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Are Bathroom Beauty Products Harming Your Health?

Are Bathroom Beauty Products Harming Your Health? | Dr. Ali Ghahary
Certain soaps and body wash may contain harmful ingredients. | Dr. Ali Ghahary

If you’ve ever suffered from oily or dry and irritated skin, the problem may not actually be your skin itself and may instead be the work of regular (or new) use of certain soaps, body wash, or other bathroom beauty products. While many people have no problem using these items, those with sensitive skin or underlying skin conditions, like psoriasis and eczema, may actually find that the aforementioned products either contribute to their skin irritation or make the aforementioned conditions worse. The problem with this is that many types of soap, body wash, perfumes, etc. all contain a long list of different chemicals and ingredients that the skin simply can’t handle. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to find products that are gentle enough on the skin to be used each day without causing harm – but first, you need to know what to stay away from.

As mentioned in a previous article from Dr. Ali Ghahary, Triclosan as an ingredient that is commonly found in antibacterial soap. However, it has been noted that antibacterial soap is no better than your average bar of hand soap in terms of killing off bacteria and keeping things clean. Triclosan has also been linked to a variety of problems with the endocrine system, such a thyroid disease and weakened immunity, as well as an increased risk of developing allergies, asthma, and even eczema. In addition to soap, Triclosan can also be found in certain toothpastes and deodorants.

Dioxane is a product that is found in many personal care/hygiene products, as well as a wide range of cosmetics. According to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, it has a hazard rating of 8, which is extremely high, and is also considered a carcinogen. Common problems linked to using products containing Dioxane include irritation of the skin, eyes and lungs, as well as organ system toxicity. Because dioxane is a something that is created through the combination of other chemicals, you’re not likely to find it on the ingredients list of any products you own. However, if any of the products you do own contain polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxethylene, or PEG, then there’s a good change they contain dioxane too, therefore those are products you will want to avoid.

A world you’re probably familiar with but may not really be sure what it is, parabens are commonly found in bars of soap. Parabens include ingredients such as methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben, which are all found in soap and other cosmetic products. Studies have suggested that parabens mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen found in the body’s cells. While there has been no scientific evidence that has confirmed whether or not parabens are harmful or if they’re linked to cancer as has been suggested, many companies now make their products both paraben and sulfate-free for those who might have concerns.

This is something that is used in many cosmetic products such as nail polish, body wash, cleansers, shampoos and conditioners, and eyeshadow. Formaldehyde is known to cause allergic reactions and skin irritation, and may also be harmful for the immune system.

For more information on these and other ingredients you should watch out for, click here.

Inflammation: What Is It and How to Fight It

Inflammation: What Is It and How to Fight It | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Arthritis. Colitis. Pancreatitis. Tonsillitis. Sinusitis. All very different medical conditions with very different symptoms, but all having one thing in common: Inflammation. The ending of each of these conditions, -itis, is the medical term that is used to describe inflammation, which can be chronic or acute. So what is it, exactly? Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response and an attempt at beginning the healing process by removing harmful stimuli. Without an inflammatory response, the body would not be able to heal damage to tissue, heal wounds, or rid itself of infections.

Symptoms of inflammation vary from person to person and are also dependent on whether or not the inflammation is chronic or acute. Acute inflammation is often broken down into three different characterizations: Pain, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat. Areas that are inflamed are likely to be painful, it’s also not uncommon to develop redness and swelling as a result of a buildup of fluid and capillaries filling with more blood than usual, which can also cause the inflamed area to feel warm to the touch. In addition, depending on the area of the body that is affected, inflammation can also result in temporary loss of function – for example, the legs. Symptoms of chronic inflammation can also be similar, but they may also present in other ways, such as joint pain, fatigue, mouth sores, chest pain, abdominal pain, fever, and even a rash.

While infections are a common cause of inflammation, having inflammation doesn’t always mean that an infection is present. Acute inflammation can be the result of a respiratory tract infection, or it can be the result of something as minor as an ingrown toenail that then becomes infected, having a scratch on the skin, or even high-impact fitness. Certain physical traumas can also result in inflammation. If inflammation is acute, it is typically a rapid onset, and only likely to last for a few days to a week. Chronic inflammation, however, is considered long-lasting (from months to years) and can be the result of stress, hormones, asthma, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, hepatitis, food allergies, trigger foods (such as dairy, fatty red meats or cured meats), food additives, sugar, alcohol, and even certain household products/chemicals. Chronic inflammation is also caused by pathogens in the body that are unable to break down, whether it’s from a virus, a foreign body, or simply an overactive immune response.

Having an autoimmune disease can also cause inflammation. These include everything from type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, celiac disease, and more. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, you are likely to suffer from some or several of the following symptoms: Fatigue, ache muscles, swelling and/or redness, low-grade fever, numbness and tingling of the hands and/or feet, hair loss, skin rash, and you may also have trouble concentrating. On some days these symptoms may be worse than others, and they may also come and go. If you go a certain length of time being symptom-free only to experience symptoms again, this is known as a flare-up.

Often described as a steady aching, throbbing, pulsating, stabbing or pinching sensation, inflammation can be incredibly painful, making it hard for someone suffering from chronic inflammation to go about their usual day to day activities such as school, work, or attending social functions and other fun events such as sports or live concerts. Because of this, it is not unusual for someone with chronic inflammation to also develop issues with their mental health, such as anxiety or depression.

The most important part of treating inflammation is reducing the symptoms. As pain is the most common symptom associated with both acute and chronic inflammation, physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will usually recommend their patients take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, to try and relieve that pain as well as decrease the level of inflammation within the body. NSAIDs work by counteracting the enzyme that contributes to inflammation, which can either prevent the inflammation from occurring all together or significantly reduce the pain that is caused by the inflammation. Common NSAIDs include Aspirin and Ibuprofen, which can be found at any pharmacy, as well as Naproxen, which is also available at pharmacies or can be written as a prescription by your family doctor or specialist. It is important to note that long-term use of NSAIDs can increase the risk of developing stomach ulcers, which may result in bleeding with can be severe and sometimes life-threatening, and they can also worsen the symptoms of asthma, may lead to kidney damage, and can also increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. To reduce this risk, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends avoiding long-term use of NSAIDs and trying Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) instead. While this type of drug won’t actually reduce inflammation, it can still reduce the pain that is associated with inflammation itself. While Acetaminophen also comes with risks associated with long-term use, it is considered a much safer medication for those who require prolonged relief. As a more natural way of relieving inflammation, several foods are also known to help, including fresh fruit such as blueberries and orange, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, nuts, tomatoes, and olive oil. For more healthy eating options, click here or follow Dr. Ghahary on Twitter and Instagram.

What Your Body is Trying to Tell You

What Your Body is Trying to Tell You | Dr. Ali Ghahary

The human body is a rather interesting and intricate machine. We’ve all been under the weather at some point in our lives, and many of the time there are often precursors or warning signs leading up to certain illnesses. Much like a computer, when the body begins to shut down or something goes awry, it usually doesn’t happen without reason, and will send us little signals to let us know that something is off kilter. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary has put together a list of some common conditions and their associated warning signs that your body may be signalling off to let you know something’s just not quite right.

Frequent or Recurrent Colds/Flu
A common cold or flu virus doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It usually begins with a sore throat and runny nose lasting for 2 to 3 days, which then leads to the worsening of those symptoms and more; i.e. nasal congestion, cough, fever, nausea, and vomiting. If you do happen to develop a cold or flu virus, this is a sign that your immune system has weakened and is in need of a boost – even more so if your colds or flu are recurrent. While most bugs are viral in nature, they can also be bacterial, which means the body works extra hard to fight off infection. As a result, patients will need to be put on a course of antibiotics to help rid themselves of the infection that is present. Along with prescribed medication, there are certain things you can do to decrease your chances of developing recurring colds or flu viruses – such as drinking more fluids (water is great for your overall health, as is orange juice (unsweetened), as oranges contain vitamin C which is great for improved immunity) and getting vaccinated. It’s also important not to overexert yourself and get plenty of rest when sick. Doing too much too soon may set you back and put you at risk of complications, such as the development of pneumonia. You can read more about common colds and the flu virus here.

There are many reasons why one might suffer a headache. You may be overtired from a long day at work or school, or they can also be the result of caffeine withdrawal (i.e. from cutting back on coffee consumption or not drinking enough throughout the day.) Headaches can also turn into migraines, which can be chronic in nature. A headache that is very severe and one that you can describe as being the worst headache you’ve ever had in your life may also be indicative of a very serious medical emergency, such as a brain aneurysm, and should not be ignored.

Dehydration is very common, especially during the summer. As the weather improves and gets warmer and sunnier, we often find ourselves spending more time outdoors, sometimes not realizing just how harmful the heat and the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be. If you do become dehydrated, the body will let you know. As a result of dehydration, you may have a dry mouth, develop headaches, feel fatigued, dizzy, nauseated, may vomit, and have decreased urine output. The best way to reduce the effects of dehydration is to increase your water and electrolyte intake. If you are severely dehydrated, you may require admission to the hospital where you will be given fluids intravenously and monitored for a few hours before being released.

Bowel Irregularity or Constipation
One of the most common reasons why you might develop bowel irregularity or constipation (the inability to have a bowel movement) is because you’re not including enough fibre in your diet. To get yourself regular and to loosen stools, you need to increase your fibre intake (it’s recommended that we get at least 35 to 40 grams of fibre per day.) Fibre can be found in legumes and plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains.

If you’ve worked a long shift, studied extra hard, spent a few hours taking that final exam for school, or had an intense workout at the gym, then you’re probably going to feel tired – that much is a given. However, if you feel tired all of the time or wake up feeling like you haven’t had a good night’s sleep, this could be an indicator that something more serious is at play aside from your usual day-to-day activities. Chronic fatigue is one medical condition that results in extreme fatigue or tiredness that does not go away, even after rest. Unrelenting exhaustion can also be signs of a concussion, infection, anxiety disorders, liver or kidney disease, thyroid disease, anemia, and even cancer. So, if you’re feeling unusually exhausted, you should let your family doctor know as he or she will most likely send you for additional testing.

It all boils down to this: While some health problems can be relatively minor, others may be serious, so it’s important to listen to what your body is trying to tell you and seek medical attention whenever something doesn’t seem or feel right, as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Things You Should Throw Away to Better Your Health

Things You Should Throw Away to Better Your Health | Dr. Ali Ghahary

You might not know it, but there are tons of everyday items we own that we shouldn’t necessarily be keeping around, as some of them can actually be harmful to our health. Below is just a small list of some of the common, everyday items that you should consider tossing.

1. Antibacterial Soap
According to a 2014 report from the FDA, soaps labeled as “antibacterial” are no more effective at killing off harmful bacteria than regular soap. Antibacterial soaps may also be unsafe as many of them contain an active ingredient known as Triclosan, which has been linked to abnormalities in the endocrine system, such as thyroid problems, and weakened immune systems. Young children exposed to antibacterial products have also been found to have an increased risk of developing eczema, allergies, and asthma.

2. Soda
While soda is a go-to thirst quencher for many on warm, summer day, you’re really not doing yourself any favours by buying or drinking this carbonated beverage – even the “diet” kind. Despite being advertised as low-calorie, “healthier” alternatives to sugar, the non-caloric sweeteners (such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin) found in soda have been linked to both gluten intolerance and metabolic syndrome, and may be precursors to the development of type II diabetes. In addition, they may also decrease the body’s healthy metabolism.

3. Running Shoes
Finding a good pair of running shoes is not only important for comfort, but also important for supporting different parts of the body – such as the bones, muscles and tendons. Depending on how much use they get, shoes can last some people for years and years on end; but even with quite a bit of wear and tear, people don’t replace their running shoes nearly as often as they should – at least every 3 months for those who are quite active, and every 6 months for individuals less active. Old running shoes lose their cushioning and the ability to absorb impact when landing on your feet. The less cushioning, the more force there is being applied to your body, which puts you at an increased risk of developing injuries. Remember, when looking for a good running shoe it’s not only important to find something that is comfortable, but also correct in size.

4. Old Makeup
Old makeup and makeup accessories can harbour a lot of germs. Things like lipstick, mascara and eyeshadows, especially, as well as their tools (such as brushes.) While makeup might seem like a funny thing to replace especially if it’s still useable, it can be quite the festering spot for bacteria. For example, each time you use mascara or eyeshadow, you’re not only brushing it onto your eyelids and lashes, but also transferring germs to your eyelids and lashes as well, and that can even result in serious skin and/or eye infections. Makeup and makeup brushes are also a breeding ground for bacteria due to being stored in warm or room-temperature environments. While you might not want to shell out a lot of money on makeup products and accessories every few months, it’s important for your health that you make sure you replace these particular items as frequently as every 2 to 3 months.

5. Expired Medication
Similar to foods, medications also come with expiry dates. While some medications can be toxic if taken after their expiration date, other medications may still be safe to take but will simply lose their effectiveness. If you want your medication to achieve optimal results, you should avoid expired medication and speak with your physician about getting a new prescription. You can find more detailed information about expired medication by clicking here.

6. Old Sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen is important, especially now that summer has arrived. However, breaking out the sunscreen from last year or a few year’s prior might not be the safest idea. Certain chemicals found in sunscreen that block the sun’s ultraviolet rays eventually break down over time, meaning your skin isn’t as protected from the risk of cancer, such as melanoma. Without proper protection your skin may also age quicker.

Healthy Ways to Relieve Pain

Healthy Ways to Relieve Pain | Dr. Ali Ghahary
Medications aren't the only way to relieve pain, as there are other (healthier) alternatives to try. | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Thousands (if not millions) of Canadians suffer from pain every day. Pain can be acute and a result of something like a scraped knee, sprained or broken bone, which will get better over time, or can be chronic and much more severe – such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, or other pain disorders. Regardless of the cause, the goal is to find relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are typically the go-to medications of choice when it comes to those that are seeking pain relief. However, too much of these medications over a prolonged period of time can lead to other health complications such as kidney and liver problems, ulcers, and more. In addition, opioids are also problematic when it comes to pain relief, as they are not meant to be used long-term. Prolonged use of opioids can result in the body becoming dependent on the drug, in addition to the drug itself becoming less successful in treating the pain, therefore requiring more which can then lead to addiction. As a result, family physicians across Canada like Dr. Ali Ghahary, as well as across the United States and other parts of the world, are working diligently to warn patients about the dangers of long-term use of opioids, and are instead helping patients find healthier ways to help relieve pain.

When it comes to chronic pain, it is generally broken down into two categories: Nociceptive or Neuropathic. Nociceptive pain is the result of damage being done to body tissue, and is usually described as an aching, sharp or throbbing pain; whereas Neuropathic pain occurs when there has been damage done to the nerves. Chronic pain can affect any area of the body, and it can so debilitating to the point where it may affect your ability to carry out your day to day activities, in addition to requiring you to take time off school or work, as well as affect your ability to socialize and keep personal relationships. Because pain can be so complex, finding relief is often a matter of trial and error. While doctors won’t shy away from prescribing patients medications when it is absolutely necessary, Dr. Ali Ghahary also recommends introducing certain changes in lifestyle – such as regular, low-impact physical activity, healthy eating, and reducing stress – as part of their pain management plan.

Aside from medication and breaking certain unhealthy habits, finding relief from pain might actually be right under your fingertips through certain items you already own. For example, if you suffer from body aches or sprains/other related injuries, applying a cold compress to the affected area(s) for 10 minutes at a time can be significantly effective. Cold not only has an anesthetizing effect, but it can also reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as temporarily reduces nerve activity which results in a reduced level of pain. Alternatively, heat (from a heating pad or warm towel) can also reduce things like painful muscle spasms and joint stiffness. However, heat should not be applied to an injury for at least 48 hours. When applying heat directly to the skin, you should also make sure it’s not too hot so that you can avoid burning the skin. Certain essential oils are also great, natural ways of finding pain relief – especially lavender and peppermint oils. If the cause of your pain is due to underlying inflammation, lavender can help relieve this thanks to its analgesic properties. Similarly, peppermint oil can also treat pain caused by inflammation as well as a variety of other ailments including nausea and vomiting. The great thing about essential oils is that they can be used in many different ways. You can find relief by placing a few drops in your bathwater or shower (inhaling oil-infused steam can not only relieve pain, but is also found to be quite soothing and can even help with sleep), or gently massaging the oil directly onto the areas of your body that you find affected by pain. You can also relieve muscle and joint pain by soaking in an epsom salt bath for approximately 20 minutes. Epsom salt has been used as natural pain reliever for many, many decades as it contains exceptional anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also not uncommon to find certain brands of epsom salt infused with essential oils like the ones already mentioned.

Sometimes finding pain relief can also be a matter of simply opening up your cupboards, fridge, or taking a trip to the local grocery or fruit and vegetable store. Ginger is one of the most natural and healthiest remedies when it comes to not just treating pain and inflammation, but a wide range of other ailments such as nausea, indigestion, and high cholesterol…and it can even reduce the risk of things like heart disease and cancer. While raw ginger is the best and most effective way to go, ginger also comes in tea and candy form – though beware of the sugar! Adding a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon to your tea or to a glass of warm water and honey can also help to relieve pain and improve your overall health. Green, leafy vegetables (spinach or kale) or fruits (cherries) are also some of the top foods that can fight pain and inflammation.

If you suffer from chronic pain and want to learn more, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.) You can also find more articles by Dr. Ghahary on chronic pain by clicking here. Pain BC also offers a wide range of resources for those suffering from chronic pain, including self-management tips and support groups, which can be found via their website at

How to Make a Healthy Sandwich

How to Make a Healthy Sandwich | Dr. Ali Ghahary

While sandwiches are a staple for many lunchboxes given how quick and easy they are to put together, you might want to think twice before packing your next afternoon meal, because while nothing can beat their simplicity, that sandwich might not actually be as healthy as you think. In fact, one sandwich can contain upwards of 200 calories – and, loaded with condiments like mayonnaise and butter, can be a huge diet disaster.

Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, shares tips on how to transform your high-calorie, high-carbohydrate sandwich into one that’s not only delicious, but healthier for you, too.

BREAD: As a strong advocate of healthy eating, Dr. Ali Ghahary generally advises against consuming bread – especially if that bread is white. In fact, consumption of white bread is one of the biggest diet DONTS as it contains very little nutritional value while being much high in calories. (The average slice of white bread contains up to 80 calories.) Instead, you’ll want to choose bread that is either 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat, as they’re high in nutrients and fibre, and will also help you feel fuller longer. Also be sure to check the ingredients on the bread’s packaging and avoid added sugars like evaporated cane juice, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and molasses. Alternatively, you can swap bread out entirely and use iceberg or romaine lettuce and turn your sandwich into a lettuce wrap.

MEAT: Most people buy their sandwich meat from their local deli…but what you might not know is just how processed that meat is, which makes it high in fat and calories. Always opt for lean and healthy sources of protein like chicken or turkey (skinless); canned tuna and salmon are also two healthy options. As a meatless alternative, you can also make egg sandwiches.

VEGETABLES: To give your health an extra boost, make sure you load your sandwich with healthy vegetables. Some great veggies to include are tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, bean sprouts and lettuce – but be careful, as some vegetables pose a higher risk of contamination than others, so make sure they’re washed thoroughly before consumption.

SPREADS: Things like butter, mayonnaise and even ketchup are probably the most common condiments used in sandwiches, but they’re also the worst. While they will certainly make your sandwich much more moist and flavourful, they’re also high in calories, high in fat, and even high in sugar. However, there are ways you can add additional moisture and flavour without all the calories, fat and sugar. Simply choose condiments that are lower in fat to keep within a healthier calorie range.

Find more healthy eating tips from Dr. Ali Ghahary here.

Evidence-Based Health Tips

Evidence-Based Health Tips | Dr. Ali Ghahary

When it comes to finding different ways to ensure you have optimal health, not everything is always backed by science or evidence. Even health experts don’t always share the same opinions when it comes to deciding what does and doesn’t work in terms of different aspects of healthcare and lifestyle habits (i.e. dieting and exercise.) However, despite this, there are many things that are widely supported as a result of research. Dr. Ali Ghahary shares some of those below.

1. Avoid Processed Foods
What you eat plays a major factor in your overall health. If you’re going to eat junky, processed, high-fat foods, then you’re more likely to feel unwell and gain weight – especially if processed or high-fat foods are things you eat regularly. As a strong advocate for healthy eating, Dr. Ali Ghahary encourages his patients to adopt healthy lifestyles which includes having a healthy diet. Processed foods contain little to no nutritional value, and they’re also low in fibre. What they are high in, however, is refined grains and added sugar, which you should stay away from. Instead, make sure you’re eating 3 healthy meals per day that consist of plenty of fruits and vegetables, and protein. For a more specific low-carb diet, or a diet that may help promote weight loss, Dr. Ghahary recommends trying the Paleo or South Beach diets.

2. Drink Water
As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary cannot stress enough the importance of drinking water. It can not only maximize your physical performance and boost energy levels, but it also helps prevent headaches, constipation, and even treat kidney stones. Water doesn’t just have to come from a tap or bottle, either. You can get a large amount of water from some of your favourite fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, watermelon and raspberries – with water content of these foods ranging anywhere from 87% to 96%.

3. Exercise
There are many, many benefits that come along with getting regular exercise – and it doesn’t have to be much. As little as 30 minutes of exercise each day can be enough to significantly improve your health. If you’re not used to regular physical activity then it can be difficult to start, but once you get into the routine of working out it definitely gets easier – and it can be fun, too. By adding fitness to your everyday routine, you’re not only improving your heart health and decreasing the risk of things like heart attack, stroke and diabetes, but you’re also improving your mental health. Exercise also promotes weight loss and weight maintenance. Examples of easy-to-do exercise include walking, jogging, swimming, and yoga. If you’re more advanced in the athletic department, the Grouse Grind and other fitness spots are great ways to get in a good workout.

4. Don’t Overcook Meat
With summer finally here, so is BBQ season. However, when cooking or consuming food on or from the bbq, it’s important to make sure that food – meat, especially – isn’t overcooked. Overcooked meat can actually increase the risk of cancer due the formation of harmful compounds. Click here to find out more about healthy eating during the summer.

If you’ve read about a new health trend but are unsure about it or have any questions, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to your family physician for their own expertise.

Hemorrhoid Relief and Prevention

Hemorrhoid Relief and Prevention | Dr. Ali Ghahary

While sometimes a prickly and rather uncomfortable or embarrassing topic of conversation, hemorrhoids – also referred to as ‘piles’ – are actually more of a common occurrence than you might realize. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that develop in the anal canal. They can be internal (forming/swelling inside the anal canal) or external (forming/swelling near the opening of the anus, and you may notice a hard lump – also known as a thrombosed or clotted hemorrhoid.) It’s also possible to develop both internal and external hemorrhoids at the same time.

Hemorrhoids can develop due to a number of reasons. Commonly, hemorrhoids will develop in individuals who suffer from constipation. Any straining or increased pressure as a result of constipation and trying to use the restroom can cause the tissue inside the anus to fill with blood and stretch, resulting in hemorrhoids. Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea can also lead to straining and result in the development of hemorrhoids. It’s also not uncommon for pregnant women to develop hemorrhoids (usually within the first 6 months of pregnancy.) Hemorrhoids can also develop or worsen after childbirth. Those who are obese are also at risk of developing hemorrhoids.

Pain (such as burning) and itching are both common symptoms of hemorrhoids. You may also develop bleeding during bowel movements or notice streaks of bright red on your toilet paper, and it may be difficult or painful to keep the area clean. In order to relieve the pain associated with hemorrhoids, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends adding more fibre to your diet through foods (such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains), in addition to Metamucil to help keep stool soft and prevent straining. You should also make sure you’re increasing your water intake. Bathing in Epsom salt for at least 15 minutes several times per day (known as a ‘sitz bath’) can also provide relief. Over-the-counter ointment such as Preparation H and Anusol have also been effective in relieving painful hemorrhoids, as well as reducing swelling and itching. In some cases, these at-home methods may not be enough to get rid of hemorrhoids, and the patient may require surgery. In some instances, hemorrhoids may be able to be lanced and drained – though the hemorrhoids may or may not return. If this is the case, or if all of the aforementioned treatments are not effective, then the patient may require being out under general anesthesia to have the hemorrhoid removed. There are several types of procedures that can be done to remove hemorrhoids, such as rubber bang ligation and infrared photocoagulation. Following these procedures, it is not uncommon to have discomfort as well as some bleeding for 7 to 10 days.

The best way to prevent hemorrhoids from occurring is to make a few simple lifestyle changes. As mentioned, eating foods that are high in fibre and drinking plenty of water (until your urine is light or clear in colour) is key. You should also get some form of exercise each day, and at least 2 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. It’s also important to practice healthy bowel habits by going to the bathroom whenever you have the urge, and avoid straining in order to pass stools.

Disability Alliance BC: Helping Those in Need

Disability Alliance BC: Helping Those in Need | Dr. Ali Ghahary

For the past four decades (since 1977), the Disability Alliance of British Columbia has been helping individuals diagnosed with disabilities. When people think of the word “disability” or “disabled,” a person in a wheelchair with a visible illness often comes to mind. However, being disabled has vast meaning, as disabilities come in many different forms. There are the physical/visible disabilities that can temporarily or permanently impact a person’s mobility – such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis), cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, autism, epilepsy, and spinal cord injuries, just to name a few. However, there are also certain invisible illnesses that can be classified as disabilities, too. An invisible illness is when someone is unable to visually see the disability and there are no supports (such as a wheelchairs, canes, or sign language) to indicate an individual may have a disability. Because of this, there is a stigma attached to invisible illnesses that make some people believe that if a person looks capable, then they are capable. However, this is not true. Examples of invisible illnesses that are considered disabilities can include chronic pain (such as fibromyalgia, pain due to injury, chronic headaches/migraines, bone disease, and more), chronic dizziness, chronic fatigue, diabetes, learning disabilities, and even mental illness (i.e. depression.)

Whatever your disability, DABC doesn’t discriminate and is ready and willing to help anyone who may need it, offering a wide-range of in-office, community, and online resources.

One of the biggest hurdles that someone with a newly diagnosed disability may face is applying for disability assistance. In order to be eligible to receive disability assistance/benefits, you must be able to show that you meet the financial eligibility to receive disability assistance, be at least 18 years of age, have a severe physical or mental impairment that is expected to continue for more than 2 years, have significant restrictions in your ability to perform your daily-living activities (i.e. preparing meals, doing everyday chores), personal care (such as dressing, taking care of personal finances, taking medications, and attending appointments), and require assistance with those activities from another person, assistive device, or an assistance animal. In order to apply for disability assistance, you must request an application. That application must then be filled out by your physician. It can be a time-consuming process, and one that sometimes has to be repeated due to the denial of an application…something that can commonly occur if any part of the form is filled out incorrectly; which is why, to help individuals with the application process, Disability Alliance BC came up with the Advocacy Access Program. Through this program, DABC helps individuals with both the application and appeal process. Their advocates will not only help you and your physician in the completion of the application form, but will also assist you in gathering any necessary information that may be needed to support your application. In addition, the Advocacy Access Program also helps individuals apply for other benefits, such as health supplements, PPMB (Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to Employment), CPP-D (Canada Pension Plan Disability), RDSP (Registered Disability Savings Plan), and even filing taxes.

DABC also offers a wide range of programs for individuals. The Community and Residents Mentors Association – also known as CARMA – was created to help individuals transition from care facilities to establishing their lives in their community. Through this transition, individuals will learn how to plan goals and know where to turn to in the event that they are in need of additional support. Another program offered by DABC is the Right Fit Pilot Project – also known as RFPP. The Right Fit Pilot Project is used to address the challenges that individuals often face when it comes to finding affordable, wheelchair-accessible homes. These challenges include limited availability of accessible and affordable housing due to high demand/low turnover rates, as well as the length of time it takes to arrange for special equipment and support to be provided to disabled individuals once placed in a new home. To be eligible for the first phase of the Right Fit Pilot Project, individuals must be between the ages of 19 and 64, already be receiving or approved for PWD (Persons With Disabilities) benefits, be living in the Vancouver Coastal or Fraser Health regions, and require wheelchair-accessible housing. In addition to these programs, DABC also offers online videos and help sheets, which include emergency preparedness tips and what to do in the event that you become the victim of a crime.

For more information about Disability Alliance BC and the types of services available, visit their website at

Are You Getting Enough Vitamins and Minerals?

Are You Getting Enough Vitamins and Minerals? | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients as they play a key role in maintaining your health – physically and mentally. Without them, you’re at risk of developing a number of health complications. In order to help you have a better understanding of just how important vitamins and minerals are, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, breaks down the different types as well as which ones are required in order to help you achieve optimal health.

There are 13 essential vitamins: Vitamin A, C, D, E, K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B7 (biotin), B6, B12 (cyanocobalamin) and B9. Vitamins are grouped into two different categories: Fat-soluble vitamins, which are absorbed more easily by dietary fat and bind to the stomach for later use; and Water-soluble vitamins, which are absorbed directly by the cells in the body. Each of the vitamins listed have their own special function…

Vitamin A helps to form and maintain healthy bones, teeth, skin, soft tissue and mucus membranes. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that not only boosts the immune system, but also promotes healthy teeth, in addition to wound healing, the maintenance of healthy tissue, as well as helps with iron absorption. Vitamin D, commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” is a vitamin that is naturally made within our bodes when we have been exposed to the sun. Vitamin D also helps with calcium absorption. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps the body form red blood cells. Vitamin K isn’t necessarily considered an essential vitamin, but it helps the blood coagulate. Some studies have also suggested it can be important for bone health. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, changes consumed carbohydrates into energy, and also plays an essential role in promoting healthy nerve cells and heart function. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, works together with some of the other B vitamins and promotes body growth in addiction to the production of red blood cells. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, has cholesterol-lowering effects when taken at higher doses, and also helps to maintain the skin as well as promote healthy nerves. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol, and it is also essential for metabolizing our food. Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, is also essential for metabolism, hormones and cholesterol. Vitamin B6 helps maintain brain function and form red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is another vitamin that is important for metabolism; in addition, it also helps to form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system (CNS). Lastly, Vitamin B9, which consists of folic acid, and has many health benefits including preventing aging, preventing cancer, preventing heart attacks, aiding fertility, and maintaining good mental health.

There is also a wide range of essential minerals that the body needs. These include but are not limited to calcium (which is needed to form strong bones and teeth), iron (which helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the cells in your body), potassium (which controls the electrical activity of the heart as well as helps build proteins), magnesium (which supports nerve and muscle function, as well as boosts immunity), and other trace minerals.

Vitamins and minerals can be found in many different food sources. In some cases, patients may be deficient in certain vitamins and/or minerals and will require a supplement. You can find more articles from Dr. Ali Ghahary on vitamins and minerals by clicking here. In addition, Ella James article ‘6 Vitamins and Minerals that Boost Brain Power’ also provides great insight.