fbpx
Category

Chronic Disease

patient and doctor sitting in an appointment discussing chronic disease management

Chronic Disease Management

By | Chronic Disease, Chronic Pain, Diabetes | No Comments

Chronic Disease Management in General Practice

Almost half of the population of Australia suffer with at least one chronic disease and these conditions account for the vast majority of the causes of illness, disability and death. Chronic diseases are also on the rise in our society, mainly due to longer life expectancy & a historical change in lifestyle.

So what is a chronic disease?

A chronic disease is a medical condition that is long term and persisting, slow to progress but can lead to severe disability and a shorter lifespan.

Examples of chronic diseases that are common in Australia include:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic back pain
  • Mental health conditions
  • Some cancers

What can I do to help manage my chronic condition?

There are many complex factors that contribute towards disease such as genetics, gender & environment, yet many conditions are triggered by lifestyle factors such as smoking, high alcohol consumption, poor diet (and obesity) and lack of physical activity.

Make sure you have a great GP

When you go to see a great GP if you have multiple issues to discuss, they will break them down into what’s most important and start with those, and invite you to return to spend more time going through the rest of the things on your list. That’s because a great GP knows that rushing through everything in one go is not really doing justice to your needs. You can read more about what to look for in a great GP

Have a healthy lifestyle

Live a healthy lifestyle. Many people with chronic conditions feel better with a good diet, being as active as they can be, being a healthy weight, not smoking and minimising alcohol.

Medication 

Understand the medication you take – make sure your GP reviews them on a yearly basis if you are taking them long term.

Management Plan

Ask your GP for a chronic disease management plan (see below)

The power of a good GP

People may not realise that GPs and practice nurses are experts in screening for risk factors of chronic health problems, poor lifestyle, recognise early symptoms as well as advising and empowering people on proactive lifestyle changes or active treatment to prevent the disease.

However, once a person has developed a chronic disease, the GP becomes the facilitator to direct that person’s care, with the focus being less on cure but control of progression,  avoidance of complications such as disability, hospitalisation and early death.

It could be argued that good GP care in recent times has helped revolutionise the care of illness, with the realistic expectation for people to live a near normal life with a chronic disease rather than suffer significant suffering and an early demise.

What is an integrated chronic disease management plan?

The Australian Government continues to invest in GPs leading disease management through the chronic disease management plan (CDM), a medicare rebatable case meeting with the GP and/or practice nurse to work in partnership with the patient to set goals of treatment and plan how these are going to be reached. Goals usually have a pragmatic and realistic focus on achieving optimal health and functional outcomes in living with the condition. The plan will involve various measures that incorporates clinician-led medical treatment and lifestyle measures that the patient is given the responsibility to build into their routine.

Part of this plan often involves generating a team care arrangement (TCA) to enlist the help of 2 or more allied health professionals such as a physiotherapist, podiatrist, dietitian etc to reach these health goals. Up to 5 visits to private allied health professionals are subsidised per year under these plans.

Not everyone qualifies for a CDM & TCA plan; the rules stipulate that a person must possess a valid medicare card and have a chronic medical condition. Medicare have entrusted GPs with the discretion of what constitutes a chronic disease, yet it is essentially an illness that has lasted for at least 6 months.

Separate from the CDM, there are also separately funded GP-led care plans enabled for diabetes and mental health, two of the more common long term health problems in our society.

Chronic disease management at HealthMint

At HealthMint we believe that the value of a high quality plan comes in a skilled, perceptive and enthusiastic GP and/or practice nurse dedicating a good amount of time to the patient, considering a tailored plan to the individual and providing practical tips on how to achieve the best health outcomes.

We are confident that we provide a superior service since time and effort has been put into gathering an excellent group of caring GPs and nurses who are provided with the time to spend getting to know their patients, enabling them to work in partnership to inspire and empower these patients to improve their health and quality of life in spite of their chronic disease.

We recommend that if you find yourself hampered by unpleasant symptoms of a chronic medical illness on a daily basis then do not waste another day settling for second best, and book an appointment with one of our GPs or practice nurses to discuss your management options.

Access the factsheet for patients on chronic disease management.

Dr Chris Madden GP at HealthMint Medical Centre Croydon Central Shopping CentreThis article was written by

Dr Chris Madden, GP

General Practitioner MBBS, FRACGP, DRCOG, DFSRH, BSc (Hons)

Chris is passionate about delivering high quality holistic care in the community. He really enjoys interacting with patients, recognising and advising on their physical and emotional problems as well as counselling on preventative medicine and lifestyle change to help people achieve their best long term health. Chris is devoted to educating, inspiring and mentoring future GPs & is an accredited supervisor & Medical Educator with Eastern Victoria GP Training. Chris is originally from the UK, having trained as a doctor in London, and moved to Melbourne in 2011 after completing his GP training. Away from work Chris loves spending time with his wife and kids as well as doing many activities such as jogging, cycling, bushwalking, swimming, socialising and travelling. Chris is also an avid fan of Leicester City Football Club.
Coronary Heart Disease HealthMint

Coronary Heart Disease – Causes, Risk Factors & Prevention

By | Chronic Disease | No Comments

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease (also commonly known as coronary artery disease), is caused when your coronary arteries get narrower and reduce blood flow to the heart. This happens due to a slow build up for fatty deposits, called plaque.

The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood.

It can be the usual underlying cause of a heart attack.

CHD prevalence is twice as high among men than women, and increases rapidly with age.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics,  CHD is the leading cause of death in Australia, and is also a major case of disability.

Heart disease kills one Australia every 28 minutes – 51 lives are lost every day.

Coronary Heart Disease HealthMintCauses and risk of Coronary Heart Disease

There is no single cause for CHD, but the following risk factors can increase your chance of developing it

  • Age – as we get older there is an increased risk of CHD
  • Ethnicity – People from some ethnic backgrounds are at a higher risk, such as from the Indian sub-continent and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people
  • A family history of heart disease/stroke
  • Being overweight or obese
  • High cholesterol
  • Hight blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Not following a healthy diet
  • Not being physically active
  • Smoking

Some risk factors like age and gender cannot be changed, however there are many steps that can be taken in order to reduce the risk of developing CHD.

Coronary Heart Disease HealthMintHow do you know if you have Coronary Heart Disease?

Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they have CHD until they have a heart attack or angina.

It is possible to work with your GP to find out if you are at risk of developing the disease, and they may order the following tests in order to check the health of your heart:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Angiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) or Stress ECG

Coronary Heart Disease HealthMintHow you can prevent Coronary Heart Disease

There is no cure for coronary heart disease, but healthy lifestyle choices and medications can reduce your risk for further heart problems and and relieve or control symptoms.

To help prevent CHD the following can help:

  • Stop smoking
  • Increase physical activity
  • Control blood pressure
  • Control cholesterol
  • Be a healthy body weight

Among older women, regular light physical activity can be found to be associated with a lower incidence of CHD.

Can you treat Coronary Health Disease once you have it?

There is no cure for CHD, however if you already have it, there are treatment options that your HealthMint GP might recommend to reduce your risk of future heart problems, and to help relieve, reduce, and manage symptoms.

The following medicines can help treat CHD and its risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels:

  • Aspirin
  • Beta-blockers
  • Statins

Please consult your GP before beginning any new forms of medications.

Other treatments can include bypass surgery, Angioplasty, stent implantation, and implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD).

 

Consult with one of our GPs and our Accredited Practising Dietitian, Saabira Wazeer.

Want more information?

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

or book an appointment here
morning yoga healthmint

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.

healthmint medical centre chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms and Treatments

By | Chronic Disease, Lifestyle, Sleep | No Comments
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a chronic illness that affects a person’s nervous system.
It can affect all ages – children and adults, and can begin or occur at any life stage.
If you’re feeling an overwhelming sense of fatigue and complete lack of energy, it may be something to address, especially you have been sleeping for a normal amount of time each night.

 

The causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are not completely known. For some, the condition may be suddenly triggered by toxic exposure, a viral infection, immunisation, gastroenteritis, anaesthetic, or a trauma. In others, CFS may develop slowly over months or years.

healthmint medical centre chronic fatigue syndrome

What are the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? 

Although it can be hard to get a firm diagnosis of CFS, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms that you may want to be on the look out for:

1.Feeling extremely fatigued after exercise:

The most outstanding characteristic of CFS is exhaustion. This represents itself in flu-like symptoms after exercise and not having enough energy for daily activities. While it’s normal to feel a little bit tired after exercise, it is important to identify if these feelings last longer than 24 hours. If a good nights sleep hasn’t done enough to restore you after a work out, it might be a good idea to consider consulting your GP.

2. Lack of memory and focus:

Those struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often feel depleted of energy, which can go hand in had with the struggle to focus and remember things throughout the day. A loss in concentration and memory is not a normal occurrence and should raise questions regarding how your system is functioning. Problems with thinking, being clumsy, having muscle twitching and/or tingle can also be combined to form part of the diagnosis.

3. Up and down body temperature:

Abnormal fluctuations can be a sign of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A combination of other symptoms along with feelings of being hot one moment and freezing the next would have to be looked at by your GP.

Effects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The effects Chronic Fatigue Syndrome will differ between individuals and according to Better Health Channel, they can be categorised into three levels of severity.

  1. Mild – the person’s activity is reduced by at least 50 percent
  2. Moderate – the person is mostly housebound
  3. Very severe – the person is bed bound and dependent on help for daily care

The stigma of CFS can also play a part in affecting the wellness or mental load of the condition with the community wrongly thinking that a person is just tired, to just push through or that it is all in their head.

Treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is severely disabling, and there is currently no known cure. There are over the counter and prescription medications that can however, ease the symptoms. Those with CFS usually have to trial many different medicines to find what works. The most commonly used treatments are antidepressants, analgesics, sedatives, and B vitamins. The best way to find out if a treatment is suitable is to book an appointment with a GP.

Home treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can include managing physical activity and keeping it at a level that is comfortable and does not cause over exertion. This is very much an individual treatment and will vary person to person depending on the severity of the condition. Total rest however should be avoided as it may make fatigue worse. If there is a need to increase the level of physical activity, it should be done so gradually and possibly under the guidance of a health care professional.

Some symptoms may affect some more than others. For example, a lack of memory and concentration and constantly waking up feeling unrested might debilitate some, muscle pain, headaches and fatigue might hinder others completely from undergoing their daily activities. It is best to speak to your GP about addressing and tackling you toughest symptoms first – the ones that interfere the most with your daily life.

If sleep just isn’t doing enough for you and the above symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome resonate with you, you may want to seek the advice from a HealthMint GP to get a proper diagnosis.

ch

Want more information?

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

or book an appointment here
display of healthy foods diet healthmint

Food and Diet For Symptoms of Depression

By | Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Mental Health, Nutrition | No Comments

Food and diet changes that help with symptoms of depression

As well as aiding in weight loss, food and diet changes can also have a positive impact on the symptoms of depression.

Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health illnesses throughout the world.

A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that those who change their diet may see a greater improvement in the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Foods that put you in a good mood!

Various vitamins, fatty acids, minerals and fibre consumed as part of a healthy diet could also impact the brain and help to improve mood.

The following foods and nutrients may play a role in reducing the symptoms of depression:

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seafoods
  • Oily fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
display of healthy foods diet healthmint

Ditch the junk food!

While we have established that a healthy diet can help to improve mood, an unhealthy diet can have the opposite affect.

While it’s okay to have the occasional treat or overindulge sometimes, it’s the long term unhealthy diets that contain lots of foods that are very high in energy (calories) and low on nutrition. Here’s a list of foods to limit:

  • Fried foods
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Sugary snacks and drinks
  • Take away foods
  • Processed foods and meats
  • White breads, cakes and pastries
donut unhealthy food diets

Don’t forget to exercise too!

It’s well documented that the inclusion of regular exercise into your routine can have a dramatic impact on your mental health. So while you’re eating better, move better too!

Taking small steps on your journey to good health doesn’t have to be daunting – begin with a walk around the block, and gradually increase as your fitness levels do. Exercise releases endorphins, which help keep you happy!

Small dietary changes can make a big difference in how you feel over time.

Not only can they help improve your mood, but they also keep you healthy for many other reasons!

eat more of what makes you happy

Book an appointment with Saabira here

saabira dietitian healthmint

Book an appointment with Dr Natasha here

Want more information?

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

or book an appointment here

Coeliac Disease

By | Chronic Disease, General Wellbeing, Nutrition | No Comments

Coeliac Disease – What You Need to Know

There is an increasing amount of awareness around coeliac disease. However, many people still misunderstand the condition. Here are 6 things that you need to know about coeliac disease.

Coeliac Disease is an Abnormal Response to Gluten

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. When a person with coeliac disease ingests this protein, their immune system over-reacts, damaging the small bowel. The bowel is lined with tiny, finger-like villi that help absorb nutrients from food. When a coeliac eats gluten, the villi become inflamed and flattened, which reduces the surface area of the bowel and therefore reduces the surface area available for nutrient absorption. Symptoms relating to inflammation can also occur in other parts of the body.

All Types of People Can Have Coeliac

Coeliac disease affects people of all ages, both male and female. You must be born with certain genes to develop coeliac disease, although it is often triggered by environmental factors. If you have a close relative with coeliac disease, you have a 10% chance of having it yourself. Coeliac disease affects around 1 in 70 Australians.

You Could Have Coeliac Disease and Not Know It

While approximately 1 in 70 Australians have coeliac disease, around 80% of them remain undiagnosed. That means the majority of people who have it haven’t ever been diagnosed. There are more cases diagnosed in recent years – partially because our awareness and rates of detection are increasing, but also because there is an actual rise in the number of people who have the disease.

Tests Can Confirm Your Diagnosis

Many people with coeliac disease are aware that something is not right with their bodies, but they may not know what the problem is. Some people feel very unwell, while others don’t have symptoms. Some common signs of coeliac disease are:

  • Feeling unwell after eating gluten
  • Vomiting
  • Problems with growth
  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pain
  • Mouth issues
  • Problems with fertility
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Other general symptoms, such as joint pain, headaches and irritability

If you suspect you might have coeliac disease, the first step is to go to your doctor. They will arrange for you to have tests. Do not stop eating food with gluten – if you do, it could produce a false-negative result. Firstly you will receive a blood test. The next step to confirm the diagnosis is an endoscopy.

There’s No Cure, But It Can Be Managed

As far as we know, someone who is diagnosed with coeliac disease will need to avoid gluten for the rest of their lives. However, managing coeliac disease is as simple (and complicated) as avoiding gluten. Strict avoidance of products containing gluten lets the small bowel lining heal. Gluten can be found in a daunting number of products in some form – obvious choices like bread and pasta made with wheat are out, and some tricky ingredients like some types of soy sauce and other flavourings make other products unsafe.

Products in Australia are required to disclose any gluten-containing ingredients. If you have been newly diagnosed with coeliac disease it can be daunting when you realise how many modern products include gluten. The easiest way to approach your new diet is to start simply and get more complicated as you find substitutes for your regular ingredients. Meals that contain basic ingredients like meat and vegetables will be gluten free (but pay close attention to any sauce or flavouring). From that point, you can begin to make your meals more complicated – just be sure to read the labels on everything so you can be sure they are free from gluten.

There Are Consequences For Undiagnosed Coeliacs

If someone has coeliac disease that goes untreated, they are subjecting their system to years of chronic inflammation, poor nutrition and malabsorption of nutrients. There are a wide range of very serious complications that can occur as a result of undiagnosed, unmanaged coeliac disease.

Seeing a doctor is the first step in getting a diagnosis. Without good management, coeliac disease can have serious long and short term consequences. By working with your doctor, you can help reduce your risks of further complications and enjoy the benefits of healthier living.

Want more information?

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

or book an appointment here

4 Reasons Everybody Should Think About Their Lungs

By | Body Systems, Cancer, Chronic Disease, General Wellbeing

4 Reasons Everybody Should Think About Their Lungs

 

 

We take around 22,000 breaths every day, but more than half of all Australians do not think about their lung health.  November is Lung Health Awareness month, which is a good time for everybody to pause and think about their own lung health, as well as having a supportive attitude towards other people who have been diagnosed with lung disease.

Lung disease symptoms often increase slowly, which causes people to adjust their daily life or treat their symptoms instead of getting help.  Lung disease does not discriminate, and can affect people of any age, any gender, smokers and non-smokers. Yet people with lung disease often feel judged and misunderstood. Here are 4 reasons why we should all take time to think about our lungs.

  1. Most people don’t take lung health seriously

Three out of five Australians who participated in a Lung Health Foundation study were found to have symptoms or risk factors that increased the possibility that they might develop lung disease, while more than one in ten have been diagnosed. Lung health is something that every person should consider. According to Lung Foundation Australia, 1 in 7 Australians die because of lung disease every year, yet many people continue to ignore or misunderstand the signs and symptoms of lung disease.

  1. Lung disease is a very serious diagnosis

Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer – only 15% of those diagnosed are alive five years after their diagnosis. One Australian dies every hour from lung cancer, which makes it the leading cause of cancer death in Australia – more than prostate, breast and ovarian cancer combined. Early detection gives the best chance of a positive outcome, making it even more important that we are conscious of changes to our lungs.

  1. Lung cancer sufferers face discrimination

While there are many factors linked to lung cancer, almost 90% of Australians think that smoking is the only lung cancer risk. This misinformation has led to a third of Australians believing that people with lung cancer have only themselves to blame.

While factors such as smoking and poor lifestyle decisions do increase the risk of lung disease, many people who are living with a diagnosis have never smoked in their life. Regardless of their status as a smoker, people with lung disease still deserve the compassion and understanding that we would give to anyone suffering from a life-altering illness.

  1. There are symptoms we can all look out for

Most symptoms should be compared to your usual lung functions, so it’s important to be aware of your lung functions even if you don’t think there is a problem. Some of the symptoms that might indicate a problem are:

  • Breathlessness, especially compared to others of your age
  • Chest tightness or wheezing
  • A persistent, new or changed cough
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood, mucus or phlegm.
  • Unexplained weight loss or fatigue
  • Frequent chest infections

Also, you should pay extra attention to your lungs if you have a family history of lung disease, are a past or present smoker, or have worked in a job that exposed you to dust, gas or fumes. If you have any concerns, talk to your GP as soon as possible so they can help you on the road to healthy lungs.

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

 

Headaches and Migraines – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

By | Chronic Disease, General Wellbeing

Headaches and Migraines – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Headaches are a very common condition, experienced by nearly everybody. However, the severity and frequency of headache and migraines vary widely. Not everybody has a correct diagnosis for what they are experiencing – in fact, up to 50% of migraine sufferers may be undiagnosed. Knowing more about the kind of headaches you suffer from can help you to manage them.

What are headaches?

Headaches are pains in the head that normally come with sensations of pressure and/or aching. They normally occur on both sides of the head simultaneously, and the pain is most often felt in the forehead, temple or the back of the neck. Tension headaches are the most common type, but there are many other varieties of headache. They can last from a few minutes to a week, from mild to extremely severe. Headaches can be a symptom of a larger problem but are most often just painful rather than dangerous.

What are migraines?

Migraines are severe headaches that have other symptoms associated.  Some common symptoms that migraine sufferers have in addition to pain are nausea, vomiting, light (or sound) sensitivity, pain behind one eye or one side of the temples, seeing an “aura” which is usually flashing lights or spots, and a wide range of less common symptoms. Pulsing and throbbing sensations are usually associated with migraine. Migraines can be diagnosed from childhood, but are most commonly diagnosed between age 20 – 40.

What causes headaches and migraines?

Headaches symptoms tend to run in families, particularly migraines. When both parents suffer from migraines, there is a 70% chance their children will too. One parent with migraines makes the risk drop to around 50%.  There are many possible triggers, which are different for everyone and aren’t always even the same for one person. It can also take a combination of factors to trigger a headache or migraine, which makes it even more difficult to identify.  Some common triggers for headaches include sickness, stress, and environmental factors such as chemicals, weather changes and lighting. Migraine triggers can be stress, foods and additives, caffeine, changes in hormones or sleep patterns, or skipping meals.

What are my treatment options?

Most migraines respond to treatments available over the counter from the pharmacy, but others need regular preventative medication. Most headaches respond well to aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol. There are also alternative therapies that are said to help, such as relaxation, acupuncture and heat therapies. Most types of headaches will occur less frequently with reduced stress, and eliminating common dietary triggers like caffeine and alcohol.

As there are so many types of headache and as headaches affect each person differently, it is important that you consult your doctor, especially when starting a treatment plan. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing frequent or severe headaches and work out a management plan that is right for you.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss headaches or migraines –>

Staying Ahead of Hayfever

By | Body Systems, Chronic Disease, General Wellbeing

Staying Ahead of Hayfever

 

 

Spring is a beautiful time of year, but hay fever makes some people more nervous than excited.  While many people self-manage hay fever using over-the-counter medications, working out a strategy with your GP is the most effective way to control symptoms. Learning about your options can help you reduce the negative effects of hay fever and get back to enjoying the weather.

What is hay fever?

The proper term is “allergic rhinitis” and while the condition is stereotypically set off by springtime pollen, there are many triggers that cause different people to react. Hay fever affects around 500 million people worldwide. When the body encounters an allergen in the air, the over-sensitive immune system releases histamines and other chemicals that produce unpleasant symptoms – for example, a runny nose, facial itchiness, headaches, sneezing, puffy eyes, fatigue, and wheezing.

Allergic Rhinitis can be seasonal or occur all year round (perennial). Hay fever can’t be cured but it can be controlled, and if you haven’t seen a doctor recently you might be unaware of new options for treatment.

Hay fever triggers.

Hay fever symptoms are triggered when your body detects a harmless substance that it wrongly perceives as a threat. Allergens are different for everybody. Reactions to airborne allergens can also be made worse by other factors (such as your diet), which is why an individualised plan is important.

Some common seasonal allergens are pollen, fungal spores and other plant matter.  Perennial allergens include mould and fungal spores, dust mites, skin flakes from pets, smoke and air pollution.

Medical intervention.

There are many hay fever medications available without a prescription, but consulting with a doctor will help you get the right medication for your symptoms. Most medications have minimum and maximum dosages for the most effective use, and some nasal sprays can actually make symptoms worse if you use them for longer than three days.

The doctor might advise or prescribe antihistamines, corticosteroids or decongestants in a range of strengths and delivery methods. People with severe hay fever symptoms might require immunotherapy treatments.

Combat your symptoms.

When you have identified the allergens that are most likely to trigger your symptoms, you can create a specialised plan to help you combat your hay fever. Some strategies for common allergens include:

  • Keep pets outside, especially their bedding
  • Keep windows shut, especially at night
  • Monitor your local pollen count
  • Wear a face mask on high pollen-count days (or small nose masks that fit inside your nostrils)
  • Limit alcohol because it contains histamines – alcohol can double the risk of symptoms
  • Buy new pillows every spring
  • Don’t dry clothes and bedding outside on high pollen days
  • Find and kill all household mould

Make an appointment with your GP, follow their suggestions, and then report back on your progress. It might help you to bring a list of symptoms and their frequency and severity to your first appointment. Sometimes hay fever can mask other serious conditions such as asthma, which is another reason to get symptoms checked. You might not be able to cure your hay fever, but with the help of your GP you can get your symptoms under control.

Click here to book a GP to discuss managing your hay fever –>

Living Well With Epilepsy – Are You SUDEP Aware?

By | Chronic Disease

Living Well With Epilepsy – Are You SUDEP Aware?

 

 

Epilepsy is a complex condition that is not well understood. What we do know is that if epilepsy is not properly managed, the seizures it causes can have tragic consequences. World SUDEP day was created to raise awareness of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, where a previously healthy person with epilepsy dies without known cause.

Approximately 3 – 3.5% of Australians will have epilepsy at some point, which includes 25,000 new diagnoses every year. It pays to understand something about the condition and to learn how to manage the risks to help people with epilepsy to stay healthy and safe.

About Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system, causing seizures. Someone who has had two or more unexplained seizures is usually diagnosed with epilepsy. Epileptic seizures happen when the brain’s electrical activity is disturbed – this could be hereditary or due to brain injury, but more often has no known cause.  Anti-epileptic medication is fully effective in around 70% of people, and another 3% find help through surgery. For the rest, a combination of medication and control of lifestyle factors is used to manage the condition.

Reducing Seizure Risk

Because seizures can cause accidents, injuries and even SUDEP, anyone with active seizures should work closely with their team to reduce their frequency. The most common seizure triggers are stress, anxiety or lack of sleep; alcohol and/or recreational drugs; and rapid changes in medication or forgetting to take your medication.

The factors that put you at the highest risk for SUDEP are:

  • Seizures at night
  • Not taking medication
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Depression/psychiatric illness
  • Pregnancy
  • Infrequent epilepsy reviews
  • Have had epilepsy for more than 15 years
  • Male gender
  • Being young

Personalised Care

Anyone having seizures, no matter if it is every day or once a year, is said to have “active seizures”. Seizures can cause injury, falls or accidents, and also cause SUDEP. Different types of seizures have different risks, which is why it’s important to be seizure aware and work with a team to manage your seizures.

Becoming aware of triggers, taking your prescribed medication and working with clinicians such as your GP, specialist nurses are the best ways to manage and prevent seizures from occurring. The Epilepsy Foundation suggests that you base your approach on preparation, prevention and teamwork to help avoid seizure episodes.

 Combating SUDEP

Because SUDEP is linked to seizures, the best way to reduce the risk is to have as few seizures as possible. Work with your team to manage your epilepsy symptoms. Report any changes in your seizures, take your medication, have frequent reviews, and report any major life changes to your doctor such as starting a family or changing careers.

You can take your own steps to staying healthy – avoid alcohol and drugs, keep a seizure diary to help identify triggers and use an alarm if you have seizures at night. Besides avoiding SUDEP, you are reducing your risk of accidents and injury. Your GP can work with you to create a personalised plan to reduce your risks and help you live a healthy life with epilepsy.

 

Click here to book a GP to discuss epilepsy and managing seizures –>

 

Call Now Button