Can Someone Become Addicted to Food?

An addict is someone who repeatedly uses a substance or partakes in an activity despite the potential harm that can come from it because they derive so much pleasure from it. The substances or activities that are most commonly associated with addiction include drugs, alcohol, tobacco or even gambling, but there is growing awareness that a person can have a food addiction.

Recent studies of the brain have concluded that compulsive overeating has the same effect on the pleasure centers of the brain as addictive drugs, such as cocaine or heroin.  This is especially true of foods that are rich in sugar, fat, or salt.

These highly palatable foods trigger chemicals in the brain such as dopamine. Once a person experiences the pleasure associated with an increase in these chemicals in the brain, it will spark a reward signal to eat again. In some, these signals can override the feelings of fullness or satisfaction. As a result, a person with a food addiction will compulsively eat even when they are not hungry because of the intense pleasure they get from it.

People who show signs of a food addiction may develop a kind of tolerance to food. They will eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less. They will also continue to eat despite the negative consequences, and, similar to those who are addicted to drugs or gambling, people who are addicted to food will have trouble stopping their behavior.

Experts have created a survey tool to help professionals identify people who may have an addiction to food. This questionnaire includes questions, that ask the person if they:

  • End up eating more than planned when eating certain foods.
  • Keep eating certain foods even if  no longer hungry.
  • Eat to the point of feeling ill.
  • Go out of the way to obtain certain foods when they are not available.
  • Avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating.
  • Have problems functioning effectively at their job or school because of food and eating.
  • Feel emotions such as guilt, anxiety, self-loathing or depression after eating.

Many believe that compulsive overeating and food addiction is more difficult to treat than other forms of addiction due to the fact that food is all around us. Alcoholics, for example, can remove themselves from situations where alcohol is present to help them abstain, but we all need to eat to survive and therefore we will always be exposed to situations where food is around.

There are a growing number of programs that can help people who are addicted to food. Many programs use a similar 12 step program that other addiction programs follow. Some food addiction programs also adopt a strict diet regimen that includes abstaining from problem ingredients, like sugar, refined flour, and wheat.

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 How You Heat Your Home This Winter Affect Your Asthma?

New York winters are typically associated with very cold temperatures. When the thermometer dips during this time of year we are forced to heat our homes. For those with asthma, choosing how to heat their homes can have a serious impact on their condition.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects millions of Americans. It narrows the airways that deliver oxygen to the lungs, making breathing difficult. Symptoms are triggered by exposure to environmental contaminants and airborne particles. If not cleaned properly, home heating systems can blow dust and other particles that trigger asthma symptoms.

Every year, asthma symptoms prompt more than 15 million physician and hospital outpatient visits and two million emergency department visits. In addition, a recent study by the American Thoracic Society noted an increase in asthma-related emergency room visits, coinciding with the first seasonal uses of indoor heating in New York City and other urban areas. The reason for this is the contaminants found inside heating ductwork typically include dust and pollution particles along with mold, bacteria, pollen, dust mites and pet dander.  All of these can easily become airborne when the heating system is fired up, and all of them are asthma triggers.

To avoid your home heating system from contributing to your asthma, it is recommended that you clean or replace all air filters in your heating system and clean the air ducts prior to being turned on for the season to help reduce triggering asthma symptoms.

Home heating systems are not the only method of heating your home that can negatively impact your asthma.  Smoke and fumes can also trigger an asthma attack. These include fumes from gas, wood, or kerosene stoves as well as fireplaces and space heaters.  All fuel-burning appliances such as these can produce nitrogen dioxide. While you can’t smell or see this gas, it can irritate your nose and throat, and trigger an asthma attack.

To keep your household air free of fumes:

  • Make sure that all stoves are properly vented to the outside. For gas stoves, be sure to use an exhaust fan that vents outside while cooking.
  • If you use a wood stove, use it according to the manufacturer’s directions and be sure that the doors fit tightly.
  • When using an unvented kerosene or gas space heater, crack open a window or use an exhaust fan.
  • Before using your fireplace, be sure that the flue is open so that smoke can escape out the chimney.

Another common practice during the winter months is burning scented candles. While burning candles can create a warm and cozy atmosphere, they can also trigger an asthma attack because they can release certain chemicals into the air that are harmful to asthmatics.

By following certain cleaning and safety practices and avoid other triggers, those with asthma can avoid flare-ups in their homes this winter season.

If you have asthma, be sure to manage your condition by seeing your doctor regularly. If you do not have a doctor, you can make an appointment at Flushing Hospital 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.

Learning the Facts About Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a mental condition where an individual consistently displays no regard for right from wrong and is indifferent to the feelings of others.

In some cases, those with ASPD can appear witty, charming, and generally fun to be around, but they may also lie, antagonize, manipulate, or exploit others and not feel guilty about the consequences of their actions. They may also act destructively without regard for the law, or for their safety of the safety of others.

Modern diagnostic systems consider ASPD to include two related but not identical conditions:

A “psychopath” is someone whose hurtful actions toward others tend to reflect calculation, manipulation and cunning; they also tend not to feel emotion and mimic (rather than experience) empathy for others. They can be deceptively charismatic and charming.

By contrast, a “sociopath” has more of an ability to form attachments to others but still disregards social rules; they tend to be more impulsive, haphazard, and easily agitated than people with psychopathy.

People with ASPD may often do the following:

  • Lie, con, and exploit others
  • Act rashly
  • Be angry, vain, and aggressive
  • Fight or assault other people
  • Break the law
  • Not care about the safety of others or themselves
  • Not show signs of remorse after hurting someone else
  • Fail to meet money, work, or social duties
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol

ASPD is uncommon, affecting less than 1% of the population. It affects men more than women. While there is no direct cause of ASPD, genetics is considered a possible factor, as is exposure to a traumatic or abusive atmosphere as a child. Brain defects and injuries during developmental years may also be linked to ASPD.

 A diagnosis of ASPD cannot be made until age 18, though to be identified as having the disorder a person would have to have shown symptoms before age 15.  Symptoms of ASPD are usually at their worst during a person’s late teenage years and in their 20s, but may improve on their own over time.

Unfortunately, many people with ASPD don’t seek help for the condition because they don’t believe they need assistance, but for those seeking treatment for ASPD, participation in either individual or group therapy has proven to be beneficial. A mental health professional may also prescribe certain psychiatric medications like mood stabilizers or some atypical antipsychotics to treat symptoms like impulsive aggression.

If someone close to you has ASPD, consider seeking help for the disorder from a mental health professional. To make an appointment at the mental health clinic at xx Hospital, please call 718-670-5562.

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.

Learn the Facts About Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a common, but potentially serious infection of the skin and the soft tissues underneath that occurs when bacteria enters the body through a crack or break in the skin. Cellulitis can also develop as a result of an infection typically after surgery or having untreated injuries such as a puncture would, cut, scrape or burn can also lead to the development of cellulitis.

Cellulitis most frequently occurs on the legs, but it can present on other parts of the body, including the arms or face. Cellulitis usually develops on one side of the body.

The skin of those with cellulitis is often skin swollen and red and is typically painful and warm to the touch. Other symptoms of cellulitis can include:

  • Red spots
  • Red streaking
  • Blisters
  • Skin dimpling
  • Fever
  • Infected area tends to expand
  • Leaking of yellow, clear fluid or pus

There are several factors that place someone at an increased risk of developing cellulitis, such as diabetes, obesity, liver disease, circulatory issues, or having a weakened immune system. Certain skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, athlete’s foot or shingles can provide an entry point for bacteria to enter the body.

If left untreated, an infection can spread to a person’s lymph nodes and bloodstream and rapidly become life-threatening.  It is important to see your doctor immediately or seek emergency care if you experience any signs of cellulitis to prevent the condition spreading throughout your body.

Your doctor can recommend a care plan that may include pain relievers to treat the symptoms and possibly either oral or intramuscular antibiotics, depending on the severity of the condition, to treat the infection. In rare cases, surgery may be required.  Other tips to treat cellulitis include resting and elevating the infected area.

The best advice to prevent cellulitis includes taking proper safety precautions, including:

  • Washing your wound daily with soap and water
  • Applying a protective cream or ointment to surface wounds
  • Covering your wound with a bandage.
  • Moisturizing your skin regularly
  • Watching for signs of infection

If you believe you have cellulitis, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. If you do not have a doctor, you can make an appointment with a qualified 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.

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.

Dealing With Holiday Stress

During the holiday season, many of us struggle to complete an extensive list of tasks in what often feels like very little time.   We run rampant decorating our homes, attending social gatherings, shopping for loved ones, volunteering, traveling or cooking.  These activities are often added to our already busy schedules, which can make us feel overwhelmed.

Contrary to what we may think, these activities which should make us feel happy can actually increase our stress levels.

Although there are various factors such as unrealistic expectations or financial strain that contribute to holiday stress, finding ways to avoid stressors or minimize their effects is very important. If stress is not managed well, it can have a significantly negative impact on our health.

Mental health professionals at Flushing Hospital Medical Center offers  five tips to help you cope with holiday stress and maintain good mental health:

  1. Set realistic goals– Unrealistic goals often equal added pressure and expectations that cannot be met. If these goals are not met, they can lead to negative feelings such as inadequacy or hopelessness.
  2. Know when to take a moment for yourself (Take a break) – We are often pulled in multiple directions during this time of the year. Know when to take a breather to decompress and clear your mind.
  3. Communicate- The added pressures of the holidays are clearly overwhelming and one of the ways that people sometimes deal with this is to isolate themselves. This is not recommended; instead, reach out to loved ones or a trained mental health professional to communicate how you feel.
  4. Do not neglect healthy habits– Taking good care of your health can help combat holiday stress. Moderating your food intake, fitting in a few minutes of exercise and getting adequate amounts of sleep can be profoundly beneficial for your health.   Additionally, maintaining a healthy daily routine can help take your mind off holiday demands.
  5. Ask for help- We live in a time where multitasking has become the norm but if you begin to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Soliciting the help of friends or family can alleviate some of the holiday pressure. The holidays can also trigger depression; if you are experiencing symptoms of depression ask for help from loved ones or seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

The holiday season can be overwhelming; however, by applying these helpful tips you can take the steps needed to minimize stress and make this time of year more enjoyable.  If you find that you continue to experience elevated levels of stress or symptoms of depression, it is recommended that you seek the help of mental health professional immediately.

To schedule an appointment with the Mental Health Clinic at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5562.

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

Are Pediatric Vitamins Necessary for My Child

One of the most important jobs for every parent is to make sure they give their children a healthy start in life. A big part of that includes making sure they receive their daily recommended vitamin intake. Many automatically assume this includes providing them with a chewable or gummy vitamin each day, but is this really necessary?

The answer is not necessarily. Most experts agree that children should get their vitamins from a healthy diet that includes dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt; fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables; proteins, such as meat, chicken, fish, and eggs; and a variety of whole grains.

However, given the busy lifestyles of most families, providing well-balanced meals isn’t always a realistic option. In these instances, because children may not be getting their vitamins through their daily diet, supplements should be considered . Other potential reasons to supplement your child’s diet with vitamins include:

  • If your child is a fussy eater
  • If your child has a delay in his or her physical development
  • If your child is living with a chronic medical condition such as asthma
  • If your child has digestive problems or food allergies
  • If you are raising your child as a vegetarian or vegan
  • If your child eats a lot of fast food or processed food or drinks a lot of soda

If you believe that vitamins are necessary for your child’s development, it is important to make sure they are receiving the right ones. The following vitamins are considered most critical for growing children.

  • Vitamin A– Promotes normal growth and development; tissue and bone repair; and healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses.
  • Vitamin B – The family of B Vitamins, including B2, B3, B6 and B12 aid metabolism and energy production. They also promote bone and tooth formation and development of healthy muscles and connective tissue.
  • Calcium – Essential for helping build strong bones as a child grows.
  • Iron – Builds muscle and is essential to healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is a risk in adolescence, especially for girls once they begin to menstruate.

If you do give vitamins to your children, follow these safety tips:

  • Put vitamins away, well out of reach of children, so they don’t treat them like candy.
  • Be sure not to exceed the daily recommended dosage as too many vitamins can be dangerous
  • If your child is taking any medication, be sure to ask your child’s doctor about any drug interactions with certain vitamins or minerals.
  • Try a chewable vitamin if your child won’t take a pill or liquid supplement.
  • Consider waiting until a child reaches age 4 to start giving a multivitamin supplement, unless your child’s doctor suggests otherwise.

There are many over-the-counter pediatric vitamins on the market today. Before you make a decision on which to buy for your child, consult with your pediatrician. They can advise you on what makes the most sense for your child.

To make an appointment at xx Hospital’s Pediatric Ambulatory Care 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.

Fascinating Facts About Our Liver

The human liver is a very vital organ. It is so important that we cannot survive if it stops functioning for one single day. Unfortunately, it is also one of the least thought about organs. Given its importance, let’s take some time to learn more about the liver and give it the attention it deserves. Here are some fascinating facts about the liver:

  1. Largest glandular organ – Our liver is the largest glandular organ of the human body and the second largest organ besides our skin.
  2. Multifunctional – Our liver simultaneously performs over 200 important functions for the body. Some of these important functions include supplying glucose to the brain, combating infections, and storing nutrients.
  3. It contains fat – 10% of our liver is made up of fat. If the fat content in the liver goes above 10% it is considered a “fatty liver” and makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  4. It stocks iron – Our liver stores important vitamins and nutrients from the food we eat and stocks them up for when we need them later.
  5. Detoxifier – Our liver detoxifies the harmful things we take in like alcohol and drugs. Without the liver the body cannot process these items.
  6. Creator of blood – The liver creates the blood that circulates in our bodies. In fact, the liver starts producing blood before we are born. Without the liver there would be no blood and no life.
  7. It regenerates – Our liver has the amazing ability to regenerate itself, making liver transplant possible. When people donate half their liver, the remaining part of the liver regenerates the section that was removed.

As you can see, our livers are extremely important organs and serve many vital functions. In other words, our livers are no chop- liver.

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

Is Bariatric Surgery Right For You?

Obesity is a growing public health issue in our region.  According to NYC.gov, more than half of New Yorkers are overweight, and nearly a quarter qualify as obese.  The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, reports that an estimated 23% of the population living in Queens is obese.

These rates are concerning  because people who are obese are at an increased risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease and some cancers.  However, the good news is the risks associated with many of these conditions can be significantly reduced by losing weight.

Diet and exercise are highly recommended methods of weight loss but they may not be enough to yield significant results for those who are obese.   Bariatric surgery offers an extremely effective weight loss solution for people who have tried and failed to lose weight by way of diet and exercise. Additionally, it has been shown to help improve several obesity-related health conditions.

The two most popular bariatric surgeries are the sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass procedures. In the sleeve gastrectomy operation a large portion of the stomach is removed and a smaller, new stomach in the shape of a tube or “sleeve” is created.  During bypass surgery, a new small stomach pouch is created, and a section of the small bowel is bypassed. These surgeries are usually done through small incisions either laparoscopically or using the da Vinci surgical robot, ensuring a minimally invasive approach. Both surgeries offer excellent long term results and positive outcomes in most patients.

With this is in mind, it is important to understand that bariatric surgery is a major operation, no matter which procedure is chosen.  Bariatric surgery is not an easy way out. It is an important decision to be made under strict physician supervision and with the support of loved ones.  The process is immersive and takes approximately 4-5 months of supervised dieting and being seen by multiple specialties for approval.

Although bariatric surgery is considered safe, it is very important that patients understand the risks of surgery. As with most major surgical procedures, the risks can include bleeding or other complications.

For those who would like to explore non-surgical weight loss procedures, there are options such as the FDA-approved Obalon Balloon System. This involves three air filled balloons inserted via a swallowed capsule. The patient is given no anesthesia and most people return to work the same day. The balloons stay in for six months after which they are removed via endoscopy. The procedure is generally very well tolerated with some side effects such as nausea and cramping. Studies have shown weight loss to continue beyond removal and many patients lose significant amount of weight.

When deciding which procedure is best for you, it is recommended that you receive an expert consultation with a surgeon. Your physician can assess your health which can lead to the decision on which surgery is suitable for your needs.

To ensure the highest quality care and maximize your chances of a successful weight loss procedure, it is recommended that you receive treatment at a “Bariatric Center of Excellence”, such as Flushing Hospital Medical Center.

Flushing Hospital is the only Center of Excellence in Queens. The process to reach this designation is arduous and ensures that the center and the surgeons are of the highest quality and preparedness. Surgical outcomes are measured very strictly and the capability of both the surgeons and the center must be of the highest caliber when compared nationally.

To make an appointment, please call 718-408-6977.

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.