Category: Womens Health

Southbank Medical Centre

OBESITY AND HORMONES

Obesity and Hormones

Which Hormones Affect Weight and Obesity, Medical Conditions Associated With Obesity, Medications Which May Help Control Obesity

Obesity and Hormones

We all have heard it many times: the obesity epidemic, which affects more than two thirds (67%) of the Australian adults and costs the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year, is a result of increased intake of energy-rich foods and decreased exercise and physical activity. In other words, if people ate fewer Big Macs and jogged more, there wouldn’t be as many obese people in the world. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat- accumulation in the body that might increase the risk to health”. In the medical field, doctors use a handy tool, the BMI or Body Mass Index to assess if a person is obese for their sex, age, and height. BMI is calculated by considering a person’s weight and height. If a person has a high (30.0 – 39.9) body-mass-index (BMI), he/she is considered obese. 

Obesity may be linked to poor diet habits and lack of physical activity to some extent, but it is not just about energy balance, i.e. calories in v/s calories out, it is much more complex.  Researchers now agree that hormones and genes also play an important role in obesity. Instead of treating it as an energy-balance disorder, researchers now regard it as a “metabolic defect”, and blame some specific hormones. The linkage between obesity and hormones has been studied extensively in the recent years. Researchers are now convinced that certain hormones such as insulin, leptin, growth hormones, and sex hormones play an important role in obesity and an increase in body weight. These hormones play a significant role in metabolism, body fat distribution, appetite, and body fat storage. So, which hormones affect weight and obesity and how do we treat obesity.

Which Hormones Affect Weight and Obesity

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by endocrine glands and secreted directly into the bloodstream. Hormones play an important role in a wide range of essential functions in the body. From the rapid, awkward changes we experience at puberty to regulating metabolism and making us fall asleep, without the hormones we would never grow, reproduce, or digest. 

Excess or a deficit of any of the hormones secreted by the endocrine system can harm the body. Researchers have found that obese people have elevated levels of certain hormones in the body that encourage abnormal metabolism and the accumulation of body fat. Obesity, in turn, can also lead to changes in the bodies hormones. 

Here is a list of some hormones that play an important role in the metabolism, appetite and body fat distribution, and are linked with obesity:

  • Insulin 
  • Androgens
  • Leptin
  • Growth hormones, and 
  • Oestrogens

Medical Conditions Associated with Obesity

Obesity and weight gain is not simply a cosmetic problem; healthcare professionals now regard it as a serious health hazard as it is linked to several serious medical conditions. People who are obese are twice as likely to die prematurely as a normal weight person. Some of the important medical conditions associated with obesity are listed below:

  • Heart Diseases (hypertension, stroke, coronary heart diseases)
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallbladder disease & gallstones
  • Gout
  • Sleep apnea
  • Some cancers (live, kidney, gallbladder, breast, colon, or endometrial)
  • Mental Illness (depression, anxiety)

Not all obese people experience these medical conditions, but the risk rises for those who are more obese and those with a family history of any of those illnesses. The good news is that losing a fraction of the extra body weight can significantly reduce your chances of facing any serious health issues down the line. 

Medications Which May Help Control Obesity

Gaining weight is easy and quick but losing weight is not. Losing weight is a long term commitment and demands a lot of patience. Fortunately, a number of weight loss strategies are available. If you want to lose weight, you need to first make up your mind and be serious about it and then find an appropriate strategy that works for you. It is always a good idea to visit your GP or healthcare provider to seek some professional advice before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or diet plan. Here are some of the ways to treat obesity:

  • Dietary Programs
  • Exercise Programs
  • Public Policy
  • Medications
  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Hormonal Treatment
  • Surgery

Medications to Control/Treat Obesity and Hormones

Although changes in lifestyle and diet plans is the best and safest course for people who want to lose weight, if these weight loss strategies fail, you may wish to discuss other medical and surgical treatments with your doctor.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Back Pain Red Flags

Back Pain Red Flags

Understanding What It Could Mean

Back Pain Red Flags

Back pain, particularly lower back pain (LBP) is one of the major causes of disability and a source of substantial healthcare spending in the world. You will be surprised to know that back pain is one of the top five medical problems in modern society. Since back pain is a symptom, it is important that the root cause of the problem is identified first before proper treatment can be started. While majority of back pain (almost 90%) is classified as “non-specific”, indicating that the exact cause of the pain is not clear, 10% of the patients with LBP may have other serious underlying pathology such as an infection or malignancy, which demands a timely and accurate diagnosis before proper treatment can be initiated. The signs and symptoms that suggest a patient’s back pain may be the result of a potentially serious pathology as opposed to the more common underlying causes such as tissue injury, sustained postural overload, or RSI are referred to as Back Pain Red Flags. 

The presence of any of the back pain red flags in a patient means that there is a need to thoroughly investigate the patient for other serious diseases such as cancer, inflammatory arthritis, abdominal aortic aneurysms, infections, and auto-immune diseases. The good news is that the majority of the patients (as much as 90%) with LBP do not suffer from any of these serious pathologies. But, as a patient, it is important for you to be aware of these back pain red flags and understand what it could mean so that you can get the right treatment at the right time. 

5 Important Back Pain Red Flags 

Following is a list of 5 important back pain red flags that you need to keep in mind and understand and try to convey to your doctor since these are the initial signs and indications that can make the difference between early and complete recovery and more complications in the future. 

  1. Unexplained Weight Loss – although usually not associated with back pain, if you are losing weight rapidly, it can be a symptom of cancer.
  2. History of Malignancy – patients with back pain who also have a previous history of cancer, need to pay special attention since there is always a possibility of recurrence. 
  3. Bladder or Bowel Dysfunction – any time you experience bladder or bowel dysfunction as a result of back pain, it can be a sign that the nerves in the spinal cord may be seriously injured.
  4. Severe Sensory or Motor Disturbance – severe sensory or motor disturbance associated with LBP may be an indication that there is something wrong with your spinal nerves. 
  5. Saddle Anesthesia – LBP patients who experience loss of sensation in the buttock area may be suffering from CaudaEquina syndrome. 

It is worth repeating here that anytime you notice any of these back pain red flags you need to contact your doctor immediately and ask for a thorough examination. 

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

How Fast Food Impacts The Body

How Fast Food Impacts The Body
How Fast Food Impacts The Body

Most of us are all familiar with the term ‘Eat Healthy to Live Healthy’, unfortunately, we rarely pay attention to it and don’t feel too guilty when we grab a zinger burger / pizza or take a sip of coke while driving to or from work. Our lives are so busy these days that many of us don’t pay as much attention as we should to the quality of food we consume on a daily basis. According to the latest research, average families spend more than half of their food budget on ‘fast food’ sometimes also classified as ‘Junk food’. Fast food is any type of food which is highly processed; contain large amounts of added sugar, carbohydrates, sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. Fast food is often rich in calories and very poor in nutritional value. While an occasional night out at a fast-food restaurant is not bad, a habit of eating burgers, pizzas, french fries, energy bars, pasta, bagels, soda, frozen entrees and deli meats can have both short-term as well as long-term adverse effects on your body. Read on to learn how fast food impacts the body.

How Fast Food Impacts the Body

The majority of fast food offered to the public is cheap, tasty, attractive, convenient and socially acceptable in most cultures. Many global food chains spend millions of dollars on marketing their products and offering different kinds of value meals. As an end-user, it is your responsibility to make healthy choices in your life and try to avoid junk food as much as possible. Here are 5 ways fast food can impact your body in a relatively short amount of time:

  1. It Can Make You Obese – fast food is extremely rich in calories, frequent use can lead to unintentional weight gain. 
  2. It Can Skyrocket Your Cholesterol – since fast food (particularly fried items) contain trans- fats, it can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in your body. 
  3. It Can Expose You To Cardiovascular Diseases – fast food contains fat that is made up of saturated fatty acids, these fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels. In addition to that sodium found in fast foods is a risk factor for various cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and stroke. 
  4. It Can Cause Frequent Insulin Spikes – fast food contains loads of carbohydrates and sugar, this increases the body’s demand to produce more insulin, resulting in rapid insulin spikes. This can also lead to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. 
  5. It Can Increase Your Risk of Developing Cancer – fast food contains preservatives such as sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, these preservatives are used to maintain meat colour and hamper bacterial growth. Sodium nitrate and Sodium nitrite can breakdown into nitrosamines – which can cause cancer.

Southank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Health Checks | Why Are They Important?

Women's Health Melbourne

What Should Be Checked For Women? What Should Be Checked For Men? How Often Should We Have Health Checks?

Health Checks

The term “healthy” may have different meanings for different people, since all of us have different “health goals”. Some of us want to lose weight to look good and feel healthy, whereas for others gaining an extra few kg’s is the goal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the definition of ‘health’ or ‘healthy’ goes way beyond the absence of disease or infirmity; it actually refers to a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. A medically, emotionally, and physically fit person is able to recover and bounce back from different diseases, illnesses, and other problems more quickly and easily and enjoys a healthier and happier life. In order to achieve good health, regular physical activity, healthy diet, healthy relationships, a clean environment, genetics and also regular health checks play an important role.  

Why are Regular Health Checks Important?

The best way to maintain health is to preserve it and the best way to preserve your health is to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. Regular health checks not only help identify underlying medical conditions, but they can also guide you to options that speed up the recovery process and help you maintain and/or improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

Here are five important benefits of regular health checks:

  1. Preventive Care
  2. Ongoing Medical Documentation
  3. Health Planning
  4. Personalised Care
  5. Less Healthcare Costs In The Future

What Health Checks Should Be Done For Women

At times, it may seem difficult to spare the time from your busy schedule to go visit your primary healthcare provider, especially if you are not sick, but having some routine checkups will go a long way in making sure that you stay healthy for a long time to come. 

A full health checkup specifically designed for women typically includes a comprehensive general check including markers for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cholesterol, osteoporosis, major organ functions, and common cancers like breast, liver, and colon cancer. Before your examination, your GP may ask about your medical history, family’s history of diseases, and your lifestyle choices. Your GP will then integrate this information with the results of your tests to detect any potential health issues or the risk of disease. Here is a list of some important medical checkups every woman should undertake:

  • Blood Pressure Screening – checks for any potential cardiovascular diseases
  • Cholesterol Check – assess the risk of developing heart diseases or stroke
  • Pap Test – checks for cervical cancer
  • Mammograms – checks for breast cancer
  • Bone Density Screening – checks for bone diseases, such as osteoporosis
  • Blood Glucose Tests – checks for diabetes
  • Colon Cancer Screening – checks for colon cancer
  • Skin Cancer Screening – checks for screen cancer

Depending on your general health and your family medical history, your GP may advise more tests. Some of these tests may be expensive but the good news is that most of them are now covered in health insurance plans. So, it is always a good idea to check with your insurance provider before making appointments. 

What Health Checks Should Be Done For Men

Most guys don’t visit a doctor until there’s something wrong. However, by being proactive and getting the recommended health screenings for some common medical conditions, they can ensure that they spend less time at the doctor’s office in the long run. 

Here is a list of some essential health checks every man 45 years or older should consider to stay healthy and to pick up early warning signs of illness or disease:

  • Prostate Cancer Screening
  • Blood Pressure Screening – checks for any potential cardiovascular diseases
  • Cholesterol Check – assess the risk of developing heart diseases or stroke
  • Blood Glucose Tests – checks for diabetes
  • Skin Cancer Screening – checks for screen cancer

How Often Should We Have a Checkup?

Let’s face the reality, no one likes to hear bad news, especially if it is concerning their health, but the consequences of skipping regular health checkups can sometimes be quite severe. How often you visit your doctor for such tests will ultimately depend on many factors such as your current health conditions, your age, ethnicity, gender, family history, and your risk of contracting disease. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide how often you should have health checkups:

  • Age 18-30 – once in every 2-3 years
  • Age 30-50 – once in every 2 years
  • Age 50 and above – once in a year

These are just general guidelines and are not set in stone, your GP will be in a better position to advise you on frequency of health checkups after analysing your current health status, medical history, family history, gender, age, and many other things.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Not Sleeping Well? | What Are The Affects On Your Body

What Are The Effects Of Lack Of Sleep Your Body
What Are The Effects Of Lack Of Sleep Your Body

For many people, “a good night sleep” is merely considered down time, when the brain shuts off and the body is at complete rest. Many people tend to give less priority to sleep than other obligations that seem much important. The latest research, however, suggests that the body and mind perform a number of important activities during sleep that help us stay healthy and function at our best during the day.

Insufficient sleep or poor sleep, is linked to a number of problems, some of which are experienced immediately such as fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, and lapses in memory. Also, growing evidence suggests that a chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, decreased fertility, Immune system deficiency, depression, and anxiety. Lack of sleep or inadequate sleep is a major problem in Australia affecting 30-45% of the population. So, what are the effects of lack of sleep on your body and how can we effectively get more of it.

Effects of Lack of Sleep on the Body

Let’s take a closer look at some of the surprising effects of lack of sleep on the body and mind:

Lack of Sleep and Your Heart

Effects of long-term sleep deprivation on your heart can be dangerous and even deadly. Chronically sleep-deprived people are more likely to get cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and stroke. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Brain

Lack of sleep or poor sleep can leave the brain exhausted. An exhausted brain is unable to perform the necessary duties that are vital to keeping us happy, healthy, and productive. Chronic sleep deprivation can result in short and long-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, drowsiness, irritability, lack of motivation, lowered alertness and chronic stress. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Stomach

Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in appetite and lack of physical activity, which in turn may lead to obesity. Sleep deprivation is also believed to cause higher levels of insulin to be released. Higher levels of insulin in the blood promote fat storage and also increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Immune System

While we sleep, our body produces cytokines – protective, infection-fighting antibodies. Cytokines defend our body against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria that cause common illnesses. Lack of sleep significantly decreases our body’s ability to produce these antibodies and therefore make us more vulnerable when exposed to different viruses, germs, and bacteria. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Skin

Saggy skin and puffy eyes are some of the common symptoms of sleep deprivation. If you experience chronic sleep issues, it may even lead to lackluster skin, dark circles under the eyes and more fine lines and wrinkles. Lack of sleep causes the body to release more cortisol – a stress hormone. Higher levels of cortisol in the body cause break down of the collagen in the skin, resulting in many different ageing effects. 

So, what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Here are some handy tips you can try to restore your sleep balance and ensure unrestricted good-quality sleep. 

  • make sure to stick to a bedtime routine
  • make healthy eating choices
  • get ample exposure to sunlight during the day
  • hit the gym and perform mild exercise during the day
  • avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcoholic drinks close to bedtime
  • keep your bedroom dark and quiet and as comfortable as possible
  • practice relaxation techniques / mindfulness before bedtime

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

What Are The Surgical Options For Weight Loss

Obesity and Hormones

Operations Available, Benefits and Risks, Success Rates of Treatment

Surgical Treatment of Obesity

The obesity epidemic is on the rise worldwide and as per the latest statistics revealed in the National Health Survey carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics more than 12.5 million (67.5%) Australian adults are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major cause of a number of serious and chronic health conditions such as heart disease, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many different types of cancer. Furthermore, obesity is also associated with significant economic burdens. It is estimated that the economic costs of obesity in Australia would double and touch $120 billion per year by 2025. Keeping in mind the adverse health and economic consequences of obesity, it is no wonder why so many people are now looking for various weight-loss interventions. Surgical treatment of obesity, also known as bariatric surgery, is currently the most common intervention with tremendous results and high success rates.  

Surgical Treatment of Obesity

While excess weight is quite easy to manage using dietary interventions, lifestyle changes, and simple exercise regimes, for those who are morbidly obese or suffer from other serious health issues related to their excess weight, weight-loss surgery also known as bariatric surgery may prove to be the best answer. 

Bariatric surgery is a collective term used for different types of weight-loss surgeries. The basic aim/objective of these surgeries is to make changes in the digestive system to achieve weight-loss goals quickly. The digestive tract/system can be altered/changed/modified in the following two ways to achieve this goal:

  • Restriction – surgery is used to alter/modify/change the shape of the stomach in order to limit its ability to hold food, which in turn limits the intake of food.
  •  Malabsorption – surgery is used to modify/alter/change part of the small intestine in order to reduce the absorption of nutrients. 

Operations Available

Following are some of the most commonly performed weight-loss operations available at this time:

  • Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding

Each type of weight-loss surgery comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages and specific requirements. Let’s have a look these options one-by-one to help you understand them.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

In this type of surgery, a new, small stomach pouch at the top of the stomach is created by using surgical staples. This small pouch is then linked with the small intestine, missing out (bypassing) the main stomach. This significantly reduces the amount of food or drink you can comfortably eat or drink at any given time which causes fewer calories to be absorbed. 

Benefits 

  • 60-80% excess weight loss can be achieved within 12-18 months
  • normalizes high blood pressure and high cholesterol level
  • relief from sleep apnea

Risks

  • natural anatomy is altered
  • chances of dumping syndrome
  • chances of ulcer

Success Rate

  • very successful 

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is a restrictive and malabsorptive procedure and it is not reversible.

Sleeve Gastrectomy | Surgical Treatment Of Obesity

In this type of surgery, the surgeon removes a large part (almost 80%) of the stomach, considerably limiting its ability to hold much food. However, this procedure does not affect the absorption of calories and nutrients in the intestines. 

Benefits

  • 50-60% excess weight loss can be achieved within the first 2 years
  • normalises high blood pressure and high cholesterol level
  • can improve conditions like type 2 diabetes, arthritis, asthma

Risks

  • natural anatomy is altered
  • weight loss is slower

Success Rate

  • moderately successful

Sleeve Gastrectomy is a restrictive surgical procedure and it cannot be reversed.

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding

In this procedure, the surgeon places a band around the top of the stomach. The band – which is an inflatable silicone device – helps to slow down the consumption of food. 

Benefits

  • 40-60% excess weight loss can be achieved within the first 3-4 year following the surgery
  • simple procedure
  • lower risk and complications
  • less time consuming

Risks

  • weight loss is much slower

Success Rate

  • moderately successful

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is a restrictive surgical procedure and it is can be reversed.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne


What Is Anemia?

How To Prevent Anemia

Anemia is a potentially serious medical condition where your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells, this in turn means you can’t carry oxygen throughout the body and end up fatigued/tired.

How To Prevent Anemia

Our Blood

The average male body contains about 12 pints of blood and a female body about 9 pints of blood. Blood accounts for 7-8% of our total body weight and is composed of 45% blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) and 55% plasma. Red blood cells (RBCs) are the most abundant cells in the blood; they contain a special protein called ‘hemoglobin’ which helps in transporting oxygen to different parts of the body. The presence of hemoglobin in the blood gives it the reddish color.

What is Anemia?

Anemia is one of the most common blood disorders; it is characterised by a decrease in either the number of circulating red blood cells (RBCs) in the body or the quantity of hemoglobin within the RBCs. Under such condition, the body is not able to get the required amount of oxygen it needs to perform different functions. Anemia can lead to fatigue, weakness, paleness of skin, shortness of breath, and many other complications.

How to Prevent Anemia

Once we are able to fully understand why anemia occurs, we can come up with a comprehensive plan to prevent it from happening. Here are the four leading causes of anemia:

  • decreased or abnormal red blood cell production (such as heredity spherocytosis, thalassemia)
  • physical loss of red blood cells (such as bleeding from the bowel or stomach, heavy periods or childbirth, cancer, ulcers, and gastritis)
  • destruction of red blood cells (such as sickle cell anemia and artificial heart valves)
  • decreased numbers of red blood cells (due to iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency, bone marrow, and stem cell problems)

In Australia, iron deficiency is the leading cause of Anemia affecting more than one million people.

Prevention of anemia depends on the underlying factors that cause it and its severity. Mild cases of anemia usually get better with some quick lifestyle changes, whereas severe cases may need ongoing treatment and can be fatal if left untreated. It’s hard to treat or prevent anemia that is caused by a genetic disease, similarly, you cannot avoid anemia that is caused due to heavy blood loss. If your body is deficient in or unable to absorb and utilise certain nutrients, such as iron or vitamin B12, making diet changes can help manage your levels and prevent anemia.

Following are some of the steps you can take to prevent, treat and control anemia.

Follow a Healthy Diet

Following a nutritious, iron-rich diet can help prevent common types of anemia and increase your energy levels. Iron is very helpful in boosting the production of hemoglobin, which in turn helps to form more RBCs. Here is a list of some iron-rich foods that you can include in your diet plan to prevent certain types of anemia:

  • broccoli
  • red meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • soy products
  • green leafy vegetables
  • dried fruits

Similarly, increasing folate (a type of vitamin) intake is also linked with increased ‘heme’ production. Heme is an important component of hemoglobin that helps to carry oxygen. Here are some food items that are considered a good source of folate:

  • peanuts
  • beef
  • kidney beans
  • spinach
  • black-eyed peas
  • rice
  • lettuce

To make sure that the iron and folate you have included in your diet is absorbed completely by the body, you also need to consume foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is very beneficial in maximising iron and folate absorption.

For people with severe anemia, doctors may advise the intake of iron supplements. The dosage will depend on the severity of the condition and the symptoms. If you are worried you might be anemic contact us for a checkup.

Southgate Medical Centre
(03) 9690 1433
Doctor Melbourne

Heart Palpitations And Pregnancy

What Causes Heart Palpitations During Pregnancy?
What Causes Heart Palpitations During 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
  • preeclampsia
  • 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
Doctor Melbourne

What Is Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder

What Is It, What Are Risk Factors and Possible Causes, How Is It Treated

What is bipolar disorder

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  • aggression
  • disturbed sleep patterns
  • delusions
  • poor judgment
  • increased sexual drive
  • distractibility

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.

  • Medication

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)
  • psycho-education
  • 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

Doctor Melbourne

ANTIBIOTICS FOR FLU: DO THEY RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS?

antibiotics for flu
antibiotics for flu

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
Doctor Melbourne