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

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.

Preventing the Common Cold

Although the common cold is not life threatening, it can cause a disruption in your daily routine, sleep and even work productivity…and yes, they even occur during the carefree summer months. Prevention is key.

Preventing Summertime Sickness

According to the CDC, proper handwashing can prevent the spread of microbes (also known as germs) that can cause disease.

Hand Washing Routinereading-sick-child-best-medicine-1 (1)

Always wash your hands before eating, after your children play outside and whenever coming home after being in public. Germs are everywhere and simply by washing your hands, you can prevent the common cold. It’s common knowledge that washing your hands often and well is the best way to prevent disease transmission, but unfortunately too many simply rinse with running water while ignoring the importance of soaping up. Proper hand washing should take at least 20 seconds of thorough soap scrubbing.

According to Global Handwashing, germs than can cause diseases lodge in dirt, grease, and the natural oils on hands. Water alone does not dislodge them, but adding soap helps break down germ-carrying oils, and soap facilitates rubbing and friction which can remove germs form the hands, and can then be rinsed away with water. Hand sanitizer can help for on-the-go cleanliness.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water! Especially during the summer months, staying hydrated is vital to staying healthy. Make sure your children are drinking at least 6-8 ounces of water a day; and remember to replace lost sweat with extra liquids. A healthy diet and proper hydration keeps your body’s immune system functioning efficiently. Staying hydrated also goes a long way in maintaining long-term health.

Be Aware

When you’re in public there’s no doubt you will come in contact with some foreign bacteria. If you’re in a crowded public area, be sure to take extra care of other people. Colds are contagious so be sure to avoid sneezers and coughers at all costs; wash your hands immediately after being in contact with an individual who may be ill.

Good Night’s Sleep

Make sure your children get a good night’s sleep to help prevent pesky summertime sicknesses. A recent study showed that those who get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep (10 hours for children) are more likely to become ill. Sleep is important for everyone and critical for your body to recover.

Visit eMedical Urgent Care

If your child is suffering from a summertime cold, you have options. eMedical Urgent Care is staffed with board-certified and pediatric-trained physicians who deliver friendly and compassionate NJ pediatric urgent care to patients of all ages. Most of our physicians are parents too – so we understand firsthand the importance of keeping our tiny humans happy and healthy! If your child has cold symptoms that won’t go away, it could be allergies or something worse than just a cold. Don’t take the risk; visit the eMedical offices in Middletown or Berkeley Heights NJ today.

Eye Safety Tips

The weather’s getting warmer which means New Jersey outdoor spring sports are in full swing. Whether your child is playing contact sports or just monkeying around at the playground, accidents can happen at any time and it’s best to be prepared with protective gear.

Baseball
April is National Facial Protection & Eye Safety Month

Every April, National Facial Protection Month strives to raise public awareness and remind parents, coaches and athletes to play it safe while playing sports. April is also National Eye Safety Month. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, tens of thousands of sports- and recreation-related eye injuries occur each year. It is estimated that up to 75% of sport-related injuries that occur involve the head and neck areas… but the good news is that 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of appropriate protective eyewear.

Accidents can Happen at Anytime, Anywhere

Although our face structure is designed to naturally protect our eyes from injuries, unexpected accidents do happen. The risk of facial injury can occur in just about any sport (baseball, softball, cycling …even running) but are most prevalent in high-risk sports such as boxing and martial arts and even activities involving sharp objects such as fishing. In fact, the U.S. Eye Injury Registry indicates that fishing is the number one cause of sports-related eye injuries.

A study recently published by the University of Alabama analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a database of injuries treated at hospital emergency departments, and found the five most common causes of childhood injuries were, in order of frequency, basketball, football, bicycling, playgrounds and soccer.

Prevent Facial Injury

Calling all MVPs! Don’t take the fun out of the game; instead, play it safe during recreational and organized sports and help prevent serious (and painful) facial injuries with these safety measures:

1. Wear protective eyewear: Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing sports. Make sure the level of eye protection is appropriate for the type of activity. Regular eyeglasses do not offer proper eye protection; eyewear with polycarbonate lenses that have been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials standards.

2. Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports: Mouth guards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury, and dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouth guards that hold teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.

3. Wear a helmet: Helmets absorb the energy of an impact and help prevent damage to the head.

4. Wear a face shield: Avoid contact injury to the face by wearing a facial shield. Hockey pucks, baseballs and racquetballs can cause severe facial damage no matter how old you are.

Get Immediate Attention

At eMedical Urgent Care, we provide immediate care for a variety of medical needs including minor injuries from foreign objects in the eyes, ears and nose. After work, or on weekends, we‘re here. Our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule.

Top Tips for Safety in the Snow

Robert J. Deutsch, MD, MPH, FAAP children-ski-safety

Do you want to build a snowman? Or ride snowmobiles around the yard? If so, safety is key. Regardless of age or developmental levels, winter sports are fun for the whole family. However, it is important to stay safe to ensure a full season of outdoor activities – otherwise, you and your child may be stuck indoors while everyone else is outside enjoying the fun!

Tips to Prepare for Outdoor Activities:

  • Dress warm: Several layers will keep children dry and warm. Don’t forget boots, gloves, mittens and a hat. As a general rule, dress infants and young children in one layer more than you would wear in similar weather conditions.
  • Apply sunblock: When you’re skiing, sledding, skating or snowboarding, sunlight reflects off of snow and ice, and your child can get sunburned quickly. Make sure to wear a lip balm with SPF as well.

For any outdoor activity, parents should set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up and change into dry clothing before going back out to play. For parents of young adults and teens, it’s critical to remind them that using alcohol or drugs before any winter activity, like snowmobiling or skiing, is dangerous and unacceptable.

Ice Skating Safety

Have you ever noticed penguins don’t slip and fall on ice? It’s because they walk flat footed, take short steps, walk with their arms at their sides and concentrate on maintaining balance. This winter, walk like a penguin and help stop winter falls.

Ice skating should only occur on approved surfaces. In places where it gets very cold, you may be able to skate outdoors on frozen ponds and lakes. These spots must be approved for skating because ice that looks strong may not be able to hold your or your child’s weight.

  • Children should always skate in the same direction as the crowd.
  • Avoid chewing gum or eating candy while skating to prevent choking.
  • Consider wearing a helmet and protective elbow, wrist and knee pads, especially while learning to skate.

Sledding Safety

Sledding; the most enjoyed activity of those enjoying a snow day from school. Before rushing up that big hill, make sure your child is using a sled that is sturdy and that they can steer. The seat of the sled should be padded. Never use homemade sleds like trash can lids, plastic bags or pool floats. A recent study looked at how fast children and adults went while sledding – and the average was 19 miles per hour!

It is important to make sure children who are sledding are always going down the hill feet first to prevent head trauma. Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees, buildings or fences, should be covered in snow and not ice, should not be too steep, and should end with a flat runoff.  Helmet use should be encouraged as well.

Skiing and Snowboarding Safety

Before your child hits the slopes, make sure he or she has the right equipment that fits properly to prevent injury. This includes boots, helmets, gloves and goggles. Snowboarders should wear knee and elbow pads too.

  • Have your child take at least one skiing or snowboarding lesson before starting out on his own.
  • Make sure the trail or hill is appropriate for your child’s level of comfort and skill.
  • Avoid crowded slopes and slopes with obstacles such as trees whenever possible.

Recently, snowmobiling has become very popular. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises children under 16 to avoid operating snowmobiles. Even with the most responsible of adults, accidents can happen; a little joy ride with a child under the age of 6 can turn into a big injury. Stick to snow tubing and the bunny slopes until they’re a little older!

Goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles or ATVs should always be worn, and snowmobiles should never be used to pull people on snowboards or skis. Snowmobiling should never occur alone, and the snowmobile should be kept on designated trails.

Whether you’re outside singing “Let it Snow” or begging someone to come out to build a snowman, we hope you have found these tips useful, and that you and your children have a safe and healthy winter season.

About Robert J. Deutsch, MD, MPH, FAAP
Robert J. Deutsch, MD, MPH, FAAP, joined Emergency Medical Associates in 2009. He is clinical director of the pediatric emergency department at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. He also works clinically in the pediatric emergency department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J.

Dr. Deutsch received his undergraduate degree and his medical degree from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. He completed his pediatric residency at North Shore-LIJ in New Hyde Park, N.Y., and his pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at The University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., where he also obtained his master’s degree in public health.

Is Your Child Suffering from the Common Cold or Seasonal Allergies?

By iTriage

Are you one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies? According to allergies-childrenCathie-Ann Lippman, MD, from Los Angeles, Calif., people who are genetically predisposed to inhalant allergies suffer the most during the spring months when most plants are growing and blooming and the volume of allergenic particles (pollens) is at its maximum.

So, what plants should you look out for? Dr. Lippman noted that trees, grasses, weeds and flowers can all cause allergic symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, and a frequent complaint in urgent care offices. Common medical conditions resulting from seasonal allergies include hay fever, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis, hives and dermatitis (eczema).

As a parent how can you tell if your child is dealing with the common cold or seasonal allergies? Dr. Lippman noted, “It may be very difficult to differentiate between a cold and allergies.” A doctor at your local urgent care office should be able to help you determine which you are suffering from. Some of the differences include:

  • A cold should last no longer than two weeks, while allergies can last for months.
  • Colds more commonly occur in the winter, while allergies can occur any time of the year.
  • One symptom of a cold may be fever and with allergies no fever is present.
  • Colds may cause aches and pains, symptoms usually not associated with allergies.

Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes and nose

Pollen Counts

You may have seen the daily pollen count report on the news or even have had a notification from a weather app appear on your phone, but what exactly do these pollen counts mean? According to Dr. Lippman, “The pollen count measures the number of allergenic pollen particles in the air in gram per cubic meter.” The website, Pollen.com notes that, “Pollen counts are measured from low, meaning they affect few individuals, to high, meaning symptoms affect most allergy sufferers.” By checking the pollen counts in your area, allergy sufferers can see if there are any special environmental factors that may make their allergies worse.

Adulthood Allergies

Did you know that you can develop allergies into your adulthood? Dr. Lippman asserted, “This can happen especially if a person has a mild genetic propensity to allergies and their immune system becomes depleted, making them more vulnerable to manifesting the allergies.” It may seem like more and more people are developing allergies. Dr. Lippman noted that this increase may be caused by a number of different things, including:

  • The environment becoming more toxic
  • People not being as healthy in general due to lack of nourishment
  • Many people’s immune systems becoming depleted due to medications

While allergies cannot generally be prevented, the CDC suggests avoiding contact with the certain allergens that may be causing you problems. If your seasonal allergies leave you feeling miserable, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) suggests setting up an appointment with an allergist/immunologist. “An allergist will have the background and experience to determine which allergies, if any, are causing your symptoms,” notes AAAI.

AAAI also suggests following some of these precautionary tips to alleviate symptoms:

  • Keep your windows closed at night and if possible, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
  • Try to stay indoors when the pollen counts are high.
  • When traveling by car, keep your windows closed.
  • Take any medications as prescribed.

If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care offices are 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.

The Trick to Making Halloween a Treat

By Shilpa Amin Shah, MD, FACEP 

Autumn is the season of pumpkin-spiced lattes, hayrides and of course, Halloween! People dress in funny or scary costumes and travel neighborhood to neighborhood asking for treats. To keep children safe, some small towns host a Halloween Safe Night at the community center or local school so kids can trick-or-trick indoors. It is cliché, but times have changed and on top of finding the right costume and the perfect treat to distribute, there is an added pressure of making sure your child stays safe on Halloween. eMedical Urgent Care understands your worries, as some of our physicians are parents too. We hope these tips help you stay stress free while your child remains safe.

Costumes

The best part of Halloween is deciding on a costume. Whether you are making or buying your child’s costume, comfort is important, as it will be worn for several hours. Here are tips to keep in mind when choosing the right costume:

  • Avoid high-heeled footwear.
  • Make sure the costume is flame resistant.
  • Fit is important as you don’t want your child tripping over a long dress or cape.
  • Watch out for long dangling pieces of costume that could be tripped over.
  • Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.
  • If your child is wearing a mask, make sure that it’s comfortable, has adequate eye holes and proper ventilation.

Decorative contact lenses have grown increasingly popular in recent years.  Despite their appeal, do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses often will make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous. They can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may require a visit to urgent care or lead to permanent vision loss.

Trick-or-Treating

Children travel door-to-door, say “trick-or-treat,” and then receive something good to eat. When your child is in costume, especially while wearing a wig or mask, it’s easy to lose sight of them. This should be an overall enjoyable experience; just follow these simple steps:

  • Always walk in groups with a trusted adult.
  • Encourage children to remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • Remind them not to enter a stranger’s house.
  • Carry flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Light-producing or reflective devices (glow sticks, reflective tape) will make the wearer more noticeable in the dark.
  • Bring bottled water to quench the thirst of active trick-or-treaters.

Consider pinning a piece of paper with your child’s name, address and phone number inside your child’s costume in case you get separated. Teach your child how to dial 9-1-1, or their local emergency number, should they have an emergency or become lost.

Treats

Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Although tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.

Try healthy or sugar-free alternativesto candy, such as fruit snacks, individual popcorn bags or raisins as giveaways.  Mini bottles of water or juice boxes also are great giveaways.

Some of my favorite non-candy items are glow stick jewelry, stickers, glittery pencils, spider rings, temporary tattoos, play-doh minis or Halloween erasers.
Whether you choose to eat sugary sweets or stay healthy with glow sticks, eMedical Urgent Care hopes you stay safe and keep these helpful tips in mind.

Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD, FACEP, is a full-time attending emergency physician at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. Dr. Amin is also the Director of the Physician Recruiting Team with Emergency Medical Associates, Parsippany, N.J. She received a bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa., and her medical degree from SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, N.Y. She completed the Jacobi/Montefiore Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and served as chief resident. She enjoys spending her free time cooking, traveling and trying new cuisines with her husband and two young children.

A Return to Routine: Helping Children Cope with Hurricane Sandy

By eMedical Urgent Care

kid looking out windowThe wind has died down and the flood waters have receded, but for many communities, the cleanup process after Hurricane Sandy has just begun. The hurricane impacted nearly every region of the state. While adults focus on getting back to work and getting their children back to school, it’s important to understand what your child may be feeling – and how to help him or her express those feelings and heal.

Natural disasters can be especially traumatic for children. Hurricanes can be frightening even for adults, and the devastation to the home and community can be long lasting and distressing. When an entire community is impacted, a child’s sense of security and normalcy can suffer. These factors present a variety of unique issues and challenges, including issues associated with having to relocate when home and/or community have been destroyed.

Children look to the adults in their lives for guidance. Parents, teachers and other caregivers can help children and teens cope in the aftermath of a natural disaster by remaining calm and reassuring children that they will be all right.
Possible Reactions of Children and Youth to Natural Disasters
Each child’s reaction to the hurricane and its destruction will vary. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends that you contact a professional if your child exhibits significant changes in behavior or any of the following symptoms over an extended period of time.

  • Preschoolers: Thumb sucking, bedwetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior, and withdrawal from friends and routines
  • Elementary School Children: Irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, school avoidance, poor concentration, and withdrawal from activities and friends
  • Adolescents: Sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior, and poor concentration

A minority of children may be at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms can include those listed above as well as re-experiencing the disaster during play and/or dreams; anticipating or feeling that the disaster is happening again; avoiding reminders of the disaster; general numbness to emotional topics; and inability to concentrate and startle reactions.

Tips for Returning to Routine
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers the following tips:

  • Hold your child or let him or her stay close to you.
  • Keep him or her away from frightening TV images and scary conversations.
  • Do familiar things, like singing a song you both like or telling a story.
  • Let him know what will happen next (to the degree that you know).
  • Have a predictable routine, at least for bedtime: a story, a prayer, cuddle time.
  • Leave her with familiar people when you have to be away.
  • Tell him where you are going and when you will come back.
  • Help your child name how she feels: “scared,” “happy,” “angry,” “sad.” Tell her it’s OK to feel that way.
  • Show your child the right way to behave, like saying “It’s OK to be angry but it’s not OK to hit me.”
  • Help your child express anger in ways that won’t hurt, using words, play, or drawings.
  • Talk about the things that are going well to help you and your child feel good.
  • Listen to your child and watch his behavior to figure out what he needs.
  • Enable your child to tell the story of what happened during and after the hurricane.
  • Join your child in showing and telling not only what happened, step by step, but also how you both felt. As you tell the story, follow your child’s lead. When the story is difficult, your young child may need breaks: running around, being held, playing something else. This is OK. He will come back to the story when he is ready.
  • If you belong to a group, like a church, try to find ways of reconnecting with them.
  • It is common for children to be clingy and worried about being away from you.
  • If you need to leave your child, let her know for how long and when you are coming back. If possible, leave something that belongs to you, or a picture that your child can have.

Take time for yourself and try to deal with your own reactions to the situation as fully as possible. You will be better able to help your children if you are coping well. If you are anxious or upset, your children are more likely to feel the same way. Talk to other adults such as family, friends, faith leaders, or counselors. Sharing feelings with others often makes people feel more connected and secure. Take care of your physical health. Make time, however small, to do things you enjoy. Avoid using drugs or alcohol to feel better.

If You Had to Relocate
The need to relocate after a disaster creates unique coping challenges. It may contribute to the social, environmental and psychological stress experienced by children and their families. The NASP recommends that parents and other caregivers:

  • Provide opportunities for children to see friends.
  • Bring personal items that the child values when staying in temporary housing.
  • Establish some daily routines so that the child is able to have a sense of what to expect post-hurricane.
  • Be sensitive to the disruption that relocation may cause and be responsive to the child’s needs.
  • Consider the developmental level and unique experiences of each child; it is important to remember that as children vary, so will their responses to the disruption of relocation.

eMedical Urgent Care can provide referrals to behavioral health specialists for both you and your child. For more information, visit our website.