Due to the weather, all Pentucket Medical offices, including ExpressCare will have a delayed opening of 11am.
However, MV Endoscopy Center is open at regular business hours. Thank you for your support.
Due to the weather, all Pentucket Medical offices, including ExpressCare will have a delayed opening of 11am.
However, MV Endoscopy Center is open at regular business hours. Thank you for your support.
Seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.
Influenza is dangerous – much more dangerous than the common cold. It can lead to hospitalization, ICU admission or even death. In the 2018-2019 flu season, 116 kids died. Of those children, 70 percent did not receive that year’s flu vaccine, and 50 percent were healthy before they got the flu. That is why getting the vaccine is so important.
Seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available, if possible by October. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial.
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Viruses also cause colds but generally; do not make the patient as ill. Your health care provider may make the diagnosis based on symptoms and exam or can do a flu swab in the nose. Since viruses cause both types of illness, antibiotics won’t help.
The flu spreads through droplets – sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose – and can stay on surfaces for a period of time. If someone with the flu touches a surface and you touch it a short time after them, you could get it. That’s why hand washing and covering your/your child’s mouth when you/they sneeze or cough is so important.
Many symptoms of the flu are similar to other viruses. You can have fever, chills, sore throat, cough, runny/stuffy nose, headache, stomachache and body aches. The flu is more of a respiratory virus, not so much a vomiting/diarrhea one. Symptoms can last for up to a week. You can also get complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections, and even blood infections.
The most important thing you can do is keep them comfortable and hydrated. If they don’t want to eat, that is okay – most of us don’t want to eat when we’re sick. However, it is important to stay hydrated. Be sure to push fluids – Pedialyte is a good choice for children and even comes in popsicles. With kids two years and older, ensure they are peeing at least three times in 24 hours. In kids who are two years and younger, ensure they are peeing at least four times in 24 hours.
The flu viruses are constantly changing to get around our defenses and make us sick. The CDC works year round collecting data to figure out which strains of flu will be most prevalent year to year.
There are many misconceptions about the flu shot. Is it 100% effective at preventing the flu? No. Scientists do their best to create a vaccine each year based on the research they have done on the previous year’s flu strains. Although effectiveness does vary from year to year, the CDC estimates the flu vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu by 40-60% when the vaccine is well matched to circulating viruses. A bigger point is that the flu vaccine has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death in children. A study published in Pediatrics in 2017 showed that between 2010 and 2014, the flu vaccine reduced the risk of flu-related death by 51% (half!) among children with other high-risk medical conditions. It also reduced the risk of death in healthy children by 65%. It is also important to note that if you get the flu shot and still end up getting the flu, symptoms will last for a shorter period and will not be as severe.
If it is your child’s first flu season receiving the vaccine and they are nine years old or younger, they will receive two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart. This helps prime their immune system. The first shot shows their body what the flu viruses looks like and the second shot is a reminder to make antibodies that are even more protective. Once they get two doses of the flu shot their first season, they only need one dose each season after that.
The best things you can do is have everyone else in the house (or who will be around your baby) vaccinated and practice good hand washing. If you have older kids in the house, teach them about hand washing, sneezing/coughing into their arm, and avoid kissing the baby if they are sick.
Unfortunately, every year there are healthy kids and adults who die from influenza. Getting a flu shot reduces the risk of your child being hospitalized due to the flu and/or its complications. Additionally, it protects those around them – older adults who have weakened immune systems, people with cancer, and babies who are too young to be vaccinated.
If you feel crummy after you get a shot that can be a good thing! It means your immune system is up and running, working to create antibodies to protect you in the future. When you get a shot, it triggers an inflammatory response in your body, a very similar type of response that is triggered when you get an infection. It is the same reason kids sometimes get a fever after their childhood immunizations – their immune system is getting to work.
Sometimes you may feel feverish or achy after getting a shot, but it is a small price to pay for how sick you could get the flu. The most common complaint we hear after giving a flu shot is some soreness around the area where the shot was given.
Yes – as long as your child does not have a history of asthma/wheezing/respiratory problems and is two years or older. Last year, we still recommended the injections over the nasal vaccine since it was the first year back on the market after being removed in the 2017-2018 season. Based on data from the 2018-2019 season, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends either the injection or the mist.
If you have more questions, please talk to your child’s pediatrician. Remember, it takes about two weeks for your body to build up an antibody response, so the earlier you get the vaccine, the better.
With cold and flu season amost here one of the frequently asked questions from patients is, “when should I get vaccinated?” The answer is, you should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins.
CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.
Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
To schedule your flu shot contact your primary care clinician. (Schedule below).
Should you get sick know that you can be treated at one of our ExpressCare locations. (Andover or Riverwalk/ Lawrence) visit https://pmaonline.com/express-care/ to schedule an appointment online and for site hours.
It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of Tom Fazio, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Pentucket Medical Associates and John Sarro, Executive Director. Dr. Fazio has been a member of the group for 41 years and Pentucket’s physician leader for the past 30 years. John has been the group’s administrator for 15 years and associated with the Partners HealthCare System for 20 years.
Both have contributed significantly to the successful growth of Pentucket Medical. Under their leadership, Pentucket Medical has become the premier medical group in Northeast Massachusetts. Join us in thanking Tom and John for their years of tireless commitment and dedication to the patients and the clinical and support staffs of Pentucket Medical and in wishing them well in this next phase of their lives.
We are pleased to announce the following succession and transition plans for Pentucket Medical. Effective October 1, Garrett Bomba, MD will assume the role of Chief Physician Officer, and Jason Khalil will become Executive Director.
Dr. Bomba is board certified in emergency medicine and has been the medical director of ExpressCare the Pentucket Medical urgent care service for the past 8 years. Jason Khalil has served as the Senior Director of Finance for Pentucket Medical for the past 7 years. Both are well respected not only for their professional skills and knowledge but also their commitment to exceptional patient care and a great patient experience.
Please join us in welcoming Garrett and Jason as they assume their new roles.
A study of more than 80,000 women ages 50 to 79 links drinking two or more diet drinks a day with an increased risk for certain kinds of stroke, coronary artery disease and death.
Published in the journal Stroke, a publication of the American Heart Association, the study follows other research that previously connected the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda and other beverages with a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other conditions.
But the study released is one of the first to look at the link between drinking artificially sweetened beverages and the risk of certain types of stroke in a large, racially diverse group of older women.
“Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet,” noted lead study author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, in a statement. “Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless, and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.”
23 percent more likely to have a stroke
31 percent more likely to have a clot-caused (ischemic) stroke
29 percent more likely to develop heart disease
16 percent more likely to die from any cause
The risks were found to be higher in women who consumed diet drinks two or more times a day, more than doubling the risk of a clot-caused stroke among women without previous heart disease or diabetes, obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes, and African American women without previous heart disease or diabetes.
While the study identifies the notable link between diet beverages and, in particular, small artery strokes, the study authors pointed out that it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship because it was based on self-reported information about drink consumption. The self-reported study data also did not name specific artificial sweeteners in the colas, sodas and fruit drinks.
cite: by Harriet Edleson, AARP, February 14, 2019
Self-care is simple; it encompasses a few basics that, when added together, make you a happier, more centered person. It is learning to find the right balance, especially when work has gotten you into the habit of blowing off a meal or skipping exercise, all while burning the midnight oil. You’re going to crash. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.
It is good to care about others, but you should not forget to care for yourself. This means doing the things you enjoy and making time to do them every day.
Summer’s here, and that means it’s time to head outside and soak up the sun. However, along with the all those hours spent outdoors during the summer season, there usually comes one inevitable thing: sunburn. Fortunately, for all of us, there are plenty of household items you can use to cool the burning, itching, and peeling that come with damage from the sun.
Keep reading to learn about home remedies that can help heal and soothe your skin.
Sunburn, basically, is inflammation of the skin. One of the easiest ways to treat inflammation is to cool down the affected area. An effective way to immediately help sunburn, even while you are still outside, is to hop in the water, whether it is an ocean, lake, or stream. Dipping in and out throughout the day can help keep sunburn from worsening. Be wary of pools, as chlorinated water can irritate the skin more. You should also avoid directly applying ice. Although it may look appealing when your skin is burning, it could actually cause even more damage to your extra-sensitive sunburned skin.
You can also try hopping in the bath to help cool and soothe your skin.
Throwing a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda into a bathtub full of cool water and soaking for about 15 to 20 minutes helps minimize sun damage. Adding a cup of oats to the bath also soothes irritation and helps the skin retain its natural moisture.
Do not scrub your skin, either in the bath or after getting out. Dab yourself dry with a towel — do not rub.
If you do not have an aloe vera plant in your house, you should get one. The gel inside this succulent plant has been used for centuries for all sorts of ailments, from upset stomachs to kidney infections. It is also the sunburn relief most commonly found over the counter.
Breaking off a chunk of the plant and applying the gel directly to the skin provides immediate, soothing relief from the sting of minor sunburn. If you can’t get your hands on a plant, try a 100 percent aloe vera gel (not an aloe-based lotion or ointment). You can find these gels in most pharmacies.
Chamomile tea can be soothing to your spirit, but it can also soothe your sunburned skin. Brew the tea as you normally would and let it cool. When it is ready, soak a washcloth in it and apply it to the affected area.
If you are allergic to pollen, you should not use this treatment. It may cause an allergic reaction in your skin.
Opinions are mixed about using vinegar for sunburn relief. Some say adding two cups of vinegar to cool bath water can help take the sting out of burn, while others say the high acidity in vinegar only makes things worse. If you haven’t used the treatment before on smaller, lighter sunburns, it’s best not to try it for larger, more serious burns.
As your skin is repairing itself, make sure to wear clothing that doesn’t stick to your skin. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s best to give it some room to breathe as it heals from a major traumatic episode like sunburn. Natural fibers, such as cotton or bamboo, make for the best post-sunburn coverings.
As your skin is battling the damage from the sun’s rays, it needs moisture that it lost during your time out in the sun. If you aren’t already drinking your eight glasses of water a day, a nasty sunburn should be reason enough to get you to start doing so.
After the initial treatment, you skin will still need some tender loving care. One of the most important things you can do to prevent skin from peeling — or at least keep it to a minimum — is to regularly apply moisturizer to the affected areas. Use scent- and dye-free moisturizer (marketed for “sensitive skin”) to keep skin irritation to a minimum.
Stay hydrated, keep cool, and if the sunburn is too painful, you can take some ibuprofen. You should also make sure you stay covered up next time you go outside so your sunburn isn’t exposed to even more sun. Call your clinician or visit ExpressCare if a sunburn causes you to have a fever or if you are showing signs of dehydration.
And remember, the easiest way to treat sunburn is to avoid it.
Pollen is one of the most common causes of allergies in the United States.
Pollen is a very fine powder produced by trees, flowers, grasses, and weeds to fertilize other plants of the same species. Many people have an adverse immune response when they breathe in pollen.
The immune system normally defends the body against harmful invaders — such as viruses and bacteria — to ward off illnesses.
In people with pollen allergies, the immune system mistakenly identifies the harmless pollen as a dangerous intruder. It begins to produce chemicals to fight against the pollen.
This is known as an allergic reaction, and the specific type of pollen that causes it is known as an allergen. The reaction leads to numerous irritating symptoms, such as:
Some people have pollen allergies year-round, while others only have them during certain times of the year. For example, people who are sensitive to birch pollen usually have increased symptoms during the spring when birch trees are in bloom.
Similarly, those with ragweed allergies are most affected during the late spring and early fall.
About 8 percent of adults in the United States experience hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).
About the same percentage of American children were diagnosed with hay fever in 2014, according to the National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The allergy is unlikely to go away once it has developed. However, symptoms can be treated with medications and allergy shots.
Making certain lifestyle changes can also help relieve the symptoms associated with pollen allergies.
A pollen allergy may also be referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
There are hundreds of plant species that release pollen into the air and trigger allergic reactions.
Here are some of the more common culprits:
Birch pollen is one of the most common airborne allergens during the spring. As the trees bloom, they release tiny grains of pollen that are scattered by the wind.
A single birch tree can produce up to 5 million pollen grains, with many traveling distances of up to 100 yards from the parent tree.
Like birch trees, oak trees send pollen into the air during the spring.
While oak pollen is considered to be mildly allergenic compared to the pollen of other trees, it stays in the air for longer periods of time. This can cause severe allergic reactions in some people with pollen allergies.
Grass is the primary trigger of pollen allergies during the summer months.
It causes some of the most severe and difficult-to-treat symptoms. However, the AAAAI reports that allergy shots and allergy tablets can be highly effective in relieving symptoms of grass pollen allergies.
Ragweed plants are the main culprits of allergies among weed pollens. They’re the most active between the late spring and fall months.
Depending on the location, however, ragweed may begin spreading its pollen as early as the last week of July and continue into the middle of October. Its wind-driven pollen can travel hundreds of miles and survive through a mild winter.
Pollen allergy symptoms most often include:
Your doctor can usually diagnose a pollen allergy. However, they may refer you to an allergist for allergy testing to confirm the diagnosis.
An allergist is someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies. To schedule an appointment visit us online today!
The allergist will first ask you about your medical history and your symptoms, including when they started and how long they’ve persisted.
Make sure to tell them if the symptoms are always present or get better or worse at certain times of the year.
The allergist will then perform a skin prick test to determine the specific allergen that’s causing your symptoms.
During the procedure, the allergist will prick different areas of the skin and insert a small amount of various types of allergens.
If you’re allergic to any of the substances, you’ll develop redness, swelling, and itchiness at the site within 15 to 20 minutes. You might also see a raised, round area that looks like hives.
As with other allergies, the best treatment is to avoid the allergen. However, pollen is very difficult to avoid.
You may be able to minimize your exposure to pollen by:
If you still experience symptoms despite taking these preventive measures, there are several over-the-counter (OTC) medications that may help:
Allergy shots may be recommended if medications aren’t enough to ease symptoms.
Allergy shots are a form of immunotherapy that involves a series of injections of the allergen. The amount of allergen in the shot gradually increases over time.
The shots modify your immune system’s response to the allergen, helping to reduce the severity of your allergic reactions. You may experience complete relief within one to three years after starting allergy shots.
A number of home remedies may also help relieve pollen allergy symptoms.
You should tell your doctor if your symptoms become more severe or if your medications are causing unwanted side effects.
Also, be sure to consult your doctor before trying any new supplements or herbs because some can interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications.
Pollen allergies can interrupt your everyday activities with sneezing, stuffy nose, and watery eyes. Lifestyle changes and medications can help reduce your symptoms.
Avoiding the trees, flowers, grasses, and weeds that trigger your allergies is a good first step.
You can do this by staying indoors when pollen levels are high, especially on windy days, or by wearing a dust mask to avoid breathing in the pollen.
Medications, both prescription and OTC, can also help reduce symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend immunology (allergy shots).
Vaping uses electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) to simulate traditional cigarette smoking. E-cigarettes are battery-powered or chargeable smoking devices. Some look like traditional cigarettes or pipes. Others are designed to look like pens or USB memory sticks. They use a cartridge (or pod) filled with liquid. The liquid typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. When you puff on the mouthpiece of the device, it activates a heating element. This heats up the liquid in the pod and turns it into vapor. You then inhale the vapor. This is why it’s called “vaping.”
E-cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking. But they’re not safe. They still put an addictive drug and chemicals into your body and into the air around you.
Vaping and JUULing are the same thing. JUUL (a brand of e-cigarettes that look like USB memory sticks) is a very popular vaping device among teenagers. So popular, in fact, that its brand name has become a verb to describe vaping. Teens may also use the term “ripping” to describe smoking an e-cigarette or JUUL. For more on JUULing and how it relates to teens, see “Teens and JUULing,” below.
The makers of e-cigarettes market them for a variety of uses. Researchers are still in the early stages of studying e-cigarettes. But studies have shown that e-cigarettes still contain harmful chemicals, including nicotine. Myths about e-cigarettes claim that the devices are:
Experts have a number of concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes and vaping.
E-cigarettes are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As of August, 2018, JUUL accounts for an estimated 71 percent of the teen e-cigarette market. Reasons for this include:
Teenagers face increased risks from JUULs/e-cigarettes. The teen years are a critical time in brain development. This puts young people uniquely at risk for long-lasting effects. Nicotine affects the development of brain circuits that control attention and learning. It puts kids at higher risk of having mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control. It also affects the development of the brain’s reward system. This can make other, more dangerous, drugs more pleasurable to a teen’s developing brain.
Kids who use e-cigs like JUULs are also more likely to become smokers than kids who do not, according to a three-year study. The study followed high school students as they transitioned from e-cigarettes to traditional ones.
There is much still to be learned about e-cigarettes and vaping. Since it’s relatively new, there aren’t long-term studies on the effects it may have. Until these long-term effects are known, doctors are encouraging patients to avoid e-cigarettes.
If you suspect your child is JUULing (and even if you don’t), ask him or her about it. Start a conversation. Ask if they’ve seen friends doing it or seen JUULing at school. Use this opportunity to tell them the dangers of JUULing. JUULing is addictive. JUULing has been shown to lead to smoking. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. Smoking is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the United States.
Talk to your child about quitting. Make an appointment for you and your child to talk to your family doctor about the best ways to quit JUULing. Your doctor may suggest a plan that includes some of the FDA-approved elements for smoking cessation listed below.
The FDA has approved 7 medications for smoking cessation in adults. These include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and medicines. (Vaping is not one of the 7 approved methods.) There is little evidence that these same tactics will work for vaping. If you are trying to stop vaping, here are some tips to consider:
If you are age 50 to 75, get tested regularly for colorectal cancer. A special test (called a screening) can help prevent colorectal cancer or find it early, when it’s easier to treat.
You may need to get tested before age 50 or after age 75 if colorectal cancer runs in your family. Talk with your doctor and ask about your risk for colorectal cancer.