Tips To Avoid Spreading COVID At Super Bowl Gatherings

Like so many other events over the past 12 months, this year’s Super Bowl celebrations will be different from previous ones. The “Big Game” is typically one of the largest social events of the year, but because of the COVID pandemic, large gatherings are strongly discouraged.

The fact that we are unable to get together the way we normally would doesn’t mean we still can’t have a fun experience.

One way to enjoy the game with extended friends and family is to host a virtual event.  This is considered the safest way to celebrate the Super Bowl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the ways to make a virtual event fun include:

  • Wear clothing or decorate your home with your favorite team’s logo or colors.
  • Make appetizers or snacks with the people you live with to enjoy while watching the game and share the recipes with your friends and family.
  • Start a text group with other fans to chat about the game while watching.

Another option is to use a projector screen to host an outdoor viewing event.  While not as safe as a virtual event, getting together outdoors is considered less risky than an indoor event. 

Normal behavior at Super Bowl gatherings include a lot of shouting, cheering and laughing. When this occurs outdoors, the tiny droplets of saliva that come out of our mouths is better dispersed into the environment and become more diluted, making the risk of infection less likely. 

When hosting an outdoor party, some safety tips include spacing guests six feet apart and encouraging everyone bring their own snacks.

Like holiday gathering, Super Bowl parties can be super-spreader events. Following these suggestions will help control the spread of COVID and save lives.

Understanding COVID Data

The COVID pandemic has put a halt to or severely altered many aspects of our lives.

Many of the decisions made about where we are permitted to go and what we are permitted to do is predicated on the results of COVID data collected in our communities.  Although this information is readily available to us via multiple sources, do we really fully comprehend it?

Some of the information gathered can be difficult to interpret while other statistics, when received out of context, can be misleading.  Below are some insights to help you navigate the constant stream of COVID data.

The first thing to remember is that overall case counts don’t often provide an accurate picture of the situation. While overall information on the total number of positive cases in a given city or state can offer some insight of the level of transmission, it’s only valid if enough people are being tested.  If we are testing more people, we will obviously identify more COVID positive individuals.

Instead, the better statistic to look at is the positivity rate in a given area. This data measures the percentage of total tests conducted that come back positive.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an ideal positivity rate should be less than 5%.

Another thing to point out is to not focus on a single day’s data. This is because some local and state jurisdictions don’t report data on the weekend and submit all weekend data collectively.  This can create unrealistic peaks and valleys in daily reporting. Instead, experts suggest you review what’s referred to as a “Seven Day Rolling Average”. This data takes each day’s number and averages it with the previous six days to provide a more accurate account of the prevalence of the virus.  

Lastly, there is a great deal of information out there. While staying well-informed is very important, it is equally as important to only use reliable sources.

We hope these tips will help you better navigate COVID data and make informed decisions to ensure your safety and that of your loved-ones.

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is characterized as a mental fuzziness or lack of clarity.  Some of the characteristics of brain fog can include: 

  • Difficultly grasping thoughts
  • Problems finding the right words to say
  • Problems concentrating or remembering what you are doing
  • Mental exhaustion

The term “brain fog” has been associated with many medical conditions including lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease and menopause. Patients receiving chemotherapy have also reported experiencing brain fog. Most recently, the term has been mentioned as a long-term side effect of COVID-19 patients. Many of these patients, referred to as “long haulers” are currently living with this condition.

Regardless of the cause for your brain fog, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is offering the following tips to help you manage this condition:

  • Get more sleep – Sleep deprivation can make it difficult for you to think clearly during the day. It is recommended that you receive 8-9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Exercise your body– Physical activity doesn’t only offer benefits for your body, it can also help improve memory and reaction time.
  • Exercise your brain – Regularly challenge your brain power by participating in puzzles and other activities. Also seek other enjoyable activities that will keep your brain engaged.
  • Decrease stress – Identify coping skills such as removing stressful elements in your life and saying no to requests that can cause stress. Meditation and journaling are also good techniques to help you manage stress.
  • Monitor your diet – A diet lacking in vitamins (such as B12) and minerals can lead to poor brain function. Some suggested foods to incorporate into your diet include walnuts, fatty fishes, blueberries and turmeric.
  • Check your medications – Certain migraine and anti-seizure prescriptions as well as over-the-counter sleep aid and allergy medications can have potential side-effects linked to brain fog.

If you are currently living with conditions associated with brain fog as a result of COVID-19, Jamaica Hospital has opened a Post-COVID Care Center to help you manage your long-hauler symptoms.  We incorporate a holistic approach to care for our patients, combining the best of conventional medicine and alternative therapies.

To make an appointment, please call 718-736-8204.

Talking To Your Child About Current Events

The last year has presented all of us with so much devastating news to process. While these difficult times can be challenging for adults to deal with, they can be even tougher to navigate for children.  Many parents and other child care providers may not be prepared to talk about these unprecedented recent events with their children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents, teachers, child care providers, and others who work closely with children to filter information about the event and present it in a way that their child can understand, adjust to, and cope with.

No matter what age or developmental stage the child is, parents can start by asking a child what they’ve already heard. After listening to them, you should ask them what questions they have. Older children, teens, and young adults might ask more questions and may request and benefit more from additional information. No matter what age the child is however, it’s best to keep the dialogue straightforward and direct.​

In general, it is recommended to provide basic information with children so they can understand what’s going on, but avoid sharing any graphic or unnecessary details about tragic circumstances. You may need to keep young children away from repetitive graphic images and sounds that may appear on television, radio, or on-line.  You may also need to monitor your child’s internet and social media activities.

In addition to monitoring what information your child consumes, it is also suggested that you are with them as they consume it. One tip is to record news programming and plan time to watch it with your children. By doing this, you can preview and evaluate the content ahead of time and take the opportunity to pause and discuss the information being shared and even potentially skip inappropriate content.

While it is important to understand that every child, regardless of their age or abilities be spoken to, it is also important to tailor the message you deliver to your child based their comprehension level. Children as young as four years old are entitled are entitled to accurate information, but might not require as many details as school-aged children or teens.  Parents of children with developmental delays should understand that they might have specialized needs.

Signs of your child not coping well with certain current events may include problems sleeping or sudden changes in behavior including sadness, depression, or social regression. Younger children might experience separation anxiety while teens might start experiment with tobacco, alcohol, or other substances.

The most important thing to do when talking with your child is to reinforce that you are there for them and encourage them to come to you if they have any questions or concerns.  They need to know that you will make it through these difficult times together.

If you feel your child may need professional help getting through recent events, Jamaica Hospital’s Psychiatry Department offers outpatient child and adolescent services.  To make a virtual appointment with a member of our team, please call 718-206-5575.

Learning More About Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy fall asleep without warning, anywhere, anytime. When they awaken, they may feel refreshed, but eventually get sleepy again. Narcolepsy can drastically affect a person’s quality of life and can result in physical harm to themselves or others.

 There are two forms of narcolepsy: Type 1 narcolepsy is when sudden attacks of sleep are accompanied by a loss of muscle tone.  Type 2 narcolepsy occurs with no loss in muscle tone.

In addition to sudden attacks of sleep, some of the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Decreased alertness and focus – Excessive daytime sleepiness makes it difficult for individuals to concentrate and fully function.
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone – This condition, called cataplexy can cause a number of physical changes, from slurred speech to complete weakness of most muscles, and may last up to a few minutes.
  • Sleep paralysis – People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are usually brief, lasting a few seconds or minutes.
  • Hallucinations – Hallucinations may occur while sleeping or while awake. These hallucinations may be particularly vivid and frightening because the person experiencing them may believe they are reality.

Narcolepsy symptoms typically begin anywhere between ten and thirty years of age. Symptoms may worsen for the first few years and then continue for life. People with narcolepsy may also have other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and even insomnia.

While the exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, research has revealed that people with type 1 narcolepsy have low levels of the chemical hypocretin, which is an important neurochemical in your brain that helps regulate wakefulness and REM sleep. Those with a family history of narcolepsy have a greater risk of developing it.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for narcolepsy however medications and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms.  It is recommended that you see a doctor if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness that disrupts your personal life.

Jamaica Hospital’s Sleep Center treats individuals with a wide variety of sleep disorders. Please call 718-206-5916 to schedule an appointment.

COVID-19 Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

2020 has been a year where we have altered so many aspects of our daily lives. With the arrival of the holiday season, it only makes sense that we will also be forced to change the way we do our holiday shopping.

Normally, during this time of year, malls would be packed as shoppers seek the perfect holiday gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our ability (or comfort level) to go to conventional brick-and-mortar stores.

To help you prepare for a very different holiday shopping season, Jamaica Hospital is offering the following safety tips:

  • Shop from home – Recent studies have indicated that nearly half of Americans plan to complete most of their holiday shopping online this year. If you plan to do this, please keep in mind that this uptick in online shopping could mean inventory shortages and shipping delays, so it is recommended to start early.
  • Look at alternative types of gifts – There has never been a time when do-it-yourself gifts are more appropriate. In addition to helping you avoid going to stores, they are also fun gifts to receive because they are thoughtful and made with love. If you are not that crafty, you should consider other gift options, such as gift cards, streaming service subscriptions, meal kits or boxes, or even making a charitable donation on behalf of the gift recipient.
  • Start early – Some gifts however might be best purchased in person. If you plan on going to the mall, try to start your shopping early before the holiday rush. Many stores have not waited for “Black Friday” to begin their holiday sales, so it is easier to find bargains now and avoid last-second craziness. Also try to shop at non-peak times such as early in the day or during the week to avoid the crowds.
  • Support local businesses – If possible, try to shop locally and support some of the smaller businesses in your community. These “mom and pop” stores could benefit from your support and they may also be a safer option than some of the larger, more crowded stores.
  • Understand the new reality – Many stores have put into place shopping restrictions and regulations for the safety of their employees and customers. This may include limiting the number of shoppers allowed into the store at one time. Some stores are even creating shopping appointments for their customers. While these regulations might prolong your shopping experience, they are intended for your protection so please exercise patience.

As with every other aspect of life, when shopping, it is extremely important to follow all safety measures when shopping. This includes wearing a mask at all times and practicing proper hand washing and social distancing rules to limit your chances of contracting COVID or any other transmittable disease.

Jamaica Hospital Offers Dental Sedation To Help Patients With “Dental Anxiety”

It is estimated that 10% – 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist due to anxiety or fear. The source of “dental anxiety” may be due to a previous traumatic event or it could be fear of pain or injections. Regardless of the reason, this delay in care can often lead to further complications including increased tooth decay which can lead to tooth loss. 

For those with anxiety caused by going to the dentist Jamaica Hospital Medical Center offers mild to moderate dental sedation for a variety of procedures including tooth extractions.  The service is offered to most adult and pediatric patients. 

Patients who are interested in receiving dental sedation first need to schedule a pre-operative consultation. During the consultation providers will determine if sedation is appropriate.  A customized anesthesia plan will be made for each patient. While sedation is safe for most, patients with a history of asthma, certain cardio-vascular disease or who are obese may not be eligible.

On the day of the appointment, the team will review the procedure and anesthesia plan with the patient and family. The IV anesthesia is administered by a trained oral surgeon and dental hygienist. After the injection, the patient will enter a “twilight” or light state of sedation.  The patient’s heart, blood pressure and a pulse are monitored during the entire procedure to ensure patient safety. Most procedures last between 30-45 minutes. At the conclusion of the procedure, patients are released to a previously identified escort over 18 years of age.

Jamaica Hospital’s Department of Dentistry has been offering this safe service since July of 2019.  The hospital’s team of qualified oral surgeons and dental anesthesiologists have a great deal of experience with dental sedation, performing approximately 20 procedures for children and adults every month.

Patients at Jamaica Hospital’s Dental Center are very appreciative for this service as it has helped them overcome their fear of going to the dentist.

If you would like to learn more about dental sedation service at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-6980 to schedule an initial consultation.

Information About Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that makes you feel constant sadness or lack of interest in life.  It can affect how a person feels, thinks and behaves. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Those living with depression have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

While everyone experiences feelings of sadness at some point in their life, those with clinical depression have prolonged periods of feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless. These feelings are not always tied to a specific incident and can last for many days to weeks. Depression can occur in children, adolescents and adults. Although someone can experience depression only once in their life, most who suffer with depression experience recurring episodes.

Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

There is no known singular cause for depression. Instead, health professionals point to a combination of contributing factors including a person’s brain structure and chemistry. Hormone and genetics are also believed to play a role.

Help is available for those with depression. A mental health professional can conduct an evaluation and outline a course of treatment based on the patient’s individual needs. Treatment may include:

  • Medications – These can include a combination of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotic, anti-anxiety or stimulant medications
  • Psychotherapy – Talking to a mental health professional on a regular basis about your depression and other issues can help treat the symptoms.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy – This brain stimulation therapy passes electric currents through your brain to help your neurotransmitters work better.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation – This treatment uses a coil to send magnetic pulses through your brain to help stimulate nerve cells that regulate mood.

Some with depression may experience thoughts of hurting themselves or others. If someone you know is depressed and you think they may hurt themselves or attempt suicide, call 911immediately.

The Facts About Ear Infections

An ear infection is an infection of the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum. Children are most likely to develop ear infections, but adults can get them too.

Ear infections are commonly associated with colds or the flu because the middle ear is connected to the upper respiratory tract by a tiny channel known as the Eustachian tube. Germs that are growing in the nose or sinus cavities can climb up the Eustachian tube and enter the middle ear to start growing.

The most common symptoms associated with ear infections in children include:

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Trouble hearing or responding to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear

Ear pain, difficulty hearing and drainage of fluid from the ear are the most common symptoms in adults.

While anyone can develop an ear infection, there are multiple factors that can increase your chances of developing one, including:

  • Age – Children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years are more susceptible to ear infections because of the size and shape of their Eustachian tubes and because their immune systems are still developing.
  • Group child care – Children cared for in group settings are more likely to get colds and ear infections than are children who stay home.
  • Bottle feeding – Babies who drink from a bottle, especially while lying down, tend to have more ear infections than do babies who are breast-fed.
  • Seasonal factors. Ear infections are most common during the fall and winter. People with seasonal allergies may have a greater risk of ear infections when pollen counts are high.
  • Poor air quality. Exposure to tobacco smoke or high levels of air pollution can increase the risk of ear infections.

Because ear infections often clear up on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring symptoms. When they don’t however, antibiotics can be used to clear the infection. Some people are prone to having multiple ear infections. This can cause hearing problems and other serious complications.

It is important to see your doctor when:

  • The patient is less than six months old
  • Symptoms last more than a day
  • Pain is severe
  • There is a discharge of fluid

Most ear infections don’t cause long-term complications, but if someone develops them repeatedly, they can lead to complications including impaired hearing, speech or development delays and spread of infection to nearby tissue.

The best ways to reduce the risk of developing an ear infection include practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing to avoid contracting the common cold, the flu or other viruses and bacterial infections that can lead to them. Other tips include breast-feeding your baby and avoiding secondhand smoke.

Important Information About Hypertension

According to the American Heart Association, hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure.  It is defined an adult as blood pressure that is greater than or equal to 140 mm systolic and 90 mm diastolic. Hypertension directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

When the heart beats, it generates a force exerted against artery walls, known as blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured by testing the force needed to stop blood from flowing through the arteries, away from the heart. When a blood pressure test is performed, a test result will yield two numbers. The first number is known as the systolic number. It measures the pressure when the heart beats. The second number, known as the diastolic number, measures the pressure between heart beats, when the heart is at rest. A normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is 120/80.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects approximately one quarter of all Americans. Hypertension is commonly known as the “silent killer” because of the lack of any noticeable symptoms.  If not treated, hypertension can lead to many more serious conditions that can ultimately prove fatal.

Diagnosing and treating hypertension is very important because it can lead to a number of other diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

Everyone is susceptible to developing hypertension, but some groups are at greater risk than others. Those most at risk are:

                • People with a history of hypertension in their family

  • Overweight people

                • African Americans

                • Elderly people

You are also at a higher risk to develop hypertension if you:

                • Smoke

                • Drink alcohol frequently

                • Are pregnant or on birth control pills

                • On a high-salt diet

                • Are an inactive person

If you have hypertension, there are ways of controlling your condition. The following lifestyle changes can be added to reduce your risk:

  • Exercise Regularly – Aerobic exercise for 15 to 45 minutes, three to four times a week, every week is recommended by doctors. Swimming, walking, jogging, riding a bike, and dancing are all excellent forms of aerobic exercise.
  • Eat healthy – Avoid foods with high salt and high fat content. Doctors suggest eating more fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, pasta, and low-fat dairy products.           
  • Control Alcohol – Limit alcohol consumption. 
  • Stop Smoking – If you are serious about controlling hypertension, you must stop smoking.

In some more serious cases, doctors will prescribe medication to help control hypertension. The best prevention is to see a doctor and have a blood pressure check-up at least once a year.

Before beginning a diet or exercise program, consult your physician.