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What Are the Worst Months for Allergies in NJ? Your Guide To Finding Relief

Posted on Thu, Apr 07, 2016

Allergy Season MonthsThe flowering trees are gorgeous but the tree pollen counts combined with windy days makes for some seriously miserable allergy symptoms. Pass the tissue, please! Here in New Jersey, we’ve already started into the allergy season month and many residents have been feeling the effects for weeks…and it’s more than just a sneeze and itchy eyes. In fact, 55 percent of employees report calling in sick to work because of their allergies.

Understand the Difference: Spring Allergies or Common Cold

Understanding the differences between a common cold and environmental allergies will help you choose the best treatment. Unlike allergies, the common cold is caused by a virus, while allergy symptoms are a result of immune system responses to allergens like pollen, dust, or even pet dander. With more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies and more than 1 billion colds every year, how do you tell the difference between the two? It can be tough to spot. But the best way to make a distinction between the two is the duration of the symptoms. A cold will typically last no more than 10 days, while allergies can affect people for months on end. If you experience persistent mild, cold-like symptoms that are unaccompanied by a fever, it might be allergies. And colds may cause aches and pains, symptoms usually not associated with allergies. Many patients dealing with allergies also suffer from asthma, as these two conditions commonly occur together. But thankfully, you can find a little relief during the allergy season months with a few simple tips.

Spring Cleaning Goes a Long Way

Cleaning everything in your home, including your washing machine, can help to manage allergies but don’t use a feather duster. While you should be dusting every week, a dry rag…or worse, a feather duster, is worse than not dusting at all. Use a wet cloth to trap the dust instead of sending it into the air.

Go Green

We’re talking about green plants here. NASA research has suggested that some houseplants, like the corn plant (also known as the mass cane), may help to clean the air of contaminants such as formaldehyde—an irritant that can make you more sensitive to allergens. Plants may even help to remove particles from the air: One study showed that in a small office, they reduced dust by up to 20 percent! But keep an eye out for rotten leaves that can be a sign of overwatering to keep mold away.

Stay Indoors

Try to stay indoors when the pollen counts are high and keep your windows closed at night and if possible, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air. Also, when you’re in the car, keep your windows closed to prevent pollen from coming in. This doesn’t mean you have to live in a plastic bubble, but if you limit the time you’re around your triggers, it should help lighten your symptoms.

Use a Pillow Cover

Dust mites are one of the most common causes of year-round allergies, and given that their favorite food is human and pet skin cells, it's no surprise that they thrive in beds. To fight these little critters, get an allergen-proof encasing for your pillows, comforters, mattresses and box springs.

eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic

eMedical Urgent Care can help you differentiate the cause of your symptoms if you are unsure or have never experienced allergy symptoms before. 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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Sore Throat Season: Is it Strep? Do I Need Antibiotics?

Posted on Thu, Nov 03, 2011

By eMedical Urgent Care You’ve tried to ignore it, but every swallow is a chore. You’ve got that big project at work, so there’s no time to be sick. How do you know when a sore throat requires medical attention – or just some hot tea and some R&R? Sore throat, also known as pharyngitis or tonsillitis, is a frequent complaint that brings patients to the urgent care center. I’m going to explain the causes and symptoms of sore throats. To treat them, urgent care centers are a convenient option to get the medical attention you need to get you back to feeling better. Causes of Sore Throats Up to 60 percent of sore throats are caused by viruses. The most common of these are adenoviruses, coxsackieviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegaloviruses and herpes simplex viruses. The second-most popular type is “strep” throat, which is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GABHS). Only 5 to 15 percent of adults and 15 to 30 percent of children with sore throats actually have strep throat. Other less frequent causes of a sore throat are fungal infections (oral thrush or candidiasis), HIV-1 infection in the acute phase and gonorrhea. Non-infectious causes of sore throat include heartburn or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies, post-nasal drip, chemical injuries and smoking. Symptoms of Strep Throat Strep throat most commonly occurs in children aged 5 to 15 years old in the fall and early spring. This usually happens after children come in contract with someone who is infected, like in a classroom or daycare facility, or a family gathering. Classic symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sudden onset
  • White patches and pus on the throat and tonsils
  • A fever greater than 101˚
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes in neck
  • Headache
  • Chills and shakes alternating with cold sweats
In children, the above symptoms can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain. Symptoms of a Virus Signs that the sore throat is caused by a virus include:
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Sneezing
Testing and Treatment of Sore Throats Doctors use several methods to determine if a sore throat is in fact strep throat. One of the most reliable methods is the rapid strep test. This test is quick and accurate, and allows treatment to start immediately following a positive result. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors perform both a traditional throat culture and a rapid strep test on children. Although it takes 1 to 2 days to get results from a throat culture, because children are more likely to develop strep throat, this dual-testing method provides the most accurate diagnosis. While only a fraction of adults and children with sore throats nationwide actually have GABHS bacterial infections, more than 75 percent are prescribed antibiotics. This practice leads to resistant bacteria, meaning the infection doesn’t improve because it’s gotten used to antibiotics, as well as side effects from treatment, including allergic reactions, diarrhea and yeast infections. Our doctors use rapid strep testing and throat cultures, and follow guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of GABHS set by the Infectious Disease Society of America. Strep throat responds well to penicillin. It can be given as a single dose injection or in pill form. Other prescription options include amoxicillin, cephalexin and azithromycin. To help relieve the pain and swelling of the throat, your doctor also may prescribe a single dose of dexamethasone, a steroid which is an anti-inflammatory, either by injection or by mouth. Strep Throat Shouldn’t Be Ignored GABHS pharyngitis will improve in a few days even if not treated with antibiotics, but we treat patients so that they feel better faster and are less contagious to others. If left untreated, strep throat can put you at risk for developing rheumatic fever, which can damage the heart valves. Another rare but serious complication is acute glomerulonephritis, an injury to the kidney, which can occur regardless of treatment. If you are on antibiotics and aren’t feeling better or if you’ve developed a rash, jaundice or abdominal pain, contact your doctor immediately, as this might indicate Epstein Barr virus or mononucleosis infection. In most cases, with proper evaluation and treatment, sore throats can be treated quickly and easily, often without antibiotics. If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care is 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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