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.

Cold or Spring Allergies?

The transition from winter to spring can be challenging to your health. The change in seasons often results in an overlap of symptoms that could be either the remnants of a winter cold or the first signs of spring 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 pollen, 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. Allergies are not contagious.

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
  • Colds 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

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, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center can help. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-8939.

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.

Can Hand Sanitizer Prevent the Flu?

During the flu season and throughout the year, protecting against bacteria is a battle fought nationally. There may be varying medical opinions, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is clear on their opinion

According to the CDC, if soap and water is not available, it is recommended that you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC cautions that when using a hand sanitizer, you should make sure that all organics (i.e. dirt, food) should be removed from hands prior to applying the hand sanitizer.

After removing the surface substance, it is recommended that you apply a dime sized amount of waterless hand sanitizer to the palm of your hand, rub your hands together making sure to cover all surfaces of the hands and fingers and rub until the hand sanitizer is absorbed.

Some benefits of using a waterless hand sanitizer are:

  • Requires less time than hand washing with soap and water
  • Dries quickly on hands
  • Is more accessible than sinks
  • Reduces the bacterial count on hands
  • Can be less irritating to skin than soap and water

Although medical professionals may have different opinions on how to most effectively protect against bacteria, they all agree that hand washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs in most instances.

 

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.

Pregnancy And The Flu

Due to changes that occur in the immune system during pregnancy, women are at a high risk for developing serious health complications caused by the flu.

A weakened immune system can leave many moms-to-be vulnerable to severe flu-related illnesses such as pneumonia which could lead to hospitalization.

Not only can the flu compromise a mother’s health but it can also negatively affect the health of an unborn baby. Pregnant women with the virus are more likely than others to deliver low-birth-weight babies. High fever resulting from the flu may also affect the development of the baby during the first trimester.

Doctors advise that women who become sick and display flu symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a high fever, persistent vomiting or sudden dizziness seek immediate medical attention.

It is highly recommended that expecting mothers receive the flu vaccination to prevent transmission of the virus and to reduce the severity of its complications.

For moms who may be concerned about the safety of the vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Flu shots have been given to millions of pregnant women over many years with a good safety record. There is a lot of evidence that flu vaccines can be given safely during pregnancy.”

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

How Can Wearing Gloves Get You Sick?

We wear gloves during this time of year to protect ourselves from the cold, wintery elements. These accessories are meant to serve as a layer of defense, but could they actually contribute to getting us sick during cold and flu season?

While outer garments like gloves serve a very important function in keeping us warm, they can also be the potential transmitter of harmful germs if they are not washed regularly. When you think about it, we use our gloves when we open doors, hold escalator rails, and ride the train, all of which are breeding grounds for viruses. After touching these things, we might use our glove covered hands to scratch our noses and cover our mouths. In a pinch, we might even use our gloves to wipe our nose when a tissue isn’t available.  These actions can take place every day for the duration of the winter, but ask yourself when was the last time you washed your gloves? The fact is gloves pick up everything bare hands do and very few people wash their gloves frequently enough.

It is estimated that certain viruses such as the flu can live on your gloves for two to three days, while stomach viruses, such as the rotavirus and norovirus can remain active for up to a month.

To avoid getting sick from your gloves, follow these simple tips:

  • Wash them at least once a week. Cotton products are easiest to clean by using a washing machine while wool products need to be hand washed. Leather gloves will require dry cleaning
  • Never use your mouth to pull off your gloves. The best way to remove your gloves is from back to front, similar to healthcare workers
  • If you are wearing your gloves in snowy or wet conditions, allow them to air dry rather than shoving them into your pockets or into the sleeve of your coat.
  • Avoid touching ATMs, elevator buttons, railings, or shopping carts with a gloved hand. It is much easier to sanitize your bare hand than it is to clean your gloves
  • Always wash your hands after removing your gloves to avoid contamination

Following these steps can reduce the chances of getting sick this winter.

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.

When the Flu Becomes Deadly

This year’s flu season is severe. Not only are hospital emergency rooms receiving  people with the flu in record numbers but  there has also been reports of higher than average flu- related deaths.
Most people who get the flu will recover in five to seven days.  However, in some cases, the virus can cause complications that can be life threatening.
Some people are more at risk than others for developing serious flu-related illnesses; they include:
•Young children, usually under the age of two
•Older adults, typically over 65
•Women who are pregnant
•Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy
People who are immunocompromised and have chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, HIV or AIDS and sickle cell anemia are especially at higher risk for developing life- threatening complications from the flu.
The flu can lead to secondary bacterial infections. This can cause pneumonia and other complications that become harder to treat due the immune system’s weakened state.
The key to treating the flu is to act quickly as soon as you begin to develop symptoms. For some people just staying home, getting bed rest, and staying hydrated will help them to recover. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to seek medical attention.
Your primary care physician will be best suited to diagnose you and to offer you treatment options. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital, 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.

How to Prevent the Flu

It is nearing the middle of October and it is also the beginning of flu season. 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.

The Flu Vaccine

Caution - Flu Season Ahead

Influenza – the unwelcome guest that comes calling on us every year – often with many very unpleasant consequences. Historically, widespread flu epidemics have had devastating effects on large portions of the earth’s population. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that two scientists, Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Thomas Francis developed the first vaccine to prevent the flu virus. The vaccine was given to American soldiers during World War II and was found to be useful in preventing the widespread outbreaks that had been common before the vaccines were used. In the years after the war, the vaccine was made available to the general public and has greatly reduced the widespread epidemics that were so common before. Research has helped to develop better vaccines with fewer side effects and also better suited to combat strains of the influenza virus that keep changing every year. Over the past 60 years millions of people have been given the flu vaccine each year. There is still a debate going on as to whether the flu vaccine is safe. Many people still are hesitant about getting the vaccine at all. The flu still comes calling every year, and many people are still being affected. However there are much fewer catastrophic epidemics throughout the world, and symptoms appear to be lessened, thanks in large part to the work done by Dr Salk and Dr. Francis in the early part of the last century.

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

How Do You Keep Your Immune System Strong?

Our immune system protects our bodies from illness and infection. While having a strong immune system is important all year long, there are times of the year that its effectiveness is tested more than other.

body defense

With cold a flu season upon us, Flushing Hospital wants to offer some day-to-day lifestyle tips to avoid weakening your immune system and keep you healthy.

STRESS
Prolonged periods of intense stress can affect the immune system. Stress causes the brain to boost the production of hormones that weaken the function of the infection-fighting T cells. If you are experiencing high levels of stress, try to adopt stress-relieving activities to boost your immune system.

POOR SLEEP
Poor sleep is strongly associated with a weak immune system as it reduces the number of killer cells needed to fight germs. Recent research has suggested that the amount of flu-fighting antibodies produced was cut in half in those who were sleep deprived.

ALCOHOL
Excessive intake of alcohol may reduce the immune system’s response to invading pathogens because alcohol contains ingredients that impair lung functionality, making us more prone to viral or bacterial infections.

POOR DIET
Excessive consumption of refined sugars and highly processed food containing pesticides, chemical additives and preservatives can weaken the immune system. In addition, obesity can lead to a weakened immune system as it affects the ability of white blood cells to multiply, produce antibodies and prevent inflammation.

By adopting some healthy lifestyle practices and avoiding certain others, we can give our bodies the best chance of staving of illness this cold and flu season.

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.

Ahhhhhchew! Cold, Flu or Seasonal Allergies?

Sick man lying in the bed with fever.

We have sprung into spring!  Flowers and trees are beginning to bud and we should be feeling great, but some of us aren’t.  If you are one of these folks, you may be experiencing seasonal allergies, or are you?

Allergies, colds and the flu are often hard to tell apart because they share many similar symptoms. It is knowing the differences in the symptoms that will help you when seeking treatment.

Colds and the flu are caused by different viruses and the symptoms associated with the flu are often more severe.  Allergies are different because they are not caused by a virus.  It is your body’s immune system reacting to an allergen that you are allergic to such as pollen or pet dander.

This chart can help you determine whether you have seasonal allergies, a cold or the flu:

Common Cold Influenza Seasonal Allergies
Stuffy or runny nose Yes Sometimes Runny, itchy nose
Fever Sometimes; mild if present Usually, often 100 degrees F (38.8 degrees C) or higher. No
Body Aches Mild Mild to severe No
Chills Sometimes Yes, sometimes intense No
Sore Throat Often Sometimes Itchy or tickling throat
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usually, can last a couple of weeks after recovery Rarely
Feeling extremely exhausted No Yes No
Headache Sometimes Usually, sometimes severe Sinus pressure or stuffiness
Sinus drainage Usually Rarely Often
Diarrhea, Vomiting No Sometimes No
Cough Mild to moderate Usually, can become severe Dry or with minimal mucus
Watering eyes Sometimes Sometimes, with fever Itchy swollen, burning, and/or watery eyes
Ears Ear congestion No Ear congestion or popping
Sneezing Usually Sometimes Yes
Timing Anytime throughout the year Most cases occur between October and May. Anytime, but symptoms are often more intense in the fall and spring seasons.

If you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms listed above and would like to make an appointment to see a physician, you can call Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 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.