Measles Outbreak Spreads Beyond Disneyland

measlesrash

Skin of a person after 3 days of measles infection

Measles is spreading quickly in the United States, with over 50 confirmed cases of measles in California, Mexico, and three other states. The first confirmed cases began in Disneyland over the holiday season, most likely from an unvaccinated infected person or family.

According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, the increase in infected persons is
indicative of its continual spread. While health officials tried their best to contain the disease, six new people who had not visited Disneyland were also infected in Orange County, with three other confirmed cases in Ventura and Alameda County as well. Dr. Eric Handler, the Orange County Public Health Officer, stated that people who have not been vaccinated need to get vaccinations in order to halt the spread of this highly contagious disease. According to the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, most people who had been infected had not received the measles vaccination or were under immunized.

Disneyland is an entertainment Mecca for children and families from all over the world, thus further amplifying the spread of this highly contagious. Measles infects 90% of unvaccinated people who come in contact with the disease. Transmitted through sneezes or coughs, the virus can live in air droplets for up to two hours after transmission. The disease is especially contagious the first few days before a rash appears. This is especially dangerous since those who are infected are usually unaware they are carrying the virus till after physical symptoms appear.  The first two weeks of symptoms are similar to any other viral infections which include fever, cough and a runny nose. Eventually, the body is covered in a rash of red dots that signal the contraction of measles.

The disease was first deemed eradicated in the United States in 2000, due to the effectiveness of the vaccine. However, with anti-vaccination parents and movements gaining popularity, it has once again returned.

Morledge Medical recommends that all patients receive the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. These vaccinations are normally given to children at a young age and required for admittance to schools. While the spread of Measles began in Disneyland, it has also infected those who were not at the amusement park. If you or someone you know needs the vaccination, feel free to contact our office today.

Long Sleepless Nights: Insomnia

insomnia-sleepdisorderWe’ve all experienced a night where getting any sleep is near impossible. You try to flip the pillow to the colder side, listen to music, watch mindless television, or read a book. And when all that fails, drink some warm milk hoping you’ll fall into a slow daze and catch a few hours of shuteye. For the average person, one of these sleepless nights is enough to deal with. For people who suffer from insomnia, a common sleep disorder, these sleepless nights are far too regular and exhausting.

Defined as short and poor quality sleep, insomnia affects your daily functioning and can lead to feeling groggy and overly exhausted. Insomnia can vary in frequency and severity depending on the person. Acute insomnia is a short term sleeping disorder and often occurs due to traumatic or stressful events. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, occurs regularly multiple times a week, for months at a time.

Symptoms of Insomnia Include:

  • Have trouble falling asleep, lie awake late at night
  • Wake up multiple times and have trouble going back to sleep
  • Wake up much earlier than expected
  • Feel like you haven’t slept even after a night of sleep

Many patients suffer form either primary or secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is its own sleep disorder and can be life long or caused by a stressful event or problem. Primary insomnia may end when the stressful catalyst is over. Secondary insomnia, on the other hand, is a symptom of some other underlying issue and most common form of insomnia. It can be caused by anxiety, depression, chronic pain and fatigue, menopause, Alzheimer’s etc. Secondary insomnia often goes away once the underlying health issue is managed.

Women may be more prone to insomnia due to hormonal, physical, and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy and menopause. These changes can cause women to have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

If you are having difficulty falling asleep and feel that it may be insomnia, get in touch with your doctor today. Patients looking for an internist in the NYC metropolitan area can schedule an appointment with us today to meet with a doctor and discuss the issues they may be having. Treatment from insomnia can range from changing sleep habits to sleep studies and medication if needed.

The Vaginal Yeast Infection: Itchy, Irritating, Irksome

yeastYou’re waiting for the 6 train at Union Square, it’s rush hour in NYC; and you’re pressed up against the door, anxiously waiting for your stop when you start to feel that uncomfortable itch again. But, you’re in public and you know there isn’t any way of relieving the burning sensation you feel. It’s Candidiasis, commonly known as a vaginal yeast infection, come to haunt once again.

A regular occurrence among women, vaginal yeast infections occur in 3 out of 4 women at least once in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services. At least 50% of women will have two or more yeast infections in their lifetime.

A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the vulva (the area surrounding the vagina). Yeast is a fungus found everywhere, including inside the human body. While small amounts of yeast are normally present in the vagina, increased levels of yeast can lead to inflammation and infection of the area.

While the most common symptoms are severe itching, other symptoms include:

  • Swelling, redness, or burning in or around the vagina
  • Discomfort or burning while urinating
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Increased soreness
  • A thick, cottage cheese-like discharge
  • A rash in or around the vagina

It’s important to contact your doctor if you think you may have a yeast infection. Yeast infections have symptoms that are similar to some sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia and gonorrhea, so it’s important to rule out any other possibilities. Your doctor can diagnose a yeast infection by looking for discharge, swelling, or sending a swab of the vaginal area to a lab for confirmation.

The causes of vaginal yeast infections vary but stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, pregnancy, and use of antibiotics can increase your risk of contracting an infection.

A yeast infection can be contracted from sex, though it is rare. The most common cause is a low performing immune system so it’s especially important to maintain a healthy diet. Over the counter antifungal medications or a prescription from your doctor can treat your yeast infection; however, it is especially important to consult your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.

If you are in the NYC Metropolitan area and would like more information, get in touch with Morledge Medical today.

Urinary Tract Infections and The Underlying Discomfort The Cause

UTIIf you’re feeling a burning sensation when you’re passing urine, there’s a possibility you’re suffering from a urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI. A UTI can infect any part of the urinary tract. The urinary tract is responsible for producing, storing, and removing urine from the body. The urinary tract is composed of the kidneys, urethra, ureters, and bladder.

UTI’s can be caused by a myriad of reasons but the most common are:

  • Not wiping properly after bowel movement. Bacteria can spread into the urethra and the vagina.
  • Sexual intercourse can lead to UTI’s also. Germs from the vagina can be pushed into the urethra.
  • Holding in urine. The longer you wait to pass urine, the worse the UTI.
  • Kidney stones

Symptoms of UTI’s are:

  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • An urge to pass urine, but very little is released when going to the bathroom
  • Cloudy urine or blood in urine
  • Fatigue or fever

The NYC internists at Morledge Medical can diagnose for a UTI by taking a urine sample and testing it for bacteria. If you are prone to UTI’s, the doctor may send you for further testing. UTI’s are normally treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria. You must finish the entire medication.

Call us today to speak with a doctor to see what he or she thinks is the best course of action. Your doctor may also suggest preventative measure you can take such as cleaning yourself well after bowel movement, drinking plenty of water, avoiding douches and feminine sprays and cleaning the vagina and anus regularly.

Fighting the Flu: Deadlier Strain May Be Hard To Beat

fluThe flu is spreading faster, earlier, and stronger this year with a less effective vaccine available to fight the strain. According to a recent New York Times article, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is urging physicians to be extra aware of patients who may be showcasing symptoms of flu.

Of the 1,200 samples of flu that were tested, 91% of them were of the H3N2 strain which falls under influenza A. The rest of the samples were influenza B, and none of the tested strains were of the H1 strain, most familiar of which is the swine flu.

Unfortunately, the flu seasons where H3 is more common than H1 tends to lead to more hospitalizations and deaths. Even worse, this year’s flu vaccine does not protect against 45% of the tested strains effectively enough.

According to the Daily Metro, flu-like symptoms accounted for almost 6% of national doctor’s visits the last week of 2014. The New York State Health Department confirmed 3,922 cases of the flu as of December 27th 2014 with the overall number coming in at 7,826. 972 patients were hospitalized.

According to the CDC, patients who suffer from chronic illnesses, like diabetes or asthma, should see their physicians immediately if they are experiencing any flu or cold-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and runny nose.

While the current vaccine may not protect against this strain of influenza well, patients are still recommended to get a flu vaccination if they have not done so already. The vaccine can help ease symptoms if the patient contracts the flu and help it from getting worse. Those at higher risk, such as young children or the elderly, and those with preexisting conditions should be vaccinated as soon as possible.

For more information about getting flu shots in NYC please contact our office at (212) 583-2830.

Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)/(PEP): HIV Prevention

HIV prevention Ad in NYC.

HIV prevention Ad in NYC.

While safe and secure sex is always recommended, a recent development in the prevention of HIV has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a method for people who don’t have HIV to prevent themselves from contracting HIV by taking a daily pill. If you are at serious risk for HIV and have not contracted the disease, this pill can prevent it.

According to Aids.gov, patients are at serious risk for contracting HIV if:

  • There is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-infected partner;
  • There is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative; and is a (a) gay or bisexual man who has had sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months or, (b) heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms when having sex with partners known to be at risk for HIV (e.g., injecting drug users or bisexual male partners of unknown HIV status); or
  • There has, within the past six months, injected illicit drugs and shared equipment or been in a treatment program for injection drug use.

PrEP is one of many options to protect a partner from contraction for heterosexual couples where one partner is HIV positive. Patients who choose to utilize PrEP must take the pill everyday and meet with their providers every three months for testing and follow up.

While PrEp is very effective for HIV prevention, (people who took the medication were at a 92% lower risk than those who did not take the medication consistently), it does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases and it is not an alternative form of contraception.

According to a New York Times report, a recent study found that HIV-negative men who were prescribed Truvada (the pill to prevent HIV), were 44% less likely to contract the disease than those who took a placebo pill. The 92% lower risk is deduced through further findings that are reiterated in the Times article here. It is important to note that some patients did not take the pill as advised which leads to misinformation about its effectiveness.

PrEP is NOT a vaccination and Morledge Medical urges patients to discuss PrEP with their internist before taking the drug. We strongly advise patients to practice safe sex and discuss methods of contraception with their providers since Truvada does not prevent unwanted pregnancies or any STD’s besides HIV. Morledge Medical does not prescribe Truvada at the moment, however, we do recommend interested patients to schedule an appointment and discuss it with us today in order to guide them in the right direction.

Preventing Pneumonia: What You Need to Know

pneumoA common problem that occurs in internal medicine is pneumonia, an infection caused by bacteria, virus, or fungi. According to the American Lung Association, there are over 30 different causes for pneumonia. About one-third of pneumonia cases in the United States are caused by respiratory viruses. The flu virus is the most common cause of viral pneumonia, though other viruses like herpes simplex and rhinovirus can also cause pneumonia.

When the immune system is weak and the body fails to filter germs out of the air, these germs and viruses can reach the lungs and fill up the lungs’ air sac (alveoli) with fluid. They become inflamed and the body then reacts with coughs, fever, or difficulty breathing.  The body’s difficulty to breathe well can lead to even more issues down the line. When patients suffer from pneumonia it becomes difficult for oxygen to travel to the blood stream. Due to the limits in oxygen reaching the blood stream, pneumonia can cause death.

Though anyone is at risk for contracting pneumonia, others can be at a higher risk such as:

  • Chronic smokers
  • Those with recent viral infections such as a cold or the flu
  • Weak immune systems
  • Other illnesses like heart disease or diabetes

Pneumonia vaccines can lower your risk of infection. Those who are over the age of 65 or have compromised immune systems, should highly consider getting the vaccine. Morledge Medical carries a myriad of vaccines for travel along with pneumovac. You can schedule an appointment with us today by calling (212) 583-2830.

About the Recent Mumps Outbreak In the NHL

NHLThe National Hockey League has recently undertaken extra precautions for its players after a recent outbreak of mumps. Usually seen as a childhood virus, mumps has spread to numerous players on four separate teams, as well as two on-ice officials, according to a recent New York Times report. Mumps is highly infectious and difficult to track due to its long incubation period, which is usually between 12 to 25 days. Patients can be infectious even if they appear asymptomatic, making the disease hard to contain when involving multiple teams and their staff.

The outbreak first started in October and has spread steadily to multiple team members from the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, and The Rangers. It is estimated that with such a close contact sport, more players and personnel may contract the disease.

Symptoms associated with mumps can be very painful, especially in adults. Chills and sweats and swelling of the salivary glands are the most common symptoms of mumps, along with fever, headaches, and increased fatigue. The virus can be transmitted through saliva, and is primarily passed through sneezing, coughing, spitting, talking, and sharing drinks, just like the common cold.

This is not the first outbreak of mumps in large groups of people. Last year, Ohio State University had multiple cases of mumps that spread to the outer community, leading to several hundred cases. Fordham University in New York City also suffered from a mumps outbreak this past year. 13 students were infected with mumps and promptly quarantined. With students and players living, working, and playing in close proximity to one another, the chance of the disease spreading faster increases profoundly.

Getting vaccinated correctly and on time can prevent these outbreaks from occurring. According to the Centers for Disease control, two timely doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella, (MMR) vaccine can be up to 95% effective in preventing the contraction of mumps.

Currently, universities require all students to be vaccinated for MMR and provide documentation of vaccination before starting classes on campus. As for the NHL, team members are receiving booster shots and their vaccination records are being reviewed. Players have also been reminded of CDC guidelines regarding mumps and how to identify symptoms.

Morledge Medical advises patients to stay aware and up to date on vaccinations. Patients should wash hands often, cover coughs, and stay home if they are feeling ill. Specializing in travel medicine, Morledge Medical also carries the MMR vaccine. For patients in NYC interested in receiving a booster shot or more information, contact the office today

Acupuncture for Pain Relief in NYC

acuAn historically effective alternative treatment, acupuncture first originated in China. While it has been used in the East for thousands of years, it is fairly new to the Western hemisphere, with its first usage dating back to the latter half of the twentieth century.

Today acupuncture has risen in popularity and is often used as complementary medicine for chronic pain. Acupuncture utilizes long, thin needles that are inserted at specific points on the body. Traditional Chinese medical theory states that acupuncture points are located on meridians where vital energy (qi) runs through. Health is viewed as a harmonious balance within the body. When there is imbalance of qi within the body, illness occurs. Acupuncture allegedly helps the body achieve balance once again. There is limited information on the anatomical and scientific effectiveness of acupuncture, however, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is helpful in treating 28 different conditions, including tension headaches and the like.

Acupuncture treatment often involves multiple sessions which usually last from half an hour to an hour. Treatments usually involve an initial exam, assessment of patient’s complaints and queries, insertion of needles, and advice on self-care. Acupuncture is not initially painful, though as the process continues, patients will feel deep aching where the needles have been inserted.

Anyone suffering from chronic pain may want to consider acupuncture as an additional treatment for their issues.

For patients in New York City and the Metropolitan area, Morledge Medical’s Dr. Sohee Bidol-Lee is a certified and licensed acupuncturist in NYC who is available for appointments.  Though not a replacement for physical therapy and pain treatment, acupuncture can serve as an additional procedure for alleviating pain.

High Blood Pressure: How To Manage It

Part of internal medicine and treatment involves helping patients manage their high blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension.

Blood pressure measures how hard your blood is pushing against the walls of your arteries. While it is normal for arterial walls to expand as blood flows through, HBP causes the walls to expand more than their limit and can damage structural tissue and lead to other issues such as:

  • Vascular weaknesses: Weak spots in the blood vessels cause the body to be prone to rupture and issues like hemorrhagic strokes and aneurysms.
  • Vascular scarring: Tears in the walls and scars on the tissue can cause debris and cholesterol to travel in the bloodstream.
  • Increased risk of blood clots and plaque build up

Methods of controlling and maintaining blood pressure involve lifestyle changes. Patients are advised to manage their diet which includes reducing salts and sugars, adding whole grain and high fiber foods, as well as plenty of greens and vegetables.  Patients are also advised to manage their weight and get active! Regular physical activity for 30 minutes a couple of times a week will not only help you maintain a healthy weight and heart, but can lower blood pressure. Hiking, walking, jogging, or fitness and dance classes can be a great way to relieve stress (which adds to HBP).

If these methods are not enough, talk to your doctor about available medications. Generic medication like Lisinopril or brand medication like Norvasc can be prescribed by your internist.

You can also schedule an appointment with Morledge Medical today and discuss the next steps in controlling high blood pressure necessary to lead a healthy life!