Ready for the New Jersey Flu Season? Here’s What to Expect and Where to Get a Flu Shot

New Jersey Flu SeasonFall is officially here which means the days are getting shorter, Halloween decorations are in full effect and Santa’s reindeer have hit the shelves. At eMedical Urgent Care, this time of year means our experienced providers are already underway with preparations for the upcoming New Jersey flu season. And we’re already getting reports of seasonal influenza-like illness activity throughout the state.

The New Jersey flu season can vary in their timing, severity, and duration from one season to another. Most of the time, flu activity starts around October and peaks between December and March, lasting as late as May. Flu activity is unpredictable, for example, last year’s flu season peaked later (March 12, 2016) than the previous seasons.

2016-2017 New Jersey Flu Season: What To Expect

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that influenza vaccination coverage declined 1.5 percent across the entire U.S. population during the 2015-2016 flu season, with only 46 percent of Americans receiving the annual vaccine.

The decline in influenza vaccine coverage is causing concern among public health officials that more Americans might wave off a flu shot this year. Since vaccination not only reduces the chance of getting the flu but it also helps reduce the severity of infection and complications, this is particularly troubling for older adults because seniors are disproportionately affected by the flu.

Although Nasal spray flu vaccine has been pulled off the U.S. market because it has proven ineffective, according to the CDC, this season’s flu vaccine has been updated to protect against the four influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common during the 2016-2017 season.  This year’s vaccine offers protection against: A/California (H1N1), A/Hong Kong, B/Phuket and B/Brisbane.

Don’t Delay Protection for the New Jersey Flu Season

Each year, millions of Americans come down with the flu and hundreds of thousands of them are hospitalized. Flu vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that for the 2013-2014 flu season, the vaccine prevented approximately 7.2 million illnesses and 90,000 hospitalizations.

In an effort to continuously improve prevention of seasonal flu, the CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot every year. The CDC states: “Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of severe influenza and their close contacts, including healthcare personnel and close contacts of children younger than 6 months.”  It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and protection may last for up to one year.

Flu Shots Available at eMedical

Because of the unpredictability of flu activity, the earlier you can get your vaccine, the more protection you, your family and your community will have.

The influenza vaccine for the 2016-2017 flu season is now available at both eMedical locations. At eMedical Urgent Care, receiving the flu vaccination is as easy as stopping by when it’s convenient for you; no need for an appointment.

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.

Getting Medical Care While On Vacation

Medical Care On VacationVacations are supposed to be a relaxing time spent away from the daily stressors so you can enjoy more fun-filled time with your family and friends. However, there are times when illnesses or accidents occur that can bring the focus away from your trip to the Jersey shore to finding the appropriate medical care. If you are visiting from out of state or perhaps you are hosting friends or family from out out-of-town, rest assured that if someone gets injured or becomes ill, they will be provided with great doctors and great care at eMedical Urgent Care.

Get Medical Treatment Right Away

Whether your child has a sore throat on your trip to Point Pleasant or you are thrown by a wave and injure your ankle while paddle boarding on the Navesink River, it’s important to seek the necessary medical care you need when you need it. You don’t need to wait days (or weeks) to see your hometown doctor when you can be seen by our emergency medicine physicians right away. We provide great care seven days a week without the long waits and expenses. Even on weekends, evenings and holidays we‘re here; our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule. We pledge that, on average, you’ll be seen by one of our professional providers within 30 minutes.Visiting eMedical Urgent Care allows you to been seen by a doctor quickly who will assess your condition so you can be on the road to recovery…and get back to the beach.

Save Money on Quality Care

Emergency room visits can be very expensive. This can become even more pricy if you go to a hospital’s ER when on vacation because many insurance plans have steep charges for out-of-network coverage of treatment for injuries or illness. Choosing eMedical urgent care instead of going to the emergency room can save you the shock of an outrageously high bill when you get home. As your Middletown and Berkeley Heights urgent care facility, eMedical helps you get the medical care you need without worrying about costs. We work with a number of health insurance providers; call to confirm coverage of your visit and learn more about the services we offer.
As an affordable option for the uninsured, we also offer a discount eCard program.

Enjoy Your New Jersey Vacation

Getting ill or injured while on vacation or even traveling on business can be frustrating. Rather than waiting for hours in an emergency room, you can ensure that you and your loved ones will receive the treatment that’s needed, when it’s needed. 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.

Feel better knowing we’re here.

Got a Sinus Infection? Antibiotics Probably Aren’t the Answer

By eMedical Urgent Care

Woman SneezingIt’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s been an unusually mild winter, but coughing, sneezing and stuffy noses are everywhere. And some of those folks have not just a cold, but sinusitis. And if you’re among them, it’s important to know what’s causing your illness– and how to treat it properly.

Sinus infections, known as sinusitis, are one of the most frequent reasons patients come to our urgent care centers. And while many patients expect to be treated with antibiotics, both recent medical literature and  medical organizations that develop treatment guidelines and recommendations for these types of illnesses, such as the American Academy of Otolaryngology and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, have concluded that antibiotic treatment of sinusitis is not in fact indicated in most patients and have set clear diagnostic standards for their appropriate use.

Sinus Infections: They Are All Around You

  • In 2010, nearly 30 million adults were diagnosed with sinusitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • These patients accounted for nearly 13 million outpatient visits.
  • Children aged 6 months to 3 years average six viral upper respiratory infections (URIs) each year, and about 8 percent of these will be complicated by acute bacterial sinusitis.
  • Women are more likely to experience sinus infections probably because they have more contact with young children.
  • It is estimated that sinusitis costs patients about $6 billion dollars annually in health care costs.

Symptoms and Causes

By definition, sinusitis is an inflammation of the cavities in the skull and facial bones that empty into the nose. Sinusitis can be further classified based on both its severity and its cause, with approximately 80 percent of cases being infectious, and the remainder allergic. Differentiating between the two potential causes is sometimes difficult, particularly in the spring and fall when allergies are likely to flair.

The sinuses are normally filled with air, and the small amount of mucus they produce drains through very small openings, passing into the nose unnoticed. But when those openings become clogged, the mucus backs up, the sinus fills with mucus, and the symptoms of sinusitis appear, including:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Facial pain or pressure—characteristically aggravated by leaning forward
  • Decreased sense of smell
  • Facial swelling
  • Redness, including nose, cheeks and eyelids
  • Postnasal drip
  • Persistent cough
  • Foul mucus discharge
  • Ear pain
  • Headache

But I Want an Antibiotic!

Of those patients who develop viral upper respiratory infections (URIs or “colds”), 90 percent have some involvement of the sinuses, but only 5 to 10 percent of these cases will progress to acute bacterial sinusitis, when bacteria enter the sinuses and multiply, at which point the use of an antibiotic is warranted. Although there are no precise definitions, the general consensus is that acute bacterial sinusitis is more likely if URI symptoms are not improving within seven to 10 days, or if at that point symptoms are worsening or severe.

So because sinusitis is usually caused by either a virus or an allergy—neither of which responds to antibiotics, your doctor will provide symptomatic treatment. Antibiotics will not only not be useful, but they actually could cause harm (side effects, allergic reactions, bacterial resistance) and should generally be used only if:

  • Your symptoms last more than 10 days or are worsening (for example, if your face is swelling or your teeth begin to hurt)
  • You have an underlying medical condition (such as diabetes, history of chronic sinusitis or recent bacterial sinusitis), or
  • Your symptoms are more severe than typical

Treating the Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

To treat the symptoms of a sinus infection, you can make use of the following to help make yourself comfortable while the infection clears naturally:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can relieve pain and help shrink mucus membranes. If you can’t take NSAIDs, acetaminophen can be used for pain relief.
  • Maintaining adequate hydration can be helpful, both internally (drink a lot of fluids) and externally, through the use of a humidifier. This can help loosen mucus and aid natural drainage.
  • Decongestants help by decreasing swelling. Pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine are oral decongestant and are available without prescription. However, these should be used with caution or under supervision of your physician if you have a history of hypertension or heart problems. Decongestants in the form of a long-acting nasal spray, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin and others), also are available without a prescription and can help drain blocked sinuses. They should not be used for more than three consecutive days to avoid rebound congestion, a condition in which overuse actually leads to a worsening of the congestion.
  • Medications known as mucolytics—such as guiafenesin—are said to work by loosening mucus secretions, but while frequently recommended, they have not been proven to be effective.
  • Nasal steroid sprays, available only by prescription, help alleviate symptoms by shrinking swollen and inflamed mucus membranes.

Using Antibiotics Properly

If your doctor does prescribe an antibiotic to treat your sinus infection, the initial antibiotic of choice is generally amoxicillin. If you are allergic to penicillin, clarithromycin is a good alternative.

Antibiotics for sinusitis are usually prescribed for at least 10 days, since shorter courses haven’t been proven as effective. If you have recurrent or severe sinusitis, secondary treatment could include an amoxicillin/clavulanic acid combination (Augmentin) or a fluoroquinolone (such as levofloxacin or ciprofloxacin). The course of treatment should be at least 10 days but could be 14 or 21 days depending on severity and how often you develop a sinus infection.

In summary, most cases of sinusitis are viral in nature. Treatment with antibiotics is generally not helpful and not recommended. Treating your symptoms over the first seven days is the best approach. If your symptoms don’t improve in seven to 10 days, if the symptoms are severe or worsening, or if you have other medical issues, contact your doctor.

eMedical Urgent Care is available seven days a week to evaluate you or your children to help decide the best and safest treatment to get you feeling better quickly.

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.

Sore Throat Season: Is it Strep? Do I Need Antibiotics?

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.