On 12:28 PM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
What exactly is the West Nile virus? And why is everyone talking about mosquitoes?

Even though it was discovered all the way back in 1937 in Africa, the West Nile virus probably didn't make its way to the United States until 1999. But since then, it has been a cause of concern all over the country during the summer months.

West Nile virus is caused by a bite from an infected mosquito that's already carrying the virus, but it's important to remember that not all mosquitoes are infected. In many parts of the United States, the risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito is greatest from July to early September. But in some parts of the country, mosquito bites can be a risk all year long.

Not everyone who gets bitten by an infected mosquito will get the virus. And although kids can get West Nile virus, it's rare for them to become very sick from it.

Symptoms of West Nile virus really depend on the person who becomes infected. Kids with normal immune systems, the system of the body that fights off disease and infection, usually get just a mild "flu-like" illness and may not feel bad at all with the infection.

People over 50 years old and those with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, cancer, or organ transplants are most at risk for the infection.

West Nile Symptoms

Most of the time, symptoms of West Nile virus are similar to the flu and include:
  • fever
  • headache
  • neck and back stiffness
  • muscle ache
  • tiredness
  • joint pain
  • swollen glands
  • rash
In the most rare and extreme cases, West Nile virus can cause a condition called encephalitis, which is irritation and swelling of the brain.

West Nile virus is not spread from person to person. That means if someone you know just got it, you won't get the virus. And though pets can get the virus, they can't spread it to people. The only way to get it is from the bite of an infected mosquito.

So, what's being done to stop the spread of West Nile virus? Health officials in each state do their best to find out where mosquitoes live and kill the eggs of mosquitoes that might carry the virus. While spraying the parks and forest areas with an insect repellent to prevent the spread of the disease.

You can do your best to prevent coming in contact with West Nile virus. You'll want to avoid mosquitoes as much as you can. Watch out for mosquitoes in the early morning and in the early evening since that's when they're often very active. Mosquitoes also like standing water, like in wading pools and creeks.

You also can:
  • Wear insect repellent. Repellents that include one of these ingredients are best: DEET, lemon eucalyptus, or picaridin. Ask a parent to help you apply it.
  • When possible, wear socks, long sleeves, and long pants when you're playing outside.
  • If you see a dead bird, don't touch it — it could be infected. Tell an adult so it can be removed safely.
For more information on The West Nile Virus click HERE!



On 8:04 AM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The 
more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.

Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
Being male
Being overweight
Being over age 40
Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
Having a family history of sleep apnea
Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:
High blood pressure
Stroke
Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
Diabetes
Depression
Worsening of ADHD

In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

Although sleep apnea is a condition often associated with men, new research reveals that many women also have the disorder, especially those who are obese or have high blood pressure.

For the study, researchers from Uppsala University and Umea University in Sweden surveyed 400 women, aged 20 and older. The women also underwent a sleep study.

Half of the women showed signs of obstructive sleep apnea, the investigators found. Of the women with high blood pressure (also called hypertension), 80 percent suffered from sleep apnea. Meanwhile, 84 percent of the obese women examined had the disorder.

Among obese women 55 to 70 years old, 31 percent experienced severe sleep apnea.
More information for Sleep Apnea is HERE!


On 8:28 AM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
Though the Olympics are now over, the Paralympics have just begun; and to keep up with the theme of "athletes" and abilities, here is information on Athlete's Foot.

Athlete's Foot is not only for athletes as its an infection growing on the skin of your feet caused by fungus. The medical term is tinea pedis. Athlete's foot may last for a short or long period of time and may come back after treatment. In addition to the toes, it may also occur on the heels, palms, and between the fingers.

Athlete's foot is the most common type of tinea fungal infections. The fungus thrives in warm, moist areas. Your risk for getting athlete's foot increases if you:

  • Wear closed shoes, especially if they are plastic-lined
  • Keep your feet wet for prolonged periods of time
  • Sweat a lot
  • Develop a minor skin or nail injury

Athlete's foot is contagious, and can be passed through direct contact, or contact with items such as shoes, stockings, and shower or pool surfaces.

Symptoms
The most common symptom is cracked, flaking, peeling skin between the toes or side of the foot. Other symptoms can include:
  • Red and itchy skin
  • Burning or stinging pain
  • Blisters that ooze or get crusty

If the fungus spreads to your nails, they can become discolored, thick, and even crumble.

Athlete's foot may occur at the same time as other fungal skin infections such as ringworm or jock itch.

Treatment
Over-the-counter antifungal powders or creams can help control the infection. These generally contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or tolnaftate. Keep using the medicine for 1 - 2 weeks after the infection has cleared to prevent the infection from returning.
In addition:
  • Keep your feet clean and dry, especially between your toes.
  • Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water and dry the area very carefully and completely. Try to do this at least twice a day.
  • Wear clean, cotton socks and change your socks and shoes as often as necessary to keep your feet dry.

Athlete's foot almost always responds well to self-care, although it may come back. If athlete's foot does not get better in 2-4 weeks with self-care, or frequently returns, see your health care provider. The health care provider may prescribe stronger antifungal medications, such as ketoconazole orterbinafine. 


Call your doctor right away if:

  • Your foot is swollen and warm to the touch, especially if there are red streaks. These are signs of a possible bacterial infection. Other signs include pus, drainage, and fever.
  • You have diabetes or a weakened immune system and develop athlete's foot.
  • Also call your doctor if athlete's foot symptoms do not go away within 2- 4 weeks of self-care treatments.

Prevention

To prevent athlete's foot, follow these measures:
  • Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing or swimming.
  • Wear sandals or flip-flops at a public shower or pool.
  • Change your socks often to keep your feet dry. This should be done at least once a day.
  • Use antifungal or drying powders to prevent athlete's foot if you are susceptible to getting it, or you frequent areas where athlete's foot fungus is common (like public showers).
  • Wear shoes that are well ventilated and, preferably, made of natural material such as leather. It may help to alternate shoes each day, so they can dry completely between wearings. Avoid plastic-lined shoes.

More for more information on Athletes Foot go HERE.
On 10:11 AM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
To continue on with the theme of the Olympics, we will write about athletes and what they need to perform better. Something as easy Sleep will help an athlete perform their best.

Training programs, and schedules will automatically have rest days build into them, and athletes often just know when they need to take a few easy days to recover. However, many athletes, and even their coaches, fail to recognize that quality sleep is just as big a part of the recovery process as taking some easy training days.

Studies have shown that even a small amount of sleep deprivation can decrease athletic performance. The reasons for this are not clear, but research points to the role of glucose metabolism and cortisol (a stress hormone) production as a major factor.

Studies on sleep deprivation have found that sleep deprived athletes don't metabolize glucose very efficiently, and have higher levels of cortisol, which has been linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery. Another potential problem of poor sleep is lowered levels of the hormone leptin, which play a role in regulating hunger as well as storing body fat.

Here are recommendations to maximize your sleep quality:


Keep It Dark. Using light-tight blinds, shades and window covering helps set the right environment for sleep. Ambient light can be a distraction and can interfere with a solid night's sleep.

Keep It Cool. Lowering the thermostat in your bedroom to 65 to 68 degrees can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. 

Keep It Quiet. Nothing can cause more sleep disturbance than noise. If you live in a noisy location--near traffic, airports, or have noisy neighbors--invest in some earplugs to create your own silent night. 

Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is ideal for athletes. A regular schedule makes your training routine more consistent and regular. If you sleep and wake at the same time, your body can adapt to a regular training and nutrition plan as well. Research shows that a regular sleep habit includes a 10 p.m. bedtime and a 6 a.m. wake up time.
Limit Caffeine Intake. Cutting down on caffeine can improve not only your quality of sleep, but can help you fall asleep faster. For most people, drinking highly caffeinated drinks in the late afternoon or evening will impair sleep. Caffeine consumption raises the levels of hormones called catecholamines. These hormones act as central nervous system stimulants that increase endurance, heart rate, and blood vessel constriction. This is one reason athletes often consume caffeine prior to competition or training.
Unplug. It's a good idea to turn off all electrics about an hour (or more) before bed. Getting rid of stimulation--including the television, loud music, commercials, computer screens and other distractions--helps your mind relax. Additionally, those electronics emit artificial light that tricks your body into thinking it's daylight, and stops the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Cut Down on Alcohol. Alcohol is linked with a decrease in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles, as well as a delayed sleep onset. Many people recognize that alcohol often causes shallow sleep, frequent waking, tossing and turning.
Get Daily Exercise. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day is linked with better sleep quality at night. Even on a rest day, 30 minutes of easy physical activity, such as walking or just stretching, can help you fall asleep faster. Some people report that exercising before bed makes them too energized and alert, so the experts recommend allowing about 6 hours of time between your exercise session and your bed time.