Posts made in December, 2012

When Should I Call in Sick?

Woman sick at work

You’re coughing and sneezing up a storm, and your red nose is making you look like Rudolph. But there’s that deadline at work…should you try and tough it out, or stay home and get some rest? Sounds familiar? During the season for colds, coughs and the flu, many of us face this dilemma. Read More

Year of the New Year’s Habit, Not Resolution

Studies show that approximately 80 percent of our New Year’s resolutions are destined to fail.  Basically, we take all of our bad behavior that has accumulated throughout the preceding year, compile a long list, and then systematically make resolutions meant to counteract each of these items. Unfortunately, since we’re not computers, eliminating bad habits is not like deleting junk mail from your inbox.  Many of us set lofty or abstract goals, such as “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to manage my stress better” without having any realistic plan towards achieving those goals.

BJ Fogg, a researcher who runs Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab, recommends that instead of goals, try to set “tiny habits.”  He gives the example of flossing your teeth.  If that has been a challenge, instead of trying to floss your teeth every day, try flossing just one tooth.  Fortunately, this new habit is already attached to the ingrained habit of brushing your teeth, so eventually it should stick.  At that point you can add on more teeth until you are regularly flossing all of your teeth daily.

One of the reasons resolutions are difficult to stick to is because the brain area for willpower, known as the prefrontal cortex (pfc), is already overwhelmed with our daily tasks of organization, focus, problem-solving, and multiple other higher-level functions. When you tack on additional resolutions to an overworked pfc, it can’t handle it. Think of what happens when you come home after a long, tiring day at work, where your pfc has been under constant stimulation.  How easy is it to resist repeated visits to the pantry or the fridge for multiple handfuls and bites of unhealthy foods? A tired pfc just can’t fulfill the additional task of meeting your resolutions.

Here are some good examples of how you can take a “tiny habit” and attach it to an ingrained habit so you can gradually transform it into a lasting behavior change: Read More

Tips for Teens on ‘Graduating’ to Adult Primary Care

Many changes await you as you enter your late teen years. One of these changes is your transition from a pediatrician to an adult primary care doctor. Once you turn 18, you will no longer be seeing a pediatrician, so it’s a good idea to start looking for a primary care doctor before then. Here are some tips to help make that transition easier.

Tell Your Doctor If You’re Moving

If you are going away to college or moving to another city, tell your doctor. If you’re going away to college, give your doctor your school’s health care information. Ask your parents to help you make an information sheet that includes the contact information for your doctor, orthodontist and dentist. Also include on this sheet:

  • Insurance company, policy number and phone number
  • Date of last tetanus shot
  • Name and dosage of daily medications
  • Any allergies to medications
  • When you need your teeth cleaned again (usually every six months)
  • Date of last physical exam
  • Emergency contact information for family and/or friends

Get Help Transitioning

Ask your doctor or another health care professional to help with your transition. Medical centers often offer such appointments.

Outline the different transitional steps, and then assign dates to these steps. (For example, plan on learning how to call in to make an appointment yourself by a specific date, or have your doctor quiz you on your health care insurance on a specified date.) If you overshoot these dates, don’t worry. It’s a learning process.

After The Transition

  • Set an alarm reminding you when to take daily medicines
  • Carry a copy or list of your medications and your doctor’s business card in your wallet with emergency contact information
  • Keep an up-to-date calendar with all appointments
  • Enter your clinic’s number into your cell phone

More detailed information on transitioning from a pediatrician to adult primary care provider is available on PAMF’s Teen Site.

Fruits & Veggies for Kids: More Matters

Young boy does not want to eat broccoli

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, but getting our children to eat the right things can feel like pulling teeth. What should you do when your son balks at the sight of broccoli, or your daughter reaches for soda and candy instead of fruit?

Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, what should you do if your child visits a local farm and vows never to eat a cow, pig or chicken again? Is it possible for a child to be healthy on a vegetarian diet?

Pediatrician Swati Pandya, M.D., answers parents’ questions about the importance of fruits and vegetables in children’s diets, how to encourage kids to eat more of these health boosters and meeting the dietary needs of young vegetarians.

Read More

Guiding People Through Neurosurgery

Paul Jackson, M.D., neurosurgeon at the Palo Alto Center, always wanted to be a brain surgeon. “I’ve loved every minute of it, ” he says. “I’ve enjoyed research, clinical medicine and working at PAMF, which allows me to provide extraordinary medical care.”

Neurological conditions can be very complicated for patients to understand, Dr. Jackson says in this video, which is part of a series highlighting the diverse voices of PAMF physicians.. “It’s very difficult for people to become experts at their own disease fast enough to make the right decision. I try to help them through.”