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Could It Be The Flu? Learn Flu Symptoms, Treatment & More

Posted on Wed, Jan 24, 2018
Could It Be The Flu? Learn Flu Symptoms, Treatment & More

By eMedical Urgent Care  

Winter is coming. As colder weather approaches and more people stay indoors -- and in close proximity to each other -- our offices begin to see more patients with sore throats, upper respiratory illnesses, sinus infections and colds. The majority of these illnesses are caused by viruses. As doctors, we begin to see cases develop in October, peak during January and February, and finally begin to taper off in March. 

More than Just a Cold

This time of year, we also begin to see patients with “flu-like” symptoms.  An influenza infection, commonly called “the flu”, is different from the common cold because it’s caused by the influenza virus, which can potentially be much more severe than the common cold. 

In the most susceptible patients, such as the elderly, or those with underlying medical conditions, severe flu illness can be potentially life threatening.  Adults with the flu virus usually are contagious one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after symptoms develop. Children may be contagious for more than seven days. 

How Does the Flu Spread

The virus is spread primarily by “droplet” contamination, meaning that when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs, droplets containing the virus can spread to others up to six feet away. The droplets can land in the mouths and noses of others and can be inhaled into the lungs. This is why it’s important to cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and wash your hands afterwards. 

The next most common method of infection is from touching a surface that has the flu virus (such as a door knob) and then touching your mouth or nose. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using alcohol-based waterless hand cleansers are the best ways to prevent this transmission. Any items used by infected individuals, such as dishes, silverware, linens and towels, shouldn’t be shared and should be washed thoroughly before reusing. 

Get a Flu Shot

The most important piece of advice to remember regarding preventing the flu is to get vaccinated. Vaccination not only prevents the vaccine recipient from illness but also prevents the spread of the flu throughout the community. 

The flu vaccine must be given annually. It contains three of the four most common strains of the influenza virus for the upcoming flu season based on sophisticated computer models that predict which virus will be most likely to be circulating in a particular year. The flu vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for everyone over the age of 6 months.

What are Flu Symptoms?

Symptoms of the common cold and the flu can have similar symptoms and may be hard to differentiate.  
Flu symptoms tend to be more severe and include:
  • High fever (although the flu can occur without a fever)
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Body aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
Patients may occasionally develop nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Your fever may last three to five days, and cough and exhaustion can last up to two weeks. The symptoms generally start abruptly. 

But Do I Really Have the Flu?

Your doctor will determine if you have the flu based on your symptoms and his clinical assessment of your physical condition. The most common testing used is the rapid flu test, when a swab is taken from the nose or throat and analyzed. This test can detect the flu usually within a few minutes. Unfortunately, this test is not foolproof, meaning you can have a negative test and still have the flu. Generally, if your doctor suspects the flu based on symptoms, patient risk factors and the pattern of flu infections in the community, he or she will begin treating the virus even if the rapid flu test is not performed. 

How to Treat the Flu

  • You can treat flu symptoms with and without medication
  • Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to help alleviate your symptoms
  • Antibiotics are only necessary if your viral illness has developed into a bacterial infection

Remember, influenza virus symptoms are usually more severe than the common cold and can be dangerous for the elderly, young and high-risk patients with underlying medical problems. The flu virus is contagious, and proper precautions should be taken to prevent getting the flu or spreading it to others. 

Frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing can help eliminate the potential of contamination. The most effective method of prevention for individuals and their communities is vaccination. There is no cure for flu. If treated early, antivirals can reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms. Call or stop by our office today if you think you have the flu. 

If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care is open seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm to treat walk-in patients. 
 

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Fall Sports: How to Recognize a Concussion

Posted on Mon, Sep 25, 2017

It’s a brisk fall afternoon. You’re sitting in the bleachers, watching your son’s JV football game. In the scuffle during a play he hits his head on the turf. You see him get up a bit slowly, but he shakes it off and lines up for the next play. Should you be concerned? It is estimated there are 3 million head injuries each year related to contact sports, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For teens and young adults aged 15 to 24 years, it is second only to motor vehicle accidents as the cause of traumatic brain injuries. Concussions can be caused by mild or more severe blows to the head. They may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Recently, more attention has been placed on recognizing and treating concussions earlier to decrease the risk of long-term neurological damage. The Signs of a Concussion Early signs of a concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Vision changes
  • Unequally sized pupils
  • Lack of awareness of surroundings
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Lack of coordination
If your child is injured and shows any of the above signs, he or she should stop participating in the sports activity immediately. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association requires that any student athlete who sustains a possible concussion or any loss of consciousness be removed immediately from play. A medical evaluation is required to determine if a concussion was sustained. If it’s determined that your child did have a concussion, he or she must be symptom-free for one week before he or she can return to play. You should seek immediate medical attention if your child’s symptoms persist for more than 10 minutes. If the symptoms are mild, such as mild headache, dizziness, nausea without vomiting or loss of memory for a few minutes, watch to see if the symptoms worsen. The physicians at eMedical Urgent Care can help determine if further care is needed. When to Go to the Emergency Department You should bring your child to the nearest emergency department if the injury involves:
  • Large cuts
  • Prolonged loss of consciousness
  • Severe headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to walk
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
What to Expect After a Concussion A few days to a few weeks after having a concussion your child might experience:
  • A persistent, low-grade headache
  • Light-headedness
  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Memory issues
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety and/or a depressed mood
  • Trouble sleeping

The recovery period for concussions can vary from patient to patient. Some may develop “post-concussion syndrome,” which can last weeks or months and includes chronic headaches, dizziness and nausea.  If your child sustains a more severe concussion, he or she should be seen by a neurologist in addition to your primary physician to manage ongoing care.

 

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Safety in the Sun: Pediatric Care for Preventing Sunburns

Posted on Fri, Aug 04, 2017

Pediatric Care

Pediatric-Care.jpg

The Jersey Shore is known for its abundance of sunshine that lifts our spirits and encourages plenty of outdoor activity in the summer months. It’s important for children to spend time playing outside, but it’s vital to remember that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can pose a danger in as little as 15 minutes. July is UV Safety Month, so the pediatric care physicians at eMedical Urgent Care have put together the following sun safety recommendations to help protect your children from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

UV Safety Awareness Month

Sun is necessary for life. It gives us the light and heat we need to survive plus it offers us the best source of Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. However, overexposure to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays can put you at risk for skin cancer — particularly melanoma, the deadliest form. The good news is that prevention is possible.

UV Safety Awareness Month, recognized annually in July, is an opportunity for organizations nationwide to raise the level of awareness about this preventable disease that claims the life of one person every 50 minutes. UV rays can also lead to eye damage and suppress the immune system.

By taking the right precautions to protect you and your family from UV rays, everyone can enjoy the outdoors safely all year long.

Sun Protection for Children

The CDC recommends the best protection for your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when you’re in the shade. Year-round prevention is key:

  • Minimize summer sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, approximately 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Be sure to check your sunscreen’s expiration date. Typically, the shelf life of sunscreen is no more than three years; shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
  • Always provide enough protective clothing, sunglasses and hats for your children while they’re spending time outdoors.

Pediatric Care for Sunburns

If your infant is one year of age or younger and gets a sunburn, never hesitate to get fast pediatric care right away. If your older child or teen experiences blistering, pain, headache, fever or chills, seek urgent pediatric care.

For any mild sunburns, use the following tips to relive discomfort:

  • Keep child hydrated (sunburns are dehydrating).
  • Keep child out of the sun until fully healed.
  • Give child a cool (but not cold) bath or shower to reduce heat and pain.
  • Use fragrance-free moisturizing creams or aloe gel to offer additional comfort.

Walk-In Pediatric Care at eMedical Urgent Care

Living in New Jersey, sun exposure is pretty much unavoidable in the summer. However, with the proper precautions, you can prevent short-term discomforts and long-term problems. It is extremely important to set a good example for your tots and teens so they develop good sun protection habits early in life.

Always stay informed by checking the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) UV index. This index measures the daily intensity of UV rays from the sun on a scale of 1 to 11. A low UV index indicates the need for minimal protection, whereas a high UV index indicates maximum protection.

Find out more about pediatric care and sunburn treatments at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, 908.464.6700, or Middletown, New Jersey, 732.957.0707.

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Putting Patients with Autism at Ease with Customized Autism Services and Communications

Posted on Thu, Jun 29, 2017

Autism Services

Doctor’s visits can feel overwhelming for many children and even some adults. Social and sensory challenges can add to an already anxious experience for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disabilities. At eMedical Urgent Care, we offer comprehensive autism services and communications to help make your next medical visit a little easier.

Compassionate Urgent Care Communications for Patients with Autism

Autism now affects one in every 68 children and is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.

eMedical Urgent Care has the services to help.

Autism-Services.jpgOur autism-friendly urgent care staff specializes in specific communication techniques for patients with autism. Although symptoms of autism may include difficulties with social interaction, communication and eye contact, we realize that every child on the autism spectrum has their own unique challenges and each family’s experience will require a different approach.

That is why we take the extra time to ensure we’re going at the right pace for your child. Our staff will adjust communication styles throughout the appointment to avoid heightening anxiety.

Customized Autism-Friendly Urgent Care Exam Room

The eMedical Urgent Care autism-friendly exam room is located away from the bright lights and frantic pace of the nurses’ station. Each room is equipped with iPads that have customized apps to help staff communicate with verbally impaired patients. This technology not only helps us learn the reason why the patient requires care and determine their discomfort levels, but also helps alleviate the patient’s fear by allowing them to better understand what they can expect during the visit.

Sensory boxes are also available and filled with toys and games (that they get to take home). Comforters like these can help enable autistic patients to better deal with fear, stress or boredom and reduce tactile discomfort.

Prepare for Your Visit

As a parent, you can help make your child’s next medical visit a more pleasant one with the right preparation. Prior to your visit, talk with your child about what to expect (for example, a cold stethoscope) and review simple directions such as “say ha” or “look at the light.” You may wish to set up pretend play to practice the doctor’s visit. Include things a doctor may do such as use a blood pressure cuff, tap on the knees and look in the eyes.

Although we welcome walk-in visits, if possible, call in advance to notify the office of anything specific to your situation. Remember to also bring a list of medications (including vitamins), notes about any symptoms and a list of questions.

Autism Services to Support Your Family

We understand that urgent care visits can be stressful for children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. But with the right planning, preparation and patience, your experience will go much smoother.

eMedical Urgent Care has locations in Berkeley Heights and Middletown. So, when your primary care physician may not be available, both of our centers offer complete urgent care autism services, lab and X-ray services. Our staff is comprised of highly trained, board-certified emergency medicine physicians and urgent-care trained physicians so you’re sure to receive the same quality care you’d receive at an emergency room — without the long wait and expense.

Contact our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey 908.464.6700, or Middletown, New Jersey 732.957.0707: both of our offices are open 7 days week, 365 days a year.

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Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care: How Do I Know if I Should Visit Urgent Care or Go to the ER?

Posted on Sat, Jun 17, 2017

Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

When you or a loved one gets injured or sick, deciding where to go for care shouldn’t add to the stress of your experience. Learning about your options now will make the decision easier if the time comes that you need immediate care.

When to Use the Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

Deciding when it’s more appropriate to go to the emergency room vs. urgent care can be confusing and overwhelming, especially in the middle of an urgent situation. The New England Health Institute stated that most emergency room visits are “totally avoidable,” indicating that the difficulty often lies in understanding the capabilities of each medical care option.

A good rule of thumb to remember is if your situation isn’t life-threatening, but requires immediate attention, urgent care is probably the right choice. For severe and life-threatening conditions, the emergency room is the more appropriate place.

Emergency-Room-vs-Urgent-Care.jpgUrgent care centers will typically cover illness such as flu and cold, fever, headaches and chills and injuries such as sprains and strains, cuts requiring stitches and minor burns. Other conditions commonly covered at urgent care include UTI, immunizations and flu shots, foreign objects in the eye, pink eye, ear aches, rashes and annual physical exams.

For more extreme conditions, such as severe abdominal pain, major trauma or laceration with uncontrollable bleeding, severe burns, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, heart attack, chest pain or stroke, the resources available at a hospital emergency room are usually required.

How Long Does the Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care Take for Treatment?

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the total average ER wait time is roughly 2 hours, whereas most urgent care centers are able to see walk-in patients within 15-45 minutes. In New Jersey, the average time a patient spends in the emergency room before being seen by a doctor is 27 minutes and the average time patients spend in the ER before being sent home is 155 minutes. At eMedical Urgent Care, we pledge that, on average, you’ll be seen by one of our professional providers within 30 minutes, and we will have you on your way.

Convenient Walk-In Urgent Care Available

If the symptoms are non-life threatening, then choosing an urgent care may be your best option. Many urgent care centers offer fast, convenient service.

At eMedical Urgent Care, we provide immediate walk-in care and occupational health services delivered by board-certified emergency physicians, family physicians and internists working with highly trained radiology techs and medical assistants. Our convenient hours are designed to fit your busy schedule. Learn more about our services and treatment options by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey 908.464.6700, or Middletown, New Jersey 732.957.0707. Read more on Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care on our previous blog posts:

5 Surprising Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Urgent Care
Getting Medical Care While On Vacation
Treatment for Wounds and Lacerations
Should I Bring My Child to a Walk In Clinic for the Flu?
7 Secrets Every eMedical Urgent Care Physician in NJ Wants You to Know

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