Are you at Risk for Hep C?

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a disease that infects and causes damage to the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus and is spread from person to person through contact with blood. Over time, this disease can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately, liver failure.

Although hepatitis C is the most common reason for liver transplants in the United States, many people do not know they have the disease until they are donating blood or are diagnosed with liver damage.  The symptoms of HCV can take years to present and may include:

  • Joint pain
  • Sore muscles
  • Dark urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Yellowing of the eyes (jaundice) and skin
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Clay-colored bowel movements

Learning the risk factors of hepatitis C and receiving treatment promptly can reduce the severity of symptoms. Talk to your doctor about getting tested if the following pertains to you:

  • You were born between 1945 and 1965
  • You are infected with HIV
  • You received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July, 1992
  • You are having or have had unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • You are a current or former drug injection user and have shared needles
  • You work in an environment where you are exposed to blood through a needle stick
  • You have liver disease or have received abnormal liver test results
  • You were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
  • Your mother had hepatitis C when she gave birth to you

If diagnosed with hepatitis C, consider seeing a specialist who is trained and experienced in treating patients with your condition. There are several therapies and medications that your doctor may recommend.  A complete list of approved medications and treatments for HCV can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

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.

Chemical Dependency Unit

Mid adult woman sprawled on a mattress with vials of pills strewn on the floor

Chemical dependency is a term used to describe a disease characterized by the addiction to mood- altering chemicals found in legal or illegal drugs or alcohol. Some of the causes of chemical abuse and dependence are environmental stressors, social pressures, psychiatric problems or possible genetic traits.

People who have a chemical dependence most often abuse one or more of these agents:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Inhalants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Methamphetamine
  • Pain medications

Warning signs that indicate a growing chemical dependence on these substances include:

  • Developing a tolerance to use more alcohol or drugs to get a desired effect
  • Interference with work, school, and relationships
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using or recovering from the use of substances
  • Craving drugs or alcohol on a continuing basis
  • Having withdrawal symptoms if drugs or alcohol are not available

The Chemical Dependency Unit at Flushing Hospital is a medically managed detoxification unit that offers safe withdrawal from alcohol and drugs. Culturally-sensitive treatment is provided by a dedicated and caring staff that consists of physicians, physicians’ assistants, specially trained nurses, credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors, creative arts therapists, social workers, and psychiatric consultants. Their focus is stabilizing the individual physically and emotionally so they can start the recovery process.

In addition to providing treatment, educational groups are facilitated to help patients learn about addiction as well as creative arts groups to help patients understand and express their emotions. Also self-help groups, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous), conduct meetings on the unit to familiarize patients with the support services they provide.

Patients are admitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The length of stay is usually between three and seven days. Discharge plans are based on the individual needs of the patient.

For more information or to schedule an appointment at the Chemical Dependency Unit at Flushing Hospital, call 718-670-5540 or 718-670-5693.

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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.

An Overview on The Hazards of Smoking

Tobacco is the single greatest cause of multiple diseases and premature deaths in the United States today.  It kills more Americans each year than alcohol, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fire and AIDS combined. There are an estimated 480,000 deaths in the United States annually that are attributed to tobacco use. It is the only legal consumer product that is lethal when used exactly as recommended by the manufacturer.

Smoking cigarettes affect many aspects of health. Tobacco smoke contains about 7000 chemicals, including low concentrations of such strong poisons as ammonia, cyanide, arsenic and formaldehyde.  It also contains 69 carcinogens – substances that are known to cause cancers in humans. Direct association has been established between smoking and cancers of the lung, mouth, nose, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, stomach, pancreas, cervix, bladder, kidney and blood.
In the United States, illnesses caused by smoking cost more than 300 billion dollars per year in direct medical care and lost productivity. Smokers pay twice as much for life insurance and will die on average of 13-14 years earlier than non-smokers. It costs tobacco companies approximately five cents to produce a pack of cigarettes.

Many lung conditions are either caused or aggravated by cigarette smoke. It irritates bronchial airways and stimulates mucous production leading eventually to decreased elasticity and functional failure. Patients suffering from COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema have a much higher risk of dying when repeatedly exposed to smoke.

Smokers are also at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages blood vessels making them stiff and narrow, obstructing blood flow which results in elevated blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure or chronic skin changes.

Pregnant women exposed to tobacco smoke have an increased risk of complications such as miscarriage, premature birth, and brain and lung damage to developing fetus. Sudden infant death syndrome is three times more likely if the mother smoked during pregnancy.

Smono smoking signking tobacco is an addiction similar to heroin and cocaine. It can be successfully treated but the majority of cases require three or more attempts. Quitting smoking offers a chance of feeling better and living longer.  Studies have shown that these five, common sense steps, provide the best chance for quitting smoking for good:

1. Get ready: set a quit date and throw out all cigarettes and ashtrays from your home.

2. Get support: tell your family, friends and doctor about quitting plans; search the internet for advice.

3.  Learn new behaviors: distract yourself from the urge to smoke; exercise or go for a walk.

4. Get medication: combining medication like nicotine patches or Zyban with behavioral adaptation and family support quadruples your chances of success.

5. Be prepared for relapse and difficult situations- most people try to quit a few times before succeeding.

If you would like to learn more about quitting smoking, please call 718-670-5000

 

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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.

Is Your Home Safe for Someone Struggling with Addiction?

Living with someone who is struggling with an addiction can be very difficult. One important aspect of helping them recover is making your home drug and alcohol free. For most, this means emptying the liquor and medicine cabinets. However, that might not be enough as there are many other substances used to get “high” in your home. An addict might turn to any number of household items in times of desperation including:

 

One person a man is fighting Ebola virus himself

• Hand Sanitizers – These items, commonly found in most homes contain up to 60% alcohol. Recently, there have been many reported cases of individuals being rushed to hospital emergency rooms after consuming hand sanitizers hoping to become intoxicated. A simple tip: replace all hand sanitizers with an old fashioned bar of soap.

• Bathroom Items – Those living with an addict should keep track of certain bathroom items as well. Bath salts contain amphetamine–like chemicals that, if sniffed, can be very dangerous. In addition, potpourri, also often found in bathrooms can be smoked and can result in the user experiencing a sense of paranoia, hallucinations and even heart palpitations.

Spice rack

• Spices – Used for cooking or baking, spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon are being consumed by those looking for a high because they contain natural compounds that are known to cause hallucinations and feelings of euphoria when taken in large quantities.

• Whip Its – This term describes the practice of using aerosol spray cans of whipped cream to get high. These cans contain nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Users can experience highs that can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. This practice can be very dangerous to the user.

If someone you know is struggling with addiction, Flushing Hospital has services that can help. We offer both inpatient and outpatient addiction services. For more information about our outpatient Reflection clinic, or our inpatient Chemical dependency Unit, please call 718-670-4416.

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.