Tips To Make Sure the Ice in Your Freezer is Clean

There is nothing more refreshing on a warm summer day than an ice-filled cold beverage, but before you host your next summer gathering, make sure that the ice you serve is clean and free of harmful bacteria.

While ice is rarely considered to be the source of trouble, there are good reasons to take a second look at how ice is dispensed in your own home.  You may think most bacteria wouldn’t survive the icy conditions of a freezer. But they can. Bacteria and viruses such as listeria, E-coli and salmonella can live in freezing temperatures, meaning they may be alive in your ice cubes. With proper precautions however, you can eliminate the risk of these contaminants existing in the ice you serve.

Here are some tips:

  • Change Your Filter – Most ice makers in freezers use a secondary water filter to stop particles from contaminating the ice. To keep your ice clean, change the freezer’s water filter as frequently as the manufacturer recommends, about every six months.
  • Regular Cleaning – Don’t forget to defrost and deep clean your freezer at least once a year. As a rule of thumb, if the ice buildup in your freezer is a quarter-inch or thicker, then it’s time to defrost and clean it.
  • Use Ice Regularly – The slight melting and refreezing of cubes can allow pathogens to take hold. To avoid this, remove the ice storage bin from the freezer and dump any clumps into the sink. Since inactivity causes ice clumps to form, the easiest solution is to use the ice maker more frequently.
  • Organize Your Freezer – Make sure frozen foods are properly sealed or double-wrapped and avoid having them come into direct contact with ice in trays or bins. Also label all food with a use-by date and remove all expired foods from your freezer.
  • Don’t Use Your Hands – While all of the above tips are useful, the fact is that the most common way to spread germs is by placing unwashed hands in an ice container. Instead of using your hands, use a designated scooper or other tool to handle ice.

It is important to note that while the existence of contaminants in your ice might be disturbing to learn, the health risks associated with it is fairly minimal to the average immune system and the transmission of viruses are rare. Those more at risk are pregnant women, children, and people with a compromised immune system.

Regardless, it is always a good idea to take the proper precautions to reduce your chances of getting yourself or your guests sick.

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 Exposure to the Sun Affect Your Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a common, yet potentially very serious health condition that can lead to heart disease or stroke. To combat hypertension, doctors usually recommend that their patients follow a healthy, low salt diet and exercise regularly, but is there another simple thing that we all can do to lower our blood pressure?

Recent studies have indicated that spending more time outdoors in the sun can lower your lower pressure. What was found is that nitric oxide stored in the top layers of the skin reacts to sunlight and cause blood vessels to widen as the oxide moves into the bloodstream. That, in turn, lowers blood pressure.  The research, which was conducted by British researchers at the University of Southampton, exposed individuals with blood pressure within normal range to ultra violet light.  After exposure, those in the study saw a modest decrease in blood pressure levels. Researchers believe that the drop will be even more significant in individuals with elevated blood pressure.

Additional studies have concluded that people with higher levels of Vitamin D ( a vitamin that is commonly linked to sun exposure), experienced lower blood pressure levels and were at lower risk of developing hypertension. In fact, according to one recent study, for every 10 percent increase in vitamin D levels, there was an 8 percent decrease in the risk of developing hypertension.

Lastly, blood pressure levels tend to fluctuate seasonally, with levels typically being at their highest during the winter months. There are many potential factors for this, including  changing weather patterns and increased weight gain during the winter, but could more sun exposure be a factor in lower blood pressure during summer months?

This information does not mean that those looking to lower their blood pressure should rely on sun exposure as their only form of treatment against hypertension, nor should individuals ignore the potential dangers of prolonged, unprotected exposure to the. This research merely suggests that, if done responsibly, exposure to the sun can have a positive effect on your blood pressure levels.

If you have hypertension, speak with your physician about how increased sun exposure may benefit your condition. If you do not have a doctor, please call 718-670-5486.

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

How to Prevent Dehydration During the Summer Heat

With the summer and warmer weather upon us causing more and more people to begin to participate in outdoor activities. Before you begin, make sure you drink plenty of water in order to avoid dehydration. Here are some tips to help you stay hydrated:

 

  • The rule that you need to drink eight glasses of water per day is a myth. The Institute of Medicine recommends women should receive 2.2 liters of fluid intake per day and men should get three liters. Keep in mind that fluid intake can come from beverages other than water.
  • While thirst is your body’s way of preventing dehydration, being thirsty doesn’t mean that you are dehydrated. Thirst is our brain’s way of telling us to drink more to avoid dehydration.
  • The color of your urine is a good, real-time indicator of dehydration, but the misconception is that urine should be clear. In truth, urine should be a pale-yellow color.
  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or tea will not dehydrate you if consumed in moderate amounts. Caffeine is considered a mild diuretic, the amount of water in it offsets the amount of fluid it will cause you to lose through increased urination.
  • Drinking isn’t the only way of increasing your water intake. It is estimated that we get up to 20% of our daily water intake from the foods we eat. Fruits and vegetables contain the most, with cucumbers, celery, and watermelon having the highest concentration of water.
  • There is also such a thing as drinking too much water and becoming overhydrated. This can be very dangerous and can lead to a condition called hyponatremia. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, and fatigue. To avoid this problem, do not drink to the point that you are full from water alone.

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.

Flushing Hospital Offers Tips to Avoid Mosquito Bites This Summer

The summer is here and that means longer days and evenings spent outdoors. It also means an increased risk of getting bitten by mosquitos.

Mosquito bites occur when a female mosquito feeds on your blood. Mosquitoes select their victims by evaluating scent, exhaled carbon dioxide and the chemicals in a person’s sweat. When bitten, the proteins in the mosquito’s saliva trigger a mild immune system reaction. That reaction appears as a white, itchy bump on our skin.

The bump usually clears up on its own in a few days, but occasionally a mosquito bite can cause a large area of swelling, soreness and redness. This type of reaction is most common in children or adults not previously exposed to the type of mosquito that bit them, and people with immune system disorders. In these people, mosquito bites can also trigger a low-grade fever, hives, or swollen lymph nodes.

If mosquito bites lead to more serious symptoms — such as fever, headache, body aches and signs of infection — contact your doctor.

Mosquitos are also carriers of many diseases, including West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever. While most of the diseases carried by mosquitos are found in other parts of the world, West Nile virus is now transmissible in the United States. In fact, doctors from Flushing Hospital were the first to identify the initial outbreak in 1999 and worked with health authorities to limit the exposure to the community.

Now Flushing Hospital wants to offer our community the following tips on how they can protect themselves from mosquito bites:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeved shirts, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active
  • Avoid shaded, bushy areas where mosquitos like to rest
  • Remove any places where standing water can collect on your property, such as tires, cans, plastic containers fire pits, or pots
  • Make sure your roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and the fall
  • Clean and chlorinate your swimming pools, outdoor saunas or hot tubs and drain water from pool covers
  • Change the water in your bird baths at least every three to four days
  • If you have severe reactions to mosquito bites, consider taking a non-drowsy, nonprescription antihistamine when you know you’ll be exposed to mosquitoes
  • Apply insect repellents that contain DEET as they are considered most effective

When applying insect repellent, it is important to follow a few safety measures including making sure you spray it on outdoors and away from food. If you’re using sunscreen, put it on about 20 minutes before applying the repellent and don’t apply repellent over sunburns, cuts, wounds or rashes.  When you go indoors, wash with soap and water to remove any remaining repellent.

Insect repellent with DEET is generally safe for children and adults, with a few exceptions. It is important to read the label carefully as infants and those with immunity complications should not use it. If you have any questions, you should consult your doctor.

By taking these precautions, Flushing Hospital hopes to help you limit your chances of becoming bit by a mosquito this summer.

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.

Summer Weight Loss Tips For Kids

Is your child at risk of gaining weight this summer?

We consider summer to be a time when kids run around, go swimming and generally remain active. With all this physical activity, it is a common belief that children keep weight off or maybe even lose a few pounds in the summer, but that is not the case. There are many reasons why parents are now noticing that their children are actually gaining weight during the summer.

The rate of childhood obesity has tripled in America in recent decades. Now, one out of three children in this country is considered overweight or obese. When are children gaining the most weight?  Recent studies have revealed that during the summer, the rate of weight gain in children is double that of the rest of the year. Why?

One of the biggest contributing factors is that children today live a more sedentary lifestyle. During the school year, children participate in fitness programs, both during recess and in physical education classes. Without a regimented exercise program, children opt to spend their free time playing video games or watching television.

Another factor in summer weight gain is the foods children have access to in their home. In an effort to fight obesity and promote healthy eating habits, many schools provide healthy alternatives for lunches and snacks during the year. During the summer, however, kids have access to whatever snacks are in the home. Kids will often choose unhealthy snacks, such as cookies, chips, and soda, if they are available to them.

In an effort to reverse this trend, Jamaica Hospital offers the following summer healthy living tips for your kids:

• Stock your home with healthy food options like yogurt, carrots, or summer fruits like peaches, berries, or melons.

• Make water the beverage of choice. Juices and sodas are high in calories and low in nutrients. To make water more flavorful, consider adding fruit slices or berries.

• Limit TV and video game usage. It will force kids to become more physically active and prevent them from enticing junk food commercials..

• Walk more. Everyone can do it. Incorporate regular family walks to the park or around the neighborhood.

• Be inventive. Not every child is interested in formal team sports, but every kid loves to run around. Encourage activities like hopscotch, jump rope or a simple game of “tag.”

• Be a role mode. Children often take cues from their parent’s eating habits so if you want your kids to eat healthier, you should eat healthier

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.

Don’t Let Fireworks BURN Your Summer

 

Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks displays.  However, along with these activities are increased visits to the hospital emergency room, especially over the July 4th holiday.

Fireworks are ILLEGAL in New York State, including the five boroughs and are extremely dangerous when they are not being used by a professional.  Fireworks burn at extremely high temperatures and can rapidly burn through clothing and skin.  Items such as sparklers are mistakenly thought to be safe when they are actually quite dangerous.

If fireworks ARE LEGAL to buy where you live and you choose to use them, be sure to follow the following safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under the close supervision of an adult
  • Never light fireworks indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks in case of fire

This year, have a safe Fourth of July and leave the firework displays to the trained professionals. If you have questions about fireworks displays and safety, you can visit The National Council on Firework Safety webpage at http://www.fireworksafety.org.  Take the test and learn just how much you know about fireworks safety.

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.

Breastfeeding While On-The-Go This Summer

For mothers who breastfeed, the warmer weather can mean more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with their baby, however breastfeeding on the go can present some challenges. No need to worry though, follow these simple tips and you and your baby can enjoy all the outdoor fun that summer brings.

Baby and mom

• Stay Hydrated – One of the most important things to remember is to drink enough water, especially when the temperature rises. Be sure to carry water with you when you are out. As long as you stay hydrated and breastfeed often, your baby will get the fluids he or she needs.

• Take a Dip – Relaxing poolside with your baby can be beneficial since breastfeeding works best when the both of you are relaxed. Taking a quick dip with your baby before breastfeeding will relax and cool off both of you and provide better results. The cuddle time you experience in the pool is also a great bonding experience.

• Dress Accordingly – Summer weather provides more opportunities to breastfeed discreetly, even while in public. In the summer, we tend to wear less layers and our clothing is lighter, which is optimal for breastfeeding. Since we are not confined to crowded indoor areas, mothers can find a shady tree in a park to breastfeed as a more private experience.

• Travel Prepared – Be sure to pack the necessary safeguards while traveling with your baby this summer. To protect your baby from the heat and the sun, use a stroller with a canopy. If your stroller does not have one, try to protect your baby with an umbrella or brimmed hat. Also be sure to apply sunscreen regularly, even when the sun does not seem strong.

By following these summer breastfeeding tips, both you and your baby can enjoy all the fun that summer has to offer.

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 safe is the water in your public swimming pool?

Last week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned the public about a parasite that can live up to ten days in chlorinated pool water and possibly cause severe gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea.  One of the main causes of outbreaks in treated water, including hot tubs and swimming pools, is a resistant parasite called Cryptosporidium. Cryptosporidium is spread through contaminated food or feces. Experts suggest you try not to swallow water in recreational waters, including lakes and water parks, and refrain from swimming for at least a week if you have recently had any gastrointestinal problems to avoid passing an infection to others.   There is no treatment for infection except to just stay hydrated and let it run its course.

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The CDC recommends that swimmers shower before getting in the pool to prevent them from carrying infectious bacteria into the water. Young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to infection.

 

For more information, check out the CDC fact sheet about Cryptosporidium and swimming pools.

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.