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.

Allergy Sufferers: Ragweed Allergy Season in New Jersey Has Begun

While many people think of spring as prime-time pollen season, it’s ragweed pollen that is wreaking havoc right now. Ragweed allergy season in New Jersey usually reaches peak levels in mid-September and the fine powder hangs around until the first frost. Allergies affect as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. Approximately 10-20 percent of suffer from the ragweed allergy.

When is Allergy Season in New Jersey?

We have three allergy seasons in New Jersey:

  • Tree allergy season: March, April and May, going into June.
  • Grass allergy season: May and June and sometimes into July.
  • Ragweed allergy season that starts in late summer and goes into the first frost.

What Exactly is Ragweed?

Ragweeds are soft-stemmed weeds that grow in much of the U.S. most common to the East and Midwest. Of the seventeen species, ragweed belongs to a family of plants that also includes sage, marigolds, sunflowers, burweed, etc. Warmth, lowered humidity and a breezy evening can all help create the ideal environment for ragweed flowers to release pollen.When is Allergy Season in New Jersey?

Airborne pollen tends to peak between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., depending on the weather. Rain and low morning temperatures can slow the pollen release.

Symptoms of ragweed allergies are similar to those of other pollen allergies and can include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, headaches, irritated eyes, and itchy throat.

Climate Change May Be Increasing NJ Allergy Problems

Milder winters and warmer seasonal air associated with climate change could be having an impact on allergies by creating a longer allergy season in New Jersey and spawning more intense releases of pollen.

It is estimated that a single ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion grains of pollen. And that pollen is being felt (and suffered) by many residents in New Jersey.

Asthma and Allergies

Ragweed pollen can also aggravate asthma symptoms, leading to increased coughing and wheezing. Nine out of 10 children who suffer from asthma have allergy triggers.

One of the most important things you can do to reduce symptoms is to reduce exposure. Create a personal allergy action plan. Sufferers can track the pollen counts online through the Allergy and Asthma Centers of New Jersey and stay inside during peak hours.

Keep windows closed to keep pollen out of the house or car, remove outer clothing before entering the house and take a shower as soon as possible after being outside to remove pollen that has collected on hair and skin.

eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic

Allergic disease, including asthma, is the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. in people of all ages. If you are unsure or have never experienced allergy symptoms before eMedical Urgent Care can help you differentiate the cause of your symptoms.

Our emergency medicine physicians provide urgent medical care to both adults and children with convenient hours designed to fit all your busy schedules. 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.

Back to School Physicals and Health Check List

Backpack? Check. Notebook? Check. Cool new school clothes? Check. Back to School PhysicalsWalk into any store with your child’s school supply checklist in hand, and you’re likely going to be faced with bright orange “BACK TO SCHOOL” promotions. Summer is almost over (we know, we can’t believe it either), which means it’s time for parents to start thinking about a health check list, and it starts with scheduling back to school physicals.

Healthy Back-To-School Checklist

As you’re transitioning the kids from summer to school, parents can do a little homework of their own with this handy back-to-school health checklist.

  • Get Organized – Organize all medical history records and emergency medical contact information for your child. Provide copies to your child’s school and day care providers. The form needs to include information related to prescription medications, medical problems, previous surgeries as well as pertinent family history and emergency contact information.

You can find a few medical history templates and free consent-to-treat forms online which allow caregivers to authorize medical treatment if necessary.

  • Plan School Physicals – Schedule dental check-ups and school physicals including eye exams, hearing tests and immunizations six weeks before school starts. Back to school physicals are a time to monitor children’s growing rate, check that no new health concerns have arisen over the past year and administer any vaccines necessary. It is also an opportunity to determine if they are clear for physical exertion in school sports.

Find out more about the medical history and physical exam details in depth on our school physicals webpage.

  • Connect with the School – Connect with your child’s school nurse to create an action plan for any health issues, such as asthma or food allergies.
  • Get to Sleep – Healthy sleep habits are critical for transitioning back to school. Gradually adjust sleep and wake schedules two weeks before the start of school to help set their biological clocks to the new schedule. Keep a regular bedtime routine, even on the weekends, and eliminate exposure to electronics within an hour before bed. Read more about the importance of sleep on our blog.
  • Stock Up on Healthy Foods – Eating well at school can be challenging; talk with your children about healthy choices and discuss their menu options to help them make smart decisions on their own. Make it even easier by stocking up on healthy foods to pack for your kids’ lunches. Taking a few minutes on the weekends to cut up fruits and vegetables and prepare nutritious lunches can go a long way to keeping kids healthy.
  • Teach Good Hygiene Habits – Remind kids how to protect themselves from getting sick by preventing exposure to germs. Encourage them to wash up after using the restroom, before and after eating and avoid touching their face. They can also prevent getting others sick by sneezing/coughing into a tissue or into the crook of their elbow.

Who’s ready for a successful start to the new school year?

Scheduling School Physicals?

No need to schedule anything! All visits at eMedical Urgent Care are quick, convenient and do not require an appointment. Simply walk in whenever it’s convenient for you and your child; expect the exam to take only about 20 minutes to complete.

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.

Dust Allergy Symptoms and Prevention

Dust Allergy Symptoms and PreventionDid you know that indoor air can contain more dust, lint, smoke and pollen than outdoor air? Dust allergens are all around us, everywhere we go. And because of that, many patients with asthma or allergic rhinitis can suffer greatly from dust allergy symptoms. Thankfully, a good thorough cleaning can make a huge difference and you don’t really have to strip down your house to the bare bones to make it allergy proof. Find some relief by taking these simple measures:

Dust Allergy Symptoms

Although you can’t even see them with the naked eye, dust mites can sure stir up a lot of trouble. About 20 million Americans experience allergic symptoms to these little bugs that are similar to an endless cold or even asthma. Common dust allergy symptoms include:

• Runny or stuffy nose
Red, itchy or teary eyes
• Wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath
• Itching

Dust Allergy Prevention: Allergy-Proof Your Home

Allergy treatment begins at home. With these few tips, you can learn what triggers to avoid so you can prevent (or at least, ease) attacks. The best preventive measure is to get away from the cause of the problem. We’re not talking about moving to a new climate, such as the beach to “get away” from allergens… we’re speaking about practicing environmental control (without packing your bags). And it starts with cleaning up your home.

Common Dust Allergy Triggers

A house doesn’t need to be visibly dirty to trigger a dust mite allergy reaction. Some common dust allergy triggers include:

Dust mites – this is the most common cause of house dust allergies. Dust mites live and multiply in warm, humid places and usually found in pillows, mattresses, carpeting and furniture.
Cockroaches and Mold – Small mold or cockroach particles and spores are a common component of house dust and may actually be the true cause of a dust allergy.
Pollen – From trees, grass, flowers and weeks, pollen is a common culprit of allergies.
Animal dander – Animal dander (skin flakes), saliva and urine can cause allergic reactions, especially if combined with dust.

Prevent House Dust Triggers

Dust Allergy Symptoms and Prevention• Dust rooms with a damp cloth weekly. Never use a dry cloth, since it stirs up mite allergens.
• Use a vacuum cleaner with either a double-layered microfilter bag or a HEPA (high-efficiency particle arrestor) filter.
• Wear protective gloves as well a dust mask while dusting to reduce exposure irritants.
• Reduce the number of stuffed animals, wicker baskets, dried flowers and other infamous dust collectors around the home.
• If possible, replace carpets with bare floors (linoleum, tile or wood) and use washable scatter rugs.
• Cover windows with shades made of plastic or another material that you can wipe clean or remove fabric curtains to wash monthly.
• Cover your mattress and pillows in dustproof or allergen-impermeable covers. Dust mites are one of the most common allergens found in homes, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
• Wash all bedding and blankets at least once a week in hot water (at least 130° to 140°F) to kill dust mites.
• Replace traditional stuffed animals with washable ones.

In addition to the above, keep your home cool (between 68 and 72 degrees F), maintain a low humidity (between 40 and 50%), and make certain there is good ventilation.

When Should I See A Doctor?

If dust allergy 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.

Allergy treatment is available now at eMedical Urgent Care.

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. We welcome you to walk in, get your exam and be on your way.

What Causes Allergies? And Other Answers to Common Allergy Questions

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.

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

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.

Top 12 Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is one of the most anticipated evenings of the year for kids (candy, costumes, and fun with friends). But unfortunately, some pretty chilling statistics correspond with this scary night.  No matter how peaceful you think your neighborhood might be, parents should always take precautions and be on guard; children 12 and under should always be accompanied by an adult when trick or treating. The physicians at eMedical Urgent Care walk-in doctors office are parents too and we want all the little vampires, goblins, superheroes and princesses to enjoy a safe and spooky Halloween (injury free) with these simple safety tips below.

Halloween Safety TipsScary Halloween Stats

  • One common danger on Halloween includes car accidents. In fact, SafeKids Worldwide reveals that children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day.
  • Fright-night fires, jack-o-lanterns and burns from flammable costumes also lead to injuries and even death.
  • Allergic reactions can occur from Halloween makeup as well as unknown ingredients from the candy stash, such as peanuts. And of course, overindulging in too much candy (or alcohol) can lead to stomach aches and nausea. So keep it to a moderation.
  • Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury on Halloween night according to the National safety Council. Many trick-or-treaters will trip and fall leading to cuts, bruises and even broken bones.

It is recommend that children “trick-or-treat” at organized Halloween festivities, such as local churches, shopping malls or schools so children keep constant adult supervision and don’t end up walking in the dark.

Tips for a Safe Halloween

  1. Children under the age of 12 should always be accompanied by a parent on the neighborhood rounds.
  2. Walk on sidewalks and obeys all traffic signals (remember, pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween).
  3. Remind your child the potential dangers of strangers and make sure they know to never talk to or accept rides from strangers.
  4. Plan costumes that are bright and reflective (consider adding reflective tape to the costumes).
  5. Avoid costumes that could cause children to trip, such as baggy pants, long hems, high heels and oversized shoes.
  6. Avoid costumes that obstruct the child’s sight such as masks and long wigs.
  7. Look for costumes and wigs that are made of flame-resistant materials, such as nylon or polyester.
  8. Keep candlelit Jack-O-Lanterns away from children to prevent burns (place on a sturdy table away from curtains and never leave it unattended).
  9. Sort all candy before your child eats it. Avoid candy that is not wrapped in its original wrapper, as well as fruit.
  10. Stay in well-lit, familiar neighborhoods and carry a flashlight (never assume the right of way).
  11. Check accessories such as swords, knives, wands and other pointed objects.  Make sure they are made from flexible materials and have dulled edges.
  12. Teach your children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.

No Appointments Necessary!

Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to child safety. Take these tips into consideration when you’re out trick or treating with the kids. And if your night takes a turn for the worse and you’re facing an urgent situation, eMedical Urgent Care walk-in doctors office is here to help (open 7 days a week, without the long waits and expenses) in two locations: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and Middletown, New Jersey. Bring your zombies, witches and ghosts…feel better knowing we’re here.