Learn The ABCDE’s of Moles

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in the United States. It can present in all ethnicities and skin tones. Almost all skin cancers are found on skin exposed to sun, ultraviolet light, tanning lights, or sun lamps.

Most forms of skin cancer can be treated successfully when detected early. Unusual growths on the skin such as moles can serve as warning signs; therefore, paying attention to changes and abnormalities is crucial in early detection.

When observing changes in the skin, knowing what is considered ‘normal’ is vital. For example, a normal mole is solid and uniform in color, and can range from tan, brown, dark brown, or flesh colored. They are usually round or oval in shape with well-defined edges, and may be flat or raised.  However, moles that have developed into skin cancer are sometimes irregularly shaped, scaly or have a variation in color.

The ABCDE rule can help you remember what to look for when checking your moles.

A for Asymmetry

If you fold the mole in half, does it look the same on both sides? If it looks the same on both sides, then it is symmetrical. If both sides look different, the mole is asymmetrical and should be monitored.

B for Border

Look at the border of the mole. Normal moles have a smooth edge. Moles of concern may have a blurry or jagged border.

C for Color

Note the original color of the mole. Has it changed by becoming darker, lost some color, or have multiple colors? (Note that some moles tend to darken during pregnancy or while taking birth controls pills.)

D for Diameter

How large is the mole? Moles that are bigger than 1/4 inch in diameter should be shown to your health care provider.

E for Evolving

Has the mole changed in shape, size, or color? If so, alert your primary care provider.

 

 

Doctors advise that you seek medical care if:

  • Your mole changes size, especially if it grows very quickly or becomes larger than a pencil eraser (6mm).
  • Your mole changes in color or develops more than one color.
  • Your mole, or the skin near the mole, becomes painful, sore, red, or swollen.
  • Your mole becomes scaly, sheds skin, oozes fluid, or bleeds.
  • Your mole develops irregular borders.
  • Your mole becomes hard or soft, or develops raised areas.

There are several steps you can take to protect your skin against cancer: Avoid the sun during peak hours, wear sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30, reapplying every 2-3 hours) and wear sunglasses and protective clothing when spending long periods of time outdoors. Additionally, it is important to remember that ultraviolet radiation from artificial tanning beds is a known carcinogen. Using them can increase your risk of skin cancers such as melanoma by 59%, and even more with each use.

If you notice changes in your skin that are abnormal, it is important to speak with your doctor right away. Early detection is key when treating skin cancer.

If you have questions or concerns about unusual growths on your skin, you can schedule an appointment with a Family Medicine doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling, 718-206-6942.

Ambika Nath DO, Family Medicine

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.

Winter Cold or Allergy?

The winter months can be challenging to your health. The drop in temperatures often results in symptoms that could be either a winter cold or allergies.

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 mold or dust mites 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. 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
  • A cold virus 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
  • Allergies are not contagious.

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, Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center can help. To make an appointment, 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 Do You Know When It’s Safe to Go Back to Work After the Flu?

Doctors often recommend staying home when you have the flu. Going to work when you are symptomatic puts others at risk for contracting the virus and getting sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.”

Knowing when to return to work and applying preventative measures to avoid the spread of the virus can reduce the risk of getting others ill. Most health care practitioners agree that you should stay home for a long as you have severe symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, and cough with mucus or vomiting. Some doctors may advise that you do not return to work for five days after the onset of symptoms and 24 hours after your fever has cleared. Advice may vary by provider.

It is important to keep in mind that even when you begin to feel better, you may still be contagious for several days. The CDC advises, “Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.” During this time, take the following actions to prevent the spread of the flu:

  • Sanitize your hands
  • Cover your  nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Limit your contact with others
  • Do not share utensils or sanitize before sharing
  • Frequently disinfect areas that may be contaminated

This year, we are experiencing a rather severe flu season. Anyone who suspects they have the virus should seek treatment from their doctor as soon as possible and take the necessary steps needed to avoid infecting others.

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.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that is produced when substances containing carbon are burned. It has been referred to as the “silent killer.”
Common sources of carbon monoxide include heaters, car exhaust, fireplaces, cigarette smoke, and portable generators. When the fumes from these devices aren’t properly vented, carbon monoxide can reach dangerous levels and cause serious health issues even death.
The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning become noticeable when its level in the blood becomes too high.  Diagnosing elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the body is usually done through a blood test.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
• Headaches
• Nausea
• Feeling tired
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Memory problems
• Agitation
• Coughing
The best way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning is to use caution and preventative measures when in a space where things are burning. It is important to have a functioning carbon monoxide detector in the on each level of the home.   Chimneys in homes must be kept clear of debris, fireplaces should be inspected at least once a year and keep ducts open and clean that come from water heaters, stoves, and clothes dryers. In addition, do not use gas powered machines in closed spaces,
Anyone who is suspected of being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide should be taken to an emergency room immediately. Treatment requires being given oxygen, sometimes in high quantities, to flush out the carbon monoxide. If not treated quickly the results are often fatal. If you suspect that there is a carbon monoxide, or any other gas problem in your home, best to evacuate the premises and call 911.

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 See “Floating” Spots in Your Field of Vision?

Have you ever experienced small specs or thin lines in your field of vision? Those spots, lines, or other shapes you see before your eyes are commonly referred to as “floaters.”  In almost all cases floaters, while annoying, are no cause for concern and should not interfere with your sight.

Floaters earn their name by moving around in your eye. They tend to dart away when you try to focus on them. They usually come and go over time and appear most often when you look at something bright.

The onset of floaters usually occurs in individuals 50 years and older and once you get them, they usually don’t go away. Most people who experience floaters state that they notice them less over time.

Floaters come in many different shapes, such as:

  • Black or gray dots
  • Squiggly lines
  • Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and almost see-through
  • Cobwebs
  • Rings

Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen that are part of a gel-like substance in the back of your eye called the vitreous. As we age, these protein fibers that make up the vitreous shrink down and clump together, forming a shadow on our retina – or a floater.

Floaters are more common in those who are nearsighted or have had cataract surgery. It’s rare, but floaters can also result from:

  • Eye Disease
  • Eye injury
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eye tumors

Most people ignore floaters and learn to live with them. Only in rare cases do they get bad enough to require treatment. The best way to temporarily remove floaters from your field of vision is to circulate the fluid in your eyes by shifting your eyeballs up and down.

If however you have so many floaters that your vision is compromised your doctor may suggest surgery called a vitrectomy. During this procedure, the vitreous is removed and replaced with a salt solution.

If you only have a few eye floaters that don’t change over time, don’t sweat it, but go to the doctor immediately if you notice:

  • A sudden increase in the number of floaters
  • Flashes of light
  • A loss of side vision
  • Changes that come on quickly and get worse over time
  • Floaters after eye surgery or eye trauma
  • Eye pain

The risk is low, but these symptoms may indicate a tear or a more serious break in your retina. You should treat a possible retinal break or detachment as an emergency. Treatment may save your sight.

To speak to an eye specialist at Jamaica Hospital’s Ophthalmology Center, please call 718-206-5900.

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.

Congenitial Heart Defect Awareness Week – Know The Facts About CHD

Every year, February 7th to the 14th is designated as Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) Awareness week. This annual week of recognition was created to raise awareness about CHD and to empower all patients and families affected by this condition.

Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. These defects can involve:

  • The interior walls of the heart
  • The valves inside the heart
  • The arteries and veins that carry blood to the heart or the body

Congenital heart defects are the most common form of birth defect. They affect eight out of every 1,000 newborns. Each year, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with this condition.

There are many different forms of defects that can range from minor with no symptoms to complex with life-threatening symptoms. Minor defects often do not require any treatment or are easily fixed. However, those babies born with complex congenital heart defects require special medical care soon after birth.

Unfortunately, doctors often do not know why congenital heart defects occur. Heredity may play a role in cases. Children who have genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, are often more likely to have congenital heart defects. In fact, half of all babies who have Down syndrome have congenital heart defects. Smoking during pregnancy also has been linked to several congenital heart defects.

Even though many children born with congenital heart defects do not require treatment, some do. Doctors can treat children with CHD with either catheter procedures or surgery. Thankfully, through advances in medicine, thee diagnosis and treatment of complex heart defects has greatly improved over the past few decades. As a result, almost all children who have complex heart defects survive to adulthood and can live active, productive lives.

Through continued education and support, we hope to conquer CHD.

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.

To Juice or Not to Juice? That is the Question.

Juicing or juice cleanses are growing in popularity as more people are using this practice as a way to lose weight or improve their health.  Juice bars are becoming a common fixture in shopping malls as the demand for freshly-made and all-natural juices increase.  There are a few advantages that can be achieved by juicing.

Some advantages of juicing include:

  • Juicing may be an easier way for some to obtain the daily fruits and vegetables that are essential in maintaining a healthy diet. Many people find it more convenient and less time consuming to drink fruits and vegetables instead of eating them.
  • Juicing can help in promoting weight loss- if it is done correctly and the body is not deprived of vital nutrients and fibers.

There also disadvantages associated with all-juice diets. The disadvantages that are associated with all-juice diets include:

  • An all-juice diet for a prolonged period of time is not recommended as studies have shown that LDL cholesterol levels may increase. Depriving the body of whole foods that are rich in nutrients could also weaken its ability to fight infections and function properly.
  • Juicing can prove dangerous for individuals with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease. High levels of fructose, which is the sugar found in fruits can elevate blood sugar levels.  Excessive juicing can cause high levels of potassium and minerals to build up in the blood- this can become hazardous if one has kidney disease.
  • Juicing may not be the healthiest or most effective way to lose weight as your body may think it is starving and lower its metabolic rate. If your body is being deprived of the daily recommended caloric intake it could begin to burn muscle tissue instead of fat to provide energy, causing the loss of muscle mass.

If you choose to juice, consult your physician, especially if you have chronic health conditions and juice in moderation. Juicing can be beneficial if it is done properly and is supplemented with nutrient-rich whole foods. It is recommended that a glass of juice can be used to substitute one meal for example breakfast or lunch for the day. Most healthcare practitioners caution that juicing should not surpass the duration of a few days.

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.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a cancer that involves the lower part of the uterus (womb), which is known as the cervix. This can involve a microscopic lesion, that cannot be seen with the naked eye; or it can involve a larger area that is visible while performing a pelvic exam or during colposcopy.Signs and symptoms can include bleeding after sexual intercourse, irregular vaginal bleeding, bleeding after menopause, abnormal vaginal discharge, and/or pain.

Risk factors for cervical cancer include: infection with certain types of human papilloma virus, and having diseases that lead to lower immunity (such as HIV). Smoking is also a risk factor.

A vaccine is available that can prevent infection with some of the high risk and low risk types of HPV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine vaccination for boys and girls ages 11 or 12. Vaccination is also recommended for women 13 years through 26, and men ages 13 through 21. Routine screening with a pap smear or going for an annual gynecologic exam can help with the detection of early signs and symptoms of the disease, or the detection of pre-cancerous changes of the cervix. Practicing safe sex and smoking cessation are also some methods to reduce your risk.

Cervical cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy of the cervix.  Prior to having a biopsy, there are abnormal results that can be encountered on a pap smear, that would require further testing or exams (such as colposcopy). There are also two types of procedures that can be performed if there is an abnormality detected with colposcopy and with biopsies, called a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) or a Cone biopsy of the cervix. These procedures can be diagnostic as well as therapeutic.
Treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of these methods. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician in the Women’s Health 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.

JHMC Partners with Shape Up NYC to Offer Free Stretch and Release Classes

In an effort to improve the overall wellness of our community, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center has partnered with the New York City Department of Parks and  Recreation’s; Shape Up NYC, to offer free Stretch and Release classes to everyone.

The class will be taught by the hospital’s own Janis Sharkey, Clinical Nurse Manager, who specializes in holistic care.  It will focus on applying principles of the Alexander Technique and Cantienica to stretch and strengthen muscles, as well as improve balance. Postures and movements are similar to Yoga.

Stretch and Release will begin on February 1st and will take place every Thursday at 5:15 pm at the MediFit Gym at Jamaica Hospital; 134-20 Jamaica Ave; 3rd Floor. For more details please visit https://www.nycgovparks.org/programs/recreation/shape-up-nyc

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.

February is American Heart Month

Over 50 years ago President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the month of February to be American Heart Month in order to bring attention to one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This tradition has been carried on by every President since.

Each year over 800,000 lives are taken as a result of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Every 84 seconds someone in the United States dies from the disease and each year approximately 750,000 people experience a heart attack and of those, about 115,000 will not survive.

The American Heart Association recommends the following behavioral modifications to prevent heart disease:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Engage in some form of daily physical activity
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Control cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels

The death rate from heart disease has been improving slowly over the last decade due to advances in medications, better diagnostic capabilities, and better access to health care, but the statistics are still pretty alarming. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital, 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.