Helpful Spring Cleaning Tips

Studies show that an unclean and cluttered environment can negatively impact our physical and mental health.

Particles such as dust, dander, mildew, or mold in the home can trigger allergies and affect respiratory health.

A cluttered space can make some people feel mentally overwhelmed and can contribute to depression. Clutter has also been shown to affect sleep. In a study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it was found that people sleeping in cluttered environments were more likely to develop sleep disorders.  Lastly, clutter can increase the risk of falls and injury.

A thorough spring cleaning and decluttering of the home can greatly improve environmental and air quality and help reduce the risk of illness or injury.

Here are a few helpful tips to make spring cleaning easier and our homes more conducive to better health:

  • Always remember to read the labels of cleaning products before using them. Certain chemicals such as ammonia, sodium hypochlorite, and formaldehyde can trigger allergies
  • Clean blinds with a duster or damp microfiber cloth (dampened cloths will attract more dust)
  • Clean windows with a glass cleaner
  • Wipe down walls, door frames, and baseboards. These areas are notorious for collecting dust but are often ignored
  • Use a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter vacuum, to clean carpets, fabric shades, and drapes, also pay attention to fabric couches and mattresses
  • Organize clutter by sorting items into four categories: donate, store, dispose and keep
  • Clean wooden furniture by using a duster or microfiber cloth
  • Mop hard-surface floors with a microfiber mop
  • Wash bedding as recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t forget to also wash bedding accessories such as pillows, throw pillow covers and stuffed animals
  • Thoroughly clean bathrooms to avoid a buildup of mold and mildew. A cleaning solution of three parts water and one parts bleach is often recommended for cleaning mold and mildew
  • Clean kitchen cabinets and drawers with cabinet cleaner and degreaser
  • Clean air conditioning and heating filters
  • Don’t ignore hard-to-reach places such as ceiling fans and light fixtures. These can be cleaned by using a duster with an extendable handle

Spring cleaning can offer great benefits. For many, this includes achieving a sense of accomplishment and having a home that is tidy and free from clutter. The most important benefit however is, that spring cleaning helps to minimize exposure to allergens and other environmental hazards that can be harmful to our 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.

Is it Allergies, the Flu, or COVID?

The fall season presents a convergence of health concerns for many of us.  This time of year marks the beginning of cold and flu season, but for many it is also the time of year when they experience seasonal allergies.

Determining if you have the flu or are suffering from fall allergies could be a difficult task during most years, but  this year to further complicate matters we are living with the very really threat of COVID-19.

While there are some similarities between the flu, COVID and seasonal allergies, it is important to know that each possess distinct differences as well.

Jamaica Hospital is providing our community with the following information on how to distinguish the differences between the coronavirus, the flu and allergies.

  • Allergies are characterized by coughing and sneezing. Allergy sufferers also experience facial pain, nasal drip and itchy eyes, mouth and skin.  Those who have allergies and also have asthma may experience wheezing as well. Those with seasonal allergies generally do not exhibit fatigue, body aches or fever.
  • The flu shares some of the symptoms associated with allergies, such as coughing and sneezing, but unlike allergies, the flu is also accompanied by head and body aches, fatigue and fever.  Unlike allergies, which present more chronic symptoms that can last for weeks or months, those with the flu typically exhibit symptoms for five to seven days.

  • COVID-19 symptoms can be very similar to that of the flu. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of COVID include: fever and chills, cough, fatigue and muscle or body aches. The most significant difference between COVID and allergies or the flu is shortness of breath, which is a common symptom of the disease.  Other symptoms associated with COVID that are different from allergies or the flu are loss of taste or smell as well as gastrointestinal issues.

Both COVID and the flu are both viruses and mild cases are generally treated similarly with pain and fever medication, such as acetaminophen. Allergies on the other hand are often treated with antihistamines.

If you are a known allergy sufferer you should be aware of when your seasonal allergies typically begin. Additionally, to help minimize the risk of contracting the flu, it is highly recommended that you receive your annual flu shot. If you are experiencing any severe symptoms associated with COVID-19, you should contact your doctor 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.

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.

Fall Allergies

Ever ask yourself, “Why are my allergies kicking up, it’s not spring or summer?”  The answer may be that if you are a warmer weather allergy sufferer, you will most likely be sensitive to allergens in the fall too.

While the fall season signals the beginning of cooler temperatures, it can be especially difficult for those who are sensitive to mold and ragweed pollen. If you are one of these people, symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and headaches can reoccur leaving you feeling miserable.

There are several things you can do to find relief. If symptoms are mild, try the following suggestions which may provide temporary relief:

  • Closing windows and doors at night or whenever ragweed counts are high
  • Trying over the counter remedies such as decongestants or antihistamines
  • Rinsing your eyes with a saline solution
  • Trying nasal irrigation
  • Taking steamy showers
  • Wearing a mask while doing yard work
  • Washing clothes and linens frequently
  • Using air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters
  • Keeping indoor air dry by using a dehumidifier
  • Thoroughly washing your face and hair when you get home

If your symptoms are continuous and affect your ability to carry out routine activities, you should speak with an allergist.  Your allergist will be able to help you identify what triggers your seasonal allergies and provide the best course of treatment to offer relief or stop symptoms.

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 718-206-7001.

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.

Are You At Risk for Asthma?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 13 people has asthma. That translates to more than 26 million Americans.

Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell, producing extra mucus resulting in difficulty breathing.

If this narrowing and swelling occurs and worsens, it may lead to an asthma attack.

Some tips to help you prevent asthma symptoms from occurring include:

  • Family history of asthma
  • Viral respiratory infections as a child
  • Allergies
  • Smoking
  • Air Pollution
  • Obesity

Some strategies you help prevent the symptoms of asthma are:

  • Stop smoking and avoid public places where cigarette smoking occurs
  • Avoid outdoor exposure on heavy smog days
  • Adopt a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein
  • Avoid allergens that trigger asthma attacks, such as pet dander, dust, mites, mold and pollen.

If you have recurrent coughing or wheezing that lasts more than a couple of days or any other signs or symptoms of asthma listed above, you should schedule an appointment to see your doctor since treating asthma early can help prevent long-term lung damace and reduce the likelihood of your asthma worsening over time.

If you would like to speak with a respiratory specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001 for 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.

Springtime is Allergy Season

The calendar tells us that Spring is here. Soon the flowers will start to bloom, trees will start to blossom and lawns will be waking up from the long winter.  We will also be spending  more time outdoors. With the beginning of Spring comes allergy season and all the discomfort some of us experience. It is estimated that 30 percent of Americans suffer from allergies.
With the new technology and equipment that is available at Jamaica Hospital, testing of a small sample of blood serum IgE, can determine if a person is allergic to any of the hundreds of known allergens. This quick testing will help to determine what course of treatment to begin.  Another advantage of this testing is that it can be ordered by any physician, as opposed to traditional testing ordered and performed by an allergist.  A correct diagnosis leads to a more accurate treatment plan.
Historically, allergy testing was performed by specialists in the field of Allergy and Immunology. Often times this involved performing skin tests and then monitoring the results. Now this whole process can be performed by a physician through a simple blood serum test and Jamaica Hospital is now one of the few hospitals in New York City that is offering this new and exciting technology.
Often times, allergy symptoms are similar to other health conditions such as colds and sinus infections. Allergies typically do not cause fever but they can cause itchiness, eye discomfort and a runny nose. It is important to determine the causes of these symptom before treating the symptoms. People tend to purchase over the counter medications over the counter to treat their symptoms, but they may not be treating the correct cause of their discomfort.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital to discuss having  allergies, 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.

Winter Cold or Allergy?

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

While many of the symptoms of colds and allergies are similar, the causes of each are very different.

Colds are contagious and they are contracted when a person is exposed to an individual infected with a cold virus.  Our body’s immune system will launch a counter attack against the virus. This response usually brings on the classic symptoms, such as a runny nose or cough.

An allergic reaction is caused by an overactive immune system that mistakes harmless things, such as mold or dust mites and attacks them. To combat what it thinks are germs, your body releases chemicals called histamines as a defense. The release of these histamines can cause a swelling of the nasal passages and result in coughing and sneezing. While many of the symptoms are similar, the easiest way to determine if you have a cold or are suffering from allergies is the duration of your condition. While most colds last from three to 14 days, allergies can last for months as long as the person is in contact with the allergen. Other differences are:

  • An allergic reaction will begin immediately after exposure to an allergen while cold symptoms usually take approximately three days to appear after exposure
  • A cold virus can sometimes cause fever and body aches while allergies never do
  • An allergic reaction can often result in itchy, watery eyes, which a cold rarely produces this type of reaction
  • Allergies are not contagious.

Once a determination between cold or allergy is made, the appropriate treatment can be applied.

There is no cure for a cold, but there are medications that can help alleviate the symptoms. Cough syrups, pain relievers, decongestant sprays, or multi-symptom cold relief medicines can all be used to help, but should only be taken after consulting your doctor, especially if you are taking other medications or if you have other underlying health conditions. Drinking plenty of liquids also speeds up the recovery process.

To treat allergies, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine to block the reaction to the allergens. There are many forms of antihistamines and some may cause drowsiness so be sure to look for the non-drowsy formula or only take them at night. Decongestants may also be suggested to relieve nasal congestion and avoid an infection.

If you are not sure if you have a cold or allergies, please speak with your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center can help. To make an appointment, please call 718-206-7001.

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

Fall Allergies

Ever ask yourself, “Why are my allergies kicking up, it’s not spring or summer?”  The answer may be that if you are a warmer weather allergy sufferer, you will most likely be sensitive to allergens in the fall too.

While the fall season signals the beginning of cooler temperatures, it can be especially difficult for those who are sensitive to mold and ragweed pollen. If you are one of these people, symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and headaches can reoccur leaving you feeling miserable.

There are several things you can do to find relief. If symptoms are mild, try the following suggestions which may provide temporary relief:

  • Closing windows and doors at night or whenever ragweed counts are high
  • Trying over the counter remedies such as decongestants or antihistamines
  • Rinsing your eyes with a saline solution
  • Trying nasal irrigation
  • Taking steamy showers
  • Wearing a mask while doing yard work
  • Washing clothes and linens frequently
  • Using air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters
  • Keeping indoor air dry by using a dehumidifier
  • Thoroughly washing your face and hair when you get home

If your symptoms are continuous and affect your ability to carry out routine activities, you should speak with an allergist.  Your allergist will be able to help you identify what triggers your seasonal allergies and provide the best course of treatment to offer relief or stop symptoms.

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 718-206-7001.

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.

A New Way of Testing for Allergies

It is estimated that 30 percent of Americans suffer from allergies. Historically, allergy testing was performed by specialists in the field of Allergy and Immunology. Often times this involved performing skin tests and then monitoring the results. Now this whole process can be performed by a physician through a simple blood serum test and Jamaica Hospital is now one of the few hospitals in New York that is offering this new and exciting technology.
Often times, allergy symptoms are similar to other health conditions such as colds and sinus infections. Allergies typically do not cause fever but they can cause itchiness, eye discomfort and a runny nose. It is important to determine what the cause of these symptoms is before treating the symptoms. People tend to purchase medications over the counter to treat their symptoms, but they may not be treating the correct cause of their discomfort.
With the new technology and equipment that is available at Jamaica Hospital, testing of a small sample of blood serum IgE, can determine if a person is allergic to any of the hundreds of known allergens. This quick testing will help to determine wat course of treatment should be started on. Another advantage of this testing is that it can be ordered by any physician. A correct diagnosis leads to a more accurate treatment plan.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital to discuss having  allergies, 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.

What’s Bugging You?

Summer usually means picnics and family reunions, but it also means a reunion with insects that can wreak havoc on outdoor activities. Follow these tips to minimize the potential for bug bites and bee stings.

When outdoors – especially in wooded areas – wear long sleeves, pants, and socks to help protect your skin from insect bites. Be aware that insects may be drawn to scented soaps and perfumes. Also, cover food and drain or dump standing water, which attracts most insects.

Mosquito bites can be more than just annoying and itchy, they can also make you really sick. Using insect repellent is the best way to protect yourself and your family, especially when traveling overseas. Repellent is the best way to prevent diseases like Zika that are primarily spread by mosquitoes.

Treating Bites and Bee Stings

If a sting occurs, remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping the area with your fingernail or something with a flat surface, such as a credit card. For bee and wasp stings and non-poisonous spider bites, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and apply ice to reduce swelling. Continue to wash two or three times daily until the skin has healed.

Severe Reactions

If you are stung in the mouth, seek medical attention immediately. Severe swelling occurs quickly in oral mucous membranes and can block airways, making breathing difficult or impossible.

If you have a severe reaction to a bug bite, go to the nearest hospital Emergency Room or call 911. Otherwise Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center is available to help, to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-7001.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on 

Facebook.com/JamaicaHospital and follow us on Twitter @JamaicaHospital !

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.