The Shingles Vaccine

Shingles is a painful rash that is caused by the herpes zoster virus. This is the virus that causes chicken pox.  Everyone is susceptible, but people who had chicken pox as a child are more susceptible. It is estimated that one million people each year in the United States will have an outbreak of shingles.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the people who are most at risk for getting shingles and should get the vaccine are:
• Those who are fifty years of age or older
• People who either had chickenpox as a child or don’t know if they had it
• People who already had shingles in the past
• Anyone who had the shingles vaccine Zostavax previously

Currently there are two vaccines that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent shingles. They are Zostavax, which is a weakened version of the live virus, and Shingrix which is a laboratory manufactured version of the viral DNA.  The CDC recommends Shingrix as the preferred vaccine.

Anyone who is pregnant or breast feeding, is currently experiencing  a shingles outbreak, or who tests negative for the varicella zoster virus should not get the vaccine. Additionally, people should not be given the Zostavax vaccine if they are allergic to gelatin, Neomycin, or any ingredients in the vaccine, have compromised immune systems such as HIV, are taking steroids , have had an organ transplant, are receiving chemotherapy or radiation, or have cancer affecting the lymphatic system or the bone marrow.

Speak with your physician if you are interested in receiving the shingles vaccine. You can schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-670-5486.

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.

Keeping Children Active During the Winter Months

Anyone who lives in the colder regions of the country knows that children have fewer opportunities to play outdoors during the winter months.  Every parent wants to keep their children from becoming bored, especially if they are being kept indoors on cold days. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that children between the ages of six to 17 get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Here are a few suggestions to help keep your child active during the winter:
• Playing outdoors is always an option as long as a child is dressed appropriately
• Find an indoor play space or gym
• Bowling
• Dance classes
• Visiting a museum
• Joining a sports league
• Ice skating
You can contact your local Community Center, YMCA or schools in your neighborhood to see if they have any after school programs that involve some sort of physical activity. The important thing to remember is that you want a child to be kept active and not sitting in front of a TV or computer screen for hours on end.

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.

Taking Care of Your Skin in Winter

Winter can be a particularly harsh season for our skin. Not only is the cold temperature to blame but also the dry air which affects the skin.  A major reason skin becomes dry is because of the low humidity in the environment. Another reason is because we spend more time indoors where heating systems tend to warm the air and deplete the water content in the environment.

Dry skin most commonly appears as being rough and flaky patches on the arms and legs which are typically the areas exposed to the air. In more severe cases, the skin will develop creases and cracks when it is extremely dry. The feet and hands frequently show deep fissures and cracks during the winter months because the skin tends to be thinner and there is less protection from micro trauma.

The outer layer of the skin is called the stratum corneum. It is composed of dead skin cells and natural oils that act as a protective layer, preventing water from evaporating from the surface. When the outer layer becomes compromised, water begins to evaporate, outer skin cells become flaky and will cause cracks and fissures.

Steps we can take to prevent dry skin:

• Bathe in warm water, never hot
• Use mild soaps that contain moisturizing creams
• Pat the skin dry with soft towels
• Use a moisturizer several times a day on exposed areas of the body.
• Drink a lot of water
• Apply sunscreen to prevent drying out from the sun’s rays
• Wear gloves
• Avoid wearing wet articles of clothes outdoors.
• Have a humidifier in the home

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center to discuss dry skin and how best to treat it, please call 718-670-5486.

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.

Blood Pressure – Keeping it Under Control in the New Year

Soon it will be the beginning of the New Year and many of us will make resolutions to do things better than the previous year. For many people this means living healthy, losing weight, and keeping our blood pressure under control.

High blood pressure affects one in three Americans. If not controlled well it can lead to kidney problems, damaged blood vessels, stroke, and heart attacks. There are many factors that can cause blood pressure to be elevated including obesity, stress, smoking, high sodium diets and elevated cholesterol. Ideally, managing some of these factors can help to maintain a blood pressure that is as close to normal range (120/80mmHg) as possible.

There are many ways that doctors can help us to control our blood pressure, Your doctor can prescribe medication that will help. Additionally other methods include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Stress reduction
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat less salty food
  • Eliminate beverages that contain caffeine
  • Eat dark chocolate
  • Cut back on sugar
  • Drink less alcohol

Keeping your blood pressure under control is probably one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy. Speak to your doctor about methods that would work best for you.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a doctor at Flushing Hospital to discuss how you can lower your blood pressure in 2018, please call 718-670-5486.

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.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a fairly common disorder, estimated to affect 75% of the world’s population. It is caused by a lack of an enzyme produced in the small intestine called lactase. This enzyme helps the body to break down the sugar (lactose) found in milk and milk products so that it can be properly absorbed into the blood.

There are three types of lactose intolerance:

Primary lactose intolerance – this is the most common form of the condition. In this type of intolerance the body starts off life with the full ability to digest lactose found in milk but as the  body ages, this capability diminishes.

Secondary lactose intolerance – this occurs when the body’s ability to digest lactose is altered either due to surgery or as a side effect of an illness (Celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth, and Crohn’s Disease).

Congenital lactose intolerance – is the condition where babies are born with a diminished capacity to digest lactose.

The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be very uncomfortable. They include:
• Gas
• Bloating
• Diarrhea
• Abdominal cramps
• Nausea

Diagnosing lactose intolerance can be performed a few different ways. There is a Lactose intolerance test that involves drinking a liquid with a high level of lactose in it. After two hours blood samples are taken to see if there is an increase in the level of sugar in the blood. If there isn’t a significant change, this indicates that the body didn’t digest the lactose sufficiently. A hydrogen breath test can be performed ro monitor the level of hydrogen produced if lactose is digested properly. The more hydrogen produced indicates the less digestion that took place. The third test is a stool acidity test which is primarily used in patients who are unable to undergo the first two tests and it measures the amount of acid in the stool.

There are several types of foods that people who are lactose intolerant should avoid:
• Milk
• Ice Cream
• Yogurt
• Butter

Additionally, some other types of food that may contain dairy are: bread, cake, custard, chocolate, candy, instant soups and some sauces.

One of the ways to avoid the symptoms of lactose intolerance is to remove dairy and dairy containing products from the diet. There are lactase containing supplements that can be taken that may help with the digestion of lactose and also taking probiotics may be beneficial.

If you experience any of the symptoms of lactose intolerance and would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5486.

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.

Holiday Safety Tips For the Home

Decorating your home for the holidays is always so much fun, but did you know that each year an estimated 250 house fires nationwide are caused by faulty holiday lights? Here are some tips for keeping your home safe this year:

• Before stringing holiday lights always check the sockets to ensure they are not broken or cracked.

• Never use indoor lights for outdoors use.

• Turn off the indoor tree lights before going to bed or whenever you leave the house.

• Do not connect more than three sets of lights to each extension cord.

• Make sure that your lights have safety labels and are made by reputable companies.

• Do not use candles on or near a tree.

• Place your tree and gift wrapped presents away from sources of heat such as fireplaces.

• Make sure that your tree is secured firmly to its base so that it can’t tip over.

• Artificial trees should be fire resistant.

• Always keep a fire extinguisher handy and accessible in case of emergency.

Benny Quiles, Director of Safety and Fire Safety at Flushing Hospital says “a small Christmas tree fire can spread and grow large very quickly. Use flame retardant decorations. make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries and never block fire exits.”

Don’t ruin your holiday by being careless. A little common sense and taking some precautions will ensure a joyous holiday for you and your family.

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.

Flu Season Precautions

We are in the month of December and cases of flu are being reported by hospital emergency rooms.  None of us want to catch the flu so it is a good idea to take some preventative measures that can help us to stay healthy.

Here are a few of the ways we can prevent getting the flu:
• Everyone who is six months of age and older should get the vaccine every year
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
• Keep a hand sanitizer handy for the times soap and water are not available.
• Avoid touching your hands to your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Whenever possible, disinfect surfaces that are frequently used by others such as tables and chairs.
• Clean your drinking glasses and dishes in hot water and with soap
• Keep your immune system healthy by eating a balanced diet, exercising  regularly and getting enough sleep every night
• Tobacco can suppress the immune system, so it is highly recommended to quit smoking.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital to discuss the flu vaccine and other ways to stay healthy, please call 718-670-5486.

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.

More and more people, both children and adults are seeking orthodontic treatment today. Having well aligned teeth is not only important for a nice smile but also for proper dental health.

The importance of having healthy and aligned teeth dates back as early as 1000 BC. The ancient Egyptians and the Etruscans were using material made from animal intestines to move teeth into better alignment. An ancient Roman scientist discovered that by applying finger pressure on teeth for an extended period of time over the course of months would help move teeth into a new position.

The first more modern practice of orthodontics was documented in the early 1770’s.  A French surgeon dentist named Pierre Fauchard came up with the concept of the “Bandeau” which was a horseshoe shaped device that gave the mouth a natural arch. Later on in the early 1800’s Francois Delabarre invented the wire crib that was placed on the teeth and help move them into better alignment. In the mid 1800’s dentists began to realize that the jaw and the teeth would have to be aligned simultaneously and this was accomplished by using tiny rubber tubing and wire cribs together.

In the early 1900’s, we entered the era of orthodontics that we are more familiar with today. Back then, dentists would wrap different materials depending on their preference (ivory, wood, copper, or zinc and later on gold or silver) and connect them with bands that helped move the teeth into the desired position.  In the 1970’s stainless steel was more widely used and this had the advantage of being less costly and also more flexible than the other materials used previously.

In the late 1990’s, orthodontics changed with the introduction of the invisible braces. In addition to brackets that were placed on the inside of people’s teeth to make it more aestically appealing, clear retainers were also being used which would help to align teeth.

To schedule an appointment with a dentist at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5522.

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 To Do If You Get The Flu

One of the most frequently asked questions at this time of year is “What should I do if I get the flu”? Since the flu is a virus and not a bacterial infection, antibiotics aren’t going to help. The best way to treat the flu is to get plenty of bed rest and drink lots of fluids.  Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever may also help to reduce the symptoms.

In some situations a physician may prescribe an anti-viral medication if the virus is caught early enough. Any time medication is prescribed, it should always be taken as directed. People should be aware of any potential side effects, and in some cases, contraindications, especially for those who have certain chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure.

In some cases, home remedies may be effective for treating the symptoms of the flu. These include:

  • Eating chicken soup
  • Drinking herbal tea
  • Using a humidifier
  • Applying a warm compresses on the nose and forehead
  • Taking cough drops and throat lozenges
  • Gargling with salt water
  • Using a neti  pot
  • Practicing nasal irrigation

Under most circumstances, the symptoms of the flu will subside on their own after a few days. If you have concerns, see your physician right away. You may schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-670-5486.

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

What is a Goiter ?

A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland which is a butterfly shaped gland that is found at the base of the neck. It is responsible for producing hormones that control metabolism that regulate the amount of calcium in the blood.

There are a few reasons a goiter may develop. The main cause of a goiter is a lack of iodine in the diet. That is why certain foods are supplemented with iodine, such as iodized salt which is commonly used. Other causes are Grave’s disease which occurs when the thyroid produces too much of its T3 and T4 hormone or an underproduction of the same hormones, known as Hashimoto’s disease.

An enlarged thyroid gland can also be caused by thyroid cancer, pregnancy, menopause, exposure to radiation, aging, and being female. Eating large amounts  of certain foods such as soybeans, rutabagas, cabbage, peaches, peanuts and spinach can also cause a goiter to form.

A goiter may or may not cause symptoms, but when it does present as:

  • Swelling at the base of the neck
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Problems breathing
  • Tightness in the throat

Diagnosing a problem with the thyroid gland can be done with an ultrasound, a blood test to check hormone levels, an antibody test, a biopsy and a thyroid scan using radioactive isotopes are injected into the blood to see if they are taken up by the gland.

Depending on its cause, a goiter may be treated with iodine supplements, medication, or may require a surgical procedure.

If you suspect that you may be having an issue with your thyroid, you should see your physician as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center please call 718-670-5486.

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.