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Flu

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

Posted on Wed, Jan 24, 2018

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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Top 10 Most Googled Medical Symptoms in 2015

Posted on Wed, Dec 30, 2015

Popular Medical Symptom Searched in 2015Googling is generally used for looking up pretty much anything, from finding directions to researching medical symptoms. Google recently released its annual summary of what the U.S. searched for this past year. Among the top trending searches from January to November 2015 included Lamar Odom, Jurassic World, American Sniper, Caitlyn Jenner and Ronda Rousey. Google is also a popular first-stop for looking up symptoms. In fact, one in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. Although if you have a medical concern, there is no substitute for a consultation with one of eMedical’s highly trained, board-certified emergency medicine physicians. Though for your typical hypochondriac, online symptom checkers are quite popular. In 2015, people searched for medical symptoms including the flu, gallbladder infections, measles, listeria, sinus infections, Ebola and more.  Users commonly seek out relevant medical information about common conditions including symptoms, treatment and prevention.

Top Searched Medical Symptoms

Below are the 10 most searched for symptoms this year, according to Google.
  1. Flu
  2. Gallbladder infection
  3. Measles
  4. Listeria
  5. Sinus infection
  6. Gastritis
  7. Anxiety attack
  8. H. Pylori infection
  9. Heat stroke
  10. Lactose intolerance

Top Searched Health-Related Questions

Below are those popular burning questions that users searched for this past year:
  1. “Is bronchitis contagious?”
  2. “Is pneumonia contagious?
  3. “How much water should I drink?”
  4. “How many calories should I eat?”
  5. “What is lupus?”
  6. “How far along am I?”
  7. “When do you ovulate?”
  8. “What is gluten?”
  9. How long does the flu last?

Medical Symptom Search Results

If you’ve ever woken up with a stomach ache wondering if it was something you ate or possibly the flu and start typing your symptoms into your go-to search engine, suddenly you start feeling worse and the worry spikes immediately. In fact, according to a new study led by researchers at the Harvard Medical School, many search results can be so inconsistent and inaccurate that patients shouldn't rely upon them for correct diagnoses. Simple symptoms can be misconstrued by “cyberchondriacs,” those who misdiagnose their illnesses after looking up their symptoms online, resulting in unnecessary anxiety. Patients should only use online symptom checkers as a starting point. Self-diagnosis can be dangerous; it is better to have a conversation with your doctor. But if you must browse, make sure the sites you visit for health advice are reputable and vetted by medical experts. Cleveland ClinicMayo Clinic, and The Centers for Disease control and Prevention all have legit and easy-to-find information.

eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic

Your best bet is to visit eMedical Urgent Care; our emergency medicine physicians provide urgent medical care to both adults and children with convenient hours designed to fit your busy schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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Is Your Stomach Ache from Food Poisoning or a Stomach Bug?

Posted on Fri, Aug 14, 2015

Stomach Ache We’ve all had those days when your stomach is twisting and churning…unsure if you just ate some bad seafood or if you’re feeling the symptoms of the stomach flu. Take a look at the differences below and learn ways to keep your belly happy.

What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is an illness caused by bacteria or other toxins in food and causes vomiting and/or diarrhea. Food poisoning causes an estimated 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's difficult to tell the difference between food poisoning and the flu because they both have very similar symptoms.

How Does Food Become Contaminated?

  • Meat and poultry carcasses can become contaminated during slaughter
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed or irrigated with contaminated water
  • Salmonella can infect a hen’s ovary causing an egg to be contaminated before the shell is even formed
  • Filter feeding shellfish can become contaminated when bacteria is present in the sea water or if human sewage is dumped into the sea
  • If a food handler does not wash his or her hands while being infected with a virus
  • If a food handler uses the same knife, cutting board, or other utensils without washing work stations in between preparing meals
  • Food left out over night can become highly contaminated

Most Common Foodborne Infections

Campylobacter: a bacterium causing fevers, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Eating undercooked chicken or other food that has been contaminated with drippings from raw chicken will bring this pathogen into your body. • Clostridium Perfringens: a bacterium that produces a toxin causing abdominal pains followed by diarrhea. It is commonly found in raw meat and poultry. • Salmonella: a bacterium that causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. It is carried in the intestines of birds, reptiles and mammals and is spread to the humans by eating foods with animal origin. If a person has a weakened immune system, it may invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.

Viral Gastroenteritis (aka: The Stomach Bug)

The stomach bug, also known as the stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis, is unrelated to influenza viruses which cause respiratory illnesses as opposed to gastrointestinal. Gastroenteritis refers to the inflammation of the stomach and intestines and the most common cause in the U.S. is from the norovirus which spreads easily and quickly.

How Does the Stomach Bug Spread?

These viruses are transmitted through the fecal-oral route and can also be transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or liquids. The norovirus can survive on household surfaces for up to 2 weeks and can even survive some disinfectants, making it difficult to eradicate. Gastroenteritis symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Preventing Food Poisoning and the Stomach Bug

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces where you will be preparing foods
  • Wrap raw meat securely and keep it stored away from other foods
  • Use a meat thermometer when grilling meats. Grilling meat may appear cooked on the outside, but it may not be cooked on the inside.
  • Don’t cross contaminate different foods
  • Keep everything refrigerated or frozen
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables to remove visible dirt and grime
  • Stay home if you are sick

Diagnosis and Treatment

Food poisoning and the flu can be very serious, and it can be extremely difficult to know for sure which illness you have, so it is best to be cautious and assume you are contagious. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, visit one of our eMedical Urgent Care offices in Berkeley Heights or Middletown, NJ to discuss your history, review symptoms and evaluate complications of vomiting and diarrhea such as dehydration. We will help diagnose and treat you to make you feel like yourself again! Learn more about our services by contacting us today! eMedical Urgent care is a great alternative when your primary care provider is not available. We can electronically send your visit information to your primary care provider upon request.

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Preventing the Common Cold

Posted on Mon, Jul 20, 2015

Although the common cold is not life threatening, it can cause a disruption in your daily routine, sleep and even work productivity…and yes, they even occur during the carefree summer months. Prevention is key.

Preventing Summertime Sickness

According to the CDC, proper handwashing can prevent the spread of microbes (also known as germs) that can cause disease.

Hand Washing Routinereading-sick-child-best-medicine-1 (1)

Always wash your hands before eating, after your children play outside and whenever coming home after being in public. Germs are everywhere and simply by washing your hands, you can prevent the common cold. It's common knowledge that washing your hands often and well is the best way to prevent disease transmission, but unfortunately too many simply rinse with running water while ignoring the importance of soaping up. Proper hand washing should take at least 20 seconds of thorough soap scrubbing. According to Global Handwashing, germs than can cause diseases lodge in dirt, grease, and the natural oils on hands. Water alone does not dislodge them, but adding soap helps break down germ-carrying oils, and soap facilitates rubbing and friction which can remove germs form the hands, and can then be rinsed away with water. Hand sanitizer can help for on-the-go cleanliness.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water! Especially during the summer months, staying hydrated is vital to staying healthy. Make sure your children are drinking at least 6-8 ounces of water a day; and remember to replace lost sweat with extra liquids. A healthy diet and proper hydration keeps your body’s immune system functioning efficiently. Staying hydrated also goes a long way in maintaining long-term health.

Be Aware

When you're in public there's no doubt you will come in contact with some foreign bacteria. If you’re in a crowded public area, be sure to take extra care of other people. Colds are contagious so be sure to avoid sneezers and coughers at all costs; wash your hands immediately after being in contact with an individual who may be ill.

Good Night's Sleep

Make sure your children get a good night's sleep to help prevent pesky summertime sicknesses. A recent study showed that those who get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep (10 hours for children) are more likely to become ill. Sleep is important for everyone and critical for your body to recover.

Visit eMedical Urgent Care

If your child is suffering from a summertime cold, you have options. eMedical Urgent Care is staffed with board-certified and pediatric-trained physicians who deliver friendly and compassionate NJ pediatric urgent care to patients of all ages. Most of our physicians are parents too – so we understand firsthand the importance of keeping our tiny humans happy and healthy! If your child has cold symptoms that won’t go away, it could be allergies or something worse than just a cold. Don’t take the risk; visit the eMedical offices in Middletown or Berkeley Heights NJ today.

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Is Your Child Suffering from the Common Cold or Seasonal Allergies?

Posted on Wed, Sep 24, 2014

By iTriage Are you one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies? According to allergies-childrenCathie-Ann Lippman, MD, from Los Angeles, Calif., people who are genetically predisposed to inhalant allergies suffer the most during the spring months when most plants are growing and blooming and the volume of allergenic particles (pollens) is at its maximum. So, what plants should you look out for? Dr. Lippman noted that trees, grasses, weeds and flowers can all cause allergic symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, and a frequent complaint in urgent care offices. Common medical conditions resulting from seasonal allergies include hay fever, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis, hives and dermatitis (eczema). As a parent how can you tell if your child is dealing with the common cold or seasonal allergies? Dr. Lippman noted, “It may be very difficult to differentiate between a cold and allergies.” A doctor at your local urgent care office should be able to help you determine which you are suffering from. Some of the differences include:

  • A cold should last no longer than two weeks, while allergies can last for months.
  • Colds more commonly occur in the winter, while allergies can occur any time of the year.
  • One symptom of a cold may be fever and with allergies no fever is present.
  • Colds may cause aches and pains, symptoms usually not associated with allergies.
Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
Pollen Counts You may have seen the daily pollen count report on the news or even have had a notification from a weather app appear on your phone, but what exactly do these pollen counts mean? According to Dr. Lippman, “The pollen count measures the number of allergenic pollen particles in the air in gram per cubic meter.” The website, Pollen.com notes that, “Pollen counts are measured from low, meaning they affect few individuals, to high, meaning symptoms affect most allergy sufferers.” By checking the pollen counts in your area, allergy sufferers can see if there are any special environmental factors that may make their allergies worse. Adulthood Allergies Did you know that you can develop allergies into your adulthood? Dr. Lippman asserted, “This can happen especially if a person has a mild genetic propensity to allergies and their immune system becomes depleted, making them more vulnerable to manifesting the allergies.” It may seem like more and more people are developing allergies. Dr. Lippman noted that this increase may be caused by a number of different things, including:
  • The environment becoming more toxic
  • People not being as healthy in general due to lack of nourishment
  • Many people’s immune systems becoming depleted due to medications
While allergies cannot generally be prevented, the CDC suggests avoiding contact with the certain allergens that may be causing you problems. If your seasonal allergies leave you feeling miserable, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) suggests setting up an appointment with an allergist/immunologist. “An allergist will have the background and experience to determine which allergies, if any, are causing your symptoms,” notes AAAI. AAAI also suggests following some of these precautionary tips to alleviate symptoms:
  • Keep your windows closed at night and if possible, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
  • Try to stay indoors when the pollen counts are high.
  • When traveling by car, keep your windows closed.
  • Take any medications as prescribed.
If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care offices are open during the evening hours to treat walk-in patients. If you have questions about medical conditions, download iTriage from the iTunes or Android Marketplace, or check out iTriageHealth.com for your healthcare answers.

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