What is Winter Itch?

During the winter, cold temperatures, low humidity, and high winds wear away at the natural oils and dead skin cells in the outer layer of your skin that preserves moisture content. This, combined with other potential factors such as a sensitivity to soaps and detergents, pre-existing skin conditions, infections, allergies to materials such as latex, sunburns, and stress or fatigue, may cause you to develop a rash sometimes referred to as “winter itch.”

Winter itch may cause similar symptoms to other types of rashes, such as redness, swelling, flaking, blisters, and itchiness. It most often occurs on the arms, legs, or hands, as these are most often exposed to cold air, but it can also develop anywhere on your body.

Certain soaps and moisturizing products may be helpful for treating winter itch. These include:

  • Skin cream or lotion
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Natural oils
  • Oatmeal soap or baths
  • Topical cortisone cream

Developing winter itch may indicate the need to make certain lifestyle changes during periods of cold weather to protect your skin. A few steps you can take to prevent the occurrence of a rash during the winter include:

Choosing clothes with less irritating materials: Clothes made from natural breathable fibers such as cotton and hemp may reduce skin irritation and overheating, both of which may contribute to an increased risk of developing a rash.

Wear appropriate protective clothing: Gloves, scarves, hats, and long socks can all go a long way to protecting skin that may be vulnerable to cold air and preventing rashes from developing in these areas.

Bathing less often: During the winter, overly frequent bathing can wear away at your skin’s natural outer layer of oils and dead skin cells, which build up more slowly during the winter due to decreased sweating. You may find it helpful to shower or bathe every other day, lathering up as little as possible and reducing the amount of hot water you use.

If you’re looking for the right treatment for a rash, you can schedule an appointment with a dermatologist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care 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.

Weight Loss Solutions for the New Year

One of the most common resolutions people make at the beginning of each year is to lose weight. However, many people may have a hard time sticking to this goal if they cannot find a weight loss method that offers long-term results and maintains a balanced, healthy quality of life.

The right approach to weight loss may be different for everyone, but a natural approach that emphasizes consistency and moderation when it comes to your diet and exercise may offer the results you’re looking for. When you attempt to lose weight through this method, you should:

  • Incorporate single-ingredient and high-protein foods into your diet
  • Cut back on fried food, fast food, and other processed foods
  • Drink more water (about 15.5 cups per day for men and 11.5 cups per day for women)
  • Reduce your intake of liquid calories through soda, sugary drinks, alcohol, and other beverages
  • Perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (about 22 minutes each day if you exercise throughout the entire week) and at least one set of resistance exercises that target all major muscle groups

While most people may achieve their weight loss goals by following these guidelines throughout the year, they may not be sufficient for people with extreme obesity or those who suffer from chronic conditions related to obesity. Certain prescription medications recommended by a doctor can often help, but for some people, bariatric surgery may be the right path forward.

Bariatric surgery is performed on the stomach and intestines to reduce food absorption. It includes several different types of procedures, such as:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Gastric bypass
  • Gastric revision
  • Lap band
  • Duodenal switch
  • Obalon balloon

Bariatric surgery is best suited for people who are:

  • Over a body mass index (BMI) of 40
  • Over 100 lbs. above their ideal weight
  • Experiencing severe pain in weight-bearing joints
  • Suffer from obesity-related chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, or degenerative joint disease

At Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Bariatric Surgery Center, procedures are performed using the da Vinci robotic surgical platform. This technology allows for a minimally invasive approach and reduces scarring, pain, and recovery time. To schedule an appointment and learn more about our approach to bariatric surgery, please call us at 718-408-6977 or 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.

Thyroid Awareness Month

Your thyroid plays an important role in regulating your bodily functions, including those of the circulatory, nervous, digestive, and reproductive systems through the release of hormones into the bloodstream. When the thyroid experiences problems, it can disrupt these functions and negatively affect your entire body.

Thyroid disease in general is fairly common, with approximately 20 million people throughout the United States experiencing it in some form. It is more common in women than men across the board, but regardless of your gender, you may be more likely to develop thyroid disease if you already suffer from a chronic condition, take medication that is high in iodine, have previously been treated for a thyroid condition, are over the age of 60, or if it runs in your family.

Thyroid disease comes in a variety of forms; some of the most common types include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid cancer.

Hyperthyroidism: This condition, also known as overactive thyroid, occurs when your thyroid gland produces an excessive supply of hormones, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, mood swings, weight loss, and goiter, which causes your thyroid gland to become swollen.

Hypothyroidism: This form of thyroid disease occurs when your thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of hormones to meet the demands of your bodily functions. It can cause fatigue, depression, dry skin and hair, a slowed heart rate, and fertility problems in women. Like hyperthyroidism, this condition can also cause goiter.

Thyroid cancer: This form of cancer typically occurs in people between the ages of 25 and 65 and is most common in people of Asian descent. Symptoms include a lump and swelling in the neck, pain in the front of the neck, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and a constant cough. While lumps in the thyroid are usually benign, you should see a doctor immediately if you notice one.

If you’re suffering from symptoms of a thyroid problem, you can schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center now 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.

Safe Alcohol Consumption Tips

As New Year’s Eve approaches, you may be getting ready to pop open a bottle of champagne with your friends and loved ones to celebrate. However, it’s important to keep moderation in mind and practice safe drinking habits to make sure the night remains enjoyable for everyone. Keep the cork in the bottle for now and review these tips to stay safe and healthy as you enter 2023:

Make sure everyone can drink safely: Certain conditions and medications may make it unsafe for you or your loved ones to drink any amount of alcohol. Additionally, if anyone is (or may be) pregnant or lactating, alcohol in general can negatively affect the health of their baby. If you are hosting a celebration, find out if any of your guests cannot or should not drink; this way, you can provide alternative options for their enjoyment.

Find out if anyone attending your gathering is driving: If you plan to host a gathering, find out if anyone in attendance is driving to make sure that you can limit their alcohol consumption or  help them if they drink too much. If you’re attending a gathering and become aware that a driver has had too much to drink, inform your host and offer any help you can to ensure the person’s safety.

Opt for beverages with low alcohol content: For most of the night, choose drinks such as beer or hard seltzer instead of wine, mixed drinks, or straight liquor; these drinks typically contain around 5% alcohol per serving. Be careful not to drink these beverages too quickly; take small sips over time.

Eat before, during, and after drinking: Make sure you’ve had a meal within a few hours of your first drink and have snacks available as you continue to drink. Once you’re finished drinking for the evening, have something extra to eat to reduce the effects of the consumed alcohol.

If you or anyone you know develops alcohol poisoning, dial 911 immediately. For anyone suffering from alcohol dependency, Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Addiction Services may be able to help. To learn more about our inpatient Chemical Dependence unit, contact us at (718) 670-5693 or (718) 670-5540. For more information about our Reflections treatment program, 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.

What’s the Difference Between Sanitizers and Disinfectants?

Sanitizers and disinfectants are two types of products available for removing bacteria from surfaces, but it isn’t always clear which type of product is acceptable for certain situations.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the main difference between sanitizers and disinfectants is that sanitizers kill bacteria on surfaces, but are not intended to kill viruses. Disinfectants, on the other hand, are capable of killing viruses and, due to their greater expected effectiveness in this regard, are held to a higher standard of testing by the EPA than sanitizers.

Disinfectants often come in the form of wipes that are used to wipe down surfaces or items that are frequently touched. It is best to use disinfectants on doorknobs, handles, phones, keyboards, and other items and surfaces you may often touch throughout each day. The main exception to this recommendation is kitchen countertops and other surfaces where food is prepared or placed, since accidentally ingesting the chemical residue from disinfectants could harm you.

While the increased strength of disinfectants compared to sanitizers may make them seem like a better option for cleaning your hands, their stronger chemical content could lead to an adverse skin reaction if used on your hands or other parts of your body.

Generally, if you need to remove germs from your hands, your best option is to wash them with soap and water, as sanitizers are less effective and may not be able to remove certain harmful chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals; however, hand sanitizer can offer an acceptable alternative when hand washing is not possible. Sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol are most effective.

When using hand sanitizer, make sure to apply it correctly by rubbing it all over your hands until your skin dries. This allows you to kill as many germs as possible on the surfaces of your hands rather than just those that are on your palms, reducing your risk of infection.

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.

Tips for Choosing a Doctor

It’s important to have a trusted primary care physician that you can visit when you experience medical problems. This type of doctor is a generalist that can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and refer you to a relevant specialist, if necessary.

However, not every primary care physician may be the right fit for you; there are certain factors to keep in mind that may help you to choose your doctor. When choosing your primary care provider, you should:

Determine whether the doctor is “in-network:” Any kind of medical care that is not covered by your insurance plan could be costly. If you’re considering visiting a specific doctor, make sure they are “in-network,” meaning that they are part of your insurance company’s network of medical care providers. If the doctor is “out-of-network,” you will most likely pay a higher out-of-pocket cost for visiting them.

Keep convenience in mind: You may visit your primary care physician regularly for a wide range of medical problems, which means that it is best to choose one that is located a convenient distance from your home.

Consider the doctor’s communication skills: Even if a doctor is covered under your insurance plan and is not located too far from your home, your ability to communicate clearly and interact positively with the doctor is important for making sure that your treatment outcomes will remain positive.

If you need to visit a doctor for any type of non-emergency medical problem you may be experiencing, you can schedule an appointment at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling (718) 670-5486 now.

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 Causes Mouth Sores?

Mouth sores are lesions that can form on your lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, and in other parts of your mouth. They’re often painful to the touch, but can also cause a steady, consistent level of pain for as long as they are in your mouth.

One of the most common types of mouth sores is the canker sore, which usually appears as a red spot in the mouth with a white, yellow, or gray center. Canker sores may range in size from less than one millimeter to an inch in diameter. There is no clear, singular cause for canker sores, but they are believed to form in response to stress, injuries inside the mouth, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and dental appliances such as braces.

Another common type of mouth sore is the cold sore, which develops as a result of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). This virus is extremely common, affecting approximately 3.7 billion people across the world under the age of 50. It primarily spreads through close contact and saliva, often infecting people through the sharing of food, drinks, or utensils, as well as through kissing.

These two types of mouth sores account for the vast majority of cases, with approximately 20% of Americans developing canker sores during their lifetime and about half of all Americans carrying HSV-1. However, mouth sores can develop as a result of:

  • Human papilloma virus
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Anemia
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Lupus
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Oral cancer
  • Cancer treatment (particularly radiation therapy)
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease
  • Pemphigus vulgaris
  • Folate deficiency
  • Mononucleosis

While mouth sores cannot always be prevented from occurring, your risk of developing them can be reduced through good dental hygiene, a healthy diet that limits alcohol and tobacco usage, and stress management techniques.

You can also work with a doctor at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center for an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your mouth sores and an effective plan for treating them. To schedule an appointment, 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.

Vitamin D Deficiency in Winter

It is very important for our bodies to have a sufficient amount of vitamin D all year long, especially during the upcoming winter months.

The body uses vitamin D to help it absorb calcium from the foods that we eat while they are in the gastrointestinal tract. Calcium is essential for maintaining bone strength, fortifying our immune system, keeping the heart healthy, preventing strokes, preventing depression, and may help with the aging process.

A great source of natural vitamin D comes from the ultraviolet B rays found in sunshine, and the more daylight we are exposed to, the more vitamin D our skin will be able to synthesize. However, during the winter months getting enough is difficult. We spend more time indoors and even when we are outdoors, we tend to wear heavier clothing which blocks the sun from hitting the skin. The best time of day to be outdoors is midday when the sun is usually the strongest. During the summer months, 10 – 15 minutes every day is usually sufficient, but during the winter months, you may require 30 minutes or more to get an adequate amount of sunlight and your daily dose of vitamin D.

Here are other sources of vitamin D that can be helpful during the year and especially during the winter:

  • Eating beef liver, pork, egg yolks, and cheese
  • The skin of fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Drinking milk that is fortified with vitamin D
  • Taking a vitamin D3 supplement

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center to discuss your health this winter, 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.

What are Shin Splints?

Dancers, runners, and other athletes are at a heightened risk for a variety of different physical injuries and conditions affecting the feet and legs. Shin splints (also known as medial tibial stress syndrome) are a particularly common type of athletic injury, though anyone can get them.

People with shin splints typically experience soreness, tenderness, pain, and swelling along the inner side of the shin bone and lower leg. Rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication are often enough to treat shin splints, but if left untreated, they may lead to a stress fracture.

Although you’re likely to experience shin splints at some point as an athlete, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk or the severity of your injury. These include:

Exercising in moderation: Shin splints are strongly tied to excessive workouts involving running or other high-impact activities. Work out at a consistent, moderate intensity to allow your muscles, joints, and bones time to recover.

Using supportive footwear: Shoes, arch supports, and insoles also play a significant role in preventing injuries to your feet and legs. You should periodically replace the shoes you wear while exercising, use arch supports to manage shin splint pain, and use shock-absorbing insoles.

Include lower-impact activities in your workout: You can reduce your risk of sustaining shin splints by adding less intense activities, such as walking or biking, to your workout. Strength training can also help your feet and legs withstand the effects of high-impact exercises.

Ease into changes in your workout routine: Shin splints often occur in athletes that have made sudden changes to their workouts. You can reduce your risk by making more gradual changes to your routine.

If you start to experience pain in your lower legs that may indicate shin splints, you can schedule an appointment with a podiatrist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care 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.

Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

An important part of making happy memories with your family this Thanksgiving is avoiding risks such as food poisoning that may commonly occur at this time of year.

One in six people throughout the United States becomes sick from food poisoning annually. Common Thanksgiving staples such as turkey, beef, and gravy can transmit contaminants such as salmonella and clostridium perfringens, leading to a variety of potential symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Contamination can occur before your purchase, during food prep, or at any other point up until dinner is eaten, meaning that preventing foodborne illness will require effort from your whole family in a few different ways.

During food prep, you should:

  • Store frozen turkey at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below until it’s ready to thaw.
  • Thaw your turkey safely in the refrigerator, microwave, or cold water.
  • Wash your hands before and after preparing your turkey.
  • Keep produce or other foods on separate plates and cutting boards from raw turkey.
  • Thoroughly wash all items used to handle raw turkey before using them for other items.
  • Cook all food thoroughly at a safe temperature.
  • Use a meat thermometer on the innermost part of your turkey’s wing and thigh and the thickest area of its breast to ensure that it’s cooked fully to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Store leftovers at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower within two hours of cooking them.
  • Eat leftovers within four days of cooking them.

If you’re enjoying Thanksgiving dinner as a guest this year, you should:

  • Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially before touching food.
  • Point out or avoid eating any food that seems undercooked.
  • Keep unfinished food in your host’s refrigerator until you’re ready to return home.

If you experience symptoms of foodborne illness that aren’t going away, you can schedule an appointment with a doctor at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling (718) 670-5486. If you experience severe symptoms such as bloody vomit or diarrhea, extreme stomach pain, or blurry vision, dial 911 or get to an emergency room immediately.

Happy a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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.