Monday, October 31, 2011

Ask Us Anything: Should I Exercise When I'm Sick?

"My husband and I are having a disagreement. He runs outdoors 5 days a week. He was feeling unwell yesterday and feels worse today. I think that he should take a break from exercising when he is ill, but he says that exercise will make him feel better. Which of us is right?"

Physical Therapist Richard Szabala Responds:

There are two schools of thought here.

We generally exercise to improve our health and feel better. However, exercising does require increased circulation. When our body is fighting illness, the body increases circulation to the virus to fight off the illness. Will exercising interfere with the body's ability to fight the illness?

According to advice from the Mayo Clinic, if it is a minor illness, such as a cold, you can exercise and it may make you feel better. But if the symptoms of the illness are below the neck, including stomach viruses and chest congestion, or if you are running a fever, you should rest. You may consider decreasing the intensity of your exercise. Instead of running, perhaps take a walk.

It takes about two weeks without exercise for your body to start to lose strength and endurance that you may have built up through your exercise program, so taking a rest will not effect you in that way.

When in doubt, it is best to listen to your body. If you really don't feel like exercising when you are sick, it may be a signal from the body to take a break.

– Richard Szabala PT, OCS

Richard Szabala is the senior physical therapist at AthletiCare Orchard Park.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Living Well with Less

Extreme spareness and simplicity. That's how the dictionary defines minimalism. It doesn't sound too appealing. It doesn't look it either.

To me, minimalist decor is cold and uninviting, not like a home but something that's in progress. Here's your typical minimalist scene:

But, I've envied those who could make it work. Who wouldn't want to be happier with less? To have everything we need and not want for more?

I thought it was impossible, at least for me. A lifestyle defined by a rigid set of rules: don't buy this, don't use that.

But, minimalism is more flexible than I gave it credit for. It's about knowing what's enough for you. It's about owning only the things that you'll use and sharing the things that you don't with someone who will.

What brought about this revelation? The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay.

She prompts you to take a close look at all of your stuff, room by room, and ask each one: "How often do I use you? Would I replace you if you were lost or broken?"

She writes, "Anything you use often, and which truly adds value to your life, is a welcome part of a minimalist household."

Then there are things that don't actually do anything (artwork, for example) but that you like to look at. These, too, are welcome, but with one caveat: they must be in a prominent place in your home.

"If your collection of Murano glass is collecting dust on a shelf – or worse yet, is packed away in the attic – it’s nothing more than colorful clutter."

Basically, if you don't love it enough to give it a place of honor, then you don't love it enough to keep it.

Living with less, Jay says, gives us the freedom to do things. Our homes are no longer storage spaces but are spaces that we can use for the activities we intended them for. For instance, you can eat at the dining room table without having to clear off the clutter that has accumulated there. Or, you can watch a movie without searching the house for a misplaced DVD.

Other benefits:
  • You have fewer things to clean, so housekeeping becomes less of a chore. And you can more easily clean areas that were previously obscured by clutter.
  • If you decide to move (and as an apartment-dweller, I move every few years), packing and unpacking is more manageable. 
  • Last-minute guests no longer cause embarrassment (to you or to them).
  • You spend less on things that you don't really want or need.
  • You help the environment by using what you already have or buying used goods.
After taking Jay's advice, I was able to clear out three garbage bags of unwanted goods and ditch two small tables. My living room isn't as sparse as that in the picture above, but it's what I consider minimalist:

Living Room

Jay's strategies for living with less are numerous, but here are the ones that have stayed with me.

Set Limits

Jay recommends paring down your things to only what you use or love, examining each item room by room. Then, set limits for yourself to keep clutter under control.

For example, limit your DVD or book collection to the space that you have available or to the number of items you currently own. When a new item comes into your house, an old one goes out. If you can't decide on an item to purge, then do you really want enough? For me, the answer is usually "no."

Don't Let "Stuff" Define You

Even if you're not aware of it, some of your purchases are aspirational, intended to reflect a certain image of yourself. And while we all know that products won't make us something we're not, Jay illustrates the point well enough to be convincing.

Consider clothing and the designer labels that you can spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for.

"Ads encourage us to define ourselves through our clothing—and ideally, with brand name apparel. These designer labels don’t make our clothes any warmer, our handbags any sturdier, or our lives any more glamorous."

Products won't make us something that we're not, and if they haven't delivered on their promises yet, then it's time to let them go, Jay says.

"We have to remember that our memories, dreams, and ambitions aren’t contained in these objects; they’re contained in ourselves. We are not what we own; we are what we do, what we think, and who we love."

Personally, I have a thing for kitchen gadgets and baking supplies. I don't cook or bake, and any new purchases make me feel guilty later on when they sit unused in the cupboards. After reading The Joy of Less, I finally realized that I liked the idea of being Amy Homemaker more than the activities themselves. You'll be happy to know that I can now pass Le Gourmet Chef without a backwards glance.

Clean Up as You Go

When you leave a room, scan the surfaces to ensure that they are flat. Pick up the items that you are no longer using and put them where they belong. It's tempting to leave your keys on the end table or a glass on the night stand, but clutter begets clutter. As soon as someone in your household sees that it's okay to leave things out, more and more starts to pile up, and you have a mess on your hands.

Go Digital

Digital books, photos, movies – all take up less space than physical objects. And they're often more convenient. Carry an e-reader with you, and you can read any book in your collection wherever you are. Photos can be easily shared online with friends and relatives, and movies can be streamed through a rental service without the burden of ownership.

Don't Try to Recreate the Outside World at Home

I've found that it's much more enjoyable to go out for waffles than to clean, store and maintain a waffle maker. The same goes for the fondue pot that I rarely use and hate to clean.

Jay concedes that her cappuccino maker never got much use, and also cites big ticket items, like media rooms, fitness centers, and bathroom spas, as items that we can probably do without. "It’s almost as if we’re going to hunker down and never leave our houses," she says.

"Instead of purchasing, maintaining, and repairing all that equipment, why not have a fun night out at the movies, go to the gym (or take a walk), or treat yourself to a day at the local spa? That way, you can enjoy such activities when it strikes your fancy – without having to store and care for all the stuff," says Jay.

To learn more about living a minimalist lifestyle, read The Joy of Less, which is available from the following library branches: Central (downtown), Audubon, Dudley Branch, Hamburg, Julia Boyer Reinstein Library, Kenmore, North Park, and Orchard Park. Click here to search the catalog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In the News: Coffee and Chocolate May Reduce Your Risk of Disease

Surprise! Coffee and chocolate may be good for your health, at least as far as skin cancer and stroke are concerned.

Researchers found that the caffeine in coffee may lower your risk of basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. The more coffee you drink, the lower your risk (Source: MSN News).

The study suggests the caffeine benefit is highest for women. Women who drank the most coffee lowered their risk by 18 percent; men reduced their risk by 13 percent.

Chocolate has health benefits as well, according to a Swedish study that suggests that chocolate may lower a woman's risk of stroke (Source: MSN News). Women who ate two candy bars each week had a 20 percent reduced risk.

Men were not included in the chocolate research, but study author Susanna Larsson expects that the effects would be the same.

Larsson explained that cocoa contains flavonoids, whose antioxidant properties can suppress "bad" cholesterol, a cause of stroke.

Dark chocolate has also been found to:
  • reduce blood pressure,
  • lower insulin resistance, and
  • help keep your blood from forming dangerous clots.
Although Larsson doesn't recommend adding chocolate to your daily menu, she suggests that if you do indulge, opt for dark chocolate, which has more flavonoids and less sugar.

Neither study proves cause-and-effect, only an association between consumption and a reduced risk. 

Related Articles

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ask Us Anything: Am I Taking Too Many Vitamins?

"Is it possible to take too many vitamins and supplements?"

Registered Dietitian Deborah Richter Responds:

The short answer is “Yes.”

It is recommended that your intake of water soluble vitamins (the B-complex, vitamin C and vitamin K) and the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E) not exceed 150% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of these nutrients, unless advised by a medical professional. (Click here for more information on the Dietary Reference Intake.)

Most over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplements are within the Recommended Dietary Allowance guidelines. It is when individual vitamins or nutrient supplements are taken that these levels can be exceeded.

It is important to inform your primary care provider of any supplements that are taken on a regular basis. If you do not see a physician on a regular basis, use a prudent and moderate approach to vitamins and supplements.

As for supplements, some can actually be dangerous, especially if taken with some medications or in excessive dosages or with some medical conditions.

For example, the herbal supplement, Echinacea, which is often taken in the winter to decrease the duration of colds, should be limited to 8 weeks. In a Western New York winter, the cold season may be months, not weeks. Therefore, if you take the over-the-counter Echinacea, it should be limited to those times after direct exposure to people with respiratory infections or when the cold symptoms first start. The supplement should be stopped once the symptoms resolve.

Also, some supplements interfere with the effectiveness of medications and should not be taken. The supplement Licorice that disguises itself as candy can be very dangerous with heart disease. Prolonged or excessive use may deplete potassium and increase retention of sodium, which may lead to high blood pressure, edema, irregular heartbeat, and decreased testosterone in males, flaccid weakness, and headaches to name just a few of the possible adverse reactions of Licorice.

The best approach is eating a variety of foods including many vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, beans and lean meats. Keep portions balanced to maintain a healthy weight and be active every day.

— Deborah Richter, RD

Deborah Richter is a registered dietitian at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga. She teaches diabetes education classes and provides outpatient nutrition counseling. She has helped her clients to lose weight, reduce their blood pressure and feel better about themselves through healthy eating choices.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What to Do This Weekend for $10 or Less

1. Trick or Treat at the Amherst Museum

Time: Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday: 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $8 Children, $5 Adults
More Information: Website

Give the kids a Halloween to remember! Children between the ages of 3 and 10 can trick-or-treat at the Amherst Museum's historic buildings, with 17 stops in all. Horse-drawn hay wagon rides are available, as well as cider, donuts, popcorn, coffee, and hot cocoa.

2. Free Central Terminal Tours

Time: Saturday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

As part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference, the Central Terminal is offering free tours to the public. The Central Terminal's store will be open for shopping and Buffalo's gourmet food trucks will be on hand to provide refreshments.

This event will be the first time that the public will have the opportunity to tour the Central Terminal's iconic tower.

3. All Hallow's Eve at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society

Time: Sunday: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $10 for non-members, $5 for members
More Information: Website

Take a horse-and-carriage ride through the historic neighborhood around the museum. Pumpkin-painting, mask-making, and scary museum tours are part of the day's activities. You'll hear tales about the most interesting and dark artifacts on display in the museum.

What's more, you can participate in a parade, take a mini-museum tour and go on an artifact scavenger hunt.

4. Iron Island Museum Tour

Time: Saturday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: $2 for self-guided tours; $5 for ghost tours
More Information: Website

Make your reservations for Saturday's ghost tour, or take a self-guided tour at your own pace. The Iron Island Museum was featured on three national television shows, including Ghosthunters.

5. Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market

Time: Saturday: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

The Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market is a producer-only market, meaning that all of its vendors grow or produce what they sell themselves. This Saturday, you can taste wines, listen to singer/guitarist Kate Shaffer from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and meet Registered Dietitian Nicole Klem from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

6. Showing the Grain at CEPA Gallery

Time: Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

A 3-part exhibition celebrating Buffalo’s Grain Elevators, Showing the Grain highlights photographs showcasing Buffalo's industrial heritage. CEPA Gallery, located in the historic Market Arcade building, also displays a public art memorial to mark the anniversary of September 11th.

7. Forest Lawn Walk-up Tour

Time: Saturday: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $10
More Information: Website

Forest Lawn Cemetery was founded in 1849 and contains the grave of U.S. President Millard Fillmore.

During the tour, you'll see the inside of the historic gate houses, where exhibits will teach you how funerals were held in earlier days. Then you'll venture into the cemetery, where your guide will talk about some of the cemetery's famous residents. No reservations are required.

8. Second Annual Community Clothing Exchange

Time: Saturday, Sunday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Replenish your wardrobe without emptying your wallet. The Community Clothing Exchange is an opportunity to “shop” for gently-used donated clothing, shoes and accessories for the whole family. Infant, toddler, youth and adult sizes will be available. Take what you need. No money or clothing donations necessary for participation.

9. Cross Roads Craft & Farm Market

Time: Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Open every Saturday, this indoor market in Westfield spans several buildings and sells maple syrup, quilts, flags, fudge, toys and more.

Most vendors accept credit and debit cards, but you might want to be safe and bring cash. There is no ATM on site.

10. Halloween Fun on the BOO-levard

Time: Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Children 12 and under are invited to come in costume to the Boulevard Mall food court for a Halloween celebration! Games, face painting, a "Haunted" Bounce House, special halloween crafts, and a live magic show are all free of charge.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disposing of Prescription Drugs and Other Common Household Items

I love to declutter, and sometimes in my haste to clean up, I throw out things that I shouldn't. Last weekend, while disposing of a pile of unused computer cords, I accidentally tossed the cord for my camera. Now I need to buy a new one so that I can transfer my photos.

I know that I should be more conscientious in what I throw out. And some items in particular need to be disposed of with care.

Prescription Drugs

Flushing medications was once believed to be the safest method of disposal but is now recommended against (with a few exceptions) in order to minimize the impact on our environment.

The FDA advises that you take advantage of community drug take-back programs, which ensure that drugs are disposed of properly.

Western New York Prescription Drug Drop-Off Next Week

A take-back program will be held next week on Saturday, October 29 throughout Western New York. Participating locations include Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Mercy Ambulatory Care Center in Orchard Park, and Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga.

Click here for details.

Home Disposal

If you can't make it to a take-back program, check for disposal information on the drug label or in the instructions that accompanied your medication.

According to the FDA, most drugs can be tossed in the trash. But before you dispose of them, take them out of their containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or cat litter. And place them in a sealable bag or other container to prevent them from leaking.

A small number of medications should be flushed down the toilet, usually powerful narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances. These medications can be harmful in a single dose and can even cause death if taken by someone for whom they are not prescribed. The FDA recommends flushing these medications to avoid the possibility that a child or pet may accidentally consume these drugs.

Why Dispose of Drugs Properly?

Medications that are not disposed of properly can cause harm to wildlife, pets, and people. Following the guidelines listed above can prevent animals from eating medications as they scavage for food in the garbage and can help to avoid spills that may be harmful to fishes and wildlife.

Click here for more information about drug disposal.


Returning electronics to the manufacturer is free and convenient, as required by New York State law.

Computers and televisions are accepted, as are keyboards, DVD players, music players, and gaming systems. Click here for a complete list of electronics that can be recycled.

Manufacturers may collect electronics by mail, at specific locations (i.e. retail stores, not-for-profit organizations, etc.) or at community events.

Instructions on how to recycle electronic waste is available at the manufacturer's website.

Recycling programs are also in place at Best Buy, Dell, and other retailers. Click here to learn where you can donate your electronic items.

Why Recycle Your Electronics?

Recycling will not only limit the waste that is placed into landfills, but it will help to prevent toxins from circulating in the air, water and soil and conserve natural resources through reuse. Plus, you'll have a head start on New York State law.  In 2015, residents will be banned from disposing of electronic equipment in landfills.

Paper, Plastics, and Other Recyclables

Earlier this year, the Buffalo News reported that city residents recycle only 6.5 percent of all household waste, about one-fifth of the national average. But when you consider that up to 75% of what we throw away could be recycled, it's clear that we're all capable of doing more.

Curbside pick-up is the most convenient recycling method for most households. To learn how you can get a blue recycling bin for your household, visit the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning.

Items accepted in the bin include:
  • Newspapers, magazines and catalogs
  • Junk mail
  • Cardboard
  • Brown paper bags
  • Glass food and beverage containers and jars
  • Metal food and beverage cans
  • Plastic food, soap and beverage containers with screw-on lids
The city participates in single-stream recycling, which means that your items don't need to be sorted before they're placed into the bin.

Why Recycle?

Recycling helps to prevent pollution, and conserves natural resources. It also reduces the burden on our landfills. The Buffalo News reported that Buffalo could save more than $500,000 a year in landfill fees and other expenses if it could substantially increase household recycling.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ask Us Anything: How Can I Prevent Breast Cancer?

“Is breast cancer preventable? What are some things that I can do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?”

Nurse Practitioner Gina Lafountain Responds:

As a breast cancer survivor with no known family history of breast cancer, the answer is no. You can reduce your risk, but there is no way to absolutely prevent it.

Living a healthy lifestyle will help. Maintain a healthy weight, exercise and don’t smoke. These lifestyle changes will also reduce your risk of other diseases, such as heart disease.

To be proactive, get yearly check-ups from your primary care physician and yearly mammograms (mammogram locations) after the age of 40, sooner if you have a family history of breast cancer. And perform self breast exams monthly.

If you have a family history of breast cancer, I would recommend getting genetically tested for the BRCA gene that can put you at an increase risk for developing breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute reports that if you have inherited a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, your risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer at an early age is increased.

The test requires a blood sample, which can be taken in a doctor’s office, laboratory, hospital or clinic. You will need an order from your physician and usually pre-authorization from your insurance company.

– Gina Lafountain, Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Program Director of HeartStrong

Gina Lafountain, NP, MSN has over 20 years of healthcare experience and is currently the Director of the HeartStrong program for continuing care. HeartStrong allows heart failure patients to rebuild their strength and endurance and learn how to better manage their cardiac diseases before they return home.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Prevention: The Most Effective Treatment for Stroke

Something I've noticed each time that I've been sick – whether I'm home with a cold or it's something more serious – is that I don't appreciate my good health until I no longer have it.

The same is true of most people. We take for granted that we can speak with ease or move without pain until we can't anymore.

This approach can cause problems down the road, when we're not being proactive to reduce our risk of disease, including stroke, the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Stroke can cause problems with:
  • speech,
  • vision,
  • movement, or
  • memory.
You might have trouble swallowing or making small, precise movements like picking up a coin. Headaches, joint pain, even paralysis could result.

But here's the good news: up to 80% of strokes can be prevented.

Dr. Lee-Kwen, Medical Director of the Mercy Hospital Stroke Center, says that people are sometimes not scared of stroke, which is why they don't make the lifestyle changes that can prevent it.

"Stroke prevention is the most effective and least expensive form of stroke treatment," says Dr. Lee-Kwen. "It is not one single step but a combination of steps – to knowing your personal risk factors to changing your lifestyle and eating habits and being on the most appropriate medication for stroke prevention."

Why Age Matters

Your risk for stroke increases after the age of 65, but it may occur at an earlier age in people with vascular risks such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, says Dr. Lee-Kwen.

When stroke occurs in younger patients (ranging in ages from children to middle age), it's usually due to abnormalities of the heart wall or valves or due to blood disorders that make the blood clot easily.

Stroke is also common in people who have a family history of stroke. African Americans are at an increased risk, as are women, who are less likely than men to recover.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Risk

Even if you don't fall into the at-risk group, the lifestyle changes listed below can help to prevent a number of diseases and improve your quality of life.

Keep an Eye on Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. Have your blood pressure screened regularly to keep yours in check.

Catholic Health offers free screenings throughout the community by experienced nurses who can advise you on how to stay healthy. Click here for upcoming dates.

Stop Smoking

Smoking damages the cardiovascular system, making you more likely to experience a stroke.

Stay Away from Salt

Diets high in sodium can contribute to increased blood pressure. Salt is the usual culprit, but there are others as well. Sodium bicarb is in baked goods, and Sodium nitrite is in preserved meats, says Dr. Lee-Kwen.

Take a Walk After Dinner

"Walking for about 30 minutes on most days is recommended and probably has the greatest efficacy in reducing stroke risk," says Dr. Lee-Kwen.

For people with diabetes, walking after large meals can help to lower glucose levels.

In addition to preventing stroke, being active can help to ward off:
  • high blood pressure, 
  • high blood cholesterol, 
  • diabetes, and 
  • heart disease.

Also, remember to make regular visits to your doctor, at least once a year. He or she will continue to monitor your health and take note of any stroke risks.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weekend Entertainment for $10 or Less

Buffalo, NYWhy spend $40 or more at the movie theater when you can get out in the community for $10 or less? Here's what's happening in Western New York this weekend.

1. Orchid Show at the Botanical Gardens

Time: Saturday, Sunday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: $8 Adults, $7 Seniors, $7 Students 13+ with ID, $4 Kids 3-12, Free Kids Under 3 and Members
More Information: Website

Escape from the rain that's forecasted this weekend and head to the Botanical Gardens. Orchid varieties on display include cymbidiums, dendrobiums, cattleyas and other unusual species.

I've attended this event in the past, and although I don't know anything about plants or gardening, I love the Botanical Gardens for its warmth and floral scents.

2. October Wine Festival at the Broadway Market

Time: Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: Free admission
More Information: Website

Taste wines from the Lake Erie and Niagara regions and specialty foods from Choco-Logo Confectionary Design, Gino’s Bakery and other vendors.

I love going to the market, if nothing else for its history. The market is 121 years old and its vintage lunch counter and bakeries make me wish I'd seen it in its heyday.

3. Howl-O-Ween Hayrides at the Buffalo Zoo

Time: Saturday, Sunday: 4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Cost: $9 for non-members, $6 for members
More Information: Website

Kids are encouraged to come in costume and march in the zoo's costume parade! Participate in hayrides and games and enjoy apple cider, donuts and goodies from the zoo's treat stations. Tickets can be purchased at the zoo's website, by phone, or at the gate.

4. Winnie the Pooh Family Film Series at the Riviera Theatre

Time: Saturday: 11 a.m.
Cost: $2
More Information: Website

Take the kids to see Winnie the Pooh at a North Tonawanda landmark and movie house that was built in 1926. The price can't be beat, and your shoes won't stick to the floor!

5. Buffalo Indie Flea Market

Time: Saturday: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Similar to the Brooklyn Flea, the Buffalo Indie Flea Market sells vintage clothing, records, jewelry, Zines, and crafts by local artisans and designers.

As someone who has vowed to shop local this Christmas, I'm bummed that I'll be in Rochester this weekend!

6. Allentown Neighborhood Walking Tour

Time: Saturday: 1 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person, No Reservation Needed
More Information: Website

I lived in Allentown for two years, and it has some of Buffalo's most beautiful and historic homes, including the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where the tour departs.

7. Buffalo Chili Fest

Time: Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person
More Information: Website

Held at the historic Statler Building in Downtown Buffalo, the Buffalo Chili Fest allows you to watch the game while voting for your favorite chili. Tickets for chili samples will be sold for $5 for 5 tickets.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In the News: Americans are Having Fewer Babies

My husband and I have been married for over four years, and we've been asked on more than one occasion when we're planning to start a family. Some parents have advised us not to wait, that there's no planning for it and that there will never be enough money.

But new data shows that many Americans are taking their finances into account before expanding their families. In 2007, 4,316,233 babies were born in the United States, the highest number on record. In 2010, that number fell to just over 4 million.

This isn't the first time that the economy has taken a toll on birth rates. Fertility rates also fell during the Great Depression and the oil crisis of the 1970s.

Demographer Carl Haub says that Americans still want children; they're just waiting for more prosperous times.

Has the state of the economy affected your plans for a family (now or in the past)?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ask Us Anything: Why Does My Foot Feel Warm?

"For the past few days, I've been experiencing a sort of burning in my foot, almost as if I'm sitting next to a heater. It isn't painful, just warm. The warmth occurs out of the blue and only lasts for a few seconds. Should I be worried?"

Physical Therapist Richard Szabala Responds:

Generally speaking, the feeling of warmth or burning in a pinpoint location of the body is considered a sign of inflammation. The big question is: what is causing the inflammation?

Without any specific trauma to the area, sources of inflammation can include Arthritic flare up, irritation from poor fitting foot wear, tendonitis, bursitis (inflammation of the bursa), athlete's foot (an infection of the feet caused by fungus)...the list can go on and on.

Try to write down the things that you do right before the inflammation occurs. This may help to track down the source.

If the inflammation continues, seek an evaluation from your family physician and obtain a referral for Physical Therapy to help you determine if the cause of the inflammation is musculoskelatal in nature.

In the short term, use the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) to soothe the inflammation.

– Richard Szabala PT, OCS

Nurse Practitioner Lana Pasek Adds:

This may be a manifestation of a lower extremity peripheral nerve syndrome.

There are many ways this can manifest as a symptom because there are many nerve roots emerging from the spinal column to the legs.

The most common problem with the nerve is compression. It may be due to positioning, such as when legs are crossed and there begins a tingling feeling, and then numbness along the lateral shin and bottom of the foot. This is compression on the peroneal nerve.

As compression grows more consistent and chronic, the symptoms are persistent, and pain and weakness develop. This kind of weakness needs the evaluation of a neurosurgeon or neurologist right away to prevent further nerve damage.

If the burning feeling intensifies into pain and/or develops into numbness, you may also have peripheral vascular disease (PVD) of the arteries in the leg and/or foot. Does the feeling/pain develop when the legs are elevated? Is there a change in color of the foot? Again, is there any weakness involved or pain with walking?

The risk factors for PVD are high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, advanced age, and a sedentary lifestyle.

PVD is a blocked artery and how much and where the blockage is best determined with an evaluation by a vascular surgeon.

Please start with your primary care doctor who can start with some testing and make recommendations for further consultation with a specialist.

— Lana M. Pasek, EdM, MSN, RN, APRN-BC

About our Experts

Richard Szabala is the senior physical therapist at AthletiCare Orchard Park.

Lana Pasek is a Nurse Practitioner for Vascular and Stroke Services at Sisters of Charity Hospital and has worked in Vascular services for 9 years. She has master's degrees in Education and in Nursing. Lana is a licensed Registered Nurse and is nationally board certified as a Nurse Practitioner in Adult Health.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Western New York Events for $15 or Less

Enjoy the warm weather this weekend before colder temperatures return!

Here's what's happening this weekend in Western New York.

1. Arcade & Attica Railroad: Fall Foilage Run

Time: Saturday, Sunday: 12 p.m., 3 p.m.
Cost: $13 per person, Children 2 and under free if sitting on a parent's lap
More Information: Website

Board a historical railroad train for a 90-plus minute ride through history. For the most part, the countryside and farmlands that have remained unchanged since the line was originally laid in the 1880's.

Reservations close on Thursday for weekend events, so reserve your seat today! If you miss the deadline, you can still book tickets for Oct. 14th - 16th and Oct. 21st - 23rd.

2. Holiday Hollow Halloween & Pirate Festival

Time: Saturday, Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $11 for ages 11 and up, $10 for ages 3-10, Free for 2 and under
More Information: Website

Spend the day in a Renaissance Faire-like environment with family-friendly entertainment. The hollow features 7 shows, which are included in the cost of admission, as is parking. Click here for a map of the hollow and its attractions.

3. Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show

Time: Saturday, Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free with entrance to the park ($8 per vehicle)
More Information: Website

Get an early start on your holiday gift shopping at the arts and crafts show. Vendors display pottery, paintings, quilts and fiber arts, handcrafted jewelry, photography, furniture, decorative painting, dried floral pieces and more.

4. Ellicottville Fall Festival

Time: Saturday, Sunday: 10 a.m. to Dark
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Scour the arts and craft shows for Christmas gifts, while the kids enjoy carnival rides. Don't miss Sunday's Ellicottville Idol contest in the Village Gazebo when this year's idol will be crowned.

5. Buffalo Tours: Inside the Central Terminal

Time: Sunday: 11 a.m.
Cost: $10 per person
More Information: Website

Featured on the TV show Ghost Hunters, this abandoned train station opened in 1929 and closed in 1979. Learn about its fifty-year history and the restoration project underway. Tours are two hours long and no reservations are needed.

6. The MAiZE - WNY’s Original Corn Field Maze

Time: Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $8, Free for Kids 3 and Under
More Information: Website

Can you make your way through a corn field maze? Find out in Wheatfield's The MAiZE! Beginning this weekend, hayrides will depart every fifteen minutes, as costumed characters will toss candy and prizes into the wagons. Each child will receive a treat bag.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In the News: A Good Night's Sleep Can Improve Your Memory

A good night's sleep could help to curb forgetfulness, according to a Michigan State University study.

Researchers found that your brain processes information as you sleep, and in some cases, a good night's sleep dramatically improved participants' memories.

But what is a good night's sleep?

First, we need to get enough of it. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that in general, most healthy adults need an average of eight hours of sleep a night.

The APA also advises us to stop hitting the snooze button. By sleeping in small increments, we're decreasing our rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when the muscles are relaxed and recent memories may be consolidated in the brain. When we hit the snooze button, we feel less rested during the day.

And keep a regular schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night to train your body when it's time to go to bed.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Ask Us Anything: When Can I Exercise After Pregnancy?

"4 weeks after my son was born, I began running and biking again. Now, after 2 weeks, I notice that I have pain in both knees. I can't run or walk, especially going downstairs, without feeling intense pain. Is this common in pregnant women? I experienced the same knee pain after the birth of my daughter three years ago."

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

It seems that your knee pain might be a case of sports-related injury. It usually takes longer than 2 weeks for one to return to pre-pregnancy body weight. The degree of strain on the knees therefore would be heightened in postpartum period during exercising.

In addition, the joints and ligaments become very flexible in pregnancy as a result of secretion of a hormone (Relaxin) to allow for joint expansion. It may take longer than a few weeks for the joints to return to their pre-pregnancy state and to safely stand strenuous activity.

I would recommend resuming weight-bearing physical activity very gradually to avoid sports-related injury to the joints and ligaments in postpartum period.

— Dr. Ali Ghomi

Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital. He is the only physician in Western New York who performs Sacrocolpopexy Prolapse surgery using the da Vinci® robot. Sacrocolpopexy is a proven “gold standard” procedure worldwide to repair severe pelvic prolapse. Click here to learn more about Catholic Health's OBGYN services.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.
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