Tips to Help You Stay Healthy This Spring

Tips to Help You Stay Healthy This Spring | Dr. Ali Ghahary

As seasons change, so do certain aspects of your health and overall wellbeing. Unlike winter, where we spent more time indoors and dressed warmly, spring brings longer days and warmer temperatures – and with that also comes certain health concerns.

One of the most common complaints patients have when it comes to springtime, is allergies. During spring, pollen count levels increase which can cause a number of symptoms in patients who suffer from hayfever; such as a congested or runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, red and/or watery eyes. It in order to reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends avoiding outdoor triggers. For those with severe allergies, you may require the use of nasal prays such as Omnaris or Nasonex, over-the-counter allergy medication such as Benadryl or Reactine, and even allergy shots. If you have concerns about seasonal allergies, speak with your family physician as soon as possible. You may also benefit from seeing an allergist, as they will be able to test you for specific allergens and provide you with a treatment plan best suited to your and your needs.

Insect bites and stings are also more common during the springtime; for example, mosquito bites and bee stings. While mosquito bites can usually be treated with things like Polysporin or calamine lotion, persistent itching could cause an infection, so you should try avoiding scratching the skin to prevent that from occurring. Unfortunately, in some cases, individuals may develop a serious allergic reaction as a result of a bite or sting. Insects that tend to cause severe allergic reactions include bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants. Symptoms of an allergic reaction caused by an insect can range from mild to severe, and may include swelling, pain and redness around the sting, redness and swelling affecting an entire area of the body, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and anaphylaxis – which is considered life-threatening. For a reaction as severe as this, it’s important to call 911 immediately. To prevent yourself from being bitten or stung, avoid wearing perfumes or other scents that may attract the insects, wear long sleeved pants and shirts while outdoors, and stay away from areas where the insects are known to nest.

Physical activity is another great way to get out and enjoy the fresh air, especially as the weather improves and the temperatures increase; not to mention it has many great health benefits, such as helping with weight loss, weight management, reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels, improving the body’s ability to use insulin, improving blood flow, improving the function of the heart, and can even reduce stress and anxiety. To make sure you’re getting enough physical activity to keep your body healthy, Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests fitting in at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine each day, and set realistic goals that will help keep you motivated.

How to Fight Spring Allergies

How to Fight Spring Allergies | Dr. Ali Ghahary
Things like flowers and trees produce pollen which can trigger allergies. | Dr. Ali Ghahary

For some people, the arrival of spring means warner weather and sunshine – but for others it means watery, red, itchy eyes, a running nose, sniffling and sneezing. As many as 20% of Canadians suffer from springtime allergies – also known as hayfever – and in Vancouver we’re already seeing an early hint of spring-like weather and a slightly higher pollen count.

As mentioned, common seasonal allergy symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, a runny/itchy nose, and sneezing. Canadians don’t always realize that it’s allergies they’re grappling with, oftentimes mistaking the symptoms of that of a common cold or sinus infection, just without the fever and body aches. While allergy season varies across the country, it typically begins in late March, while areas like Ontario and Quebec don’t tend to see an increase in allergies until July. British Columbia, however, is considered to have the worst tree pollen season, which can kick off as early as February and last all the way through to June – and for allergy sufferers that can be a gruelling four months.

Springtime allergies are the result of your immune system thinking that pollen is hazardous to your body; so when you have an allergic response, your body sends histamines into your blood, which results in the symptoms mentioned above. In other words, your immune system is misfiring. These allergies don’t just happen out of the blue, however – they can also be genetic. For example, if a parent or a sibling suffers from springtime allergies, you’re also much more likely to suffer the same fate. Allergies can also occur at any time in life – whether you’re a child, teenager, or adult.

While there’s unfortunately no cure for springtime allergies, there are things Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying to help relieve the symptoms and give your immune system a bit of a reprieve.

First, it’s a good idea to know what triggers your allergies. Certain pollens can cause you to have an allergic reaction more than others, and knowing this information can help your physician or allergies provide you with a treatment plan that is specifically designed for you. When pollen counts are high, you should try to stay indoors and make sure you keep all windows closed – it’s also recommended that you avoid drying clothes outside, as you could actually bring in pollens, which may further trigger symptoms. You can monitor your local pollen count via The Weather Network, and you find more information on what these pollen counts mean via HealthLink BC.

Over-the-counter medications like Benadryl, Reactine, Aeris and Allegra are all beneficial in treating symptoms of spring allergies, but be careful, as many of these medications can make you drowsy. If you do decide to take one of these medications, you should avoid driving or operating machinery. For those with allergies that are more severe, your doctor may need to prescribe you with eye drops or nasal sprays. Common sprays used to treat allergies include Nasonex and Omnaris; however, these sprays will need to be used for several days – sometimes weeks – before you’ll begin to notice any improvement. If you’ve tried all of the aforementioned recommendations and are still having trouble combating your symptoms, you might require allergy shots, and may even benefit from seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.

Childhood Arthritis Awareness

Childhood Arthritis Awareness | Dr. Ali Ghahary

When you think of the word “arthritis,” the first thing that comes to mind isn’t usually a child – instead, arthritis is often associated with those who are at a later stage of life, such as individuals who are elderly. What you might not know is that arthritis can actually affect individuals of all ages, including children. Currently, an estimated 10,000 teenagers and children in Canada are living with a form of arthritis known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).

What is Arthritis and How Does it Impact a Child?

Arthritis is a condition that causes the synovial membrane (which is responsible for lining joints such as the ankles and knees) to become inflamed and produce fluid, resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness. The affected area(s) can also be warm to the tough.

Except for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which are very rarely diagnosed in children and instead tend to be diagnosed in mostly adults, generally speaking, arthritis affects both children and adults in similar ways, though it is not known what causes a child to develop arthritis, and the symptoms can vary from child to child, day to day, or even hour to hour. For example, symptoms may be more severe one day, and can be less severe on others. However, when the symptoms worsen for an extended period of time, this is often referred to as a “flare up.”

The Classifications of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

There are currently 7 different forms of JIA that a child can be diagnosed with, including:

• Oligoarthritis (affecting 1 to 4 joints)
• Polyarthritis (affecting over 5 joints)
• Systemic arthritis (accompanied by a fever and rash)
• Enthesitis-related arthritis (including inflammation of tendon insertions)
• Psoriatic arthritis (accompanied by psoriasis)

While arthritis generally only affects the joints and their surrounding tissues, other areas of the body can also be impacted including the heart, lungs, skin and liver (systemic arthritis), as well as the eyes (oligoarthritis.)

How is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Treated?

Upon diagnosis, a physical or occupational therapist, or a family physician like Dr. Ali Ghahary, will often recommend exercise as it can be beneficial in providing pain relief as well as helping with range of motion. Regular physical activity will also help keep the bones and muscles strong, improve energy levels as well as sleep, and can even improve a child’s mood. If your child is experiencing a severe flare-up, however, healthcare professionals recommend limiting physical activity as well as any high-impact fitness. Alternatively, heating pads can also relieve muscle spasms and reduce arthritis-related pain, while cold packs can decrease swelling and inflammation in the joints.

Natural Ways to Help You Get a Good Night’s Rest

Natural Ways to Help You Get a Good Night's Rest | Dr. Ali Ghahary

If you’ve ever struggled with insomnia then you’re more than likely used to the feelings of lethargy and irritability the next morning. Not only does a lack of sleep have an impact on our mood and mental health, but your overall health can also be impacted and put you at an increased risk of things like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

When you’re wide-awake at 3 AM, getting back to sleep can sometimes feel like an impossible goal – and if it’s chronic it can be all the more frustrating. There are, however, different things you can do to combat that feeling of being wide awake and help you get a better night’s rest, and that might start with making a few minor (but crucial) lifestyle changes that family physician Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends below.

1. Stay in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. This means going to sleep and getting up at the same time, as this will help to reset your internal clock and give you a better quality of sleep. Once you develop this habit, you may even be able to wake up without the assistance of an alarm. You should also avoid sleeping in, even on days where you might not have anything to do. By sticking to the same sleep routine, you are less likely to disrupt the circadian rhythm. If you find you’re someone who tends to feel fatigued during the day, you can take naps, but they should be limited to no more than 20 minutes per day.

2. Avoid television, computer screens, smartphones and tablets before bedtime. Many of these devices can be stimulating to the brain as they emit a blue light, and that blue light easily tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime rather than night-time, which can completely throw your circadian rhythm off kilter without you even realizing it. While things like TV’s, computers, smartphones and tablets can all be addicting and hard to put down sometimes, it’s recommended that you shut down those devices (or switch them to silent/do not disturb) within 1 to 2 hours of your bedtime in order to get a good night’s rest.

3. Avoid exercise before bed. While regular physical activity can reduce the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea, and can leave you feeling better rested during the day, vigorous exercise prior to going to sleep can actually keep you awake, tossing and turning at night – so, if you can, try to avoid exercising at least 1 or 2 hours before going to bed.

4. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants that can leave you feeling wide-awake; and while you might think a glass of wine would have the opposite effect, that nightcap can actually interfere with your sleep cycle.

5. Try melatonin. Melatonin, a natural hormone found in our bodies, is made by the brain’s pineal gland and helps control the body’s sleep/wake cycle. If you’ve tried all of the above suggestions and still find that you’re not getting a proper sleep, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients try taking a melatonin supplement, which can be found at any health store or pharmacy. Melatonin supplements are also commonly used to treat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as well as to reduce chronic cluster headaches.

Hepatitis C Treatment Now Available to All B.C. Residents

Hepatitis C Treatment Now Available to All B.C. Residents | Dr. Ali Ghahary

In an announcement made on Tuesday, the British Columbia government said that individuals diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C would be provided full access to treatment funded under PharmaCare, even during early stages of the disease. In addition, they also announced that a new drug, Vosevi, would also be made available to British Columbians with Hepatitis C. Currently, an estimated 73,000 British Columbians are living with the virus; and, according to the World Health Organization, chronic Hepatitis C affects up to as many as 150 million people worldwide.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that affects the liver, and is usually spread by coming into contact with the blood of an infected individual. Examples of blood contact can include blood transfusions (before the year 1990), sharing injecting equipment such as needles or syringes (or accidentally poking yourself with one.) Other situations where blood contact can occur, albeit a much lower risk, may include sharing razors, nail files or tooth brushes, body piercing, tattoos, and sexual intercourse; it is also possible for a mother that is breastfeeding to pass the virus onto her newborn infant. Hepatitis C is NOT spread through contact such as hugging or kissing, couching, sneezing, sharing cutlery, swimming, or being bitten or stung by insects, nor is it transferred through other bodily fluids such as saliva or vomit.

What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is categorized into two different stages: Acute or chronic. During acute hepatitis C, symptoms may be absent and many individuals are actually unaware that they have the virus – in fact, as many as 75 percent of individuals with Hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms at all; though in some cases you may experience fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, develop yellowing of the skin or eyes (also known as jaundice), as well as have dark urine. In 15 to 25 percent of acute Hepatitis C cases, the infection will resolve on its own without any treatment, though it’s recommended that you get plenty of rest, have a healthy diet, and drink an adequate amount of fluids. With Hepatitis C, the disease is recurring, and symptoms are similar to that of an acute diagnosis, but can be much more severe, and can also result in complications such as cirrhosis of the liver, which can be minor or life threatening.

How is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?

In order to accurately diagnose Hepatitis C, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, will need to refer patients for blood tests – first being one known as a Hepatitis C antibody test. This test will be able to determine if you have been exposed to the virus. If this test comes back positive, a second blood test will be administered called the PCR test – also known as the Polymerase Chain Reaction test – which will determine if an active Hepatitis C infection is currently present in the blood. If you do test positive for Hepatitis C, it is suggested that you have regular blood tests to check the function of your liver.

How is Hepatitis C Treated?

The standard treatment often includes several different types of drugs, and there are many types available, such as Health Canada-approved anti-viral drugs. Based on test results and symptoms present, your physician will determine the best course of treatment for you.

For more information on Hepatitis C, visit the Canadian Liver Foundation website at

Possible Link Between Alzheimer’s and Daytime Drowsiness

Possible Link Between Alzheimer's and Daytime Drowsiness | Dr. Ali Ghahary

According to a recent study done by Prashanthi Vemuri, an associate professor of radiology with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, adults who find that they are feeling sleepy during the day may be at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, irreversible disease that affects the brain – including thinking skills, memory, and the ability to carry out normal, everyday tasks. It is the most common cause of dementia amongst older adults in Canada, with over 700,000 living with this debilitating condition, while a staggering 44 million people are affected worldwide.

While this latest study is only observational, it does suggest that daytime drowsiness along with lack of sleep can cause harmful accumulation of a plaque-building protein known as beta-amyloid. While it’s unclear exactly how much lack of sleep one needs to have in order for beta-amyloid to increase, the study does affirm that disrupted sleep may be a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related symptoms; though the rate at which Alzheimer’s affects one individual often varies in others. During the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms may be minimal, but those symptoms will worsen as the disease causes more damage to the brain.

Along with lack of sleep, there are other factors that can also put you at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Advancing age, for example, is one of the greatest risks, as once you reach the age of 65 your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every 5 years. You also have a higher chance of developing it if you’ve had or have family members with Alzheimer’s disease, such as a parent or a sibling. While it’s unknown what, exactly, causes Alzheimer’s to run in families, things like environmental factors, genetics and lifestyle may all play a part. Research has also suggested that there may also be a link between Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. The heart is responsible for pumping blood to the brain; while the brain gets the oxygen and nutrients that it needs in order to function properly.

While there are no known treatments that can stop Alzheimer’s, there are medications out there that can help relieve symptoms associated with dementia by increasing the brain’s neurotransmitters. Drugs like Aricept, Exelon, and Reminyl are used for symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, while Ebixa is used for symptoms of moderate to advanced Alzheimer’s. Whether you or someone you know has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s also a good idea to have a support system in place which includes friends and family members, coordinating care between health professionals, better education surrounding the disease, as well as participating in activities that can help improve the mood.

What You Need to Know About Good Nutrition

In order to be healthy, you need to live healthy. This means engaging in regular physical activity as well as consuming well-balanced meals and avoiding things like trans fats and sugar. Having a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your health as this will combat and prevent certain illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and even cancer – and can also help you lose and maintain and healthy weight.

When it comes to good nutrition, you should be eating a variety of foods from the different types of food groups per Canada’s Food Guide. These 5 food groups consist of the following:

Vegetables and Fruit (7 to 8 servings per day)
Grain Products (6 to 7 servings per day)
Milk and Alternatives (2 to 3 servings per day)
Meat and Alternatives (2 to 3 servings per day)

Vegetables and Fruit
Dark, leafy green or orange vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes.

Grain Products
Quinoa, brown rice, barley, oats, whole grain breads.

Milk and Alternatives
Skim milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, fortified soy beverages.

Meat and Alternatives
Skinless chicken, salmon, mackerel, trout.

Per the Canadian Food Guide, Dr. Ali Ghahary also recommends avoiding and/or limiting foods and beverages that are high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium (salt.) Examples of these foods include chocolate, granola bars, candy, cakes, pastries, donuts, muffins, frozen desserts (such as ice cream), potato chips, nacho chips, French fries, fruit flavoured drinks, soda, sports and energy drinks, and alcohol.

Nutrition and health also varies based on age. For example, children have smaller appetites than adults and therefore require calories to help them grow and develop. Just as adults would, children should also eat a variety of foods from the 4 different food groups, but in smaller portions. When it comes to giving your child a snack, also make sure it’s healthy – for example, fresh fruit. Women should also eat a healthy diet, especially if they are pregnant and breastfeeding – consuming a multivitamin that contains both folic acid and iron is beneficial, and you should also include a few extra servings from each food group in your diet. For those over the age of 50, it’s also recommended that you take a daily vitamin D supplement in addition to following Canada’s Food Guide.

Canada's Food Guide

How to Avoid a Misdiagnosis: What You Should Know

How to Avoid a Misdiagnosis | Dr. Ali Ghahary
Always be open and honest when discussing your health with your physician. | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Misdiagnosing, unfortunately, is something that can occur in healthcare, and it can have devastating (and sometimes even fatal) consequences. Below are some critical steps you can take to get the right diagnosis and improve your overall health.


it comes to your health, it’s always important that you report any and all abnormalities you might be experiencing to your physician, regardless of their severity and what you think they are or aren’t caused from – be it medication or an underlying health condition. By letting your doctor know exactly how you feel, he or she will be able to provide you – the patient – with an accurate diagnosis, as well as an appropriate treatment plan moving forward.


It’s not uncommon for a patient to go to their physician knowing what they want to ask, only to realize they’ve forgotten to ask or tell them something once they’ve gotten back home. Prior to your appointment with your physician, it’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of not just your symptoms, but any questions you might have for your doctor. Writing down as much information as you can will make it so no question is left unanswered. Alternatively, it’s also a smart idea to take a pen and paper with you to your doctor’s appointment, that way you can also write down information that your physician relays to you. However, as most medical offices now use electronic medical records, you could also ask for a copy of the notes from your visit.


Writing your symptoms down on a piece of paper and taking it with you to your doctor’s appointment is important, but you also need to be specific when describing them. For example, don’t just write down “irritated skin” as that could mean many different things. Does it burn? Itch? Is there a rash? Similarly, if you have an earache, don’t just write down, “I have an ear ache.” Describe it. Does it hurt? Is there a sensation of pressure in your ear or ears? Write down anything and everything you’re experiencing as your physician will then be able to consider (and potentially rule out) certain possibilities as the cause of your symptoms.


As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary says there’s no such thing as a bad question, and therefore patients should not feel afraid or ashamed to ask about anything relating to their health. If your doctor is able to provide you with a definitive diagnosis upon your visit, ask about what you can experience or any red flags you should look out for. If your doctor refers you for testing (such as medical imaging or blood tests), ask what the tests are for, how they’re administered, and if there’s any preparation you need to do before the tests are done – for example, certain blood tests require the patient to fast so that the results are accurate.

Age-Related Muscle Loss and How to Build Back Muscle Strength

Age-Related Muscle Loss and How to Build Back Muscle Strength
Strength training (such as lifting weights) is a great way to build back lost muscle. | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Age-related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia, is a condition that occurs as a result of the body’s natural aging process. When muscle decreases, so does a person’s strength, and this can not only have a direct impact on one’s balance, but can also affect the ability to be able to perform everyday activities – such as walking, climbing stairs, and lifting objects.

Muscle mass can begin to decline as early as age 40, and may progress more rapidly between the ages of 60 and 60. A person can lose anywhere from 3 to 8 percent of muscle mass every 10 years. While aging is usually the main cause of muscle loss, there are other factors that may contribute to sarcopenia, including living a sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits, illness, injury, or other chronic health conditions.

To prevent muscle loss or rebuild lost muscle, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, says there are different ways in which you can do this – the most important step being exercise. While you may not be able to return to the same level of physical activity that you were once used to prior to developing sarcopenia, you can slowly ease back into it. By partaking in low-impact exercise, you prevent your muscles from working too hard too soon, and therefore reduce the risk of injury. Examples of low-impact exercise include going for short walks or doing stretching. If you feel pain at any time during physical activity then it’s important that you stop and take a break.

Another good idea is to focus on the specific area of the body/the specific muscle you want to rebuild. For example, lifting weights is a great way to increase arm strength, while squats and walking are great ways to increase muscle in the legs. If you do opt for lifting weights, start with something you know you can tolerate rather than choosing weights that are too heavy. For best results you should be performing two to three sets at least twice a week. It’s important that you allow a day or two between workouts to give your muscles adequate time to recover and for that muscle growth to build back up. Once you’ve gotten used to your routine, you can always increase physical activity. You may even benefit from working with a personal trainer, as they are oftentimes able to design a workout routine that is specific to you and your needs.

It’s also essential that you’re eating a well-balanced, healthy diet. Having a diet that consists of a mix of different fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is not only crucial for muscle health, but can also benefit your overall health as well – such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Increasing your protein intake can also help rebuild muscle mass. Protein includes things like lean meats, cold-water fish, and eggs. Drinking water can also support muscle growth and flux toxins from the body.

It’s important that you avoid taking supplements that claim to be able to dramatically improve muscle strength, as many of these kinds of products do not help and may actually increase body fat. If you’re looking for alternatives, your best course of action is to speak to your family physician.

Vancouver Set to Get First Taste of Spring This Weekend

Vancouver Set to Get First Taste of Spring This Weekend | Dr. Ali Ghahary
Downtown Vancouver | Dr. Ali Ghahary

While it might still be winter (with spring not set to arrive for another two weeks), Vancouver is set to get its first taste of warm weather this weekend when temperatures are expected to hit anywhere from 14 to 18 degrees Celsius (57 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit) across parts of the Lower Mainland this weekend. That means many British Columbians will take advantage of the sunshine by spending the majority of their time outdoors. However, don’t let the fact that it’s still winter fool you, because despite that, you will need to take the same precautions you normally would during spring and summer to keep yourself protected from the sun – and yes, that even means wearing sunscreen.

While you might think it’s okay to ditch the SPF during the winter season, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, says people should really think twice before doing so. Why? Because it doesn’t take much to get a sunburn. In fact, Dr. Ghahary says people should actually consider wearing a sunscreen every day of the year, even if it’s a low SPF. Despite the season, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can still damage your skin, and one should always pay close attention to their local weather reports so they’re aware of the UV index. The UV index is used to inform the general public of the level of UV exposure that they should expect on a given day. Depending on the time of day, the UV level can rise or fall. By knowing the UV index, you’ll be able to plan your outdoor activities more appropriately and therefore lower your risk of developing any adverse health effects – such as sunburn (as mentioned), skin cancer, cataracts, and heat stroke.

In Canada, the UV index is separated into 5 different categories, and they are as follows:

Low (0 to 2)
Moderate (3 to 5)
High (6 to 7)
Very High (8 to 10)
Extreme (11+)

According to Environment Canada, this weekend’s UV index may reach a 3, which is considered moderate, albeit on the lower side of the spectrum. However, just because the UV index is at a moderate or lower level, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods in terms of doing your body or skin damage as a result of sun exposure. Damage can happen rather quickly, which is why healthcare professionals like Dr. Ali Ghahary cannot stress enough the importance of wearing sunscreen and doing all you can do to keep yourself protected. If you know you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, using an SPF isn’t the only thing you should do. Dr. Ali Ghahary also recommends wearing a large brimmed hat and sunglasses, as well as finding shade from time to time to help your body cool off.
Paying attention to the UV index is also important in determining the level of SPF you need to wear. An SPF 15, for example, blocks approximately 93% of UVB radiation, while an SPF 30 or higher blocks up to 97% of UVB radiation, and is recommended for extended or intense exposure to the sun.