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.

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.

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.

When Is The Best Time To Get The Flu Vaccine ?

Flu season can start in September and run until May. Even before the summer is over, pharmacies start advertising that the flu vaccine is available. While many people believe that the best time to get a flu vaccine is as soon as possible, getting it in October probably is the best option. Some research has shown that the effects of the vaccine start to wear off after six months so we want to make sure we are well protected when the height of the flu season is upon us.

Every year the flu vaccine is different, manufactured with the hope that it will be effective against the prevalent strain expected for that year. It is estimated that it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, so being covered early is important. Everyone who is going to be vaccinated wants to be prepared before the peak of the flu season which runs from December to late March. If you would to schedule an appointment for a flu vaccine in the Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s 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.

National Depression Screening Day

 

Thursday October 11th has been designated as National Depression Screening Day, an annual event held during Mental Illness Awareness Week. This event was started 28 years ago as an effort to provide people with mental health education materials and resources for support services. National Depression Screening Day was also created with the hope of removing the stigma from mental illness.

This year the focus of the observation is to have people reach out to their friends, family, co-workers and neighbors who might benefit from information on this condition and to avail themselves to the many opportunities to receive a free screening, either in person or online. It is estimated that worldwide there are 350 million people that suffer from depression.

The World Health Organization states that early recognition and treatment of the disease offers the best opportunity for successful outcomes. If depression is left untreated it can lead to suicide.

Depression screenings help to distinguish between short term feelings of sadness and stress due to transient life episodes, and more severe symptoms that can go on for months and years. The tests usually last between two to five minutes and the scores will indicate whether a further evaluation by a mental health professional is needed. It is important for people to know that help is available.

To schedule an appointment with the Mental Health Department of 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.

Urticaria (hives) is a skin condition caused usually by an allergic reaction or in some cases, unknown reasons.  Hives can appear on any part of the body and appear when a substance within the body called histamine is released from cells called mast cells. This causes fluid to leak from blood vessels, causing a reaction on the surface of the skin.

Hives can be as small as a pencil point or appear as big welts and are usually red, itchy and have varying shapes.  They usually last a few hours but can last a day or so, and if there is constant exposure to what is causing the condition, they will last much longer. The condition can be acute, lasting just a few weeks, to chronic which can go on for months.

The allergic reaction may be a result of exposure to certain allergens, chemicals in some food, insect bites, heat, cold and being out in sunlight. Certain medications can also be responsible for causing hives, most notably nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), aspirin, codeine, and morphine.

Hives usually resolve on their own in a few hours or days. One way to try to control the symptoms of hives is to avoid what is causing it, if it can be determined. Often times a physician will recommend taking an antihistamine. It is always suggested to see a physician if the condition becomes very uncomfortable or doesn’t resolve in a few days. 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.