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Chronic Disease Archives • HealthMint

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.
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.

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Want more information?

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

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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
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