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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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Flu Activity in New Jersey Hitting Peak Later Than Usual

Posted on Thu, Mar 10, 2016

4919795171_0b4869faf2_o-(1).jpgWinter is typically the time for flu, but flu activity in New Jersey is actually peaking later than it has in previous years and is expected to continue into April. In addition, although the state’s overall flu rate is considered to be moderate (last year it was rated as high), Bergen and Monmouth counties appear to be the state's flu hot spots. An article in NJ.com, “Flu cases spike dramatically in parts of N.J.” reports, “The vaccine being given this year is 59 percent effective against this season's flu types, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced. ‘This means that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by nearly 60 percent,’ said Joseph Bresee, chief of CDC's Epidemiology and Prevention Branch.”

Flu Vaccinations Are Your Best Defense

Moderate to high numbers of influenza have been reported throughout New Jersey recently, your best defense is to get vaccinated. That’s right, it’s not too late to get your flu shot! Getting the flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting the flu by nearly 60 percent. Influenza is caused by either virus A or virus B and there are different strains of the influenza circulating every year causing people to get sick and thankfully, federal health officials say this year’s version of the flu vaccine has been a good match for the strains showing up.

Who’s At Risk?

Most healthy people recover from flu within two weeks, but certain high-risk populations – pregnant women, children younger than 2, people over age 65, and people with certain chronic medical conditions – are more at risk of life-threatening complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Symptoms

Symptoms of the common cold and the flu can often be confused. Visit your closest eMedical Urgent Care walk in clinic near you if you or your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
 
  • Fever
  • Cough (without a cough, the illness is more likely a viral infection of another variety)
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Muscle aches and severe tiredness
  • Occasionally nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may be experienced

Prevention

Flu shots are your best protection against the flu epidemic. In addition to getting vaccinated, you can do more to fight the flu with a few healthy steps such as regular hand-washing, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or elbow when you cough, disinfect surfaces regularly, limit alcohol and sugar, get enough sleep and fresh air and avoid close contact with others who are sick.

Flu Shots and Treatment at eMedical

For your flu shot or if you feel that you have symptoms of the flu, it’s important to see a doctor. 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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Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat

Posted on Wed, Feb 10, 2016

Checking Sore Throat, Acute PharyngitisSore throats are common for people of all ages, and particularly in the cooler months as more people are in close contact indoors. Some cases are more problematic than others, especially those caused by bacterial infections. These must be treated promptly with antibiotics to prevent complications and ensure a speedy recovery. How do you know if your bout of acute pharyngitis is just scratchy and short-lived or something more, such as strep throat? Keep reading to discover common symptoms of both.

Causes and Symptoms of Acute Pharyngitis

Common reasons you might develop soreness or hoarseness include:
  • Dry weather
  • Allergies
  • Influenza
  • Other viral infections (such as colds)
  • Bacterial infections
Symptoms are varied but can include pain while swallowing, redness, headache, inflamed nasal passages, swollen tonsils and fever. More severe symptoms can include joint pain, swollen lymph node glands and skin rashes. Left untreated, ear infections or sinusitis could occur.

Treating a Sore Throat

Viral infections are very common and typically do not require medical attention. If your symptoms seem mild, you can treat soreness at home by drinking soothing liquids such as warm tea with honey. As a treat, fruit-flavored popsicles can also help soothe the area. Teenagers and adults can use cough drops or lozenges during the day, or over-the-counter pain medication to help manage symptoms. Winter weather often brings dry air, so consider setting up a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air moist. You can include a drop or two of an essential oil such as eucalyptus or lemon to further help open sinus passages. If your throat pain feels more severe or lingers more than few days, contact a medical professional to identify and treat the cause. In the meantime, try to get plenty of rest and drink more non-caffeinated fluids than usual to stay hydrated.

How to Tell if Your Sore Throat is Strep

Streptococcus is a highly contagious bacterial infection that develops following contact with an infected person. Unfortunately, the symptoms of strep are so similar to other cases of acute pharyngitis that a doctor will not be able to diagnose you without performing a rapid test or throat culture. Without a proper diagnosis, the doctor will not be able to issue antibiotics to treat a possible infection. However, your soreness could indicate strep if you experience a high fever, a rash or swollen lymph nodes in your neck. You should also contact a doctor when what seems like a typical sore throat does not go away after several days, or if you notice white streaks on the tonsils.

Seek Help Anytime: eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic

If you suspect you or a family member might have strep, visit eMedical Urgent Care walk-in clinic without delay. Our emergency medical physicians provide quick diagnoses and treatment options for both children and adults. We offer convenient hours at both of our locations to better serve your busy schedule and urgent needs. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

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The Importance of Sleep and The Dangers of Energy Drinks

Posted on Wed, Feb 03, 2016

Dangers in Energy Drinks Chances are, you or someone you know is suffering from sleep deprivation. Side effects include daytime fatigue, increased food consumption and slow reaction time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, while adults need 7 to 9 hours. Unfortunately, many individuals don't get the sleep they need due to busy schedules or difficulty sleeping. In addition, many people of all ages are consuming copious amounts of overly caffeinated beverages, which further complicates matters. Read on for more information on proper sleep and the dangers of energy drinks.

The Importance of Sleep

Humans’ natural wake and sleep cycles are determined by the body clock, known as the circadian rhythm. Sleep is essential to repair muscles, rebuild the immune system, store information into long-term memory, and be strong and focused for the next day. Stimulants such as external light, computer blue light and coffee and other caffeinated beverages or food products can easily disrupt the circadian rhythm. For example, individuals may choose to stay up late to hang out with friends or finish working on a project, grabbing a caffeinated beverage to stay alert along the way. This quick decision may have lasting effects on one’s sleep patterns, however. Unfortunately, friendly marketing often overshadows the risks involved when consuming a highly caffeinated beverage. In addition to promising an energy boost, many drinks advertise increased focus, stamina and mental performance. Some brands highlight their vitamin-based additives, further distracting from the drink’s possible consequences. These beverages are readily available and accessible to children, teenagers and adults, and their popularity may make them seem safe. In reality, however, there are many possible negative side effects to consider.

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

Research published in 2013 and 2014 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that the number of emergency department visits involving such beverages doubled between 2007 and 2011 to more than 20,000 cases. Potential problems caused by the beverages can include:
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Irregular or racing heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Insomnia and other difficulties sleeping
  • Headache
  • Irritability
How could a can or two cause problems? Each can may contain five times as much caffeine as a single cup of coffee, so consuming them could lead to caffeine overdose. In addition, a 2015 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found a correlation between energy drinks and higher blood pressure, putting more strain on one’s system. The symptoms listed above may be amplified if the drink is consumed along with alcohol. It may not be worth these risks to continue a high-caffeine habit.

When to Visit eMedical Urgent Care

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above after drinking energy-boosting beverages, caffeine overdose could be the cause. Visit our walk-in clinic for a quick diagnosis and urgent medical care. We have convenient hours and locations in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, and Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

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What's that Rash?

Posted on Wed, Jan 27, 2016

What's That Rash?Most of us, at some point or another, will experience a rash on our skin. A skin rash, also known as a skin lesion or erythema, is quite common but its cause may not be easily identifiable. Symptoms are characteristic of inflammation and skin redness and can be caused by a reaction to several different conditions including heat, allergies (to a medication or food, for example), infections, plants (such as poison ivy) or an illness such as measles or chickenpox. There are many types of rashes but three of the most common include eczema, hives and contact dermatitis.

Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, affects 10 and 20 percent of children and 1 to 3 percent of adults. This chronic condition causes skin to flare up in dry, red, irritated and itchy patches on the face, limbs and upper body. If the area becomes infected, the skin may develop small, fluid-filled bumps that ooze a clear or yellowish liquid.

Hives

Hives, also known as urticaria, affects about 20 percent of people at some time during their lives. It can be triggered by many different kinds of substances, from food and latex to pet dander and pollen. Urticaria usually appears suddenly and starts as an itchy patch of skin that turns into red welts.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis rashes appear when the skin comes in contact with an irritant or an allergen. Common symptoms of a contact dermatitis rash include dry and scaly skin, itching and a burning sensation. Culprits often include cleaning products, perfumed soap, detergent, fabric softeners and shampoos. Allergic contact dermatitis can be the result of exposure to an allergic substance such as poison ivy, latex or even a fragrance. Patients who are exposed to these allergens may experience an itchy or runny nose, hives that can result in blisters and asthmatic symptoms such as wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Relief and Treatment

Itchy, irritated skin is uncomfortable but it is best to avoid scratching skin, which could worsen the condition and lead to a bacterial infection. Most simple rashes will show improvement with a few at home therapies and avoiding exposure to more irritating substances. Follow these general guidelines if you start to see a rash:
  • Avoid itching skin.
  • Use warm (not hot) water to clean hands/body.
  • Pat dry, don’t rub skin.
  • Take note of any new exposures (lotions, plants, foods, medications).
  • Allow affected area exposure to the air as much as possible.
  • Use a cold compress to calm inflamed skin and reduce itchiness.
  • Hydrocortisone is widely recommended as a first stop for rashes, but if this does nothing to reduce the symptoms, consult a physician.
  • Apply aloe vera gel, which not only has medicinal properties that helps to heal the rash, but also helps reduce possible scarring with very severe skin rashes.
  • If the itching becomes intolerable, it’s time to see a doctor, who may prescribe a two- to three-week course of oral steroids.
  • When necessary, medications such as ointments, antihistamines or anti-inflammatories may also be necessary.
If left untreated, many dermatologic rashes can spread and cause further complications which may include severe blistering of the throat, fever or painful swelling of your skin.

No Appointment Necessary - Visit eMedical Urgent Care

Instead of trying to diagnose and treat your rash on your own, don’t hesitate to stop by eMedical Urgent Care Walk-in Clinic where we can assess the real cause of what’s making your skin irritated. Our experienced providers can diagnose and treat urgent conditions quickly and expertly for adults and children with convenient hours designed to fit any 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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