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Sick to your stomach? Protecting against and treating 'stomach flu' (VIDEO/AUDIO)

CLEVELAND -- If you're sick to your stomach, there's a good chance it's caused by a stomach virus.

"Stomach flu does seem to have a flare every season," says Sybil Marsh, MD, family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. "You're feeling pretty reasonable and then at some point you start to feel a little bit queasy, fatigued, you can get a bit of that feverish feeling like with some chills, feeling hot, and you can start to have some achy muscles."

This is usually followed by vomiting and diarrhea before the virus runs its course in 24 to 48 hours. The best strategy against this stomach flu (which is not actually a flu but gastroenteritis) is to try not to get it with frequent hand washing and by avoiding infected people. But if you do come down with this, keep yourself hydrated with water, Gatorade, Pedialyte, tea, or almost any liquid and stay away from uninfected people, even missing work if necessary.

The flu shot will protect against influenza but not gastroenteritis. "It's still good to get the flu shot," says Dr. Marsh. "And just because you get one of these viral-gastros doesn't mean your flu shot isn't working."

The stomach flu shouldn't be especially serious except in the extremely young and the elderly.

Don't let winter weather get you SAD (VIDEO/AUDIO)

CLEVELAND – After the holidays and New Year’s pass us, many of us look ahead in anticipation for warmer temperatures and sunny days. When winter weather and gloomy skies seem to drag on, it can get many of us feeling depressed and lethargic. For some people it can even make them sad.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a psychological condition that sets in when we lose light. The disorder is linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain because of shorter daytime hours and lack of sunlight.
“It’s a whole pattern that relates to light exposure,” says Jeffrey Janata, PhD, Psychologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “And when we replace light in various ways, then actually, they get considerably better, even better than they would on an antidepressant.”
Whether you’re suffering from SAD or a case of the winter blues, Dr. Janata offers the following tips to help cope:

1. Increase your exposure to light. Sit by a window during the day. Get outdoors. Even on a cloudy day, 15 to 30 minutes of outdoor light might be enough to boost your mood.

2. Exercise. Being active can improve mood, increase self-esteem and help alleviate symptoms of depression.

3. Connect with others. Maintaining social relationships can help relieve stress and provide support.

4. Try light therapy. For those who yearn for natural sunlight, a light box can provide a light source brighter than indoor lights.

5. Eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid turning to simple carbohydrates for comfort. Maintaining a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will help provide nutrients needed for mental strength. 

Breastfeeding Moms Need 'A for Effort' Getting Vitamin D to Newborns (VIDEO/AUDIO)

CLEVELAND -- "Many mothers who breastfeed may be unaware that breast milk is naturally deficient in vitamin D and the baby needs some form of supplementation," says Susan Lasch, MD, an OB/GYN at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. "They (think) their bodies would take care of that vitamin D supplementation since we've been breast feeding infants for millennia."

A study published in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine looks at which way mothers prefer to get those supplements, either through giving the baby drops or through giving themselves supplements to boost vitamin D in their breast milk.

"The majority preferred to supplement themselves rather than supplement their babies with drops," says Dr. Lasch. "Some of the reasons that were mentioned were the drops were difficult to use, they weren't sure if the baby liked them, and they were afraid of overdosing."

Dr. Lasch says the study is an important reminder for obstetricians and pediatricians to talk about vitamin D supplementation and find out which method a mother prefers. Vitamin D deficiencies in infants can lead to rickets (a softening of the bones) but could also impact the immune system and increase the risk of diabetes. "Even mild cases may have some effect on the infant," says Dr. Lasch.

Chained to your desk? Step away to wellness (VIDEO/AUDIO)

CLEVELAND -- With Fitbits, Whoops, Jawbone UPs, and all the other wearable wellness devices that track our movement, we're becoming step obsessed, devising ways to get to 5000 steps and better wellness. Some of us are even trying to squeeze in steps during time we're normally sitting, with work devices like the walking desk.

"The whole goal of a walking desk is that you're physically active while you're doing your work," says Roy Buchinsky, MD, Director of Wellness at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. "It is very easy to actually type or do your work while you're getting a bit of a workout."

Walking at about two miles-per-hour while you work burns calories which can help with weight loss, increases cortisol levels which lower stress levels, gets the heart pumping to improve cardiovascular health, and gives mind and body stimulation which helps with general wellness.

These desks can vary in price from several hundred to several thousand dollars and Dr. Buchinsky says to start with a more affordable model to make sure it works but use it in conjunction with other exercise.

"This is not necessarily a tool I would recommend as your only workout," says Dr. Buchinsky, "but it certainly helps you be more active throughout the day rather than sitting for prolonged periods of time."

Standing desks are another option to get workers out of their seats but Dr. Buchinsky advises to make sure you move while using one to avoid lower back problems and varicose veins from standing too much.

Dr. Buchinsky's overall wellness advice is simple: SLMM, or Sit Less Move More, and a walking desk can help achieve that wellness goal. "The goal is not only to be working but be walking so that you can stay healthy while you're working and walking."

Tips for Walking Desk
* Start Slow
* Keep Both Desks to Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
* Research to Find Out What's Best for You


Young adults missing out on life-saving benefits of statins, study finds (VIDEO/AUDIO)

A new study shows many young adults with high cholesterol levels are not taking statins to help with disease prevention. Despite recommendations, clinical researchers found less than 45 percent of adults younger than 40 years, with an elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level of 190 mg/dL or greater, receive a prescription for a statin, according to a study published by JAMA Cardiology.
Treatment with statins is recommended for all adults 21 years or older with an LDL-C, or “bad cholesterol,” level of 190 mg/dL or greater. Doctors prescribe statins to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Statins can help prevent heart attack, stroke and heart disease in these high-risk populations.
“We don’t understand necessarily why a younger, asymptomatic population might be under prescribed,” says David Zidar, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “However, there’s plenty of potential speculative reasons and they might be easily reversed or addressed by changes in the way we approach a younger population.”
Dr. Zidar says reasons can include younger patients who perceive themselves as healthy and active not visiting the doctor as frequently, cost and/or primary care physicians being reluctant to prescribe statins.  
LDL-C is considered a “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, that can clog arteries and put an individual at an increased risk for blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
Cardiovascular disease affects 1 in 3 patients and remains the leading cause of death in the United States. 

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