Heart Palpitations And Pregnancy
A woman’s body undergoes many physical, hormonal, as well as psychological changes during the nine months of the pregnancy. Some of these changes are quite noticeable such as an expanding belly, weight gain, tender and swollen breasts, aches or discomfort. Some other issues are not that noticeable but can still create issues. Increase in blood volume during pregnancy is one such change that is rarely noticed, but it can lead to faster resting heart rate as the heart has to work hard to circulate the extra blood. This extra exertion on the heart can sometimes lead to heart palpitations during pregnancy. So what are heart palpitations and what causes them during pregnancy?
What Are Heart Palpitations?
Heart palpitation refers to an abnormal heartbeat; it can be irregular, slow, fast, or too frequent. The duration and intensity of heart palpitations may differ from person to person and can range from a few seconds to several hours. The good news is that heart palpitations during pregnancy is typically harmless; however, it can be disconcerting since usually, it is unnoticed. Heart palpitations during pregnancy sometimes may be indicative of some underlying medical complications, therefore it is always a good idea to check with your doctor to rule out any future issues.
What Causes Heart Palpitations during Pregnancy?
Irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations are often considered a normal part of the pregnancy process. However, if you experience chest pain or difficulty in breathing, it can be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition that demands a thorough medical checkup.
Harmless Causes of Heart Palpitations during pregnancy
It is important to note that not all the causes of heart palpitation during pregnancy are dangerous. Following are some of the harmless causes of irregular heartbeat during pregnancy:
- anxiety & stress
- increase blood volume
- reaction to certain medications
- reaction to some food items
- hormonal changes
Some serious causes of Heart Palpitation during pregnancy
Here is a list of some more serious causes of irregular heartbeat during pregnancy:
- heart arrhythmia
- pulmonary hypertension
- thyroid problems
- coronary artery diseases
If you experience any of the following symptoms along with irregular heartbeat during your pregnancy, you need to make sure you seek immediate medical help:
- an irregular pulse
- intense pain in the chest
- a bloody cough
- trouble breathing
Southbank Medical Centre
What Is Bipolar Disorder
What Is It, What Are Risk Factors and Possible Causes, How Is It Treated
Life never stays the same, it has ups and downs. Sometimes we are sad, other times we are happy. Sometimes we are angry, other times we are all relaxed. For many people, coping with these life changes and accompanying mood swings is relatively easy, for others, especially those who suffer from a particular type of depressive illness called “bipolar disorder”; these mood swings are quite extreme and adversely affect their energy levels and their ability to function.
What Is It?
Previously referred to as “manic-depressive illness”, bipolar disorder is actually a type of brain disorder that is characterised by unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy levels, and ability to function.
Unlike most people, patients suffering from this type of brain disorder often experience extreme mood swings accompanied by changes in energy levels, ability to sleep, think and perform clearly. Sometimes these mood swings and the accompanying symptoms are so strong that the person is unable to even go to school, hold down a job or maintain a healthy relationship. Under extreme conditions, people with bipolar disorder even try to hurt themselves or attempt suicide.
In Australia, bipolar disorder affects 1 in 50 Aussies and is typically diagnosed at the age of 20.
What are the Symptoms?
Bipolar disorder is a type of episodic disorder, meaning it is recurring in nature. It typically consists of the following 3 states or episodes:
- a high state referred to as mania or manic episode – the patient feels very happy and “up”, and is more energetic and active than usual
- a low state, referred to as depression or depressive episode – the patient feels very sad and “down”, and is less energetic and active than usual
- a normal state – the patient feels balanced again
Each episode of bipolar disorder is characterised by particular symptoms. Some common symptoms of a manic episode are outlined below:
Common Symptoms of Manic Episode | What Is Bipolar Disorder
- excessively ‘high’, euphoric mood
- increased energy levels
- extreme irritability
- disturbed sleep patterns
- poor judgment
- increased sexual drive
Common Symptoms of Depressive Episode
- extreme depression
- marked loss of interest or pleasure
- weight loss or weight gain
- sleep problems
- apathy or agitation
- loss of energy
- worthlessness and guilt
- suicidal thoughts
- severe anxiety
- inability to concentrate
If the symptoms of a manic episode or depressive episode occur most of the day, every day, for a week or longer, you need to consult an experienced psychiatrist for formal diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder.
What are the Risk Factors and Possible Causes?
Although the exact cause of bipolar disorder is still not fully understood, many researchers agree that there are many factors that act together to produce this illness. Here are some risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing bipolar disorder:
- Genetics – people with a family history of the disorder are at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder
- Environment – stressful events, traumatic events, physical abuse, neglect, or other traffic events increase the likelihood of developing bipolar disorder
- Substance Abuse – people who abuse alcohol or drugs are at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder
- Gender – women are three times more likely to experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder
How Is It Treated? | What Is Bipolar Disorder
Currently, there is no cure for bipolar disorder; the treatment usually revolves around controlling or managing the symptoms. The treatment of bipolar disorder usually involves a combination of medications and psychotherapies. Depending on the severity of the condition, a psychotherapist or GP may recommend any one or both of these treatment options to achieve substantial stabilisation of extreme mood swings and related symptoms.
Medications that are used to treat mental disorders or illnesses such as bipolar disorder are called psychotropics. These medications act on the brain and the nervous system and try to help to restore the normal chemical balance. Most of the symptoms associated usually respond well to these medications. Since it is a recurring illness, the patient may have to use these medications (psychotropics) for prolonged periods in order to treat/manage the symptoms and prevent them from returning.
- Psychosocial Treatments
The basic aim of using different psychosocial treatments such as psychotherapy, psycho-education, support group, and rehabilitation; is to help the patient learn the skills to:
- recognise and understand the signs and symptoms of manic and depressive episodes early, so proper treatment can be started early
- decrease the frequency and intensity of symptoms
- change their behavior and improve the quality of life
Psychosocial treatments for bipolar disorder are provided by a trained psychiatrist, therapist, or psychologist. Some of the common psychosocial interventions used for bipolar disorder are:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- family-focused therapy
- interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Several clinical studies have shown that when used effectively with medications, these psychosocial interventions can lead to improved functioning, increased mood stability, and fewer hospitalisations.
- Other Treatments
In situations where the use of medications and psychosocial treatments works too slowly or proves ineffective, other treatment options such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or “shock” therapy and/or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may be recommended. ECT is considered to be a highly effective and safe treatment option for both manic phase and the depressive phase. ECT involved passing a small electric current through the brain in a very controlled environment, whereas TMS involves passing a series of short magnetic pulses through the brain in order to stimulate certain nerve cells.
Southbank Medical Centre
ANTIBIOTICS FOR FLU: DO THEY RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS?
Influenza commonly referred to as “flu”, is a highly contagious, acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. According to health experts, thousands of people suffer from this serious viral infection every year in Australia, while hundreds of them die of this deadly disease. According to rough estimates, influenza “flu” contributes to more than 3,000 deaths in Australia each year. This viral infection takes the shape of a pandemic during the winter season and puts a significant burden on the economy, causing not only missed days of work and school but also hospitalisations. So, what is the best way to fight influenza and stay healthy during the flu season? Is taking antibiotics for flu safe? Do they relieve the symptoms? Should you use antiviral medications to relieve flu symptoms? Is flu vaccination the best protection against influenza?
It is important to note that neither antibiotics nor antiviral medications or flu shots are a permanent cure for the flu or kill the flu virus; they only lessen the severity or shorten the duration of the associated symptoms.
Antibiotics For Flu – Do They Relieve The Symptoms?
- Firstly, you need to understand that common colds and flu are upper respiratory tract infections that are caused by a virus, so the use of antibiotics is definitely not the right choice, as they are only effective in treating bacterial infections. In fact, taking them to treat the common flu virus may do more harm than good.
- Secondly, you need to understand that taking antibiotics for non-severe viral upper respiratory tract infections such as common cold and flu may compromise your body’s natural response against such diseases and may increase your risk of getting an infection later that may resist antibiotic treatment.
- Thirdly and most importantly, use of antibiotics for the treatment of common cold, flu, cough, irritation of the throat, and other viral illnesses comes with many side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, ototoxicity, fever, and abdominal pain.
That said, if you have developed a secondary bacterial infection, such as sinus infection, ear infection, or bacterial pneumonia, as a complication of flu, your doctor may advise you to use an appropriate antibiotic to it.
Bottom line: Use of antibiotics to relieve the symptoms associated with influenza (flu) is not a safe and effective option since it is not a bacterial infection.
We recommend having the flu vaccination on an annual basis as the best option to minimise potential harm from this nasty infection.
Southgate Medical Centre
ALCOHOL – HOW IS IT PROCESSED IN THE BODY
What is a standard drink, Alcohol intake guidelines, Effects of alcohol on our health?
Drinking alcoholic beverages is a norm in many of the Western countries including Australia. According to the latest statistics, 67.9% of Australians aged 18 years and older consume at least one full serving of alcohol in 12 months. Although the percentage of Aussies who drink alcohol on a daily basis has decreased significantly (from 6.5% in 2013 to 5.9% in 2016), there are many people out there who misuse it. Most of the people who drink alcohol on a daily basis have no idea at all as to how it is processed in the body and the impact it has as it travels through the body.
There is a strong need to educate people on how to drink responsibly, and understanding the effects on the body can make people realise how overuse or misuse affects the health.
How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body?
The effects of alcohol consumption on your body depends on your age, ethnicity, gender, daily consumption, and type of alcoholic beverages you drink. Besides this many other factors such as alcohol absorption, alcohol metabolism and alcohol elimination determine how it affects your body in the short and long run.
The process of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream starts as soon as you take your first sip. A significant percentage of the alcohol (almost 80%) is absorbed through the small intestine, while the remaining (20%) through the stomach. While the rate of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream may vary from person to person and is also influenced by what else you drink or eat, there is no way you can stop the alcohol from entering your system. Once it enters your system, it affects almost every organ and part of the body, including the brain.
Alcohol Metabolism | How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body
Once alcohol reaches the stomach, part of it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the tissue lining while the remaining (90%) is broken down into a number of different organic and non-harmful compounds by a process known as alcohol metabolism. While the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys play some role in alcohol metabolism, most of this breakdown occurs in the liver.
Alcohol Elimination | How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body
In addition to direct absorption and metabolism, some alcohol (about 10%) is also eliminated from the body without any changes. Most of this alcohol elimination is in the form of urine or perspiration, some alcohol is also eliminated through breath.
What Is a Standard Drink?
Alcoholic beverages come in different flavors, strengths, and serving sizes, this makes it harder for many responsible drinkers to keep track of how much alcohol they are consuming. As per the Australian guidelines, a healthy adult should not consume more than 2 standard drinks on any day to avoid any harmful side effects. So what is a standard drink?
A standard drink, in reality, is a unit of measurement. In Australia, this refers to any drink containing 10g of alcohol, regardless of the alcohol type or container size. Follow these guidelines to find out how many standard drinks are in different types of alcoholic beverages:
425 ml of low-strength beer (2.7% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink
100 ml of wine (white – 11.5% alc. vol. and red – 13%alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink
375 ml of mid-strength beer (3.5% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink
30 ml of spirit (40% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink
275 ml bottle of ready-to-drink beverages (5% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink
285 ml of full-strength beer (4.8% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink
Alcohol Intake Guidelines
There is no specific volume and concentration of alcohol that can be classified as completely “safe” or have “no risks”. Even small amounts of alcohol are associated with both short-term and long-term harms. The more you drink, the greater the risk. However, drinking alcoholic beverages within the recommended responsible limits can greatly reduce the risk of harm.
The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Australia have developed some guidelines for healthy men and women to stick to a responsible alcohol intake that can reduce the risk of harm from alcohol, these are:
- Guideline 1 – drinking no more than 2 standard-drinks of alcohol on any given day can greatly reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related injury, disease
- Guideline 2 – drinking no more than 4 standard drinks of alcohol on a single occasion can greatly reduce the risk of alcohol-related damage arising from that occasion
Effects of Alcohol on Our Health
Occasional responsible drinking of alcohol is generally fine, but irresponsible or regular drinking can cause some serious health and social problems, both in the short-term as well as long-term. Here is how “excessive” or “binge drinking” can damage your health:
- brain damage (loss of memory, hallucinations, fits, dementia)
- swollen liver (cirrhosis)
- risk of chest infections
- risk of STDs
- risk of HIV/AIDs
- impotence in men
- infertility in women
- loss of muscle
- enlarged heart (high blood pressure, irregular pulse)
Southbank Medical Centre
How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body
Heart Health And How You Can Improve It
Heart-related diseases or cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are still the number one killer of men and women in the world. According to recent estimates, more than 18 million people lose their lives due to CVDs each year. In Australia, 1 in 5 adults (22%) of the population are diagnosed with CVD every year. It is expected that by 2030 more than 23 million people living in different parts of the world will die from cardiovascular diseases.
The good news is that most of these heart diseases or CVDs can be prevented easily by making healthy lifestyle choices. Most of these choices revolve around minimising or completely eliminating the risk factors that increase your chance of developing CVD (heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and arrhythmia). Controlling the risk factors can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing any heart-related complications.
To understand how you can improve health of your heart, it is important to first have a good understanding of the risks factors that increase your chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
Risk Factors Associated with CVDs
There is no single thing that causes cardiovascular diseases; in fact, there are “risk factors” that increase your chances of developing CVDs. Some of the risk factors are:
- having high blood pressure
- having a high cholesterol level
- having insomnia (lack of sleep)
- having diabetes
- having depression
- being overweight
- being physically inactive
- heavy alcohol use
How to Improve Your Heart Health
Here are a few practical yet simple steps you can take at your end that will surely get you on the road to a healthier heart and better health in general.
Say Goodbye to Smoking
Smoking is one of the major risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the body to produce a hormone called “adrenaline” which makes the heart beat faster and raises the blood pressure. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the heart, this damages the artery walls. Other chemicals present in cigarettes damage the lining of the arteries and make the blood more likely to clot. All of these things increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, angina, and peripheral arterial disease.
Saying goodbye to smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your heart health.
Be Physically Active
Regular physical activity is good not only for your heart but also for your general wellbeing. People who are physically active have healthier bodies and minds than those who are not physically active. Regular physical activity helps to:
- build healthy muscles, bones, and joints
- improves cholesterol levels
- reduces the risk of diabetes
- improves mood and helps you sleep better
- decreases the risk of heart diseases
- lowers blood pressure
- improve body composition (body-mass-index ratio)
Moderate intensity rhythmic (aerobic) exercises such as cycling, brisk walking, and swimming are considered to be ideal for a healthy heart. Make physical activity part of your daily routine and aim to do at least 150 minutes of different aerobic exercises in a week to keep your heart in good shape.
Achieve & Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
If you are obese or overweight, you are at a higher risk of facing serious health problems like heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, diabetes, asthma or other breathing problems. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight goes a long way in keeping your heart healthy.
You need to first examine your daily eating habit and make sure you are not eating more calories than your body is able to burn, these extra calories actually result in weight gain. By eating the right portion sizes and cutting down on sugar and fats, you can dramatically reduce your waist size. Increasing your physical activity can help you burn the extra calories, and keep your body weight in check.
Eat Heart-Healthy Diet
Good nutrition plays a big role in keeping your heart healthy. By making smart food choices, you can significantly reduce your risk of CVDs. A heart-healthy diet helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol level, and your waistline. According to experts, here is what constitutes a heart-healthy diet:
- more portions of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and plain unsalted nuts
- un-refined whole grains and cereals such as oatmeal, brown rice, pasta, bread, and noodles
- moderate amounts of lean unprocessed meats, reduced dairy products, and skinless chicken
- oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, herring and lake trout (at least twice a week)
- low fat or fat-free milk and dairy products
- plant-based oils, such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil
- limited or no use of salt
The exact composition of the heart-healthy diet will ultimately depend on individual characteristics such as your age, gender, physical and mental health, lifestyle, the degree of physical activity, availability of food items in your area, and dietary customs.
Keep your Stress Levels under Control
There is a strong link between stress and heart health. Studies have shown that people who are under constant stress or do not have quality social support are at a greater risk of developing CVDs. Constant stress can also lead to the adoption of unhealthy habits such as smoking, use of drugs, and excessive use of alcohol, all of which increase the risk of heart diseases.
It is, therefore, very important to learn how to relax and effectively deal with stress. Here are some simple tips you can follow to tackle day-to-day stress:
- identify situations/activities that make you feel stressed and try to avoid them, if possible
- be realistic about your expectations/goals and do not try to push things to the limit to satisfy your end goals
- make sure to keep yourself active by engaging yourself in activities that you like
- try relaxation techniques or join meditation/yoga classes
- be socially active and share your feelings with your loved ones
It is never too late to make changes in your life and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Whatever your age, race, sex or medical condition, you can always make these adjustments in your life to protect your heart and your overall health.
Skin Cancer Moles | Mole Checks & Treatments
Moles, medically referred to as “melanocytic nevi” are pink, brown, or tan colored raised or flat skin lesions of cells that produce “melanin” – the pigment that gives human skin its color. Presence of moles on the skin is not unusual. On average, most people have 10-40 moles on different parts of their skin. They may be present at birth (congenital melanocytic nevi) or may develop in the later parts of life (usually adulthood) as a response to external stimuli (sunlight or UV light), these moles are referred to as acquired melanocytic nevi. Although genetics play an important role in determining the pattern and frequency of skin moles, exposure to sunlight and UV light can also cause you to have more moles and make the ones you already have larger and darker. So, how can you differentiate between a normal skin mole from a skin cancer mole?
While a skincare specialist (dermatologist) is the ideal person to tell the difference between a normal mole and an abnormal one, there are few simple things you can do at home to identify a troublesome mole/blemish/freckle.
Skin Cancer Mole Check
Moles come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Most of them are usually harmless and do not change, there are some that can grow, change in shape and color and even become cancerous (melanoma). Melanomas can develop from existing moles or they can appear as “new mole-like marks” on the normal skin. The good news is that moles that are considered unusual or “atypical” affect only 10% of the population and only 1 in 10,000 people will have a cancerous mole. With early diagnosis and detection, most melanoma cases can be successfully treated.
While a detailed exam by an experienced Dermatologist is the best way to determine if a mole is cancerous or not, there are a few specific things you can do on your own to spot changes or identify any potential cancerous growth. The ABCDEs of moles can help you analyze moles and check for warning signs that may indicate melanoma. If you see one or more signs, you need to consult your dermatologist immediately.
- Asymmetry – if the two halves of the mole may differ in appearance
- Border – if the outside edges or border of the mole is uneven, distorted, or ill-defined
- Color – if the color of the mole is changing and not consistent or if you see different colors of dark black, blue, red, purple, pink, or brown within the mole
- Diameter – if the diameter of a mole is larger than the diameter of the eraser found on the backend of pencil
- Evolution – if you notice any changes in color, size, shape, or thickness and if this change is rapid or different than you notice in other moles
The ABCDE formula is just a handy tool to watch for general signs, not all skin cancer moles have these traits. Some might be growing quickly but not have other characteristics, while others may not be growing but show discoloration and asymmetry. Your dermatologist will be able to come to a better conclusion after performing a careful history and physical examination and conducting some additional tests such as a biopsy.
The Treatment Options
The treatment for skin cancer moles depends on a number of factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, the size, location and depth of the melanoma, and your overall health. Surgical removal of the cancerous mole is the most preferred treatment option. A team of specialists including a dermatologist, a pathologist, a plastic surgeon, an oncologist, and a specialist nurse usually participates in these surgeries. In order to make sure that no traces of active cancer cells are left behind, the surgeon may remove a normal margin of the tissue surrounding the mole. If the team of doctors finds that a melanoma has spread beyond the skin, other treatment options may be used, such as:
- Radiation Therapy
- Biological Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
Knowing your risk factors and being aware of the early warning signs is the best way to deal with skin cancer moles. If you note any changes in the color, size, shape or appearance of your skin moles, don’t wait – consult your dermatologist as soon as possible.
Southbank Medical Centre
Skin Cancer Moles
Prostate Cancer | What Tests are Available For Detection
Who Is More at Risk, Why Don’t We Have a Screening Program For All Men, How Is It Diagnosed, What Treatments are Available
The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland located under the bladder and surrounding the urethra. The gland is part of the male reproductive system and is mainly responsible for the production of semen – the fluid that carries the sperm.
The formation of a tumor (abnormal, malignant cell growth) is referred to as prostate cancer. Sometimes the abnormal uncontrolled cell growth does not remain confined and may start to spread.
Prostate Cancer is generally a slowly progressing disease; the majority of men do not experience any marked symptoms and live with it for the rest of their lives without it spreading to other parts of the body and becoming life-threatening. However, high-grade cancer can spread very quickly and can prove to be fatal, therefore early diagnosis and management is the key to survival.
What Tests are Available for Detection of Prostate Cancer?
It is often very hard to detect since it normally grows very slowly and does not cause any other health problems. Moreover, some of the tests (such as PSA used for early screening of prostate cancer) may not yield accurate results and can prove to be misleading. This can lead to unnecessary treatment which can result in nasty side effects.
The most commonly used tests for detection are PSA blood test and digital rectal examination. However, both of these test do not diagnose, they are only helpful for detecting changes in the prostate gland.
- Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test
PSA is actually a protein made by the prostate cells as well as by cancerous cells. In order to measure the levels of PSA, a blood test is used. If the results of the blood test are above the normal range for your age or if they are rising rapidly, this may indicate the possibility of cancer. A high PSA level does not necessarily mean cancer since other prostate diseases can also raise the PSA levels in the blood.
- Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
Although not recommended as a routine test for men with no symptoms, the DRE is used to check the size, shape, and any abnormalities. DRE can be uncomfortable for some patients, but it is rarely painful. The examiner inserts a gloved lubricated finger into the rectum to probe any abnormalities. Presence of abnormalities does not always indicate prostate cancer, similarly, the absence of any abnormalities also does not rule out the chances of prostate cancer.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan
A specialised type of MRI is used for men suspected of having prostate cancer; it is called the mpMRI or multi-parametric MRI scan. The mpMRI combines the results of three MRI scans to show a clearer image of the abnormal areas. The mpMRI scan is usually recommended to help work out if a biopsy is needed and on which area to perform a biopsy (if needed). The mpMRI scan is also used to find out whether cancer has spread from the prostate to other nearby areas.
If the results of the above tests indicate the presence of abnormalities in the prostate, a biopsy is performed. Small amounts of tissues from different parts of the prostate are taken using a specialised needle. These samples are then examined by an expert pathologist to see if cancer cells are present or not.
Who Is More at Risk?
While it is still unclear what causes prostate cancer, your risk of developing prostate cancer can increase because of the following risk factors:
- Age – prostate cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men aged 60-79 and is very rare among men under 45.
- Genetics – a person has a higher risk of developing prostate cancer if his brother or father had it. Certain ethnic groups are at a higher risk because of their genetic makeup. In the US it is 60% more common and deadly among black men than white or non-Hispanic men.
- Geographical Location – people living in North America, the Caribbean Islands, Australia, and northwestern Europe are at an increased risk for reasons unknown.
- Diet – a diet rich in high-fat products or red meat is linked with increased risk of developing prostate cancer, but the links are weak and not confirmed yet.
- Obesity – some studies link obesity to be one of the risk factors of prostate cancer, however, there is no clear-cut evidence linking the two.
- Medication – use of certain medications such as NSAIDs is linked with the reduction of prostate cancer, while some studies suggest the use of NSAIDs to be a high-risk factor of death from this disease.
Why Don’t We Have a Screening Program for All Men?
Screening refers to testing a person for the early stages of cancer or any other disease before he/she starts to experience any symptoms. Screening for cancer patients is usually recommended if:
- the results of the screening tests are reliable
- the benefits would outweigh the risks
- screening tests have good value for money
The simple answer to the question “why don’t we have a screening program for all men” for prostate cancer is that we do not yet have any reliable enough screening test to use. The most commonly used tests for detection of prostate cancer are PSA blood test and digital rectal examination. However, both of these results do not diagnose cancer, they are helpful only for finding out changes in the prostate gland. Moreover, some of the tests (such as PSA used for early screening of prostate cancer) may not yield accurate results and as mentioned before can prove to be misleading.
Prostate Cancer – What Treatments are Available
Depending on your age, health status, and the stage of prostate cancer, your doctor will develop an appropriate treatment plan for you. Since it is a slow progressing cancer, many patients do not experience any symptoms or long-term issues, so treatment is not necessary. Treatment options for men with prostate cancer might include:
- Active Surveillance of Prostate Cancer
- Radiation Therapy
- Hormone Therapy
Southbank Medical Centre
Rosacea | What You Need To Know About
For most people, red flushed skin on the face is a common reaction to emotional feelings such as shyness, anger, embarrassment, or excitement. Yet, for others, it is a manifestation of an all-too-common, non-contagious inflammatory skin condition – Rosacea.
Rosacea is quite a complex medical condition and is often confused with Acne, Eczema, or skin allergy. It is quite common in women (especially during menopause and people with fair skin. In Australia, 10% of the population struggles with Rosacea. More women get affected by this skin condition than men, although in men the symptoms are usually more severe. The first symptoms of Rosacea start to appear between the ages of 30 to 50 years and tend to worsen with the passage of time.
Rosacea is a common but often poorly understood chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease with significant medical, cosmetic, and psychological impact on the daily lives of millions of people.
What Is It?
Rosacea, medically referred to as “rosacea acne” is a non-contagious inflammatory skin disease characterised, alone or in combination, by symmetric flushing, inflammatory lesions (pustules and papules), central facial erythema (redness), stinging sensation, telangiectasias, and phymatous changes (nodules and tissue hyperplasia).
Frequent flushing or blushing that lasts for just a few minutes is commonly the first sign. Over time, permanent redness may develop on the face, and in more severe cases, it can also affect the neck and the chest.
How Do I Know If I have Rosacea?
Occasional flushes of redness on the cheeks aren’t anything to worry about but if you experience persistent facial redness coupled with a burning sensation and slight swelling, it is possible that you have rosacea. Here are some other important signs and symptoms to look for:
- enlarged capillaries (telangiectasis)
- small red lines under the skin which appear somewhat swollen, warm, and red
- a permanent flush across cheeks and nose
- burning or stinging sensation
- small spots or lumps (which may later become painful) on the cheeks, chin, and forehead
- inflamed eyes/eyelids
- facial swelling
- a swollen nose (in men it becomes red, larger, and bumpy)
- thickening of the skin
While not all patients encounter all the symptoms and in the same severity, multiple symptoms can surface at once. If you encounter any or a combination of these symptoms, it is a good idea to look for triggers that aggravate the condition and cause the symptoms to worsen.
What Causes Rosacea?
Although the exact cause of rosacea is still unknown, many researchers believe that internal inflammation, heredity factors, lowered immune system, some bacteria, and dermodex mites (a microscopic creature that lives on everyone’s skin) are the major contributors.
Some of the factors (triggers) that can aggravate the condition and make the symptoms worse, include:
- emotional stress
- anxiety or anger
- hormonal changes (due to menopause)
- exposure to extreme weather conditions (hot or cold weather)
- eating spicy food
- drinking coffee and tea or other hot drinks
- UV exposure
- long term use of steroids
- strenuous exercise
- excessive alcohol consumption
Can Rosacea Be Cured?
It is important to note that rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can be controlled but not cured. The good news is that rosacea is generally responsive to treatment and with early diagnosis; most of the symptoms can be effectively treated and controlled.
The range of treatments available for rosacea are as diverse as the rosacea symptoms themselves, from topical applications to laser therapy or light treatment, your doctor (dermatologist) will be able to suggest the most suitable treatment plan for you.
Here are some of the treatment options for rosacea that your doctor (dermatologist) may suggest, depending on the type and severity of the symptoms:
- Self-help Measure
- taking good care of your skin
- avoidance of known triggers
- keeping the eyes/eyelids clean
- using less makeup
- Topical Treatments
- Azelaic Acid
- Brimonidine Tartrate
- Tretinoin cream
- Sodium sulfacetamide and sulfur
- Oral Medications
- Laser and Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment
- Cosmetic Surgery
- Alternative Therapies
How Long It Takes To See Results?
Depending on the type and severity of symptoms and the type of treatment option used, the time to see results will vary from person to person. Most people will start noticing some improvement with 3-4 weeks and significant improvement in 2-3 months.
Southbank Medical Centre
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
What Is It, Who Does It Affect, How Is It Diagnosed, How Is It Treated
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – What Is It?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder among teen girls and young women. As the term “polycystic” meaning “many cysts” suggests, it is a complex condition in which the ovaries become enlarged and contain multiple small-sized, fluid-filled cysts. It affects approximately 5-10% of women between the ages of 18-44 and is one of the leading causes of fertility problems with a potential to be a risk factor for type-2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, endometrial cancer, and heart diseases.
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS
Although PCOS is relatively common among infertile women, almost 70% of the women remain undiagnosed. Diagnosis of PCOS means the presence of polycystic ovaries and any one of the following three major symptoms:
- Irregular Menstrual Periods – irregular, infrequent, prolonged, or abnormally heavy periods are the most common symptoms of PCOS.
- Excess Androgen – elevated levels of “androgen” the “male hormones” which may result in excessive growth of hair in unwanted areas of the body such as the face, breasts, chin, or stomach.
- Polycystic Ovaries – the presence of enlarged ovaries containing many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) which surround the eggs. This may result in infertility problems, as the ovaries fail to function regularly.
If you experience any two of the above signs and symptoms, it is worth getting tested for this hormonal abnormality.
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS is still not clear; experts, however, believe that PCOS results from a combination of health, genetics, environment and lifestyle factors, some of which are very complex in nature. Some of the factors that might play a part include:
- high levels of insulin
- high levels of androgens
- low-grade inflammation
Who Does It Affect?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can happen at any stage after puberty and can affect women of all races, ethnicity, and color. Between 12%-18% of women of reproductive age (15-44 years) have polycystic ovarian syndrome. You are at a higher risk of PCOS, if you are overweight, or have PCOS in your family, such as your mother, sister, or aunt.
How Is It Diagnosed?
There is no single test that can be used to diagnose PCOS definitively, healthcare professionals often rely on a number of tests/exams to come to a solid conclusion. Your doctor will start by assessing your symptoms first, followed by asking your medical history and checking you physically. After ruling out other possible medical conditions, he/she will then recommend following exams/tests to come to a conclusion:
- Pelvic Exam – body parts such as vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum are checked for anything unusual. Your doctor may conduct a pelvic ultrasound to get a clear picture of these parts.
- Physical Exam – your doctor will also conduct a complete physical examination of your body including checking your weight, BMI, body fat, extra hair growth, acne, and discolored skin.
- Blood Tests – your doctor will finally conduct some blood tests to check for levels of male hormones, glucose, cholesterol, insulin, and other hormones.
For better results and prevention of other potential health problems, early diagnosis is important.
How Is It Treated
To date, there is no cure for PCOS and it does not go away on its own. Various treatment options are available though, but they are only aimed at managing the symptoms associated with this hormonal disorder and can help to reduce the risk of developing other serious long-term health problems such as heart diseases and diabetes.
Based on your symptoms, other health issues, medical history, your plans for having children and your potential risks of developing other long-term health problems, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan. For women who want to get pregnant, but are facing complications, the treatment plan will focus on helping them conceive.
Different medications may be prescribed by your doctor depending on the symptoms associated with PCOS. Some commonly prescribed medications include:
- Oral Contraceptive Medications – oral contraceptive pills are often prescribed for regulating the menstrual cycle, contraception, preventing the womb from thickening, and reducing excess hair growth and acne.
- Infertility Medications – are prescribed to help you get pregnant.
- Other Medications – your doctor may even advise you some medications to block the testosterone hormone.
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Menopause | What Are the Common Symptoms And Types of Treatment
Menopause – What Is It?
Medically speaking, menopause means that a woman’s menstrual periods have paused/stopped for one year. For a woman, it means that she has had her last period and she is no longer fertile. Although it is a completely natural process, and definitely not any kind of disease or illness, it sometimes can cause physical and/or emotional symptoms that can be very disturbing and can have a significant impact on everyday activities.
In many countries, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 45-55 years, however, 1 in 100 women will experience it before she celebrates her 40th birthday, this is referred to as premature menopause. Sometime it may occur all of a sudden while most of the time, the period will start to become less frequent over months and years before they come to a stop altogether.
Menopause – What are the Common Symptoms?
During this transition, hormonal changes in the body can have profound effects on a woman’s menstrual cycle accompanied with common symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and trouble sleeping. The severity of these symptoms varies from woman to woman and can range from mild in most cases to severe in others. Some common symptoms many women experience around the time of menopause are:
- irregular or skipped menstruation
- sore or tender breasts
- weight gain
- reduce sex drive
- increased urination
- vaginal dryness
- memory problems
- dry skin, mouth, and eyes
- hot flashes
- racing heart
- stiff/painful joints
- urinary tract infections
Menopause – What are Common Forms of Treatment?
For many women, menopause is a normal event and the symptoms associated with it go away on their own after some time. However, if you are not so lucky and you experience uncomfortable symptoms that affect your quality of life, your doctor can advise any of the following treatments depending on the severity of the symptoms, your age, health conditions, and lifestyle.
- Hormone therapy – also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT) uses a combination of estrogen and progesterone hormones
- Vaginal Estrogen – estrogen can be administered directly into the vagina in the form of a ring, tablet or cream to address the vaginal dryness.
- Low-dose antidepressants – for the relief of hot flashes
- Vaginal lubricants – for vaginal dryness and addressing painful intercourse
- Biphosphonates – for treatment of osteoporosis
- Psychotherapy or CBT- for addressing psychological issues such as anxiety and depression
Menopause – Non-medical Treatments
The good news is that most of the signs and symptoms associated with menopause are temporary in nature and may subside or go away on their own or by using some non-medical treatments such as:
- home remedies
- alternative medicines
- lifestyle changes
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