health

Home Health Tech: ADA - the 'Doctor In Your Pocket' App

There's an app on the market that is giving Siri a run for her money.

Meet ADA and learn how it can help you and your GP get to the bottom of medical hiccups.

ADA is a 'health companion' app, which was designed by a international team of 100 doctors, data scientists and engineers.

The app is like having a 'doctor in your pocket' when you feel sick, asking questions and suggesting possible causes for symptoms. It can do this as it keeps a digital record of your health history.

Although this kind of data technology is fantastic, it's worth noting that ADA should not become a substitute for a real-life consultation with your human GP. 

Rather, use ADA as a way to document your health history and share the progression of any symptoms with your GP.

ADA is free from the App Store and Google Play (www.ada.com)

Home Health Tech: Test for Skin Cancer At Home With SkinVision App

The stats on skin cancer in Australia are grim.

Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.

More than 750,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year.

GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer. That's the entire population of Adelaide!

The good new is, there is now an app on the market called SkinVision to help you monitor the progression of any dodgy moles or spots, so you can better inform your doctor.

It's super simple to use, you can even train your grandparents to get with the digital age!

Take a photo of the mole or spot you wish to check. Wait for the app to analyse the image, then save the picture so you can keep an eye on it.

SkinVision boasts an 88 percent sensitivity rate for melanoma but should be used in conjunction with yearly skin checks with a GP or dermatologist.

SkinVision is free and available for both iPhone and Android on the App Store and Google Play (skinvision.com).
 

These 5 Triggers Could Cause Your Migraine Attack

We still don't understand what causes migraine. All we can do is be aware of our triggers and try to avoid them.

Science still can't accurately explain what causes migraine. Researchers now believe that migraine is a neurological disorder involving nerve pathways and brain chemicals. 

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, before puberty boys are statistically more likely to experience migraine than girls, however between the age of 10 and 40 women are three times more likely to experience migraine than men, which is attributed to hormonal fluctuation. 

If this is the case for you, you may need to be aware of what triggers your migraines. It helps to keep track of your migraines in a diary. Unlike headache, those that suffer migraines report an 'aura' - from seeing fuzzy spots to faint headache-like symptoms - that is apparent for anything between a day and a few hours before the migraine hits.

If you know you are in the 'migraine zone', avoid any of the following potential triggers:


TIP # 1 - Eating (Or Not Eating):

It may come as a surprise that eating certain foods and/or fasting for long periods of time without food are migraine triggers. A 2008 Brazillian study found that most patients experiencing regular migraines reported having at least one trigger that was food-related.

Common foods that were identified as migraine triggers contained tyramine or phenylethylamine, which are two amino acids found in chocolate, aged or fermented cheese (including all the delicious stinky blue cheeses), salami, soy foods, nuts and vinegar (both red and white).

Unsurprisingly, alcohol was cited to be a high trigger substance. Interestingly, red wine was a trigger among women but not men. Red wine triggered migraine in just eight percent of men, but among women the number jumped to 22 percent. White wine was associated with migraine in just 10.5 percent of patients.

Before you abstain from vino and stinky cheese for life, the study uncovered the number one source of diet-related migraine triggers to be fasting. Skipping meals is not recommended for a number of health reasons; however, if you are experiencing regular migraines and regularly skip meals in the name of 'dieting', it's time to go back to at least 3 balanced meals a day with interval snacking on fresh foods. Your body - and your head - will thank you for it.

 

TIP # 2 - Stress

This one shouldn't come as a huge surprise. A dramatic increase or decrease in physical or psychological stress is a major migraine trigger.

A recent study from Denmark discovered a majority of migraine patients reported that stress was linked to the onset of migraine attacks. Other researchers have reported that between 50 and 80 percent of migraine patients say stress triggers their migraine headaches.
Some patients experienced migraine in the aftermath of a stressful event, while others experienced a new attack in the midst of a stressful event.

If you are experiencing stress, gentle physical exercise like Hatha Yoga or pilates is a great way to let off some steam. Practicing mindfulness or mediation twice a day - 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed - is another way of helping your mind and body to effectively 'switch off'. If symptoms persist, see your GP.

 

TIP # 3 - Lack of Sleep or Jet Lag

Insufficient sleep is one of the most common factors linked to migraine attacks. Conversely, excessive sleep is a frequently reported trigger as well.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder associated with chronic migraine. Chronic migraine patients who suffer from insomnia are also at increased risk for anxiety or depression.
Jet lag and extreme changes in your work schedule can also be linked to the onset of migraine. Discover my jet lag travel hacks here.

The good news is, many patients report that sleep often relieves their migraine headaches. Make your boudoir a place you want to spend time. Invest in a comfortable memory-foam latex pillow. Dim the lights 2 hours before bedtime. For more sleep hacks, read this.

 

TIP # 4 - Highly Caffeinated Beverages

Uh oh. Your morning coffee (or 3) has a high chance of triggering migraine.  Coffee isn't the only culprit - watch out for excessive consumption of tea, soft drinks and energy drinks where caffeine levels are surprisingly high. Equally, some researchers have noted that caffeine withdrawal may also trigger a headache. 

Keep in mind that many over-the-counter headache preparations contain significant amounts of caffeine. One recent study concluded that a drug combining acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine was better at relieving the symptoms of migraine headache than ibuprofen alone.

If you need a warm cup of goodness to start each day, try substituting coffee for warm water with lemon. The vitamin C in fresh lemon is a fantastic and effective natural energy boost that also doubles as a detoxifier. For a caffeine-free-kick with an abundance of benefits, try a numeric latte.

 

TIP # 5 - Dehydration

Dehydration has also been suggested as a possible migraine trigger. Failure to drink enough water has been linked to the onset of headache.

A small survey of migraine sufferers revealed that “insufficient fluid intake” was linked to headache onset in about 40 percent of responders.

There are loads more trips and tricks on how to stay hydrated here. For starters, try to drink 3 glasses of water in the morning (warm with lemon is the most quickly absorbed - and great for your digestion). Then, try to drink another glass before and after each meal throughout the day. Your head (and the rest of your body) will thank you for it.
 

References

Armstrong, L.E., Ganio, M.S., Casa, D.J., Lee, E.C., McDermott, B.P., Klau, J.F., et al. (2012, February). Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(2), 382-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.142000. Epub 2011, December 21. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/142/2/382.long

Baad-Hansen, L., Cairns, B., Ernberg, M., Svensson P. (2010, January). Effect of systemic monosodium glutamate (MSG) on headache and pericranial muscle sensitivity. Cephalalgia, 30(1):68-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2009.01881.x. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from
http://cep.sagepub.com/content/30/1/68.long
 

So You're Thinking About Getting A Boob Job...

You are in control of your body and shouldn't be afraid about physically changing it. But getting a boob job should not - and I repeat should not - be a spur-of-the-moment or rushed decision.

The fact you are reading this article means you are doing your research. Congratulations! Research is absolutely the first step I recommend as a doctor to any patient thinking about undergoing breast augmentation.

It’s certainly wise to be aware of each stage of the procedure before jumping into the decision. So without further ado, here are my top boob job tips, facts and hacks, covering the vital preparations before surgery; what to do, what not to do and how to maximise your chances of a swift and successful recovery.

What To Know Pre-Procedure

Be conscious of your boob goals. Do you want to go up one size for a natural effect? Or do you want to go up several sizes for a more high-impact look? The clearer you are on your desired result, the easier it will be to find the right surgeon for you.

Be sensitive about where you are now and what your lifestyle might be in the future. Many patients only realised after their procedure that their new breasts prohibited clothes they loved wearing and exercise they liked doing. It's important your desired size fits in with every part of your lifestyle.

Keep fluctuating body weight in mind if you are thinking about getting much larger breasts. Breast implants stay in your body for 7-10 years. I've heard about patients who have expressed disappointment at how they looked when they put on weight, as their breast implants made them look heavier than they otherwise were. Same goes if you are planning to lose weight, which increases the breast/body proportion.

Test out your desired new bra size with a padded bra for a month to make sure the size is really something you want to go with. Past patients considered going up 3 cup sizes, then changed their minds after trialling out the padded bra in what they thought was their desired size.

Chat to your GP. Make sure you do an overall health checkup before talking to a specialist. Discuss your boob goals with your GP. Ask your GP for a referral. Note: this specialist doesn't have to be the surgeon you choose; think of them as a starting point.

Do your research to find a doctor whose work you like. Compare multiple before and after photos from their previous work. Compare your body type and aesthetic goals with the work of the doctor. Chances are, the doctor's work on previous patients will be the same on you. 
Check the doctors final policy. What will they do if you’re not happy with the end result? What happens if something goes wrong during the procedure? This is where it pays to shop around. Once you've found the right surgeon for you, make sure you work out a scenario in case you are not happy before the procedure. 

What To Know Post-Procedure

So you've decided to go ahead with a breast augmentation procedure. You've done your research, have a clear idea of the desired result and found the right surgeon for you. Now what?

I can't stress enough that breast augmentation is a large procedure. I talk to so many patients who believe they can go in for surgery, come out the next day and start work the day after.

NOOOOOOOOOO!

You need to STOP, PLAN and take AT LEAST a week off from work (at the very least but a month is ideal) to best aid your body's recovery process.

There are a few no no's that should not be done until at least a month after the procedure, as this can tear at the sutre lines:

- DO NOT get a massage
- DO NOT exercise
- DO NOT go shopping and try on clothes

If you are travelling overseas for the procedure, bring a friend with you. Spend the recovery time chilling together.
Read all those books you've been meaning to.

Look after your new boobs from the get-go and they will look after you!

#AltMeds: Physiotherapy

Curious about alternative therapies? You’re not alone! It’s a vast world of drug-free health practice and can be confusing at the best of times.

As with any professional, it's important to see the right person for the right job. You wouldn't go to a hairdresser for a toothache (!) so it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the vast range of practitioners out there.

As a GP, I am frequently asked about what a Physiotherapist does. Read on to learn more about Physiotherapy and how it could potentially help you.

 

What Is Physiotherapy?

Originating in Ancient Greece with massage techniques and hydrotherapy, today physiotherapy utilises non-surgical procedures to lessen pain, improve movement and restore functionality to the musculoskeletal system.

Physiotherapists assess, treat and prevent disorders caused by injury or disease. They conduct examinations of patients and work towards alleviating any impairments and limitations.

A typical session with a physiotherapist is unique to a patient’s needs and their health condition. Physiotherapists will also educate their patients to prevent further injuries, or assist them to live with ongoing conditions.

 

Qualifications & Education

According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Physiotherapy courses vary across the country and entry may be through a bachelor, masters or professional doctorate program.

Physiotherapists are required by law to be registered with the Physiotherapists Registration Board in the state or territory in which they are practising.

 

Who Should See A Physiotherapist?

All Australians can benefit from physiotherapy at some point in their lives. While it is well-known that physiotherapists treat injuries, increasing numbers of Australians are coming to physiotherapists when they want to take control of their health and stay well.

Physiotherapists work closely with GPs and other health clinicians to plan and manage treatment. Indeed, GPs refer more patients to physiotherapists than any other healthcare profession.

As far as alternative therapies go, I refer my patients to Physotherapists as they back up what they do with both diagnostic imaging and scientific evidence. Important!

Make sure you shop around for the right practitioner and chat to your GP about whether physiotherapy is the right treatment for your symptoms.

What are Peptides and How Do They Work?

There has been a great deal of discussion in the media around the use of peptides. In my clinic, I am asked several times a day by patients whether they can have them. The interesting thing about peptides is that most people who ask for them think of them as simply the latest in the ever-growing market of quick-fix magic potions. When asked by patients and friends for peptides - and other weight-augmenting substances - I always ask (and you should ask yourself): What do you want to achieve? Read on to learn more about putting some 'pep' in your step...

WHAT ARE PEPTIDES?

Before looking at whether peptides are right for you, let’s look at what they are. Put simply, they are small proteins made up of fewer than 50 amino acids. In the world of health and fitness, peptides are used and recommended for increased energy, burning fat, building muscle and improving athletic ability.  If you think ofa hormone as a tree made up of many protein branches and even more peptide twigs it’s easy to see how a hormone can have many side-effects if used wrongly.  Peptides on the other hand are much smaller and have been designed to stimulate specific receptors for growth hormone so you can attempt to tailor your results.  So essentially they can be used for muscle gain or weight loss and a range of other things.

When we eat carbohydrates or sugars, our blood sugar levels increase. The pancreas senses this and is stimulated by the rise in blood sugar to release insulin. This insulin then triggers the body to transport the digested sugar into cells from our bloodstream. The bane for many of us with less-than-ideal metabolisms is that this sugar is then converted into fat and transported to problem areas such as the stomach, love handles and our butt for storage. Normally our body prefers to use fat for fuel, but with so many of us having a high sugar and carbohydrate intake it becomes very easy for our bodies to simply use this sugar for fuel and keep turning the excess into fat and storing it. This makes it very hard to burn that bootie.

HOW DO PEPTIDES WORK?

Peptides work on different areas of the body with some stimulating the pituitary gland to naturally release more hormones, including Human Growth Hormone (HGH), to make more of the same. HGH and the peptides that stimulate it help to stop our bodies using the readily available sugar floating around and instead make our bodies burn more stored fat while at the same time limiting more fat being made. The results of this can be great, especially when coupled with good dietary habits and exercise. You will have more energy (gained from using the fat) and also see the results of normal daily activities burning even more off your problem areas.

HANG ABOUT! SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. DO I NEED TO GO TO THE GYM IF I'M USING PEPTIDES?

Compared to steroids and testosterone, with their large potential for fast benefits and potential side effects, these are not magic beans that will turn you into a ripped mega-buff guy overnight. Peptides are more of a medium burn for those of us that know that the body we want is one of lifestyle enhancement and that the hours at the gym are necessary.

Most people, when asked what they think a peptide is, simply don’t care. They’re results-driven, and it doesn’t matter to them that their method might be madness. Peptides are not some genie that leaps out of a newly rubbed lamp, ready and waiting to know exactly your heart’s desire, even if you can’t say what that is. Like most things in life, in order to be able to achieve what you want, you must be able to articulate it. Simply saying you want to look better is not going to cut it and can have serious harmful consequences.

HOW DO I KNOW IF PEPTIDES ARE FOR ME?

When asking what you want to put in your body, you must always ask whether the benefits outweigh the side effects. Like any substance that you know nothing about, they should not be bought online from unregistered suppliers or borrowed from a friend and then injected (yes, most peptides need to be injected) or consumed. Peptides can have great - but potentially serious - side effects and you should have a chat to a doctor before even considering their use. Many people are making a lot of money from selling what you want, so always remember to ask what it does, how long to take it, how to take it and what side effects it has so that you have realistic expectations of what it can do for you. While peptides can help you to burn fat while working, eating, talking and even sleeping, they must be combined with other lifestyle factors over several months to see the best results.

Measles – Risks, Symptoms And The School System

THE DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER PRIMARY SCHOOLS SHOULD MAKE IMMUNISATION AGAINST MEASLES COMPULSORY IS A BIG ONE.

When a parent is apprehensive about immunising their child for measles, mumps & rubella, their fear is usually around the risk of autism. This is a medically unfounded suspicion - to do so could be more dangerous and put their child more at risk.

If you or your child are showing any of the symptoms of measles, I recommend seeing your local GP. While there is no cure (an affected person must wait for the infection to pass), your doctor can assist you with the prevention of the secondary infections associated with measles, mumps & rubella, including pneumonia.

If you’re not sure if you have been vaccinated, have a chat to your GP. Here are the facts.

TIP #1: MEASLES ARE HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS

The airborne measles virus is transmissible via coughing or sneezing. Measles is caught by 9 out of 10 non-immune people who come into contact with an infected person. In a close-contact classroom environment, this is a staggering statistic indeed.

TIP #2:  THE SYMPTOMS ARE SIGNIFICANT

Symptoms of measles include high fever, runny nose, inflamed eyes and most notably, a red rash which starts on the f ace and spreads out to the rest of the body. The rash can develop 10 – 12 days after exposure to the virus and last for 7 – 10 days. An infected person is most contagious 4-5 days before and after the appearance of the rash.

TIP #3: INFANTS ARE AT RISK

One of the major risks of measles is for infants who are too young to be immunised who may come into contact with the virus. This was the case in 2014 when an 11 month old was affected. At it‘s worst, the virus can be fatal to infants - and can even cause birth deformities, if contracted by pregnant women.

TIP #4:  CONTROL IS KEY

In 2014, a massive outbreak of measles occurred at a Melbourne primary school. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health released a report concerning the outbreak, suggesting that schools be fined for not keeping detailed vaccination records, which would make controlling an outbreak more effective.

TIP #5: POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

Victorian childcare centres have implemented a ‘no jab, no play’ policy that aims to prevent pre-school aged children spreading measles. I believe it would be worthwhile implementing a similar rule in primary schools. This process of ‘herd immunisation’ means that even those who medically can’t be immunised will be less at risk of exposure by those around them.