fbpx Skip to main content
Category

Children’s Health

various foods that can cause food allergy healthmint

6 Things You Need to Know About Food Allergies

By Children's Health, Chronic Disease, Nutrition

What is a food allergy? 

Food allergies are an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When a person eats a food containing that protein, this causes the immune system to have a large reaction, triggering symptoms that can affect a person’s gastrointestinal tract, skin, breathing and/or heart.

In Australia, food allergy is estimated to affect 1-2% of adults, 4-8% of children and 10% of infants under 5 years of age (https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-anaphylaxis/food-allergy). Some of them will experience life-threatening allergic reactions.

Are food allergies on the rise in Australia? 

Australia takes the cake as the allergy capital of the world, and according to research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, has the highest published rates of food allergy in children! 

Several factors have been identified by researchers as to the reason why the rates are rising: 

  • Modern, urban lifestyles.
  • Vitamin D deficiencies – this is thought to change immune system development.
  • Changing the modern diet – the gut has been altered by increases in processed foods and food manufacturing along with higher sugar diets over the last 50 years. 
  • Avoidance of allergens during the first phases of an infant eating solids – it is now recommended that all children, regardless of family history of allergen, are exposed to allergenic food during the first 12 months of life. 

Which foods cause allergies?

While there are more than 170 foods known to have triggered severe allergic reactions, the most common triggers of allergic reactions in childhood are: 

  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts 
  • Cow’s Milk

Fish and shellfish allergies are most common in adulthood. 

food allergies healthmint include prawns eggs nuts fish

Less common (but still major) food allergies include: 

  • Sesame
  • Soy
  • Wheat 
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Banana
  • Chicken
  • Mustard 
  • Celery

Peanut, tree nut, sesame and seafood allergies are usually lifelong. 

Children often outgrow cow’s milk, egg, soy and wheat allergy at some point throughout childhood but there are a few who may continue the allergies into adulthood.

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

Some food allergies can be severe, causing life threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis. 

Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside a hospital setting.

Allergy symptoms range from hives, rash, swelling of the mouth, vomiting to difficulty breathing, persistent dizziness, swelling of the throat and loss of consciousness and sudden collapse. 

If left untreated, there is a chance these symptoms can be fatal. 

Deaths from food allergies are rare. There are more fatal allergic reactions to medications and insect bites and stings than there are to foods.

Food intolerance is not life threatening, however it can cause milder reactions like digestive pain, gas, bloating and nausea. 

It is important to know the difference so you can get medical attention if you or your child experiences an allergic reaction 

symptoms of food allergies - healthmint lady scratching arm

What are the treatment options for food allergies? 

Currently there is no cure for food allergies and avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction. Even after a successful diagnosis of food allergies, avoiding trigger foods is challenging and accidental exposures are common. 

Adrenaline is the first line treatment for severe allergic reactions and can be administered by an auto-injector called the EpiPen.

epipen for food allergies children healthmint

It is important for people with allergies to get a correct diagnosis and explore the best currently available therapies with their doctor (link). It is also important to be educated about the risk of severe allergic reactions and be prepared to treat with an EpiPen, as well as having regular reviews of an allergy action plan. 

Long term actions to reduce the risk of the next generation developing food allergies include: 

  • Following recommendations for introduction of allergenic foods such as peanuts and eggs into the diet in infants in the first year of life 
  • Avoiding exposure to smoking 
  • Having a healthy and well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Increasing the levels and absorption of Vitamin D

young child with food nut allergy healthmintAre food allergies different to food intolerances?

Adverse reactions to foods occur in a small proportion of the population. These reactions are not the same as allergies, but may include:

  • Irritable bowel symptoms, colic, bloating, diarrhoea 
  • Migraines, headaches, lethargy, irritability
  • Rashes and swelling of the skin, asthma, stuffy or runny nose

With the processing and manufacturing of foods in modern times, added ingredients including food additives, food colourings, processing aids and extra inclusions of naturally occurring food components such as lactose and gluten can be a cause of food intolerance. 

To properly diagnose a food intolerance under medical supervision and guidance, you can start by eliminating all suspect foods from the diet and reintroduce them one by one to see which food or component of food causes a reaction.

If you think your child (or yourself) has a food intolerance, it is important to seek advice and clarification from a medical practitioner since the symptoms may be related to any number of other conditions. 

children's health playing happily

What to Consider When it Comes to a Child’s Health

By Children's Health, Featured, Immunisation No Comments

Why is child health important? 

The early years of a child’s life are very important for their health and development. Healthy development means that children of all abilities, including those with special health care needs, are able to grow up with their social, emotional and educational needs met. Having a safe and loving home and spending time with family―playing, singing, reading, and talking―are very important. Proper nutrition, exercise, oral health, emotional support, sleep, and preventing disease through immunisations can also make a big difference. 

Good Nutrition

Poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles have been linked with obesity, and children who are overweight or obese are more likely to become obese adults, putting them at risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease at younger ages. 

Processed foods are often full of sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and calories. Provide and cook meals for your child with natural foods like:child healthy eating

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits 
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Poultry 
  • Fresh fish 
  • Whole grains 
  • Fibre-rich foods like beans and leafy greens

Encourage physical activity as much as possible 

Get children off the couch, reduce screen time, and have them playing outside often. 

Being involved in physical activity team sports is a great way to increase activity and has social, and emotional health benefits too. Regular activity supports brain development, muscle controls, balance and coordinator, bone strength and helps maintain a healthy weight. 

Running around outside can also positively affect sleep patterns, mental health, concentration at school and at home, self esteem and confidence. 

Other forms of activities that benefit your child’s health in a holistic way include: 

  • Dancing 
  • Arts and crafts
  • Tidying up and assisting with chores around the home
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Singing

Create a healthy smile

Good dental and oral health starts with your child’s baby teeth. Establishing good brushing and oral habits from early on promotes behaviour they will take into adulthood. 

Poor oral health is associated with increased risk of chronic disease later in life, including stroke and cardiovascular disease. It is also central to overall health and wellbeing, positively affecting their quality of live, social interactions and self esteem.

child brushing teeth oral health

Dental decay is the most prevalent oral disease among Australian children. 

Ways to reduce the chances of tooth decay in children are: 

  • Limiting consumption of beverages containing high amounts of sugar
  • Reducing sugar-laden snacks (lollies, muesli bars, cakes)
  • Regular trips to the dentist
  • Practising good oral hygiene – brushing teeth at least twice daily

Nurture their minds

Children’s social and emotional well-being and how they think and feel about themselves and others, and deal with daily challenges is a component of mental health and wellbeing. 

It is important to care for your child’s social and emotional development so they:

  • Are confident 
  • Can communicate well
  • Do better at school
  • Are equipped to develop and have good relationships
  • Can take on and persist with challenging tasks 

The Smiling Mind app is a great resource for children (and adults!) that involves a series of short exercises that guide children through breathing and becoming aware of their bodies to “put a smile on their mind”. It is based on the principle of “Mindfulness” – that is, being aware of taste, touch, sight and smell to be “in the moment” and truly achieve a sense of calm and perspective.

Get enough shut-eye

Sleep is essential to your child’s health and healthy brain development. A lack of sleep has been associated with the development and severity of a range of physical, behavioural and other mental health issues. A lack of sleep in children can cause an increased risk of obesity.

Keep immunisations up to date

Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting children against certain diseases.

Immunisation protects children (and adults) against harmful infections before they come into contact with them in the community.

It uses the body’s natural defence mechanism — the immune system — to build resistance to specific infections.

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal infection
  • Polio (poliomyelitis)
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)

Children aged over 6 months can also have the flu vaccine each year, which is available in autumn. Children aged 12 to 13 should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) through their schools.

National Immunisation Schedule can be found here

 

For more information on HealthMint’s Child Health services and health checks – visit here >

Try for 5 - national nutrition week HealthMint

National Nutrition Week: Try For 5

By Children's Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition No Comments

It’s national Nutrition week! Every year in October Nutrition Australia run their Try For 5 campaign to encourage and inform Australians to increase vegetable consumption to the recommended 5 serves per day. We all know vegetables are good for us; they are naturally packed full of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants to help fight off disease and fibre to help our gut stay happy. Eating more vegetables is one simple and easy thing that you can do to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

While we all may know that vegetables are good for us, surprisingly only 4% of Australian adults eat the recommended 5 servings!

So, what does a vegetable serve actually look like?

A serve of vegetable is 75g. This can look like:

  • 1/2 a medium size potato or other starchy vegetables,
  • 1 cup of raw leafy greens vegetables  e.g. spinach, salad leaves, kale
  • ½ cup cooked vegetables e.g. broccoli, carrot, pumpkin.

serves of different types of vegetablesWhat are the Health Benefits of having vegetables and Try for 5?

1. Bone Health:

many vegetables contain key vitamins such as vitamin K and C which helps your body keep your bones healthy. Vitamin C is essential in formation of your cartilage and joints

2. Brain and Nervous system:

Many nutrients are important for your brain and nervous system to function well. Some of the most significant ones include B-vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium. These nutrients are important in allowing our brain to send messages to the rest of the body.

3. Digestion:

In order to keep our gut health, we need fibre. Fibre from vegetables are key to help ensure your bowel movements are regular and keep your gut healthy and happy.

The vitamin and mineral found in vegetables are essential for the body to function. And an easy way to ensure we are getting enough of each nutrient is to Eat the Rainbow. Eating a variety of colours is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and even more important if you are suffering chronic illness.

As mentioned earlier, There are many benefits of eating the rainbow, from improvements in inflammation, to fibre and gut health. And we can’t forget antioxidants…

Vegetables and antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures.

The sources of antioxidants can be artificial or natural – all fruits and vegetables have a variety of antioxidants (known as phytochemical), which give them their vibrant colours and with each carrying unique health benefits.

❤️Red –  full of antioxidants (particularly lycopene) including tomatoes, red berries, apple, red capsicum …

🧡Orange –  high in carotenoid which give us that bright orange colour in pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots.

💛Yellow – full of beta-carotene a great source of vitamin A. Enjoy, plenty of sweet corn, pineapple, lemon and yellow capsicum.

💚Green – the most nutrient dense food packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. From green leafy vegetables like spinach, silverbeet and kale to broccoli, zucchini and avocado.

💜 💙 Blue/Purple, containing powerful antioxidants. These can be found in blueberries, plum, purple carrot and eggplant

💟 White/Brown, Although low colour, they are packed full of nourishing goodness, showing benefits to every part of the body. From onions and garlic to mushrooms and potato.

So remember, to consider and enjoy the rainbow when you Try For 5! 

rainbow coloured vegetables and fruit all laying together

It’s all the colours of the rainbow!

Eating 5 serves of vegetables doesn’t have to be difficult. If you are aiming for 5 here are my top tips to help you achieve your goal.

  1. Eat vegetables that are seasonal. They are more affordable and also carry the essential vitamins needed to help you during that season.
  2. Frozen or Fresh? BOTH. Vegetable is a vegetable and if you are concerned about it not lasting long the frozen is just as good as fresh.
  3. Add more, and more.. if you have a dish aim to add more vegetables into it. It can be incorporated into the meal or added on the side. A fave is adding hidden vegetables to dishes such as spaghetti bolognese!

This year’s Try for 5 campaign presents an exclusive collection of vegetable-focused recipes, veg tips and information to inspire you to get more veg in your day. At this time, we need to look after our health, and the planet’s well-being too. With the Coronavirus pandemic we are making more meals at home than ever. It’s true that right now, we all want to feel connected with our family and our community.

Let’s celebrate and try for 5 serves of fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced veggies!

If you would like guidance or assistance with your diet and nutrition, our very own Dietitian Saabira Wazeer is here to help! To book an appointment just click below!

 

Saabira Wazeer HealthMint Medical Centre DietitianThis article was written by

Saabira Wazeer

Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and Counsellor.

Saabira is a friendly and motivational dietitian who practices the very unique non-diet approach. This means that instead of giving you a strict diet, Saabira will work with you on your relationship with food, in order to help you make meaningful changes that will last a lifetime. Saabira is extremely understanding and easy to work with, and knows how important it is to eat and enjoy a delicious range of foods.

Areas of interest:

  • Disordered eating behaviours for adults and children
  • Hormonal issues
  • Non-diet approach
  • Gut health
  • PCOS
You can find out more about the Dietitian services at HealthMint here
back to school health tips healthmint

Back to School

By Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle No Comments

Back to school!

Whether you’re sending your teenager off to their final year of schooling, or you have a little one beginning prep, it’s a busy and exciting time for families across the country over the next couple of weeks.

Here are some tips to help ease the transition and make for a happy and healthy year!

Master the art of the lunchbox

Bento style lunchboxes are all the rage. Keep it simple by adding cut fruit, sandwiches, vegetable sticks and their favourite yoghurt.

Walk to school

it doesn’t have to be every day, but if you can include this into you and your child’s routine, your health will thank you. Getting out in the early morning fresh air is great for your mental health too!

Stick to the same bed times

Make sure your child is getting enough (quality) sleep by enforcing a bed routine. Kids of any age need upwards of 10 hours of sleep a night. It’s also crucial to wind down before bed time- this means no iPads and TV at least a half hour before they hit the hay.

Handle the dreaded head lice 

Keep long hair tied up, don’t wash your kids hair too frequently (they love fresh hair!) and keep ‘butting heads’ to a minimum 😂

Ease those nerves

Starting school can be an exciting but daunting time for kids. Help ease any anxieties they may have by talking about all the positive and wonderful adventures and opportunities the new school year is going to bring. In the first few weeks back, give your kids something to look forward to after school like an evening at the beach, and ice cream, or dinner at their favourite cafe

Make sure their health is in check

Start the school year on the right foot with a visit to the doctors to make sure everything is in tip top shape. Be proactive with their health and ask your GP how you can help keep your kids (and yourself!) happy and healthy this year.

Book an appointment here or click the link below!

Want more information?

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

or book an appointment here
skin-series-eczema-healthmint

Eczema: What is it? HealthMint Skin Series

By Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, Men's Health, Skin, Women's Health No Comments

Skin Series – All About Eczema

Skin is the largest organ in the body, and it works as a barrier to keep the body safe. When that barrier is broken, eczema can occur. Let’s look at what eczema is, how it occurs and steps you can take to avoid an eczema flareup.

What is Eczema?

Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. It’s an irritating, and sometimes painful skin condition that occurs when the skins barrier becomes compromised. The skin becomes red, dry and itchy, and over time rough patches might develop. The most common areas to have an eczema flare-up include the creases of the elbows, behind the knees, across the ankles and sometimes on the face, ears and neck. There are many triggers that might cause eczema to flare up, and with careful observation most people are able to identify them to help manage their condition.

Who is Affected by Eczema?

Eczema can occur in people of any age, but it is most common in children. Around one in five children under 2 years old will have the condition. It can also occur in older children and adults, but for most people it improves with age. Even adult eczema normally goes away by middle age, although a small number of people might need to manage the condition for the rest of their lives.

What Causes Eczema?

We don’t really know why some people get eczema. Eczema seems to go along with other issues like allergies, hayfever and asthma, which appears to show that genetics influence the risk of someone developing eczema.

When the skin barrier is damaged, it allows moisture to evaporate and lets irritants and allergens past the skin. In turn, the skin releases chemicals that make the skin itchy, and scratching makes the skin release even more. That creates an irritating and painful cycle that makes the problem worse.

Known irritants that can trigger eczema include:

  • Dry skin
  • Infections
  • Chlorine from swimming pools
  • Sand (especially in sandpits)
  • Scratching
  • Sitting on grass
  • Chemical irritants like soap and perfumes
  • Changes in temperature
  • Pollen sensitivity

If a person has allergies, then coming into contact with allergens can cause eczema to occur. Constant exposure to water, soap, grease, food or chemicals can also damage the protective barrier function of the skin, which often causes eczema.

Sometimes because an allergic reaction to food and an eczema flare-up can happen around the same time, people assume that the food has caused the eczema, causing them to remove the food from their diet. In some cases, removing foods can help with eczema management but it should only be attempted under the supervision of a doctor.  More often, food issues are unrelated to eczema flare-ups and don’t need to be removed from the diet.

What Treatments are Available?

Unfortunately, eczema can’t be cured. However, it can be treated and managed. Staying away from allergens can help avoid flare-ups, and keeping the skin moisturised and protected can help stop the skin barrier from breaking. People with eczema need to work together with their doctor to identify triggers for their eczema, and work on minimising flare-ups.

People can help manage their own symptoms by:

  • Keeping baths and showers lukewarm
  • Moisturising every day, preferably within a few minutes of bathing
  • Wearing soft, natural fabrics
  • Using mild cleansers, preferably non-soap
  • Gently drying skin after bathing by patting or air-drying
  • Avoiding sudden changes of temperature
  • Using a humidifier when the weather is dry

Your doctor might prescribe:

  • Corticosteroid creams and ointments
  • Systemic corticosteroids
  • Antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals if a skin infection has occurred
  • Barrier repair moisturisers
  • Phototherapy – UV A or B light can be used to treat moderate dermatitis.

Managing eczema is an ongoing battle. Even adults who have outgrown childhood eczema can find their skin is easily irritated. Once an area of skin has healed, it still needs ongoing care to ensure the barrier stays intact. People who struggle with eczema need to be proactive, and work with their doctor to identify their triggers, alleviate their symptoms and prevent further breakouts. A cure isn’t currently available, but good skin management can free eczema sufferers from irritation and discomfort.

 

ASCIA Guide to eczema (atopic dermatitis) management:

Click Here

Other Skin Series Posts

dry skin healthmint blog
Skin

8 Tips To Get Rid of Dry Skin

8 Tips to Get Rid of Dry Skin Dry skin during winter is common as…
stacey-murphy-healthmint-melanoma
Cancer

Stacey’s Melanoma Story – An Unexpected Diagnosis

An Unexpected Diagnosis When Stacey was just 28, she was diagnosed with Melanoma. Finding the…
Cancer

Melanoma Symptoms

What is Melanoma, What are the Symptoms of Melanoma?     Fast and scary facts…

Want more information?

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

or book an appointment here

Keeping Up To Date for World Immunisation Week

By Children's Health, Immunisation

Keeping Up To Date for World Immunisation Week

 

A baby being kissed by his mother

World Immunisation Week is here, and it’s time to focus on vaccinations.  Around the world, more than 19 million children are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated. Australia has relatively high rates of vaccination, but there is still a minority of people who do not follow the recommended vaccination schedule.

In Australia, we’ve largely eliminated many once-common diseases through immunisation – but that doesn’t mean they can’t come back. Vaccines work, but we shouldn’t get complacent about illness. Let’s look at why it’s important to keep up-to-date.

Do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines are extremely effective at reducing disease, and are the safest and most cost-effective way to do so. Vaccines use our own immune systems to protect us. A weakened, dead or part of a virus or bacteria is introduced to the immune system. It’s too weak to actually infect us, but enough for our immune system to “learn” to fight it with specialised antibodies. If we encounter the real disease, our bodies will quickly recognise and destroy it, resulting in a mild version of the sickness or no infection at all.

It’s easy to feel like certain vaccines are unnecessary because we are used to living in a country that has spent decades attempting to eradicate serious diseases. However, just because there are fewer visible cases in the community doesn’t mean the disease has gone.

Are all Vaccines Really Necessary?

Some people avoid certain vaccines, believing them to be unnecessary. Measles is a good example of a sickness that people underestimate, and might avoid being immunised against. While for most people measles is a relatively mild (although unpleasant) illness, around 1 in 5,000 who get the virus will die. Other complications are hepatitis, meningitis, loss of vision, and complications for unborn children if a pregnant mother gets the disease.

In 2014, the WHO announced that measles was eliminated in Australia. Surely now we can stop vaccinating against it? Unfortunately not. As the recent measles outbreaks in various parts of Australia show, just because the disease has been eliminated in the Australian population does not mean it can’t be brought in from outside the country. When it is, a vaccinated population will make it much harder for an epidemic to spread.

Could Improved Hygiene Explain Disease Reduction?

Some people believe that reduction in serious diseases is not a result of vaccinating, but rather just because we as a society have become cleaner and more aware of diseases. Chicken pox is the best example of why this is not the case.

The vaccine for varicella (which causes chicken pox) has only been available since the mid-1990s. In the early 1990s, before the vaccine became available, the U.S. had about four million cases of chicken pox per year. By 2004, cases of chicken pox had dropped by 85%. Hygiene practices had not changed significantly in that time – only immunisation could explain such a drastic improvement.

What You Can Do

The most important job is to make sure that you and your family are up-to-date on their vaccinations. The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register has information on what your child has already had, and what they might need. If you have fallen behind, you can talk to your doctor about a catch-up schedule.

Getting vaccinated is absolutely vital for the health of your family and the wider community. If you have questions, your GP can answer them and point you in the right direction for accurate, trustworthy information. Vaccines work, and it’s up to each individual to keep ourselves and vulnerable people around us protected.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss immunisation –>

Stay Safer This Flu Season

By Children's Health, General Wellbeing, Immunisation

 Stay Safer This Flu Season

You can count on a few things to happen every year – Christmas and the flu season. The influenza virus is always around, but the colder months of the year make us all huddle in together and makes it easier for the virus to spread. From April to October, the number of cases of influenza rise dramatically in Australia. Sometimes when people get a cold they call it “the flu”, but influenza is more than just a nasty cold – Each year it can be responsible for the deaths of over 1,000 Australians.

There are a few safeguards we can put into place to help reduce the chances of getting the flu this flu season.

Firstly, what is the flu?

Source: health.gov.au

Influenza (the flu) is a highly contagious disease, usually prevented by vaccination and treated by managing symptoms. Spread by body fluids from infected people, symptoms include a runny nose and sore throat. Flu can affect anyone but is especially serious for babies and older people.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus. There are many different strains and they can change every year.

Flu is not the same as a common cold. The flu is a serious disease because it can lead to:

  • bronchitis
  • croup
  • pneumonia
  • ear infections
  • heart and other organ damage
  • brain inflammation and brain damage
  • death.

The flu is easily spread from person to person. Most infections happen in winter.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Flu symptoms include:

  • runny nose or sneezing
  • cough or sore throat
  • fever and chills
  • headache
  • body aches
  • vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children).

Symptoms usually start about 1 to 3 days after catching the flu and can last for a week or more. Some people can be mildly affected, while others can become seriously ill.

A common cold is not the same as the flu, although some of the symptoms are similar:

  • runny nose or sneezing
  • cough or sore throat.

How does the flu spread?

The flu spreads:

  • when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and you breathe it in
  • through direct contact with fluid from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes
  • by touching a contaminated surface with the flu virus on it, and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

The flu spreads easily through families, workplaces, childcare centres and schools.

If you have the flu, you can be infectious to others from 24 hours before symptoms start until 1 week after the start of symptoms.

If you have the flu, you can help stop the disease spreading by:

  • staying away from childcare, school, work or other places where they could spread the infection until you are well
  • covering your coughs and sneezes
  • washing your hands often.

Basic Hygiene

Let’s start with the basics – one of the best ways of protecting yourself is the things we already know. Without becoming a “germaphobe”, it’s important to be aware of how we can pick up and transfer germs from one place to another – and how to break the cycle.

  • You’ve been washing your hands since you were little, but it might be time to revisit your technique. Make sure you’re washing each part of your hands (backs, palms, in between your fingers) with plenty of soap and hot water for at least the length of time it takes to sing “happy birthday” under your breath.
  • Use disposable tissues wherever possible and bin them straight away, and cover your whole mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze.
  • Try to keep your hands away from your face as much as possible – including rubbing your nose, eyes and mouth.
  • Clean surfaces regularly, especially when they’re high use such as door knobs, telephones and keyboards.
  • Lastly, flu season is not the time to share – make sure you wash cups, plates and cutlery thoroughly before using them.Stay

Get Vaccinated.

There is a whole lot of misinformation that circulates about the flu vaccine – with some people saying it can give you the flu, or that it doesn’t work. The truth is, while it’s not perfect, the flu vaccine is one of the best defences we have to protect ourselves against the flu.

The flu vaccine is less effective than other vaccines because of the nature of influenza. The virus mutates and changes regularly, and there are a number of viruses responsible. In your flu vaccine is protection against the 3 or 4 most likely strains to be around based on evidence from past seasons and from other countries. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than nothing.

Not only does your flu vaccine help protect you from getting infected with an influenza virus, if you do get the virus your symptoms are likely to be less severe and go away quicker, with less risk of extra complications. That’s well worth the small investment in getting the vaccine.

Many people confuse a bad cold with the flu, but influenza can be much more serious, causing hospitalisation and even death in sometimes otherwise healthy people. If you come down with an illness, it’s important to do everything you can to avoid spreading it and to see a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve over a few days. Through this flu season, keep yourself safe and do your part to protect others from this nasty strain of viruses.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss the flu ->

Supporting International Childhood Cancer Day

By Cancer, Children's Health

Supporting International Childhood Cancer Day

 

 

While childhood cancer is a topic many people avoid, avoidance can mean that the people who experience it feel forgotten. Whether childhood cancer is a horrific hypothetical situation, or a diagnosis that has been experienced personally or through someone else, it’s good to take time to remember the children who are diagnosed every week. International Childhood Cancer Day raises awareness of the disease and is a call to support cancer patients, survivors and their families.

What is childhood cancer?

Any cancer diagnosed in a person aged 0-19 falls into this category. In Australia, over 950 children will be diagnosed with some form of cancer each year. 1/3 of those cancers will be found in children aged 0-4.

The most common cancers for adults, such as lung, rectal and breast cancers are very rare in children. Leukaemia, lymphoma and cancers of the central nervous system are the most common. Unlike adult cancers, childhood cancer isn’t linked to lifestyle and can’t be prevented. Other than some genetic links, there is no known cause for most childhood cancers.

Are children with cancer likely to survive?

It wasn’t so long ago that cancer in childhood was almost always fatal. These days, over 90% of Australian children survive. However, that number isn’t the same across all types of cancer. One type of cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, has a 90% survival rate, whereas the chances of surviving a brain tumour haven’t changed in decades from around 50%. Even when children’s bodies recover, cancer can take a huge toll on their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as putting a huge emotional and financial strain on families.

Circumstances can equal survival.

It’s a harsh reality, but according to the World Health Organisation up to 90% of childhood cancer deaths occur in areas that have low resources. People from low-income areas are less likely to detect cancer in time for early treatment, and they have less access to resources when parents or medical staff do suspect that something might be wrong. In Australia, there is a concerning survival gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, as well as for children who live in remote regions.

So what can be done?

Medical research into the various forms of childhood cancer is the only way to provide long-term solutions. Research breakthroughs can then be applied to the detection and treatment of cancer, which should eventually benefit children around the world. Other institutions provide support for children and their families as they undergo treatment.

If you wish to help financially, make sure you find a reputable charity where the assistance is guaranteed to go directly to the people who need it. Some other ideas might be fundraising, raising awareness, and taking the time to reach out if you know someone who has experienced a diagnosis of childhood cancer. If you are dealing with a diagnosis, make sure you have the support you need through this difficult time.

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to talk about childhood cancer –>

7 Tips to Ease Your Child Into School

By Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, Lifestyle

7 Tips to Ease Your Child Into School

 

 

Starting school is a big moment for children, but also for their parents too! Your family life will experience changes, and preparing your child to start school before the big day arrives makes the transition easier on everybody. Here are some tips to help your child feel ready for this next big step.

  1. Practice basic skills.

Using the toilet independently, reading letters and numbers, recognising their name when written and being able to follow basic instructions are just some skills you might want to think about before starting school.

  1. Do a trial run.

Make arrangements to visit the school together and meet the teacher. Try to think about areas of school life that your child might find confronting – knowing where the toilets are, where they can play at lunchtime, how to get to their classroom, where they can get a drink of water and where you’ll be picking them up is a good start.

  1. Use resources.

There is a huge range of books available that deal with the topic of starting school in a positive and uplifting way. Whether you buy them or borrow from the library, reading about the subject together can make it seem less threatening. Many children’s TV shows also feature episodes where the main characters go to school for the first time.

  1. Make it fun.

Instead of seeing uniform shopping and buying school supplies as a chore, turn it into a chance to spend some one-on-one time with your child and get them involved in the process. Depending on their personality they might want to do a fashion show in their uniform, show their new purchases to other members of the family, or help decorate their new belongings.

  1. Know their level.

If they have previously been attending kindy or day-care, have a chat to the educators to see what your child has been doing. Most states make available online a list of basic skills they expect school-aged children to have mastered, although don’t panic if your child isn’t quite there yet – children learn fast! If you do have any concerns, their future teacher is a good person to speak to.

  1. Stay calm.

Children do pick up on their parents’ emotions, so try to keep your approach upbeat but calm – at least in front of them! While you definitely don’t want to focus on the negatives, for some children there is such a thing as too much enthusiasm. For most children it helps to approach the day like a fun adventure instead of a huge, life-changing event (even though you know it is!).

  1. Encourage communication.

School encourages independence – which is a good thing, but you need to know that your child will talk to you or a trusted adult if they are experiencing a problem. Start to practice communicating before they go to school. Open communication looks different for each family, but setting time aside for one-on-one chat about their day is vital.

It’s also important that you try to keep those talks as a safe space, where they don’t feel like they will get into trouble for sharing with you (within reason of course!). Setting up a habit of communicating about the small things will give them the opportunity to share any big things that might come up.

 

Gather people around you who can support you and your family during this time – join a parenting forum, speak to the teacher, try to meet other families going to the same school, or chat to people who have been through the process before. Soon the whole process will become routine, and you’ll be able to advise other parents in the same position.

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss your child’s health or development ->

Keeping Abreast of all Things Breastfeeding – 7 Facts You May Not Know

By Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, Nutrition, Women's Health

Keeping Abreast of all Things Breastfeeding – 7 Facts You May Not Know

 

It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and the theme this year is “sustaining breastfeeding together”. Breastfeeding is actually a team effort – the research shows that mothers breastfeed more effectively and for longer when they feel supported. So, let’s get together and look at 7 interesting facts you might not know about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding benefits mothers

It’s not just baby that benefits – exclusively breastfeeding can have a natural birth control effect for the first six months – but while it’s 98% effective, it’s not 100% failsafe! Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, helps most mothers to lose baby weight, and reduces the risk of type II diabetes and postnatal depression.

Breastfeeding helps the budget

Breastfeeding can save a family hundreds of dollars a year. Even without the cost of formula, breastfeeding mothers avoid the cost of bottles, bottle warmers, sterilisers, and specialised equipment. Even mothers who pump their breast milk will not normally require as much additional cost.

Breast milk adapts to baby’s needs

Breast milk changes its nutritional profile as your baby’s needs change. Breast milk for a 1 month old is different to the milk a mother produces for a 6 month old. It can even be different from one day to the next – for example, the body will automatically add more water during hot weather to help baby stay hydrated.

Big breasts don’t mean better breastfeeding

Breast size has very little to do with how much milk is produced and stored. Breast size is usually determined by fat deposits, but it is the mammary glands in breasts that produce milk.

Breastfeeding helps with bonding

Babies are born with limited eyesight – in fact, they can only see 20 – 30 cm. That happens to be the perfect distance to see their mum’s face while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also gives skin-to-skin contact, which is perfect for bonding with a new baby.

Don’t put the brakes on breastfeeding

Mums can still breastfeed during most sicknesses – in fact, it’s often better for baby. By the time you have symptoms, you have probably already passed on the infection, so it’s best to keep breastfeeding so your baby gets the benefits of your antibodies to help fight the sickness. You also don’t need to avoid a glass or two of alcohol – just wait at least 2 hours after each drink before feeding again.

Breastfeeding knowledge is built up over time

While many people think breastfeeding comes naturally, it can actually take some women time and effort to learn. It’s normal to need help. That’s why one of the major factors that determine whether a mother sticks with breastfeeding is how much support she has.

Not everyone can breastfeed exclusively, but the vast majority of women are able to when given support.  If you have any concerns or questions about breastfeeding or your baby, your GP can help or point you towards free specialist services.

You can click here to book in with a GP –>

Book Now
Call Now Button