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dr terence from healthmint medical centre performing a blood pressure check at berwick lifestyle community

High Blood Pressure – Symptoms & Treatment

By | Body Systems, Elderly and aging | No Comments

High Blood Pressure – What is it?

Firstly, your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving against the walls of your arteries. It is expressed as two numbers.

High blood pressure (HBP) is also known as hypertension. It means that the pressure in your arteries is high then what is in a normal range.

Your blood pressure should be below 120/80.

It is the leading and most important risk factor for stroke.

As your age increases, so does your chances of having a persistently high blood pressure.

Over time, elevated and high blood pressure can also weaken your heart, blood vessels and kidneys, and makes a stroke or heart attack more likely.

 

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When should I have my BP checked?

It is easiest to get your blood pressure checked at every visit to your GP.

If you already have high blood pressure, every 3 months is recommenced, and every 4-8 weeks if your current medication is being changed. 

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

It is very important to get your blood pressure checked as there are no symptoms that can directly be felt to indicate you have high blood pressure.

While high blood pressure has no exact cause, it may develop due to the following reasons: A family history, your exercise and physical activity levels, weight, food and alcohol intake.

What is the treatment for high blood pressure?

An appointment with your GP is the best way to figure out treatment for high BP.

Medication is the most common form of treatment, and while they can not cure high blood pressure, medication can certainly control it. Once you start taking medication for high BP, it is likely you will have to keep taking it for the rest of your life.

Other things like positive lifestyle changes can also help control your blood pressure. Making healthier choices and increasing your activity levels are some of the options your GP may discuss with you.

 

going kayaking and making healthy lifestyle changes to help manage high blood pressureWhat are the benefits of managing my BP?

Managing your blood pressure can help decrease the risk of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, nerve damage.

It is very important to get it checked regularly. Any of the GPs at HealthMint can do this for you when you book an appointment at the clinic.

If you have any concerns about your BP, it is best to seek medical advice.

 

Check out an infographic from HBPRCA here.

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effects of lack of sleep on your body healthmint medical centre cranbourne north

Effects of Lack of Sleep on your Body

By | Body Systems, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Sleep, Uncategorized | No Comments

Sleep is important to our body and helps our systems regulate and repair after our waking hours each day. Although sometimes life gets in the way and we find ourselves not getting enough sleep on occasion, longer term effects of not getting enough shut eye can lead to various health problems and also cause danger and impede judgement to yourself and others. Here we explore some surprising and scary effects that the lack of sleep can have on your body:

What are the some of the symptoms of a lack of sleep?

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Yawning
  • Moodiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased appetite

The body has to fight harder when you’re lacking sleep

A lack of sleep on the body prevents the body from having a strong immune system and makes it more prone to sicknesses and infection. It can also means that the body will take longer to heal from any existing illness and increases the chances of developing chronic illnesses and other serious health problems.

effects of lack of sleep on your body healthmint medical centre cranbourne northSerious health problems

Sleep disorders with chronic sleep loss can cause heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure just to name a few

A lack of sleep causes accidents

Around 20% of fatal road accidents involve driver fatigue. According to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in Victoria, fatigue is a major cause of crashes resulting in some 50 deaths and approximately 300 serious injuries each year. Sleepiness and sleep deprivation can cause havoc on the roads and is a major problem when it comes to the road toll. Drowsiness can have the same affect on reaction time as drunk driving.

It’s not only the road toll that suffers, but accidents at work are more likely to occur when there is a lack of sleep. Workplace injuries are a very real concern and can have disastrous effects.

Extra weight without the eight!

By not getting the recommended average 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly, it can lead to weight gain. The two hormones in the body, leptin and ghrelin, control feelings of hunger and fullness, and these two hormones are directly affected by sleep!

Getting moody

A lack of sleep can affect your mood, and you can become more likely to have conflict with others in your personal relationships and at work. You may also feel less motivated to complete normal day-to-day tasks as well as pursue larger goals in life.

effects of lack of sleep on your body healthmint medical centre cranbourne northCan you reverse the effects of a lack of sleep?

Sleep debt is accumulated when there is a lack of sleep and you can enter a sleep deficit. You can settle short term debt by adding a couple of extra hours of sleep over the following week if you are 10 hours or less behind in sleep.

Of course the best way to avoid the effects of a lack of sleep is to get the recommended 7-9 hours of good quality shut eye each night.

 

If you are feeling the effects of a lack of sleep, it may be time to look at the reasons why you are depriving your body of it. Both intentional and unintentional reasons cause the same effects. No matter if you are staying up too late, have shift work, demanding jobs, family obligations or young babies, these are all common causes. By addressing the reasons why, choices can be made to improve the quality and time spent in the land of nod!

If you are concerned about the amount of sleep you are (or are not getting!) Then book an appointment with one of our great HealthMint GPs. They may be able to assist you with the causes and treatment options for short and long term sleep issues.

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8 Benefits of Exercise

By | Body Systems, Chronic Disease, Chronic Pain, Diabetes, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Living a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial to your health, prevent some illnesses and diseases and can help to improve your mental health! Here we look into 8 benefits of exercise. 

1. Exercise boosts and benefits your mood

One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Exercise helps to block negative thoughts and distracts from daily worries and stresses. It  only releases the levels of, but also increases the levels of chemicals like serotonin and endorphins that can moderate responses to stress. It’s a win win!

benefits of exercise improve mood healthmint 2. Exercise assists in weight loss and helps prevent unhealthy weight gain

Exercise is extremely helpful in the journey of weight loss and weight management. Exercise speeds up metabolism, and increased activity levels increases the body’s fuel consumption (calories).

Regular physical activity combined with a healthy diet will increase the chances of weight loss.

8 benefits of exercise control weight loss healthmint3. Exercise reduces the risk of and helps to manage cardiovascular disease, reduce risk of heart attack, lower blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure

Regular physical activity can greatly reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and can actually also help to lower blood pressure! Lowering the levels of cholesterol and keeping your arteries clear of fatty deposits by undertaking regular exercise can reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes.

8 benefits of exercise cardiovascular health heart healthmint4. Social interaction and exercise go hand-in-hand

Find an exercise buddy – grab a friend or family member and hit the pavement. Let’s face it, exercise is more fun with someone and it works both ways to motivate each other and keeps each other’s exercise goals in check.

8 benefits of exercise socialising healthmint5. Build strong muscles and bones

Exercise that involves weight bearing like walking, stair climbing, weightlifting helps to preserve bone mass which can help protect against osteoporosis. Exercise also builds and strengthens muscles which in turn protects the bones from injury and support and protect the jones that might be susceptible to or affected by arthritis. It also improves the blood supply to muscles and can help prevent age related loss of muscle mass.

8 benefits of exercise strong kids dad family healthmint

6. Reduce the risk and help manage Type 2 Diabetes

For those with Type 2 Diabetes, physical exercise is a critical party of the treatment plan. Exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood! It helps with keeping blood glucose levels in check and in the correct range. Controlling blood glucose levels is essential in combating long term complications such as heart problems.

7. Exercise helps with sleep quality and benefits energy levels

When you exercise, your body naturally depletes its energy stores which helps when trying to fall asleep. When exercising, you may have longer, deeper and greater quality sleeps which helps make you feel more energised throughout the day. Around 30 minutes of exercise is all it can take for a better nights sleep and more energised days!

8 benefits of exercise boost mood aid sleep healthmint8. Lower the risk of falls with exercise

Exercise is a proven way to prevent falls by improving balance and strengthening the muscles that keep us upright.  As we get older, a fear of falling may limit the decision to want to undertake exercise – but this can have a damaging affect and actually increase the risks of developing chronic diseases and the probability of falls.

Of course, there are many more reasons other than these 8 benefits of exercise to consider. Being regularly physically active will always have positive effects on your mind, body and soul, it’s just about finding the types of exercise that suits you and your lifestyle, setting small, achievable goals to start off with, and building up the process of becoming a healthier, happier YOU!

Before undergoing any new types of exercise make sure you have a medical check from your HealthMint GP. You can even get a FREE* Health Check Up (valued at $159) to get you started on your journey to great health and on your way to your fitness and exercise goals.

tmj pain and how to treat it healthmint medical centre cranbourne north

TMJ Pain And How To Treat It

By | Body Systems, Chronic Pain | No Comments

TMJ Pain And How To Treat It

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a pain in the jaw that can be caused by numerous medical issues. Keep reading to find out what TMJ pain is and how to treat it.

The TMJ connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. These joints allow the movements needed for facial expressions, speaking, singing, whistling and eating.

TMJ disorders are quite common, and they can cause abnormal jaw movements, pain and noises in the joint. Often TMJ can feel like your jaw is popping, clicking or momentarily getting stuck. Sufferers of TMJ pain may experience either sharp pain or a dull, constant ache. 

Image from the Mayo Clinic
TMJ

Symptoms of TMJ pain

  • Locking of the jaw – which makes it difficult to open or close your mouth
  • Discomfort or pain in the jaw which is common during eating
  • An uneven or uncomfortable bite
  • Clicking and grating noises when chewing and opening mouth
  • Aching pain in the front of ear, which may spread to the rest of the face
  • Headaches, pain and pressure behind the eyes
  • Dizziness and vision problems
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain in the neck and shoulders

tmj pain and how to treat it healthmint medical centre cranbourne northWhat can cause TMJ pain?

  • Stress
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • An injury
  • Dental issues – new dentures and fillings
  • Osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Genes and/or hormones
  • Infections and autoimmune diseases

Occasionally, people have TMJ pain without any obvious cause.

How to treat TMJ pain

To relieve the symptoms of TMJ you can try the following:

  • Cutting food into small pieces
  • Eating softer foods
  • Avoid clenching your jaw
  • Taking over the counter medications, pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Wearing a mouthguard when sleeping
  • Avoiding chewing gum
  • Not opening your mouth wide
  • Gentle jaw stretches

tmj pain and how to treat it healthmint medical centre cranbourne northIf you or someone you know may be suffering from any of the above signs of TMJ, you can book an appointment online to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. See our wonderful team of GPs here.

If necessary, our GPs may refer you to see a dentist for specialist treatment for your TMJ pain. Berwick Dental Studio in Berwick may be able to help – you can check out their amazing range of dental services here

Want more information?

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healthmint blog series acne skin medical

Acne

By | Body Systems, Skin | No Comments

The Causes of Acne and What You Can Do About It

Acne is a common condition, but it is a medical issue that can range from mild to severe. While not dangerous, acne can leave sufferers with low self-esteem and cause long-term issues such as scarring. It’s not always just a matter of washing your face – acne has many causes and it can be difficult to budge. Here are some facts about acne and what you can do to treat it.

What is acne?

Our skin is covered in pores that connect to oil glands under the surface. Follicles connect the glands to the pores. When the pores become blocked, oil (or sebum) builds up under the skin. Acne is a chronic and inflammatory skin condition. Acne can come in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts and nodules. It is most often seen on the face, shoulders, back, neck chest and upper arms.

Acne often comes during puberty due to changes in hormones and the activation of sebaceous glands, but it can come at any age. It affects both males and females. Acne is not dangerous, but it can leave scars and be traumatic for people who are concerned about acne’s effect on their appearance

What causes acne?

The basic cause of acne is blocked pores. However, what causes the pores to become blocked is slightly more complicated. The glands that produce oil are stimulated by hormones. When the gland becomes blocked, the surrounding area can become infected and then swollen. The bacteria that contributes to acne is called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).

However, not all bacteria give people acne – one strain even helps keep skin acne free. Genetic factors can also increase the risk of acne. Other factors that can cause or increase the likelihood of acne include the menstrual cycle, anxiety and stress, oil-based cosmetics, squeezing pimples and sweating.

How is acne treated?

Acne has a number of treatments ranging from mild to very strong, depending on how severe and persistent the acne is. There are a number of home remedies that can be tried, although for most options the research shows limited effect. Changing diet (especially increasing vitamins A, E and zinc, or switching to low GI),using tea tree oil, the topical application of green tea, and moisturisers (especially containing witch hazel or 10% aloe vera) are common home remedies from mild to moderate acne.

Over the counter medications are usually the next step, and are available from the supermarket or pharmacy. The most effective contain ingredients such as benzyl peroxide, salicylic acid, Retin-A, Azelaic acid and Resorcinol. People with sensitive skin should use cream-based instead of alcohol-based gels (which can be drying). People with acne should start with a lower concentration as these medicated preparations can cause skin irritation. The benefits are usually seen after six to eight weeks.

For acne that does not respond to these methods, the help of a specialist will be required. Your GP will be the first stop, so they can make some suggestions or refer you on to a dermatologist if necessary. The most intensive treatments include corticosteroid injection, oral antibiotics, hormonal birth control, topical antimicrobials and isoretinoin. These treatments need to be taken under the strict supervision of a medical professional.

Managing acne from home.

Wherever possible, prevention is the best option for people with acne. Some tips to avoid breakouts include:

  • Don’t pop, squeeze or disturb pimples
  • Avoid washing your face too frequently, and use mild soap and warm water
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before putting products on your skin, and avoid touching your face as much as possible
  • Clean things that touch your face such as your glasses, phone and razor
  • Loose clothing can let the skin breathe and reduce pimples on the body
  • Clean hair, free of oily products like cocoa butter, will be less likely to cause acne
  • Be conscious of the cosmetics you use, and remove makeup before bed
  • Avoid sweating too much wherever possible

There are many options for people who are looking to manage acne, but if you can’t get it under control from home, you should talk to your GP and get professional help. Acne is a very common condition, but it can be hard to shift. If you’re concerned about your acne, have a chat with a medical professional and start the journey towards clear skin.

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Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

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Skin Cancer Facts

By | Body Systems, Cancer, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Skin, Women's Health | No Comments

It’s beginning to heat up, and Australians are eager to get out into the sun. We all know that skin cancer is a problem, but many people show a concerning disregard of sun safety. Australia has some of the highest melanoma rates in the world – two out of every three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before they are 70. It’s clearly an issue we need to address as a nation. Here are some facts about skin cancer that serve as a reminder to take sun safety seriously.

Melanoma is very common – and it can be deadly. Melanoma is the third most common cancer in men and women. It accounts for only 2% of diagnosed skin cancers, but it is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths. In the last 20 years, melanoma rates have doubled and are still on the rise. That being said, if melanoma is detected early it can often be completely cured with just a simple procedure.

But melanoma isn’t the only concern. Skin cancer occurs from damage to skin cells, and there are three main types. Along with melanoma, you could be at risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. While melanoma is the leading cause of skin cancer death, there are still significant numbers of deaths due to non-melanoma skin cancer.

It’s not worth it for a tan. Tanned skin used to be considered healthy, but actually a tan is a sign that you have been exposed to enough UV radiation to damage your skin. Many people ignore sun safety in favour of tanning for beauty-related reasons, but tanning can also cause wrinkles, sagging, and yellow or brown discolouration on the skin. A fake tan is ok from a skin cancer point of view, but don’t forget that it won’t actually protect you from the sun – you can still get sunburn.

You and your doctor make the best team. You should take time to get familiar with how your skin looks to make it easier to identify any changes. There are many great resources around to help you understand what you’re looking for. The Cancer Councils website is a great place to start. They suggest you keep a close eye out for:

  • any crusty, non-healing sores
  • small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
  • new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months.

If you notice any changes or haven’t had a skin check recently, you should see your GP to get your skin assessed. You will need to go to a skin specialist, who will examine your skin to identify any potential areas of concern.  Keeping up regular checks, both at home and every year or so with a professional, will help make sure your skin isn’t preparing a nasty surprise.

We all love the sun, but with summer on the way make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones. Team up with your doctor to ensure that if there is a problem, you’ll pick up on it early. Sunburn is a serious issue, so don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine – but stay safe.

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Broken Toes

By | Body Systems | No Comments

All about Broken Toes

When people break a bone, it’s usually a serious occurrence that requires a trip to hospital. With broken toes, that’s not always the case. Here are some ways to tell if you might have a broken toe, and what you should do about it.

How can you tell if your toe is broken?

Unless you have an extreme break, the only sure way to tell that your toe is broken is to be diagnosed by a medical health professional. The diagnosis is often made by a physical examination combined with medical imaging like an x-ray when necessary. The symptoms of a broken toe can be very similar to other injuries, so it’s important to get your toe looked at by your doctor if you suspect it might have a fracture.

There is no easily definable set of symptoms to diagnose a broken toe – some people with toe fractures are in extreme pain and unable to walk, whereas others can still move around. There are a number of factors that determine how severe your symptoms are, such as:

  • How severe the break is
  • How it was broken
  • Where the break is
  • How close to a joint the break is
  • If the bone has been displaced
  • Other conditions like arthritis or gout

Types of toe fractures.

There is more than one type of fracture that can occur. The two main types are:

Traumatic Fractures. Traumatic fractures are a result of an incident involving the toe, such as dropping something on it or kicking something. They can be minor or severe.

The symptoms happen straight after the event, and could include pain that doesn’t go away with rest, swelling, throbbing and redness.  Most traumatic breaks will develop a dark bruise. These symptoms can persist for weeks if they are left untreated.

Stress fractures. Stress fractures don’t happen as a result of a single event, but build up over time. They are usually hairline fractures that come as a result of repeated stress on the bone. Sometimes stress fractures occur when the muscles become too weak to absorb impact, making toes vulnerable to impact and pressure, which leads them to eventually crack.

Stress fractures often hurt after walking or running, but the pain goes after rest. They are generally sore or tender when touched, and are swollen but without bruising.

Treating a broken toe

If you are diagnosed with a broken toe, there is a range of treatment options that doctors might recommend.

  • Standard treatment for mild fractures, bruises and sprains is following R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression and elevation. These techniques reduce pain and help the toe to heal. If the break isn’t severe, it’s possible that this will be the only treatment you need – but let your doctor decide if this is the only treatment you need
  • Strapping toes together or “buddy taping” to keep the broken toe supported
  • A shoe or boot to help you walk without bending the your toe
  • Resetting the bone where the break has caused the toe to become displaced
  • Antibiotics or tetanus shot if the skin has been broken
  • Surgery if the break is very severe and can’t be fixed suing another method.

There is such a wide variety of symptoms and a range of how severe a break could be that it is very important to get your injury assessed by a medical professional. Your GP is a great place to start. When it comes to a sore toe, it’s better safe than sorry. If your toe is giving you trouble, get it check by a professional, and get back on your feet in no time.

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4 Reasons Your Urine Might Smell

By | Body Systems, Diabetes, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle | No Comments

4 Reasons Your Urine Might Smell

One of the best ways to tell what’s going on inside your body is to pay attention to what’s on the way out. Your kidneys act as filters for your body, and urine is how the waste they remove leaves your body. Urine is mostly water, so the waste is usually what gives it any smell or colour.

Normal urine is clear to straw coloured, and generally should not have a strong smell. If your urine output significantly changes and you can’t think of an obvious reason why, it could be a sign of something going on in your body. Here are 4 common changes to urine and what they might mean.

 

1. Dehydration

If you are not consuming adequate liquid, your urine output will reduce and become more concentrated. That could lead to a darker colour and strong smell, getting more noticeable as the dehydration worsens. Simple dehydration can be managed at home by drinking more liquids, but if your dehydration doesn’t resolve quickly, if you have other symptoms like diarrhoea and especially if your urine becomes very dark, you should see your doctor.

2. Oral Intake

 

Sometimes food and medication can change the colour or odour of urine. Asparagus is a classic example – often after eating this vegetable, urine can take on a very distinct odour. If the change is due to a food source it should go away within a day or two. If the change is due to medication, the changes might stay for as long as you are taking the medicine. Some foods and medications can even turn your pee pinkish-red. Feel free to mention the change to your doctor if you are concerned.

3. Infection

 

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, could cause your urine to change in appearance and smell. The presence of bacteria could cause your urine to have a foul smell, as well as appearing cloudy or even bloody. These symptoms could go along with a burning sensation when you pee, and a frequent urge to urinate. UTIs are fairly common, and will need to be assessed and treated by your doctor.

4. Diabetes

 

When a person has high blood sugar, excess sugar is excreted through the urine – which can cause urine to have an unusually sweet smell. In more dangerous cases, a “fruity” smell could be an indication of ketoacidosis, a condition where the body produces toxic substances due to extremely high blood sugar. Undiagnosed or untreated diabetes and ketoacidosis are potentially life-threatening conditions and should be considered an emergency.

If you see any change in your pee and can’t immediately think of what caused it – a recent meal or a new medication – you might want to think about seeing a doctor. Changes that last longer than a day or two and are accompanied by other symptoms should be addressed by a doctor as soon as you can. Some additional symptoms that can go along with urine changes could be pain in your side or back, fever, significantly increased thirst, fatigue, vomiting, or discharge. Your doctor can easily refer you for a urine test to see what’s going on.

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Common Health Myths

By | Body Systems, Featured, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle | No Comments

It’s important to revisit what we know about our health to check that our knowledge is actually based on good science. Here are 5 common health myths you might have come across, and why they might not be as accurate as many people think.

  1. You can catch a cold by getting cold

It sounds obvious – if you get cold and wet, you’ll come down with a cold.  These days, most people know that colds are in fact caused by a virus, but they’re still quick to blame being cold for their illness.

We pick up viruses and other organisms through contact with other infected people. While these colds are more likely during the cold winter months, it’s likely that the majority of infections are picked up because bad weather forces people indoors, in closer proximity to one another.

The air temperature might have some impact on how long viruses can stay alive, and that inhaling cold air can cool the nasal passage down which can help some viruses to break the mucus barrier and enter the body. However, while cold weather can make it more likely that you will catch a cold, it’s not the weather’s fault when you’re ill.

  1. Cracking your joints can cause arthritis

People who crack their knuckles are routinely told they are making themselves more susceptible to arthritis. The truth is that the risk of arthritis is almost exactly the same for people who do crack their knuckles when compared to people who don’t.

When you crack your knuckles, you are pulling apart the joint very slightly. That causes a pressure decrease in the fluid that keeps the joints lubricated. Bubbles form in the fluid, and the variation in pressure causes the cracking sound. It might be annoying to people around you, but it won’t give you arthritis.

  1. Drink eight glasses of water every day.

Drinking water is essential for a healthy body, but how much should we be drinking? The answer is – enough. The amount of water each person needs can vary widely. Another factor that can influence how much water you need to consume is how much liquid you are consuming from other sources. 80% of an average person’s water intake is sourced from drinks (including caffeinated beverages like coffee), with 20% coming from the food they eat.

Studies show that on average, women require 2.7 litres of water per day, with men requiring 3.7 litres. However, that figure represents the total water intake – meaning your coffee counts. You should still try to drink water, but forcing yourself to drink a pre-determined amount is not necessary.

  1. Choosing low-fat products is better for your health

Low-fat products are sold as healthier options, but that advertising is misleading in many cases. Many low-fat products have increased sugar and salt to compensate for the loss of taste. Low-fat products can contain as many (or even more) kilojoules than their full-fat equivalents. Fat can help you feel full for longer, and a carefully balanced diet will include some healthy fats. Advertisers are very good at getting you to choose their product, but don’t be deceived by claims on the packaging.  A better strategy for choosing healthier options is to practice reading nutritional labels.

  1. The flu vaccine causes the flu

It’s a common misunderstanding that the flu vaccine can give people the flu. The truth is, you cannot catch influenza from a flu shot. The flu vaccine contains inactivated viruses that can’t harm you. However, some people do have mild side effects from the vaccination such as low-grade fever and body aches that can cause them to incorrectly self-diagnose with the flu. It’s important to remember that the flu vaccine is most often offered during periods of increased risk of catching the flu, which can cause a false association between the symptoms and the vaccine.

The vaccine only contains the strains of the influenza virus that authorities predict are the most likely for that season, which leaves people potentially open to other strains of influenza. It also does not provide 100% immunity, although most people will experience reduced symptoms if they do happen to catch the virus. Lastly, many people pick up a bad cold and mistakenly assume they have the flu – and blame their flu shot. Getting the flu shot helps protect you and vulnerable members of the community, and could save you from getting seriously sick.

When it comes to your health, the right advice is crucial. If you are looking for answers to your health questions, your GP is a great place to start. Cut through the conflicting information and get health advice tailored directly to your personal situation.

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Psoriasis: HealthMint Skin Series

By | Body Systems, Skin | No Comments

What You Need to Know About Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that can be uncomfortable and make people unhappy with the appearance of their skin. Because it often comes and goes, many people just put up with the symptoms. While the condition isn’t curable, it can be managed with help from your GP.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition where the life cycle of skin cells is sped up, which causes cells to build up thickly on the skin’s surface. The patches of skin that have an excess skin build-up can form into scales or red patches. These areas tend to be itchy and uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful. It is most often found on the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear on any part of the skin. Some people get a few small patches of scaling that look almost like dandruff, while others get major eruptions that cover a large area of skin.

Psoriasis is associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. It also causes a particular type of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis, which can sometimes occur without a noticeable skin irritation.

Who can get psoriasis?

People of any age can get the skin condition, from small babies right up to elderly people. However, most people are diagnosed in their early adult years. Men and women have almost equal instances of psoriasis. All people groups can get it, although it does occur more frequently depending on racial background.   

How long does psoriasis last?

Psoriasis is a chronic condition, which means the potential for the irritating skin patches is probably not going to go away any time soon. The irritated areas themselves will probably come and go.

How do you know if you’ve got psoriasis?

The signs and symptoms are different for everyone, but here are some common identifiers  you should look out for:

  • Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
  • Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
  • Itching, burning or soreness
  • Swollen and stiff joints

If you develop a rash that doesn’t go away with an over-the-counter medication, psoriasis is one option your doctor might consider.

What can you do to treat psoriasis?

Because psoriasis currently has no cure, the aim is to improve the symptoms. With mild psoriasis, products are usually recommended or prescribed to be used on the skin, such as moisturisers, vitamin D preparations, or corticosteroid creams.  Ultraviolet light therapy is another way medical professionals can slow down the production of skin cells.

If your psoriasis is severe or not responding to other options, you might need oral or injected medication. You can work with your health professionals to manage your symptoms by giving up smoking, managing stress, regularly moisturising and following the treatment plan given to you by your doctor.

Skin conditions are almost always manageable, and you don’t have to put up with your symptoms. Get in touch with your GP if you think you might have psoriasis, and start yourself on a journey towards clear, healthy skin.

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