Flu Season Can Last Until May

Although we are approaching spring, it is important to keep in mind that flu season is not yet behind us and the flu virus remains a threat to our health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “While flu season begins in the fall and continues through the winter, peak flu season comes between December and February, and can continue on into March.”  The agency also adds that flu season can last until May. The CDC is urging individuals to continue exercising steps to prevent the flu and protect their health throughout this period of time.

Here are a few measures you can take to prevent the flu:

  • Sanitize your hands
  • Cover your  nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Limit your contact with others
  • Do not share utensils or sanitize before sharing
  • Frequently disinfect areas that may be contaminated

The most important preventative measure you can take to reduce the risk of getting the flu is vaccination.  The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get vaccinated. “Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations,” states the agency.

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.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism is a disease that affects a person’s ability to manage their drinking habits (consumption of alcoholic beverages). It is estimated that over 15 million people living in the United States have an alcohol use disorder- which means their drinking causes distress or harm.

Alcohol abuse can lead to several medical complications including an increased risk of certain cancers, liver disease, digestive problems, diabetes, bone damage, heart disease and neurological disorders. It can also lead to dangerous and destructive behaviors which can negatively impact relationships, one’s personal safety as well as the safety of others.

There are warning signs and symptoms that are indicative of alcohol abuse; they include:

  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Having a high tolerance for alcohol
  • Drinking that leads to memory loss
  • Drinking daily
  • Consuming alcohol in places where drinking is inappropriate
  • Losing interest in appearance
  • Engaging in risky or unsafe behaviors
  • Losing interest in activities that were once of importance
  • Becoming defensive about drinking habits
  • Feeling depressed when not drinking
  • Experiencing mood swings
  • Denying alcohol abuse

Paying attention to these signs is important, as some are subtle and may go unnoticed. The sooner professional help is received, the better the chance of recovery.  A trained addiction specialist or mental health professional can provide the support or assistance needed to treat alcohol dependence. Treatment may include a combination of medication and counseling.

To schedule an appointment with a professional that is highly trained in the treatment of addiction, please call 718-670-5078.

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 Much You Can Save by Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking enriches your life in several ways. One of the major benefits of quitting is improving your health; another great benefit is saving money.

On average, a pack of cigarettes in New York costs $13. While this may not seem like a lot, it does add up and can become expensive.  Quitting can help you to save and apply your money towards other items or goals.  Here is an example of how much you can potentially save over time and a few ideas of how you could spend the extra money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey to quit smoking can be difficult but you do not have to do it alone. Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s smoking cessation team wants to help you to develop a plan leading to your “quit day”. The hospital has partnered with the American Lung Association to bring you Freedom from Smoking, a comprehensive and successful group-based smoking cessation program. Learn how to overcome your addiction to tobacco and enjoy the benefits of better health in a fun and interactive environment. Receive personalized attention as well as the support from group members who are experiencing this journey with you. For more information, please call 718 206 8494.

 

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.

Appendicitis

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a small organ attached to the large intestine.   Anyone can develop appendicitis but it most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30.

There are early signs that warn of an inflammation of the appendix. Warning signs include pain by the belly button or upper abdomen that becomes sharper as it moves toward the lower-right side of the abdomen and a mild fever.  Additional signs and symptoms that may present are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal bloating

If you are experiencing symptoms it is recommended that you see your doctor immediately, because if left untreated complications can develop.  The appendix can become swollen and filled with pus.  This can result in peritonitis, a condition that occurs when the appendix ruptures and allows infectious materials to spread throughout the abdomen.  Peritonitis can lead to death.

In order to diagnose appendicitis, your doctor will take a history of your symptoms and run a series of tests and examinations to rule out other possible causes. If it is determined that you have appendicitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and will most likely recommend an appendectomy (surgery to remove the inflamed appendix).

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.

Drug and Food Interactions

Certain foods that you eat or drink can negatively affect the way your medications work. When drugs and food interfere with each other’s functionality this is known as a “Food-Drug Interaction.”

According to Salvatore Sica, Pharmacist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, food can interact with your medicine in one of three ways; it can enhance, delay or decrease the absorption of medication.  Changes in your body’s ability to metabolize medication properly can result in an increased risk of side effects.

Knowing which foods to avoid when taking certain medications can decrease the risk of adverse reactions. Here are a few common food-drug interactions you should know:

Grapefruit Juice:  Should not be consumed when taking certain medications.  Grapefruit juice can block enzymes in the intestines, affecting the way drugs are metabolized by the body.  It may allow excessive amounts of the drug to enter the blood which can lead to side effects. Your doctor may recommend that you do not consume grapefruit juice if you are taking medications that are cholesterol-lowering agents as well as some allergy, heart, immune system or anti-anxiety drugs.

Vitamin-K Rich Foods:  Blood thinners are often prescribed to people to prevent life-threatening blood clots from developing. Eating foods that are rich in vitamin K such as spinach, broccoli and asparagus can decrease the effects of blood thinners.

Dairy – Calcium-rich foods including, cheese, yogurt or other dairy products can interfere with certain medications such as antibiotics.  These medications can bind to calcium and form an insoluble substance that is difficult for the body to absorb.

Alcohol:  According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the most common types of medications that interact with alcohol are high blood pressure, pain, diabetes, antipsychotic, and antidepressant medications as well as sleeping pills.  Drinking alcohol while taking these medications may lead to harmful reactions such as hypotension (low blood pressure), liver injury, ulcers or disruptions in your breathing (which can lead to death). It is also important to keep in mind that alcohol-drug interactions are not limited to prescription drugs, harmful reactions can also occur when taking over-the-counter medications.

If you are unsure of how certain foods may interact with your medications, your pharmacist can be a great help in providing this information.   It is also recommended that you inform your doctor and pharmacist of any changes in your diet, as they can advise on precautions you may need to take.

For your convenience, a full-service pharmacy is located at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in the Medical Science Building providing prescription services to discharged, emergency department and clinic patients as well as employees. Please feel free to contact our friendly pharmacists at 718-353-3160.

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 Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal issues are common during pregnancy.  This may be due in part to several factors such as an increase in hormones or the limited amount of abdominal space available for digestive organs to function normally.

As your baby grows, your organs will rearrange themselves to accommodate uterine growth.   The enlarged uterus displaces the stomach, esophagus and intestines which can contribute to reflux of gastric contents or other digestive problems.

Hormonal changes can also contribute to digestive problems.  Pregnant women produce high levels of the hormone progesterone. This hormone causes bowel muscles to relax and can affect their ability to work efficiently.

These changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy may cause the following symptoms to develop:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Acid Reflux
  • Diarrhea

If you are experiencing these symptoms, speak with your doctor right away.  Your doctor will determine if they are pregnancy-related and recommended the best treatment options for your health.

To schedule an appointment with a doctor 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.

New Year’s Weight Loss Goals

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is losing weight.  For some, this goal can be accomplished through diet and exercise; however, for others losing weight may require more intensive approaches.

Losing a significant amount of weight can be very challenging, especially for people who are overweight or obese. Weight loss (bariatric surgery) has been proven to be a safe and effective way to overcome this challenge.

Bariatric surgery is performed on the stomach or intestines to reduce food intake or absorption, and induce weight loss. Weight loss surgery can also help those who are at risk of diabetes and hypertension to reduce their chances of developing these or other obesity-related diseases.

If you are interested in surgery, one of the first steps you should take is finding out if you are a good candidate.  Surgery may be appropriate for people who:

  • Have a body mass index  (BMI) over 40
  • Are over 100 lbs. over  their ideal body weight
  • Are experiencing disabling pain in weight-bearing joints
  • Have a BMI of 35 along with obesity-related disorders such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea or degenerative joint disease.
  • Have tried to lose weight through diet and exercise but  have been unsuccessful

Choosing a weight loss surgery provider that is accredited by programs such as the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP®) is highly recommended. This accreditation ensures that your provider follows a high standard of care.

Flushing Hospital’s Bariatric Surgical Center is the first Bariatric Center of Excellence accredited by the MBSAQIP. The center provides care from a multi-disciplinary group of health care practitioners who are compassionate and fully invested in helping you in every step of your weight loss journey.

To learn more about Flushing Hospital’s Bariatric Surgical Center, please call 718-408-6977or 718-670-8908.

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.

Belly Bloat

Belly bloat is a very common condition, and many are familiar with the feeling of discomfort that it brings.

Bloat typically occurs as a result of a buildup of gas in the abdomen caused by swallowing air or a disturbance in digestion. This may lead to symptoms such as:

  • Frequent burping or belching
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Abdominal rumbling
  • Pain
  • Swelling and hardness of the abdomen

One of the ways to avoid belly bloat is to reduce the amount of air you swallow. This may be achieved by:

  • Limiting consumption of carbonated beverages
  • Eating slowly
  • Avoiding foods that can cause gas
  • Avoiding dairy products if you are lactose intolerant
  • Avoiding or minimizing chewing gum

There are several solutions you can try to relieve symptoms or minimize the occurrence of bloating, they include:

  • Adding probiotics and fiber to your diet
  • Trying abdominal massages
  • Using over-the-counter gas medications
  • Drinking more water

In most cases bloating is not serious; however, if you experience symptoms for an extended period of time, you should see a doctor.   Seek immediate treatment if bloating is accompanied by symptoms such as bleeding, diarrhea, vomiting or weight loss.

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.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are small, benign growths of skin. They can develop anywhere on the body but typically occur in places where there is constant friction against the skin or areas of the body where skin folds.

Skin tags are very common.  According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, “It is estimated that almost half of adults have at least one of these harmless growths.”

The exact cause for skin tags is unknown; however, it is believed that hormones, insulin resistance or genes may be contributing factors.

Some people are more likely to get skin tags than others.  Those who are at a higher risk include:

  • People with diabetes
  • Those who are overweight or obese
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with certain forms of the human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Those who have family members with skin tags

Skin tags are generally harmless and painless, but they may get caught in jewelry or clothing.  Some have them removed due to this issue or for cosmetic reasons.

Skin tags can be removed with the assistance of a doctor or with over-the-counter treatments. It is strongly advised that you see your doctor before attempting to remove them on your own.

If needed, your doctor may apply the following treatments to remove skin tags:

  • Cryosurgery (freezing)
  • Cauterization (burning)
  • Excision(cutting)
  • Ligation( interrupting blood supply)

These procedures should only be performed by a trained skin care specialist, such as a dermatologist. To schedule an appointment with a doctor 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.

Talking to Children About Sexual Abuse

Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.   One of the most effective ways to prevent abuse from occurring is through education.

Sexual abuse is a sensitive but much-needed discussion that parents should have with their children.   Experts suggest that this discussion should begin with children at a young age as part of conversations about safety, and talks about sexual abuse should be ongoing throughout a child’s development.

Lessons about sexual abuse can be introduced by first teaching children about their bodies. Teach them the proper names for the parts of their bodies, and also inform them that some areas are private and should not be touched or looked at by others.  Other important lessons that should be included in your talks are:

  • Secrets are not okay- According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), “Perpetrators will often use secret-keeping to manipulate children.” Let your child know that they should not keep secrets and that they can speak to you about anything. Providing an environment of openness and patience will help them to feel secure.
  • Do not accept bribes- People who sexually abuse children sometimes use bribery to keep them from telling. Teach your child not to accept gifts from adults without your permission.
  • It is okay to say “no”- Teach your child it is okay to say no when touched in a way that makes them uncomfortable or if touched in private areas. Respect your child’s decision to say “no.” Do not force them to give hugs or sit in the laps of adults if they refuse to.

Although the topic of sexual abuse is often dreaded by parents, it must be done in order to protect children from harmful situations.  Parents should not risk abuse because of their own discomfort.

If you are uncomfortable about speaking about this topic, experts recommend reading books with your child to build a bridge of communication. Your pediatrician can also be a helpful resource, they may recommend child health professionals or organizations that can provide you with the support you need.

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.