Holiday Heart

‘Tis the season, and with the holidays comes celebration, excess of food, family, friends and often alcohol.  For most people, their bodies are not used to the end of the year excess. As a result a condition, commonly referred to as Holiday Heart can happen to those who experience a little too much holiday cheer.

Holiday Heart is caused by atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disturbance. Patients will experience the sudden onset of rapid heart rate, palpitations, and often dizziness or shortness of breath.

Another cause of Holiday Heart could be an unusual sensitivity to alcohol consumption. This phenomenon, atrial fibrillation after an episode of binge drinking, is the most common cause of Holiday Heart, and doctors are generally well aware of this condition.

Sometimes however, people are simply extremely sensitive to alcohol, such that even moderate amounts – two or three drinks, and sometimes a single drink – can trigger Holiday Heart. In these cases doctors should carefully examine whether the episode could be related to alcohol consumption. And doctors who treat patients with this condition should be careful to ask about even minor exposure to alcohol. Making the proper diagnosis may spare the patient from inappropriate treatments.

Staying Healthy this Halloween


Halloween is a fun holiday, but it also comes right at the beginning of cold and flu season.  With all of the activities and hullabaloo it’s important that you keep your kids happy and healthy this Halloween.


  1. Dress Warm! The end of October can see temperatures as low as the 40s so make sure your kids wear costumes that can be worn with layers underneath them.  Kids can also work up a sweat trick or treating so it becomes handy when they can just shed a jacket or sweat shirt if they get too hot.


  1. Avoid Germy Games: Traditional Halloween games can be fun, but they can also be breeding pools of germs during cold and flu season.  Games like bobbing for apples are a perfect way to catch a nasty cold or flu virus. Pin the tail on the cat or ring toss is a much better bet for germ free fun.


  1. Maintain a healthy diet: With all of the tricks we can’t forget about the treats! Halloween has some of the tastiest of the year, but remember to not let your kids fill up solely on sugary snacks. Poor nutrition can weaken their immune system leaving them susceptible to illness. Make sure your kids are getting plenty of fruits and vegetables too.


  1. Remember safety first!: On Halloween it’s fun to cut loose and let our dark side run a little wild, but you shouldn’t neglect the basic Halloween safety measures. Make sure that they only go trick or treating in neighborhoods that they know. If you are worried about dangerous people in your neighborhood visit a neighborhood watch website that lists anyone who is on a registered sex offender list.  Instruct your kids to not visit any house without their front porch light on. Make sure your kids are visible in the dark, whether they are carrying flashlights or wearing reflective vests/tape.

What you need to know about Enterovirus D68


A fast-spreading virus related to hand-foot-and-mouth disease is hospitalizing kids across the nation and causing quite a panic among parents of children everywhere.

The virus, Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, is part of a group of entrovirus that includes coxsackie viruses, echo viruses, polio viruses, the hepatitis A virus and EV-68. Although these viruses are common, they are more likely to cause illnesses in infants, children and teens who haven’t developed immunity against the virus, and people with weakened immune systems.


How do you catch it?

These germs can live on surfaces for hours and maybe as long as 24-36 hours. The “entero-“ part of their name means the viruses can survive stomach acid and infect the gut, as opposed to  the rhinoviruses (like the common cold), which can’t. Touching a contaminated surface and then rubbing your nose or eyes is the usual way someone catches it. You can also get it from close person-to-person contact.

Common disinfectants and detergents will kill enteroviruses, keeping hands and commonly touched surfaces will help stop the spread of the disease also keep your children home if they display symptoms.


What are the symptoms of D68 infection?

What’s different with this virus than others is that the usual tell-tale virus symptoms are relatively mild at first, allowing the disease to spread.

Most kids who are infected with EV-68 will have the following cold-like symptoms:

• runny nose

• congestion

• sneezing

• cough

• breathing difficulty

• fever

• muscle aches


These symptoms should be watched closely, but do not require emergency medical care. However, if your child has a history of asthma and develops these cold-like symptoms, you should contact your pediatrician.


Who’s at greatest risk?

Recent cases have been in children ages 6 months to 16 years, with most hovering around ages 4 and 5, the CDC says.

And while many kids are coming down with milder symptoms, the virus seems to be hitting children with a history of breathing problems particularly hard.

How do you treat Entrovirus 68?

Because it’s caused by a virus, and not bacteria, antibiotics don’t help. There is no vaccine to prevent it and no antiviral medication to treat it.  Most kids who get D68 infections will just need extra TLC, including lots of rest and plenty of fluids. It is important to keep your child out of school until the symptoms are gone for at least 24 hours.

In some cases children with asthma or breathing issues are being hospitalized to monitor the respiratory distress the virus can cause.


Clearing up the confusion: Why are you paying different rates at different clinics?


One of the common complaints we hear from our patients is regarding insurance deductibles.

The main issue we’ve found is that patients don’t understand what a deductible is, and how it applies to the way they’re charged for care. Why, they ask, does one clinic tell you there is a $150 deductible, and another charge only $60 for the visit? The most likely answer is that the first clinic is putting that payment toward your insurance deductible, while the second is charging you the “self pay rate.”

Your deductible is the amount of your medical costs that you have to pay before your health insurance takes over. Here’s an example. Gary has a health plan with a $1500 deductible. If Gary only has a few little things go wrong during the year that cost less than $1500 total, he’s going to pay the full amount to treat them. However, if Gary has a catastrophic injury or serious illness that requires a lot of medical care to get better, he’ll pay his $1500 deductible and then his health insurance takes over to pay most if not all of his additional costs. It’s a way for Gary to shoulder some of the responsibility for his health, while still affording him protection from huge medical expenses. Now, if Gary goes to a clinic that charges the “self pay rate,”it will seem that he’s paying less, however none of the money he pays is going toward his insurance deductible. Because of this, it’s often better, particularly when you may have a condition that requires several visits, or medications, to pay toward your deductible. While it seems like you’re paying more, and you are, upfront, in the long run, when your insurance kicks in, all that will be left is your co-pay.


The Chikungunya Virus: Everything you need to know

Chikungunya, a new mosquito born virus has been making headlines lately causing many to be concerned.  It may be difficult to wade through the media buzz and hype to get useful information on how to protect your family. 

• What is Chikungunya?

It is  a mosquito-borne virus that causes extreme joint pain, in addition to fever and headache. It is similar to Dengue fever, which is a little more widely known. While most cases of Chikungunya in the U.S. are contracted abroad, there are an increasing number of cases in the US.

About  27 states from Massachusetts to Texas have been reported, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida has the majority of the 129 reported cases in U.S. states and territories, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are joint swelling, muscle pain and fever. Other symptoms include headache and rash.  
Although uncomfortable, these symptoms are rarely serious and only last about 3-5 days.

In some extreme cases joint pain and discomfort can linger for weeks or months after the virus goes away.

• Is there a cure?

There is no cure for Chikungunya, however doctors say that getting plenty of rest and fluids is important.  Taking over the counter pain relievers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen can help reduce discomfort caused by fever and swelling. 

• Is it dangerous?

Chikungunya is rarely dangerous or fatal, according to the CDC. Although the very old, very young and those with compromised immune systems have a greater risk for complications.

• How can I prevent Chikungunya?

Statistically, if you have no plans of leaving the United States, you have a very slim chance of contracting the virus, but because mosquitoes can carry any number of harmful pathogens, it is important to keep yourself protected.  Mosquito repellents and long sleeves should be used whenever you are going to be around areas with high mosquito populations.