The Potential Dangers of Tattoos

Tattoos are more common than ever. It is now estimated that 21 percent of adults have tattoos, and approximately 36 percent of those ages 18-25 have them.  Before getting a tattoo, one must consider many things, including the health risks.

Using unsterilized or used needles and equipment can cause serious health problems, such as HIV and hepatitis. Even if everything is sterile however, there are still risks associated with getting a tattoo.

Tattoo sites can easily become infected when contaminated or expired ink is used and enters the bloodstream. The first signs of an infection usually take place two to three weeks later. Red rashes, swelling, pain, and a pus-like discharge are all common early symptoms of an infection. Pain, fever, chills, and sweats can develop if the infection is not treated. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection.

An allergic reaction to the dyes used in tattoo ink is another cause for concern, specifically the red, blue, yellow, and green dyes.  Some people are allergic, but don’t realize it until after they get a tattoo. An allergic reaction can result in an itchy rash or skin bumps at the tattoo site. Allergic reactions can occur immediately, or several months or years later.

Other potential problems associated with tattoos include keloid scarring and sensitivity to MRI exams.

If you do decide to get a tattoo, follow these simple steps to minimize the chances for complications.

• Go to a registered tattoo parlor with licensed tattoo artists.
• Inquire about the expiration date of the ink.
• Make sure inks being used are approved for tattoos.
• Carefully follow aftercare instructions.
• See a doctor immediately if you think you have an infection.

Deciding to get a tattoo is an important decision and should not be taken lightly. You should be informed to make the best decision and do what is safe and best for you.

Colon Cleansing

Colon Cleansing

What do you know about colon cleansing?

The colon is the end portion of the intestinal tract that is very important for the absorption of fluids and electrolytes from the digestive tract and stores waste products for elimination. It is typically about three to four feet in length and two to three inches in diameter.

Traditional medical doctors feel that the body has its own way of regulating what goes in and what comes out. Doctors today will tell you that the only time you need to clean out your colon is prior to undergoing a colonoscopy or a surgical procedure that involves the intestinal tract. Medical professionals feel that this part of the body takes care of itself.

People who chose to have colon cleansings will often say that they feel much healthier after the treatment. Some of the reasons they have the procedure is to remove toxins that may accumulate in the colon, improve their bowel regularity, and  improve their overall health. Colon cleansings have been used for centuries, but less frequently now than years ago.

A colonic cleansing consists of inserting a tube into the rectum and slowly sending warm, filtered water through this tube, expanding the colon. The body’s normal response is to expel this fluid, along with any waste products that may have accumulated in this area, back through the tube to an external container.

Colon cleansing can sometimes be very dangerous. Side effects include:

 Risk of dehydration

 Potential for infection

 Cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting

 Potential for puncturing the bowel

 Loss of intestinal flora (needed for proper digestion)

People who should not have a colon cleansing are: women who are pregnant, people with heart conditions,  anemic, have abdominal hernias, have ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and hemorrhoids. If you are considering having a colon cleansing, speak with your physician first to see if they think it is beneficial. Keep in mind that while the USDA regulates the production of the equipment used in colon cleansing, it does not regulate how it is used. Caution should be taken if a person makes the decision to have this type of treatment.

Peer Pressure: Teen Smoking

Adolescents feel social pressure in various ways, from wearing the latest clothing trends and styles to current music choices. Your child’s friends are one of the strongest influences during this time in their lives, especially when it comes to risky behaviors like tobacco use.

During the pre-teen and teenage years, your child is asserting their independence and exploring their identity. Yet they still crave the approval of their peers and often worry about being rejected. Peer pressure makes them feel they are being pulled in two directions. When it comes to smoking cigarettes, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted the rate among teens that have three or more friends who smoke is 10 times higher than those that reported none of their friends smoke.

However, based on behavior recent research, teenagers who don’t smoke say one of the main reasons is their parents. Your influence is real and as a parent, you can help your child as he struggles with peer pressure, examines their options, and becomes a mature independent thinker.

Some helpful tips for your teen to avoid caving into peer pressure are:
• Set boundaries: Place smoking on the list of things they shouldn’t do. Make sure they understand smoking’s health risks, know the consequences for breaking the rules and enforce them.
• Know your child’s friends: Pay attention to how your teen interacts and observe. Are the relationships equal and respectful? If not, make time to about them.
• Manage stress: Be on the look-out for signs of stress. Empathize with their feelings, and help them prioritize their activities.
• Encourage independent thinking: The more they trust themselves, the less vulnerable they will be to peer pressure.
• Show and teach empathy: By showing empathy for your child’s feelings, you teach them how you value their thoughts and in turn will teach them to trust themselves.
• Get them involved: Try having them become involved in groups or clubs that fit their interest and reduce the chances of boredom while gaining a new set of strengths.

Your influence can bring a world of difference. If you are a smoker and are interested in quitting, look into a local smoking cessation group or contact Jamaica Hospital’s Pulmonary department for an appointment at 718-206-6742.

Playground Safety

Playgrounds are usually locations where children have fun and spend time with their friends and family.  Unfortunately, this day of fun can end with a visit to the nearest emergency room.

According to the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention, each year, in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children for playground related injuries.

The consequences of playground-related injuries are: fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations and, in some cases, an injury can be fatal.  Most of the non-fatal injuries are related to playground equipment at schools yards, public parks and daycare centers.

One of the ways to combat injury is to know that the equipment in a playground is designed for different age groups.  Making sure that your child is playing on age appropriate equipment is one of the key measures for safe play. The rule is; if the equipment is less than four feet tall, it is suitable for children under 5 years of age. Equipment less than eight feet tall is suitable for children ages 5 through 12.

As a further measure of safety, you should never leave your child unsupervised while at a playground. Play areas should be designed to allow an adult to clearly see the child while they are playing.

Newer playgrounds are built with materials that absorb shocks from falls such as, wood chips, pea gravel, shredded tires, double shredded bark mulch, fine gravel or sand that completely covers the playground floor.

Be observant and check to see that the playground is well maintained, hooks are closed on swings and there are safety bars at the top of all slides so that children will have to sit before going down.  Additionally, be mindful of your child’s attire when going to a playground. Hoods or drawstrings may get caught on play equipment. 

Taking your child to the park or playground to play is probably one of the easiest, fun-packed, and inexpensive forms of family entertainment. It’s also a great excuse to enjoy some much-needed fresh air. By following these helpful tips, you can make your day of fun a safe one too!

The Fungus among Us…Mold

                                                                                                                                              What is mold?  Mold is microscopic fungi that live on plant and animal matter.  They are most present in dark moist areas.                              

When mold grows, tiny spores are created that reproduce and float through the air continually.  As spores land on damp places, they will begin to grow.

 Fabrics, rugs, stuffed animals, books, and wallpaper can contain mold spores if they become damp or are kept in a damp space.  Additionally, mold can live in the soil, on compost and on plants that are damp. For people who are sensitive to mold, inhaling spores can trigger an asthma attack.

 Preventative measures you can take:

  •  Clean up mold and eliminate sources of moisture in your home.
  • Use exhaust fans or open a window in the bathroom and kitchen when showering, cooking or washing dishes.
  • Fix water leaks, as soon as possible, to prevent mold from growing.
  • Change furnace and air conditioner filters often.
  • Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
  • Central heating and air conditioning systems can help control mold.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers.

 Studies have shown that mold reduction is associated with significant improvements in asthma symptoms among patients who are sensitive to molds.

 If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment withJamaicaHospital’sAmbulatoryCareCenterto discuss mold as a trigger for asthma, call 718-206-7001.

Gallbladder Disease

The majority of American’s see a doctor, yearly, for a general health check-up.  We are diligent when it comes to making sure our major organs remain healthy, but what about the organs that go relatively unnoticed, like the gallbladder.

The gallbladder is the small sac in our body that stores bile from the liver and is located just below your liver.  The gallbladder releases bile, through the cystic duct, into the small intestine to help break down the foods you eat, in particular, fatty foods.

Usually, the gallbladder will not cause too many problems; however, if something slows or blocks the flow of bile from the gallbladder, a number of problems can arise and lead to gallbladder disease.

Specific symptoms may vary based on what type of gallbladder condition you have, although many symptoms are common among the different types of gallbladder problems. But most gallbladder symptoms start with pain in the upper abdominal area, either in the upper right or middle.

Some common symptoms of gallbladder conditions are:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Pain that may extend beneath the right shoulder blade or to the back
  • Pain that worsens after eating a meal, particularly fatty or greasy foods
  • Pain that feels dull, sharp, or cramp-like
  • Pain that increases when you breathe in deeply
  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas
  • A feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  • Vomiting, nausea, fever
  • Shaking with chills
  • Tenderness in the abdomen, particularly the right upper quadrant
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Stools of an unusual color (often lighter, like clay)

The gallbladder seems insignificant until it is causing you severe pain. If you are exhibiting the symptoms of gallbladder disease, and would like to schedule an appointment with the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Department for a consultation, call 718-206-7005 for an appointment.


New Free Treatment for IPF at Jamaica Hospital

Jamaica Hospital is now offering a promising free treatment option for those living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a rare, but serious lung disease that worsens over time.

Individuals with IPF develop scarring in the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath and an irreversible loss of lung function. The rate of deterioration is variable with many patients worsening over months to a few years. Currently, there is no FDA approved therapy for this disease, but recently published trials suggest that new treatments may be on the horizon.

Pirfenidone is an anti-fibrotic medication that is taken orally and has been shown to slow the loss of lung function and may improve mortality in IPF. Pirfenidone has already been approved for treatment of this disease in Japan, Canada, and most European countries.

Although Pirfenidone is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are indications that it will be in the near future. Recently, the FDA announced that Pirfenidone has been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation. This designation is reserved for drugs that are intended to treat serious or life threatening disease where preliminary evidence indicates that the drug demonstrates substantial improvement over existing treatments.

Jamaica Hospital is one of only a handful of hospitals in the region, and the only one in Queens, offering this free treatment as part of an early expanded access program.  Patients are monitored for safety in this program. It is open to most patients with mild to moderate IPF.  This program is being coordinated by the Division of Pulmonary Medicine and the Department of Clinical Research at Jamaica Hospital.

For more information about the Pirfenidone expanded access program at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-5844 or 718-206-5800.

Treating Hypertension: Medication or Meditation?

Hypertension is the most common disease in the United States. A shocking one out of three Americans has high blood pressure and another 30 percent have borderline high blood pressure.

For many, medication management to treat hypertension is the only option, others, however, are turning toward alternative methods to treat their condition, and the most popular and beneficial form of “natural” treatment is transcendental meditation.

Transcendental meditation (TM) is a technique, rooted in Eastern religion, aimed at controlling a person’s focus. For people with hypertension, TM can help ease tension, calm the mind, and most importantly, reduce stress, a significant factor that can cause hypertension.

The practice of TM involves the repetition of a word or phrase (known as a mantra) while being seated in a comfortable position, in a relaxed, peaceful environment. Most instructors suggest TM be practiced two times a day, for 20 minutes at a time to achieve physical and mental relaxation.

In 2013, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a report “Beyond Medication and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure,” aimed to identify which approaches to manage hypertension have shown to be safe and effective. Among all the behavioral therapies, TM was found to be the most beneficial. While the AHA did acknowledge the advantages of TM, they also advised that alternative therapies should not replace other proven methods of controlling blood pressure, including weight management, physical activity, not smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Meditation is becoming an increasingly popular form for therapy for hypertension. Lowering blood pressure was the number one reason given by those polled as to why they started meditating. In fact, more and more physicians are encountering patients hesitant to take medication to control their hypertension, citing potential side effects of the medications.

To find out if meditation can help you control your high blood pressure, speak to your doctor, or make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Family Medicine Center at 718-718-657-7093 to find out more about meditation and other ways to mange your hypertension.



Back to School: Pediatric Stress

Peer pressure, bullying, new school anxiety? Your child may be facing some of these issues prior to the start of the new school year or even day care.

In previous generations, children were not expected to separate from their parents until they were in Kindergarten. For various reasons, many children are now placed in daycare at an earlier age and some children may not be prepared. As for older children, preparing for standardized testing consists of hours of homework every night and children struggling to keep pace with the schools expectation results in additional stress.

Usually, children who have school anxiety show a range of stress-related symptoms such as complaints of aches and pains, no appetite, or lack of sleep. In these instances, the children are not being oppositional; they are simply displaying their anxieties through these physical symptoms. Of course, it is always important to maintain open communication with your children but when should you seek intervention? Always check with your pediatrician to rule out any physical issues.

Some tips provided by Parents Magazine are:
• Reassure your child that it is normal to feel a little scared in new situations, but nervousness should not mean he/she should stay home.
• Remind your child of other first time experiences they have had in the past and reassure them how great they once did in the past.
• Rule out problems at school or at home: ask your child’s teacher about any episodes of bullying or teasing

If after several weeks without positive results, you have tried different approaches, speak with your pediatrician about meeting with a social worker, psychologist or a child psychiatrist. To schedule an appointment with one of our pediatricians in the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s pediatric ambulatory clinic, please contact 718-206-7001.

Postpartum Depression

Did you know that women who have just given birth can experience a form of depression? It may sound strange since childbirth is supposed to be a wonderful time in person’s life, but it does happen, more frequently than you might expect.

After giving birth, it is not uncommon for a woman to feel sad, anxious, tired, have difficulty sleeping, and have occasional mood swings. These symptoms usually don’t last more than a week or two and are often referred to as having the “Baby Blues.”
Postpartum depression lasts longer, is more intense, and can affect a mother’s general health.

There are several factors that can lead to postpartum depression. After childbirth, hormone levels change dramatically causing a woman to feel tired and depressed. There are also changes in blood pressure, blood volume and metabolism that can all contribute to mood swings and depression. A diagnosis of clinical postpartum depression usually means that the symptoms started within 4 weeks of giving birth.

Common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are:

• Loss of appetite

• Intense irritability

• Severe mood swings

• Difficulty bonding with the baby

• Insomnia

• Constant feeling of fatigue

In an extreme form, post partum depression can lead to post partum psychosis. In this condition a woman may try to harm herself or her baby, become paranoid, have hallucinations, or may become disoriented.

Some of the risk factors of postpartum depression include having a history of depression, relationship problems with the father of the child, financial struggles, and having experienced this after a prior child’s birth..

Children of women who suffer from the long term effects of untreated postpartum depression may exhibit behavioral problems, have frequent temper tantrums and may develop sleeping and eating disorders.

Treatment for postpartum depression determined by the severity of the symptoms. When the symptoms are very mild, it may resolve with plenty of rest and support from family and friends. In more severe situations psychiatric care may be necessary as well as medication. Antidepressants are sometimes given, however, if the mother is breast feeding, it is important that the doctor be made aware of this. Hormone therapy can also be used to balance the sudden drop in estrogen which takes place after childbirth.

After giving birth, it is important to get plenty of rest, eat a well balanced diet, have people around who can help out and most importantly, plan activities that allow them to enjoy being mothers.