Health Watch 05/20/21 Telegraph/Intelligencer

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Health WATCH May 2021

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields doesn’t let epilepsy stop him

2 • Thursday, May 20, 2021 • Health Watch


2.......OSF among safest in U.S. 3.......COVER STORY: Tackling Epilepsy: Disorder won’t stop Fields 4 ......‘Dear Dietitian’ answers your health questions 5.......Personal training at SSP 6.......Why does hearing loss go undetected 7.......How to prepare for telehealth appointments

OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center among safest U.S. hospitals OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center Special to Health Watch

ALTON — The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization for patient safety, announced new Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades and OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center achieved an A rating, placing it among the safest hospitals in the country and the only hospital in the Riverbend to receive an A rating. “Achieving a consecutive ‘A’ grade from the Leapfrog Group is a testament to the dedication of our mission partners, who provide the highest quality care for our patients every day,” said President Jerry Rumph, chief executive officer. “Patient safety is a top priority and we have exceptionally strong health care teams to reduce infection rates, prevent

mistakes and ensure strong lines of communication between hospital staff, patients and families.” Hospitals are assigned A, B, C, D and F letter grades based on 27 different publicly available measures of patient safety. These measures include patient care management, medication safety, frequency of care-associated infection and maternity care. The biannual report is calculated by a panel of safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. Saint Anthony’s joins one other OSF HealthCare hospital in achieving an A safety grade. Three hospitals in the OSF HealthCare system received a safety grade of B. To see the full grade report of all eligible OSF facilities, visit http://www.

healthwatch HEALTH WATCH PUBLISHER Denise VonderHaar (618) 463-2500 — HEALTH WATCH ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Carole Fredeking (618) 463-2500 — ON THE COVER: Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields prepares to throw a football. Fields, who has epilepsy, was drafted in the 11th overall pick by the Bears.

HEALTH WATCH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jill Moon (618) 208-6448 — HEALTH WATCH COORDINATOR Regina Harbison (618) 208-6433 —

Health Watch • Thursday, May 20, 2021 • 3

Tackling Epilepsy

Neuro disorder doesn’t stop Bears quarterback

Health Watch

Many football fans expected Ohio State University quarterback Justin Fields to be drafted high in the recent NFL draft. But when he wasn’t selected until the 11th overall pick by the Chicago Bears, some fans were left scratching their heads as why Fields so many teams passed on the talented player. Perhaps the best explanation was the pre-draft discovery that Fields has epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can cause seizures. But Fields, who was diagnosed as a child and takes medication, hasn’t experienced any on-the-field problems during his football career, and his doctors believe he’ll overcome it, as many of his family members have. “I just read a report that says he can grow out of it, which can mean one of two things,” said neurologist Dr. Tariq Gheith, with OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute. “He just has a childhood epilepsy, which is benign and you grow out of it when you’re older, or because he’s been seizure free for so long, it’s possible he’s outgrown his epilepsy, in which both cases is very possible.” Anyone can develop epilepsy, which is diagnosed following at least two unprovoked seizures. It impacts both males and females of all races, ages and backgrounds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3.4 million people or 1% of the population has epilepsy. Risk factors include: age, family history, brain infections, stroke, other vascular diseases. Some symptoms are temporary confusion, loss of consciousness or awareness, and uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs. Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure.

“The most objective way to diagnose it is with an electroencephalogram or EEG,” Dr. Gheith said. “Sometimes in some patients their brain waves can show us they are prone to seizing or sometimes we capture a seizure while they’re hooked up to the brain wave, which is the EEG,” he explained. “But we’re not really that fortunate with most patients. With most patients it’s what they tell me in the visit. There are certain features which say it might be epilepsy, and then there are certain features that say this might be something else.” Another risk factor is head injuries, which is most concerning for a football player such as Fields. “It is a violent sport,” Dr. Gheith said. “Any time you get your head hit, any time you increase stress, it can put you at risk for seizures. It all depends on his level or intensity of what his epilepsy is. It sounds like he has a very mild form.” Epilepsy can be treated with medication or surgery. Some people will require lifelong treatment, while others may outgrow the condition over time. Dr. Gheith said it’s important to keep your doctor informed of any symptoms or changes you experience. “It’s not always what you see in the movies,” Dr. Gheith noted. “It’s not just you shaking all over the place and losing consciousness. You can very well retain consciousness during a seizure, and you can do that for years and be seizing and not know it. It’s always a good idea to reach out to somebody just for your own peace of mind.” For more information about epilepsy, visit www.OSFHealthCare. org.

4 • Thursday, May 20, 2021 • Health Watch


Logging foods can aid diabetics Dear Dietitian, I have had diabetes for 15 years and have kept it under control. But my blood sugars recently have been higher, around 200 during the day. McCrate My daughter thinks I should try the glycemic index diet. What do you think? Terry Dear Terry,

The glycemic index diet was introduced by Jenkins, et al., in the early 1980s as a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their immediate impact on blood glucose levels. It was developed as a meal-planning guide for people with diabetes, with emphasis on low glycemic index foods.

The premise is to choose low GI foods to help control blood sugar levels and avoid spikes. The GI concept since has expanded to include weight loss and disease prevention, although its benefits in these areas have not been backed by science. The GI system ranks foods from 0 to 100; the smaller the number, the less impact it has on your blood sugar. Glucose is given the value of 100; all other foods are ranked comparatively to glucose. The GI values are classified as low, medium and

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high. Below are examples of foods in each category: Low GI (0-55) — old-fashioned oats, apples, peanuts Medium GI (56-69) — orange juice, instant oatmeal, whole wheat bread High GI: (70 or higher) — watermelon, baked potato, corn chips Critics of the GI classification say it is not a measure of good nutrition. For example, the GI of ice cream, a food high in calories and fat, is low; whereas the GI of watermelon is high, even though it is low in calories and a good source of vitamin A. The glycemic index only tells part of the story. The glycemic-load (GL) concept gives us a more real-life predictor of carbohydrate consumption. GL considers

the glycemic index of a particular food and the amount of glucose a portion will deliver. As a frame of reference, a GL higher than 20 is considered high, between 11 and 19 is medium, and 10 or less is considered low. It is recommended that one consumes a total GL of 100 or less each day. Studies on GI and its impact on health-related outcomes have mixed results. The American Diabetes Association states that the overall amount of carbohydrates consumed is more important than GI. The glycemic index diet still is debated among dietitians, with this registered dietitian nutritionist not recommending it. It’s a complex system when counting carbs is much easier and more effective. Perhaps a more straightforward way of keeping track of foods that drastically raise your blood sugar is to keep a log. Then you can avoid these foods or modify

them. For instance, some people complain that white rice spikes their blood sugar levels. In this case, you have three choices: avoid it, eat a smaller portion or switch to brown rice. The bottom line is to do what works for you. Maintaining healthy glucose levels and a healthy weight are of utmost importance in diabetes management. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if your blood sugar levels remain high. Until next time, be healthy! Dear Dietitian Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian based in Missouri. Her mission is to educate consumers on sound, science-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.

Health Watch • Thursday, May 20, 2021 • 5

Try personal training at Senior Services Plus Wellness By Dustin Heiser SSP Wellness For Health Watch

ALTON — Hiring a personal trainer at Senior Services Plus (SSP) has been, and can be, a life changing experience for you or a loved one. All of SSP Wellness Center’s personal trainers have a degree in the field of exercise science, and have personal training certification from a National Commission for Certifying Agencies-accredited program. This specialized training and education empowers SSP personal trainers to make meaningful change for the people they work with, including senior populations

and people with special health considerations. All personal training clients will receive introductory physical assessments, which can include anthropometric measurements, mobility and flexibility assessments, cardiovascular fitness assessments, strength, muscular endurance assessments and a balance screening. With personal training you have the control and flexibility of scheduling the times that work best for you or your loved one. The personal trainer will work with you, in person, one-on-one for each and every session. They will work with you, choosing the right exercises for you, and they ensure

exercises are done correctly. After your initial physical assessments your trainer will develop an individualized exercise program specifically designed for you, and for achieving your fitness goals. If interested in personal training or becoming a member to SSP Wellness Center call 618-465-3302, extension 109, and schedule a tour or free 30-minute initial consultation discussing personal training. Visit for more information. Dustin Heiser B.A.,CPT, FNS is an SSP Wellness coordinator at Senior Services Plus, 2603 N. Rodgers Ave., in Alton.

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6 • Thursday, May 20, 2021 • Health Watch

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month Why does hearing loss go undetected By Dr. T K Parthasarathy For Health Watch

ALTON — On May 21, 1986, President Ronald Reagan issued a formal proclamation designating May as the official month to “heighten public awareness” about hearing loss and speech disorders. Reagan is one among many famous personalities with hearing loss. One other famous person is Helen Keller who once said that while blindness kept her separate from things, hearing loss separated her from people and human connections. Thus, it is that time of the year where audiologists try to bring attention to a crippling silent condition-hearing loss that goes undetected for many years. About 35 million Americans have hearing loss, or 11% of the population. Further, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled over the past 30 years as younger generations of children experience hearing loss due to noise exposure, and baby boomers experience age related hearing loss. According to the National Health Interview Survey, 15% of the 45-64 year old age group and 27% of the 65-74 year old age group have significant hearing loss. Sometimes patients will mention hearing loss to their primary care doctor only to be told that if they can pass the “whisper” test they are fine. This type of informal hearing evaluation is subjective and frequently does not identify someone with hearing loss, particularly when the hearing loss is confined to higher frequencies (2000 Hz and above).

Despite its high prevalence, hearing loss often goes undetected-at least by the person with the hearing loss. Family and friends usually become aware of the communication problems first. Although many individuals are unwilling to accept their hearing loss because of the connotation of “old age,” there are also good reasons why the individual with hearing loss is often the “the last one to know.” The following are the four most common reasons why hearing loss goes undetected in adults: 1. Gradual: Hearing loss usually develops so slowly that the individual is not aware of any change from year to year. Hearing loss might develop at the rate of one decibel a year. That’s a daily change of about .001% of hearing, so it’s not surprising the change is not noticed. But 10 or 20 years (or even 30 years) of this gradual change in hearing can lead to a very significant hearing loss. 2. Painless: Rarely is any pain or feeling associated with adult-onset hearing loss, although tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ear) is sometimes present as a symptom of hearing loss.

3. Partial: In the early stage of adult onset hearing loss, hearing for low-frequency sound is usually not affected, even as the ability to hear the high-frequency “speech clarity” sounds diminishes. The individual may report, “I can hear Parthasarathy speech, I just can’t understand it.” 4. Invisible: There are no physical signs of the hearing loss. Hearing loss isolates us from friends and family and makes our world smaller and smaller. The individual in many cases may stop going to certain restaurants, to church, avoid certain television shows and social gatherings. These communication problems may cause significant stress to the family members. To some degree, anger, frustration, embarrassment and depression are most commonly associated in individuals with hearing loss. In addition to the psychological implications of hearing loss, there is now research data supporting that hearing loss speeds up age related cognitive decline. Individuals with

hearing loss are at a greater risk for dementia. Furthermore, individuals with a mild 25 dB hearing loss are nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling than those with normal hearing, according the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2013. Even after controlling for other factors, such as age, sex, race, cardiovascular disease and vestibular/balance function, the NIH study clearly indicated a strong link between hearing loss and increased risk of falling. Every additional 10 dB hearing loss meant an increased risk of falling by 1.4%. Treating hearing loss has immediate benefits. It reduces social isolation, anxiety and stress, while increasing energy and promoting better sleep. Detecting hearing loss early will allow individuals to take proper steps to improve their quality of life and help them enjoy more years ahead. It is reasonable to suggest that physicians inform patients to get their hearing tested annually as a routine part of

overall medical care, and to encourage patients to an early hearing treatment plan when recommended, such as hearing instrument amplification, counseling and aural rehabilitation. If you or loved ones have any hearing concerns, consult with your primary care physician and make sure to receive a complete diagnostic hearing evaluation from an audiologist to find out the exact type of hearing loss, degree of hearing loss and a customized hearing treatment plan.

Dr. T.K. Parthasarathy, Ph.D., FAAA, former Professor of Audiology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, with 30 years of experience in helping patients with hearing loss, is an ASHA Certified Clinical Audiologist with two offices at the Better Hearing Clinic ( in Alton (618-4339932) and Glen Carbon (618205-1055). All patients 50 years and older are welcome to join Better Hearing Clinic’s Hearing Wellness Program in the community to promote healthy hearing and healthy living and are eligible for a complimentary free hearing consultation.

Health Watch • Thursday, May 20, 2021 • 7

How to prepare for telehealth appointments For Health Watch

Change was a big part of life in 2020. As the world confronted the COVID-19 pandemic, changes had to be made to keep people safe and prevent the virus from spreading. Some of those changes will no doubt prove temporary, while others may have staying power. An increased reliance on telemedicine is one notable change to take place during the pandemic that figures to stick around long after people have gotten rid of their masks. When in-person doctor visits became risky, many doctors increased their telemedicine offerings, allowing patients to call in and discuss issues or symptoms over the phone. In many instances, doctors can prescribe medications or recommend treatments without seeing patients in their offices, and patients may appreciate that con-

venience even after the pandemic has ended. Some people may have been hesitant to embrace telemedicine, and reports during the pandemic’s early stages reflect that hesitation. Data from the National Cancer Institute indicates that screenings for breast cancer and colorectal cancer dropped by roughly 89 and 85 percent, respectively, in the first couple of months after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. Though cancer screenings typically must be conducted in person, the decline in screenings suggests patients were not speaking with their physicians during the early months of the pandemic. Had patients been more willing to speak with their physicians over the phone or via video conferencing apps like Zoom, the decline in cancer screenings likely would not have been so significant, as doctors would have emphasized the

importance of screenings, even during a pandemic. Telehealth appointments can be valuable for anyone, and patients can take steps to ensure their telemedicine sessions with their physicians are as productive as possible. • Write down questions. Prior to an appointment, patients can write down any questions they have for their physicians. This helps ensure nothing is forgotten during the appointment. Writing down questions is especially important for telehealth appointments, as it can be easy to be distracted when calling in from home. • Keep a health diary. A health diary can help patients point to symptoms or other persistent issues they’ve faced in the weeks or months leading up to their telehealth appointments. Jot down everything from the severity and frequency of symptoms to fluctuations in weight

to any reactions to medications. No detail is too minor, as the more informed patients are the more fruitful their discussions with physicians can be. • Photograph any extraordinary symptoms. Physical examinations are vital components of preventive health regimens, but many people have delayed or skipped annual physicals during the pandemic. If any unusual symptoms or issues like rashes arise, document them by taking photos and measure the size of any lumps. Any symptoms should be reported to a physician immediately, but documentation like photographs can ensure nothing is lost in translation during telehealth appointments. Telemedicine figures to play a bigger role in health care in the years to come. Embracing strategies to make telehealth appointments more successful can help patients adapt to the changing health care landscape.

Things have changed. Cancer hasn’t.

Recent challenges have inspired us to be more self-reliant. But there are some things you can’t do by yourself – like a colonoscopy. Don’t worry. You’re covered. We’ve taken extra precautions so that our facilities are safe. Because while our world has changed, cancer hasn’t, and early detection is the key to good outcomes.

While a colonoscopy is the gold standard, there are several screening options, including simple at-home tests.

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