Summer Allergies

The summer months come with beautiful flowers, warm weather, and longer days. They also bring the onset of summer allergies.

There are many causes of summer allergies. Some of which include:

  • Ragweed (the most common allergy trigger)
  • Grasses
  • Trees
  • Smog
  • Air pollution
  • Insect bites
  • Mold
  • Dust mites

Summer allergy symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Dark circles under your eyes.

Some ways you can reduce your exposure to allergy triggers include:

  • Staying indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Avoiding garden chores like mowing the lawn and pulling weeds that stir up allergens.
  • Removing clothes worn outside and showering to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Avoid hanging laundry outside because pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • Wearing a face mask when doing chores outside.
  • Checking your local TV news station or the internet for pollen forecasts and the current pollen levels.
  • Taking allergy medication before symptoms start or if high pollen counts are forecasted.
  • Closing doors and windows at night when there are high pollen counts.
  • Avoiding outdoor activity when pollen counts are highest.

There isn’t a miracle product that can get rid of all allergens from the air in your home, but ways to keep indoor air clean include:

  • Using air conditioning in your house.
  • Using high-efficiency filters if you have a forced air conditioning or heating system, and following regular maintenance schedules.
  • Keeping indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
  • Using a portable HEPA filter in your bedroom.
  • Cleaning floors with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter regularly.

Here are some over-the-counter medications that can help ease allergy symptoms:

  • Oral antihistamines
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray
  • Oral decongestants

You can receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for seasonal allergies at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule 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.

Essential Tremors

Essential tremors are a neurological condition that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It affects any part of the body but mostly occurs in the hands.

Essential tremors are normally not dangerous but can worsen and become severe in some people. It is sometimes confused with Parkinson’s disease.

The symptoms of essential tremors include:

  • They start gradually and are more noticeable on one side of the body.
  • They worsen with movement.
  • They occur in the hands first, affecting one or both hands.
  • They cause a “yes-yes” or “no-no” motion of the head.
  • They may be aggravated by emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine, or extreme temperature changes.

About half the people with essential tremors appear to have an altered gene that causes them. This is called familial tremor. It is unclear what causes essential tremors in people without familial tremors.

There are a couple of known risk factors for essential tremors including:

  • Altered gene
  • Age- Essential tremors, which are more common in people 40 and older.

Complications caused by essential tremors include difficulty:

  • Holding a cup or glass without spilling.
  • Eating without shaking.
  • Putting on makeup or shaving.
  • Talking, if the voice box or tongue is affected.
  • Writing clearly.

There are no medical tests to diagnose essential tremors. It is often a matter of ruling out other conditions that could be causing symptoms. A healthcare provider may do this by reviewing your medical history, family history, and symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Some tests used to do this include:

  • Neurological examination that tests the functionality of your nervous system
    • Tendon reflexes.
    • Muscle strength and tone.
    • Ability to feel certain sensations.
    • Posture and coordination.
    • Way of walking.
  • Laboratory tests- blood and urine may be tested for several factors including:
    • Thyroid disease.
    • Metabolic problems.
    • Medicine side effects.
    • Levels of chemicals that may cause tremors.
  • Performance tests- a healthcare provider may ask you to:
    • Drink from a glass.
    • Hold your arms outstretched.
    • Write words or a sentence.
    • Draw a spiral.

People with mild symptoms of essential tremors don’t require treatment. But if it is causing difficulty in performing daily activities treatment options may include:

  • Medicines
    • Beta-blockers
    • Anti-seizure medications
    • Tranquilizers
    • Botox injections
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Nerve stimulation devices
  • Surgery
    • Deep brain stimulation
    • Focused ultrasound thalamotomy

You can receive pain management treatments such as nerve blocks at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. To schedule an appointment with a pain specialist, please call (718) 206-7246.

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.

Food Dos and Don’ts for Sleep

We all enjoy a snack before bed. Sometimes those snacks can keep us awake or help us sleep.

Certain nutrients and hormones in foods help promote sleep. Tryptophan, found in turkey and fish, stimulates serotonin production. Melatonin, found in milk and cherries, makes you sleepy. Potassium found in bananas and magnesium also found in bananas and almonds help promote muscle relaxation.

Simple carbs and saturated fats in foods represent the danger zones of pre-sleep snacks. Both can reduce serotonin levels and can be difficult to digest.

With that in mind, here are some additional food dos and don’ts to consider before bedtime.

Some food do’s before bedtime:

  • Peanut butter on whole-grain bread.
  • Lean cheese on whole grain crackers.
  • Fortified cereal and milk.
  • Herbal teas like chamomile and mint.
  • Yogurt

Some food don’ts before bedtime:

  • Sweets and sugar
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fast food
  • Caffeine

Lastly, alcohol can make you sleepy but it can cause a restless night of sleep, and certain spicy foods we eat are hard to digest and may cause you to wake up.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates across all meals and not just at night can promote healthy sleep and help you wake up refreshed.

If you still have trouble falling asleep or getting a restful night’s sleep, you should speak with your doctor as there may be an underlying medical issue. Jamaica Hospital’s state-of-the-art sleep center can help diagnose and treat various sleep disorders. For more information, or to make an appointment, 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.

Calculating Smoking Pack Years

A pack year is used to measure how much a person has smoked over a long period. According to the National Cancer Institute, a pack year “is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person has smoked. For example, 1 pack year is equal to smoking 1 pack per day for 1 year, or 2 packs per day for half a year, and so on.”

Along with a person’s age and smoking history, quantifying a pack year can help doctors determine whether someone should be screened for lung cancer.  Lung cancer screenings are appropriate for adults who are longtime smokers and are at risk of developing the disease.  The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends yearly lung cancer screenings for individuals who:

  • Are between 50 and 80 years old
  • Have a 20-pack-year or more smoking history
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years

A low-dose computed tomography or low-dose CT is the only recommended screening test for lung cancer at this time.  This machine works by scanning the body using low doses of radiation to produce detailed images of the lungs.

The USPSTF advises yearly screenings should stop when a patient:

  • Has not smoked in 15 or more years
  • Turns 81 years old
  • Develops a health problem that makes them unwilling or unable to have surgery if lung cancer is found

Getting an annual screening for lung cancer can save lives by detecting the disease early when there is a greater chance it can be cured.  While annual screenings are effective, they are not for everyone.  Therefore, if you are at risk of developing lung cancer, speak with your doctor to learn if this is the best approach for you.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center offers a lung cancer screening program to the community. For more information about our program, please call 718-206-5603 or email LUNGCANCERSCREENING@jhmc.org.

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.

Patient Testimonial: Patient Isaac Velez Tells Jamaica Hospital Team, “You Saved My Life!”

“I can’t sing their praises enough. They saved my life.” This is what Isaac Velez said after his heart procedure was performed at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. Mr. Velez had been having pains in his chest while on his way to Columbia University where he works in maintenance and as a doorman. He had been experiencing pains on the left side of his chest for a while. There were times when the pain was so intense that he had to turn back around to go home. This is when Mr. Velez knew he had to do something.

Unfortunately, when he was having these pains he couldn’t see his primary care physician because they were unavailable. Mr. Velez decided to go to urgent care which gave him medication for the pain, but he was still in immense pain. The next option was to go to Jamaica Hospital which he admittedly had reservations about because of its past reputation but his wife insisted that they go anyway.

Thankfully, he came to Jamaica Hospital when he did. After an assessment, he was told that he was very close to having a stroke which could have cost him his life. Surgeons performed a procedure where they put three stents in the remaining vein from a previous CABG surgery because the other vein had collapsed. “It’s like night and day. It’s like when your car is misfiring and you change the spark plug”, he said describing how he feels after having the procedure. Mr. Velez now sees a cardiologist here at Jamaica Hospital. “They gave me such care. The cardiac nurses were amazing”, Mr. Velez said of his experience.

“Family is everything,” says Mr. Velez, which is why ensuring he got his heart problem taken care of was important. “I wanted to see my three grandkids grow up”, said Velez. He offers this advice for those who are hesitant to see a doctor for any pain or discomfort they may be feeling, “Don’t do what I did. Get to the hospital immediately. If you feel anything, go to the hospital.” Since the procedure, Mr. Velez says he is eating healthier and taking better care of himself. The experience has given him a new outlook on life. He says, “Slow down and enjoy what you have. You gotta enjoy life.”

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.

Healthy Vision Month

It is important to care for your eyes to prevent vision loss caused by eye diseases. Losing your vision has a life-altering impact on your daily life.

There are many risk factors to be aware of that can lead to vision loss and blindness. They include:

  • Race, ethnicity, and other demographic factors
  • Having a family history of glaucoma
  • Having diabetes

One of the most effective ways to care for your eyes is by getting routine eye exams. A dilated eye exam can detect eye diseases early when there are no symptoms.

Other ways you can care for your eyes and prevent vision loss include:

  1. Using protective eyewear- You can protect your eyes when doing household chores, working in the garden, playing sports, or at work to prevent eye injuries from happening. Wear safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards made of polycarbonate.
  2. Wearing sunglasses- You can protect your eyes by using sunglasses that block out 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation.
  3. Eating healthy- Eating more nutritious foods can support your overall eye health.

This includes a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Your diet should consist of:

  • Leafy greens
  • Orange-colored vegetables and fruit rich in vitamin A
  • Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C
  • Foods rich in vitamin C
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

You should avoid:

  • High in caffeine beverages
  • High sodium foods
  • Excessive alcohol
  1. Exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility training are options. You can mix up your routine to not get bored.
  2. Washing your hands- Ensure your hands are clean before and after handling your contact lenses. Clean them properly using the designated contact lens cleaning solutions to avoid infection.
  3. Quit smoking.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of vision loss, schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ophthalmology Center now by calling (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.

How Being Outdoors Benefits Mental Health

Nature provides us with many healing properties including natural light from the sun, green spaces such as parks, and blue spaces such as bodies of water; all of which have been proven to have positive effects on our mental health.

Spending time regularly in nature can promote good mental health by helping our minds to relax and rejuvenate. Furthermore, research shows that regular exposure to nature has been linked to a host of other mental health benefits. Here are a few:

  • Improved cognitive function
  • Improved focus
  • Improved memory
  • Increased creativity
  • Decreased stress
  • Decreased anxiety symptoms
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Reduced depression symptoms

We must connect regularly with nature to reap its benefits. We can nurture our connection by partaking in activities such as hiking, going to the beach, or camping.

For those who are unable to plan getaways or excursions, getting access to nature does not always need to include extensive planning or activities. We can also enjoy nature in urban or small spaces, and in a few minutes each day by:

  • Going to a park
  • Tending to a plant or garden at home
  • Spending time in our backyards
  • Looking outside our windows at trees and plants
  • Placing a plant in our workspaces
  • Sitting by a pond
  • Listening to nature sounds, such as raindrops or the ocean

Maintaining good mental health is crucial for our overall well-being. This can be accomplished by incorporating time in nature into our daily routines, and, most importantly, seeking the care and support we need when we experience symptoms of a mental health condition.

If you need the assistance and support of a mental health professional at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5575, to schedule an appointment.

 

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.

National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month

July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month. The observance was created to raise awareness and increase understanding of craniofacial conditions such as cleft lip and palate.

Approximately 7,000 babies are born each year in the United States with a cleft lip or palate; both occur when a baby’s lip or palate does not form completely during pregnancy.   A cleft lip happens when the tissue that makes the upper lip does not join completely and leaves a gap. A cleft palate forms when the tissue that makes up the palate or the roof of the mouth does not fuse completely, resulting in an opening.

A child born with a cleft lip or palate may experience:

  • Difficulty with feedings
  • Trouble speaking
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hearing problems
  • Dental problems

The exact reason why a cleft lip or palate happens is unknown; however, research suggests the following factors may increase the risk:

  • Genetics
  • A lack of folic acid during pregnancy
  • Taking certain medications, such as antiseizure medications during pregnancy
  • Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy
  • Obesity during pregnancy
  • Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
  • Diabetes during pregnancy

The risk of developing a cleft palate or lip may be lowered by taking prenatal vitamins, avoiding alcohol and tobacco use, eating a healthy diet, managing diabetes, or receiving genetic counseling.

A cleft lip or palate may be detected during pregnancy using prenatal ultrasound or noticed at birth.  Treatment may involve surgeries to correct the cleft and improve its appearance.  A doctor may also recommend lactation or feeding support, dental treatments, hearing aids, speech therapy, or mental health support.

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.

Group B Strep Awareness Month

Group B Strep (GBS), or Strep B, is a bacteria that lives naturally in our bodies and comes and goes without showing symptoms or causing harm unless it enters a part of the body free from bacteria. If the bacteria infects the lining around the brain it causes it to swell resulting in meningitis.

GBS bacteria live in the gastrointestinal and genital tracts. It can cause many types of infection which can be life-threatening. These infections and their symptoms include:

  1. Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Low alertness.
  1. Sepsis (the body’s extreme response to an infection)
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Low alertness.
  1. Bone and joint infections
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness or inability to use the affected limb or joint.
  1. Urinary tract infections
  • Pain or burning while urinating.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Feeling the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder.
  • Bloody urine.
  • Pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen.
  1. Meningitis
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Confusion
  1. Pneumonia
  • Chest pain when breathing or coughing.
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Shortness of breath.
  1. Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Fever
  • Red skin.
  • Swollen skin or infected area.
  • Skin or infected area is warm to the touch.
  • Skin or infected area is full of pus or other drainage.

GBS bacteria most commonly causes bacteremia, sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis in newborns. This occurs when bacteria is passed on to the newborn as it goes through the birth canal during vaginal delivery.

GBS disease symptoms in newborns and babies include:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty when feeding.
  • Irritability or lethargy in the infant.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • A blueish color to their skin.

Doctors diagnose GBS disease by taking samples of a patient’s blood, urine, or spinal fluid depending on the type of infection.

Treatment for GBS depends on the type of infection. Doctors usually treat GBS disease with antibiotics. People with soft tissue and bone infections may need surgery.

It is important to start treatment as soon as possible.

If you would like to get screened for GBS bacteria, you can schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Women’s Health Center. To learn more, 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.

Fireworks Safety Tips

July Fourth is a fun time to spend with friends and family. We have barbecues, cookouts, and watch fireworks to celebrate Independence Day.

You may want to set off fireworks as part of your Fourth of July celebration, however, it is important to know that all fireworks including Roman candles, bottle rockets, bombs, skyrockets, and other aerial devices are illegal in New York City.

New York State law allows the sale and use of sparklers but limits the types and sizes. They must be handheld or mounted on a base or spike, and be no more than 500 grams of pyrotechnic composition.

However, if you live on Long Island, New York City, or in parts of the Hudson Valley sparklers are banned.

If you do use fireworks in a state, city, or county where they are legal, follow these tips for the safety of yourself and your loved ones:

  • Read and follow all safety information and instructions for proper use.
  • Keep small children away from fireworks.
  • Have a bucket of water or hose ready to extinguish accidental fires.
  • Never allow anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs to use fireworks.
  • Light one device at a time.
  • Never try to relight a device that didn’t light the first time.
  • Only use fireworks away from people, pets, buildings, and flammable materials.
  • Soak all used and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before throwing them away.

Fireworks are best left to professionals. If you choose to use fireworks to celebrate Independence Day or other occasions or milestones, confirm the type of fireworks your state and local ordinances allow.

If you or someone you are with are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.

 

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.