Mumps Virus is Back: Here’s What You Need to Know

Mumps VirusNationwide, it’s the biggest spike in cases of the mumps virus in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the past year, more than 4,000 people across the country have fallen ill with the mumps virus, a highly contagious and vaccine-preventable illness caused by a virus.

To stay healthy, it’s advised to consider a booster shot.

About the Mumps Virus

As reported by the CDC, there are between a few hundred and several thousand cases reported in the US each year, although that number is expected to be higher than reported.

Causing flu-like symptoms, mumps is a viral illness that causes swelling of the salivary glands resulting in a swollen face and cheeks, jaw pain and headaches. The infection usually beings with a few days of a fever, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. It is transmitted via saliva from coughing, sneezing or sharing objects such as utensils and cups. It is very contagious, especially in confined areas like college campuses.

Treatment for the Mumps Virus

If you suspect you have the mumps virus, visit your closest eMedical Urgent Care center to be tested. The physician will obtain a swab of your cheek to be tested for infection. Those affected should stay home and isolated for five days to limit the spread of the disease.

Outside of rest, currently there is no treatment for the viral illness. Over-the-counter medications can help to alleviate swelling, fever and pain.

Prevention for the Mumps Virus

Since the pre-vaccine era, there has been a more than 99% decrease in mumps cases in the United States. Although some speculation has circulated regarding the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine recently, it’s still the most effective protection against mumps infections.

MMR protects against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella. The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults also should be up to date on their MMR vaccination. Many schools and colleges require proof of MMR vaccination for enrollment, although there are still exemptions allowed in many states for medical and philosophical reasons.

Getting vaccinated is the best prevention from contracting mumps and significantly reduces the chances for severe complications if you do. If you and your loved ones have already been vaccinated, you may want to consider a booster shot.

MMR Booster Vaccine

The MMR vaccine is extremely effective against Mumps (in addition to Measles and Rubella). But, as we’ve addressed, even someone who has received the vaccine can still contract Mumps. Why?

The phenomenon, known as vaccine failure, is when the effectiveness of a vaccine potentially wears off over time. Additionally, it can happen when the body doesn’t maintain the same level of antibodies that it once did. To combat this, consider getting a Mumps booster shot.

If you have a unvaccinated child or need a booster shot, contact eMedical Urgent Care today to learn more about vaccinations like the MMR and how they can help keep you and your children healthy and safe. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, and Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

The Dangers of Scented Candles and Plug-Ins on Indoor Allergies and Asthma

Indoor Allergies and Asthma On a chilly afternoon, there can be something soothing about lighting a scented candle and filling the home with aromas of vanilla, pumpkin spice or lavender. Maybe you already have those fragrances wafting in every room with a scented plugin.

As soothing as they might smell, as your trusted New Jersey urgent care provider, we want you to think twice before lighting that candle or plugging in a fragrance box. Because when it comes to indoor air quality and your health, many studies show that they are both significant pollutants. Thankfully, through natural alternatives, you can still create an aromatic scent throughout the home without stirring up your indoor allergies and asthma.

Dangers of Scented Candles

Many studies show that scented candles pose dangerous health risks; so you might want to think twice before lighting up that sugar-cookie candle.

Besides the clear fact that candles pose a dangerous fire risk especially if you have children, they also give off smoke which can irritate people with nasal allergies. To those with a sensitive nose, a scented candle can be no different than cigarette smoke and trigger uncomfortable symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes and headaches.

Burning paraffin wax also produces soot with particles that can remain in the air for hours after being burned. In size and composition, these ultrafine soot particles are similar to diesel exhaust and can penetrate deeply into the lungs. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that candles with more fragrance in them produce more soot; the agency suggests choosing unscented candles to reduce this leftover debris.

Additionally, many mass-produced candles on the market are made with paraffin wax, a petroleum byproduct; many also use synthetic fragrances and dyes. When burned, they release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air (including acetone, benzene and toluene), that not only trigger indoor allergies and asthma but are also known carcinogens.

Scented Plugins Pose Health Risks

Many people who are cautious about the flames of candles often turn to scented plugins. However, it’s not just scented candles making us sick; plug-ins, gels and aerosols are also irritating to our airways and troubling to our health. The chemicals found in the fragrance and wax have researchers fearing that long-term use of these items may also lead to allergy irritation and asthma.

Safer Scent Alternatives to Prevent Indoor Allergies and Asthma

If you’re still longing for that soothing ambiance of a candle, don’t despair. As an alternative to traditional candles, non-toxic soy or beeswax candles produce less soot, burn slower (lasting about 30% longer) and are less likely to trigger indoor allergies or asthma.

Or try an even safer way to scent your home and add some humidity to the air at the same time through diffusion. Essential oil diffusers create a wonderful aroma with therapeutic benefits. Depending on the oil used, diffusing oils such as lavender, peppermint and frankincense can deodorize the household air of odor, promote a calm environment and support respiration all while leaving your home smelling great.

eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Medical Clinic

At eMedical Urgent Care, we take your health very seriously. And part of maintaining your health is maintaining good indoor air quality. If you feel that you or your child is suffering from asthma, see a doctor at one of our locations. Walk-in treatment for asthma and allergies is available at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707. Our convenient hours are designed to fit your busy schedule.

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Protect Your Family against Pertussis with the Whooping Cough Vaccine

Whooping Cough Incidence On The Rise In NJ

Protect Your Family against Pertussis with the Whooping Cough VaccineWhooping cough is surfacing again and New Jersey residents are urged to get their vaccines. Whooping cough, clinically known as pertussis, mainly affects infants younger than 6 months old, who are not yet adequately protected by immunizations, and kids 11 to 18 years old, whose immunity has started to fade. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease and caused by the bacterium Bordetella Pertussis. Known for the uncontrollable, violent coughing, pertussis makes breathing difficult.

History

In its kid-friendly fact sheet, the CDC profiles the history of “Whoopie Doopies.” Doctors have been dealing with pertussis for at least 500 years. Finally, in 1906, scientists were able to identify and see Bordetella pertussis bacteria through a microscope—a first step in learning how to stop its evil tricks. From 1940–45, before the vaccine was widely used, 200,000 people in the United States were infected each year. In the 1940s, vaccinating against pertussis became routine and the tables turned for the better. Now, 10,000 to 40,000 people are infected each year, and very few die.

Whooping Cough Symptoms

Pertussis usually begins with cold-like symptoms, therefore, it may go unsuspected or undiagnosed until more severe symptoms start appearing. Severe coughing may begin after one to two weeks, and early symptoms can last for 1 to 2 weeks. These usually include:

  • Runny nose
  • Low-grade fever (generally minimal throughout the course of the disease)
  • Mild, occasional cough
  • Pauses in breathing

As the disease progresses, more symptoms of pertussis typically appear including:

  • Fits of repeated, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop”
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion after coughing fits

While not everyone with pertussis coughs or “whoops,” the characteristic sound is unmistakable and leaves its victims literally gasping for air.

Prevention: Hygiene

Just as with other respiratory illnesses, pertussis is spread from being in close contact with others who are infected who cough or sneeze near you. Practice good hygiene to stay healthy by:

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Place your used tissue in the trash (not on the countertop)
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow (not your hands)
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • When a sink is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Prevention: Whooping Cough Vaccine (Tdap Pertussis)

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the best way to protect against whooping cough (pertussis) is still to get a vaccine. eMedical Urgent Care offers the Tdap pertussis vaccine, which is recommended for all adults, teenagers, preteens and pregnant women who will be around a new baby. The CDC reports whooping cough vaccines are effective in 7 out of 10 people who get them within the first year, but the protection decreases over time. Only 3 or 4 people out of every 10 are protected after four years.

Learn more about eMedical Urgent Care services by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Is Your Stomach Ache from Food Poisoning or a Stomach Bug?

Stomach Ache

We’ve all had those days when your stomach is twisting and churning…unsure if you just ate some bad seafood or if you’re feeling the symptoms of the stomach flu. Take a look at the differences below and learn ways to keep your belly happy.

What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is an illness caused by bacteria or other toxins in food and causes vomiting and/or diarrhea. Food poisoning causes an estimated 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s difficult to tell the difference between food poisoning and the flu because they both have very similar symptoms.

How Does Food Become Contaminated?

  • Meat and poultry carcasses can become contaminated during slaughter
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed or irrigated with contaminated water
  • Salmonella can infect a hen’s ovary causing an egg to be contaminated before the shell is even formed
  • Filter feeding shellfish can become contaminated when bacteria is present in the sea water or if human sewage is dumped into the sea
  • If a food handler does not wash his or her hands while being infected with a virus
  • If a food handler uses the same knife, cutting board, or other utensils without washing work stations in between preparing meals
  • Food left out over night can become highly contaminated

Most Common Foodborne Infections

Campylobacter: a bacterium causing fevers, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Eating undercooked chicken or other food that has been contaminated with drippings from raw chicken will bring this pathogen into your body.
Clostridium Perfringens: a bacterium that produces a toxin causing abdominal pains followed by diarrhea. It is commonly found in raw meat and poultry.
Salmonella: a bacterium that causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. It is carried in the intestines of birds, reptiles and mammals and is spread to the humans by eating foods with animal origin. If a person has a weakened immune system, it may invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.

Viral Gastroenteritis (aka: The Stomach Bug)

The stomach bug, also known as the stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis, is unrelated to influenza viruses which cause respiratory illnesses as opposed to gastrointestinal. Gastroenteritis refers to the inflammation of the stomach and intestines and the most common cause in the U.S. is from the norovirus which spreads easily and quickly.

How Does the Stomach Bug Spread?

These viruses are transmitted through the fecal-oral route and can also be transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or liquids. The norovirus can survive on household surfaces for up to 2 weeks and can even survive some disinfectants, making it difficult to eradicate. Gastroenteritis symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Preventing Food Poisoning and the Stomach Bug

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces where you will be preparing foods
  • Wrap raw meat securely and keep it stored away from other foods
  • Use a meat thermometer when grilling meats. Grilling meat may appear cooked on the outside, but it may not be cooked on the inside.
  • Don’t cross contaminate different foods
  • Keep everything refrigerated or frozen
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables to remove visible dirt and grime
  • Stay home if you are sick

Diagnosis and Treatment

Food poisoning and the flu can be very serious, and it can be extremely difficult to know for sure which illness you have, so it is best to be cautious and assume you are contagious. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, visit one of our eMedical Urgent Care offices in Berkeley Heights or Middletown, NJ to discuss your history, review symptoms and evaluate complications of vomiting and diarrhea such as dehydration. We will help diagnose and treat you to make you feel like yourself again! Learn more about our services by contacting us today! eMedical Urgent care is a great alternative when your primary care provider is not available. We can electronically send your visit information to your primary care provider upon request.

Tips for Identifying and Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration

Some say, “By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.” Staying hydrated is very Heat Exhaustionimportant in the hot New Jersey summer months, especially if your body is trying to fight off an illness, if you’re engaging in physically activity, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

eMedical Urgent Care can help you understand and identify the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses, how to treat them and (most importantly) how to protect yourself and your child against the dangers of becoming dehydrated in the first place. So, grab your water bottle and read on to enjoy a hydrated and happy summer.

Dehydration

Signs of dehydration do in fact include the sensation of thirst and a dry mouth (cotton mouth) as well as dry skin, decreased or yellow urine, headaches and dizziness. Severe dehydration also can cause extreme thirst, fatigue, irritability and confusion. Since your body can lose fluids through sweat, urination, diarrhea or vomiting, it’s best to replenish before activity, at regular intervals during and continue drinking water after exercise.

Dehydration can be expressed as the loss of percentage of body weight. Scientists define dehydration as fluid losses greater than only one percent. Water is lost first from the blood, which is 90% water. (Dehydration can become fatal when 9-12% of your body weight is lost via fluids.) On the average, water makes up 60 to 70% of your body weight. Different cells contain different percentages of water, for example: muscle cells are 70 to 75% water whereas fat cells are only 10 to 15% water. Therefore, a muscular person will have a larger percentage of his or her body weight coming from water.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is a condition that generally includes intense sweating and an increased heart rate due to your body’s response to overheating. It is usually caused from a prolonged exposure to hot temperatures (especially when involved in physical activity and high levels of humidity).

Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Intense sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness / fainting
  • Significant increase in heart rate
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Sudden headache

Other Heat-Related Illnesses

In addition to heat exhaustion, untreated dehydration can lead to two other heat-related illnesses including heat cramps and heat stroke. Heat cramps are the least aggressive of the three and include painful cramps of the abdominals, arms or legs. Heat stroke requires immediate care and includes severe symptoms such as 104 temperature or higher, nausea, vomiting, seizures, disorientation, lack of sweating, shortness of breath, unconsciousness and could even lead to a coma.

Don’t Let Your Body Fool You, Stay Hydrated!

It’s even easier to dehydrate during the hot summer months when sweat evaporates faster and losing large amounts of fluids might not be as noticeable. According to the old rule of thumb, drink eight glasses of water per day (some experts recommend even more), but you also can quench your thirst by consuming hydrating foods (all of which are at least 90% water by weight) including: cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, star fruit, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, carrots and cantaloupe.

Replenish Fluids and Electrolytes

Remember, anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk. If you or a loved one experience any of the symptoms above, it is important to seek shade, rest and drink plenty of hydrating fluids. Extreme dehydration and heat stroke are medical emergencies that require immediate attention, possibly including a saline IV. Don’t ever hesitate to seek medical attention from the doctors at eMedical Urgent Care 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.

Breaking Down the Flu Vaccination

By eMedical Urgent Care Officesflu blog picture

The leaves have changed color and the air is much cooler; meteorologist would say we’ve entered autumn but for physicians, it is the start of flu season. Our urgent care office is full of sneezing, aching and coughing patients — many of whom did not receive the flu vaccination. When I bring up vaccination in conversation, patients seem confused or hesitant about receiving the vaccine. So that you can make an informed decision about receiving the vaccine, here are answers to some common questions about this issue.

Should I get the flu vaccine this year?

The short answer is yes. Vaccination is the main way to protect yourself from the flu. Since 2010, the recommendation from the CDC has been to vaccinate all individuals older than 6 months. If you are a young and healthy adult, the reason for this is not only to reduce your own chance of getting infected, but also to protect the people in your life who might be more prone to flu complications, such as children, elderly and people with chronic diseases.

Will last year’s vaccine protect me this year too?

Probably not. Even if some of last year’s viral strains still are circulating this year, chances are your antibody levels have dropped to the point where you no longer benefit from them. The current recommendations support getting vaccinating every year.

Are we expecting new strains of the flu virus this year?

No, not more than in any given year. Which strains of the virus will circulate in a season can be predicted by scientists to a certain extent, and vaccine manufacturers include those strains in the vaccine they produce. However, new strains do appear, more likely toward the end of the flu season.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

It is too early to tell for this year, but historically its effectiveness has ranged between 50 percent and 75 percent. Last year the vaccine’s effectiveness was a disappointing 56 percent. The effectiveness varies depending on the recipient’s age and health status, and by how good of a match there is between the expected and actual strains of the virus.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone 6 months and older should visit their doctor or urgent care office to be vaccinated, but especially people at risk for serious complications (pregnant women, children under 5 years of age and people with asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease) or those who live with or care for them.

Why do some people feel sick a few days after being vaccinated against the flu?

The flu shot may cause mild side effects that are sometimes mistaken for the flu, such as low-grade fever, muscle pain and fatigue. These are signs of immune system activation and antibody production, and do not mean you got the flu from the vaccine.

What flu viruses does this season’s vaccine protect again?

The trivalent influenza vaccine that has been available in the past years offers protection against two influenza A viruses (H1N1 California and H3N2 Victoria) and one influenza B virus (Massachusetts). This year, the new quadrivalent vaccine includes a fourth strain, the B Brisbane virus.

Why was this fourth virus added to the mix?

Type A flu causes more serious disease and more deaths, especially the H3N2, but there are 2 type B families of viruses that circulate the globe. This year, to eliminate the guesswork regarding which one we’d see in the United States, they were both included in the quadrivalent varieties (Fluzone, Fluarix and FluLaval).

Should I get the quadrivalent or trivalent vaccine?

The quadrivalent vaccines are a better choice for children, as they tend to catch the newly added strain more often. The new vaccine only accounts for 30 million doses out of the more than 135 million available this season, so if you do not find the quadrivalent vaccine available in your area, the trivalent one is an excellent choice too. The CDC does not recommend one over the other.

What other kinds of flu vaccines are available for the 2013-2014 season?*

Clinicians are moving from a one-size-fits-all to individualized vaccination, a good thing once you understand how they are alike and how they are different.

  1. The Flumist quadrivalent is a nasal spray for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. If you are not in this category, you still can get the regular quadrivalent shot.
  2. The Flublok is a new formulation specifically designed for people who are allergic to eggs. It can be used only in healthy adults between 18 and 49 years of age.
  3. The Fluzone High Dose is recommended for people age 65 and older. Four-times stronger, this vaccine offers a 24 percent higher immunity, as demonstrated in a clinical study of 30,000 people.
  4. The Fluzone Intradermal is a formulation of the trivalent vaccine for ages 18-64 that is delivered through the skin instead of intramuscularly via a much smaller needle.

So which vaccine should I get?

Depending on which category you fit in, you might have more than one option, but which vaccine you receive is not as important as getting vaccinated in the first place.
You prepare for Thanksgiving and the holidays too, but give some thought about preparing for the flu. eMedical Offices urgent care center is offering flu shots on Black Friday, Nov. 29, for only $25. Visit social media pages and website for health-related news and special offers.

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

*eMedical Urgent Care Offices offers the quadrivalent and trivalent vaccine