Q and A: Medication Expiration Dates

Q: Do over -the-counter and prescription medications have expiration dates? Do they mean anything and is it safe to take them past the expiration date?

A: Over-the-counter and prescription medications are time stamped with expiration dates. Time stamps can be found on the labels or on the actual container. It is important that you pay attention to these dates. The expiration dates indicate a guarantee of full potency and safety within the recommended shelf life.

Person holding vial of pills, pointing at label, Close-up of hands

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – “Don’t be tempted to take expired medications.” The FDA states, using expired medical products is “risky and possibly harmful to your health.” This is because the efficiency of a medication may lessen over time due to changes in its chemical composition or a decrease in its potency.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Five Best Tips for Putting Your Best Fork Forward to Shed the Winter Pounds

Healthy resolutions for the New Year 2017.

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?  Every year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics generates a nutrition, education and information campaign.  This year’s message is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”

Each person has the tools to make healthy dietary choices.  Now  that winter is coming to an end, and spring is approaching, it is a wonderful time to reflect on our current habits and lifestyle and decide which tools we will use to shed some excess weight gained over the winter months.

Tool #1 – Balance

  • Visit Choose My Plate at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ – Use the “my plate” method of ½ plate non starchy veggies, ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate fiber rich carbohydrate to balance your nutrients throughout the day.
  • Drink water or mild instead of sweetened beverages (soda or juice).
  • Eat healthy snacks, such as fruits/nuts with yogurt or crackers with peanut butter.
  • Substitute processed or artificially flavored food items with natural unprocessed foods. By skipping the cookies and having a piece of fruit, you will get more vitamins and fiber allowing your body to feel more energized throughout the day.

Tool #2 – Let’s get Physical

Physical activity, in any form, is imperative for managing weight. Some ways to get more active are:

  • Consider non weight bearing exercises such as using resistance bands for building muscle and increasing flexibility, stationary bike or water aerobics.
  • Walking 10,000 steps per day is equivalent to walking five miles! Aim to achieve as many steps as possible throughout the day such as parking your car a little further from your destination, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and partaking in walking breaks, especially if you are sitting for most of the day.
  • March gives us extra daylight, so the best way to utilize this extra time is by being active. Activities such as walking, jogging, gardening, swimming and yoga are perfect ways to spend 30 minutes doing an outside activity.

Tool #3 – Reduce Stress

  • Everyone has stress which can obstruct weight loss. Stress increased the hormone called cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain.  Stress also contributes to emotional eating and other damaging behaviors.
  • It is important to ask for help and have support to get through the daily stressors of life. Consider support groups, meditation, coloring, knitting or spending time with a loved one to relieve the stressors in your daily life and help you stay focused and on track of your goals and progress.

Tool #4 – Be SMART About Your Goals

By setting SMART goals, results are greater!  SMART goals encompass five parameters to make the goal more productive:

S          is the SPECIFICS of the goal.  Is the goal definable?

M         is the MEASURABILITY of the goal. Is it possible to track/measure progress?

A          is ATTAINABILITY of the goal.  Is the goal a reasonable one ?

R          is RELEVENCY of the goal.  Is the goal worthwhile and will it meet your needs?

T          is TIMELINESS of the goal.  How much time can you give to accomplishing goals?

Tool #5 – Track Your Progress

  • Keep a diary or journal and record your progress and shortcomings.
  • Keep a food log and track your dietary intake.
  • “There’s an App for that” – There are so many wonderful Apps for goal setting and tracking caloric intake, physical activity, etc., utilize the technology on your smart phone or tablet to monitor your progress.

This article was submitted by Sadia Tahir Khan MS, RD and Michelle Hill, RD, CDN, CDE, Food and Nutrition Department of Flushing Hospital Medical Center

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Are the Keys to Successful Aging?

Understanding Physical and Mental Health: Depression
Ira Frankel, PhD, LCSW, Administrator of Psychiatry and Addiction Services

“Just as long as we have our health,” is something that I’ve said and have heard others say very frequently in the past few months. And, by health, we mean both physical and mental health.

Portrait of a senior man in a tuxedo showing the thumbs up

In a very basic way, health can be thought of as the absence of disease. A reason that our doctors ask us how we’re feeling when we go to see him or her is because he or she wants to know about our comfort or our absence of pain or trouble. Each one of us knows best what our physical or mental pain or trouble consists of because we feel it directly.

Another way to think of the issue of health is to describe the path to achieve it over the long course of our lives. Studies1 have shown that a path to health is achieved with a behavioral prescription for successful aging that includes diet, exercise, the pursuit of mental challenges, self-efficacy, and social support. The more we are able to follow this behavioral prescription, the more we will be free from physical or mental pain or trouble.

Let’s look at this a little more closely. Most of us already know that if we maintain a healthy diet and exercise frequently, then we will tend to be healthier. In fact, exercise is now considered a “magic bullet” in modern medicine. But, maintaining a good diet and exercising frequently is a mental challenge of self-mastery. And, most of us know how difficult it is to master ourselves to maintain both activities. There are many other mental challenges. For example, each one of us is a mental challenge to other people. In fact, getting along with others is one of the most difficult mental challenges that we will ever have to face.

The fourth successful aging ingredient is self-efficacy. Those of us who believe that we can achieve a particular goal, for example, health and longevity, will continue to do the things, such as diet, exercise, and the pursuit of mental challenges, which will help us achieve the goal. We can build up self-efficacy by taking small, rather than giant steps, towards diet, exercise, and the pursuit of mental challenges

The final successful aging ingredient is social support. If we help each other take the steps described in the previous paragraphs, then each one of us will be more likely to feel at ease, that is, without disease, successfully age, and live longer.

Self-mastery is necessary for both physical and mental health. The behavioral prescription for successful aging in the previous paragraphs are just a general outline of self-mastery steps. Self-mastery is a mental challenge.

Many things get in the way of self-mastery. One of these things is depression. If we are depressed, then we have a hard time maintaining a good diet, exercising as we should, thinking well about self-mastery, feeling self-efficacy, or being with and getting along with other people. There is a fairly simple way to ask ourselves whether we are depressed. It is called the PHQ-2, which stands for the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 because it has two questions.

Ask yourself: Over the past 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following symptoms: 1) Little interest or pleasure in doing things; and, 2) Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. Answers are either (0) not at all, (1) several days, (2) more than half the days, or (3) nearly every day. Bring your answers to your primary care doctor the next time you see him or her.

Taking the self-mastery steps towards successful aging and longevity is a main task of modern medicine. Taking the self-mastery steps is a very important mental challenge. If you are experiencing any difficulties taking these steps, such as depression or any other difficulty on your path to ease and comfort, then speak with your primary care doctor in the community or one at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-8939

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips To Guard Against the Stomach Flu

The flu isn’t the only virus that we need to protect ourselves against this time of year. Gastroenteritis, or the stomach flu is a very contagious bug that is common in our region beginning in the fall and winter months.Unlike influenza, which affects your respiratory system, the stomach flu attacks your intestines causing the following symptoms:

• Watery, non-bloody diarrhea
• Abdominal cramps and pain
• Nausea, vomiting or both
• Occasional muscle aches, headache, and low-grade fever

Businessman with stomach ache

Gastroenteritis is typically spread through the sharing of food or drink with someone who is infected or sharing other items with them such as utensils or towels. Children can also spread the illness by placing their hands in their mouths after touching contaminated items or surfaces.

Symptoms usually appear within one to three days after exposure and can range from mild to severe. Typically symptoms last only a day or two, but in some cases, they may persist for up to ten days.

The main complication from viral gastroenteritis is dehydration — a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals. If you’re healthy and drink enough to replace fluids you lose from vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration shouldn’t be a problem. However, infants, older adults and people with suppressed immune systems may become severely dehydrated when they lose more fluids than they can replace. Hospitalization might be needed so that lost fluids can be replaced intravenously. Dehydration can be fatal, but rarely.

To avoid catching the stomach flu, it is recommended that individuals wash their hands thoroughly, use separate items around the home, disinfect all potentially infected items and surfaces, and keep your distance from those who are infected.

If you do contract gastroenteritis, follow these tips:

• Let your stomach settle. Stop eating solid foods for a few hours.
• Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. You might also try drinking clear liquids or broths or non-caffeinated sports drinks. Drink plenty of liquid every day, taking small, frequent sips.
• Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, easy-to-digest foods, such as ginger ale crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas, rice and chicken. Stop eating if your nausea returns.
• Avoid certain foods and substances until you feel better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
• Get plenty of rest. The illness and dehydration may have made you weak and tired.

See a doctor if you become dehydrated (characterized by excessive thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow or no urine, severe weakness or dizziness), if symptoms persist for over 24 hours, if you are vomiting blood or have blood in your stool, or if you have a temperature of 104 degrees or above.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Resolve to Eat Right

healthquote

With the holidays drawing to a close, it will soon be the time for resolutions.  Why not make eating right a part of your resolution.

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated.  You can begin with a simple shift to lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates into your nutritional regimen while lessening your intake of processed foods, white flour and sugar.

For more information on eating right, contact the Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s  Ambulatory Care Center at  718-670-5486 to speak with a nutritionist.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Handwashing Awareness Week 2016

handwashingawarenesspic

Flushing Hospital Medical Center believes that Infection prevention is important to all of us and each of us has a valuable role to play in keeping patients safe from infection.

According to the CDC, handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it can keep us all from getting sick. Handwashing is a win for everyone, except the germs.

Dr. Javeria Shakil, Director of Infection Prevention at FHMC and Maria Savarese, RN, Clinical Coordinator and Hand Hygiene Champion (pictured above) know that proper hand hygiene is important in the prevention of spreading germs.

FHMC will be hosting an educational table in the lobby of the hospital, as well as continuing our hand hygiene initiatives throughout the hospital to continue our commitment to keeping our patients safe from infection.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Protect Yourself From Getting Sick While Flying

preventing sickness while flyingAir travelers are up to 100 times more likely to catch a cold or the flu while flying than during normal day-to-day activities.

The primary cause for an increased rate of infection is low cabin humidity on planes. Most airplanes fly in an elevation range of 30,000 to 35,000 feet, where humidity is much lower. At very low levels of humidity, our natural defense system of mucus in our noses and throats dries up, creating an ideal environment for germs to infect us.

The best way to maintain these natural defenses is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will not only counter the overall dehydrating effects of air travel, but it can actually strengthen the body’s natural immune system.

It is recommended to sip water regularly throughout the flight rather than drink a large amount at once to protect against long dry spells in your defense system. Hot beverages are a good way to keep your protective mucous membranes working because they assist in keeping you generally hydrated and also provide moisture in the form of steam. Conversely, it is recommended that you avoid caffeine or alcoholic beverages as they can dehydrate you.

Using nasal sprays or saline mists have also been proven to be an effective means of keeping mucous membranes in your nose and throat moist. They can increase your resistance to infection while on a dry aircraft. Yet another way to defend against viruses while flying is to use a germ-killing mouthwash, which adds another layer of protection while simultaneously helping to keep your throat moist. Other experts recommend taking vitamins before flights to help boost immunity levels.

By following these tips and practicing proper hand washing behavior, you will greatly increase your chances of arriving at your destination healthy.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The Flu Vaccine

Caution - Flu Season Ahead

Influenza – the unwelcome guest that comes calling on us every year – often with many very unpleasant consequences. Historically, widespread flu epidemics have had devastating effects on large portions of the earth’s population. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that two scientists, Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Thomas Francis developed the first vaccine to prevent the flu virus. The vaccine was given to American soldiers during World War II and was found to be useful in preventing the widespread outbreaks that had been common before the vaccines were used. In the years after the war, the vaccine was made available to the general public and has greatly reduced the widespread epidemics that were so common before. Research has helped to develop better vaccines with fewer side effects and also better suited to combat strains of the influenza virus that keep changing every year. Over the past 60 years millions of people have been given the flu vaccine each year. There is still a debate going on as to whether the flu vaccine is safe. Many people still are hesitant about getting the vaccine at all. The flu still comes calling every year, and many people are still being affected. However there are much fewer catastrophic epidemics throughout the world, and symptoms appear to be lessened, thanks in large part to the work done by Dr Salk and Dr. Francis in the early part of the last century.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Small Changes = Big Benefits

Seniors exercising with dumbbells in a health club

When looking for a routine that can bring wellness to your entire being, you don’t have to climb a mountain in Tibet or strip away all food you love.  Experts say that the best way to bring a wellness routine into your life is through a series of small changes that will gradually make a difference.

Changes such as:

  • Meditation – Take a moment in the morning to meditate.  It will set the tone for the day and clear your head to prepare for what the day may bring.
  • Music – Play calming music.  The body’s internal rhythms sync with the rhythms of music. By focusing on the music and its melody, you will start to feel your breathing and heart rate begin to slow down, bringing you to a much calmer place
  • Plan a trip – According to research, happiness spikes when planning a trip.
  • Put down your smartphone – When the impulse to pick up your phone comes, and you resist it, you may feel a wave of anxiety.  Don’t panic! Breath through the anxiety and you will see that there is calm that will follow.
  • Breathe deeply – Sit in a comfortable place, breathe naturally and settle your attention on your breath.  With each inhale and exhale, mentally repeat the words “in” and “out.”  Even if you mind wanders, don’t get distracted; just bring your attention back to your breathing.
  • Don’t check your email when you first wake up – When you wake, sit silently and allow your mind to wander. Take 10 minutes to just center yourself before you start your day.
  • Walk – Use part of your lunch break to take a walk.  This activity will aid with digestion, keep you active and relieve stress.

No one likes change and it rarely comes easy.  That’s why slowly incorporating small steps toward your goals overtime can lead to huge changes in the long run.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Stroke

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.  Almost 800,000 people have a stroke in the United States each year and it is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths. The risk of having a stroke is twice as high in African Americans than in Caucasians, and it occurs more frequently in men than in women.
There are two types of stroke, hemorrhagic and ischemic. A hemorrhagic stroke is either a brain aneurysm or a weakened blood vessel that leaks thus creating swelling and pressure in the brain that damages the cells. This type of stroke occurs about 15 percent of the time but is responsible for about 40 percent of all stroke deaths.  The other type of stroke is an ischemic stroke and it occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. The blockage may occur when a blood clot or fragment of plaque travels from another part of the body through the blood vessels into the brain and blocks the flow of blood. When blood flow is blocked, oxygen can’t reach the brain cells and they die and it causes loss of function in that part of the brain.
Warning signs of a stroke can be remembered by the acronym “FAST”.
Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Stroke warning signs are characterized by sudden numbness of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body. Strokes are accompanied by confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, and sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
Anyone who is exhibiting signs of a stroke should call 9-1-1 immediately and be brought to the nearest hospital. The sooner a person can be evaluated and treatment started, the more hope there is that the effects can be minimized, and potentially reversed.
Flushing Hospital recently was recognized by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association for its Gold Plus level of participation in the “Get With The Guidelines Stroke and Target; Stroke” program. They were recognized for applying the most up-to-date evidence based treatment guidelines to improve patient care and outcomes in the community.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5486.

Film X-ray skull and headache. (Stroke,Cerebrovascular accident)

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.