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What Causes Allergies? And Other Answers to Common Allergy Questions

Posted on Tue, Apr 12, 2016

Recent studies show that the number of people suffering with seasonal allergies has been skyrocketing and is expected to continue increasing into the foreseeable future. In the United States alone, 65 million people suffer with seasonal allergies on a regular basis. What causes allergies and how does your body respond to them?

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are abnormal reactions to ordinarily harmless substance. The sensitizing substances, called allergens, may be inhaled, swallowed, or come into contact with the skin. Despite the fact that allergies are so common, the actual cause of them is still rather “mysterious” and vague for many sufferers.

What Causes Allergies?What Causes Allergies?

The most common allergens include pollen, mold spores, house dust mites, animal dander, foods, insect bites or stings, plants, insect spores, latex rubber, viruses, bacteria, medications and environmental conditions such as cold, heat or humidity. While it’s easy to blame your sister’s cat, most allergens are actually harmless. What really causes the allergic reactions is our own immune system that mistakes these allergens for a serious threat and starts attacking them.

How Does the Body Respond to Allergens?

Allergic reactions occurs after the immune system mistakenly learns to recognize innocent foreign substances or allergens as potentially harmful. Most people who suffer from allergies have to deal with these aggravating conditions that can interrupt their lifestyle. Common symptoms of a typical allergic reaction include breathing congestion, inflammation, scratchy or watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itching, puffy face, flushing of the cheeks, vomiting, stomachache and intestinal irritation. But what is happening inside your body when you’re exposed to allergens? The AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) explains:

“Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. This reaction usually causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin.

Each type of IgE has specific "radar" for each type of allergen. That's why some people are only allergic to cat dander (they only have the IgE antibodies specific to cat dander), while others have allergic reactions to multiple allergens because they have many more types of IgE antibodies.

It's not yet fully understood why some substances trigger allergies and others do not, or why some people have allergic reactions while others do not. A family history of allergies is the single most important factor that puts you at risk of developing allergic disease.”

What’s Triggering Your Allergic Response?

Different allergens will produce different reactions in those who suffer from allergies. If you think that you may have allergies, it is wise to pay close attention to how your body reacts to these different allergens, and take notes on the severity of the symptoms to share with a medical care professional. This will give you a good indication of what environmental irritants may be triggering your allergic responses and to what degree.

eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Medical Clinic

If symptoms interfere with normal day-to-day activities or if there is a sudden onset of symptoms, you should see a doctor. This is especially important if a child under your care is experiencing severe or sudden symptoms. eMedical Urgent Care physicians provide urgent medical care and allergy treatment 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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What's Causing Your Throat Pain?

Posted on Wed, Nov 25, 2015

Throat Pain | Urgent CareIs your throat sore? Does it hurt to drink? Considering the average person swallows about 50 times per minute, that’s - gulp - a lot of pain to tolerate. Throat pain symptoms can be acute: coming on suddenly and lasting several days or they can be chronic: lasting weeks or even months in some cases. In fact, according to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, throat symptoms are one of the most common reasons people visit their doctors (ranking above high blood pressure, rashes and back problems). Throat pain can be confusing; so let’s take a look at some of the common causes below to see where your symptoms might fit in.

Causes of Throat Pain

Viruses (such as those that cause the common cold as well as mononucleosis) can lead to a sore throat, bacteria (such as those that lead to strep throat) can also cause a sore throat. Additionally, smoking, inhaling polluted air and allergens such as pet dander, pollens and molds can lead to throat pain.

Viral Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections (URI), such as the common cold, are caused by viruses and often lead to an irritated throat, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, and running heads.

Bacterial Infections

Tonsillitis

When your tonsils become infected by bacteria or a virus, it can cause them to swell, leading to symptoms such as a sore throat, white patches, fever, headache, pain when you swallow, and red and swollen tonsils.

Strep Throat

Streptococcal pharyngitis is a bacterial throat and tonsil infection. It's the cause of 15 to 40% of sore throats among children and 5 to 15% in adults. Unlike a cold, patients usually won’t experience sneezing, congestion or coughing with strep. If left untreated, it can sometimes result in kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.

Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis (mono) is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. A sore throat is one of the main symptoms of mono and may last 1 to 4 weeks. Other symptoms of mono include swollen glands, fever, fatigue and headache.

Allergies

If you find that allergies (such as pollen, pet dander and dust) commonly trigger a sore throat, avoid those irritants at all costs. More than pain, patients will usually experience scratching or tickling in the throat.

Sore Throat Treatment

Your doctor will need to run tests such as a rapid strep test, throat culture or a blood test to determine the cause of your sore throat so you can get the right treatment right away. If your pain is caused by bacteria, you will most likely be prescribed an antibiotic and begin to feel better in a few days. Infections caused by viruses cannot be helped with antibiotics, unfortunately and the symptoms will usually just have to “run their course” for about 10 days.

Find At-Home Relief

Some people find throat pain relief by implementing some of these natural at-home remedies.
  • Rest up
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1 tsp of salt per 8 oz of water)
  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom
  • Drink hot tea with lemon and honey
  • Drape a towel over your head and breath in steam with a few drops of eucalyptus oil
  • Drink lots of hydrating liquids to prevent dehydration
  • While lozenges can help stimulate saliva, avoid those with lots of sugar
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can hinder your body’s ability to fight off infection and end up prolonging your sore throat

Preventing a Sore Throat

The best way to stay healthy and prevent contagious diseases is to regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and face.

Urgent Care for Throat Pain

When the symptoms of your sore throat last over a week and include a fever, difficulty swallowing, ear ache, or swollen glands, you should be evaluated by a medical professional at eMedical Urgent Care right away. After work, or on weekends, we‘re here. Our convenient walk-in hours are designed to fit your schedule. If you or your child becomes ill, don’t wait. Our experienced providers can diagnose and treat your urgent conditions quickly and expertly. Come see us for common illnesses, ailments, injuries and work-related issues. No appointment needed. Learn more about eMedical Urgent Care by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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Should I Bring My Child to a Walk In Clinic for the Flu?

Posted on Wed, Nov 18, 2015

Should I Bring My Child to a Walk In Clinic for the Flu?It’s pretty much a given that our children will pick up the flu at some point throughout the school year from all the coughing and sniffling students in their classrooms. So, how does a parent know when to bring their child into a walk-in clinic for the flu or a terrible cold? The flu and colds are both caused by viruses (not bacteria), so symptoms may last four or five days then you could be on your way to recovery. That said, both illnesses can morph into more serious conditions, including sinus infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, and strep throat. Drive to an eMedical Urgent Care walk in clinic near you if your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sinus pressure
  • Worsening sore throat
  • Cough followed by yellow or green phlegm
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ear pain
  • High fever

Walk-In Clinic vs ER

Severe influenza problems are most common in children under 2 years. In addition, children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of developing serious flu complications. How do you know when it’s better to go to an urgent care center versus the ER? Read more about the common emergency room and walk-in clinic differences on our recent blog post, “Walk-In Doctor’s Office vs ER [INFOGRAPHIC].”

Protect Yourself from the Flu Virus

Flu shots are your best protection against the flu epidemic. And because the influenza virus(es) changes every season, it’s important to get your child vaccinated every year. Take your child for regular check-ups and stay up to date on their immunizations. Protect yourself and your family; talk with the pediatric-trained doctors at eMedical Urgent Care about the benefits of getting the flu vaccine to keep your child healthy. In addition to getting vaccinated, you can do more to fight the flu with a few healthy steps.

How do you know if it’s the flu, food poisoning, allergies or the common cold?

Symptoms of the flu usually develop within two days of exposure, but a person can spread the virus before they begin to develop symptoms. The common cold is a respiratory illness that can be caused by many different viral infections. I's often confused with the flu. There is no cure for the common cold or for the influenza virus. There are, however, treatments available to lessen the severity of the symptoms. As a parent, how can you tell if your child is dealing with a bout of food poisoning or the onset of the flu? They both have very similar symptoms. A doctor at your local urgent care office should be able to help you determine from which he or she is suffering, but always assume your child contagious and take the proper precautions. It can also be difficult to differentiate between the common cold and allergies. Parents should be on the lookout for specific symptoms covered in our recent blog post, “Is Your Child Suffering from the Common Cold or Seasonal Allergies?

Get Medical Treatment Right Away

Most of our pediatric physicians are parents too, so we understand the importance of keeping our tiny humans happy and healthy. After school, or on weekends, we‘re here. Patients are seen on a walk-in basis without appointment. Our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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