Being Well Blog
“We know you well” means we not only know what it takes to keep you healthy, but that we actually get to know each other. No other group of doctors can do that like we can, because only the North Ottawa Medical Group is made up of doctors employed by North Ottawa Community Health System. We’re your neighbors, fellow parents at the school, coaches to your kids, and as much a part of this community as you are.
We want you to be healthy, and we want you to get to know us a bit better, so this blog will provide you with health and wellness information as well as fun ways to learn about who your home-town Medical Group doctors are. After all, being well is more than just great care. To the North Ottawa Medical Group, it’s also about building genuine personal relationships.
Feel free to browse the information below or choose from one of the categories found in the left margin.
Dr. Mehul Patel of NOCHS Center for Sleep Disorder and Pulmonologist at North Ottawa Medical Group answers your questions about sleep health.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining good health throughout your life. Getting quality sleep is important to protect your mental health, physical health, safety, and also quality of your life. Good sleep is essential for decision making, problem solving, controlling emotions, and paying attention. Sleep deficiency can increase risk of heart disease, obesity, mental disorders, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and hypertension. Sleep is also important to support healthy growth and maintaining healthy immune system.
How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?
Everyone is different. Some people may function well with just five hours of sleep and others may need 10 hours or more. The key is, how do you feel. Do you need an alarm clock to wake up? Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Are you having trouble concentrating at work or at school? Are you feeling sleepy in meetings, in classrooms, or while driving? If the answers are YES for most of these questions, then you are probably not getting enough sleep.
What can I do if I have trouble sleeping?
Improving overall sleep hygiene can be a good start. Sleep hygiene includes having a regular sleep schedule with a same wake up time, disconnecting electronics 30 minutes prior to going to bed, avoiding late and long daytime naps, and limiting alcohol consumption. You should also avoid large meals, exercise, bright light and also tobacco use at night. Caffeine intake should be avoided eight hours prior to bedtime. However, improving sleep hygiene alone is not sufficient for some people. If you have poor quality of sleep despite improving sleep hygiene, you may need a comprehensive sleep evaluation by a sleep physician. You can schedule an appointment with our Center for Sleep Disorders by calling (616) 847-5342 or click here to learn more.
Summer brings a lot of fun and outdoor activities, especially in this beautiful lakeshore community. How can you keep your kids safe while enjoying what West Michigan has to offer? Here are the top safety tips from Karly Hiser, CPNP-PC, a member of the new NOCHS pediatric group.
- Sunscreen. For children younger than 6 months, protective clothing is recommended instead of sunscreen. For older children, Karly recommends a sunscreen with zinc oxide as the active ingredient. “It washes off at the end of the day, so your child is not absorbing the chemicals into his or her skin,” she says. “Don’t forget to reapply often, especially after swimming.”
- Bug spray. The Pediatrics group gets a lot of questions about bug spray. “Bug spray is not recommended for children younger than 2 months,” Karly notes. “You can use it with caution on older infants, but be careful not to overuse it. As children age, bug spray becomes more safe for them. Just make sure you pick something with 30% DEET or less.” Concentrations on bug spray can vary widely, so make sure you read the label.
- Water safety. Did you know a child could drown in 20-60 seconds? You should never be more than arm’s length away from a baby or toddler in the water. As soon as your child is old enough, Karly recommends swimming lessons to help mitigate the risk. But never leave your child alone in or near the water!
- ATVs. This one might not have popped up on your radar screen, but all terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be extremely dangerous. “Always make sure your child wears a full protective helmet, like a motorcycle helmet. A bike helmet is not enough,” Karly asserts. “Also, remember that children who do not have a driver’s license should not be driving an ATV. It is a motorized vehicle.” Adults – you are also responsible for the safety of the children who are with you. Make sure you only ride during daylight hours, with proper lights and reflectors. And whatever you do, don’t drive an ATV under the influence. You’re risking your own life as well as that of your child.
- Bike safety. Karly has one word: helmet. “All children should wear bike helmets every time they are on bikes, even in the driveway.” Make sure the helmet fits properly or it won’t do much good. Also, parents: don’t push your child to go without training wheels before he or she is ready. A frightened or unwilling rider is a lot more prone to accidents than one who is confident and ready.
- Lawn mowers. While it’s great to teach kids responsibility by having them mow the lawn, remember that they are operating a dangerous power tool. Children younger than 16 should not operate a riding lawn mower, and children under the age of 12 should not operate a power mower. When a child is old enough to mow, sturdy shoes should be the rule, not flip flops. And never take your child as a passenger on a mower.
If ever you have a question about your child’s safety, make sure you call your pediatrician. “We’re happy to help parents make smart choices to balance safety with fun,” Karly says.
North Ottawa Medical Group | Pediatrics
1310 Wisconsin Street, Suite 204, Grand Haven, MI 49417
To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 616.844.4523.
There are so many articles about the best way to lose weight. What is the best diet?
It’s easy to get caught up in the newest diet craze but it’s important to remember that losing weight is just the beginning. For many, it can be harder to keep the weight off. Several recent studies have supported that weight loss differences between low fat and low carb diets are relatively small. However, low carb and low glycemic index diets were better than low fat diets at keeping your metabolism higher after weight loss.
In our practice, we find that people are less hungry when they are getting adequate protein and fiber in their diets. Plus, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is important in overall wellness and disease prevention. However, many people are not likely to continue a diet that eliminates an entire food group long term. Thus, the best diet is one that you can continue long term to maintain your weight loss. Focus on creating a nutritional balance with proteins, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains. Keeping a food log can also be helpful for awareness and planning the calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat content you eat. We recommend that you eat every 3-5 hours throughout the day. When you skip meals and go long periods without eating, not only do most people get so hungry that they make poor choices, but our bodies also react by slowing metabolism, making weight loss even more elusive.
A lot of foods are labeled low fat or high protein. Does this mean they are good choices?
A word of caution when looking at food marketing: look at the nutrition label not the packaging. Often foods are marketed to try to make them appear to be a healthy choice, when in reality foods labeled “low fat” or “high protein” may be that, but also contain significant sugar, sodium, or unnecessary carbs. Next time you are in the grocery store, check how many boxes of gummy candy and licorice are labeled low fat and how many “protein” bars have more than 20 grams of sugar (nearly half of the recommended limit of sugar for the entire day).
We will all have some help with sorting natural sugars and added sugars with some food label changes in 2018. Until then, looking at the ingredient list can help.