Brian Svazas

When shoveling snow, use tools that are friendly to your back. Snow can be beautiful but we generally don’t want it to linger on our sidewalks and driveways. At the same time, removing it presents challenges, including ones for our hearts and backs. Heavy snowfall appears to correlate with an increase in the incidence of heart attacks and back strains. Medical science backs up, to a degree, the risk of a heart attack while shoveling snow. People often try to…

You can never be too careful around a blood or bodily fluid spill – the fluids could be biohazardous. I was working in Silicon Valley in the 1970s and ’80s when employers were coming to grips with the then swelling number of reported HIV-AIDS infections in the community. I attended a conference where, to my initial surprise, San Francisco-based Levi Strauss announced their “no-policy policy” on bloodborne pathogens (BBP) and AIDS. (Think of the sharp objects involved in denim jean…

Avoiding the flu

The Fermilab Medical Office will offer flu vaccinations this fall. Photo: Reidar Hahn The influenza virus, often referred to as the flu, can take you out of action for about three to five days with unpleasant symptoms such as coughing, fever and fatigue. If you have other health issues, it can even land you in the hospital. Flu spreads on respiratory droplets and most effectively through the air but can also be transmitted via “high-touch” objects such as doorknobs, phones…

As you enjoy your fall picnics, be sure your food and drink are safe. Photo: Cindy Arnold It’s late summer and our thoughts turn toward Labor Day, cooler weather and perhaps enjoying the fall days with a picnic. Here are some food safety tips that are good for any time of year. Cloth grocery bags, though earth-friendly, may harbor some health risks if not taken care of properly. Two years ago, a mystery illness later discovered to be Norovirus sickened…

To help reduce the incidence of the publication of misleading medical studies, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act will require medical journals to disclose how much money researchers receive to conduct a medical trial. I am often asked about new medical procedures and devices. As a director of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, I was glad to have the opportunity to attend a presentation related to this topic at the society’s April conference. Neurosurgeon Charles D. Rosen gave…

Stay hydrated to beat the heat and humidity. It’s summer in Chicago, and that means heat and humidity are high. The conditions can pose a challenge if you’re trying to work a jog or bike ride into your day. By keeping yourself well hydrated, you can keep up a healthy exercise regimen, even in the hot summer months. The body typically cools itself by increasing surface blood flow or, on a windless day, by relying mainly on evaporation. Add humidity…

To keep MRSA away, keep surfaces clean and wash your hands with an alcohol-based gel. Image: CDC Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA, pronounced “mersa”) was once solely a threat to patients in medical facilities. Now, however, it is increasingly also a community-acquired infection. Sometimes dubbed a “superbug,” this bacterium resists a number of antibiotics and, for reasons that are not entirely clear, can become deep-seated in otherwise healthy individuals. Fortunately, the spread of infection can be curbed by some simple…

The warmer months encourage people to venture into wilderness areas, increasing insect encounters. The Fermilab Medical Office has already seen two employees for tick removal in March, In the northeast U.S., there is fear of an uptick in disease transmission this year due to the synchronization of food source, tick and mouse population. A year of abundant acorns such as last year leads to an explosion of white-foot mice, which can harbor the Lyme disease bacteria that ticks can acquire…

Got the dot? This medical alert system could save your life. The hour after a medical emergency is often referred to as the golden hour. Treatment rendered during that time can help determine whether you survive or how the incident will affect your quality of life. During the golden hour, it’s possible that you may be too physically, mentally or emotionally impaired to provide valuable medical information. The Illinois Department of Transportation has launched a new voluntary initiative called the…

Pain relief through medication has changed medicine and people’s lives dramatically. It has also created a growing problem in society that can, and has, ended lives of otherwise healthy people. One in 20 Americans have reported recreational use of painkillers. Nearly 15,000 Americans die from painkiller overdoses annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Many of the deaths are linked to opiod abuse. Opiods such as codeine or OxyContin can be easily obtained through legal means, a prescription bought…