How to Relieve Severe Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)

As we age, our eyes produce fewer tears. Dry eye is a very common (and ongoing) condition; the eyes may not produce enough tears or the tear ducts may not function properly. Those who wear contact lens, smoke or have undergone eye surgery such as LASIK are usually at higher risk for severe dry eye syndrome.

Other names for severe dry eye include dry eye syndrome (DES), keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), dysfunctional tear syndrome, lacrimal keratoconjunctivitis, evaporative tear deficiency, aqueous tear deficiency, and LASIK-induced neurotrophic epitheliopathy (LNE).

Dry eye syndrome may include dryness, scratchiness and burning but can usually be successfully managed.

Severe Dry Eye Symptoms

Early symptoms may include eye fatigue, eye pain, stinging, episodes of excess tears followed by dry eye periods, heavy eyelids, blurry vision and redness. Left untreated, dry eye can cause pain, inflammation, ulcers, permanent scars on the cornea and result in a decrease of vision. It can make it more difficult to perform some daily activities such as working at the computer, reading and watching TV.

Prevent Severe Dry Eye SyndromeManaging Severe Dry Eye

Dry eye can be a temporary or chronic condition and can be due to an underlying medical condition like Sjogren’s syndrome or lacrimal and meibomian gland dysfunction, or medications like antihistamines, nasal decongestants, or contact lens use. Even though the FDA has approved it, it’s important not to sleep in your contacts to prevent severe dry eyes.

Dry eye can also occur in women who are pregnant, on hormone replacement therapy or those suffering from allergies. To reduce the effects of sun, wind and dust irritation on dry eyes, wear sunglasses when outdoors. Wraparound styles offer the best protection.

Indoors, consider using an air conditioner to filter out dust and other particles from the air, and a humidifier to add moisture to air that’s too dry because of air conditioning or heating usage. Drinking more water may also help to relieve symptoms.

Treatment to relieve the symptoms depends on the cause of dry eye (which is why medical treatment is so important) and may include artificial tears, supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, prescription ointment, serum drops or pain medication. If dry eye results from taking a medication, your doctor may recommend switching to a medication that does not cause the dry eye side effect.

Urgent Eye Care

At eMedical Urgent Care, we are here to help, should you ever need urgent eye care. Our offices provide walk-in eye care services for severe dry eye syndrome, eye infections, eye injuries, and other eye urgencies. We are dedicated to providing you and your loved ones with affordable, quality medical care without waiting for appointments in two locations: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and Middletown, New Jersey. Visit your nearest eMedical Urgent Care location today to stay healthy, happy and on your way!

Checklist: Are You Prepared for a Hurricane?

Hurricane SafetyeMedical Urgent Care reminds you to be prepared and safe during hurricane season. Hurricanes and other natural disasters can happen anytime and anywhere, so it is important to be prepared before a disaster strikes. Take time to make sure you and your family are ready should a natural disaster affect your home or community.

“It is important for families to have a disaster supply kit, an evacuation plan and a family communication plan,” said Jane Sennett, DO, medical director of eMedical Urgent Care. “Every community in the country is vulnerable to one or more type of disasters, so it’s important for individuals and families to be prepared.”

Dr. Sennett identified several important actions to take before a disaster. First, create and maintain a disaster supply kit; next, create and maintain an evacuation plan; lastly, develop a family communications plan.

Disaster Supply Kit

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, including food for your pets
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Seasonal clothing and bedding
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
  • Plastic sheeting for shelter and duct tape to keep it in place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities – ensure all family members know how to turn off electricity, gas and water to your home
  • Local maps
  • Cellphone with charger, inverter or solar charger

Evacuation Plan

  • Write down the location of shelters, a friend’s home in another town or a motel –  including addresses, phone numbers and travel or evacuation routes
  • Identify important documents, irreplaceable personal mementos, medications and pet supplies to collect on short notice and take with you

Family Communications Plan

  • Establish a friend or relative to serve as family contact – after a disaster it’s often easier to call long distance outside of the disaster area
  • Create a contact schedule for a family to follow to maximize battery life of cell phones

For more information on emergency preparedness, please visit www.ready.gov.

Top Tips for Keeping Kids Safe En Route to School

School Bus SafetyWhether children walk, ride a bicycle or take the bus to school, it is extremely important to follow proper safety precautions. Statistically, school buses are the safest way for children to travel to and from school. However, nearly 12,000 children are injured and 26 die each year in school bus accidents. Most children injured and killed in school bus accidents are harmed while getting on and off the bus, not while riding.

eMedical Urgent Care offers this advice to share with your children to ensure their safety when traveling to or from school:

Getting on the school bus

  • Always stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb
  • Be sure the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver
  • Never walk behind the bus
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver – never try to pick it up first because the driver may not be able to see you

Getting off the school bus

  • If you have to cross the street, walk at least 10 feet ahead of the bus until you can turn around see the driver
  • Make sure the bus driver can see you
  • Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross
  • When the driver signals for you to cross, walk across the road while also keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes
  • Stay away from the wheels of the bus at all times

Walking to School

  • Always walk on the sidewalk when one is available
  • The safest place to cross is at a street corner or intersection
  • Before you step off the curb to cross the street, stop and look all ways to see if cars are coming
  • When no cars are coming, it is safe for you to cross, but continue look left-right-left as you cross
  • Walk, don’t run
  • Do not dart into the street between park vehicles

Riding a bicycle to school

  • Always wear a helmet when riding your bicycle
  • Make sure that your helmet fits correctly
  • Ride on the right side of the road or trail in a single-file line in the same direction as other vehicles
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing streets
  • Make sure clothes, shoes and the bicycle have reflective materials for better visibility by drivers

For more information on back to school safety, visit National Safety Council.

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.

Celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week

“United In Safety”

Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 8-14) is an annual education and awareness campaign held in March for healthcare safety led by The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF). Each year, healthcare organizations around the world take part in the event, creating awareness in their community and among their staff of the importance of safety in healthcare. This year’s theme is, “United in Safety.” This theme emphasizes the partnership that we as healthcare workers at eMedical Urgent Care have with our patients: We are all united in the goal of keeping patients free from harm.

The NPSF’s vision is to create a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm. Patient engagement and the importance of the relationship between providers and patients and their families is an added focus of the campaign. eMedical ensures an open dialogue between these parties to provide the safest care possible. This national campaign gives us an opportunity to take part in the conversation and raise awareness about the importance of patient safety at eMedical Urgent Care in support of this initiative.

eMedical Urgent Care is dedicated to taking a number of steps every day (with every patient) to maximize safety and is here to support your family. Just one of the ways we are committed to patient safety includes our quality of care with a typical wait time of less than 30 minutes. Because we realize that when you need URGENT medical care – you need it urgently!

Patients are also urged to take greater responsibility for their health by becoming more informed healthcare consumers. Below are a couple safety patient tips to keep in mind:

Ask Questions

Talk to your doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Speak up with any questions or concerns. Your health is important and it’s OK to ask for a repeated or rephrased explanation if you do not understand.

Know Your Medications

Medication errors are one of the main reasons for health care complications. Keep a list of all the medicines you take and talk specifics with your health care provider. Know the medicine interactions (and what to avoid while taking them) and follow your medication plan. Find out more medication safety tips from NPSF.

Understand What’s Happening

Learn as much as you can about your illness. Ask for written information or reputable resources, respected websites and/or support groups.

Evenings. Weekends. Holidays.

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. eMedical Urgent Care provides the right doctors, with the right care, right now. Conveniently located in Berkeley Heights and Middletown, NJ, we see all patients on a walk-in basis without appointments.

How to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season

By Jane Sennett, DO stop the flu

As the weather becomes crisper, the leaves embrace their autumn color, and the air fills with the smells of fall baking, we have officially entered the cold and flu season. We are enjoying more time indoors in closer contact with each other, which means it is a good time to stock up on home remedies and review the basic ways to keep healthy and prevent the spread of illness

What is the Flu?

The flu is a highly contagious infection caused by the influenza virus. Cases of people infected by the virus can range from mild to serious – particularly in the very old, in the very young or in those with underlying health conditions. One of the most life threatening complications of the flu is pneumonia.

The influenza virus can be spread by droplets formed when someone with the flu coughs, talks or sneezes. The droplets can move through the air and infect someone nearby, when the virus enters into the body through the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes or nose. The virus carried in the droplets can survive on hard surfaces for two to eight hours. You can infect yourself by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

What are Symptoms of the Flu?

Symptoms of the flu usually develop within two days of exposure, but a person can spread the virus before they begin to develop symptoms.

Symptoms of the flu are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body Aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Unproductive Cough
  • Congestion
  • Sore Throat

See your doctor if the above symptoms persist. Seek emergency medical care for:

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Severe Headache
  • Chest Pain
  • Signs of Dehydration
  • Fever With a Rash

The common cold is a respiratory illness that can be caused by many different viral infections. It is often confused with the flu. Colds usually improve in a week’s time. A person suffering from a cold is contagious during the first several days of his or her illness and also may spread the illness before they show symptoms.

Unlike what your grandmother might have said, you can’t catch a cold from the cold weather. The cold, dry air, however, does allow droplets containing the virus to travel further and stay in the air longer. Similar to the flu, virus-infected droplets are formed when someone with the flu coughs, talks or sneezes. The droplets can move through the air and infect others by entering into the body through the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes or nose.

The air from a human sneeze can travel at speeds of 100 miles per hour or more — another good reason to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze — or duck when you hear one coming your way. Like the flu virus, the cold virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to three hours. It’s possible to infect yourself by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

What are the Symptoms of a Cold?

  • Nasal Congestion (first clear then turning darker and thicker)
  • Sore Throat
  • Cough/Chest Discomfort
  • Sometimes a Fever less than 101 F
  • Slight Body Aches or Headache
  • Cough
  • Sneezing

Treatment

Antibiotics cannot cure a cold or the flu. Both are viral infections. Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections.

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.

  • Gargling with warm salt water can help a sore throat.
  • Antiviral medication prescribed by your doctor also may shorten the course of your flu and lessen the symptoms.
  • Humidifiers can help moisten the air to help a stuffy nose and sore throat. (Water should be changed daily to prevent the growth of mold, fungi and bacteria.)
  • Over-the-counter medications for cold symptoms are available for adults and older children. However, they can be dangerous if given to children under 2 years of age and are not recommended for children under 4 years.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding caffeinated beverages.
  • Resting to allow your body time to heal and build up your immune system.

Prevention

Since there is no cure for the flu or the common cold, prevention is our best defense.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water especially before you eat. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is recommended.
  • Use a tissue when you sneeze or cough then throw the tissue directly into the garbage and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • The CDC recommends that you avoid close contact for 24 hours after your fever is gone if you have shown other symptoms of the flu.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has the flu.
  • Antiviral medication may help prevent the flu if you have been exposed to someone with flu symptoms.
  • Have your annual flu vaccination.
  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Follow these preventive tips to stay healthy this cold and flu season. Remember to stop by eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights or Middletown for your flu shot. Mention this blog post and receive $10 off your flu shot.

About Jane Sennett
Jane Sennett, DO, is the medical director for eMedical Urgent Care, formerly known as eMedical Offices (EMO). She joined eMedical Urgent Care in 2014. She is board-certified in emergency medicine. Dr. Sennett earned her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her emergency medicine residency at Union Hospital and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Sennett holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Rutgers University. She also is an attending physician at Monmouth Medical Center and Robert Wood University Hospital at Rahway.

How to Treat Your Red Eyes: Some Clarity on Eye Infections

By John Morlino, DO stop-rubbing-your-eyes

It’s the season of itchy, red eyes. eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights and Middletown, NJ, see a variety of eye infections throughout the year but recently we’ve seen quite a number of patients with red eyes.

The most common causes for these types of eye infections are:

Pink Eye

The first group of diseases causing red eyes are infections caused by viruses or bacteria. The term “pink eye” refers to an inflammation of the membrane covering the eye. This film is called the conjunctiva, and when red, we say you have conjunctivitis. The version caused by a virus will result in red eyes, with a mostly dry feeling. With bacterial infections, there is a thick, yellowish discharge of pus. Both types of eye infections are contagious and require anti-infective (antibiotic) or anti-inflammatory eye drops.

Allergies

Another frequently encountered type of red eyes is caused by allergies. An allergic conjunctivitis may be a reaction to dust, mold, pollen, smoke or paint fumes. You’ll get red, itchy, watering eyes, possibly accompanied by sneezing or a runny nose. Anti-allergic eye drops, including some sold over the counter, work well. Prescription-strength drops offer the convenience of just once or twice a day application.

Injury

Red eyes also may be caused by an injury, such as being poked in the eye. This injury will cause a corneal abrasion or to simplify, a scratch on the surface of the eye. To check for this, we’ll numb your eye with anesthetic drops, add a stain to highlight the injury, and then examine the eye in the dark with a blue light.

If there are foreign bodies stuck to the eye or beneath the lid, such as sand, we’ll attempt to remove them. If the injury appears orange, the dye is then rinsed out and an eye patch is placed over the eye for protection. This type of injury usually heals within two or three days.

Glaucoma & Inflammatory Conditions

The more serious types of red eye problems involve disorders inside of the eye. These include increased pressure (glaucoma) and inflammatory conditions of the structures that enable focusing and vision. Usually, but not always, the more severe eye disorders cause pain and some degree of visual impairment. In many cases the eye isn’t even red. If we think you have an internal problem or your red eye isn’t getting better, we’ll send you to a specialist, such as an optometrist, who is an eye physician qualified to diagnose and treat medical conditions of the eye, or an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who performs all eye services including surgery.

So, here’s looking at you, hopefully with clear eyes.

John Morlino, DO, has been with eMedical Urgent Care since 1984. He is board-certified in emergency medicine. Dr. Morlino earned his medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his family practice residency at Union Memorial Hospital, Union, N.J.  Dr. Morlino holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and physics/mathematics. He also is a certified paralegal.