Preventing Injuries

When returning to exercise, many of
us like to start the new year with a
renewed to stick to a healthy
exercise regimen...

read more

Winter Blues

If you find yourself feeling unusually
sad, anxious and even hopeless
during the shorter,drearier days of
winter,you may have...

read more

Helmet Safety

Wear it Right - and Always Wear It!
The holidays often bring new
riding toys for kids of all ages - bikes,
scooters, skateboards......

read more

About Your Thyroid

What you need to know,
if you are like most women,
you know very little about the
little gland in the front of your neck...

read more

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Protect Your Family from
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
With the chilly weather of
January, comes an increased...

read more

Preventing Injuries When Returning to Exercise



Many of us like to start the new year with a renewed determination to stick to a healthy exercise regimen. While this intention is a good one, it can also be somewhat dangerous, particularly if it has been a while since your body experienced regular exercise.

See Jane Run - a running supply store geared toward women of all shapes, sizes and ability levels - wanted to share these helpful tips on how to prevent injuries as you get back on track with your fitness regime.

  1. Have a Routine Physical.
    It's important to respect any medical conditions or physical limitations you have and select a workout routine that accommodates them.

  2. Gradually Increase Time and Intensity.
    Do Not Do Too Much Too Soon!

  3. Listen to and Use your coaches.
    If you just don't know what to do or where to begin, your coaches will get you started safely and help you learn enough to work out on your own.

  4. Warm Up Before Exercise.
    A proper, gradual warm up goes a long way to prevent injuries.

  5. Don't Workout on Empty.
    While you don't want to exercise immediately after eating a large meal, eating about 2 hours before exercise can help fuel your exercise and help you avoid fatiguing during your workout.

  6. Drink Before You Exercise.
    Dehydration can kill your performance, so stay well hydrated.

  7. Listen to Your Body.
    If you experience any sharp pain, weakness or light-headedness during exercise, pay attention. This is your body's signal that something is wrong and you should stop exercise.

  8. Take Time for Rest and Recovery.
    In addition to getting enough sleep, it is important to take some rest days. Working out too much for too long can lead to overtraining syndrome.

  9. Cross Train.
    In addition to helping reduce workout boredom, cross-training allows you to get a full body workout without overstressing certain muscle groups.

  10. Dress Properly for Your Sport.
    This includes using appropriate safety equipment for your sport, choosing proper footwear, replacing running shoes as needed and wearing clothing that wicks sweat and helps keep you cool and dry.
  11. If you are suffer from pain related to an injury, learn more about Dignity Health's innovative treatment and procedures performed by our team of orthopedic experts at an upcoming free joint pain seminar. Call 916.851.2511 or visit our Orthopedic Event page to register for one of our events today.

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    What You Need to Know About Your Thyroid

    By Hui Min Cheong MD

    If you are like most women, you know very little about the little gland in the front of your neck. The thyroid is typically not talked about or thought about - that is, until there is a problem with it. This month is National Thyroid Awareness Month - the perfect time to learn more about your thyroid and the symptoms that indicate there could be a problem with it.

    What is the thyroid?

    The thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck, in front of your windpipe. The primary function of the thyroid is to make, store and release two types of hormones. These hormones control your metabolism. When there is a problem with your thyroid, your metabolism can speed up or slow down - either of which can wreak havoc with your body.

    Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough of the thyroid hormones to maintain your body's normal metabolism. This typically happens when the thyroid gland is inflamed, which can be due to various causes, including Hashimoto disease, an autoimmune disorder.

    During hypothyroidism, the thyroid enlarges - this is called a goiter and may be visible on your neck. Other symptoms include:

    • Fatigue or weakness
    • Weight gain
    • Decreased appetite
    • Change in menstrual periods
    • Loss of sex drive
    • Feeling cold when others do not
    • Constipation
    • Muscle aches
    • Puffiness around the eyes
    • Brittle nails
    • Hair loss

    Treatment for hypothyroidism typically involves medication containing thyroid hormone. The dosage of the medication is increased slowly until a normal level of thyroid hormone is achieved.

    Hyperthyroidism

    Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland manufactures too much thyroid hormone, causing your metabolism to speed up. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is a disorder known as Graves disease, which typically affects women between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. A hallmark symptom of Graves disease is bulging eyes or a wide-eyed stare.

    Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

    • Fatigue
    • Weight loss
    • Nervousness
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Increased sweating
    • Feeling hot when others do not
    • Changes in menstrual periods
    • More frequent bowel movements
    • Tremors

    Hyperthyroidism is typically treated with anti-thyroid medication, which reduces the amount of thyroid hormone your body makes.

    Postpartum Thyroiditis

    Sometimes women develop problems with their thyroid following pregnancy and childbirth. This condition is known as postpartum thyroiditis and is usually short-term. Hormone levels typically return to normal within a short period of time.

    Diagnosing thyroid Problems

    If you believe you may be experiencing thyroid disease, talk to your physician. Thyroid disease is diagnosed by your symptoms, an exam and blood tests, ultrasound of the thyroid and/or a thyroid scan.

    Thyroid Disease and Menopause

    You may notice that many symptoms of thyroid disease are similar to those of menopause. Complicating this similarity is the fact that women may experience more profound symptoms of thyroid disease during menopause. While menopause usually begins between the ages of 45 and 52, thyroid disease typically occurs between 35 and 65. That is quite a bit of overlap. Therefore, if you are of menopausal age and are experiencing symptoms of thyroid disease, talk to your physician. An exam and a test or two can determine whether your thyroid is contributing to your symptoms.

    Dr. Cheung's OB/GYN practice is located at:
    Mercy Medical Group
    8120 Timberlake Way
    Sacramento, CA 95823
    916.681.6102

    If you would like more information on finding a physician for yourself or a family member, please call 916.379.2888

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    Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

    Karen O. Houseworth, MA,CEAP,CAC


    If you find yourself feeling unusually sad, anxious and even hopeless during the shorter, drearier days of winter, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, starting in the fall and continuing through the winter months.

    While the exact causes of SAD aren't known, it is believed that the lack of sunlight during the winter months affects some people's biological clocks and disrupts when their body believes it should be sleeping or awake, leading to feelings of depression. Women are more likely than men to suffer from SAD.

    Symptoms of SAD

    Although symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder vary from person to person, they can include:

    • Hopelessness
    • Anxiety
    • Loss of energy
    • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in arms or legs
    • Social withdrawal
    • Oversleeping
    • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
    • Appetite changes, particularly craving foods high in carbohydrates
    • Weight gain
    • Difficulty concentrating

    Treatment for SAD

    Among the common treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder are light therapy, medications and psychotherapy.

    Light Therapy: In light therapy, also called phototherapy, you sit a few feet from a specialized light therapy box, which exposes you to bright light. This mimics outdoor light and can cause a change in brain chemicals that are linked to one's mood. Light therapy is typically one of the first treatments your physician or therapist may recommend. It usually starts working within two to four days, with few side effects.

    Medications: Some people affected by SAD may benefit from antidepressant treatment, especially if their symptoms are severe. This is something you can discuss with your physician or therapist.

    Psychotherapy: Another treatment option for SAD is psychotherapy. Although SAD is thought to be related to the chemistry within your brain, your mood and your behavior can also contribute to symptoms. Therefore, psychotherapy can help you identify and change negative thoughts and behavior and help you learn more positive coping mechanisms.

    In addition, here are some simple things you can do at home to help you cope with SAD. These can be especially helpful if your symptoms are mild:

    • Introduce more light into your environment by opening blinds and curtains and sitting near a window.
    • Get outside during the daylight by taking a walk, eating lunch outside or just sitting on a bench and soaking in the daylight.
    • Exercise regularly. This will help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can contribute to your mood.
    • Take care of yourself by eating regular, well-balanced meals and getting enough sleep.
    • Try yoga, massage and/or meditation. These activities can relax your mind and your body and relieve stress that may be contributing to SAD.

    If you believe that you may be experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of SAD and you believe they may be directly related to the change in season (decreased exposure to sunlight, decreased activity, weather changes), then please schedule an appointment with either a Behavioral Health therapist or your physician and share with them this article and your own insights. Remember, any type of treatment, particularly Behavioral Health, is a collaborative effort and your input regarding your patterns and the changes you've been experiencing are all very helpful in making the right diagnosis. Please share, with whomever you decide to see, that you think you may have SAD and then share your insights.

    Counseling services are available at 6 Dignity Health locations in the greater Sacramento area. Call (916) 924-6400 to schedule an appointment or to ask questions of our responsive staff.

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    Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    [information courtesy of Environmental Protection Agency]

    With the chilly weather of January, comes an increased use of furnaces and heaters. Unfortunately, this can also mean an increase in unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning and even death. There are simple steps you can take to ensure your family is protected from the colorless and odorless, yet deadly, gas.

    What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

    Carbon Monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. However if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result. At high levels, CO can kill a person in minutes.

    Symptoms of CO Poisoning

    At moderate levels, Carbon Monoxide poisoning can cause severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, vomiting and/or fainting. Low levels of CO can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and/or mild headaches.

    Obviously, many of these symptoms may be confused for the flu, food poisoning or viral illnesses. One indication that CO poisoning may be to blame is if everyone in the house is experiencing similar symptoms to some degree. Also, try going outside and breathing fresh air. If this alleviates symptoms somewhat, that could be a warning sign.

    If you have any reason to believe CO poisoning may be to blame, get everyone out of the house and go to the emergency room immediately.

    How to Prevent CO Poisoning

    First and foremost, have all fuel-burning appliances - including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, fireplaces and wood stoves - inspected by a trained professional every winter. Choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed and maintain them according to manufacturers' instructions.

    A few more tips:

    • Do not leave your car idling in the garage, even if the garage door is open. Fumes can build up quickly and seep into the living area of your home.
    • Do not use a gas oven to heat your home.
    • Do not ever use a charcoal grill indoors, even in a fireplace.
    • Do not sleep in a room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
    • Do not use gas-powered engines (mowers, trimmers, snow blowers, generators) in enclosed spaces.
    • Do not ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is experiencing them.

    While Carbon Monoxide detectors are increasingly common, the Environmental Protection Agency cautions against a false sense of security if you have one. "Carbon Monoxide Detectors are widely available in stores and you may want to consider buying one as a backup, but not as a replacement for proper use and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances," explains a statement on the EPA's website. "However, it is important for you to know that the technology of CO detectors is still developing, that there are several types on the market, and that they are not generally considered to be as reliable as the smoke detectors found in homes today. Some CO detectors have been laboratory-tested, and their performance varied. Some performed well, others failed to alarm even at very high CO levels, and still others alarmed even at very low levels that don't pose any immediate health risk." So regardless of whether you have a CO monitor, always maintain your fuel-burning appliances and have them routinely inspected.

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    Helmet Safety: Wear it Right - and Always Wear It!

    Jennifer Rubin, CPSTI, Mercy San Juan Medical Center Injury Prevention Lead and Safe Kids Greater Sacramento Coalition Coordinator

    The holidays often bring new riding toys for kids of all ages - bikes, scooters, skateboards... Regardless of your child's age or ability level, one accessory that is a must is a helmet. The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bike accidents is a helmet. Make sure your child has one that fits appropriately and that he or she wears it correctly, all the time. California law requires that children under 18 must wear a helmet while biking, riding a scooter, inline skating or skateboarding.

    Here is some helpful advice from Safe Kids USA:


    • Make it a rule: every time you and your child ride a bike, wear a bicycle helmet that meets the safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
    • If your child is reluctant to wear a helmet, try letting him or her choose his own.

    Helmet fit is important.

    • Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled but not too tightly.

    Try the Eyes, Ears and Mouth Test:

    • EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
    • EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
    • MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.

    Use different helmets for different activities.

    • Children should always wear a helmet for all wheeled sports activities. A properly-fitted bike helmet is just as effective when riding a scooter, roller skating or inline skating. However, when skateboarding and long boarding, make sure your child wears a skateboarding helmet.

    Proper equipment fit and maintenance are also important for safety.

    • Ensure proper bike fit by bringing the child along when shopping for a bike. Buy a bicycle that is the right size for the child, not one he will grow into. When sitting on the seat, the child's feet should be able to touch the ground.
    • Make sure the reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.

    Adult supervision of child cyclists is essential until you are sure a child has good traffic skills and judgment.

    • Cycling should be restricted to off-roads (e.g. sidewalks and paths) until age 10.
    • Children should be able to demonstrate riding competence and knowledge of the rules of the road before cycling with traffic.

    Children should not ride a bicycle when it's dark, in the fog or in other low-visibility conditions.

    • If riding at dusk, dawn or in the evening is unavoidable, use a light on the bike and make sure it has reflectors as well.
    • Wear clothes and accessories that have retro reflective materials to improve biker visibility to motorists.

    Safe Kids Greater Sacramento, led by Mercy San Juan Medical Center, will be sponsoring Bike to School Day activities at two Sacramento-area elementary schools. Bike to School Day is a great time to remind parents and students that biking can help spare the air, promote fitness and decrease traffic congestion around schools. Here is the link for more information on National Bike to School Day: http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/.

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