Birth Defects

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Birth defects are defined as conditions that are present when a baby is born and can affect nearly every part of the body.  Conditions such as cleft lip can be easily diagnosed.  Other conditions such as deafness or heart defects may only be discovered after diagnostic testing.

The largest number of birth defects occurs during the first three months of gestation. In the U.S. approximately 120,000 babies are born with birth defects each year.

The 10 most common birth defects in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are:

  • Down syndrome
  • Cleft lip (with or without cleft palate)
  • Atrioventricular septal defect (hole in the heart)
  • Absence or malformation of the rectum and/or large intestine
  • Gastroschisis (hole in the abdominal wall)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (a combination of heart defects)
  • Spina bifida without anencephaly
  • Reduction deformity, upper limbs
  • Reversal of the heart’s two main arteries

Although birth defects can’t always be prevented, there are plenty of steps pregnant women can take to help reduce the risk.

The womenshealth.gov website offers these suggestions:

  • Make regular visits to your doctor throughout pregnancy
  • Get 400mcg of folic acid each day through diet or supplements
  • Don’t smoke, use illegal drugs or drink alcohol while you are pregnant
  • Always check with your doctor before taking any medication
  • Get all vaccinations recommended by your doctor
  • If you have diabetes, keep it under control
  • Stick to a healthy weight

You may also request a pre-pregnancy or early pregnancy screening test in order to spot potential or real birth defects.  The types of tests include a carrier test to see if you or your partner carries potentially harmful genes, as well as screening and diagnostic tests that can determine risks for and detect genetic disorders.

If you are pregnant, or planning to be, and want to discuss your options with one of our doctors, the Women’s Health Center at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is centrally located and has convenient hours; to make an appointment 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.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
In February 2000, President Clinton dedicated March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. It is estimated that 140,000 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year and about 50,000 die from the disease.

The good news is that the disease is highly preventable by getting a regular screening. The reason that the screenings are so important is because if precancerous polyps are found early, they can be removed and treatment can be started early.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
• Family history
• Precancerous polyps
• Smoking
• People over the age of 50
•  People who have diets high in red meat and processed meat.

It is important to be checked regularly as people get older. For many people who don’t have a family history of colorectal cancer or experience symptoms of the disease, screenings can be started at age 50. If however there is a family history or symptoms exist, screenings should start by age 40 without symptoms or earlier if there are.
Screening for colorectal cancer can be done in several ways.  Some of the more common methods include:
• Checking the stool for occult blood by either a high sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test
• CT colonoscopy
• Colonoscopy
• Sigmoidoscopy

If there is blood present in the stool, or you are experiencing unexplained abdominal pain or weight loss you should consult with your physician 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.

National Toothache Day

National Toothache Day occurs each year on February 9th. In honor of this observation, we are sharing a few remedies to get temporary relief from a minor toothache.

Here are a few:

  • Saltwater rinse- Saltwater is a natural antibacterial agent.  Mix 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) of salt into a glass of warm water and use it as a mouthwash-do not swallow. This may help to reduce inflammation.
  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse- Mix 3% hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water and use it as a mouthwash- do not swallow.  This can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. A hydrogen peroxide rinse is not suitable for children because there is a risk that may swallow the solution.
  • Peppermint tea bags- According to WebMD, “A cooled peppermint tea bag may soothe your aching tooth and gums.”

Please keep in mind that these are short-term solutions. It is recommended that you see a dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause of your toothache and get the proper treatment.

To schedule an appointment with a dentist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-6980.

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.

What Is Herd Immunity

The existence of COVID-19 has introduced us to many new terms that we may not completely understand. One of those terms is “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity describes how the spread of a contagious disease can be controlled after a large enough portion of the population, (referred to as “the herd”) becomes immune.

A disease is most contagious when everyone in the community is at risk of contracting it. If a sizable percentage becomes immune however, it makes it harder for the disease to reach those susceptible because the herd blocks its ability to reach them.  As a result, the entire community becomes better protected.

There are two ways to achieve herd immunity: vaccination or infection and recovery.

  • Vaccination – Vaccines create immunity without causing illness or resulting complications. Vaccines have successfully controlled deadly contagious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, rubella and many others. Herd immunity by vaccination protects people who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or other conditions.
  • Natural infection – Herd immunity can also be reached when a sufficient number of people in the population have recovered from a disease and have developed antibodies against future infection. For example, those who survived the 1918 flu (influenza) pandemic were later immune to infection to the H1N1 flu, a subtype of influenza A.

The percentage of a community that needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies from disease to disease. The more contagious a disease is, there will need to be a greater proportion of the population that is immune to the disease to stop its spread. For example, the measles is a highly contagious illness, therefore it’s estimated that 94% of the population must be immune to interrupt the chain of transmission.

It is important to note that while herd immunity can reduce the risk of getting a disease, it does not prevent it. Until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is developed, it is important to follow all safety guidelines to protect against the transmission of the virus, including:

  • Avoiding large events and mass gatherings.
  • Avoiding close contact with others, (within 6 feet).
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wearing a face mask or covering in public spaces.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoiding sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Cleaning and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily.
  • Staying home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care.

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 Health Awareness Month- The Importance of Regular Cervical Screenings

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January has been designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month by the National Cervical Cancer Coalition and the American Social Health Association.  This initiative helps raise awareness and encourages women to receive regular screenings for cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer which is one of the most common cancers found in women.  However early detection can lessen the severity of both diseases and prevent the development of abnormal or cancerous cells.

It is recommended that women receive regular screenings to check the health of their cervixes. The frequency of screenings varies by age. The following guideline is as recommended by The American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/health-care-professionals/american-cancer-society-prevention-early-detection-guidelines/cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines.html

In addition to receiving screenings, it is strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that women and men receive HPV vaccinations to stop the spread of the virus.

Please speak with your doctor as soon as possible about steps you can take to maintain your cervical health and remember, prevention is better than cure.

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.

Make Your Mental Health a Priority This New Year

Have you included taking care of your mental health in this year’s resolutions?

Did you know that mental illness affects millions of Americans, yet many of those who need help do not receive it? There are many reasons why – it could be due to limited availability of services, or a strong distrust of others, or those who are mentally ill might have such a sense of hopelessness that they do not seek care.

While all of these are factors as to why someone doesn’t seek support, perhaps the biggest single reason is a sense of fear and shame associated with admitting help is needed. This sense of shame is very common and it is only reinforced by society, which has attached stigmas to mental illness. The beliefs the public has about mental illness lead those who need help to avoid it so they are not labeled as “crazy” and have their condition negatively affect their personal relationships and career goals.

Getting society to overcome the stigmas associated with mental illness is the key to having more individuals come forward, but unfortunately, negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are common. These stigmas can lead to obvious and direct discrimination, such as someone making a negative remark about mental illness or it may be unintentional or subtle, such as someone avoiding an individual because they assume they could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to mental illness.

Those with mental illness should never be ashamed of their condition and here are some reasons why:

  • According to the World Health Organization, one out of four people will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives.
  • Shame is pretty much guaranteed to make things worse. Feelings of shame are proven to have detrimental effects on our mental and physical health
  • Mental illness is no one’s fault. No one asks to have a mental illness and it is definitely not a choice we make.
  • We’re not ashamed when our bodies get sick, so why should we be ashamed when our minds aren’t in top form.
  • There is no normal – our minds are complex things and no single brain is the same
  • Our mental health doesn’t define us. Don’t let your mental illness become who you are, it is just one aspect of you.

It’s time to speak out against the stigmas associated with mental illness and reframe the way we see it. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of many individuals. Jamaica Hospital advises anyone who feels they need help to get it.  Don’t let the fear of being labeled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help.

To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Outpatient Mental Health 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.

Injury Prevention Tips for Thanksgiving

For millions of New Yorkers, Thanksgiving is an important celebration bringing together family and friends over food and drinks.

Unfortunately, this rich American holiday is also when Jamaica Hospital Medical Center sees an increase in trauma cases involving preventable injuries.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe during this Thanksgiving.

#1 – Pay close attention to your hands when using cutting tools.

Some of the most common injuries seen during Thanksgiving involve kitchen cutting tools like knives, mandolins, graters, blender blades, and peelers. These cutting injuries normally occur when someone is not paying attention to the placement of their fingers before cutting.

Avoid distractions like talking to others, watching television, or trying to multitask multiple cooking tasks. Scheduling your food preparation and cooking times in advance may help reduce stress and allow you to properly pace yourself.

Keep all sharp objects away from counter ledges and away from children. When passing cutting tools like knives or scissors to others, be sure to practice extra caution and ensure the person receiving the cutting tool has a good handle to prevent dropping it.

When clearing out a blender, make sure it is unplugged from the wall and pay close attention to the blades.

Mandolins are notorious for fingertip injuries, so we recommend you refrain from using them unless they offer special safety features to prevent accidental cuts.

If you are using a peeler, make sure you have a good handle on the food you are peeling. Some food, such as potatoes and cucumbers can be slippery and cumbersome to hold.

Lastly, many kitchen sinks have a garbage disposal installed to grind up scraps and other food waste for easy disposal down the drain. Sometimes these garbage disposals can get clogged up. Avoid putting your fingers down the drain. Make sure the electrical switch controlling the garbage disposal is in the “off” position before unclogging the drain. 

#2 – Practice extra caution around stovetops, ovens, hotplates, pots, and pans to avoid burns.

Treat any cooking surfaces with caution or assume all pots and pans are hot. Many Thanksgiving injuries involve burns from handling very hot objects without the proper protection like oven mitts. Be sure to keep small children away from the kitchen to avoid burning curious hands.

If your home has an electric stovetop, always make sure all knobs are in the off position when not in use.

When boiling water or using cooking oil, be sure to keep a close eye to avoid boil over or accidentally knocking over a pot or pan.

Look around before opening or closing the oven, and always using proper protection to avoid burns.

If you or someone does get burned, cool it down with water. Do not use ice. Cover the burn with an antibiotic ointment. Don’t use home remedies like butter or lard. If the burn blisters or covers a large portion of skin, make sure to seek medical attention at an emergency room or urgent care facility.

#3 – Do not drink and drive.

One of the more tragic and completely preventable traumas we see at Jamaica Hospital is a motor vehicle crash due to drunk driving. While sharing memories and food with alcohol is a staple of a Thanksgiving dinner, no one should be getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are inebriated.

Drunk driving accounts for nearly 500 deaths each year during the Thanksgiving holiday.[1]  Do not be a statistic. Keep yourself, your family, your friends, and others on the road safe.

If you see someone at your home over drinking or inebriated, ask them to slow down. Have your guests’ addresses readily available ahead of time in case they need to take a cab, Uber, or Lyft back home.

If possible, have someone your trust in charge of pouring or mixing drinks for your guests. Having one person keep track of the number of times someone asks for a refill will help you identify who needs to be cut off from further indulging in alcohol consumption.

#4 – Make your home a fall free zone.

If you have older adults visiting for Thanksgiving, such as grandparents, great-grandparents, or anyone over the age of 65, be sure to make your home easy to navigate and clutter-free. One in four older adults age 65 and older experience a fall each year in the United States. Falls are responsible for most injuries and fatalities in the senior population.

Some ways to prevent falls in your home are keeping all pathways clear of wires, books, shoes, or throw-rugs, keeping hallways and all rooms well illuminated, and checking in with seniors to see how they feel after dinner as they may feel tired.

We encourage you and your guests to keep a close eye on seniors to notice if they are acting strangely or require assistance getting to a bathroom, walking up or downstairs, or getting up or sitting down at their seats.

#5 – Follow all instructions carefully when deep-frying a turkey.

In recent years, deep-frying a turkey has become a more common cooking method on Thanksgiving. While a deep-fried turkey does sound delicious, it can be dangerous if used incorrectly leading to serious injuries.

If you do decide to deep-fry a turkey this year, make sure you are wearing protective gear and wearing flame-retardant clothing. Wear long sleeves and use safety goggles to prevent oil splatter injuries.

Only deep-fry a turkey outdoors with plenty of space – at least 10 feet away from your home and away from any low hanging branches. The deep-fryer must be placed on a flat and leveled surface away from flammables. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case a fire breaks out.

Follow all instructions carefully when using the deep-fryer. Do not overfill the deep-fryer with oil. Too much oil can lead to overflow and splashing, leading to fires or burns. Never leave the deep-fryer unsupervised. You must make sure your turkey is completely defrosted before putting it into the deep-fryer. Failing to do so can lead to a fire and serious injury.


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.

Jamaica Hospital Adopts Integrative Healthcare Model to Treat Post-COVID Patients

Post-COVID  Recovery In Queens

For people living with the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, Jamaica Hospital’s Post-COVID Care Center offers an innovative treatment approach.

Doctors at the center are adopting an integrative care model to treating these patients, commonly referred to as “long haulers.” These individuals typically experience a variety of lingering physical symptoms including fatigue, muscle and body pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and headaches. In addition to these physical symptoms, many long haulers also encounter cognitive deficits, such as difficulty concentrating or focusing (commonly referred to as mental fog) as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

This holistic approach to treating post-COVID patients begins with gathering an initial, comprehensive patient history. This is performed through the utilization of the HOPE note, a tool to elicit the information needed from a patient to better understand their issues beyond the regular medical visit.  Information gathered in the HOPE note includes learning about various lifestyle factors, such as eating, exercise, and sleep habits of the patient. Collecting these details allows doctors to create a customized treatment plan for their patients.

Beyond the initial detailed patient intake form, doctors at Jamaica Hospital’s Post-COVID Care Center also incorporate integrative techniques such as practicing mindful meditation and beginning a gratitude journal.  Both of these activities have proven to offer benefits not only for the patient’s mental health but also for their physical health, highlighting the connection between the mind and body.

Providers also help their patients improve their overall health by creating a customized exercise plan, taking into consideration their past and current level of physical fitness. This can include a walking regimen, yoga or stretching.

Another key aspect of the Integrative Care team at Jamaica Hospital’s Post-COVID Care Center’s treatment plan is the incorporation of a diet that focuses on reducing inflammation.  The anti-inflammatory diet involves the elimination of foods and beverages high in fat and increasing the consumption of vegetables and lean proteins, such as fish.  Another aspect of this diet is the incorporation of turmeric, which can help address joint stiffness and muscle pain, both common symptoms reported by long-haulers.

Of course, the integrated care approach doesn’t just offer alternative forms of treatment; instead, it uses them in addition to traditional forms of Western medicine.  The Center’s team of primary care physicians, pulmonologists and mental health professionals incorporate the best of both worlds to provide a comprehensive care approach to help their patients recover from symptoms they may have been experiencing for months. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Post COVID Care Center to receive this pioneering care plan for your post-COVID symptoms, please call  718-736-8204.

To learn more about our Post-COVID Care Center, please visit, https://jamaicahospital.org/post-covid-care-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.

COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disease that makes breathing difficult. It is caused by damage to the lungs over a prolonged period of time and is usually attributed to smoking.

COPD can result in serious, long-term disability and is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

The symptoms of COPD typically present when there is significant damage to the lung. They may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles or legs

Those most at risk of developing COPD are individuals who:

• Are over age 40 and currently smoke or smoked at some point

• Worked or lived around chemicals or fumes

• Have certain genetic conditions

• Have asthma

If you think you have COPD, you should:

• Talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms

• Request a breathing test, known as a spirometry

• Quit smoking! If you need help, ask your doctor

• Avoid pollutants or fumes that can irritate your lungs

COPD can lead to other health complications such as heart problems, lung cancer, or high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs.

While you can’t undo the damage COPD has caused to your lungs, there are steps you can take to prevent the condition from getting worse, this includes avoiding factors that can irritate lungs, taking medications as directed, enrolling in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, and receiving annual flu and pneumonia vaccines.

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’s Family Medicine Department Recognized as Health Literacy Heroes

The Department of Family Medicine understands that the health literacy of our patients is influenced by many factors such as personal experience with the healthcare system, cultural norms, and social determinants of health. We appreciate that health literacy is our responsibility and can best be achieved by partnering with our patients. It is up to the healthcare team to communicate medical information in a way that meets our patients’ needs.

One of the ways we achieve this is by having patient navigators on our team who are trained in education for various chronic conditions and assist patients in navigating the healthcare system. Another fun initiative has been the social media video series “What Do You Mean?” which features our doctors breaking down medical jargon into patient-centered language making health-related concepts easier to understand.

Family Medicine is committed to Health Literacy! We are honored to be recognized as this year’s Health Literacy Heroes during Health Literacy Month.

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.