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital are offering free carpal tunnel screenings to evaluate and discuss therapy options:

Thursday, March 5

Silver Cross Hospital’s Pavilion A – New Lenox

(815) 300-7110


Wednesday, March 11

Silver Cross Professional Building – West Joliet

(815) 300-6580

Call today to schedule an appointment at either location.




Wipe Out Wrist Pain for Good

Posted on : 02-16-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Aches & Pains, Bone Health, Events, Health Tips, Interview, Rehabilitation, screening

wrist-pain1According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually start gradually, with frequent tingling or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers. These symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during the night, and you may wake up feeling the need to “shake out” the hand or wrist. As symptoms worsen, you might feel tingling during the day and have a decreased grip strength that may make it difficult to form a fist or grasp small objects. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, find out if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome by attending an upcoming lecture discussing the condition or schedule a free screening offered by Silver Cross Hospital.

Free Lecture – Aches & Pains: Wrist & Hand Pain

Join an Occupational Therapist with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital for a discussion on how carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to arthritis and share simple exercises to help prevent and relieve the pain. The program will occur on Monday, March 2 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. This free Aches & Pains: Wrist & Hand Pain program is part of an Aches & Pains Lecture Series which also includes seminars on sinus pressure and low back pain. Register to attend online or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325). All participants will receive a gift bag that includes a complimentary carpal tunnel or low back screening performed by a physician with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross, and other items to help you stay active.

Free Carpal Tunnel Screening

Occupational therapists will evaluate and discuss therapy options for individuals experiencing pain, numbness, or tingling in the wrist or fingers.  Occupational therapists with RIC at Silver Cross will offer free carpal tunnel screenings on Tuesday, March 3 and Thursday, March 5 at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital-Pavilion A-New Lenox and on Wednesday, March 11 at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross, 1051 Essington Rd, Joliet.  Call 815-300-7110 (Pavilion A) or 815-300-6580 (West Joliet) to schedule an appointment.

“Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes squeezed at the wrist,” says Linda Brunner, occupational therapist with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital.   “The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move. The carpal tunnel, which is a narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, houses the median nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm.”

Treatments for Relief

Rest: Initial treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome generally involves resting the affected hand and wrist for at least 2 weeks, avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms, and immobilizing the wrist in a splint to avoid further damage from twisting or bending. If there is inflammation, applying cool packs can help reduce swelling.

Drugs: In special circumstances, various drugs can ease the pain and swelling associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers, may ease symptoms that have been present for a short time or have been caused by strenuous activity.

Therapy: Rehabilitation can be helpful for people whose symptoms have escalated. Therapy is supervised by a physical or occupational therapist, who are trained to use exercises to treat physical impairments, and teach people skills to improve their health.

Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome following treatment is rare. “If treated early, carpal tunnel symptoms usually go away with nonsurgical treatment,” said Linda.

Pamper Your Heart, Receive a Smoothie and Chance to Win a NutriBullet

Posted on : 02-05-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Discounts, Events, Health Tips, Heart Health, I Matter Benefits, News, screening

Americans spend millions of dollars a year pampering their bodies with massages and manicures, so why not pamper the most vital body part – your heart – to ensure it’s running smoothly? With heart disease as the number one leading killer of both men and women, Silver Cross encourages area residents to pamper themselves by getting a cardiac screening during the month of February.

Strawberry smoothieFree Smoothie with Cardiac Risk Assessment
Keep your heart running smoothly with a Baseline Cardiac Risk Assessment. The $40 screening includes measurements of total cholesterol including HDL and LDL levels, blood glucose level, triglyceride level, blood pressure and body fat; 12-lead EKG, health and lifestyle evaluation, and a personal phone consultation with a registered cardiac nurse to review results and answer questions. A 12-hour fast is required.   Individuals who call (815) 300-7076 during the month of February to schedule an appointment at the Silver Cross Health Center, 12701 W. 143rd St., Homer Glen or Silver Cross Hospital,, 1900 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox will receive a heart-healthy smoothie in a keepsake cup from Café 1900 at Silver Cross Hospital, an I Matter card which can be used for valuable discounts at over 100 local businesses; and will be entered in a raffle to win a NutriBullet.  Cash, check or credit card will be accepted at time of appointment. Insurance will not be billed.

Fortunately, there are ways to lower your risks for heart disease thru these simple steps:

  • Exercise.  According to the American Heart Association, having high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors. By exercising 20 to 30 minutes several days a week can cut your blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
  • Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol .  Prevention and treatments for high blood pressure and cholesterol includes eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, keeping a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise.
  • Control Blood Sugar and Diabetes. Diabetes significantly increases your risk for heart disease. Maintaining a normal blood sugar most of the time can help reduce that risk. Be sure to check your blood sugar according to your doctor’s recommendation or daily if needed in order to keep blood-sugar levels under control.
  • Stop Smoking. Smoking increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. People who smoke are four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers. The good news is, no matter how long or how much you’ve smoked, if you quit, your risk for heart disease decreases soon after.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight . People who have excess body fat-especially at the waist-are more likely to develop heart disease even if there are no other risk factors. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein can help you lose weight. Avoiding trans fat and limiting saturated fat can directly reduce heart disease risks.
  • De-Stress. Putting yourself on your “to do” list and finding ways to defuse stress will help slow your breathing and heart rate as you lower your blood pressure. Visit a friend, listen to mood music; all are good ways to reduce stress, you just have to come up with ways that are right or you.

Cardiac Services at Silver Cross
Silver Cross Hospital brings together advanced technology and the finest medical professionals to create an innovative and efficient approach to heart care.  From prevention programs to aftercare, Silver Cross provides patients with everything they need to maintain a healthy heart.  Cardiac patients receive expert education, diagnosis, treatment, professional consultation, and rehabilitative care. From state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization suites to an accredited programs for Echocardiography and Cardiac Rehab, Silver Cross offers a wide range of comprehensive services to expertly diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate heart disease. For a referral to a cardiologist on staff at Silver Cross, call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) or click here.

Know when to See a Doctor for Headaches

headacheAccording to the American Headache Society (AHS), 36 million Americans chronically suffer from severe headaches or migraines.

“One of the most important questions patients need to ask themselves is when should they see a physician for a migraine or headache,” said Dr. Richard Burgess, neuro interventional radiologist & stroke neurologist with the Silver Cross Neuroscience Institute.  “You should seek medical attention if your headaches are often, severe or come on suddenly.”

The AHS recommends seeing your physician immediately if your headache is accompanied by any of the following:

  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • fever
  • numbness
  • shortness of breath
  • slurred speech
  • stiff neck
  • persistent vomiting
  • unexpected symptoms affecting your ears, nose, throat, or eyes
  • unremitting diarrhea
  • vision loss
  • weakness or paralysis.

Other tips to know if you are suffering from a severe headache or migraine is if:

  • the pain keeps getting worse and won’t stop.
  • the headache interferes with your normal activities.
  • you find yourself taking pain relievers more than two days a week.
  • the dosages of over-the-counter medications are not giving you adequate relief

“I encourage all patients to play it safe and call their doctor or go to the emergency room because severe head pain may be indicative of a more serious condition,” adds Dr. Burgess.

Aches & Pains: Staying Active Lecture Series

Dr. Burgess will shed light on the types, causes and new ways to treat severe headaches and migraines Monday, Feb. 16 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. This free Aches & Pains: Headaches program is part of a lecture series which also includes seminars on hand and wrist pain, sinus pressure, and low back pain. Register to attend online or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

All participants will receive a GIFT BAG that includes a complimentary carpal tunnel or low back screening performed by a physician with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross, and other items to help you stay active.

Limited Time: Get a Free Smoothie with a Heart Screening

Posted on : 02-02-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Discounts, Events, Heart Health, I Matter Benefits, News, screening