medical

What Is Brain Fog And How You Can Beat It

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Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why we've you went in there in the first place?

Maybe you’ve fleetingly stopped in your tracks, grasping to remember your own name for a microsecond?

There’s a name for this unsettling mental phenomenon: 'brain fog'. 

Symptoms of so-called 'brain fog' include forgetfulness, poor concentration, inability to focus and lack of mental clarity, all of which can strike without warning.

It’s worth noting that although ‘Brain fog’ can be attributed to age-related decline and a host of illnesses, it can also strike anyone at any age - even as early as your late teens.

So why do we have ‘brain fog’ and how can we beat it? 

For starters, your brain works hard 24/7, even while you're asleep. It requires a constant supply of fuel, which comes from the foods you eat. Eating high-quality foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress or the 'free radicals' produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.

No surprises here, but eating too much sugar and refined carbs can have a negative effect. Thankfully, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help.

Shifting from a diet high in processed foods, carbs, and sugars to whole, fresh foods like salmon and spinach could make a huge difference to your mental clarity. Foods rich in antioxidants - like blueberries, dark chocolate, and artichokes - can also help boost mental function (yes you heard right, DARK CHOCOLATE).  

Besides diet, ‘brain fog’ can also be stimulated by alcohol and caffeine. In 2015, scientists from Duke University warned that binge drinking as a teenager, before the brain is fully developed, causes long-lasting changes to the regions of the brain that control learning and memory.

Numerous studies have also suggested that even moderate adult drinkers risk significant shrinkage in key parts of the brain. In July, the University of Oxford and University College found that people who have a drink or two every night from middle age are more likely to experience a steep decline in brain power by their 70s. 

Caffeine is a stimulant known to improve mental alertness. But the problem with caffeine is that the energy it gives us is short-lived. Drinking too much can lead to insomnia, headaches and dehydration - and as a result, can impair your mental function.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the best way to give up caffeine is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks (this includes coffee, tea and cola drinks) over a three-week period. Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less mentally fatigued without it – your brain will thank you for it in the long run.

The final way to beat ‘brain fog’? Sleeping for at least seven to eight hours each night helps to boost your brain performance. Another reason to put good quality shut-eye front and centre in your daily routine. Zzzzzzzz.

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Why Vitamin D is an Asthma Sufferer's Best Friend

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Asthma sufferers have another reason to breathe a sigh of relief.

A new study has revealed that Vitamin D – the common supplement found in most chemists and supermarkets – could help slash the risk of asthma attacks.

Scientists at the British Lacet Respiratory Medicine foundation discovered that taking Vitamin D halved the risk of severe asthma attacks requiring medical attention.

The trusty Vitamin D capsule is thought to have a 2-pronged approach for asthma sufferers by minimising harmful inflammation in the airways and boosting the immune system’s response to respiratory viruses.

However, it is important to note the study was conducted on a test group of adults suffering from mild to moderate asthma; children did not partake in the study.

Asthma is a long-term lung condition and claims over 400 lives per year in Australia, so the latest findings are certainly encouraging for chronic asthma sufferers.

If you are an asthma sufferer, it is important to take your usual medication - as prescribed by your doctor or GP - rather than replace with vitamin D capsules entirely.

Some added benefits of taking Vitamin D include regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function.

What’s not to love about D?

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How To Break Up With Your Doctor Or GP

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Nobody likes a breakup, but sometimes, you gotta pull the plug.

We all know this feeling applies to romantic relationships, but did you know it also applies to your relationship with your GP or doctor?

It’s important to know that not every practitioner is for you - much like how every person on Tinder isn't for you either (!).

So if you’re feeling that your GP or doctor is not a great fit for your needs, how do you navigate the murky water of breaking up with them? Swiping left IRL isn’t an option (yet). Do you have a face-to-face discussion or pull the classic smoke bomb manoeuvrer?

Your doctor or GP is a member of your trusted inner-circle of life professionals, like your accountant or lawyer. There is no stigma in having an open conversation, but there are a few simple tips to keep in mind, which can make the transition process between professionals smoother.

Read on to learn how you know it’s time to move on - and what you can do.

* As a side note, I recently spoke about this topic on Channel 9's The Today Show - check out the video here!*


Tip # 1 - You Don’t Fit The Age Group

If you’ve had the same doctor or GP since childhood, there’s a good chance you could have outgrown their expertise. Your doctor or GP might have specialised in childhood & adolescent health, so as you grow, keep in mind that there are others out there who could better serve your needs.


Tip # 2 - A Specialist Is Better Suited To Your Needs

In my opinion, it's always great to have an open conversation. As a patient, you ultimately hire your GP or doctor for their expertise as medical professionals. If you feel that your GP or doctor is not delving deep enough into your case, there’s no shame in asking to be referred to a specialist in that particular medical discipline who can give you a more in-depth consultation.


Tip # 3 – Your Doctor Breaks Up With You

If there is a conflict of interest with your case, your doctor or GP could be obligated to refer you to another practitioner. It’s worth noting that doctors and GPs are also human beings and thus prone to changing practices, retiring from service and moving interstate/overseas. When this happens unexpectedly and you’re left in the lurch, read on…

 

Tip # 4 – Ask for Referrals From Your Existing GP or Doctor

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your current GP or doctor for his or her help and advice in finding someone new. It may sound counterintuitive, but they have the most immediate access to your health records & history and could recommend another medical practitioner within their clinic or practice that is more suited to your needs. Plus, doctors and GPs work in a practice with other practitioners who might specialise in other areas of medicine, so they can more easily share notes within one organisation. 


Tip # 5 – Listen to Family & Friends

Talk to your family and friends and ask for recommendations of medical professionals whom they consult with. Make sure to ask WHY their doctor or GP comes with their recommendation. Is it their breadth of experience? Their friendly manner? Make a list of qualities you are looking for and crosscheck with your family & friends referrals.


Tip # 6 – Search When You Are Healthy

Chances are, the time you are most likely to be searching for a GP is when you’re ill and feeling downright rotten. This isn’t ideal for a number of reasons, but mainly because you won’t be on your 'A' game to spend time asking the questions you need answered. Instead, pencil in half a day to meet with medical professionals when you’re feelin’ fine. Pick and choose your final candidate based on the outcome of these consultations. 


Tip # 7 – Search Digitally & Trial IRL

If you are Google searching for a new medical practitioner, it’s important to try before you buy. Have several consultations with several doctors before you commit to one. Have a chat about your specific health concerns or keep the conversation general and discuss the working relationship you'd like to have in the future. It can be good to trial out a new doctor or GP for the ‘small stuff’ - like a cold - so when the big stuff comes along, you know who to call.
 

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#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.

#AltMeds: Chiropractic Therapy

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 Chiropractor does. Read on to learn more about Chiropractors and how chiropractic practice could potentially help you.

 

What Is Chiropractic Therapy?

Chiropractic Therapy was invented in the late 1800s to align the body and spine. According to the Chiropractic Association of NSW, chiropractic practice 'focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health.'

Chiropractors don’t use drugs or medicine. Chiropractic therapy relies on the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself, without drugs or surgery.

Professional chiropractors recognise the value and responsibility of working in cooperation with other health care practitioners in the best interests of the patient.

 

Qualifications & Education

Australian chiropractors study at university for a minimum of five years, graduating with either a double Bachelor's Degree in Chiropractic Science and Clinical Science, or a Master's Degree, depending on their university.

Interestingly, Australia was the first country in the world to incorporate chiropractic courses within the university system in the 1970's.

After entering a practice, all chiropractors must complete continuing professional development courses and seminars to upgrade and improve their skills and to stay current on the latest scientific research.

 

Who Should See A Chiropractor?

I recommend that Chiropractors are ONLY suitable to treat adults with postural, bone or muscular problems, including:

  • Back pain
  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Buttock and leg pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sciatica

Chiropractors can also treat adult athletes for increased performance enhancement and flexibility.

Before visiting any specialised health care professional, talk to your GP to determine whether a chiropractor can help you.

As with any health practitioner, shop around to find the right person for you.

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.

The Lowdown on Vitamin Infusions

YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD ABOUT VITAMIN INFUSIONS ON THE GRAPEVINE AND THOUGHT, 'WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?', 'DOES IT REPLACE FOOD' or 'DO I STILL NEED TO TAKE VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS AFTER HAVING ONE'?

READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT VITAMIN INFUSIONS AND WHETHER IT COULD BE SOMETHING TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR DOCTOR.

WHAT IS A VITAMIN INFUSION?

Vitamin infusions for the most part are a great addition to an already healthy life-style where you’re already getting good nutrients.

For some people - especially those with poor nutrition or in other disease states – vitamin infusions can have hugely beneficial qualities.

As we know when we take things orally, many nutrients are not absorbed completely. Vitamin infusions are essentially giving your body a high dose of good vitamins that don’t depend on you bodies ability to absorb.

Many of the vitamins used are found in many foods we consume - or should be consuming regularly.  It’s important to note that you should always consult your doctor about any kind of therapies to make sure it is right for you and to ensure that your practitioners are appropriately experienced and qualified.

I ALREADY TAKE VITAMINS - SO WHY DO I NEED THIS TREATMENT?

Vitamin infusions allow us to have higher doses of many vitamins in our circulation for a short time period, than we would otherwise be able to absorb.

This is extremely important in disease states where there is a large amount of clinical data supporting the use of high dose vitamin IV infusions for a variety of disease states, including cancer, burns, septic shock, thiamine deficiency, Rickets and Vitamin D deficiency to name a few.

For those of us who are well this is a great way to try to either prevent or end that cold that just won’t go away or I have it regularly before I travel to prevent getting sick.

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM VITAMIN INFUSIONS AND WHAT RESULTS CAN BE EXPECTED?

Anyone feeling run-down or tired will benefit from an IV vitamin infusion.  If you always get sick when starting a holiday, vitamin infusions can help a lot.  People with chronic fatigue and many other diseases can also benefit from a vitamin infusion, in consultation with their doctor.

Whilst there have been no large population studies around the use of IV vitamins for skin benefits, there is large amounts of anecdotal advice that suggests vitamin infusions can help with brightening complexions and strengthening skin, nails and hair.

POST-TREATMENT, WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP THE BENEFITS GOING?

It is best to drink a couple of litres of water both before and after the treatment - and of course to continue your normal healthy diet. 

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.