Antibody Testing

Antibody testing has become a popular topic during the COVID-19 pandemic.  There have been ongoing discussions as to whether or not this form of testing can provide answers to some questions we have about the disease.

Common questions asked about COVID-19 antibody testing include: “Can antibodies help detect past infections?” and “Does having antibodies reduce our risk of infection?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the presence of antibodies (proteins produced by our body’s immune system to fight antigens such as viruses) can help to determine if you had a past infection of the virus that causes COVID-19.

A blood test, known as a serology test, is required to detect disease-specific antibodies.  Testing is typically recommended for individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 or those who suspect they had or were exposed to the virus but were asymptomatic.

Positive or negative results could mean several things for your health:

  • A positive antibody test result indicates that you may have had a COVID-19 infection in the past. However, results can also be false-positive, meaning you have developed antibodies but for a different kind of coronavirus such as the one that causes the common cold. It is very important to remember that a positive test does not guarantee immunity from the disease; so there is a possibility that you can become re-infected. Therefore you should continue to exercise the proper safety precautions to protect yourself and others around you.
  • If you test negative, this may mean that you have not had a prior COVID-19 infection. But it can also mean that you may currently have the virus and have not yet produced antibodies (If you have symptoms of the disease or believe you have been exposed, you can take a viral test to learn if you have the virus.)  For those who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 but tested negative, please keep in mind that it may take 1-3 weeks after infection to develop antibodies.

Although antibody testing is providing some answers about COVID-19, there is still a degree of uncertainty about the accuracy of the information we are obtaining.  COVID-19 is a novel disease, and ongoing studies are revealing new details about it each day.  Until we are more certain in our knowledge of the disease, the CDC recommends that we continue to practice social distancing and other safety measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

To learn more antibody testing please consult your physician or visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/serology-overview.html

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

Tips On How To Prepare for a Telemedicine Appointment

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we conduct our day-to-day routines.  To prevent the spread of the disease, most of our activities are now done from home. In some instances, this includes seeing our doctors for medical appointments.

Telehealth or telemedicine appointments have become the norm for many who require consultations from their physicians during the pandemic.  These appointments connect patients and doctors by utilizing video conferencing technology.  Although these virtual visits may not take place physically in a doctor’s office, they are private.  Information and conversations shared between participants remain confidential. Many of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s doctors are now accepting appointments for virtual visits.

To prepare for your telemedicine appointment at Jamaica Hospital, please follow these helpful tips:

  • Sign up for Medisys MyChart. (This is preferred, however, if you do not have MyChart, we can still schedule a virtual visit through Zoom directly through zoom.us/join). 
  • Have access to a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a camera enabled with visual and audio.
  • Download the Zoom video communications application.
  • Test your equipment before your scheduled virtual visit.
  • Close other running programs or unnecessary tabs to avoid delays or pauses in your connection.
  • Find a quiet space.
  • Adjust the lighting in your space. Utilize overhead lights if they are available and block sunlight from windows. ( This will prevent you from having too much background light)
  • Prepare to answer questions pertaining to your medical history, symptoms, lifestyle changes, or any aspect of your health.
  • Have a pen and paper ready to write down your doctor’s recommendations or information about your treatment plan.

It is important to note that while most virtual visits are like normal appointments, there may be limitations based on your condition.  Please contact your doctor’s office if you have questions about scheduling a virtual visit.

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.

Q & A: Can COVID-19 Affect My Pregnancy?

A:   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result.”

COVID-19 is a new disease. Therefore, we are learning more about how it spreads and the effects it can have on our health every day.  While we continue to learn more about COVID-19, we encourage women who are pregnant to exercise all recommended precautions to protect their health.  These measures include:

  • Frequently washing and sanitizing your hands
  • Frequently cleaning surfaces of your home
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Practicing social distancing

If you are pregnant and experiencing symptoms that include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, headache, a new loss of smell, or taste please inform your doctor. Testing may be required to see if these symptoms are the result of COVID-19. If you have tested positive, you may require specialized care during pregnancy and delivery. After giving birth, there is the possibility that your baby may need to be separated from you. This separation helps to prevent you from infecting your baby.

It is important to remember that prenatal care is unique to each individual. Speak with your OB/GYN about their plans to monitor your pregnancy and protect your health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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.

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

Can wearing earbuds lead to ear infection

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

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

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

Indigestion VS Heartburn

Symptoms of heartburn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips on How to Prevent Getting Sick on a Plane

Tips to prevent getting sick on a plane

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for Breastfeeding Babies Who are Teething

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

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

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

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

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

Laryngitis

laryngitis treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Holiday Stress Affects Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Dust Mites & How They Affect Our Health

allergies and dust mites

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

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

Common dust mite allergy symptoms include:

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

In people with asthma, symptoms can include:

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

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

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

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

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

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