What is Mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis, also known simply as “mono” is a common infectious disease that is typically caused by the Epstein Barr virus.

Mono is most often found in teens or young adults, such as college age students. Young children also can get mono, but symptoms are much milder and may go unnoticed. As children grow older, they usually build-up antibodies to the disease and develop an immunity as they become adults.

Mono is primarily spread through the transmission of bodily fluids, such as mucus or saliva. For this reason mono is also given another name, “the kissing disease,” although it can also be spread by sharing items such as drinking glasses, utensils, or toothbrushes.

Symptoms of mononucleosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches
  • Rash
  • Swollen liver and / or spleen

Symptoms of mono first appear four to six weeks after being exposed. Most symptoms last two to four weeks, but some symptoms, such as fatigue, or swollen spleen or liver can last for months.

There is no vaccine to prevent and no medicine to treat mononucleosis. Self-care treatment methods, such as getting plenty of rest, consuming liquids and taking pain / fever medications are all that is usually needed. Gargling with salt water and taking lozenges are also recommended to soothe a sore throat. It is also advised to avoid contact sports and heavy lifting to avoid further damage to your spleen or liver.

If your child is experiencing symptoms that are consistent with mononucleosis, it is recommended that you see your doctor, who can confirm a diagnosis or rule out other causes for your symptoms by ordering a blood test.

If you do not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center has many dedicated physicians. To make an appointment, please call 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.

When Are Your Children Ready To Wear Contacts?

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month and Flushing Hospital wants to answer a common question that many parents who have children who wear glasses ask –  When is my child old enough to start wearing contact lenses?

The answer to that question is less about their age and more about their level of maturity. Physically, a child’s eyes can tolerate contacts at a very young age. Before considering contact lenses for your son or daughter, you should consider how they handle other responsibilities. The fact is, there are some eight year old children who are ready and there are some teenagers who are not. Wearing contacts is a major responsibility and children not only need to display that they can apply them, but they also need to exercise proper hygiene and grooming habits to handle wearing and caring for them.

While a child’s ability and maturity to handle contacts might vary from age to age, research has shown that the majority of children (51 %) receive them between ten and 12 years of age, while over 22% receive them between when they are either 13 or 14 years old. Only 12.4 % of kids are prescribed contacts between the ages of eight and nine.

If they can handle the responsibility, most doctors believe that wearing contacts is a good thing for children and teens as they are generally more motivated to get fitted for and adapt better to wearing them than other age groups. They are also less likely to develop dry eyes or other issues that are common in adults who wear contact lenses.  Another reason to have your child consider wearing contact lenses is that in some cases they can actually slow down the progression of nearsightedness. In fact, a number of studies have proven that certain types of contacts offer significant control for many nearsighted children.

Professionals have also noted that there has been great advancement in the production of contact lenses over the years, which has contributed to more and more children now opting for them over glasses.  The progress in the development of disposable contacts makes maintenance easier and improved materials provide more durability and safety.

One of the biggest reasons more and more kids and parents are switching to contact lenses over glasses is the benefits to children who play sports. Even the safest eyeglass frames and lenses can cause injuries if they break. As opposed to sports goggles, contact lenses also offer better peripheral vision and an unobstructed view of the playing field. Contacts also remain stable on an athletes face while they are running, and unlike many sports goggles, they don’t not fog-up during competition.

A less common yet potentially important consideration for switching to contact lenses is how it affects a child’s self-esteem. In a recent poll, 71% of children asked cited self-esteem as a ‘very important” factor when determining whether or not to be fitted for contacts.  Additional research found that wearing contacts “significantly improves” how children and teens feel about themselves.

The best thing about making a decision to switch to contacts is that it isn’t permanent. If you think your child is ready and willing, speak to your eye doctor about getting fitted. If he or she tries it, but isn’t ready, they can always go back to wearing glasses. Together, you, your child and their doctor can decide if the time is right.

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.

How Can Your Pharmacist Help You Manage Your Care?

Managing your health requires a team approach. Many different healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and various specialized technicians all participate in your care, but one member of that team who plays a significant role in your treatment is often overlooked and underutilized; your pharmacist.

Many people view their local pharmacist as only a person who dispenses their medications, but your pharmacist is an active member of your healthcare team.  They are a valuable resource to answer questions about your medications and offer helpful tips. In addition, patients have many more interactions with their pharmacist than they do with their doctor each year, so why not take advantage of their expertise?

Here are a few ways your local pharmacist can help you:

  • Information on side effects – Information about potential side effects on medication labels can often be confusing and overwhelming. Your pharmacist can explain which side effects are most common and outline who is most at risk for developing them.
  • Scheduling your medications – Your pharmacist can help you map out a schedule for when to take your medications. This can be especially helpful if you are taking multiple prescriptions. The effectiveness of certain medications can be minimized when taken simultaneously with others. Some medications can also work better if taken at certain times of day or with or without food.
  • Consequences for missing a dose – While skipping your regular dose of medication is not recommended, it is not always a cause for concern.  How to deal with this type of situation depends on the medication and why it is being taken. Your pharmacist can explain how to handle this problem if and when it occurs.
  • Storage Instructions – Properly storing your medications will greatly impact their effectiveness. Be sure to ask your pharmacist how to store them. Most medications should be kept at room temperature with low humidity. Some however, need to be refrigerated.

When choosing a pharmacist, make sure he or she will take the time to answer all your questions. If you do not have a pharmacist, Flushing Hospital has a retail pharmacy located in the lobby of the Medical Science building. Our staff will take the time to ensure that you have a full understanding of how to take your medications to ensure you properly manage your health. For more information about our pharmacy service, please call 718-353-3160.

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.

Flushing Hospital Offers Health Facts to Keep You Healthy this Summer

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer for many, and while summer brings with it a greater opportunity to spend more time outdoors, it also provides an increased risk for many health-related conditions.

Flushing Hospital Medical Center wants to provide the community with the facts about some health concerns commonly associated with the warm weather months and offer tips on how to avoid them.

Athlete’s Foot – This fungus results in an itchy, burning rash on the feet. Athlete’s foot is more prevalent during the summer months because it loves to spread in warm, wet surfaces, such as on poolside pavement and public showers. Doctors suggest wearing flip flops when in these environments to avoid becoming infected.

Heat Exhaustion – Temperatures during the summer months are higher than any other time of year. When our bodies are exposed to these hot conditions, we need to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. When we don’t drink enough, we experience heat exhaustion, which is marked by weakness, nausea, vomiting, and fainting.

Food Poisoning – The increased heat and humidity in the summer are ideal breeding grounds for the growth of bacteria in our food.  The next time, you are enjoying food at a picnic or outdoor barbeque, make sure that food is not left out in the heat too long. Also follow food temperature guidelines when grilling meat and poultry.

Skin Infections – Our skin is exposed more during the summer. This increases the risk of sustaining a cut that can develop into an infection. The most common place for this to occur is at the beach, when bacteria in the sand or water can enter a cut and lead to a potentially serious infection.  If you get cut, be sure to wash it immediately with soap and water and monitor it for early signs of infection.

Ear Infection / Swimmer’s Ear – Naturally, we spend more time swimming in pools or in the ocean during the summer than any other time of year. The additional moisture in the ear from spending time in the water can help facilitate the growth of bacteria, which can lead to an infection. To prevent excess moisture build-up, dry your ears thoroughly after swimming.

Flushing Hospital wants those in our community to enjoy everything that the next few months has to offer. By taking these extra precautions, you can only increase your chances of having a healthy, fun-filled summer.

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.

How Can Hypertension Affect Your Eyesight?

We are aware of the many serious consequences of living with high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Prolonged, untreated hypertension can negatively impact your heart and your kidneys, but how can hypertension affect your eyesight?

High blood pressure can lead to a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy and the damage can be very serious if not addressed.

Eye close upThe retina is a layer of tissue located at back of the eye and contains cells that are sensitive to light. These cells trigger nerve impulses that pass via the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed. When your blood pressure is too high, the walls of the retina may thicken, which restricts blood flow to the retina and limits its function, resulting in potentially permanent vision problems, including blindness.

A person with hypertensive retinopathy wouldn’t typically display any symptoms until the condition has progressed. Possible signs may include:

  • Reduced vision
  • Eye swelling
  • Bursting of a blood vessel
  • Double vision accompanied by headaches

In most cases, an eye specialist can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy during an examination using an instrument called an opthalmoscope to examine the retina. Your doctor will look for signs of narrowing of blood vessels, spots on the retina, swelling or bleeding in the back of the eye.

Effective treatment for hypertensive retinopathy involves controlling your blood pressure. This can be done through medication and lifestyle changes. Most importantly, doctors recommend maintaining an ideal body weight, eating and healthy diet and exercising regularly as methods to lower your blood pressure.

If you are living with high blood pressure, or if you think you are, see a doctor immediately. If you do not have a doctor, you can make an appointment at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling 5486.

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.

Do You Have a Deviated Septum?

Ours nose is in the middle of our face, so naturally we pay a great deal of attention to how it looks. If we look carefully though, most of us will find that our nose is not perfectly straight. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 80% of Americans have a nose that is off-center.  Known as a deviated septum, this condition is not a cause of concern for most, for those with a severely deviated septum the condition can result in multiple issues.

Rhinoplasty

So what exactly is a deviated septum? There is a thin wall of cartilage and bone that separates our nostrils called the septum. A deviation of the septum occurs when it is displaced to one side, making one nasal passage smaller than the other. When severe, a deviated septum can restrict airflow and make breathing difficult. A person can be born with a deviated septum, can develop one during normal childhood growth, or sustain one as the result of an injury or trauma, such as a broken nose.

Regardless of the cause of a deviated septum, when significant enough, it can be the cause of many problems, including:

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Nasal congestion (usually on one side)
  • Recurring sinus infections
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sleep disorders, including snoring or sleep apnea
  • Facial pain or headaches
  • Postnasal drip
  • Dry mouth (due to chronic mouth breathing)

A doctor, usually an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear nose and throat specialist can perform a physical examination using an instrument called a nasal speculum to determine how severe the septum is deviated. Based on the doctor’s findings, an appropriate course of treatment will be provided.  In most cases, the symptoms of a deviated septum can be treated through a variety of medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, or steroid sprays.

If medications don’t relieve your symptoms, surgical intervention may be recommended.  A procedure, known as a septoplasty, where the nasal passage is straightened and repositioned in the center of the nose, can be performed. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient level, meaning you can return home the same day, but healing normally takes a few weeks. Symptoms associated with a deviated septum are often completely resolved after surgery.

To make an appointment with a doctor at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-670-5440.

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.

Can GERD Contribute to Your Asthma?

Most asthma sufferers are aware of the many potential sources for their condition, but they may not realize one very common disorder that can contribute to the development of asthma – GERD.

Heart attack

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. Normally, this ring, which is called the lower esophageal sphincter, prevents acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus after food enters the stomach.

GERD occurs when the esophageal sphincter is weakened allowing the stomach’s contents to flow up into the esophagus. Heartburn, the most common symptom of GERD, feels like a burning sensation in the esophagus. Many people say it feels like food is coming back into the mouth, leaving a bitter taste.

Research has indicated that GERD can either lead to, or worsen asthma symptoms. In fact, it is estimated that over 75% of patients with hard-to-treat asthma also experience frequent heartburn from GERD.

While the relationship between GERD and asthma does exist, the exact link between the two is unknown. One possibility is that acid reflux irritates the airways and lungs, which affects breathing and makes people more sensitive to outside conditions such as pollution, cigarette smoke, and cold air. Another potential explanation is that a nerve is triggered in the airways when acid enters the esophagus, causing them to narrow in order to prevent acid from entering the lungs.

Doctors most often look at GERD as the cause of asthma when:

  • Asthma begins in adulthood
  • Asthma symptoms get worse after a meal, after exercise, at night or after lying down
  • Asthma doesn’t respond to the standard asthma treatments

For many, treating GERD can help them relieve asthma treatments Thankfully, by simply adjusting lifestyle behaviors, GERD can be controlled. Tips to control GERD include:

  • Raise the head of your bed by six inches to allow gravity to help keep down the stomach’s contents
  • Eat meals at least three to four hours before lying down
  • Eat smaller meals with moderate portions of food
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit consumption of chocolate, peppermint, coffee, tea, colas, alcohol, tomatoes and citrus fruits or juices, all of which can contribute additional acid that can irritate the esophagus
  • Give up smoking, which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter
  • Wear loose belts and clothing

In addition, your doctor can recommend over-the-counter treatments or prescribe medications to relieve GERD symptoms.

Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Clinic offers many specialty services to treat a variety of pulmonary and digestive disorders. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-5486.

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.

How Do You Know When Your Cut Requires Emergency Care?

Doctors in hospital emergency departments see thousands of patients everyday who have suffered various degrees of skin penetrating wounds. While many of these patients do in fact require immediate medical attention, not all do. The issue is, many patients do not know what types of injuries warrant a visit to the Emergency Department and which do not.

GiglioDr. James Giglio Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Flushing Hospital Medical Center states “it’s tricky for patients to tell when cuts require medical attention. Many minor wounds heal without any professional intervention, but some require stiches or other types of treatment for proper healing. So how can you tell when to go to the E.R.?

 

According to Dr. Giglio, wounds almost always require a trip to local ER if they are:

  • Deep enough to expose the muscle, bone, or fatty tissue
  • Wide enough so that you can’t easily apply pressure to press the edges together
  • Located across a joint (fear of damaging nerves, tendons or ligaments)
  • The result of a bite (may require tetanus or tetanus treatment)
  • Caused by a dirty or rusty object
  • On the face or any other body part where scarring is a concern
  • Still bleeding after 15 minutes of direct pressure

Regardless of whether or not a wound requires a visit to the Emergency Department, the risk of infection increases the longer your wound remains open. Therefore immediate wound care is very important. Dr. Giglio states “It is best to gently clean the wound as soon as possible by irrigating it with thoroughly for a few minutes under tap water. You should also apply direct pressure to the wound and keep it elevated. This will slow or stop the bleeding.”

Thorough wound care is also very important to stave off infection. All wounds should be dressed with a topical antibiotic ointment and covered with a bandage. Doctors recommend reapplying ointment and changing your bandage two -three times daily for the first couple of days. If the healing wound gets wet, pat it dry and apply a dry bandage. Moist bandages delay healing and increase the risk of infection for most wounds. If you become concerned due to worsening pain, redness or swelling, contact your doctor immediately.

According to Dr. Giglio there are always exceptions to these rules. “The best advice I can give is if you are unsure about the severity of your injury, it is better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention.”

Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides care for tens of thousands of patients every year. The doctors and staff in our Emergency Department can help you decide what level of treatment your wound requires.

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.

Can Fidget Toys Help Your Child’s Ability To Focus?

We all fidget – some of us more than others, but when the subject of fidgeting and children is raised, you might be surprised at what many experts are saying.

Stress Cube

Fidgeting is our body’s way of releasing restless energy. Common types of fidgeting include foot tapping, hair twirling or nail biting. While many consider these activities counterproductive to learning, many experts state that if these fidgeting behaviors can be re-directed, they can actually enhance learning.

Enter “Fidget Toys.” Fidget toys are self-regulation tools to help with focus, attention, calming, and active listening. There are many different types of fidget toys, ranging from squeezable stress balls to bendable sticks to malleable putty. In recent months however, fidget spinners and fidget cubes have become very popular items among not only children but adults as well.

Regardless of the type of toy used, the goal is the same – to help focus attention and improve learning ability. In fact, research indicates that most children learn better when their hands are active and funneling expandable energy in this manner allows them to better focus on what they are trying to learn. In addition, experts have concluded that movement is essential for learning because the learner is required to use both the left and right sides of their brain.

In a recent case study, the positive effects of fidget toys were observed. The result was a 10% increase in certain academic scores among students who used fidget toys. Even more impressive was that students diagnosed with ADHD saw an increase of 27% in the academic scores. The study concludes that the use of fidget toys can benefit the learning process in all students but especially in those with learning disabilities.

In addition to the improved learning benefits, fidget toys can also reduce anxiety and stress, enhance dexterity, improve coordination and fine motor skills and assist in the development of muscles of small hands.

Fidget toys are appropriate for all ages and genders and most developmental abilities. Many parents will learn that the effectiveness of these objects can diminish over time, so it is suggested to alternate toys. It is also recommended that parents speak to their child’s teacher or principal before they consider bringing fidget toys to school.

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 It A Cold Or Is It Allergies?

The transition from winter to spring can be challenging to your health. The change in seasons often results in an overlap of symptoms that could be either the remnants of a winter cold or the first signs of spring allergies.

Woman coughing and blowing her nose in autumn

While many of the symptoms of colds and allergies are similar, the causes of each are very different.

Colds are contagious and they are contracted when a person is exposed to an individual infected with a cold virus.  Our body’s immune system will launch a counter attack against the virus. This response usually brings on the classic symptoms, such as a runny nose or cough.

An allergic reaction is caused by an overactive immune system that mistakes harmless things, such as pollen, and attacks them. To combat what it thinks are germs, your body releases chemicals called histamines as a defense. The release of these histamines can cause a swelling of the nasal passages and result in coughing and sneezing. Allergies are not contagious.

While many of the symptoms are similar, the easiest way to determine if you have a cold or are suffering from allergies is the duration of your condition. While most colds last from three to 14 days, allergies can last for months as long as the person is in contact with the allergen. Other differences are:

  • An allergic reaction will begin immediately after exposure to an allergen while cold symptoms usually take approximately three days to appear after exposure
  • Colds can sometimes cause fever and body aches while allergies never do
  • An allergic reaction can often result in itchy, watery eyes, which a cold rarely produces this type of reaction

Once a determination between cold or allergy is made, the appropriate treatment can be applied.

There is no cure for a cold, but there are medications that can help alleviate the symptoms. Cough syrups, pain relievers, decongestant sprays, or multi-symptom cold relief medicines can all be used to help, but should only be taken after consulting your doctor, especially if you are taking other medications or if you have other underlying health conditions. Drinking plenty of liquids also speeds up the recovery process.

To treat allergies, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine to block the reaction to the allergens. There are many forms of antihistamines and some may cause drowsiness so be sure to look for the non-drowsy formula or only take them at night. Decongestants may also be suggested to relieve nasal congestion and avoid an infection.

If you are not sure if you have a cold or allergies, please speak with your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center can help. To make an appointment, please call 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.