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Internal Medicine Doctors of
Mill Basin & Bergen Beach, Brooklyn

6301 Mill Lane (Corner of East 63rd) in Mill Basin (11234)

718-942-4600

Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD
Primary Care Doctor

Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Anatoly Pisman, M.D
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Alexander Shapsis, M.D
Gastroenterologist

Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat

 

Medical Treatment For Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Posted by on September 6th, 2013

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD

“Pink eye can cause discomfort, discharge from the eye and tearing. It is highly contagious, so if you think you have pink eye it is best to seek treatment, as you may pass the infection on to others, especially those in your household”.

-Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD

What is conjunctivitis?

The conjunctiva is the transparent membrane that covers the white of your eye and lines your eyelid. In pink eye, infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva causes inflammation of the tiny blood vessels of the conjunctiva, which results in the characteristic pink coloration of the eye. It is usually caused by infection with a virus or bacteria or by an allergic reaction.

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis (pink eye)?

In addition to redness in one or both eyes, conjunctivitis may also cause:

  • a sensation of a foreign body in the eye (gritty sensation)
  • itchiness
  • tearing
  • discharge/crusting of the eye which is usually worse in the morning

Do I need to see a doctor if I have pink eye?

Yes. Pink eye can be highly contagious. If you get treatment as soon as your symptoms start, you may be able to prevent others around you from getting it. In addition, your symptoms may not be caused by pink eye but by another eye condition that is more serious. Eye health should always be taken seriously. If you have blurred vision and pain in one or both eyes in addition to redness, it is imperative that you seek medical care as soon as possible.

What causes pink eye?

Pink eye may be caused by the following:

  • Bacterial/viral infections– if you have a viral or bacterial infection, you will likely experience copious watery discharge (viral infection) or a thick yellow or green discharge (bacterial infection) in addition to redness of one or both eyes. Infectious conjunctivitis often occurs at the same time as a cold or a respiratory illness. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis is very contagious. It is spread by direct contact with an infected person, or by contact with items an infected person has touched (indirect contact). If you have children who have conjunctivitis it is important that you wash your hands frequently and have them do the same, and ensure that your children are treated by their doctor.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis– if you suffer from allergies, your eyes may also be affected. Your eyes may be reddened and itchy and may water uncontrollably. You may also suffer from a runny nose and may sneeze frequently. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs after exposure to an allergen such as pollen.
  • Foreign objects/substances in the eye– if you have inadvertently splashed a chemical in your eye or something has been blown by the wind into your eye, you will know it! Your eye will be irritated and you will feel as though you have something in your eye. Your eyes may water profusely as your eye attempts to flush out the foreign object or substance. If you think (or know) that there is something in your eye that shouldn’t be there, try not to rub your eye. Flush your eyes with saline if you have any and come to see me right away, or head to the nearest emergency room. Foreign objects or substances, particularly chemicals, may damage the eye and may threaten vision. Many workplaces in which chemicals are used have eye wash stations for these types of emergencies.

What can I expect when I come in to see you?

First of all, I will need to know how long you have had symptoms and what symptoms you are experiencing. I will also need to know if anyone you have been in contact with has similar symptoms. I will ask if you have allergies to pollen or dust that may be causing your symptoms. I will need to know if both or a single eye is affected. I will also need to know if you wear contact lenses. I will ask if you have pain in your eye(s) and whether your vision is affected.

I will examine your eye carefully. This may involve shining a light in your eye. I may also assess your vision using an eye chart. I may perform other exams as necessary, including staining the surface of your eye with a short-acting dye and viewing your eye with a slit lamp to see if your cornea has been injured.

If you have conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial infection, I may prescribe eye drops or an eye ointment. If your symptoms are caused by allergies, there are eye drops that can help. I will instruct you regarding how to instill your drops or ointment. If I am concerned that your eye problem is caused by something more serious than conjunctivitis, I may refer you to an eye specialist. In most cases, conjunctivitis clears up quite quickly.

If you have symptoms of conjunctivitis, don’t wait to come in- conjunctivitis is often very contagious and you may inadvertently spread the infection to others, so call today for your appointment.

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Are You Suffering From A Painful Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)?

Posted by on August 15th, 2013

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD

“Sore throats are common, especially during the winter months when many viruses are circulating. Most sore throats caused by a viral infection will not require treatment, but sometimes sore throats are the result of a bacterial infection and antibiotics are needed. If you have a sore throat that is making it difficult for you to eat, drink or talk, make an appointment to come in and see me”.

-Dr. Zimilevich, MD

Although most sore throats (called pharyngitis in medical lingo) are not serious and don’t require treatment except comfort care, some sore throats require treatment with antibiotics. Generally, a sore throat caused by a bacterial infection will produce other symptoms in addition to your sore throat that might prompt you to seek medical care. The tricky part is being able to tell the difference!

Sore throats caused by viral infections

Viral infections, including the common cold, are most common during the fall and winter months when people are indoors and in crowded conditions. Sore throat may be accompanied by a runny nose, mild muscle aches, fatigue and a cough. Symptoms generally subside in 7 to 10 days. Most people with a viral sore throat are able to continue their daily activities and manage their symptoms with rest and over-the-counter remedies.

Sore throats caused by bacterial infections

Approximately 10% of the time, a sore throat in adults is caused by a microorganism called Streptococcus, commonly referred to a strep throat. If you have strep throat, you may feel quite ill. Your sore throat may be so sore that swallowing is very painful. In addition to an extremely sore throat, you may have:

  • white patches (pus) visible on the back of your throat
  • a fever, which may be high
  • enlarged lymph glands in your neck
  • little or no cough and runny nose (rhinitis)
  • malaise (little energy to do anything, general sense of unwellness)

In addition to strep infection, mononucleosis can also cause an extremely sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph glands. Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Influenza, also caused by a virus, sometimes causes sore throat and can make you feel very unwell.

What can I expect when I come to see you?

When you come in to see me complaining of a sore throat, I will want to know a little about you (if you are a new patient). I’ll need to know about your past medical history, specifically if you have any chronic health problems that can affect immunity. I’ll ask about any allergies you may have in the event that I need to prescribe a medication for your condition.

Next, I will examine you. In addition to looking at your throat to check for swelling, pus and redness, I will look in your ears and listen to your heart and lungs. I may also examine your abdomen (especially if I suspect mono, which can cause your spleen to enlarge). My examination will be focused on your throat, but may be expanded elsewhere, depending on what I suspect the problem to be.

Any of the following is worrisome and should prompt you to make an urgent appointment, as any of the following could be a sign/symptom of a serious problem:

  • drooling (inability to swallow saliva or secretions)
  • rash associated with fever and sore throat
  • swelling that involves the tongue and neck (which could occlude your airway, making it difficult to breathe)
  • breathing difficulties
  • neck stiffness
  • an impaired immune system

I may order diagnostic tests if I feel they are necessary, such as a complete blood count, a chest x-ray or x-ray of the soft tissues of the neck,  a rapid strep test or a culture of material from the back of your throat. A rapid strep test can determine in a few minutes if your throat is infected with the streptococcus bacterium.

If I feel that you have a viral sore throat, I will recommend symptomatic treatment, such as rest, plenty of fluids, mild pain relievers and lozenges/throat sprays/oral rinses as necessary. Antibiotics will not be helpful if you have a viral infection and may cause more harm than good.

If I suspect the cause of your sore throat is bacterial in nature, I will prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin, or an alternative antibiotic if you are allergic to penicillin. Generally you will start to feel better within 24 to 48 hours after starting the antibiotic- if you do not start to feel better within 3 days, you should come back in to see me.

If you have a very sore throat, especially if it is accompanied by any of the signs/symptoms listed above, make an appointment to come in to see me. I will be happy to evaluate your sore throat and help you determine the cause and necessary treatment.

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Medical Treatment For Ear Infections (Otitis Media, Ear Ache)

Posted by on July 23rd, 2013

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD

“An ear infection can be extremely painful. If left untreated, otitis media can lead to permanent hearing loss. If you have a severe ear ache, particularly if you have been sick with a cold or other viral infection, make an appointment to come in and see me right away”.

-Dr. Zimilevich, MD

 What is otitis media?

Otitis media is the medical term for infection of the middle ear. This condition is far more common in children than in adults but can cause considerable pain regardless of age.

What causes otitis media?

Acute otitis media often occurs after a cold or other illness and can be caused by a virus or bacteria. It is more common during the winter months when colds are more prevalent.

What are the symptoms of otitis media?

If you have otitis media, you may notice:

  • ear pain (may be severe)
  • hearing loss in the affected ear
  • fever
  • nasal congestion or sore throat if otitis media is preceded by a cold
  • bloody discharge from the ear if the tympanic membrane (eardrum) ruptures (pain may disappear if this happens)

What can I expect when I come in for my appointment?

If you have otitis media, you may need to be seen urgently. The pain can be quite severe and overwhelming. I’ll ask you about your symptoms- when they started, whether they were preceded by a cold and whether you have had a fever. I’ll look in your nose and throat for signs of infection/inflammation. I may also listen your chest if you have had a cough. I’ll use an otoscope (an instrument with a light attached) to examine your ear, looking for fluid, redness, pus and bulging of the tympanic membrane. If you have otitis media, I’ll need to know if you have any allergies to any medications, especially antibiotics.

What is the treatment for otitis media?

If you have otitis media, you will (quite understandably) be concerned about the pain and how long it will last. Although acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) may help with the pain and fever, you may need something stronger for the first couple of days. I will also prescribe an antibiotic if I suspect a bacterial cause. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, it is important that you take it exactly as prescribed; otherwise, the infection may return and be more difficult to treat. Always complete the entire course of antibiotics! Sometimes an antihistamine or decongestant medication can be helpful in reducing congestion and may improve the sensation of pressure and fullness in the ear that some people feel when they have an ear infection. If you are still experiencing symptoms (including hearing loss) after you have completed antibiotics, you should come back to see me for follow-up.

If you are experiencing ear pain, make an appointment immediately- in most cases we can see you right away, so make your appointment now.

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Treatment for Sinus Infections (Sinusitis, Nasal Congestion)

Posted by on July 12th, 2013

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD

“Although a sinus infection is very rarely life-threatening, it can certainly affect your quality of life. Caused by viruses and bacteria, sinus infections may become chronic and can be difficult to eradicate. If you are suffering from symptoms of a sinus infection, make an appointment to come in and see me. Treatment is available”.

-Dr. Zimilevich, MD

What is a sinus infection?

Sinus infection (also referred to as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis) is an inflammation affecting the mucous lining of the sinuses and nasal passages. Your sinuses are four pairs of air-filled pockets or chambers located in your skull behind your eyes, cheeks, forehead and nasal bones. No one is sure why we have sinuses. Some researchers feel that our sinuses keep our skull from being too heavy (air weighs far less than dense bone); other researchers think these air-filled chambers add resonance and character to our voices.

The mucous membranes that line your nasal passages and sinuses help to moisten the air you inhale. Mucous membranes also produce the mucous that helps to trap dirt, dust and harmful organisms, preventing them from traveling farther down your airway to your lungs. These mucous membranes are lined with cilia, tiny hair-like projections that constantly sweep foreign substances trapped in mucous towards the back of the throat, where it can be swallowed.

When these mucous membranes become inflamed from allergies or infection, they swell and produce even more mucous, causing nasal and sinus  congestion.

What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?

Sinusitis generally follows a cold. Why? When you have a cold, the cold virus may damage the delicate cilia lining your sinuses and nasal passages so that mucous cannot be swept to the back of your throat to be swallowed. The mucous lining becomes inflamed which can block the small opening between your sinuses and your nasal passages so that your sinuses can’t  drain. The mucous that is trapped in your sinuses becomes thicker, which makes it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Symptoms of acute sinusitis may include:

  • a cold that just “won’t go away” (lasts longer than 10 days to 2 weeks)
  • fever (usually low-grade)
  • yellow or green nasal discharge
  • cough which may be worse at night
  • halitosis (bad breath)
  • puffy eyes upon awakening
  • headache
  • toothache (upper molars due to their proximity to sinuses)
  • pain behind the eyes, cheeks or forehead
  • increased pain when leaning the head forward

You may be diagnosed with chronic sinusitis if your symptoms last longer than 3 months.

What can I expect if I come in with symptoms of a sinus infection?

If you come in and see me with complaints of cold symptoms that aren’t subsiding, I will ask you about your symptoms. Specifically, I will ask if you have a cough, headache, fever or colored nasal discharge. I will examine your ears, nose and throat for signs of redness or inflammation. I may press or tap gently on your sinuses to see if doing so causes you pain.

What is the treatment for sinusitis?

It can be difficult even for doctors to differentiate between sinusitis caused by a virus (which will not respond to antibiotics) and sinusitis caused by a bacteria (which can be successfully treated with antibiotics). If you have had sinusitis symptoms for longer than 10 days, I will likely prescribe an antibiotic. It is very important that you finish the entire course of antibiotics prescribed so that you don’t relapse and become even sicker.

There are several home remedies that may be helpful if you have sinusitis:

  • inhalation of warm steam (not hot)
  • nasal irrigation with warm saline
  • decongestant sprays (should not be used for prolonged periods of time)
  • drinking plenty of fluids (to thin nasal secretions)
  • warm moist compresses to the face for pain relief

It is important that you come back to see me if your symptoms do not improve or worsen. Rarely, bacterial sinus infections can spread to the ear (causing otitis media), the lining of the brain (causing meningitis) or the eye socket (resulting in vision loss if not treated aggressively).

If your cold symptoms are lingering for longer than 2 weeks and you are very congested or have fever, facial pain or headache, you should make an appointment to come in to the clinic to be checked for sinusitis.

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Ear, Eye, Nose and Throat Conditions (Sore Throat, Eye Infections, Ear Ache, Sinus)

Posted by on June 6th, 2013

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MDEar, eye, nose and throat conditions such as ear aches, nasal congestion, sore throats and eye infections are some of the most frequent reasons for clinic visits. Although these complaints are common, I realize that they can make you feel quite miserable, and it is also important that you come in to see me before the condition increases in seriousness.”

-Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD

The branch of medicine that deals with conditions affecting the ears, eyes, nose and throat is called otolaryngology. I am trained to recognize and treat common ailments affecting these areas. Ear aches, eye infections, sore throats and sinus infections affect millions of people every year and can lead to complications when left treated. At the very least, they can make you feel quite ill and cause you to miss work.

Many of these conditions are self-limiting, but it can be difficult to know the difference between a simple viral infection and a more serious bacterial infection or other condition if you are not a physician. When in doubt, it is best to make an appointment and come in to see me, especially considering that many of these conditions are contagious. You needn’t ever feel that you are wasting my time coming to see me for what maybe a simple infection because it’s better to be safe than sorry! It’s my job to offer advice regarding your condition and offer treatment, such as an antibiotic, if warranted.

The Ears

The following ear conditions are common and often require a visit to my office:

  • ear wax
  • hearing loss
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • ear ache (inner ear pain)
  • ear drainage
  • outer ear pain

The Eyes

Any condition affecting the eye is potentially serious and should be evaluated immediately, particularly if you experience sudden changes in your vision or have sudden eye pain. The following is a list of common eye symptoms that I see on a routine basis:

  • foreign body in the eye
  • eye redness
  • eye swelling
  • eyelid spasm/drooping
  • eye pain/sensitivity to light
  • watery eye/discharge from the eye
  • sudden vision change

The Nose and Throat

Nose and throat problems are often caused by viral or bacterial infections, but may be caused by other conditions as well. If your symptoms last longer than a few days, it is best to have your symptoms evaluated:

  • nasal congestion/stuffiness
  • bloody nose (epistaxis)
  • sore throat/throat pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • hoarseness
  • sinus pain
  • postnasal drip

When you come to see me in the clinic with symptoms related to your eyes, ears, nose or throat, I will examine you. We’ll discuss the likely cause of your symptoms, and then decide how best to treat you. If your condition is caused by a virus and can’t be helped by an antibiotic, we can discuss over the counter remedies that may help you to feel better until your symptoms have resolved. I can also tell you whether your condition is likely contagious and how you can prevent the spread of infection. If your condition is one that should be evaluated by an EENT specialist, I won’t hesitate to refer you.

Do you have an ear ache, cold symptoms that just won’t go away or a sore throat that’s making you feel miserable? Make an appointment to see me today and discover the Mill Basin difference.

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Our Location

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6301 Mill Lane, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

718-942-4600

We are not a hospital/urgent care facility. Our urgent care services are offered during normal business hours only.
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