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.

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.

6 Facts About Poison Ivy That You Didn’t Know

It’s summertime, which means we’re spending more time outdoors. But with the return of fun in the sun and the warm weather, we also must face the summer spoilers – mosquitoes, sun burn and those itchy, rash-inducing plants: Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac.

posion ivy poison oak poison sumacPoison ivy and poison oak can grow in numerous locations in the continental United States, including open areas, wooded areas and even in your own back yard depending on where you live. Hawaii and Alaska are the only states that do not have this irritating plant. It’s also becoming more prevalent and toxic over the past several years possibly due to climate changes. Researchers are trying to link higher levels of carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures as a cause.

Most Americans have either suffered from the itchy rash following exposure to poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac — or they know someone who has. In fact, approximately 75 percent of the population will have an allergic reaction when exposed to the oil, known as urushiol, found in the roots, stems, berries and leaves of the plant.

Once the urushiol touches your skin, it quickly penetrates and binds, causing a rash known as toxicodendron dermatitis. It usually begins as itchiness and redness, which then develops into a red, blistering rash. It can surface as early as one hour after exposure or take as long as 48 hours. Milder cases of the dermatitis can last five to 12 days, while a more severe case may take several weeks to resolve.

An allergic reaction can occur by direct contact with the plant or when you touch objects that are contaminated with the oil, like your clothes, gardening gloves, shoes or tools. Therefore, it’s important to wash contaminated clothes separately and to wash your tools after use.

6 Facts About Poison Ivy You Didn’t Know

  • Urushiol remains active up to five years — even after the plants have died and withered. Because of this, care must be taken when handling these plants, even in the cold months of the winter. The oil can even be found in smoke produced by burning plants and is extremely harmful to the lungs if inhaled.
  • Pets may not be allergic to urushiol but they can get it into their fur and unsuspecting owners can be exposed to the oil when they pet Fido.
  • Rarely does a rash occur with the first exposure to urushiol. However the second exposure can cause a mild to severe allergic reaction. Unfortunately, you won’t become desensitized to the allergen with repeated exposure.
  • The allergic reaction can’t be spread by scratching the rash and breaking the fluid-filled blisters. However, scratching can cause your skin to become infected.
  • It can’t be spread from person to person; only exposure to urushiol can start the rash.
  • The rash doesn’t spread on the body despite appearances. Instead, the areas that are more sensitive to urushiol or have been in contact with more oil will break out first, while the less-sensitive areas will take longer to develop the rash.

Treating the Rash
Treatment of toxicodendron dermatitis varies due to the severity of the allergic rash. Wash the affected areas as quickly as possible after exposure with isopropyl alcohol, if available, or cool water and a soap that breaks down oil, like a dish detergent. Don’t use hot water because it will allow the oil to penetrate through open skin pores. The oil can be removed in the first 10 to 20 minutes after contact but after an hour it has penetrated into your skin. Products like Tecnu and Zanfel also can prevent an allergic reaction.

If you have a mild case, after washing as described above, if you have a rash, apply a topical steroid cream after showering. Be careful using it on your face, however. You can calm the itch by taking Benadryl or other antihistamines like Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin. Calamine lotion or oatmeal baths also may offer some relief. NSAIDs, such as Motrin, Advil or Aleve, can help relieve the inflammation of the rash.

Signs You Should Seek Medical Attention
For moderate to serious dermatitis, you should consult with your doctor or seek help from eMedical Urgent Care. When the itching becomes intolerable, it’s time to see a doctor, who may prescribe a two- to three-week course of oral steroids.
Other signs you should seek medical attention include:

  • Severe blistering and swelling especially of your face, throat or the genitals
  • Fever, pus in the blisters, or red, painful swelling of your skin
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

How to Prevent Exposure
The best means of prevention is to learn how to identify the toxic plants and avoid them. Rhymes such as “Leaves of three, let them be” can help you identify poison ivy and oak, which can grow as a creeping vine with “hair-like” roots or as a shrub. Poison sumac grows in areas of standing water as a large shrub or small tree with leaf clusters of 7 to 13 leaves with black spots.

When working or hiking in areas that have these poisonous plants, decrease your exposure risk by wearing gloves, long pants, long sleeves and closed shoes. Use care when removing your clothing so you don’t rub the oil from your clothes onto your skin, and wash contaminated clothes separately.

A moment taken for prevention can prevent weeks of irritation.

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 Overlook Medical Center- Union Campus and Robert Wood University Hospital at Rahway.

Safety Tips for the 4th of July

The first day of summer has officially arrived and the 4th of July is upon us! Red, white and blue backyard barbecues and sunshine-filled beach days lead way to lightning bugs and firework shows ready to light up the sky. It’s a magical night…but it also can be extremely dangerous.

Fireworks Injuries

In 2013, Americans suffered 14,000 fireworks related injuries (many of which could have been avoided). The most common injuries are burns; typically in the hands, fingers and face, but can also include amputation, hemorrhage, skin tissue damage, abrasions, lacerations, puncture, dermatitis, internal organ injuries, fractures, strains or sprains.

New Jersey Fireworks Law

Believe it or not, possessing fireworks or pyrotechnics is against the law in New Jersey; it is actually considered a misdemeanor offense! Unfortunately, every year, there is a mad rush to Pennsylvania (where it is legal) to buy fireworks, sparklers, bottle rockets and Roman candles…all of which are not permitted in the Garden State.

We highly recommend the prohibition of all fireworks that are not run by professionals, but realize some things are out of your control. In the event that you find yourself at a backyard neighborhood party with fireworks, take these safety tips into consideration from our medical experts at eMedical Urgent Care:

Know Your Fireworks

Always read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting anything. This should be the first thing you do.

Supervise Children

Never allow children to play with fireworks. This may seem like common sense, but this includes sparklers as well as firecrackers and rockets. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sparklers can reach temperatures greater than 1000°F which can cause serious burns and ignite clothing. Keep a bucket of water handy in case of unexpected accidents.

Stand Far Way

Avoid close proximity to fireworks. Point the firecracker away from people and buildings and do not hold it while lighting the fuse. And don’t carry them in your pockets…friction could actually cause them to explode!

Douse Duds in Water

Sometimes fireworks fizzle but then sizzle out. Do not attempt to relight the firecracker; it could be unstable and explode at any moment. Instead of picking it up to dispose of it, leave it where it is and douse it in water.

Careful With Clean-Up

Firecrackers can be too hot to handle. Soak each one in water prior to throwing them in the trash to prevent finger burns or a trash fire.

No Appointments Necessary!

Never hesitate to seek medical attention immediately after a fireworks injury. And remember, eMedical provides great care when you need it (open 7 days a week – even 4th of July, without the long waits and expenses) in two locations: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and Middletown, New Jersey. Feel better knowing we’re here.

Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

New Jersey is experiencing its first heat wave of the summer season. While it may be easy to dash from home to car to work and back again, there may be times when you’ll be exposed to the sun’s wrath for longer than you’d like.

Like most things, moderation is key. You’ll need to balance your obligations and activities with breaks from the sun and heat. Sunscreens or sunblocks, which protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays, are one of your best weapons against sun damage because they are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. The sun protection factor (SPF) number on a sunscreen shows the level of UVB protection it gives. Sunscreens with a higher SPF number provide greater defense against the sun’s damaging UV rays.

eMedical Urgent Care offers the following tips to keep you safe this week – and throughout the summer.

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day, even after the heat wave, on cloudy days and when you don’t plan on spending much time outside. As much as 80% of sun exposure is accidental.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply sunscreen thickly and frequently. If you’re not sure you’re putting on enough, switch to one with a higher SPF.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 1 ½ to 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Take frequent breaks from the sun. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  During those hours, take breaks to cool off indoors or in the shade for a while before heading out again.
  • Wear a hat with a brim and sunglasses that provide the most protection against ultraviolet radiation.
  • Water is a major reflector of UV radiation, so be sure to apply and reapply sunscreen more often if you are sitting near the water or swimming.
  • Certain medications, such as antibiotics used to treat acne and birth control pills, can increase your sensitivity to the sun. Ask your doctor whether your medications might have this effect and what you should do.

Symptoms of Sunburn

  • Red and blistered skin
  • Wet appearance of the area due to fluid loss
  • Intense pain in afflicted area
  • Blistering
  • Blanching (whitening) to area when touched

Treatment for Burns

If your skin is blistered from the sun, visit eMedical Urgent Care for treatment. If you can’t see a doctor, leave the blisters alone and use petroleum jelly and a light gauze wrap to protect it. When the blister bursts, remove the collapsed skin with sterile tweezers and gently wash the area. Continue to use gauze to protect the blister and change the dressing once or twice daily to prevent it from becoming soggy and breaking down the skin.

If it’s a minor burn, use cold compresses to lessen your discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers and topical ointments will provide adequate protection. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen will control pain and swelling of the injury.

When Should I See a Doctor?

  • If the area of your blistering burns is the size of your palm or larger, seek medical attention immediately.
  • If there are any signs of infection including fever, redness and swelling of the wound
  • If there is foul smelling drainage seeping from the burn
  • If there is evidence of shock, such as difficulty breathing, dilated pupils or inability to stay warm.