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August 15th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Understanding Headache Types is Key to Treatment

By Micah Dorfner Micah Dorfner

man pressing his hands to his temples because of a headache.

We have all experienced the annoying, relentless and throbbing pain associated with a headache. They can slow us down or even bring us to a complete stop. However, did you know that there are several different types of headaches, and knowing the type you've got can be the first step in effectively treating it?

Mayo Clinic Health System nurse practitioner Erin Pokorny takes a look at different types of headaches and shares what you can do to fight them.

  • Tension-type headaches: These are considered to be the most common types of headaches. They are often described as dull and achy and are often brought on by stress, neck pain, missing meals and a variety of other things. Treatment options: Tension-type headaches can often be treated by over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You may also want to try alternative treatments including meditation, relaxation training and massage.
  • Migraines: We've all heard about migraines, and we know that they’re not to be taken lightly. The pain associated with migraines is often described as throbbing and severe. Migraines are often associated with nausea, vomiting or increased sensitivity to light and sound. Pain may worsen with increased activity. Untreated, migraines can typically last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Treatment options: If you know the triggers for your migraines, make sure to avoid these known causes. Over-the-counter medication can help. Other treatment options include prescription medications; rest in a quiet, dark room; or a hot/cold compress to the head or neck.

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Tags: Erin Pokorny, Headache, Mayo Clinic Health System, migraine

August 14th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Running into Fall Marathon Season – Thursday Tip #2

By Micah Dorfner Micah Dorfner

three women walking and exercising together


There are many reasons for aerobic exercise, especially the health benefits. One of the most popular forms of aerobic exercise is running, which improves cardiovascular health, mood and can help you lose weight. But how long do you need to run to start losing weight? What's the science behind running and weight loss? Beau Johnson, physical therapist at Mayo Clinic Health System, addresses these questions and more. (Follow new tips on Thursdays and learn more on Speaking of Health.)


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Tags: Beau Johnson, Mayo Clinic Health System, running, Weight Loss

December 16th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Hearing Through the Holidays: Noisy Gifts

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

Hearing loss is often associated with the aging population but it impacts the lives of younger generations too. The Hearing Health Foundation reports that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss in at least one ear, including 20 percent of teenagers. red and white drum set with three drumsYoung children also inflict hearing damage by playing with noisy toys. This holiday season remember to purchase ear-healthy gifts for your loved ones! Katie Kendhammer, Au.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System audiologist and offers these tips.

Loud toys

Many toys that young children play with can produce levels equal to 90 dB, which is as loud or louder than a lawn mower. These levels would require adults to utilize hearing protection. Additionally, young children often play with these toys at ear level. Putting them up near their face, ears and mouth exposes their ears to levels as loud or louder than an airplane taking off – 120 dB.


As a parent, it’s a good idea to test toys out in the store before buying them. Some things to keep in mind:

  • If a toy sounds too loud to you, they are too loud for your child.
  • Think like a child: hold the toy up by your ear and get down to the ground to mimic a child’s height.
  • Testing the volume level at arm’s length is not effective. Your child will play with the toy much closer to their face.
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Tags: Hearing, Hearing Loss, holiday hearing, MCHS

December 12th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Five Simple Steps for a Stress-Free Holiday

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

White sparkling star ornaments on silver strings with dark green background

Stress is triggered by a variety of situations, and although the holidays are meant to be enjoyable, it can be a time of year that creates anxiety and high stress levels for many people. So, how can you keep your cool over the next few weeks? Stephanie Kivi, M.D., a family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System, offers five helpful strategies to send stress packing.

  1. Move. Physical activity can relieve stress. Movement releases feel-good endorphins directly into the blood stream, which can improve your mood. Whether it’s going for a light jog or taking the stairs a few times during the day, the key is to get moving.
  2. Breathe. Just three minutes of deep breathing can turn stress into a feeling of tranquility. Not to mention, deep breathing brings oxygen to energy-building muscles, making all of your cells happy.
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Tags: Anxiety, breathe, coping with stress, Dr Stephanie Kivi, Exercise, Holiday Stress, laugh, MCHS, Move, positive attitude, stress

November 21st, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Making Healthy Holiday Eating Choices

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

multi-generational Latino family at holiday dinner table with a turkey

Holiday gatherings and food-focused traditions can pose major challenges to those who are looking to make healthy choices this time of year. Allyn Mahowald, registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic Health System in New Prague, Minn., shares some advice for keeping the holiday season healthy – and enjoyable. She says, “You don’t have to sacrifice healthy eating habits just because of the holidays. With a few diet-conscious tactics, you can set yourself up for healthy holiday eating success.” She offers the following tips to keep your waistband in check during fall and winter festivities:

  • Eat a nutritious snack before you attend parties. Choose treats such as fruit, low-fat yogurt, string cheese or a small handful of nuts. This will help you curb your appetite and make rational decisions about what to eat and what not to eat.
  • Contribute a healthy dish to the gathering. This is the perfect way to ensure there is something healthful for you and others to eat. Raw vegetables with low-fat dip, whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese and fresh fruit are great choices.  

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Tags: Allyn Mahowald, Dietitian, eating habits, Healthy Eating, holiday baking, holiday eating, MCHS, Nutrition, obesity

November 19th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Epilepsy: Symptoms, Causes, Complications and What You Can Do

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Many people think having a seizure involves convulsions, shaking and essentially passing out for a period of time. Others might think if someone has a seizure, they must have epilepsy. Both assumptions are incorrect.epilepsy word cloud graphic with other words like spontaneously and seizures

Mayo Clinic Health System neurologist Andrew Reeves, M.D., helps explain epilepsy and seizures.

Symptoms and types of seizures.

Categorized as a spectrum disorder because of the wide range of causes and effects, epilepsy impacts people differently. Some common symptoms of a seizure include:

  • Uncontrolled jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Short-term confusion
  • Psychological symptoms
  • Loss of awareness
  • Becoming unconscious

Though these are general symptoms, physicians typically separate seizures into two categories, focal or generalized. Both result from abnormal brain activity. Read more in the news release.


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Tags: convulsions, Dr Andrew Reeves, Epilepsy, MCHS, Neurology, seizures, shaking

November 19th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Ready to Go Rural: Future Physicians Receive Hands-On Experience

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

It's no secret that demand is high for quality health care providers in small towns and rural communities across the country. Yet, the supply often falls short. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the country will be short 90,000 doctors over all fields in the next 10 years.
National Rural Health Day graphic with drawn images of people standing in the outdoors

In light of National Rural Health Day Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, Mayo Clinic Health System celebrates a unique approach that bridges medical teaching with potential recruitment for future physicians. The Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) at the University of Minnesota gives third-year medical students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and develop relationships with patients and providers in a rural setting. Students seeking a career in family medicine are submersed in the culture of a rural clinic or hospital for nine months instead of a six-week rotation in a metro area.

Read news release.
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Tags: Family Medicine, farm communities, future physicians, MCHS, metro area, RPAP, rural health, University of Minnesota

November 14th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Planning Meals to Help Manage and Maybe Prevent Diabetes

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

diabetesdayA healthy approach to eating is important for everyone but for people with diabetes and prediabetes – having a higher than normal blood sugar level – appropriate monitoring and management of diet is crucial. Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian Sue Seykora offers these meal-planning tips to help keep diabetes under control or maybe avoid it all together.

For more information, please click here. 

Carbohydrate counting

Carbohydrate counting is a meal-planning approach that focuses on the total number of Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Calories, carbohydrate counting, diabetes, dietician, endocrinilogy, managing diabetes, MCHS, plate method, Prediabetes

October 28th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Happy, Healthy Halloween

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

Halloween treats - bananas with chocolate chips, clementines with celery sticks

Trick-or-treating and Halloween fun might seem like harmless childhood activities, but according to registered dietitian Diane Dressel with Mayo Clinic Health System, the holiday can have frightening consequences to those struggling with their weight. “Halloween can be the first challenge to people watching their weight as they approach the holiday feasting seasons of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. You can move Halloween festivities beyond just candy.” Dressel is a program coordinator for Mayo Clinic Health System’s Weight Management Services, and offers the following advice:

  • Halloween candy packs a punch. Hard candies contain 110 calories per ounce; chocolate bars are 150 calories per ounce. Even the innocent looking fun-sized candy bars average 100 calories each, meaning 10 of them could easily exceed 1,000 calories. A child’s caloric intake for an entire day is typically 1,800.
  • Minimize trick-or-treat temptations. Hold off on buying Halloween candy too early to minimize snacking. Don’t purchase your favorite candy. Consider sugar-free gum, small bags of pretzels or fat-free candies. Forego sugary treats altogether by giving out stickers, temporary tattoos, bouncy balls, yo-yos, colorful pencils or pencil toppers.
  • Make your Halloween party a scream with healthy snacks. Veggie or fruit platters with fat-free dips, fat-free popcorn and sugar-free gelatin can be real crowd-pleasers.


Witches Brew with Funny Face Ice Cubes

Diet or sugar-free blueberry juice (can combine with another sugar-free fruit juice)


Mandarin oranges or strips of strawberries

1.      Pour juice into punch bowl.

2.      Fill ice tray or muffin tin half full with water and freeze.

3.      After the water is frozen, add blueberries (for eyes) and orange or strawberry strip (for the mouth).

4.      Cover with water and freeze again.

5.      Add ice cubes to punch before serving.

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Tags: candy, halloween, MCHS, Nutrition, snacks

October 28th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Tips for Trick-or-Treating

By Dana Sparks Dana Sparks

Trick or treat pumpkin buckets with yellow and orange candy corn

Whether children are old enough to go out for Halloween trick-or-treating on their own or you're going with them, Joseph Behn, M.D., a family practice physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Onalaska, Wis., recommends reviewing safety tips with them:

  • Food poisoning is always a concern when it comes to Halloween treats. Don’t leave perishable goodies out of the fridge for more than two hours (one hour in temperatures above 90°F). Cold temperatures help keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying. Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination.
  • Children with diabetes can eat candy, but the carbohydrates the treats contain should be factored into the child’s meal plan for that day and the child’s insulin level adjusted accordingly.

Dr. Behn also recommends parents inspect candy before allowing children to eat it. Have children wear reflective strips on clothing, stick to familiar neighborhoods, set rules about where they'll go and when they'll return, and carry a cell phone in case of emergency.

To interview Dr. Behn, contact:
Rick Thiesse 
Mayo Clinic Health System 
608-392-9435 or

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Tags: Dr Joseph Behn, Food Poisoning, halloween, Halloween Safety, MCHS