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.

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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.

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.


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.


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.


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.