When is a Cough Serious?

A man sitting on a couch coughing.Coughing is a normal reflex and often does not signify a serious underlying medical condition. However, a cough could be connected to a more significant health issue and should be evaluated by a doctor when it is:

  • Severe
  • Worsening over time
  • Occurring frequently over several days or weeks

A cough can be either “acute,” meaning that it lasts less than three weeks, or “chronic,” meaning that it lasts longer. Some causes of acute cough, such as the common cold or exposure to airborne irritants, are not necessarily causes for concern on their own, but others, such as pneumonia and influenza, are potentially life-threatening for some people, such as older adults, infants, and people with compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions.

In many cases, chronic coughing is also not indicative of a major, life-threatening health problem, such as when it is caused by mild allergies or asthma. However, it may be a cause for concern when it is severe, frequent, or accompanied by one or more other symptoms, including (but not limited to):

  • Coughing up blood
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

These symptoms could indicate that a cough is associated with a serious underlying medical condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, or pulmonary embolism. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to get evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.

You can receive diagnostic care and specialized treatment for your cough at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7001.

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

World No Tobacco Day

On May 31st each year, the World Health Organization highlights the harmful health effects of tobacco products such as cigarettes. While tobacco usage rates among the general population have decreased over time, approximately 22.3% of people across the world continue to use it. The risks of using tobacco are well documented; however, many people around the world are not fully aware of the dangers.

A substantial amount of information exists about the harmful effects of tobacco usage. Aside from lung-related conditions such as emphysema, there are also very strong links between tobacco usage and heart disease, circulatory problems, and stroke. Coronary vascular diseases are one of the world’s leading causes of death.  Tobacco use is the second leading cause of these types of diseases, with hypertension being the leading cause.

Despite the wealth of information available about the harmful effects of tobacco products, their continued usage results in over 8 million deaths each year. Approximately 1.2 million of these deaths occur due to exposure to second-hand smoke, highlighting the negative health impacts that tobacco usage can have not only on the user, but on the people around them, as well.

A few of the World Health Organization’s efforts to inform people about tobacco’s harmful effects include:

  • Increasing public knowledge of the risks of smoking and secondhand smoke
  • Encouraging healthcare providers to speak to their patients about the hazards of tobacco
  • Encouraging governmental support for educational programs
  • Seeking ways to promote smoke-free zones in buildings and public spaces
  • Increasing taxes on tobacco products
  • Making it more difficult to purchase tobacco products
  • Banning tobacco advertising

If you would like to quit smoking, speak to your medical provider to learn more about the resources available to help you. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center offers a tobacco cessation program that can support you in your efforts to quit. Please call 718-206-8494 to learn more.

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 You Should Know About the Outbreaks Associated with Using E-cigarette Products

e-cigarette dangersAccording to a recent alert issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “over 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products have been reported.”  The number of cases is expected to grow while the CDC conducts its investigation.

E-cigarettes are devices used to inhale an aerosol that may contain nicotine, glycerin, propylene glycol or other chemicals.  Research has indicated that e-cigarettes can also contain harmful substances such as lead and diacetyl (A flavoring chemical linked to lung disease).

E-cigarettes are known by different names such as vapes, vaping pens, mods, e- hookahs, tank systems or e-cigs. Patients involved in the CDC’s investigation have reported a history of using these or similar devices, and have experienced the following symptoms associated with severe pulmonary disease:

  • Chest pain, cough or shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Several state health departments have also reported deaths linked to the illness.  So far, five deaths have been confirmed.

Although all cases in the investigation have been linked to the use of e-cigarette products, the exact cause of the epidemic is unknown. Until a cause for the vaping- related illness is identified, the CDC is asking consumers to consider not using e-cigarette products.

Consumers should consider the agency’s recommendation as other serious health complications have been recently linked to e-cigarette products.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting an investigation involving e-cigarette users experiencing seizures or other neurological symptoms.   The agency is asking those experiencing seizures, tremors or fainting related to vaping to consult their physician and submit a report online.

If you are an e-cigarette user and are experiencing symptoms associated with lung disease or neurological complications, please speak with your doctor.   To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, 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.

Smoking Cessation Medications and Therapies

Smoking Cessation Program in QueensSmoking damages almost every part of the body. Along with nicotine, cigarettes contain tar and carbon monoxide which are linked to an increased risk of dementia, gum disease, heart attacks, stroke, lung disease, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, erectile dysfunction, diabetes and infections- just to name a few.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps to reducing the risks of developing these conditions and achieving better health; however, doing so can be difficult.   Eighty percent of smokers who attempt to quit on their own smoke again within the first month. This is because the nicotine found in tobacco products is addicting.

When the smoke from a cigarette is inhaled, nicotine is carried into the lungs and within 10 seconds reaches the brain. In response, the brain releases dopamine, a substance that induces feelings of pleasure. However, the effects of nicotine disappear within a few minutes which make people feel the need to continually smoke throughout the day.

Additionally, smoking often becomes a habit that is linked to social situations or emotions. For example, smokers may need a cigarette after a meal, when drinking alcohol, with a cup of coffee, or when they feel irritated or frustrated. These types of associations can create a powerful urge to smoke.

When attempting to stop, smokers may experience withdrawal, which can lead to a depressed mood, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hunger, and trouble sleeping. These negative feelings can further trigger intense cravings for a cigarette.

All of these factors can make it difficult for smokers to quit on their own. There are FDA approved smoking cessation treatments available that can make the process of quitting easier. They are:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as nicotine gum and patches. They relieve nicotine withdrawal symptoms. NRT is effective and increases quit rates. The nicotine found in NRT is not addictive and does not cause cancer since it produces a lower level of nicotine in the blood than smoking a pack of cigarettes daily. Your doctor will recommend a single product or combination of products. The suggested dose is based on your smoking frequency and will be lowered typically over two to three months. However, some people may need to use products longer if there is a high risk of relapse.
  • Medications that block nicotine from binding to receptors in the brain thereby reducing its addictive quality. Common side effects of these medications are nausea, insomnia, and abnormal dreams which can be avoided by dose adjustments. The dose will be increased over 1 week and then taken for 11 weeks at a stable dosage.
  • Medications that help keep dopamine levels stable in the brain and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Common side effects are insomnia, agitation, dry mouth, and headache. The dose may be adjusted to decrease side effects.  These types of medications should not be used if you have a seizure disorder.

Quitting smoking is a long and hard journey but the health benefits are enormous. Smokers have a life expectancy 10 years shorter than non-smokers, but quitting before age 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by 90%. Every attempt at quitting is a step in the right direction and your doctor can help develop a personalized smoking cessation plan.

To speak with a Family Medicine doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center about smoking cessation, please call (718) 206-6942.

Tasmia Ahmed MD, Family Medicine

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.

The Effects Smoking Has on the Digestive System

Smoking affects the entire body, increasing the risk of many life-threatening diseases—including lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. What some might not realize however is the strong effect smoking has on the digestive system.

Smoking increases the chances of developing many types of cancers of the digestive system, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach and pancreas. Research has also suggested that smoking can contribute to liver, colon, and rectal cancers.

In addition, smoking can be a factor in the development or progression of many common disorders of the digestive system, such as heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When you smoke, it can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to weaken. This muscle between the esophagus and stomach keeps stomach contents, such as acids intended to break down foods, from flowing back into the esophagus. When the lower esophageal sphincter weakens, stomach contents may reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn and possibly damaging the lining of the esophagus.

Another harmful effect smoking can have on the digestive system is it increases the risk of developing peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are sores on the inside lining of the stomach or duodenum, most commonly caused by an infection resulting from the development of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Studies suggest that smoking increases the risk of H. pylori infection, slows the healing of peptic ulcers, and increases the likelihood that peptic ulcers will recur

The good news is that quitting smoking can improve the symptoms of some digestive diseases or keep them from getting worse.  If you are looking to quit smoking, but need help, Jamaica Hospital offers the Freedom From Smoking program. For more information or to enroll in our smoking cessation program, please call 718-206-8494

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.

Types and Stages Of Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are the two major types of lung cancer. About 80 to 85% of diagnosed cases of the disease are attributed to NSCLC and the remaining 10 to 15% to SCLC.

Once diagnosed, a doctor will try to determine how much cancer has spread; this process is known as staging.  Different stages of the disease describe how much cancer is in the body and can help doctors to decide on suitable treatment options.

The staging system most commonly used for NSCLC is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system.  There are four stages which include:

Stage 1- Cancer is found only in the lungs and has not spread to lymph nodes.

Stage 2 â€“ Cancer is found in the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes.

Stage 3- Cancer is found in the lungs, lymph nodes, and in the middle of the chest.

Stage 4- Cancer is found in the lungs, fluid in the area around the lungs, as well as other parts of the body and other organs.

The stages of SCLC are based on the results of biopsies, physical exams, imaging tests or any additional form of testing used to determine how far this type of cancer has advanced. Doctors typically use a two-stage system to help them to decide which form of treatment is best.  The stages of SCLC are:

Limited Stage- This is when cancer is found in only one side of the chest and in the lymph nodes above the collarbone – on the same side of the chest.

Extensive Stage- This describes when cancer has spread to lungs, the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

Treatment for each type of lung cancer varies by stage.   Typical approaches for NSCLC may include surgery, radiation, immunotherapy or chemotherapy.  Radiation or chemotherapy are the most common types of treatment used for patients diagnosed with SCLC.

Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products contribute greatly to the development of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing this deadly disease.

If you are ready to quit smoking, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center provides a free smoking cessation program. To learn about our Freedom From Smoking program please call, 718-206-8494 or visit www.JamaicaHospital.org.

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

Now That You’ve Quit Smoking –How Do You Resist Temptation?

Congratulations, you have quit smoking.  You have accomplished a major milestone in your journey to achieving good health.  A challenge you may face after your Quit Day is remaining tobacco-free by resisting the temptation to smoke again. Coping with tobacco cravings can be difficult; however, by applying the following tips you can decrease the urge to smoke:

  • Remove yourself from situations that may trigger the urge to smoke
  • Spend free time in environments where smoking is not allowed
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Create or join a support group
  • Think about how harmful tobacco is to your health
  • Think about the health benefits you will gain by remaining smoke-free
  • Try nicotine replacements such as gum, patches or prescription medications
  • Do not have just one cigarette to satisfy a craving- one cigarette will make you want more
  • If you miss the feeling of having a cigarette in your mouth try a toothpick, a stick of gum, celery -anything besides a cigarette
  • Exercise
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Give yourself credit for each day you are tobacco free
  • Envision being tobacco-free long-term

Quitting smoking and remaining smoke-free can be difficult and requires a life-long commitment but the benefits to your health are immeasurable.

Jamaica  Hospital Medical Center offers a Freedom from Smoking Tobacco Cessation Program to help you overcome your addiction to tobacco and enjoy the benefits of better health in a fun and interactive environment. Receive personalized attention as well as the support from group members who are experiencing this journey with you. For more information, please call 718-206-8494.

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.

The Effects of Smoking on the Skin

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. The skin is one area that smoking has a very noticeable effect and can be seen very easily.
There are thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke. Some of these can affect the skin’s elasticity which will lead to wrinkles and skin that looks baggy. Smoke also affects oxygenation of the blood which can lead to a change in skin tone and pallor.
Some other effects smoking can have on skin include:
• Psoriasis
• Hair thinning
• Yellow fingers
• Slower wound healing
• Cancerous skin lesions
Quitting smoking can reverse some of the negative effects. This is due to better oxygenation of the blood and also removal of the toxic chemicals from the body.
If you smoke and would like to quit, you can speak to your doctor and see what method would be best for you. Jamaica Hospital provides extensive assistance for people willing to quit smoking.  We offer a free smoking support group every Wednesday, and there is also the availability of one on one sessions, both in person or by phone. More information is available at 718-206-8494.

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.

The Dangers of Thirdhand Smoke

Much has been written about the effects that smoking and secondhand smoke have on people’s health. Recently, attention has been given to another dangerous byproduct of smoking, it is called thirdhand smoke.  This is the phenomenon where nicotine and other chemicals found in cigarette smoke lingers in carpeting, clothing, furniture, bedding, wall, cars, and any place where people have smoked a cigarette. It doesn’t go away easily. Some suggest coming into contact with thirdhand smoke residue can lead to serious health issues, similar to those associated with second hand smoke .
The effects of thirdhand smoke can include difficulty with breathing, coughing, and potentially many of the other complications that can come from smoking a cigarette.Children are more susceptible than adults to thirdhand smoke because they come in to contact with more surfaces within a home during a typical day. They play on the floor, they run their hands across table tops, and they are more likely to touch surfaces that are hard to clean.
Thirdhand smoke is difficult to remove from an indoor area. Simple cleaning is often not effective. The best way to avoid thirdhand smoke is to maintain a smoke free environment. There are no benefits to smoking only bad effects and it is important for people who smoke to realize that they are not only harming themselves, but also those who they share space with.
If you would like to stop smoking, please contact one of the counselors at Jamaica Hospital at 718-206-8494 who will assist you.

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.

Want to Quit Smoking? We Can Help!

Tobacco is the single greatest cause of multiple diseases and premature deaths in the USA today.  It kills more Americans each year than alcohol, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fire and AIDS combined. There are an estimated 480,000 deaths in the United States annually that are due to tobacco use. It is the only legal consumer product that is lethal when used exactly as recommended by the manufacturer.

Smoking cigarettes affects many aspects of health. Tobacco smoke contains about 7000 chemicals, including low concentrations of such strong poisons as ammonia, cyanide, arsenic and formaldehyde.  It also contains 69 carcinogens – substances that are known to cause cancers in humans. Direct association has been established between smoking and cancers of the lung, mouth, nose, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, stomach, pancreas, cervix, bladder, kidney and blood.
In the United States, Illnesses caused by smoking cost more than 300 billion dollars per year in direct medical care and lost productivity. Smokers pay twice as much for life insurance and will die on average of 13-14 years earlier than non-smokers. It costs tobacco companies approximately 5 cents to produce a pack of cigarettes.

Many lung conditions are either caused or aggravated by cigarette smoke. It irritates bronchial airways and stimulates mucous production leading eventually to decreased elasticity and functional failure. Patients suffering from COPD, Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis or Emphysema have a much higher risk of dying when repeatedly exposed to smoke.
Smokers are also at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages blood vessels making them stiff and narrow, obstructing blood flow which results with elevated blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure or chronic skin changes.

Pregnant women exposed to tobacco smoke have increased risk of complications like miscarriage, premature birth, and brain and lung damage in developing baby. Sudden infant death syndrome is three times more likely if mother smoked during pregnancy.
Secondhand smoke is the smoke exhaled by smokers or given off by a burning cigarette or pipe. Inhaling secondhand smoke is as hazardous as smoking a cigarette. There is no safe level for secondhand smoke exposure established. People can inhale it at work, homes, cars or public spaces and have all the complications mentioned above.

Smoking tobacco is an addiction similar to heroin and cocaine. It can be successfully treated but the majority of cases require three or more attempts. Quitting smoking offers a chance of feeling better and living longer.  Studies have shown that five, common sense steps, provide the best chance for quitting smoking for good:

1. Get ready: set a quit date and throw out all cigarettes and ashtrays from your home.

2. Get support: tell your family, friends and doctor about quitting plans; search the internet for advice.

3.  Learn new behaviors: distract yourself from the urge to smoke; exercise or go for a walk.

4. Get medication: combining medication like nicotine patches or Zyban with behavioral adaptation and family support quadruples your chances of success.

5. Be prepared for relapse and difficult situations- most people try to quit a few times before   succeeding.

If you would like to learn more about quitting smoking, please call 718-206-8494.

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.