An “Achoo,” followed by a courteous “God bless you.” It’s an exchange that we hear or experience every day, but what is a sneeze, what causes us to sneeze and why do we bless someone after sneezing?

ThinkstockPhotos-177511684Basically, sneezing is the result of your nerves sending your brain a message that there is something in your nose that needs to come out. In many cases, it is an allergen, bacteria or a virus that your nerves are forcing out of your nose, so the act of sneezing is actually an important part of our immune system and serves to keep us healthy.

There are many superstitions about sneezes. Some believe that your heart stops when you sneeze or that your eyeballs can pop out if you sneeze too hard. These are obviously not true. The fact is that when something enters your nose, a trigger is sent to a “sneeze center” of your brain, located in the lower stem. This portion of the brain sends signals to tightly close your throat, eyes, and moth. Next, your chest muscles contract, and then your throat muscles quickly relax and mucus and saliva is forced out of your nose, along with whatever triggered the impulse.

In addition to ridding your body of germs, many other things can cause someone to sneeze and they vary from person to person. One of the most common triggers is sunlight. Bright light causes one out of three people to sneeze. Other things that can cause someone to sneeze is plucking their eyebrows, exercising, and even sex. While everyone has different sneeze triggers, one common truth for all of us is that we do usually not sneeze when we sleep. This is because when our body is at rest, so too are our sneezing nerves.

As for blessing someone after they sneeze, that too is based in superstition. It was an ancient belief that sneezing was a near-death experience and that a blessing would prevent your soul from escaping your body and deter evil spirits from entering.

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.

Cataract Surgery

A cataract is defined as the clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens of the eye is made up of water and protein. When the lens is healthy, the proteins are arranged in a very precise pattern allowing light to pass through to the retina in a clear manner. As we age, these proteins may begin to clump together and cause the lens to become cloudy which leads to blurry and dim vision. They are commonly found in people as they get older, and can start when people are in their forties but become noticeable after the age of sixty.  Besides aging other factors that can contribute to cataract formation are diabetes, smoking and alcohol abuse.
Some of the symptoms of cataracts include:
• Cloudy or blurred vision
• Colors that appear faded
• Glare from headlights, lamps
• Diminished night vision
Cataracts can be corrected by performing surgery to replace the lens of the eye with an artificial lens. There are two types of procedures that can be performed:
Phacoemulsification – a procedure where a small incision is made to the side of the cornea. The lens is broken up by ultrasound and removed by suction.
Extracapsular surgery – a procedure where a bigger incision is made in the side of the cornea and the lens is removed in one piece.
After both types of surgery a new plastic lens is inserted and allowed to heal. Most people see immediate improvement in their vision. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures done today. Ninety percent of patients who undergo this procedure have their vision restored completely.
From annual eye examinations to surgical procedures, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s board certified and fellowship trained ophthalmologists are dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of eye disorders and ophthalmic conditions.
To schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist at Jamaica Hospital please call 718-206-7001.Cataract Surgery

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is Your Constant State of Nervousness and Worry a Sign of an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety-509985137Anxiety is an emotion we all experience. Feeling anxious is a normal reaction to stressful situations such as waiting for the results of a test, speaking in public or preparing for a job interview.  Anxiety is often synonymous with feelings of distress, nervousness, panic and fear.  These reactions are normally triggered when our bodies feel that there is danger or there is a threatening situation.

For most the feeling of anxiety is temporary and will subside once stressful or threatening circumstances are resolved.  However for an estimated 18.1 percent of adults living in the United States, anxiety does not go away and develops into a serious mental health disorder that affects their ability to lead a normal life.

There are six major types of anxiety disorders: panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorders, social anxiety disorders, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorders. Symptoms can be specific to a condition and can differ based on the individual.

The following symptoms of anxiety may be indicative of a developing problem, especially if they continue for an extended period of time:

  • Experiencing a constant state of worry or fear.
  • Having trouble concentrating.
  • Insomnia or other chronic sleep related problems.
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain during a state of panic.
  • A fear of being around people or being in public places.
  • Suffering from overwhelming compulsions, such as constantly washing hands.
  • Irrational fears of objects or activities that pose little to no danger.
  • Experiencing anxiety as a result of a traumatic event.

If the preceding symptoms occur on a regular basis and have become so great that they are interfering with your ability to function daily, it is recommended that you seek the help of a mental health professional.

The Department of Psychiatry at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center offers psychiatric consultation and treatment services.  Our team of mental health professionals consists of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, creative arts therapists and support staff who are dedicated to positive outcomes and work closely with each patient to provide necessary clinical treatment and services. To learn more about the Psychiatry Department at Jamaica Hospital visit www.JamaicaHospital.org  or 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.

Fact or Myth? Some People are Born Without Fingerprints

Fingerprints 78426128This is a fact. Adermatoglyphia is a very rare condition, related to a genetic mutation which causes the finger tips of a person to be entirely smooth.  It has been found that people with adermatoglyphia are also at risk for heat stroke because they have fewer sweat glands than normal.

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.

Waist Training – Is It Safe?

The latest trend to achieve a slimmer waist is inspired by a practice that is over 500 years old.

ThinkstockPhotos-503762193Waist training is a practice that requires women to wear a corset, similar to the ones worn in the Victorian era, for extended periods of time in an attempt to achieve an hour glass figure. Endorsed by celebrities, waist training is popping up all over social media, with many women trying to reduce or contour their midsection, but does it work?

Proponents of waist training believe that wearing a corset for hours at a time will permanently mold their waist into a desired, slimmer shape. Medical experts disagree, however, stating that after the constricting garment is removed, your body will eventually return to its natural form. Believers of waist training also say that garment increases sweating, which results in weight loss, but doctors claim it is not possible to perspire so much that it will shed inches off of your waist line.

Regardless of whether or not waist training is effective, there is no debate that it can cause serious damage to a woman’s health. Wearing these cinching devices can move or squeeze internal organs, causing serious damage, including compressed lungs, crushed or displaced organs, or fractured ribs. These problems can result in difficulty breathing, digestive issues, and general pain.

While waist training is certainly appealing because it seems like a quick fix to shrink your waist,  doctors encourage maintaining a healthy diet and incorporating a fitness regime focused on strengthening your core as a much safer and healthier alternative.

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.

Why is it important to add ICE to your cellphones?-

fireman with cell-482463357ICE is short for In- Case-Of- Emergency. In the event that you or a loved one is involved in an emergency, adding the information (phone numbers etc.) of your emergency contact under the name ICE can enable first responders and hospital staff to get in touch with that person ASAP.

Cellphone owners can add multiple emergency contacts, listing them as ICE 1-Mom, ICE 2-Dad, ICE 3-Wife and so on.

There are several cellphone apps on the market that feature ICE along with important medical information such as a list of medications, allergies and conditions.

It is also encouraged that you carry this information on a card in your wallet.

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.

Rheumatic Fever and Heart Valve Complications

Rheumatic Fever is caused by a bacterial infection, resulting from having strep throat or scarlet fever. Most commonly found in 5 to 15 year old children, it can occur in people who are younger or older, and affects women more frequently than men. It usually results from a strep throat infection that wasn’t treated appropriately with antibiotics.  Rheumatic fever affects the body’s connective tissue in the brain, joints, and especially the ones found in the heart valves. It causes scarring of these heart valves which doesn’t allow them to open and close properly. This is called rheumatic heart disease and is permanent unless surgically corrected.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever usually begin anywhere from a week to six weeks after a strep infection. They include:
• Fever
• Joint stiffness – ankles, knees, hands and elbows
• Joint swelling
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Stomach pain
• Loss of appetite
• Skin rash
To diagnose rheumatic fever a physician will perform a throat culture, blood tests, listen to the heart for signs of a murmur, take an x-ray and an electrocardiogram. Anyone who has a sore throat should see a physician to rule out strep throat.  If a diagnosis of strep is made, antibiotics can be prescribed which should prevent the bacterial infection from spreading. In cases where the heart valves have been affected,   a patient may need to be placed on a long term antibiotic, and also anti-inflammatory medication. In severe cases, surgery may be required to replace the affected heart valves.
Anyone who has a sore throat that is mild to severe should seek medical attention right away. You may schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling 718-206-7001.Heart Valve

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is Smoking Cigars Any Safer Than Smoking Cigarettes?

cigars 76755542Cigarette sales are beginning to see a decline while cigar consumption has been rising steadily.  This is partly attributed to the growing belief that cigars are a safer alternative to cigarettes.  Many smokers perceive cigars as having fewer health risks because the smoke is not inhaled into the lungs but is instead sucked and kept in the mouth for the taste. However, the most concerning misconception among smokers is the belief that cigars are safer because they do not have a Surgeon General’s health warning as cigarettes do.

Research has proven all of these beliefs to be untrue. Cigars do not require health labels because they are not as regulated as cigarettes. Furthermore, they contain some of the same hazardous chemicals such as arsenic and can have the same negative health effects.

Cigars contain high levels of the addictive substance nicotine. Nicotine can enter the body by being inhaled into the lungs and can also be absorbed through the lining in the mouth. Cigars are also known to contain more tar than cigarettes. Tar contains the carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) benzo(a)pyrene. Cigar smokers are at a high risk for developing cancers of the mouth, larynx and esophagus.

Cigar smoke has been linked to other health conditions such as oral, lung and cardiovascular disease. Chronic cigar smokers may be twice as likely to be at risk for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). They may also face a higher risk of premature death caused by aortic aneurysms and damage to the heart.  Cigars can also wreak havoc on dental health by causing tooth loss, bad breath and stained teeth.

The National Cancer Institute has determined that cigars are no safer than cigarettes and there are no safe tobacco products. There is also no safe level of tobacco smoke exposure. For this reason and others previously discussed, the best option for smokers to improve their health and prevent the risk of developing chronic diseases is to stop smoking.

If you or someone you know needs help in quitting smoking please contact Jamaica Hospital’s Freedom From Smoking program at 718 206 8494 or visit www.smokefree.gov for more information.

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.

Nail Salon Safety

The safety of New York’s nail salon workers has recently been a topic of conversion, but what about the safety of those who frequent these salons?

ThinkstockPhotos-76729744The products found in salons, such as nail polish and nail polish remover may contain many toxic chemicals, including DBP, Tolune, and Formaldehyde. These chemicals can be dangerous not only to employees in these establishments, but also to the customers. Potential risks associated with prolonged exposure to these products include lung disease, miscarriage, and cancer. When choosing a nail salon, ask if they use safe, non-toxic products.

While exposure to these chemicals are making headlines, other risks, including developing toe nail fungus, plantar’s warts, or even a bacterial infection are all a cause for concern.

Follow these nail salon safety tips before your next trip to the salon:

• Bring Your Own Tools – By purchasing your own instruments, you can ensure that no one else has used them. All metal tools should be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide between uses. All non-metal tool, such as files can’t be sterilized and should be discarded after each use because they can harbor bacteria.

• Ensure Proper Sterilization – If you opt to use the salon’s tools, make sure all pieces of equipment that touches your skin was sterilized in an autoclave (steam sterilizer) between each use. Some salons may use a UV sterilizer, but this process does not kill bacteria.

• Proper Hygiene is a Must – Salon employees should wash their hands between each customer. While waterless sanitizers are acceptable, washing hands using soap and warm running water is preferable. Employees can also use gloves as an extra layer of protection.

• Don’t Get Your Cuticles Cut – The purpose of cuticles is to protect the nail bed from bacteria. If that’s their job, why would we want to cut them? Using cutters, razors, or other tools can allow bacteria to enter your body and cause an infection. Instead, use a cotton-tipped stick to gently push the cuticles back.

• Footbath Safety – Make sure your salon’s footbaths are cleaned in hot, soapy water and sprayed with a disinfectant between each use. Also, tub liners should be used. To be extra careful, bring your own tub liner or garbage bag.

• Check for General Cleanliness – Inspect the overall condition of your salon’s floors and bathrooms. Odds are if they are not clean, the shop does not make sterility a priority.

Before you get that manicure or pedicure this summer, make sure your salon is safe. The cost of beautiful nails should not be your health.

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.

Milk – Which type is best for you ?

Traditionally when people thought about milk, they were referring to the kind that came from a cow. Dairy milk was offered as either whole, two percent, one percent, skim, or lactose free. Today, there are many non-dairy varieties of milk, and each has its own benefits and disadvantages.  Milk made from rice, almonds and soy are now commonly found in supermarkets.
Types of Milk:
Dairy Milk – whole milk contains the highest amount of fat, the most amount of calories and cholesterol. One percent milk has fewer calories, and skim milk has even less. Fat free milk contains no saturated fats but is still a good source of protein, minerals, calcium and vitamins. Lactose free milk is good for people who have difficulty digesting the sugar lactose that is found in regular milk, yet it contains all of the other nutrients.
Almond Milk – is free of cholesterol and saturated fat, is low in calories, and does not contain lactose.  It is not a good source of protein and contains no calcium unless it is fortified. People who are allergic to nuts should not drink it. Also, it isn’t recommended for people with osteoporosis.
Soy Milk – contains protein, has no cholesterol, is low in saturated fat, and does not contain lactose. It can be fortified with calcium, and potassium.
Rice Milk – does not contain lactose, is good for people who are allergic to nuts, can be fortified with calcium. It is important to note however, that it is high in carbohydrates which is not recommended for people with diabetes to consume.  It is also low in protein which does not make it a good choice for people who are athletes.
To find out which type of milk would be best for you, make an appointment with a nutritionist at Jamaica Hospital at 718-206-7001.200464175-001

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.