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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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Flu Season Doesn’t Take Days Off (and neither do we)!

Posted on Wed, Oct 28, 2015

Changing leaves, pumpkin spiced lattes and…the flu. Yes, flu and cold season is upon us (again). But this year, give all those aches, sore throats, chills and fevers the cold shoulder by getting your annual flu shot. Flu season has already begun; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises on getting a flu shot at the start of the season to ensure you’re completely protected from the influenza virus. Luckily, eMedical Urgent Care offers convenient hours - we are an after-hours doctor’s office and open on the weekend as well - to allow you to be seen when you need it most.

Protect Against the Flu Epidemic

Did you know that according to the CDC, rates of the influenza virus are climbing quicker than the past 3 years, and are on track for a particularly brutal flu season? Not only that, but as of late December last year, enough cases were reported nation-wide to declare the 2014-2015 flu outbreak an “epidemic”. Flu shots are your best protection against the flu. And because the influenza virus(es) changes every season, it’s important to get vaccinated every year. In addition to getting vaccinated, you can do more to fight the flu with a few healthy steps:
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you sneeze to avoid spreading germs.
  • Keep surfaces and objects clean and disinfected. Wash pretty much everything you touch including phones, microwaves, keyboards, doorknobs, light switches, bed rails, remotes, toys, etc.
  • Avoid close contact with others who are ill. A recent study from MIT revealed that infections droplets from coughs and sneezes travel much farther distances that previously thought. If someone near you sneezes, turn your head away!
  • Rethink that drink. Excessive alcohol suppresses the immune system reducing the body’s ability to fight off bacteria.
  • Steer clear of sugars which slow your body’s defense system (similar to alcohol) from destroying bacteria and viruses.
  • Get some fresh air (yes, even if it’s cold out). One of the reasons we get sick more often in the winter is because we’re sharing more recycled air. Open a window or take a walk outside – just be sure to bundle up! Also, consider investing in an air purifier to remove or inactivate bacteria and viruses in your home.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick to avoid spreading the sickness to others.

How Do You Know if You Have the Flu?

Symptoms of the common cold and the flu can often be confused. But common symptoms of the flu include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

What if I get the Flu?

Getting the flu is common, and in most cases with proper rest, hydration and over-the-counter treatment, symptoms should diminish in a few days. For high-risk individuals (children under two, adults over 65, pregnant women, those who are already sick), anti-viral prescription drugs may need to be prescribed by a doctor. It's important for eMedical Urgent Care patients to keep in mind that an influenza infection will affect everyone differently; for some of us, it could be just a low fever and body aches, but for others, it could result in other health related issues such as upper respiratory infection (URI) and even hospitalization. When in doubt, always contact a physician immediately. While visiting a walk-in medical clinic for treatment after symptoms arise is always an option, eMedical recommends taking preventative measures by getting your flu shots early on in the season. Don't wait for the attack of the brutal flu season. Protect you and your children with a flu shot, today. Because… the flu doesn’t take days off, and neither do we.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month | Walk-in Medical Clinic The pink ribbon is the most prominent symbol to raise awareness about breast cancer and promote education surrounding prevention, detection, treatment and the need for a reliable cure. As part of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, eMedical Urgent Care has expanded the conversation by helping women identify preventable environmental risk factors starting right at home.

  1. Create a Healthy Home - Reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals by removing dangerous chlorine and bleach cleaning products. Try simple DIY recipes such as mixing a solution of half water and half vinegar for sparkling windows and mix baking soda and castile soap to create a gentle scrubbing cleanser for the bathtub.
  2. Protect Mother Nature - Many of the things you do to protect you and your family from toxic exposures are also good for Mother Nature. For example, find a safe way to fight germs (avoid triclosan) by using soap and water to wash your hands and dispose of electronics and batteries properly.
  3. Keep Skin Safe - Some personal care products also contain dangerous chemicals that have been linked to cancer and birth defects. Avoid products that have the following chemicals: paraben, petroleum distillates and lead acetate. For products you can’t live without, find a safe alternative using the Think Dirty app, which contains a database of more than 94,000 personal care products.
  4. Eat Healthy - What you put in your body matters. Choose organics when possible, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, hormone-free meats and learn to read labels. By reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals in our food, we can reduce risk of disease. For example, studies have shown that some herbicides and pesticides stimulate growth of breast cancer cells or cause mammary cancer in rats. Therefore, always reach for certified organic (pesticide-free produce).
  5. Enjoy the Outdoors - Get outside to reduce stress and boost the immune system. Remember to protect yourself form the sun and avoid cigarette smoke. Let nature be your reminder to live simply and be well.
  6. Know Your Plastics - Some plastics are safer than others. Avoid the hormone-disrupting phthalates (often with the recycling code 3) and toxic BPA found in clear, often “shatterproof” plastic (with the recycling code 7). And never put them in the microwave which can leach chemicals into your food when heated up.
  7. Know Your Body - Be aware of your family history. Women ages 20 years old and older should perform breast self-exams regularly and always report any changes you notice in your breast health to a doctor right away. Women ages 40-74 should have a mammogram every year. Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer before symptoms occur, are big enough to feel, and when it is easier to treat.

Know the Facts

  • According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and the second-most common cancer overall.
  • Did you know that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime?
  • Men can also get breast cancer; in fact, in the United States, about 2,000 men are diagnosed every year and about 400 men die from the disease.
  • Although breast cancer is usually found in women over 50 years old, it also affects younger women.

Prevention is Power

Organizations such as the Breast Cancer Fund have innovative missions that “move beyond pink ribbons” and focus on prevention. Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. National Cancer Institute states, for example, “both smoking and inheriting certain genes are risk factors for some types of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it does not mean that you will not get cancer.” 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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