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Drinking Water in Winter

Are you drinking enough water? I know it’s cold outside and you probably feel like drinking something hot, but you should not shy away from drinking the required amount of water per day during the winter months. Winter is the time when your body is easily thrown off balance and it is when you are most susceptible to viruses and bacteria. That is why drinking your daily dose of water can be extremely beneficial. Your body’s basic functioning does not change in winter; therefore changing your water drinking habits is not advisable.

How much water do you need to drink per day? Water needs depend on many factors including your health, activity level and climate. Water is your body’s main chemical component and accounts for 60 percent of your total body weight. Every system in your body depends on water, and every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, the water lost must be replaced by consumption of food and beverages that contain water.  The Institute of Medicine has determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 3 liters (13 cups) per day. The adequate intake for women is 2.2 liters (9 cups) per day.  If you exercise or perform an activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water is okay for short bursts of exercise, but intense exercise for more than one hour requires more. How much more depends on how much you sweat during exercise, how long you are performing the exercise and the type of exercise. Continuing to replace fluids when you’re finished exercising is very important as well. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and require you to drink more water. During the winter time, heated indoor air can also cause your skin to lose moisture, requiring you to increase your water intake. When you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses fluids, therefore increasing fluids during this time is very important.  Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. The Institute of Medicine recommends pregnant women drink about 10 cups of water per day and women who breast-feed drink 13 cups of water per day. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of water, for example, watermelon and tomatoes are 90 percent or more water by weight. 

What are the benefits of drinking water? According to WebMD, there are six main reasons to drink water:
  1.  Drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids. Functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
  2. Water helps control calories, although it does not cause weight loss, substituting it for high-calorie beverages is very helpful.
  3. Water helps energize muscles because cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids shrivel, which results in muscle fatigue.
  4. Water helps keep skin looking good and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss.
  5. Water helps your kidneys and transporting waste products in and out of cells.  The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine.
  6. Water helps maintain normal bowel function and keeps things flowing through your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation.
Here are some tips to help you drink more water this winter:
  • Heat the water until it is nice and warm, but not hot.
  • Add a slice of lemon, fresh ginger or honey to your warm water.
  • Substitute at least two cups of tea or coffee with a cup of warm water.
  • Set a daily goal and stick to it – be conscious of the water you are consuming.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink a glass of water with each meal and snack.
  • Always have water with you, bring it along to meeting, work-outs, wherever you go!
To avoid dehydration, make sure your body has the fluids it needs and make water your beverage of choice!

Drugs, Alcohol and Your Health

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 an older) battled a substance use disorder. Almost 80 percent of them battled an alcohol addiction, leaving over seven million Americans battling a drug disorder. The Office on National Drug Control Policy reports drug abuse and addiction cost American society close to $200 billion in healthcare, criminal justice, legal fees, lost workplace productivity costs and more.

Abusing drugs or alcohol before the brain is fully developed (any time before a person’s mid-20’s), increases their risk for addiction later in life because of the changes these substances make to a growing brain.  The journal of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics suggests addiction is inherited about 50 percent of the time. Genetic and environmental factors are also thought to play equal roles on the onset of addiction.

The most common types of drugs abused today are cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, marijuana, and alcohol.  Prescription drugs are abused at high rates – common types are pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Over two million Americans over the age 11 are currently struggling with an opioid pain reliever addiction. Common signs and symptoms of drug abuse include a craving for the drug, often with unsuccessful attempts to cut down on its use; Physical dependence (development of physical withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking the depressant); a continued need to take the drug despite drug-related psychological, interpersonal or physical problems.
Excessive alcohol use can lead to numerous health problems such as dementia, stroke, cardiovascular problems, psychiatric problems such as depression or anxiety, social problems such as unemployment and family problems, increased risk of cancers, liver diseases, and gastrointestinal problems. Common signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include: neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school; using alcohol in dangerous situations; experiencing legal problems due to drinking, for instance, getting arrested for drinking and driving; continued drinking during relationship problems with friends, family or a spouse; drinking to de-stress, for example, getting drunk after a stressful day.

The NSDUH reports in 2013, only 10.9 percent of people who needed treatment in a specialized facility actually received it. There are many types of treatment options. The National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) reports there are over 14,000 specialized substance abuse treatment programs providing many care options for people with addiction and their family members and caregivers. The NIDA also reports that relapse will happen to about 40 to 60 percent of addicts, therefore making treatment programs even more important. Addiction is a highly treatable disease and recovery is attainable.
Aurora Health Care is committed to improving the lives of those affected by drug and alcohol addiction. The Aurora Health Care Foundation will host “A Cause to Celebrate” on Friday, April 13, 2018 at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the Jackie Nitschke Center. The Jackie Nitschke Center is an alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) treatment program that focuses on healing and hope, with a goal of life-long recovery. The Center offers a variety of programs, including  28-day residential treatment, intensive outpatient, outpatient/aftercare, along with family education and recovery programs.

Tickets for “A Cause to Celebrate” are available now by visiting www.give.aurora.org/cause-to-celebrate.  The event will feature dinner, entertainment and a silent and spotlight auction.  Success stories of the Jackie Nitschke Center will also be shared.  For more information contact Molly Butz at 920.456.7009.

Keeping a Healthy Heart

February is Heart Month, which makes it a great time to review how to keep our heart as healthy as possible. It’s also a great time to review warning signs and risk factors of a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest.  Our heart is by far the busiest muscle in our body pumping nearly 2000 gallons of fresh blood daily to our body through arteries, capillaries, veins, and venules.   The benefits of a healthy heart include decreased blood pressure, increased cardiovascular efficiency, reduced risk of certain diseases, and reduced stress. 

According to the American Heart Association, a heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque. This process is called atherosclerosis . When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI). About every 34 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.  Major risk factors of coronary heart disease include increasing age, gender, and family history (including race).  Modifiable risk factors (those you can change) include tobacco usage, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, body weight, and Type 2 diabetes.  Other factors that can contribute to heart disease risk are stress, alcohol and nutrition.

Most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort, therefore it is very important people understand and know heart attack warning sings.   Most heart attacks will involve some kind of discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.  This discomfort typically feels like squeezing or uncomfortable pressure.  Discomfort can occur in other areas of the upper body as well such as pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.  Shortness of breath may occur with or without chest discomfort.  The person may also break out into a cold sweat, become nauseous, or lightheaded. 

According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.  When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost such as speech, movement and memory. Risk factors of stroke that can’t be changed are age, family history, race, gender, and prior history of stroke, TIA or heart attack.  Modifiable risk factors of stroke include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, artery disease, atrial fibrillation, high blood cholesterol, poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity. 

Stroke warning signs can be remembered by using the acronym F.A.S.T.
  • Face Drooping – does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness – is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms, does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – is the person’s speech slurred, are they unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, was it repeated correctly?
  • Time to Call 9-1-1 – call 9-1-1 if the person shows any of these symptoms.
Beyond F.A.S.T., other warning signs of stroke can include sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face, sudden confusion or trouble understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking or dizziness, sudden severe headache with no known cause.

The American Heart Association states a cardiac arrest is when there is an abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have been diagnosed with heart disease. The time and mode of death are unexpected. It occurs instantly or shortly after symptoms appear. Risk factors of cardiac arrest include scarring from a prior heart attack, a thickened heart muscle, electrical abnormalities, blood vessel abnormalities, and recreational drug use.  Warning signs of cardiac arrest are sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders) and no normal breathing.  The victim will not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds.  Cardiac arrest is reversible in most victims if it’s treated within a few minutes.  If you are able to help, you should begin CPR immediately and call 9-1-1.

It’s good to learn these signs, however if you’re not sure, get to a hospital and have it checked out.  Minutes matter in these critical situations and fast action will save lives. 

What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with one million people in the United States diagnosed each year with some type of the cancer.  There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.  The first two are non-melanoma skin cancers.  The majority of skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas or squamous cell carcinomas, and while they are malignant, they are unlikely to spread to other parts of the body. A small but significant number of skin cancers are malignant melanomas, which is a highly aggressive cancer that tends to spread to other parts of the body. If not treated early, this type of cancer can be fatal.  Recent research shows the number of skin cancer cases in the United States growing at an alarming rate.

According to Dr. Elizabeth O’Connor, Plastic Surgeon with BayCare Clinic Plastic Surgery and Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic, and also practices with Aurora Health Care in Oshkosh, the most common cause of skin cancer is from UVA (ultraviolet A) or UVB (ultraviolet B) exposure.  Other causes of skin cancer include: use of tanning beds; immunosuppression, or impairment of the immune system, which normally repairs damage; exposure to high levels of radiation; and contact with certain chemicals. “Some people experience a skin cancer diagnosis after a transplant, as the drugs after make them more susceptible to skin cancer, and they reduce the body’s ability to repair the skin damage,” states Dr. O’Connor. 

The following people are greatest risk for developing skin cancer: people with fair skin, people with light hair and blue or green eyes, people with certain genetic disorders that deplete skin pigment, people who have already been treated to skin cancer, people with numerous moles or unusual moles, people with close family members with skin cancer, and people who have had at least one severe sunburn early in life. Dr. O’Connor explains, “If a person has had more the five severe sunburns in their life, their risk of skin cancer goes up 50 percent or more.”

Dr. O’Connor suggests people follow the “ABCD” guideline when identifying skin care symptoms.  A is for asymmetric, one side of the lesion does not look like the other. B is for border irregularity, margins of the area are irregular.  C is for color, melanomas are often a mixture of black, tan, brown, blue, red or white.  D is for diameter. Cancerous lesions typically have a diameter of 6mm or more. “People need to check for new or changing lesions on the skin. Beware of itching or scaling of something that has been there before. Also beware if the area starts to bleed,” explains Dr. O’Connor.

People should have their primary health care provider or dermatologist check any moles or spots that concern them.  “If you see anything new or changing, have a skin check.  For people who have had cancer before, they need to be checked more frequently,” states Dr. O’Connor.   “A physician will be able to examine any moles or areas of concern and send anything suspicious to the lab.”  Dr. O’Connor adds, “Often pre-cancerous lesions can be treated with topical creams, the rest have to be removed surgically. These cancers can be easily treated with removal, however, if left too long, they can invade deeper and become a problem.”

To reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, Dr. O’Connor recommends the following: limit sun exposure, apply sunscreen every day, use a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, reapply sunscreen every two hours, use SPF clothing and hats, avoid tanning beds, and conduct self-exams. “Nothing has demonstrated that sunscreen is harmful, but there is a definite association between childhood sunburn and cancer,” states Dr. O’Connor.

When treated properly, the cure rate for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma is almost 95 percent.  Take the necessary steps to protect yourself from skin cancer. For more information on skin cancer, visit the American Academy of Dermatology at www.aad.org.

Joint Pain: Signs, Symptoms and Relief

Joints provide support and help us move, they form connections between bones.  Damage from disease or injury to a joint can cause a great deal of pain and restricted movement of that joint.  According to Dr. Willa Fornetti, orthopedic sports medicine physician with Aurora Health Care Oshkosh, causes of joint pain and damage include: trauma, such as a car accident or injury; overuse, multiple high-impact activities in a row with insufficient rest time; infection, such as Lyme’s disease; autoimmune disorders, when the body mistakenly begins to attack its own joint; and metabolic problems like gout.

Dr. Fornetti explains there are many symptoms of joint pain and joint damage. Some common symptoms are pain in the joint, joint swelling, joint redness, inability to move joint, joint tenderness, reduced range of motion, and warmness of the joint to touch or fevers and chills that accompany the joint pain.  Dr. Fornetti adds, “It’s also important for a patient to share their complete medical history, physical duties of your job, history of injuries to the joint and any recent foreign travel.  It’s possible to get an infection that may go to the joint when traveling to countries with poor sanitation.”

Diagnosis of joint pain or damage typically begins with a thorough medical history and exam.  “Physicians will more than likely want an x-ray to see if there is osteoarthritis present, which is very common after the age of 40. Being able to look at joint spacing for evidence of arthritis helps to establish the correct diagnosis,” states Dr. Fornetti.  “If there is joint damage to one side of the knee, we can see some sort of joint deformity like bow-legged or knocked knees as an example.” An MRI may be performed if there are mechanical symptoms like locking and catching to see if there is a meniscal tear. Your physician may also choose to aspirate the fluid so the fluid can be analyzed for infection, crystals and white blood cell counts. Blood tests can also be administered depending on the clinical diagnosis.

“Treatment for joint pain and joint damage varies depending on the cause, that is why it’s important to have a firm diagnosis,” states Dr. Fornetti.  Treatment options include: physical therapy with exercises to help support the joint, ice, heat, rest, mobility devices (crutches, can, walker), anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, pain medications, cortisone injections and antibiotics for joint infection.

“Joint pain can affect your quality of life; therefore, you want to do everything you can to keep your joints as healthy as possible,” states Dr. Fornetti.  To keep your joints from getting stiff, move as much as possible.  Take multiple breaks throughout the day to get up and move around.  Try to avoid overuse of the joint which causes the cartilage on the end of the joint to break down and bones to rub together. Overuse injuries lead to swelling, stiffness and possible osteoarthritis.  Protect your body and joints by keeping your muscles strong and wearing protective equipment when participating in high-risk activities.  Joint braces may help pain and function. 

Maintaining a healthy weight is extremely important for joint health; losing just a few pounds can take additional strain off your hips, knees and back. According to the Mayo Clinic, for every one pound of body weight lost, it takes four pounds of pressure off the knees.  Stretch to keep your joints flexible, however, make sure your muscles are warmed up before you begin your stretching routine. Be sure to move your joints through a full-range of motion to avoid stiffness.  Low-impact exercises are the best for healthy joints.  Walking, biking and swimming are excellent examples of low-impact exercises.  Light weight-lifting is also beneficial, as the stronger the muscle is around the joint, the less stress is placed on that joint.   Add core strengthening exercises to your exercise routine.  The stronger your core (abdominals and back muscles), the more balanced you are and the less likely you are to fall and damage your joints.  Know your limitations with exercise, if joint aches and pains last longer than 48 hours, you may have worked too hard.  Don’t work through the pain, as it may lead to increased pain and joint damage. “Your general health including joint health can be improved by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, decreasing stress and exercising,” states Dr. Fornetti.

Another great way to keep your joints healthy is to increase your consumption of Omega-3s, calcium and vitamin D.  Omega-3s reduce joint inflammation, while calcium and vitamin D help keep bones strong.  Stand up and sit up straight! Good posture helps protect joints from the neck all the way down to the knees.  Walking and swimming are great exercises for helping to improve posture.  If your joints are feeling stiff or sore, consider using ice as a pain reliever.  Ice can be left on for up to 20 minutes at a time and it’s free!  Dr. Fornetti also reminds people to quit smoking. “Smoking does not allow bones, tissues and cartilage to heal,” she says.

Don’t let joint pain or damage stop you from enjoying life.  If you have pain, consider talking to your doctor about ways to improve your overall health.  

Healthy Family Habits

Finding time to exercise is hard for anyone, but finding time to exercise when you are a parent can be an even bigger challenge.  No matter what phase of parenting you are in, making exercise a priority is often very difficult.  However, experts claim that when you abandon physical activity, you are not just hurting yourself, but your children too.  WebMD has come up with some great tips for parents to incorporate exercise into their daily life:
  1. Be Active All Day.  Move around all day by walking to a neighbor’s house, taking the stairs, parking farther away, and remaining active while at home.
  2. Defy the Myth of Time.  Exercise in small time frames, you don’t need to work out for hours at a time.  Aim for 30-45 minutes per day, but keep in mind those can be broken up into 10-15 minute segments.  A 15-20 weight workout can have big benefits.
  3. Define Your Priorities. Use exercise as “you” time, substitute the long-term goal of exercise and health for something short-term like going for coffee or shopping.
  4. Cultivate Social Support. Have someone you trust watch the kids while you exercise.  Consider putting together a network of friends to trade off child care with.
  5. Establish Family Fitness. Exercise with your kids!  Go to the park, go on bike rides, hike, swim, ski, or sled together.  If you have younger children who still nap during the day, consider fitting in fitness while they sleep – do lunges, squats, push-ups and crunches.
  6. Set Goals. Set realistic, short-term goals for yourself.  Experts say the very first step to staying fit or regaining fitness is to want it.
  7. Put In The Effort. Fitness does not happen overnight, there is no quick fix.  Exercise eventually gives you the additional energy you need to complete your parenting tasks at home.
  8. Be a Role Model. Pass a positive trait to your children.  Kids tend to emulate their parents’ behaviors.
Here are some easy ways to burn 100 calories around your home:

40 minutes:
  • Iron clothes
  • Unload the dryer and fold the laundry
35 minutes:
  • Dust the house (102 calories)
  • Set the table and prepare a meal
  • Play catch with your kid(s)
  • Clear the table and wash the pots, pans, and dishes
30 minutes:
  • Wallpaper of paint a room (102 calories)
  • Sweep the floors
25 minutes:
  • Vacuum the rugs or carpet (119 calories)
  • Mop the kitchen or bathroom(s)
  • Refinish a piece of furniture
20 minutes:
  • Turn up the music and dance around the room (104 calories)
  • Ice- Skate
15 minutes:
  • Climb up and down your stairs (102 calories)
  • Sled in the park with the kids
Consider becoming healthier and more active this year for the benefit of your entire family.

National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.  Glaucoma, known as “the silent thief of sight”, is a group of eye disorders that lead to progressive damage to the optic nerve, typically involving high pressure in the eyes and leading to loss of peripheral vision and eventually central vision if left untreated.  According to the American Optometric Association, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the United States and most often occurs in people over the age of 40. Experts estimate that half of people who have glaucoma don’t know they have it. Other risk factors for glaucoma include: race (more common in African Americans), family history, thinner corneas, chronic eye inflammation, diabetes, eye injuries, and use of medications that increase pressure in the eyes (such as steroids). The World Health Organization calculates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma. The first typically has no obvious symptoms, whereas angle-closure glaucoma typically causes a red, painful eye with blurry vision & sometimes even nausea or a headache.  There are also secondary glaucomas, where trauma or another disease such as diabetes cause or contribute to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss.

Dr. Amy Treichel-Brandt, optometrist at the Aurora Vision Center in Oshkosh states, “Some of the worst cases I’ve seen are in patients with good vision who haven’t had routine eye exams.  Good vision should not keep people from coming in to see their eye doctor.” The exact cause of glaucoma is unknown, and there is no cure; it can only be treated or controlled.  Dr. Treichel-Brandt adds, “People live with it long term and it needs close monitoring.”  Treatment (get rid of the word other) methods include medication (a variety of different eye drops to lower pressure in the eye), laser procedures, and surgery, both conventional surgery and the newer MIG (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery). “Treatment has improved over time, and continues to evolve,” explains Dr. Treichel-Brandt. “People used to need up to 4 different eyedrops, several times per day.  They can now often be treated adequately with just one eyedrop used just once daily.”

The best way to protect yourself from glaucoma is through regular comprehensive eye exams. “Glaucoma testing is part of a regular eye exam. If something looks suspicious, additional tests will be done before treatment is started,” adds Dr. Treichel-Brandt.  Glaucoma awareness is important, as  approximately 3 million people in the U.S. have it and 120,000 are blind from it. If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret; let your family members know too.  Request educational information; good sources include your eye doctor, The Glaucoma Foundation, WebMD, the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Mayo Clinic website.

For more information on eye health, or to schedule a routine eye exam, contact the Aurora Vision Center at 920-456-2000.

Ice Hawks Fight Cancer

Cancer care at Aurora means more than just treating the disease – it means treating the whole person and the people who support the patient. A diagnosis of cancer can bring many emotions and questions. Aurora Health Care Cancer Care is a team of specialists working together to bring hope to the cancer patient and their family. Aurora Health Care has earned the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Services and treatments available through Cancer Care at Aurora Health Care include: autologous stem cell transplant, chemotherapy, clinical trials, genetic counseling and testing, immunotherapy, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, cancer nurse navigators, art therapy, cancer buddy program, counseling, financial and legal counseling, integrative medicine, palliative care, cancer rehabilitation, and support groups.
Here are many other reasons why patients choose Aurora for their cancer needs:
  • Aurora Cancer Care has treatment sites from Northern Illinois to Wisconsin’s Upper Peninsula to provide treatment close to home.
  • Close to 33,000 people in Wisconsin will hear the words, “you have cancer” this year.
  • Aurora’s patients have access to more than 170 open cancer clinical trials – all close to home.
  • 14.5 million people will celebrate being a cancer survivor in the United States this year.
  • Aurora Cancer Care will help over 8,000 people facing cancer in our communities this year.
  • Aurora Cancer Care Spanish Clinic is the 1st only fully bilingual, Spanish-speaking cancer clinic in Wisconsin.
  • Over 150 cancer specialists partner with patients to fight their battle with cancer.
  • 1 in 4 newly diagnosed patients in Wisconsin choose Aurora Health Care for treatment.
  • Aurora Cancer Care has the first and only GYN Robotic Surgery Epicenter Training Program in Wisconsin.
  • Aurora started a weekly Precision Medicine Clinic, an initiative part of the Moonshot to Cancer.
  • Aurora Health Care has earned the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, with only 19% of centers earning this honor.
  • Aurora is the 1st in Wisconsin to perform new treatment for pancreas and liver cancer using the NanoKnife.
On Saturday, January 27, the Oshkosh Ice Hawks High School hockey team will host “Ice Hawks Fight Cancer Night” at the Oshkosh YMCA, 20th Ave. location. The varsity game will be played at 6 p.m. and the junior varsity game will be played at 8 p.m. All profits from this event are donated to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic at Aurora Health Care in Oshkosh. The Oshkosh Ice Hawks Hockey team is a high school team compiled of five different schools from the area – Oshkosh North, Oshkosh West, Lourdes, Laconia, and Ripon. Advance tickets are available for purchase through the Aurora Health Care Foundation by emailing Molly Butz at molly.butz@aurora.org . Tickets can also be purchased at the door.  Advanced tickets will have the ability to be entered into a raffle drawing for 1 of 2 Zamboni rides during the varsity game.  There will also be basket raffles and silent auction items to win.  Ticket prices are Children (6+) $3.00, Seniors (65+) $4.00, and Adults $5.00. 

This year’s event will be in honor of Robin Werner and Mark Hermann. Robin Werner was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. Despite her aggressive treatments, had it not been for her beautiful scarfs you would not have known that Robin was a cancer patient. Throughout her painful treatments Robin always maintained a positive attitude, a phenomenal outlook on life and an endless devotion to her job, her coworkers, and most of all her family. Robin loved to share her fond winter memories of skating as a girl on the ponds of Oshkosh. Robin longed for her kids and grandkids to be able to experience the fun and exhilaration of skating and playing hockey in the outdoors. In a move that was typical of Robin’s determination, she purchased the materials needed to build a backyard ice rink and had her husband and sons put it up right outside her kitchen window.  Even though Robin didn’t have a famous hockey player in her family, or even a child that played organized hockey, Robin was in fact the biggest hockey fan in the world when she watched from her kitchen window as her kids and grandkids played shinny in the hay field. Robin Werner died on September 27, 2012 at the age of 56.
These are the words Mark left us with: “On July 26th a surgical procedure was performed to remove a large tumor on the right side of my brain. The tumor was 90% removed. This was good. Not so good was the pathology report. That news was not what I had expected at all. The brain cancer came back at level 4, very high, and a very aggressive form of brain cancer. The news at first was devastating for me and for my family and all those I love so very much. I can honestly tell you that from the bottom of my heart, your prayers and support are helping me live on in such a glorious way. I have no idea how much more time I have on this beautiful green earth, but it will be enjoyed every single day. The decision to not do chemo or radiation was a relatively easy one for me and my immediate family. They have been gracious and behind my decisions 100 percent. My purpose in life was not to always grab what I was due. My purpose was to reach out to someone, anyone, and make it a better day for that individual. I have always liked people and making a personal connection meant even more. I find in life, if you get people everything they want, you will be paid back in return 10-fold. I feel that I succeeded in that cause. Treat people well. Take care of them. Nurture them. When my time is up on this earth, yes, I would love to be remembered as someone that made a little difference in someone’s day. In closing, all of the support has gone way over the top. We do have some head winds that we must contend within the days and weeks that are ahead. With all of your support and my family’s support, we will thrive. One thing I ask myself on a daily basis is if I have loved today and in return accepted someone’s love. Mark Hermann died on November 20, 2017 at the age of 57.
The Oshkosh Ice Hawks are proud to remember them at this year’s event.

Do You Have Exercise Induced Asthma?

Exercise-induced asthma (also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction – EIB) is when asthma-type symptoms develop when you exercise. Exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction (EIV) is a condition that is often misdiagnosed as exercise-induced asthma. It occurs when the vocal cords in your throat close when they shouldn't, which limits your ability to take in air. A whining or high-pitched sound may release when you inhale if you have vocal cord dysfunction. Dr. Anita Gheller-Rigoni, Allergist and Immunologist with Aurora Health Care, Oshkosh, helps us better understand the two conditions.

Signs and symptoms of EIB are coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and difficulty breathing air out. In people who are physically fit, they may tire out of proportion to their level of fitness. Symptoms of EIB typically occur later in the activity and/or while resting. Signs and symptoms of EIV are wheezing from the upper airway, difficulty breathing air in, and a sensation of “not being able to get air in”.  EIV can be seen in people who are physically fit, but are restricted by limited air flow (short of breath “winded”). EIV signs and symptoms can occur in a person who have already been diagnosed with asthma, and is often hard to differentiate. Risk factors of exercise induced asthma are elevated for people who already have asthma and for people who have other allergies. Other risk factors include: having a blood relative with asthma, exposure to air pollution and pollen, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, exposure to chemical triggers, participating in winter sports, or participating in sports that you breathe harder or faster.  Dr. Gheller-Rigoni adds, “Type “A” personalities, being female, and having asthma that is not controlled, puts you at higher risk for developing exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction.”

“There is no clear cause of exercise induced asthma but it probably results from changes in the lungs triggered by the large volume of relatively cool, dry air we take in during vigorous activity,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni.  “Exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction can be caused by stress and anxiety due to muscle tension.” According to the Mayo Clinic, other factors that can trigger or worsen exercise-induced asthma are cold air, dry air, air pollution such as smoke or smog, high pollen counts, having a respiratory infection, and exposure to some chemicals. “People with these conditions do not need to avoid exercise, but more rigorous activities, that make you breathe harder, are more likely to trigger symptoms,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni.  “Also, exercising in cold weather can increase your symptoms because you are breathing in a lot of cold, dry air. However, with proper treatment, people can continue high-intensity exercise and cold-weather workouts without symptoms slowing them down.”

If you are experiencing coughing, wheezing or have chest pain or tightness during or after exercise, you need to see your doctor.  “People don’t know they have exercise-induced asthma because they think it’s normal for them to feel that way post-exercise,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni. “Many people who have this condition are in very good physical shape, but they feel like they are short on endurance, which is not the case.”  To receive proper diagnosis, your doctor will ask you for a detailed history of your signs and symptoms. Writing down when and where you are when you are experiencing these symptoms can be helpful to your physician.  If you already suffer from asthma and have an inhaler, your doctor may want you to bring it in to make sure you are using it correctly and to verify the inhaler has been primed.  Your doctor may do other tests to make sure your symptoms aren’t being caused by something else such as heart disease, lung disorders, or other allergies.  Lung function tests may also be performed to see how well your lungs are working.  The preferred test for assisting in the diagnosis of asthma is the lung function test (spirometry) in which the patient takes keep breaths and forcefully exhales into a tube connected to a machine called a spirometer. EIB can be diagnosed using an exercise challenge in which you perform a lung function test before and after you exercise.  The exercise is typically completed on a treadmill for about six to eight minutes. To determine other possible risk factors and contributing factors, your physician may also recommend an allergy skin test. During this test, your skin is pricked with purified allergy extracts to see if there is an allergic reaction. It is used to determine whether or not you have a reaction to other things besides exercise. 

Although the development of EIB is not preventable, some ways to avoid flare-ups of the condition include: warm up for 10 minutes before doing high-intensity exercise, do your best to avoid colds and respiratory infections, avoid your specific allergy triggers and air when exercising, learn to breathe through your nose to warm the air before it passes through your lungs, and keep your mouth and nose covered during exercise in cold weather. Also, if an inhaler is prescribed, using it 20-30 minutes before the activity and with a spacer (device that helps guide the albuterol into the lungs) can help. “Don’t avoid exercise if you have EIB or EIV!” exclaims Dr. Gheller-Rigoni. “Some studies speculate that exercise may actually be helpful in preventing the onset of asthma.”

2018 Fitness Trends

Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine surveys health and fitness professionals from around the United States and creates at top 10 health and fitness trends list for the upcoming year.  The results are in and the top 10 health and fitness trends for 2018 are:
  1.  HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) – training that involves short bursts of activity followed by short periods of rest or recovery; these sessions are usually performed in 30 minutes or less.
  2. Group Training – intentionally led group exercise classes taught by a trained instructor to lead and motivate a group of people for all different fitness levels. Examples of these classes include spin classes, kickboxing, or TRX.
  3. Wearable Technology – fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices help people identify, track and reach measurable goals while providing feedback and motivation.
  4. Body Weight Training – uses minimal equipment, making it very affordable and including exercises for strength, balance and flexibility.  The top five body weight exercises are: push ups, bodyweight squats, lunges, planks and pull ups.
  5. Strength Training – using force against a specific muscle or group of muscles is an essential part of a complete exercise program and should be done at least two non-consecutive days per week.
  6. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals – consumers should be aware of the credentials fitness professionals hold and which programs they are accredited by. 
  7. Yoga – based on ancient tradition, this type of exercise utilizes a series of specific bodily postures for fitness and relaxation.
  8. Personal  Training – more and more students are educating and preparing themselves with degrees in kinesiology for careers in a health and fitness field such as personal training. Fitness facilities look for trainers who have received the proper education, training and credentialing. The Oshkosh YMCA offers a multitude of personal training programs that fit everyone’s needs. Rich Roehrick, Health and Fitness Director states, “Whether you prefer land-based exercise or water workouts, our professionals can personalize a plan based on your lifestyle and goals. We offer programs and prescription to everyone.  At the Oshkosh YMCA, all program professionals are nationally certified at the highest level. Our approach is precise and scientific. Every person will receive their own personalized program/prescription based on their specific needs.
  9. Fitness Programs for Older Adults – age appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults active and healthy. As people age, it’s important to provide age appropriate fitness programs to maintain strength, flexibility and balance to help prevent injury and falls. The Oshkosh Community YMCA offers over 30 exercise classes a week for active older adults, including water and land based programs. From water exercise to aerobics, there is something for everyone. Pickleball is also a popular activity offered at both YMCA locations. A fun game that is played on a badminton court with a low net, Pickleball is easy for beginners and one of the fastest-growing sports for seniors. Siri Smits, Oshkosh YMCA’s Active Older Adult Director adds, “Active Older Adults at the YMCA experience a strong sense of belonging and create a network of friends who provide support for sustained health and well-being." 
  10. Functional Fitness – trend using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness programs and fitness programs for older adults are closely related as both train muscles to work together to perform daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, work, or other activities
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