Q&A: Can wearing earbuds increase my risk for an ear infection?

Can wearing earbuds lead to ear infection

Wearing earbuds for hours on end can increase the risk of an ear infection because our ears should not be clogged or obstructed for extended periods of time. Extensive wear of earbuds can prevent wax from exiting the ear canal and create buildups that can lead to infection. Additionally, the surfaces of earbuds are prime environments for dirt and bacteria to accumulate. Inserting earbuds that are unclean can introduce these elements into the ear canal where they can flourish.

To reduce the risk of developing painful ear infections, you should sanitize earbuds on a regular basis by wiping them down with alcohol pads or recommended cleaning solutions.  Store earbuds in a clean case, if they are stored loosely in a bag or drawer they can pick up bacteria and debris. Minimize the amount of time that you wear earbuds.  Most importantly, do not share them with anyone, sharing increases your risk of exposure to bacteria.

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.

Indigestion VS Heartburn

Symptoms of heartburn

Although the words indigestion and heartburn are often used interchangeably, they are two completely different conditions.

Indigestion or upset stomach is a general term used to describe a feeling of discomfort in the upper abdomen. Symptoms of indigestion can occur differently in each person.  They may include:

  • Nausea
  • Burning in the upper abdomen
  • Bloating in the upper abdomen
  • Uncontrollable burping
  • Feeling full longer than you should
  • Feeling full right after you begin eating

These symptoms can be caused as a result of eating fatty or greasy foods, eating too quickly, drinking too much alcohol, eating during stressful situations or smoking.

Making certain lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of indigestion. Here are a few tips to minimize symptoms and reduce your risk: quit smoking, avoid fatty or greasy foods, eat slowly, decrease stress or limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Indigestion can serve as a warning sign for more serious digestive diseases. If you are experiencing symptoms for more than two weeks, it is advised that you see a doctor.   

Heartburn is a condition that occurs when stomach acids flow up into the esophagus. This process is called acid reflux.   It causes a burning pain in the upper chest or the middle of the chest. Additional symptoms of heartburn can include:

  • A foul or  acidic taste in the mouth
  • Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing

Eating certain foods can trigger or worsen the symptoms of heartburn.  Limiting the following can reduce your risk: spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, onions, citrus fruits and products, caffeinated drinks such as coffee, fatty meals, chocolate and tomato-based products such as ketchup.

Some individuals are more at risk than others for developing heartburn. People at risk include those who are pregnant or obese; those diagnosed with conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or hiatal hernias as well as those who are taking certain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs.

It is advised that you see a doctor if: your heartburn symptoms are severe and occur frequently; you are experiencing nausea or vomiting; you have diarrhea, black or bloody stools or you have a chronic cough. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing difficulty breathing or severe chest pain or pressure.

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 on How to Prevent Getting Sick on a Plane

Tips to prevent getting sick on a plane

The chances of getting sick on a plane are high (especially during cold and flu season) because you are in close contact with fellow travelers and exposed to surfaces that may not be properly sanitized.  Additionally, air cabins tend to have low humidity levels which dry mucus from our noses and throats – creating an environment for germs and viruses to thrive.

Although these flying conditions are often beyond our control, there are measures that can be taken to lessen our exposure to germs and decrease our chances of getting sick.  Here are a few:

  • Get enough sleep before your flight- This will provide your immune system with a much-needed boost.
  • Stay hydrated- Keeping your body hydrated before and during your flight will prevent mucus from drying out.
  • Keep your hands clean by frequently washing them with soap and water or using a sanitizer- Doing so will limit exposure to germs (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that handwashing can prevent up to 21% of respiratory infections).
  • Use sanitizing wipes on surfaces you will touch- It is highly recommended that you wipe down tray tables, bathroom flush buttons, overhead air vents, seatbelt buckles and seat pockets. These areas are touched by millions of people and are perfect environments for germs to live.
  • Keep air vents on- HEPA filters used on planes are effective at removing bacteria and airborne viruses.
  • Wear a mask, especially if you are sitting next to someone who is constantly coughing or displaying other symptoms of a respiratory infection.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth – If you need to do so, make sure your hands are clean. Your eyes, nose and mouth serve as points of entry for germs.

It is important to remember germs and viruses can live for hours on certain surfaces. In fact, the flu virus can live up to 24 hours on any hard surface. Therefore, it is important that you follow the given precautions to protect your health and prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

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 for Breastfeeding Babies Who are Teething

baby  514614209Most babies do not bite while breastfeeding but some might while teething. This can be painful or uncomfortable and may cause some mothers to consider weaning. Although teething raises some challenges, mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding as best they can. Organizations such as the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics highly recommend breastfeeding until babies are ages one to two.

If you decide to continue breastfeeding throughout teething, following these tips can help you alleviate some pain and discomfort:
• Make certain that your baby is latched on properly. When babies are latched properly it is difficult for them to bite as their tongues are covering the lower gums or teeth.
• Massage the baby’s gums before feeding. This can decrease the level of discomfort or pain your baby may be experiencing.
• Discourage the baby each time he or she bites by either removing him from the nipple bite or by pulling him closer to you. Then calmly say “no biting”.
• Give baby something cold to chew before feeding. A chilled, age-appropriate teething toy or cloth can ease soreness. Rubbing an ice cube on gums works just as well.
• Stick a finger in the corner of the baby’s mouth as he or she clamps down. This will serve as a barrier between your nipples and baby’s teeth.

The good news is biting caused by teething is only a phase; it is temporary. Continuing to breastfeed can provide countless benefits for your baby. If your baby still bites after trying these tips, do not hesitate to contact a lactation consultant or your pediatrician for direction and support.

To schedule an appointment with a Lactation Consultant at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-291-3276.

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.

Laryngitis

laryngitis treatment

Many have experienced the two most common symptoms of laryngitis- hoarseness or voice loss.  

These symptoms occur as a result of an inflammation of the larynx which contains our vocal cords.  When our vocals cords are inflamed they become swollen, distorting the sounds made by the air passing through them.

Additional signs and symptoms of laryngitis can include a dry cough, sore throat, low-grade fever, itchy throat or swollen glands.

Most cases of laryngitis are temporary or acute and are caused by overusing our voices, viral infections such as the cold or bacterial infections such as diphtheria. Symptoms typically last for a few days.

The best treatments for acute laryngitis involve self-care.  It is recommended that you rest your voice, drink plenty of fluids, use humidifiers or menthol inhalers and gargle with warm, salt water. You should avoid whispering, dry or smoky rooms, decongestants, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages and caffeine.

Laryngitis can be also become chronic or long-term.  Symptoms lasts more than three weeks and can be brought on by bulimia, smoking, alcohol abuse, GERD (acid reflux), constant exposure to polluted air or second-hand smoke, excessive coughing, sinus disease, injury to the throat or cancer.

Treatments for chronic laryngitis are aimed at treating underlying issues. For instance, doctors may recommend a change in diet in cases in which chronic laryngitis is caused by GERD. If caused by exposure to polluted air, doctors may recommend wearing protective gear.  Medications such as antihistamines, antibiotics, pain relievers or glucocorticosteroids may also be prescribed based on the cause of symptoms.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of laryngitis for more than three weeks, you should see a doctor. Medical attention must be sought immediately if you are having difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, have increased pain or a fever that will not subside. To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001

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 Holiday Stress Affects Sleep

There are countless things we need to get done during the holidays. In our minds, we are constantly checking off items on our lists and thinking about future tasks to tackle.  Often our stress levels increase as a result of trying to juggle it all.

Elevated stress levels can have a negative effect on our health, specifically our quality of sleep. Stress causes many people to lose hours of much-needed rest, as they lie in bed worrying. Lack of sleep, in the short term, can affect concentration, mood, and increases the risk of serious accidents and injury. Long-term sleep deprivation increases the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Getting a good night’s sleep can reduce the effects of stress. Here are a few tips to help you manage holiday stress and get some rest:

  • Eat a healthy diet- During the holidays we tend to indulge in foods that are unhealthy. Foods that are rich in fat and sugar can make us feel lethargic and make our bodies less capable of combatting stress. Additionally, what you eat during the day can affect how you sleep at night. High- fat and high-sugar meals can lead to indigestion and a night of tossing and turning.
  • Delegate responsibilities- Sometimes our holiday to-do lists are overwhelming. Ask friends and family to help you by taking some of your responsibilities off your plate.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques- Practicing techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can help you to relax and improve sleep.
  • Exercise- All forms of exercise help the brain to release feel-good hormones such as endorphins which can help combat stress.  Studies have shown that exercise also improves sleep.

The holidays are a busy time of year; however, it is highly advised that you carve out time to get adequate sleep.  Getting your daily recommended amount of sleep not only helps you to reduce stress but also benefits your overall health.  If a lack of sleep is affecting your health, you should speak with your doctor. To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital, please call, 718-206-5916.

 

 

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.

Dust Mites & How They Affect Our Health

allergies and dust mites

Dust mites are tiny, microscopic relatives of spiders and ticks that lurk around our homes.  They feed on the dead skin cells that we shed.  Due to their diet, dust mites are commonly found in the areas where dust and dead skin cells accumulate the most. This includes carpets, mattresses, bedding, curtains, stuffed animals and furniture.

Dust mites are allergenic- meaning materials from their skin and fecal matter can cause allergic reactions and symptoms, especially in people with allergies and asthma.

Common dust mite allergy symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy nose, mouth or throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Red, Itchy skin
  • Itchy, red or watery  eyes

In people with asthma, symptoms can include:

  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

It is impossible to completely eliminate dust mites, even in the cleanest homes.  However, there are ways to limit exposure and reduce the risk of symptoms. Here are a few:

  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water
  • Cover mattresses and pillows in zippered dust-proof covers
  • Dust regularly
  • Avoid carpeting if possible or vacuum frequently
  • Use certified allergen capturing filters in vacuums and air conditioners
  • Keep the humidity levels in your home under 50% (Dust mites thrive in environments with humidity levels of 70 to 80%)

If symptoms persist, relief can be achieved by taking over-the-counter or prescription decongestants, antihistamines or nasal corticosteroids.  Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or sublingual (under-the-tongue) tablets can also be effective. 

The Division of Allergy and Immunology at Jamaica Hospital focuses on the diagnosis and long-term treatment of allergic and immunologic conditions. To schedule an appointment with an allergist, please call 718-206-6742.

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.

Foods To Avoid Before Bed

Having Trouble Sleeping- Sleep Specialists in Queens, New York

Our late-night food options can negatively affect the quality of our slumber and contribute to a loss of sleep. Therefore, if we want to get a good night’s rest, there are certain foods we should avoid.

The following foods are either: acidic, fatty, spicy or difficult to digest. They may also contain high amounts of sugars or stimulants.  It is best that we do not consume them right before going to bed.

  • Cruciferous vegetables-   Broccoli, kale cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables contain large amounts of insoluble fiber, making them difficult to digest. Complex sugars found in these food items can also contribute to bloating and gas.
  • Red meat- Beef, lamb, veal and other types of red meat are all high in protein and fat which require our bodies to work harder during digestion.  Our bodies will be focused more on breaking down these foods than sleeping.
  • Cured meats and cheeses- Food such as prosciutto, salami or Gouda cheese contain tyramine an amino acid that can make us alert.
  • Caffeinated food- Large amounts of caffeine can be found in dark chocolate, certain sodas or coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps us alert and remains in our system for hours.
  • Spicy food- Chemicals in spicy foods can upset our stomachs, cause heartburn or raise our core body temperature, making us restless throughout the night.   Therefore, think twice before using hot sauce or eating spicy cuisine before bed.
  • Alcohol- Studies have shown that alcohol is disruptive to our sleep cycles.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, alcohol “blocks REM sleep, which is often considered the most restorative type of sleep. With less REM sleep, you’re likely to wake up feeling groggy and unfocused.”  Alcohol also suppresses breathing which can lead to sleep apnea.

A good night’s sleep is important to our health. Taking small steps such as being smart about the foods we consume can improve our quality of sleep, allowing us to be more energetic and productive when we are awake.

 If you have questions about how diet or other lifestyle habits may affect your sleep, please call 718-206-5916 to speak with a sleep specialist at Jamaica 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.

Worry vs. Anxiety- What Is The Difference?

Treating Anxiety At Jamaica Hospital

Although many use the words worry and anxiety interchangeably; the two are very different psychological states.    

According to Psychology Today, “Worry tends to be more focused on thoughts in our heads, while anxiety is more visceral in that we feel it throughout our bodies.”

When we worry, our thoughts are often caused by realistic or specific concerns we can resolve by problem solving. An example of a worrying thought is “If I don’t study hard enough, I will not pass my test.”  Once you have identified the problem and arrived at the solution- which is to study hard; you are likely to move on from this thought and diminish worry.

On the other hand, when we are experiencing anxiety, our thoughts can be irrational or vague. They can linger for extended periods of time and can impact our lives in a negative way.  An example of this is persistently thinking something will go wrong every time you take a test.  As a result, you may experience fear or other emotions that will cause your body to react negatively.

Worry and anxiety affect our bodies in different ways.   Because worrying tends to be temporary, the effects are mild. You may experience short-term emotional distress or tension. The physical reactions caused by anxiety, however, can be more intense. Someone with anxiety may experience symptoms such as tightness in the chest, an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, headaches, trembling, gastrointestinal problems or trouble sleeping.

The symptoms of anxiety can serve as warning signs of serious health conditions such as anxiety disorder, panic attack or depression.  You should speak with a doctor if symptoms are persistent and interfere with daily activities.

A mental health professional can diagnose anxiety by performing a psychological examination.  Treatment may involve medication and psychotherapy.

To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5575.

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.

Heart Valve Disease

Heart Valve Disease

Our hearts have four valves:  the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves.  They work together to keep blood flowing in the correct direction; through the heart’s chambers and to the rest of the body. 

Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of our heart valves do not work properly, disrupting the flow of blood throughout our bodies.  This disease can be congenital (developing before birth) or acquired (developing after birth). Heart valve disease can lead to serious complications such as stroke, heart failure, blood clots, heart rhythms abnormalities or death.

The three main problems encountered in heart valve disease are:

  • Stenosis- which occurs when the flaps of a heart valve do not fully open due to the thickening of valve tissue. This makes the heart work harder to pump blood which can lead to heart failure. Stenosis can develop as a result of a buildup of calcium or other deposits on the valves. 
  • Regurgitation – this happens when the valve doesn’t close all the way. If our valves do not close correctly this will cause blood to leak backward into the heart and less blood to flow to our bodies.
  • Atresia- this is present at birth and occurs as a result of the valve not being developed. Instead of a valve, a piece of tissue forms that restricts the flow of blood.

Stenosis and regurgitation can be caused by pre-existing heart conditions, age-related changes, rheumatic fever or infections. There are no known causes for atresia.

Some people with heart valve disease may not experience symptoms during the early stages of the disease. When symptoms present they can include:

  • A heart murmur or an unusual heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Swollen ankles, feet or belly

Several factors can increase the risk of heart valve disease. Risk factors include:

  • Older age ( As you age your heart valves become stiffer and thicker)
  • A history  of infective endocarditis
  • Rheumatic fever resulting from an untreated strep infection
  • Heart conditions present at birth
  • Atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque inside the arteries),  heart attack, advanced heart failure or other conditions that can cause harm to the heart valves

If you are experiencing symptoms of heart valve disease, you should inform your doctor.   A physical examination will be conducted during which your doctor will listen for a heart murmur.  Your doctor may order a series of diagnostic tests such as an echocardiography, chest X-ray, cardiac MRI or electrocardiogram to evaluate your heart’s health. 

Treatment for heart valve disease may include surgery or medications. Your doctor will most likely recommend that you make heart-healthy lifestyle changes.

To schedule an appointment with a  cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7100.

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.