Menopause – What Is It?

menopause

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
  • insomnia
  • reduce sex drive
  • increased urination
  • vaginal dryness
  • memory problems
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • 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

Southbank Medical Centre
Melbourne GP

men's health

What Are The Common Causes Of Premature Death In Men; What Deaths Are More Likely In Men Than In Women; What Health Checks Should Men Have?

Very few men can expect to have a life expectancy like Misao Okawa of Japan, who recently died at the age of 117, and women live an average of 5-10 years longer than men. Although the male population enjoys a numerical advantage at birth (105 males for every 100 females), this advantage, however, decreases with the passage of time. By their first birthday, 21% more males than females will die and this pattern of excess male demise persists through every stage of life, such that by the time they reach the age of 65 and older, only 75 males are left for every 100 females. Moreover, this pattern of women outliving men is noted across all cultures. So, which men are at a higher risk of premature death, what are the causes of premature death in men, what deaths are more likely in men than in women, and what health checks should men have to beat the odds of premature death.

Which Men Are At A Higher Risk Of Premature Death?

People living in highly developed countries like Japan, Iceland, Hong Kong, and Australia enjoy higher life expectancy rates, in fact, Australia ranks the highest when compared with these three nations. However, Australian males do not enjoy a longer life when compared to their female counterparts. On average, Australian women can expect to live 84 years while Australian men enjoy a life expectancy of 79 years. This is because men are 2 times more likely to have liver diseases, 1.3 times more likely to have cancer and almost 3X more likely to contract HIV/AIDS. Yet, most men, especially the younger generation often tend to ignore common health issues that disproportionately affect them. Let’s have a closer at some categories of men which are at a higher risk of premature death:

  • Men Involved In a Criminal Activity – men who are involved in any criminal activity increase their risk of dying from homicides, suicides, accidents or other risky unlawful ventures.
  • Men With a Bigger Body Size – although bigger is sometimes better, unfortunately not when it comes to body size and longevity connection. On average, men with bigger body size (height of more than 6 feet) do not live as long as their shorter counterparts.
  • Men Addicted to Alcohol, Smoking, or Drugs – smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs in excess amounts can lead to a lot of serious health complications for men’s health.
  • Men Associated With High-Risk Occupations – all the world’s most dangerous (high-risk) occupations (firefighting, law enforcement, military, construction sites) are predominantly dominated by males.
  • Men With Weak Social Connections – women have stronger social connections, this is one of the reasons they enjoy a longer life. Men, on the other hand, are often not that open to discuss and share their problems with others; therefore they experience more psychological and mental health issues.  
  • Men Who Put-Off Regular Checkups And Medical Care – men usually have a tendency to avoid or delay regular checkup and medical care. Women, on the other hand, are very health conscious. Men’s health relies on checkups

What Are the Common Causes of Premature Death in Men?

As per the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the common causes of premature death in Australian men, in order from first to last are:

  1. Ischaemic heart disease
  2. Trachea and Lung Cancer
  3. Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
  4. Cerebrovascular disease
  5. Chronic lower respiratory disease
  6. Prostate Cancer
  7. Colon and Rectum Cancer
  8. Diabetes
  9. Blood and lymph Cancer
  10. Suicide

What Deaths Are More Likely In Men than In Women

With the exception of sex/gender related deaths, such as childbirth mortality, men outnumber women in many non-sex-related deaths. For example

  • Colon and rectum cancer – 55% of deaths are male
  • Suicide – 75%  of deaths are male
  • Blood and lymph cancer – 58% of deaths are male
  • Trachea and lung cancer – 60% of deaths are male
  • Ischaemic heart disease – 57% of deaths are male

What Health Checks Should Men Have?

While there is nothing you can do to avoid death, you can increase your odds of living a healthy and happy life and adding a year or two to it by being proactive about your health. Changing your lifestyle, adopting healthy eating habits, and performing routine screening tests can help you monitor and maintain your health.

Depending on your age, lifestyle choices, family history, and health condition, some of the following health screening checks may be recommended on regular basis for men’s health:

  • Blood Pressure Checkup
  • Cholesterol Profile
  • Blood Sugar/Diabetes Test

Southbank Medical Centre
Men’s Health
Doctor Melbourne

What Causes Allergies, Allergy Testing, Medical Treatments, Non-Medical Treatment/Prevention, Desensitisation Treatments

Allergies

Hay fever, medically referred to as allergic rhinitis is a common allergic condition that refers to a group of allergic hypersensitivity reactions in the nasal mucosa and the conjunctiva of the eye. Contrary to what the name “hay fever” suggests, it is not caused by hay and it seldom results in fever. Allergic rhinitis affects around 18% of children and adults in Australia and New Zealand.

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is caused by an allergic response to airborne environmental allergens (indoor or outdoor) such as pollens, dust mites, perfume, pet fur or dander, mold or fungi, and cigarette smoke. People who are allergic to these airborne environmental allergens may experience the following symptoms:

  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • nasal congestion
  • watery, red, or itchy eyes
  • itching throat
  • headaches
  • blocked ears
  • sinus pain
  • fatigue

What Causes Allergies 

Hay Fever occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies these airborne environmental allergens as something harmful and launches an “attack” to neutralize the threat. The immune system then triggers the release of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the threat. A chemical known as histamine released by the immune system is the primary culprit for the common symptoms associated with hay fever.

It is not clear yet what causes the immune system to launch the “attack”, however, there are certain factors that increase your risk of developing allergic rhinitis. Some of the most common triggers that cause allergies in people at different times of the year and in different environmental conditions are:

  • Pollens – there are more than 30 different types of pollens that can cause allergies in people and they originate from different sources such as grass, trees, and weeds. It is possible for a person to be allergic to more than one type of pollen.
  • House Dust – house dust also contains a number of pollutants (both organic and inorganic) that can trigger allergies. Some of the common allergens found in house dust are dirt, debris, dust mites, fibers, hair, smoke, insects, mammalian dander, saliva and feces from pets, insects, and mites.
  • Fungal Allergens – fungi and mold present in the indoor or outdoor environment also produce large quantities of allergenic spores.
  • Pets – household pets such as dogs, cats, birds, chickens, etc are an important source of domestic allergens and can cause severe allergies in people.
  • Occupational Irritants – common allergens found in workplaces include different forms of fumes, gases, dust, chemicals, enzymes, powders, asphalt, solvent vapors, diesel exhaust, ammonia, and wood dust.

Allergy Testing

Whether you experience seasonal allergic rhinitis – occurs in spring, summer, or early fall when the airborne grass pollens are at their peak, or experience the symptoms all year long (perennial allergic rhinitis), you need to visit an allergist to help you find the appropriate treatment option for your allergies. A clinical immunologist/allergy specialist may conduct a few allergy screening tests to identify the type of allergens disturbing you. The two main allergy tests your doctor may recommend are:

  • Skin Prick Test – skin prick test is the easiest, most sensitive and generally the least expensive test to identify allergens. In this test, the skin of the person is either pricked with a tiny amount of known allergen or an allergen is injected under the skin. If the skin shows a reaction to the presence of allergen/s, this would confirm that you have been sensitized to the allergen in question.
  • Blood Test – a blood test is conducted to check for the presence of certain antibodies, i.e. E (IgE) which is produced by the body when it comes into contact with the pollens that cause hay fever.

Medical Treatments

Although there is no cure for allergic rhinitis (hay fever), the symptoms associated with this common allergic condition can be relieved or managed by using various treatment modalities.

Avoidance

The best and easiest way to manage the symptoms associated with seasonal or perennial form of allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergens that trigger them. Following steps can be taken to avoid indoor or outdoor exposure:

  • keep windows, doors, vents closed to keep the allergens at bay
  • use “mite-proof” covers
  • wash your bed sheets, sofa covers, comforter covers, blinds, curtains frequently
  • keep the indoor humidity between 30 -50%
  • keep the floors, carpets, rugs, cleaned at all times
  • avoid going outdoors during the peak allergy season
  • wear sunglasses when outdoor
  • wear pollen mask when outdoor

Medications

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the allergens that trigger hay fever with these simple steps, under such circumstances your doctor (allergist) may prescribe different medications to relieve different symptoms. Various medications available to treat different symptoms of hay fever are:

  • Antihistamine tablets, eye drops, syrups, and intranasal sprays – effective for itching, sneezing, and watery eyes
  • Intranasal corticosteroid sprayers (INCS) – effective for blocked nose, dryness and irritation in the nasal passage
  • Combination medications (antihistamine + corticosteroids) – effective for itchy eyes, sneezing, watery eyes, and blocked nose
  • Decongestant sprayers – for unblocking dry, blocked nose
  • Decongestant tablets – effective for blocked nose

Non-medical Treatments/Prevention

Non-medical treatment for hay fever may include the use of natural products and alternative therapies.

  • saltwater/saline nasal sprays
  • herbal medicines
  • acupuncture

Desensitisation Treatments

Desensitisation also known as allergen immunotherapy is used to reduce the severity of symptoms and dependency for regular use of medications. Immunotherapy involves gradually administering small amounts of allergen extracts by means of drops, tablets, sprayers, or injections. It is a long-term treatment and may take up to 3-5 years to achieve good results. Two types of immunotherapy are available:

  • Allergy shots
  • Sublingual tablets

Southgate Medical Centre
Allergies
Doctor Melbourne

Diabetes – Can It Be Prevented? How Is Treated?

what is diabetes

Our bodies cells and organs need energy in order to perform various functions. Although many tissues use fat or proteins as a source of energy, some organs such as the brain and red blood cells rely on glucose for energy needs. A hormone called insulin, produced by the beta cells of the pancreas helps to convert blood sugar into usable energy, it also helps to control blood sugar levels and keep them in the normal range. Sometimes the pancreas is unable to produce enough or any insulin or fails to use insulin well, this results in an increase in the blood glucose (sugar) levels.

What is Diabetes?

Medically termed “diabetes mellitus” or simply DM is a metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to properly store, process, and use sugar. This can lead to an increase in the sugar levels in our blood. Increased levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood can lead to serious health complications including but not limited to heart diseases, kidney failure, blindness, and lower-extremity amputations.

Types

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and a challenging problem for public health worldwide. It is estimated that roughly 1.7 million Australians suffer from this chronic disorder, and a further 2 million are at a high risk of developing it in the coming years. As per the data shared by the World Health Organization, it will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. Despite all the dangers associated with it, many are still living with outdated assumptions about what it is, what the different types are, what the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 is, what are the causes and its risk factors.

Type 1 & 2 – What is the Difference between the two

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes aka juvenile onset or insulin-dependent is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system starts to destroy the pancreas – the insulin-producing gland. Since the body is unable to produce its own insulin, people suffering from Type 1 may have to use multiple insulin injections or a continuous infusion of insulin throughout the day in order to keep the blood sugar at normal levels. Although type 1 can occur at any age, children, teenagers, and young adults are the ones most affected by this type. Type 1 accounts for 10% of all people with diabetes in Australia. Unfortunately, there is no cure or means of preventing this type, it can only be managed.

Type 2

Type 2 aka adult-onset or non-insulin is the most common type and accounts for more than 80% of all diagnosed cases in Australia. People suffering from this type do produce insulin, but the cells in the body do not respond to it the way they used to or become resistant to the body’s own insulin. Type 2 is generally diagnosed after the age of 40, but it can also occur in childhood. If diagnosed early, type 2 can be effectively controlled or managed through a healthy diet, weight loss, and physical activity.

What Causes It

The underlying causes of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes are different, and despite popular belief, none of them is caused directly by eating too much sugar.

Causes of type 1:

  • autoimmune destruction of beta cells
  • damage or removal of the pancreas
  • endocrine disease
  • unfavorable environmental factors
  • viruses and infections
  • hereditary predisposition
  • autoimmune disease
  • drugs and toxic chemicals

Causes of type 2:

  • genetics
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • biochemical/hormonal imbalances
  • cellular starvation
  • hyperglycemia
  • high blood pressure
  • toxicity
  • insulin resistance

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention

Many studies suggest that a good diet accompanied with increased physical activity and other healthy lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake can dramatically reduce the progression of type-2 and may control type-1 diabetes. In addition to this, certain oral anti-diabetes drugs may also help prevent the development of type-2 diabetes in prediabetes individuals. Secondary prevention involves early identification of people with type-2 diabetes and offering support to make necessary lifestyle changes as well as following an effective treatment plan for both type-1 and type-2 diabetes in order to stop costly diabetes complications.

How Is Diabetes Treated

The key to leading a healthy life and reducing the risk of developing complications from diabetes is to seek the best possible treatment available. A number of treatment options are available to help you manage or treat diabetes. The treatment will vary depending on the type of diabetes, the age, lifestyle, and your individual needs.

Treatment Options for Type-1 Diabetes:

  • multiple daily injections (MDI)
  • insulin pump therapy
  • incretin mimetics
  • islet cell transplant

Treatment Options for Type-2 Diabetes

  • Tablets and medications
  • weight loss surgery
  • healthy diet and exercise.  

Southgate Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne


WHAT IS ARTHRITIS

Put simply, the term refers to “joint inflammation”. It is typically referred to as a single disease, in reality, however, it is an umbrella term used to describe more than 200 medical conditions/diseases (rheumatic diseases) that affect the joints including bones, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage.

Usually associated with older people, it can affect anyone from young children to senior citizens. It is one of the most common medical conditions in Australia, affecting more than 3.9 million adults and children, creating disability and medical expenses that exceed billions of dollars a year.

Whether you have recently been diagnosed with arthritis or have been living with it for quite some time, it can raise many concerns and questions. So, what are the different types, what can you do to prevent it, how is it treated, and what are some of the newer treatment options that can help you better understand and deal with its debilitating symptoms more effectively.

Symptoms

There are over 100 different types which affect people in different ways, but all of them share the following common symptoms:

  • persistent joint pain
  • swelling in joint/s
  • inflammation
  • tenderness and stiffness
  • decreased range of motion

Causes

Although there is no single common cause for the different types of arthritis, wear and tear of the joints, connective tissues, and ligaments from frequent use and/or injuries may result in an arthritic condition. Sometimes, it is difficult to pinpoint an underlying cause, but a combination of factors is thought to play a part. Some possible causes of arthritis may include:

  • genetics, such as osteoarthritis
  • immune system dysfunction, such as SLE and RA
  • injury, leading to degenerative arthritis
  • infections, such as arthritis in Lyme disease
  • abnormal metabolism, such as in osteoarthritis

What Are The Different Types?

Though arthritis can take more than 200 different forms, the most common types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) – also referred to as degenerative arthritis is probably the most common type of arthritis which affects the whole joint including muscles, bones, ligaments, and cartilage. More than 2.1 million Australians are affected by this type of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid (RA) – is the most common inflammatory form of arthritis caused by malfunctioning of the body’s immune system which starts to attach the connective tissues of different body parts/joints causing inflammation, pain, and degeneration of joint tissues.
  • Juvenile (JA) – an umbrella term used to describe different types of arthritis that affect children. Also referred to as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) or Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, this is actually a type of auto-immune disorder that affects around 6,000 Australian children annually.
  • Psoriatic (PSA) – this type of arthritis usually affects people with the skin disease psoriasis, however only 10-20% of the people with psoriasis will also have Psoriatic arthritis.
  • Reactive – this type of arthritis usually develops following an infection and causes swelling, pain, and inflammation of the joints.
  • Gout – another common type of rheumatic disease which is caused by the accumulation of urate crystals inside the joints causing inflammation, pain, and swelling. This type of arthritis usually affects the joints at the base of the big toe, but it may affect other body joints such as joints in the wrists, knees, ankles, and elbow.
  • Fibromyalgia – also referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a type of central pain syndrome in which the brain processes the pain signals differently and amplifies the perception of the pain. It causes generalized body pain, extreme fatigue, and muscle stiffness.
  • Lupus – also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is also a type of autoimmune disease in which body’s own immune system starts to attack other healthy body tissues, producing widespread inflammation. SLE can impact other body organs such as kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, and skin besides affecting joints.

What Can I Do To Prevent It?

Aging is a natural process and there is nothing we can do to stop or avoid it. As we age, several parts of our body naturally wear down; especially our joints that help connect the bones. The wearing of joints makes them inflamed or damaged over time and this is one of the main reasons we experience arthritis pain. By the time we reach the age of 65, nearly half of us will suffer from some type of arthritis.

Although there is nothing you can do to stop the natural aging process, or change your genes, there are certain things you can do to keep your joints healthy, maintain mobility and functionality, and make yourself a less likely candidate for certain types of arthritis.

  • Lose Weight – being overweight is a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis and many other chronic diseases. Overweight women are 4X more likely to experience osteoarthritis pain than women with healthy body weight. Losing weight is a good start to lowering your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  • Be Physically Active – by participating in various physical activities, such as walking, running, weight lifting, swimming, etc you will not only be able to reduce your excess weight but also strengthen the muscles around the joints. Certain exercise programs such as stretching and aerobic activities will also help you maintain your flexibility and range of motion.
  • Eat Healthy Diet – healthy diet rich in certain nutrients such as vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids is linked with healthy bones and joints and reducing inflammation. Eating fish like sardines, trout, salmon, and mackerel twice a week may lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women.
  • Avoid Injury – people with past joint injuries are at a greater risk of experiencing arthritis pain. Therefore make sure to wear protective gear while playing any sports and always use the correct techniques.
  • Protect Your Joints – the better you take care of your joints, the better they will take care of you down the line. Avoid lifting heavy items, avoid sitting in awkward positions, and avoid putting too much pressure on your joints to protect them for later part of your life.

Pay Regular Visits to your Doctor – arthritis is a progressive disorder, means the longer you wait to seek treatment, the more the damage. Visit your doctor or a rheumatologist on regular basis and seek his/her professional advice on how to prevent arthritis and preserve your mobility.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

what are wartsHow Do I get them?

These are a few common questions that most people feel embarrassed to ask. But despite their bad rep, they are incredibly common especially in school-aged children or those who are immunosuppressed.

Also referred to as verrucae vulgaris or papillomas, are tiny, grainy skin growths (non-cancerous) that appear when the top layer of skin is infected with one of the many viruses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. While they can appear anywhere on your skin, you are more likely to get them on your hands or feet. The viruses that cause them are highly contagious; therefore they can easily spread by contact.  It takes the virus 2-6 months to develop into a wart once it comes in contact with the skin. The good news is that they eventually disappear on their own and they are harmless, except their physical appearance which is quite bothersome and embarrassing for some.

What Causes Them?

Regardless of their type they are caused by the same virus – the human papilloma virus (HPV). The HPV virus has more than 150 known strains, some of these strains (HPV-1, HPV-2, HPV-4, and HPV-27) are responsible for skin warts that are common in children and tend to disappear with increasing age.  Some strains such as HPV-6 HPV-11 are responsible for genital warts.

Since the viruses that cause them are contagious, you may get them by coming in direct contact with a person who is infected with them. Alternatively, you can also get them by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces such as towels, razors, tissues, or public places (swimming pools, gyms, etc).

What are the different types?

Depending on their size, appearance, and location, they can be broadly classified into the following 5 main types:

    1. Common (verruca vulgaris) – these are small, flesh-colored growths usually round in shape with a rough surface found on the back of the hands, the fingers, and the on the skin around nails and feet. Sometimes they have little black dots that make them look like tiny seeds.
    1. Foot (plantar warts) – these are usually flat, thick, and have a tough texture and found on the sole of your feet. Since there is pressure on them (from standing or walking), plantar warts are usually flat in shape and found in clusters.
    1. Flat (verruca plana) – these are flatter, thicker, and often come in large numbers (often 20-100 at a time). Flat warts are most commonly found on the face, forehead, legs, and hands.  
    1. Filiform – these are long, thin, thread-like warts that usually appear on the face – around your eyes, nose, or mouth. They are very fast-growing and among the most visually shocking warts.
  1. Genital – these warts come with a grainy “cauliflower-like” appearance and are grey or off-white in color. Since they are sexually transmitted, they usually appear in the vagina, anus, the cervix, and around the vulva. Genital warts can also appear in the mouth and throat.

How Are They Treated?

The majority are harmless and usually go away on their own, unless, of course, they become painful or grow in size and become very embarrassing. Waiting for them to go away on their own, however, may prove to be risky as they might grow in size and volume and there is always the risk of contaminating others with this disease. As such, it is best to seek immediate medical treatment to reduce the risk to others. The best treatment for warts will ultimately depend on the type, complexity, and location of the wart and the age and physical health of the patient. Keep in mind, there is no cure for the human papillomavirus, so even though the wart may be gone from your skin, the virus might stay in the skin and the wart may reappear. Let’s have a look at some of the common treatment options for warts:

  • use of prescription creams (with strong salicylic or glycolic acid)
  • use of peeling products (OTC liquids, gels, and pads with salicylic acid)
  • cryosurgery (use of liquid nitrogen to freeze off warts)
  • cantharidin (often used to treat warts in young children)
  • electrocautery
  • laser light
  • injections
  • use of immune system stimulators such as imiquimod – often used for the treatment of genital warts
  • vaccination (such as Gardasil)

Southgate Medical
Doctor Melbourne

what is anxiety disorder

Occasional anxiety (a feeling of nervousness, apprehension, fear, and worry) is an expected part of modern life. It is our body’s natural response to keep us safe from various stressful or unexpected situations/changes. For instance, speaking in public, going to a job interview or before taking a test may cause some people to feel nervous and fearful. However, if the symptoms of anxiety do not go away and happen without any particular reason or cause, you may be a victim of an anxiety disorder.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorder is the most common form of mental illness characterized by feelings of constant, excessive, uncontrollable, and unrealistic fear or worry, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. In Australia, anxiety disorder affects more than 2 million people in a single year. On average, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience this form of mental illness at some stage in their life.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term and encompasses several different conditions each with a unique set of symptoms. However, all the different forms of anxiety orders share the following general symptoms:

  • overwhelming fear, panic, and uneasiness
  • hot and cold flushes
  • a surge of doom and gloom
  • trouble concentrating
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • restlessness
  • sleep problems
  • increased or irregular heartbeat
  • muscle tension
  • back pain
  • muscle tension

medical centre melbourne

The Different Forms

Let’s have a look at the five major types:

  1. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – characterized by a feeling of excessive, unrealistic, and constant fear and worry about everyday things, even when there is little or nothing to trigger it.
  2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – characterized by recurring irrational thoughts (obsessions) that lead the patient to perform specific, repeated behaviors (compulsions).
  3. Panic Disorder – characterized by feelings of anxiety (panic attack) combined with a range of physical symptoms.   The patient may live in constant fear of the next panic attack.
  4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – characterized by a set of adverse emotional, cognitive, and behavioral changes that are experienced persistently following a traumatic event.
  5. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) – characterized by a strong feeling of extreme fear or anxiety and self-consciousness about every day social situations.

How to Manage It?

There are many ways to effectively manage your disorder before it takes control of your life. The type of treatment that’s good for you will ultimately depend on the type you are experiencing. Often, it can be easily managed by using a combination of

  • medication – antidepressants, Pregabalin, Beta-blockers, Benzodiazepine tranquilizers
  • psychology – counselling, applied relaxation therapy
  • behavioural therapy – CBT

Medical Centre SouthbankWhat to Do When You Experience a Panic Attack

Panic attacks can be sudden and very terrifying. They can last from a few minutes to a few hours and can leave the patient frightened and uneasy. Panic attacks are usually accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms. Learning to effectively manage a panic attack can help limit potential triggers and reduce the risk of re-occurrence. Here are some things that can help manage panic attacks:

  • acknowledge you are having a panic attack
  • retreat to a quiet place
  • divert your focus onto something enjoyable
  • deep, focussed breathing

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

The Sleep Health Foundation Australia estimates that nearly 30%-40% of people living in Australia snore at night. Snoring is more common in men than women and usually worsens with age and obesity. There are no major risks with… Read More

What is Alzheimer’s diseaseWhat is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible, progressive neurodegenerative disease that slowly destroys brain cells and affects an individual’s memory, cognition, judgment, learning, and ability to perform daily activities.

Alzheimer’s Facts

Alzheimer’s disease has a major impact on the health and wellbeing of Australians. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 10 Australians aged 65 and above suffer from dementia (AZ accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases) and according to the latest estimates, it is the single leading cause of disability and third leading cause of deaths for older people in Australia, behind heart diseases and cancer. It is estimated over 1 million Australians will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by the end of 2050.

Although AD is more common in older people, contrary to common belief, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. Adults younger than 65 can also develop this progressive neurodegenerative syndrome also referred to as Young Onset Alzheimer’s or YOD.

Those who suffer from this progressive neurodegenerative syndrome may experience different outcomes. Some may experience mild cognitive damage and live a long time, while others may experience a rapid onset of symptoms, more complications, and early death.

Doctor MelbourneDementia vs. Alzheimer’s

There is often much confusion about the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” and people sometimes use these words interchangeably. However, both these conditions are separate disorders. Although the signs and symptoms of dementia and AD may overlap, distinguishing them is important for effective management and treatment of each.

Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of conditions (including Alzheimer’s) that affect an individual’s memory, thinking, reasoning, learning, judgment, cognition, and ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia can occur due to a variety of conditions, Alzheimer’s being the most common. Other medical conditions that can cause dementia are Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD)

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia with as many as 70-80% of all dementia cases being attributed to Alzheimer’s disease. AD is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function.

southbank medical centreSymptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Since it is a progressive disorder, the symptoms take some time to develop and eventually become more severe in nature with the patient becoming unable to perform routine tasks and becoming totally dependent on others.

  • minor memory loss
  • mood changes, including anxiety and irritability
  • difficulty learning new things
  • difficulty processing information
  • difficulty communicating clearly
  • difficulty recognizing family and friends
  • loss of appetite
  • problems in urine/faeces
  • severe disorientation

Causes and Risk Factors of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s is caused by the death of nerve cells and tissues throughout the brain. As the cells die, the brain tissues shrink which affects the memory, speech, and comprehension. Experts still have no idea as to why the brain cells start to die, but they have identified certain risk factors that can make you vulnerable to developing Alzheimer’s disease, these include:

  • increasing age
  • family history & genetics
  • obesity
  • down syndrome
  • head trauma

Are There Any Treatments That Can Help?

To date, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, once the process of brain cells damage/death has started, there is no way to reverse, slow or stop it. However, there are certain drug as well as non-drug options you can use to control symptoms and maintain your function.

Medications

  • Donepezil or Rivastigmine – for early to moderate Alzheimer’s
  • Memantine or Donepezil – for moderate to severe Alzheimer’s
  • Anti-anxiety, anti-depression or anti-psychotics medications – for treatment of certain symptoms such as depression, anxiety, agitation, restlessness, hallucination, etc.

Therapies

Besides medications, other treatments and activities are also important in helping people suffering from AD or dementia, these may include:

  • Cognitive Stimulation Therapy
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation
  • Reminiscence work

Doctor Melbourne CBDAlternative Treatments

More recently, a number of alternative treatment options such as dietary supplements, herbal products, and adjusted diet have been shown to help delay or prevent some of the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, these include:

  • Caprylic acid and coconut oil
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Coral calcium
  • Huperzine A
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Tramiprosate

How to Prevent Alzheimer’s

There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s as there is no cure for this progressive neurodegenerative syndrome. The only way you can prevent cognitive decline associated with AD is to adopt some healthy lifestyle habits, these may include:

  • maintaining an active social life
  • participating in cognitive training exercises
  • eating a plant-based healthy diet
  • maintaining good sleep
  • consuming more antioxidants
  • doing mild exercises on a daily basis
  • reducing or removing tobacco and alcohol intake

What is seasonal affective disorderChanging weather can have a profound effect on our body and mind. We all feel happy and relaxed during spring and summer, while the cold, cloudy days and long, dreary nights of winter often make us feel depressed. If you are someone who is feeling gloomy because of the abnormal polar temperatures, you’re not alone, there are millions of people who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) also called “winter depression” or “seasonal depression” is a form of depression that is provoked by seasonal changes. The symptoms of SAD are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter months and this is the reason it is also referred to as “winter depression”. Some people may experience episodes of depression during the summer months, but it’s a lot less common.

Let’s take a look at some common questions people have about this disorder:

What Are The Signs & Symptoms of SAD? | What is seasonal affective disorder?

Doctor MelbourneIn most cases, people start to experience SAD symptoms during late autumn or early winter and find relief during the sunnier days of spring and summer. The severity, patterns, and characteristics of SAD symptoms may vary considerably from person-to-person, and usually, include many symptoms similar to major depression. Common symptoms of “winter depression” include:

  • persistent low mood
  • a feeling of sadness and hopelessness
  • lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities
  • low sex drive
  • trouble concentrating
  • daytime fatigue
  • increased irritability
  • tendency to oversleep
  • decreased physical activity
  • carvings for simple carbohydrates and tendency to overeat
  • weight gain

Causes of SAD | What is seasonal affective disorder?

The exact causes of seasonal affective disorder remain unknown; however, experts believe that it is the lack of sunlight during winter that might affect a part of the brain called the “hypothalamus” and stop it from working properly, which may result in:

  • Overproduction of Melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone produced and secreted by the pineal gland and helps to regulate sleep and mood. During the shorter and darker winter days, the body increases the production of melatonin. Increased production of melatonin makes the person lethargic and sleepy.
  • Reduction in Serotonin levels – serotonin (aka happy hormone) is a hormone produced by the pineal gland and helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. Reduces sunlight exposure during the winter days causes a drop in the production of this hormone. Reduction in serotonin levels in the body during the winter season is the main cause of depression.
  • Disruption of Body’s Internal Clock – shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter may also disrupt the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), this can also lead to feelings of depression.

medical centre southbankWhat Can You Do to Manage SAD? | What is seasonal affective disorder?

Depression in any form or at any time is not good for both mental and physical health. If you think you are experiencing some of the symptoms of SA, you need to seek medical care. There are a number of things you can do for yourself to effectively manage the symptoms of SAD, let’s explore some options:

  • increased exposure to sunlight
  • develop a sleep routine
  • eat right
  • remain active
  • participate in social activities
  • exercise regularly
  • meditation
  • light therapy
  • antidepressant medications

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?