PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

E-cigarettes Can Be Addictive & Harmful


There’s been much in the news recently about e-cigarettes. In a new report published on April 14, 2014, a group of Congress members recommended the need for federal regulation of e-cigarettes, citing marketing efforts aimed at minors and a need for more information for consumers on the risks associated with inhaling nicotine vapors.

E-cigarettes, also called vape pens or e-hookahs, are made to resemble cigarettes. They are battery-operated, which allows conversion of liquid nicotine into a vapor which enters the lungs and is easily absorbed into the blood stream. There’s no tobacco, flame, smoke, tar or carbon monoxide which is probably the only good thing that can be said for this product, says Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

In this blog post, Dr. Hollenbeck answers some common questions and concerns regarding electronic cigarettes.

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Soothing Kids’ Seasonal Allergies


Sneezing, coughing, puffy eyes and an itchy nose are some of the uncomfortable signs that allergy season is under way and your child is affected. Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, happens when your child’s immune system overreacts to allergens found in the air he or she is breathing.

“Seasonal allergies are typically caused by plant pollen, and different plants release pollen at different times of the year,” says Steven Rubinstein, M.D., an Allergy and Immunology specialist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “This means that the worst season for a child who suffers from allergies will depend on what plant pollen causes his or her allergies.”

Although it’s impossible to avoid certain trees and plants, and on a windy day pollen can reach your child anyway, Dr. Rubinstein explains that, “Knowing your child’s trigger season can help you prepare in advance so you can minimize allergy symptoms.”

Dr. Rubinstein offers these simple measures to help reduce the likelihood of your child experiencing an allergy attack: Read More

Are You a Distracted Driver?


Driving distracted is the leading cause of car crashes and near-crashes in the United States. It kills about 3,300 people each year, and injures nearly 400,000 more.

Yet, what safety experts call ‘distracted driving,’ many people think of as multitasking – making use of the daily commute. Whether it’s taking  a hands-free call on the road, eating a sandwich, changing the radio station, or checking makeup in the mirror, many don’t think of these activities as distractions – but part of their daily routine.

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Breakfast Made Easy


With excuses ranging from “I don’t have time” to “I work out in the morning,” breakfast has become the most skipped meal of the day. But breakfast may be one of the best things you can do for your body.

“A balanced breakfast that includes protein and healthy carbohydrates helps give you mental stamina,” says Karen Astrachan, CSSD, R.D., M.S. CDE, a nutritionist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF). “It also helps you feel full for longer, so you won’t grab that processed high-calorie pastry or donut mid-morning, when you start to feel famished!”  

By keeping your blood sugar levels steady with a balanced breakfast, you’ll feel better all around, and get off to a good start for the day.  

There are simple, healthy choices you can pull together in just a few minutes, says Darcie K. Ellyne, R.D., M.S. CDE, who helps PAMF patients develop healthy eating habits. The key is planning ahead – shop for the right foods and prepare them in advance.

Give yourself a fresh start to the day with a healthy breakfast energy boost. Here are some recipes for quick morning meals from PAMF’s registered dietitians: Read More

Asthma in Kids

Young child blowing bubbles

Asthma is on the rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, about one in 10 children has asthma, making it the most common serious chronic disease of childhood. It is still not known why asthma is on the increase.

“Asthma attacks can cause serious medical problems, leading to missed school days and the unwanted distress and expense of emergency room visits or hospital stays,” says pediatrician Rebecca Fazilat, M.D., who is one of the physician leaders of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Asthma Management Program. “Fortunately, many children with asthma do improve as they get older. If your child’s asthma does not get better, good asthma control can make this condition almost invisible and ensure lifelong good health.”

In this blog post, Dr. Fazilat answers some of the most common questions from parents about asthma. Read More

Don’t Neglect Your Kidneys!

When is the last time you gave your hardworking kidneys a second thought? In this blog post, Ronesh (Ron) Sinha, M.D., a PAMF Internal Medicine doctor, explains what the kidneys do and how to screen for problems, and prevent and stop kidney disease.

Kidney 101

Where are your kidneys and what do they do? The kidneys are in your lower back just below the rib cage. They are the size of your fist and weigh about five ounces. Most people are born with two kidneys, but you only need one. The kidneys filter 200 liters of blood every single day, keeping the blood minerals in balance by removing toxins, wastes and water. This is the job the kidneys are known for, but did you know that the kidneys do a lot more? The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure and fluid levels, control the production of red blood cells, and activate vitamin D for strong, healthy bones. When the kidneys fail, people must go on dialysis or receive a kidney transplant to survive. Unlike most other organs, because you only need one kidney, one of your kidneys can be donated while still living.

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Bringing Home Your Newborn Baby


Bringing home your newborn baby is one of the most thrilling and scary moments in life. New parents are filled with many emotions – fear, excitement and, of course, exhaustion. Often parents leave the hospital feeling unprepared to care for their newborn baby on their own.

Julie Kim, M.D., a pediatric hospitalist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, offers these tips to help expecting parents prepare for a smooth transition home from the hospital.
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