Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices. Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 November is COPD Awareness Month Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000 November is the time of year that the American Lung Association asks us to bring our attention to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a progressive, chronic lung disease that over time makes it hard to breathe. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States. While there is no cure for COPD, the good news is COPD is often preventable and treatable.

What happens is cases of COPD, is the airways in the lungs become inflamed and thicken, and the tissue where oxygen is exchanged is destroyed. This causes the flow of air in and out of the lungs to decrease, ultimately making it harder to remain active.

The main cause of COPD is smoking, yet nonsmokers can also get the disease. Other factors which contribute to COPD include long-term exposure to air pollution, secondhand smoke and dust and fumes and chemicals. There is also a rare form of COPD (alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema) which is genetically inherited.

While symptoms are often not recognized until later stages of the disease, individuals with COPD may experience chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, wheezing, shortness of breath, producing a lot of mucus and fatigue. Please contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms, as early treatment is crucial to successful treatment.

In order to diagnose COPD, your doctor will conduct a physical exam, laboratory tests and ask questions about family history of respiratory illness and your symptoms. Once COPD is diagnosed, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment options for you. Treatments may include:

  • Medication
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise and coping with emotions
  • Surgery – in cases of severe COPD (not everyone is a candidate for lung surgery)

If you are concerned about getting COPD, don't smoke, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, protect yourself against exposure to chemicals, dust and fumes in your home and at work and help fight for clean air in your community.

Source: American Lung Association.

Health Apps- A Complementary Tool in Health Promotion Mon, 23 Oct 2017 14:35:00 +0000 We live in a technology driven society. Our youth do not know what life was like before cell phones, computers and the internet. While technology can contribute to an increasing array of health problems like sedentary life styles, many health educators are leveraging the power of technology and social media to advance health promotion activities and to encourage healthier lifestyles.

Health apps are one of the tools used to promote healthy lifestyles such as making healthy food choices, increasing physical activity, tracking and monitoring chronic conditions, and improving sleep and relaxation. Other apps that can be a useful complement to health education programs include breast feeding apps, and baby care apps. Please see the list below for a sample assortment of apps to suit your needs.

Eating Healthy/Physical Activity                                                     



Calorie counter, helps track food and exercise


Create meal plans, track calories and daily steps


Track steps and more


Track water intake

Chronic Conditions


Sugar counts, carbs and more.


For types 1 and 2 diabetes. Tracks A1C, body weight, ketones, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.

BG Monitor

Diabetes tracking

Sleep and Relaxation

Sleep Cycle

Track sleep data

Sleep Well

Free hypnotherapy and meditation recordings


Guided meditations to reduce stress, help with weight loss, and fight insomnia

Baby Friendly

free text messages to keep baby and mommy healthy


information about breast pumping, breast milk storage, etc.


Breastfeeding friendly locations, doctors, and lactation consultants.

Community Health Advocacy Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:01:00 +0000 Whether it's participating in a rally, writing your legislator, signing a petition, or just educating your neighbor on an issue, advocacy plays a critical role in improving community health. Advocacy is crucial to raise awareness of community health issues and influence private and public policy choices. Recent community health issues that have been at the center of community health advocacy nationwide include access to affordable healthcare insurance, prescription drug policy, and gun violence prevention.

While these are notable issues you may have seen in national headlines, community health advocacy plays out at the local level as well. For years, activists protested the absence of hospitals on Chicago's South Side that were able to treat gunshot victims. This absence meant that gunshot victims had to be transported to hospitals in other parts of the city or the suburbs, which meant a longer wait time to reach care, and preventable deaths. Through continued advocacy from Chicago's South Side communities, the University of Chicago Medicine decided to build a new trauma center, which is scheduled to open on May 1, 2018, to meet the needs of Chicago's South Side communities. In advocacy like this communities exercise their power to improve community health.

To find out more about the role of advocacy in community health join the Society for Public Health Education for a webinar on 10/18/17 from 1-2:00pm CST at]]>
Making Health for All a Reality Mon, 16 Oct 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Striving for health equity in health education programming in a county as large and diverse as Cook County, Illinois is no small task. Cook County is the second-most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County, California. As of 2015, the population was 5.2 million.

Health disparities across the county, which includes the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, are vast. Data show the areas of greatest disparity being the south and west sides of the city, as well as the southern suburbs.

The mission of the Community Health Team is "Educate and inspire Cook County residents to live healthier lives through practical, prevention-focused, research-driven community health programming". Fulfilling this mission includes an ongoing program planning process. As a part of this process, the team considers national and local data in strategically planning where to focus health education efforts. Prior to the development of new programs, the team conducts local needs assessment to identify the strengths and needs of that community. This includes conducting focus groups and key informant interviews with residents and community based organizations.

It is through this process that a small team of four health educators is able to best identify and fill gaps in health education programming, assure efforts are not being duplicated, and ultimately serve to make health a reality for various audiences throughout Cook County.

As you might expect, program topics ebb and flow with changing times. The team works with all ages from preschool to senior citizens. Programming spans physical, mental, and emotional health and includes sexual health education for youth and adults, chronic disease prevention, breast cancer awareness, interpersonal violence prevention and trauma informed care just to name a few.

Check out the Cook County events page to learn more about the variety of University of Illinois Extension programs -

Hepatitis C Thu, 29 Jun 2017 18:27:00 +0000 You might have seen announcements about screening for Hepatitis C. Over 3.5 million people are infected with Hepatitis C and about ¾ of them do not know it. Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver which will kill cells. Over time, there will be build up of dead cells leading to scarring. This can result in slow blood flow causing the liver to shrink, harden and stop working. We cannot survive without a liver.

Many people with Hepatitis C might not have experienced any symptoms. Sometimes, symptoms might be dismissed because they seem to be associated with something else or because they seem minimal. Some symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Mild flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, muscle and joint pain)
  • Confusion or "brain fog"
  • Itchiness
  • Pain in the area of the liver (on the right side of the abdomen, behind the lower ribs)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of interest in food or sex
  • Depression (hopelessness, sadness, or irritability)

Check with your medical provider about screening for Hepatitis C particularly if you were born between 1945 and 1965. Infection rates were high in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and even decades later, someone might not even know they were infected.

For more information about Hepatitis C, visit Frequently asked questions can be found at

National Children's Dental Health Month Thu, 02 Feb 2017 17:16:00 +0000 The American Dental Association (ADA) and the ADA Foundation commemorate National Children's Dental Health Month every February to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. The health of our teeth and gums depends on a lifetime of care and so developing healthy habits at an early age and visiting the dentist regularly is important.

While many parents wait to schedule their child's visit to the dentist until the toddler or preschool years, oral hygiene should begin since birth. A baby's gums should be wiped using a clean moist gauze pad or wash cloth until a toothbrush can be used. Regardless of age, everyone should keep their teeth clean by brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once daily. Dental appointments should be every six months and should begin by the time a baby is one year old. Limiting sugary snacks and beverages is also key to oral health.

For more information on oral health across the lifespan, visit

Spread the word! January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:35:00 +0000 January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Each year, nearly 13,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can be curable if found and treated early. It is the most preventable and the only gynecologic cancer with a screening test (Pap test) and a vaccine. Pap tests can detect changes in the cells of the cervix. It is recommended that women should begin Pap tests at the age of 21. Cervical cancer occurs most often in women over 30 but can occur at any age so regular screening is important.

The human papillomavirus or HPV is also a major cause of cervical cancer. There are many types of HPV. Fortunately, a vaccine that can prevent HPV exists and can be administered as early as the age of 9 for all girls and boys but the recommended age is 11. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Check with your medical provider and insurance company to learn more about cervical cancer and screening or visit these resources for more information: