All Posts in Category: Health Promotion

Dr Helen Brough

Q&A with retiring doctor, Helen Brough

Dr Helen has been with PVH Medical for 17 years after 11 years at Sussex Medical Centre. It is 41 years since she graduated. After much thought, she decided it was time to close her trusty computer. But is Helen retiring from life? Or just work?

So Helen, what’s the grand plan? How will you spend your days?

My plans are pretty open at present. I am fairly confident that children will occupy quite a bit of my time. I want to volunteer at my grandchildren’s schools. This is something I didn’t do for my own children.

I have offered to be involved with a preschool music play group at my church. I am mulling over getting involved in some kind of political activity. I think society will be better if more ordinary people are involved in developing policy at some level.

Everything will take longer because my main mode of transport will be a bike.

What will happen to your patients when you retire?

There are many excellent doctors at PVH Medical who are able to work with the people I have been seeing, to provide ongoing health care. Just make an appointment with one of them and see how it goes.

A few people will prefer to change practices. Their new doctors will send an authority to allow transfer of medical information that the patient will have been asked by them to sign. PVH Medical will arrange to send the information requested.

What do you look forward to most in retirement?

It’s an opportunity to do new things and to do things that I have wanted to do previously but not managed to achieve them.

What did your family say on hearing the news?

“You’ve been talking about it for a long time”.

What’s been your career highlight?

I have two experiences that highlight teamwork.

My husband and I have been able to work together to allow each of us to have the career we wanted while providing all the care, between us, for our three girls when they were little.

The other highlight was when we all (doctors, nurses, admin staff and patients) worked together to move the practice to the surgery on Gaffney St for 11 weeks while the old building was pulled down and the new one put up.

We all had to work efficiently and cooperatively because there were only five small consulting rooms with no time from the end of one doctor’s session and the start of the next. But we did it, and in good spirits.

What memorable work story can you share?

I cherish the day I saw four generations of the one family over separate consultations in the one day. This represented the stable community we serve and how our practice is valued by them.

If you could change one thing about your working life, what would it be?

I would have liked to spend some time in Aboriginal health.

I have also worked in general practice in Fiji, and the Prison Medical Service at Pentridge and Turana Youth Training Centre.

What advice would you give other people thinking of retirement?

It remains important and challenging to continue to make new friends, whether you’re a five-year-old starting school, an 85-year-old moving into aged care or 65-year-old beginning retirement.

What is the smartest thing you did to prepare to retire?

Start working.

Do you think you will downsize your home or move suburbs?

I have no desire to do either of those things. I like my house (it’s not too big) and garden (I hope it will look better by 2022). And I like my suburb.

What will you do to stay fit and healthy?

All the usual things, only more frequently: gym, bike riding, running, dancing, gardening, walking. Dancing is great socially, physically and mentally – all the elements recommended to delay dementia.

How will you maintain social connections?

I will really miss automatic contact with people – patients, families and staff.  People will remain at the heart of most of activities I take on. I will get involved in community activities. The church to which I belong, is very busy.

Are there any new places you would like to see?

Unlike most people, I don’t have a travel bucket list. I expect my holidays will continue to have an eye for global warming issues. I can enjoy local holidays because of the people I am with and activities I am doing.

However, my daughter lives in USA so I am planning varied routes to get to Maryland when I can finally travel to meet my new granddaughter.

What do you think about the saying “life begins at retirement”?

I don’t agree with it at all. Life begins again every day for everyone. I have been blessed in my life, career and family until now. Retirement is another phase of life. I can only hope to feel as blessed in 10 and 20 years’ time as I feel today.

Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

My husband quotes Lewis Carroll’s Mock Turtle: “A wise fish never goes anywhere without a porpoise”.

I don’t usually offer many words of wisdom to others. Wisdom for my own life is found through my position as a person of faith.

PVH Medical wishes Dr Helen a happy and healthy retirement.

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Hay fever sufferer

The best ways to manage hay fever

Countless people across Melbourne suffer from hay fever. Are you one of them?

Medically known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever causes cold-like signs and symptoms. This can include things like runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure.

However, unlike a cold, hay fever isn’t caused by a virus.

Hay fever is caused by the nose and/or eyes coming into contact with environmental allergens, like pollen, dust mites, mould and even animal hair.

How do you manage hay fever?

The first thing you need to do is identify the allergens causing the symptoms.

In some cases the cause may be obvious. But in other cases, your doctor will need to consider your medical history and possibly order tests or a referral to a specialist in difficult cases.

Some medications may help relieve the symptoms of hay fever, such as:

  • Nasal sprays
  • Antihistamines (like Telfast and Claratyne)
  • Eye drops.

Some medications need a prescription while others don’t. It’s always best to ask your GP for advice.

How can you reduce symptoms?

There are ways to prevent or limit your hay fever symptoms, including:

  • In your garden, choose plants that are pollinated by birds or insects, rather than plants that release their seeds into the air
  • Splash your eyes often with cold water to flush out any allergen
  • Reduce your exposure to dust and dust mites, animals and animal hair or fur.

If you’re allergic to grass pollen, it can be difficult to avoid. However, when pollen levels are high the following advice may help:

  • Avoid being outdoors on very windy days and when there are thunderstorms
  • Avoid activities known to cause exposure to pollen, such as mowing grass
  • Shower after outdoor activities
  • Use re-circulated air in the car
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Dry your bedding and clothing inside.

Stay informed about pollen

It’s now easier than ever to know when the high pollen days are.

Just check this website or download the Melbourne Pollen Count app on your phone.

Does hay fever only affect people in spring?

Most people associate hay fever with spring, when airborne grass pollens are at their peak. This is known as seasonal allergic rhinitis or spring hay fever.

However, hay fever can occur at any time of the year. When symptoms occur all year round, this is known as perennial allergic rhinitis. This is usually caused by a reaction to allergens around the home, like dust mites and animal hair.

Hay fever or COVID-19?

Both hay fever and COVID-19 include respiratory symptoms. So, it’s easy to get them confused.

If you have respiratory symptoms and aren’t sure if it’s hay fever or COVID-19, just give us a call.

If you’ve never had hay fever before, you should you get a COVID-19 test straight away and then self-isolate until you get the results.

Get help for hay fever

If you suffer from persistent hay fever, have a chat with us about the best ways to manage it.

Spring is a beautiful season and we’d like to help you enjoy it!

 

Source: BetterHealth and ABC

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Weights and running shoes and fitness ball

6 ways to get a spring in your step

Spring has arrived!

So let’s go Pascoe Vale – it’s time to burst out of your caterpillar cocoon and spring into your butterfly wings.

But with coronavirus restrictions still in place, how do you do that?

Well, we’ve put together six quick tips to help you break free.

1. Get walking

Ideally, you should be walking (or doing other cardiovascular exercise) for at least 30 minutes every day.

If walking is too ‘comfortable’ for you, try jogging. We all need to get a little uncomfortable and embrace this for optimal health.

Of course, stop if anything hurts and check in with one of our physiotherapists.

2. Start doing some resistance training

This is weights or strength training. Every adult should get two sessions in per week, or the risk of chronic disease, illness and injury skyrockets.

Don’t know where to start? We suggest you have a chat with our exercise physiologist, Mike. He’s the exercise expert!

Getting started is easier than you think.

3. Break up your day

If you’re like most people and have been working or studying from home, set movement breaks in your day.

Inactivity is one of the biggest factors leading to injury and illness. So, avoid this with short bursts of movement.

You can start by working your way through these fantastic exercises that one of our physiotherapists, Dominic, has written about. There are lots of clear pictures to help you.

Free apps like Stand Up can also remind you to get up from your computer or couch.

4. Get your shoes sorted

Wear comfortable shoes for your activities as you start getting out and about.

If you’ve been living in moccasins whilst in lockdown, grab your sneakers, lace them up and get moving.

If your sneakers are in need of an update, treat yourself to a supportive, comfortable and lightweight pair ready for your daily exercise sessions.

Our team of podiatrists can help with any questions you have about footwear.

5. Get outside your comfort zone

Whether it’s physically or mentally, it’s good to get outside your comfort zone now and again. And there’s no better time to do it than spring.

Try running around the block. After a winter layoff this can lead to what’s known as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ – or DOMS for short.

Embrace the soreness because it’s a sign you’re doing the right thing! DOMS is the reward and reminder our body gives us after we physically push ourselves outside our comfort zone.

If any muscle pain lingers for more than a few days, get it checked out by our physio, Dom. Dom knows DOMS!

When ramping up your physical activity, it’s always important to rest and recover. Getting a good night’s sleep and solid nutritional intake are vital.

6. Focus on your diet

Last but not least, your diet.

Try squeezing in some more seasonal fruit and vegies into your meals each day. Often the best seasonal food is in abundance, so it’s hard to miss at your local supermarket.

But if you’re unsure about what food is in season this spring, check out this handy guide.

And, as always, our dietitian and team of GPs can answer any questions you have.

We know it can be hard to burst into spring, especially after a winter of restrictions. But with a healthcare team to support you, you know you’re in good hands.

We look forward to seeing you burst out of your cocoon!

 

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Holding hands - cancer

Cancer – the basics

Cancer is abnormal cell growth.

The cancer cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. Most areas of the body can be affected.

Cancer is the most common cause of death in Victoria.

What’s the difference between benign and malignant cancer?

You often hear people talking about cancer that is benign or malignant.

Benign cells grow abnormally but do not spread. These cells are not dangerous.

If the cells spread or are capable of spreading to other parts of the body, they are called malignant cancer. These are the dangerous ones.

What are the most common cancers?

There are hundreds of different types of cancer, each with its own methods of diagnosis and treatment. But the top 10 cancers in Australia are:

What are the symptoms of cancer?

Changes to your body’s normal processes or symptoms usually don’t mean you have cancer. But it’s important you see your Pascoe Vale doctor so they can assess and investigate.

Potential signs and symptoms of cancer include:

  • A lump in the neck, armpit or anywhere else in the body
  • Lumpiness or a thickened area in your breasts, any changes in the shape or colour of your breasts, unusual nipple discharge, a nipple that turns inwards (if it hasn’t always been that way) or any unusual pain
  • Sores or ulcers that don’t heal
  • Coughs or hoarseness that won’t go away or coughing up blood
  • Changes in toilet habits that last more than two weeks, blood in a bowel motion or urine
  • New moles or skin spots, or ones that have changed shape, size or colour, or that bleed
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
  • A feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
  • Pain in your abdomen (tummy) or your anus
  • Persistent bloating.

What causes cancer?

Often we don’t know why cancer happens. But there are some things that significantly increase your risk, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, a poor diet, not getting enough exercise and too much radiation from the sun.

Sometimes cancer runs in families. You can inherit genes that make you more likely to get it.

In other cases, cancer is associated with an infection. For example, cervical cancer is associated with some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Being exposed to some chemicals and dust can also increase your risk.

How can you prevent cancer?

There are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk. For example, you can improve your diet, do more physical activity, and avoid staying in the sun all day.

Our team of healthcare practitioners can assist you with making these changes.

Government-sponsored programs (e.g. screening tests for bowel, cervical and breast cancer) and other screening tests, as recommended by your doctor, are also available.

Prevention is better than cure!

When should I see my doctor?

There is a much greater chance of successfully treating cancer if it’s detected early. If you notice any changes, contact us immediately.

 

Source: Cancer Australia, BetterHealth, Healthdirect

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Healthy showdown

Healthy showdown – which food or drink is healthier?

Do you ever get confused about which is the healthier option when buying everyday food and drink products?

Our in-house dietitian, Jessica Fuller, reveals which of the following options you should choose.

Welcome to the healthy showdown!

Cos lettuce vs iceberg lettuce

Whilst cos lettuce does contain slightly more calories per 100g, it also has 11 times the amount of Vitamin A and three times the amount of folate and Vitamin K!

Both cos and iceberg lettuce will provide a refreshing crunch to your meals. However, simply swapping iceberg to cos lettuce can be an easy way to up your vitamin intake.

Winner: Cos lettuce

Iced tea vs hot tea

A pot of hot tea contains plenty of antioxidants which can provide several health benefits. The typical store-bought iced tea, per 250mL glass, has 22g of sugar which equals 5½ teaspoons!

Would you really add 5 teaspoons of sugar to your regular hot tea?! Probably not. Next time you feel like an iced tea, brew a regular hot tea and fill the glass with ice and 1 tsp of honey.

You now have a healthy iced tea with only 5g of sugar! Plus, your homemade brew of iced tea will have the same antioxidants, catechins and flavonoids as hot tea.

Winner: Hot tea

Tuna vs salmon

Both tuna and salmon are considered a source of oily fish and therefore contain Omega 3 fatty acids. This is essential for helping to prevent heart disease and stroke and may also play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.

Tuna has less calories, less fat and a similar protein content than salmon in a 100g serve. However, calories aren’t the only thing that matters in health.

Salmon has eight times more Omega 3 than tuna and is considered a ‘super source’ of Omega 3.

Both tuna and salmon can be included as part of a balanced diet but in terms of the Omega 3 content and health benefits that come along with Omega 3 intake, salmon is the winner.

Winner: Salmon

Apple vs orange

Fruit in general is a great go-to snack that is full of fibre, micronutrients and low calories.

Apples and oranges are just two examples. But is one better than the other?

Oranges have 12 times the amount of Vitamin C than apples, which is necessary for the growth, development and repair of body tissues.

It’s also involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

Both are similar in calories and contain similar amounts of sugar and fibre.

Winner: Draw (unless you need more vitamin C, in which case orange is the winner)

Egg vs chicken

Eggs and chicken are both high quality animal protein sources. Protein is essential for muscle growth, recovery, and keeping you fuller for longer.

Chicken has less calories per 100g and twice the amount of protein of eggs! However, eggs contain many other important nutrients along with protein including higher amounts of essential Omega 3 and 6 fats than chicken which are beneficial for cognitive function and brain development.

Eggs also contain small amounts of nearly all vitamins and minerals! Depending on your nutrition goals, either option is great. A good variety of both is recommended.

Winner: Draw

Beer vs wine

The alcohol content of wine is typically higher than beer. Therefore, a standard drink of wine is considered around 100ml and a standard drink of mid-strength beer is considered around 375ml.

A typical restaurant sized glass of white wine is 150ml which has 121 calories, which is twice as many compared to 150ml of beer.

However, beer is generally served in 425ml glasses, which contains 182 calories.

Red wine in particular also contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that may have heart health benefits. However, there is also increasing evidence that any alcohol consumed can have a negative impact on health!

Winner: Wine

How did you go?

Did you pick a winner? We hope so!

If you have any questions or need help with your diet, make a booking today with your friendly Pascoe Vale dietitian, Jessica Fuller.

You’d be amazed at the kinds of things a dietitian can help with.

 

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Woman wearing a face mask

Wearing a mask during the coronavirus pandemic

As you may know, you now need to wear a face covering (like a mask) whenever you leave your home.

This is one way we can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

So, next time you come into the clinic, don’t forget to bring your mask with you.

What masks are available?

There are two types of masks commonly available – disposable and cloth.

Cloth masks are good because they’re recyclable and better for the environment than disposable masks.

Cloth masks must fit snugly around your face. They should have three layers of closely woven fabric – cotton on the inside, cotton blend in the middle and a polyester outer layer.

P2 masks should not be used because they’re difficult to take on and off without contaminating your hands.

Where should I buy one from?

It’s best to purchase or make a proper mask according to Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines.

Pharmacies and post offices are good places to buy masks, as many sold on the internet may be inappropriate.

How should I care for my mask?

Cloth masks should be washed in hot water and detergent. It’s well known that hot water above 56°C can kill the virus.

Care is required when removing your mask to avoid touching the outer and inner surface of it.

Disposable masks must be put in the bin after each use.

Wearing a mask

Wash your masks in hot water.

What are the most important things to consider about masks?

Wearing a mask in public is mandatory in Melbourne when you leave your home for an essential reason, even if you feel or appear to be well.

Being well can be deceptive, as you can carry COVID-19 and not know it, unwittingly spreading the virus.

In fact, 80% of people who have contracted coronavirus have showed no symptoms or mild respiratory symptoms like a mild flu. This poses a real danger to those with chronic diseases and other high-risk groups for whom the virus is a major threat.

And remember, masks are not a replacement for social distancing, strict hand hygiene, and sneeze and cough etiquette.

It’ll take time to adjust

If you haven’t worn a mask before, we know it may feel a bit odd and uncomfortable to begin with.

But you’ll get used to it, and it’s one way we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect each other.

Feeling unwell?

If you have any respiratory symptoms, no matter how mild, you should get tested for COVID-19.

Following your test, please stay at home until you get the all-clear.

As always, we’re here for you. If you have any questions, please give us a call on 9304 0500.

More information about coronavirus

 

Source: RACGP

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

Last updated 24 July 2020

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Woman dealing with stress

Stress and how to manage it

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or pressure.

The amount of stress you feel can depend on your attitude to a particular situation. An event that may be extremely stressful for one person can be a mere hiccup for another person.

When the term ‘stress’ is used in a clinical sense, it refers to a situation that causes discomfort and distress for a person and can lead to other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

Feelings of stress can affect all of us

You may feel under pressure to do something and fear you may fail. The more important the outcome, the more stressed you feel.

You can feel stressed by external situations (too much work, children misbehaving) and by internal triggers (the way you think about external situations).

It’s not always a bad thing

Some people thrive on stress and even need it to get things done. For example, a small amount of stress, like meeting a deadline, can actually be helpful.

Signs of stress

There are some signs which indicate our stress levels are affecting us in a negative way:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Feeling ‘on edge’ or unable to stop worrying
  • Difficulty sleeping, fatigue and exhaustion
  • Changes in appetite
  • Physical reactions such as headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach, and difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in mood and irritability
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Reliance on alcohol or other substances to cope.

Effects of stress

Stress affects us in many ways, including:

  • Emotionally – anxiety, depression, tension, anger
  • The way we think – poor concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, hopelessness
  • Behaviourally – increased drinking and smoking, insomnia, accident proneness, weight problems, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, nervousness, gambling.

Stress may also contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease. When stress turns into a serious illness, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible.

How to manage stress

The old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is certainly true for stress management. It will help if you:

  • Exercise regularly – regular exercise is a great way to manage stress. You should do some form of exercise that causes you to feel puffed afterwards – a leisurely stroll to the bus stop is not enough! Have at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week
  • Avoid conflict – avoid situations that make you feel stressed such as unnecessary arguments and conflict (although ignoring a problem is not always the best way to reduce stress). Assertiveness is fine but becoming distressed is not
  • Relax – give yourself some time to relax each day and try to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself
  • Eat well – a nutritious diet is important. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid sweet and fatty foods
  • Sleep – a good sleep routine is essential. If you have difficulty falling asleep, do something calm and relaxing before you go to bed like listening to music or reading
  • Enjoy your life – it’s important to make time to have some fun and to get a balance in your life.

How to get help

Start with your GP for a check-up.

Your GP may refer you for some specialised help. This may include a member of our on-site allied health team such as a psychologist, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.

There are also some great support services available, such as Lifeline.

The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can get on top of your stress levels and feel more equipped to cope.

 

Source: BetterHealth Channel and Lifeline

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Healthy eating tips

7 easy healthy eating tips

Healthy eating is important, and we know it.

A national Omnipoll survey indicated 52% of Australians want to improve their eating habits and lose weight. However, only 1 in 20 of us meet daily recommended fruit and vegetable servings.

If you’re just a ‘beginner’, changing the way you eat can seem daunting and overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be.

Here are 7 easy healthy eating tips to get you started on your healthy eating journey.

1. Prepare more meals at home

What you make in your own kitchen is probably lower in fat, sugar and salt than if you ate out. You’re also more likely to serve yourself a smaller portion.

2. Plan ahead

Take 5 minutes at the end of each day, or 20 minutes on a Sunday, to plan out your healthy meals and snacks.

Make sure you have the ingredients you need, and if required, schedule some time to buy them. This will cut down your nights of takeaway and two-minute noodles!

3. Follow the ‘Healthy Plate’ guidelines

Have you seen a ‘healthy plate’ before? It’s half filled with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter is filled with lean protein, and the final quarter is for low GI carbohydrates.

Keep to these proportions and you’ll be well on your way!

4. Try one or two new recipes each week

Learn to love healthy food by researching and preparing new recipes that pack flavour. There’s heaps out there!

Make sure you plan these nights in advance. Inviting family and friends over for dinner is the perfect incentive.

5. Make the most of leftovers

When planning your meals for the week, consider when you might benefit from having leftovers, and prepare extra portions on days or nights when you can cook.

You’ll love coming home to a home-cooked meal after a long day, and the money you’ll save by not buying lunch.

6. Always have a fridge stocked with vegetables

Like point number 3, your lunch and dinner plate should always be half-full with vegetables, so make sure your fridge is ready!

Get the most out of your veggies by storing them in the crisper, and become familiar with shelf-lives, so you know which ones to use first.

7. Have a contingency plan

Some days, all planning and good intentions go out the window. So, always keep some frozen veggies and steamed-fish pouches in the freezer.

Soup is also a great option – just make sure there aren’t too many preservatives or salt (you can read the label if in doubt).

Help is at hand

If you need help with your diet, don’t hesitate to contact Jessica Fuller. She’s your friendly and knowledgeable Pascoe Vale dietitian who can help answer nutrition-related questions, prepare personalised meal plans for you and much more.

 

Source: The Nutrition Code

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Coronavirus Stage 3 restrictions - healthy habits

Struggling with coronavirus restrictions? Here are 4 ways you can look after yourself

It can be easy to slip into bad habits or lose sight of our health goals when times are tough.

That’s why maintaining some healthy habits during the the government’s coronavirus Stage 3 restrictions is more important than ever.

So, here are some practical tips for maintaining and boosting your health at home, and how you can access our services for support.

Perhaps we can help you find a silver lining to the current situation!

1. Keep exercising

As well as boosting immunity, exercise can have a calming effect, keeping our minds clear and focused, and our anxiety contained.

That’s why it’s super important to keep exercising during the coronavirus Stage 3 restrictions.

There are lots of creative ways to create your own ‘home gym’, and you don’t need to go out and buy expensive exercise equipment. Grab a couple of soup tins from the kitchen cupboard – they make for great dumbbells!

In fact, many activities don’t require anything more than your body itself. For example, push-ups, planks and burpees are great for getting the heart pumping.

Remember to get outside as much as you can. Playgrounds and barbeque areas may be closed, but you can still go for a jog or brisk walk. Now there’s really no excuse to keep the dog locked up all day!

We suggest scheduling your exercise sessions. This will make it easier to stick to and help you get into a routine.

Not sure where to start? You can get a personal exercise program from our exercise experts. You can book in for a free initial telehealth session with our exercise physiologist or physiotherapists.

If you find exercising easier with other people, group classes are still available. We’ve reduced our exercise physiology class sizes to 1-3 people maximum. This means you can continue to maintain a social network during isolating times while at the same time help build up your immune system.

2. Establish an eating routine

For those of you who spend most of your time out of the house (at work, running errands etc), your daily routine may have centered around set meal and snack times.

However, with most of us either working from home, taking a break from work, or just spending more time in general at home, your old eating routines may have disappeared.

Without this same structure to your day, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. For example, having larger meals, extra snacking, or eating just for the sake of it! It’s easy to do, especially being so close to the kitchen.

To prevent overeating, and to promote healthier food choices, you could establish a new eating routine to match your needs at home. For example, consider these set times:

  • Breakfast: 8am
  • Morning tea: 11am
  • Lunch: 1.30pm
  • Afternoon tea: 4pm
  • Dinner: 7pm
  • Supper: 8.30pm

If you’re considering intermittent fasting as an option for weight management during isolation, an early morning black coffee could replace breakfast, while a herbal tea could replace supper at night.

You can take this a step further by planning what you choose to eat, and how much, at each set time. Always consider your energy needs – if you are less active at home, you may plan to eat less than usual (i.e. smaller or less frequent snacks).

If you would like some help establishing a new eating routine, or if you have other nutrition-related concerns, please speak with our in-house dietitian, Jessica Fuller. Private health and Medicare rebates are available.

3. Balance your thoughts

Worrying about diseases is a normal reaction. But excessive worrying can affect both our physical and mental health.

Fortunately, there are practical psychological skills to help you and your loved ones cope with anxiety.

When we get stressed about our health or risk of infection, our thoughts can become dark, brooding and pessimistic. Thoughts like, “How will I cope if I get sick?” and “I can’t deal with this”, are often triggered by stress, but they don’t help us. Negative and dark brooding thoughts will stop you doing things that can help.

Our thoughts are not always true or helpful. Challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself what a friend would say in the same situation, or ask yourself what evidence do you have that you ‘won’t cope or can’t cope’? Whenever you recognise a negative thought, try to balance it with a realistic thought.

If you need help with balancing your thoughts, our psychologists Julie Paschke and Jenny Ricketts are here for you. You don’t need a referral to see a psychologist.

4. Shut down the noise (do things you like instead)

Stress is infectious, and often unhelpful. People tend to talk about things they are worried about. This creates lots of ‘noise’, which can create even more stress.

Give yourself permission to switch off ‘noise’ such as social media, news and the radio for most of each day.

Also give yourself permission to excuse yourself from people who are creating stress. Keep checking in to reliable news sources once or twice a day, but otherwise, turn down the ‘noise’.

Instead, replace it with things that can help you, including doing things you enjoy, like listening to music, riding your bike, yoga or even meditation.

You could also schedule a regular ‘event’, like a games night with those in your household, or your own version of a Gold Class cinema experience, complete with ice-creams and cardboard tickets that your kids can make.

Need help managing your stress levels? Have a chat with your Pascoe Vale doctor or psychologist – we’re always here to help.

Here’s how consultations are working

All consultations are currently being carried out over the phone or on video. In some cases you may be required to come in to the clinic.

 Telehealth
(consult over the phone)
Telehealth video
(consult over live video)
In-clinic
PsychologistYesZoom
Facetime
Yes
PodiatristYesCoviu
Zoom
Facetime
Yes
PhysiotherapistYesCoviu
Zoom
Facetime
Yes
Exercise physiologistYesCoviu
Zoom
Facetime
Yes
DietitianYesSkype
Zoom
Facetime
Yes
Speech pathologistYesZoom
Facetime
No

*In-clinic option is only available if your practitioner determines that your health needs cannot be managed by phone or video, or for hands-on care like podiatry and physiotherapy.

We’re here to support you

In addition to things like staying at home and practising good hygiene, focusing on some healthy habits and routines during the coronavirus Stage 3 restrictions will hold you in good stead.

Remember the famous saying, ‘this too shall pass’. It may not feel like it, but things will return to normal.

 

Source: MindSpot

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

Last updated 24 July 2020

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What you can do during coronavirus

Coronavirus – what you can do now

To help stop the spread of coronavirus in Australia and keep you and your loved ones safe, there are some important things you can do now.

1. Make a booking before coming in

Whether you need a doctor or one of our many allied health staff (like psychologists and podiatrists), you must make an appointment before you come in to the clinic.

To do this, simply call 9304 0500. You also can book online for a doctor.

Consultations are currently being carried out over the phone or video, known as telehealth. For some services, however, you’ll need to come in. Either way, we’ll let you know.

2. Stay at home

Unless you have to leave your home for an essential reason (like coming to see us), please stay at home.

3. Wear a face covering

When leaving your home for an essential reason, you must wear a face covering (like a mask).

Make sure you wear a mask at the clinic. If you have children with you who aren’t wearing a mask, we may ask you to wait in your car until called.

See this page for more information on masks.

4. Wash your hands often

By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Watch the video below for the correct way to wash your hands with soap and water.

 

Want to see how germs can spread so easily?

In the following 10-minute video ‘experiment’, watch what happens when fake germs are placed on just a few kids’ hands. It’s a great reminder for all of us!

5. Cover your mouth and nose

Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.

This is because when someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus.

6. Keep your distance

In addition to practising good personal hygiene as basic measures against the coronavirus, you should also practise what is known as social distancing.

This involves staying at least one and a half metres away from other people, especially if they’re coughing or sneezing.

Do your bit by avoiding handshaking and other physical greetings, and try to do your shopping online if you can.

7. Get tested and self-isolate

If you think you may have COVID-19, get tested and then self-isolate until you receive the all-clear.

Refer to this government website for more information about getting tested.

Woman with coronavirus

Get tested if you’re feeling unwell.

8. Stay safe in our clinic

When you come to our clinic, please don’t bring additional people into the waiting room.

If a family member needs help with translating, it’s best to do it over the phone. If you really need to accompany a family member, do the translating on the phone from inside your car and then come in if there are any issues.

If you have a child, bring your own items (e.g. toy, iPad) for your child to play with. This is because we’ve removed our toys from the waiting room.

Every little thing helps to stop the spread of the virus.

9. Practise good health habits

Changes to our daily lives, like social distancing, can affect our mental health, fitness and occupational health.

People are spending much more time in their home, so we need to try to adapt our daily lives.

Things like getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking lots of water and eating nutritious foods are particularly important.

Here’s a great guide to help you navigate the change.

10. Look after yourself and each other

Staying healthy should be your number one priority right now. It’s also important to reach out to elderly relatives and neighbours to help them reduce their risk.

There are lots of myths about coronavirus. It’s therefore important that you keep following the advice of doctors and healthcare practitioners, as well as the state and federal government.

Together, we’ll get through this.

 

Source: Department of Health and World Health Organization

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

Last updated 24 July 2020

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Coronavirus

Coronavirus information

*If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you’ve recently been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, please call us immediately. Don’t come to the clinic without calling us first.*

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a new virus that has spread into our community.

To ensure you’re best prepared, it’s important you read the following information.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Fever
  • Chills or sweats
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste.

In some cases, symptoms may even include things like vomiting and diarrhoea.

How can you help prevent coronavirus?

There are numerous things you can do to protect you and your loved ones.

For example:

  • Stay at home (wear a mask if you have to leave your home for essential reasons)
  • Practise social distancing of at least 1.5 m
  • Practise good hygiene:
    • Clean your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who may be sick.

For more information on how you can stop the spread of coronavirus, please read this article.

Is there a cure or vaccine?

Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent coronavirus, and there’s no specific treatment to cure it.

People with more serious complications can be treated in hospital.

What should you do if you think you have coronavirus?

If you feel sick or you’ve recently been in close contact with someone who may have coronavirus, you should call us straight away.

Don’t come to the clinic without calling us first.

We’re here for you

Please don’t panic – we’re well prepared for virus outbreaks and here to help you.

If you have any questions or need to see us, please call 9304 0500.

For coronavirus updates, you can refer to the Victorian Government website or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

 

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

Last updated 24 July 2020

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Travel health tip - wash your hands

8 helpful travel health tips (how to stay safe overseas)

You’ve probably heard about the coronavirus by now.

Originating in China, it’s a new virus that can cause respiratory illness, including pneumonia.

There are thousands of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world, including Australia, and some people have even died (you can get the latest coronavirus updates here).

While our travel health checklist has tips to help you before you go overseas, we thought it was timely to provide advice on how to stay safe once you’ve actually arrived at your destination.

1. Keep your hands clean

Proper handwashing can protect you and others from a range of diseases.

Make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating, when handling food and after you use the toilet.

You could also carry hand sanitiser with you as a back-up, to help keep the germs at bay.

2. Avoid sick people

This might seem obvious, but keep your distance from sick people.

And, keep your immune system strong by drinking lots of water, eating a balanced diet and sleeping well.

3. Think before you eat and drink

Getting gastro overseas is common. But you can try to minimise the dreaded ‘traveller’s diarrhoea’!

While a glass of soft drink might be safe, the ice in the glass could be made with contaminated water.

High-risk foods include raw meat and seafood, salads and unpasteurised dairy products.

4. Don’t get too drunk

The alcohol content of drinks varies between countries. So, a vodka soda in Europe could be twice as strong as what you drink here.

When you’re drunk, you might drop your guard and become an easy target for petty criminals, or worse. It’s not worth the risk.

(As an aside – if you need help with a drinking problem please contact us.)

5. Avoid wild and feral animals

The coronavirus is believed to have started in an animal market in central China.

So, when you’re overseas, avoid areas such as farms, live animal markets, and areas where animals are slaughtered, including fish and seafood.

If you do come into contact with animals or animal products, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have thoroughly cleaned your hands.

Some overseas destinations, like Bali and Thailand, are known for their street dogs and wild monkeys. Many of these animals have rabies, and if you’re bitten, it could be fatal.

Luckily, you can get immunised for rabies before you go. And remember to stay abreast with Smartraveller updates too!

6. Protect yourself from insects

Similar to wild animals, our insect friends can wreak havoc on our health if we’re not careful.

In many parts of the world, the bite of infected mosquitoes can spread infectious diseases including yellow fever, malaria and dengue fever.

Travel health tip: protect yourself by wearing mosquito repellent, and have a chat with us about vaccinations or medications you can take.

7. Protect yourself against the sun

We know how hot it can get in Australia. But the sun can also hit you in many countries overseas!

Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, and reapply when necessary. There are other ways you can protect your skin from the sun too.

8. Have safe sex

Condoms are not just for stopping pregnancy – they’re to help protect you from sexually transmissible infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, herpes, hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS.

The rate of STIs in some countries is very high. So, if you’re sexually active, carry condoms with you.

When you return

Pay close attention to your health in the fortnight after you get back from overseas. If you’re feeling unwell you should see your doctor.

And remember, our team can assist with all your travel health requirements including vaccinations. Stay safe and happy travels!

 

Source: BetterHealth Channel, Smartraveller, Department of Health

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Man with vice

Vices: what will you give up this February?

We’ve all got our vices.

Some of us consume too much sugar, some of us drink too much alcohol, while others don’t exercise enough. The good news is there is help.

Febfast is an initiative where you can call time-out on alcohol, sugar or another vice of your choice, to support disadvantaged young people in Australia.

It’s the perfect excuse to kick-start the year with some good health and good will!

So, what vices will you focus on this February?

1. I’m giving up sugar!

Too many pavlovas, ice creams and sweet treats over the festive season? Is it time for a sugar holiday?

The issue

A lot of our energy intake now comes from processed and packaged food and drinks, like cereal and soft drinks. They often contain lots of added sugar, which isn’t great for our diet.

While eating sugar doesn’t directly cause diabetes, it can lead to weight gain if consumed in excess. Obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes – a chronic condition affecting over 1.7 million Australians.

What you can do

Challenge yourself this February to cut out the chocolate and cakes, and curb those cravings!

Some ideas to get you started: keep a food diary, check food labels before eating, swap soft drink for water, and up your intake of fresh fruit.

It’s also a good idea to chat to your doctor in Pascoe Vale before starting a diet. You could even make an appointment with Jessica Fuller, our accredited practising dietitian.

2. I’m giving up alcohol!

Are you ready for a break from the alcohol-drenched summer months and the over-indulgence of the silly season?

The issue

Alcohol is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body. There is no safe level of drug use – it always carries some risk.

Some long-term effects of alcohol use include high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and sexual health problems.

What you can do

Challenge yourself this February to banish beer and bubbles!

Some ideas to get you started: catch up over a coffee instead of at the pub, be the designated driver when you go out with your friends, and keep track of the money you’re saving by not drinking.

If you’re a regular or heavy drinker, it can be dangerous to reduce or quit alcohol on your own.

Your GP can refer you to treatment such as detox, medication and even counselling to help manage withdrawal symptoms. You can also have a chat with one of our non-judgmental psychologists in Pascoe Vale, Julie Paschke and Jenny Ricketts

3. I’m giving up Netflix!

Do you find that the only exercise you do is reaching for the remote control? Is it time to give Netflix the flick?

The issue

When you have an inactive lifestyle, your health is affected in many ways. For example, you burn fewer calories (meaning you’re more likely to gain weight), you may lose muscle strength and endurance, your bones may get weaker, and your immune system may not work as well.

By not getting regular exercise, you raise your risk of things like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke – the list goes on.

What you can do

Challenge yourself this February to turn off the TV and get off the couch!

Some ideas to get you started: keep a diary of how many hours you’ve ‘saved’ by doing other activities, take the stairs instead of the lift, park your car a bit further away (forcing you to walk a little further), and give your dog two walks a day rather than one.

One of the best things you can do to get active – especially if you’re just starting out – is to have a chat with our exercise physiologist in Pascoe Vale, Mike Fitzsimon. Mike’s helpful approach will ensure you get that extra spring into your step.

Got any questions about your vices or don’t know where to start? Chat to your healthcare professional today.

 

Source: Febfast, MedlinePlus

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Find out about your risk of ovarian cancer at PVH Medical in Pascoe Vale.

Ovarian cancer – are you at risk?

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest women’s cancer. Unfortunately, this has not changed in 30 years.

Each year, over 1,500 women in Australia will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Held annually in Australia, February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

It raises awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, highlights the risk factors, and educates people on this deadly disease.

What are some of the risk factors for ovarian cancer?

We don’t know the causes of most ovarian cancer. Research into the causes is continuing in Australia and overseas.

We do know that there are some factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing this cancer, and that there are some protective factors that may reduce a woman’s risk.

Many women who develop ovarian cancer do not have any known risk factors — while many women who do have risk factors never develop this cancer.

Here are some of the risk factors:

  • Age: ovarian cancer is most common in women over 50 and in women who have stopped menstruating (have been through menopause), and the risk increases with age. However, it can affect women of all ages.
  • Genetics and family history: if a woman has two or more relatives from the same side of her family affected by ovarian or other cancer, her risk of developing ovarian cancer may be increased. Genetics and family history are responsible for at least 15% of ovarian cancers.
  • Child-bearing history: women who have not had children, are unable to have children, have never used oral contraceptives or have had children over the age of 30, may be slightly more at risk. This is due to ovaries not having a ‘rest’ from the break and repair of the surface of the ovary when women ovulate each month.
  • Endometriosis: this condition is when the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium) is also found outside of the uterus.
  • Lifestyle factors: such as smoking, being overweight or eating a high-fat diet.
  • Hormonal factors: including early puberty (menstruating before 12) or late menopause (onset after 50).

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

There is no early detection test, so all women need to be aware of the symptoms.

The most commonly reported symptoms for ovarian cancer are:

  • Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal or pelvic (lower tummy) pain
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount
  • Needing to urinate often or urgently.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer

Some additional symptoms

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Lower back pain
  • Indigestion or nausea
  • Bleeding after menopause or in-between periods
  • Pain during sex or bleeding after.

It’s important to remember all the symptoms mentioned can be caused by other, less serious medical conditions.

However, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, which are persistent and troublesome, you should see your Pascoe Vale doctor. They’ll be able to examine you and if necessary, do further tests to find the cause of your problems.

Make a booking today

To see if you’re at risk of ovarian cancer, or just for a general check-up, please make a booking today.

You can book online, on Facebook, on the Appointuit app or by calling 9304 0500.

 

Source: Ovarian Cancer Australia

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Physio sports massage Pascoe Vale

Physio sports massage – new at PVH Medical!

Massage. Touch. Care.

The power of communication through hands-on therapy is something that has been part of healthcare for centuries.

In fact, the first known usage of massage for healing was performed in India thousands of years ago!

In recent times, massage has swung in and out of favour with health professionals. Some swear black and blue that touch is not needed, while others find that it’s the most important part of clinical work.

Massage has grown over time

As a physiotherapist and avid reader of research, I’ve seen how our professional understanding of massage effectiveness – what it helps and what it doesn’t – has grown over time.

I came across an article in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The article digs deep into how touch and massage alters the signalling around our central nervous system to get different results for different people.

This article stirred me into action to apply my skills I have honed for many years as a massage therapist (prior to becoming a physiotherapist) right here in Pascoe Vale.

Physio sports massage now available in Pascoe Vale

I’m now offering physio sports massage at PVH Medical.

This is a 60-minute session where hands-on touch and massage is used in conjunction with physiotherapy assessment and management.

(If you want to know more about me, you can check out my bio here.)

How you could benefit from a physio sports massage

A physio sports massage is for sore, injured muscles, joints and entire body areas.

It can be great after a hard session working your body outside its comfort zone to aid recovery.

This might be a recent race, match or training session. It may even be spending too much time digging up the garden!

Sports massage is a great complement to the existing physiotherapy treatment in our Pascoe Vale clinic.

If this sounds like something you need, you can make a booking online or with our reception team.

What does it cost? And does insurance cover some of it?

The cost of the session is $120 for 60 minutes.

If you have private health insurance with physiotherapy cover, then you’ll only need to pay the gap as we have HiCaps on the desk ready to go.

You should arrive at least five minutes before your appointment starts to complete a Physio Sports Massage Intake Form.

I’m available for physiotherapy treatment, including physio sports massage, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

My weekend sessions make it easy for those who work on weekdays and may otherwise find it hard to find a physio.

My final words

Just a little reminder – there are many injuries, aches and pains which respond best to non-massage techniques.

Your local physiotherapy team (Naveena and me) will help work out what’s best for you.

I look forward to seeing many of you in our clinic soon!

 

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Fad diet

What are fad diets, and are they good for your health?

We’ve all heard of fad diets.

Do they work? And can you lose weight by going on a fad diet?

Fad diets explained

A fad diet is a popular diet that makes promises of weight loss or other health advantages without backing by solid science.

Fad diets are often highly restrictive. In some cases, they eliminate whole foods such as dairy or grains. They often consist of unusual, expensive and unnecessary food products and ingredients.

Essentially, they deprive you of the essential nutrients that only balanced eating can offer.

You may be looking for a fast way to lose weight and look to a fad diet to solve your problems. Although these diets may provide short-term results, they’re difficult to sustain over the long term.

Any weight you initially lost may be put back on. Some dieters end up in a worse position than when they started.

How can you spot a fad diet?

Typically, a fad diet shares some, or all, of the following characteristics:

  • Promises a quick fix
  • Promotes ‘magic’ foods or combinations of foods
  • Implies that food can change body chemistry
  • Excludes or severely restricts food groups or nutrients, such as carbohydrates
  • Has rigid rules that focus on weight loss
  • Makes claims based on a single study or testimonials only.

Examples of some common fad diets

Paleo

Focusing on eating lots of fresh produce and having minimal amounts of sugar and salt in your food – like our ancestors did – has numerous positive health benefits.

However, removing dairy products and wholegrains is not recommended for a well-balanced diet.

Raw food

This diet requires a lot of time and preparation of unprocessed plant-based food and some raw animal products, and it can be hard to get adequate energy.

However, adding raw foods to your regular diet is a great way to boost health, like having salad with your dinner.

Flexitarian

A flexitarian predominantly eats a plant-based diet, but occasionally eats meat when the urge strikes.

There’s no need to cut out meat to be healthy, so if a flexitarian diet sounds appealing, build your meals around vegetarian protein sources (legumes, beans and eggs), vegetables and wholegrains, and enjoy meat on the weekend.

Sometimes you need a special diet

Of course, some medical conditions do require special eating plans. In these instances, any recommendations from your Pascoe Vale doctor should be followed.

Fad diets can cause health problems

Because they often cut out key foods, fad diets may cause the following symptoms:

  • Dehydration
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Constipation
  • Inadequate vitamin and mineral intake.

Fad diets may be unsafe over the long term, and could even lead to an increased risk of various diseases.

So, what should you do?

Try to avoid fad diets.

You can achieve and maintain a healthy body weight by having a balanced diet, and you won’t have to cut out any foods because you can eat everything – in moderation.

If you’re not sure what moderation means or you need any help with diet, nutrition or just food in general, please reach out to us. Our team of experienced doctors and in-house dietitian, Jessica Fuller, can help you.

Remember to combine a balanced diet with regular physical activity too. Our exercise physiologist, Mike Fitzsimon, can help you get active and live life to the fullest!

 

Source: BetterHealth Channel and Sports Dietitians Australia

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