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Protecting Your Eyes From Injury

Protecting Your Eyes From Injury | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Eye injuries are the most common causes of blindness – but also the most preventable. As a matter of fact, as many as 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented simply by wearing the proper protective eyewear – something many Canadians fail to do. While some people equate protecting their eyes to just wearing glasses, it’s about much more than that. The type of eye protection you need often depends on the type of activity you’re partaking in; in addition, certain eye injuries also need immediate medical attention to prevent vision loss from occurring.

When it comes to eye injuries that occur at home, these account for more than half of all eye injuries that are reported each year. At-home eye injuries can occur as a result of the use of household cleaner (i.e. bathroom cleaner, bleach, oven cleaner or other common household chemicals), cooking foods that splatter hot oil and/or grease, the drilling or hammering of screws and/or nails into hard surfaces including walls, brick and cement, loose railings, as well as using hot objects such as hair straighteners or curling irons that may accidentally come into contact with the face, including the eyes. Simply being outside in windy conditions can also cause injuries if any particles of dirt or dust get into the eyes. Other at-home and outdoor risks of eye injuries include mowing the lawn and trimming bushes or hedges. In order to diminish the risk of suffering an at-home eye injury, there are some precautions you can take. Always ensure that you read the labels of chemicals carefully. If they are harmful, make sure you try to avoid causing any splashes so that the chemicals do not come in direct contact with your eyes. You should also keep your home – including both in and outdoor areas – free of debris or any loose items that can turn into a projectile and cause a potential eye injury, as well as safely store things like work tools and nails, etc. When cooking, it’s also recommended that you use grease shields to prevent food from splattering.

Because many jobs come with risks, especially those in the construction industry or other similar fields, employers will often require their workers to wear protective gear, such as reflective vests, gloves, and goggle-like eyewear. Things like tools, metal, glass, chemicals, and other particles are all potential risks for eye injuries. To prevent an at-work eye injury from occurring, it’s essential that you abide by any rules set out by your employer, as well as make yourself aware of any other safety policies (and any other potential safety dangers) while on the job. By knowing these things ahead of time, you can easily eliminate certain hazards.

If you or someone you know does develop an eye injury, it’s usually quite obvious. The most common signs of an eye injury include problematic vision (such as blurred vision), pain in the affected eye (or eyes), cut or torn eyelid, difficulty moving one or both eyes, changes in pupil size, blood, or the feeling as though something is stuck in their eye. In some cases, eye injuries may not be immediately obvious. However, in the event that you suspect you do have an eye injury, it’s important that you do not attempt to treat it on your own, as you could cause further and irreversible damage to your vision. You also shouldn’t touch or rub your eyes, apply pressure to the eyes, use any kind of ointment on or in the eyes (including eye drops.) The only time it’s recommended that you rinse your eyes with water is if you have suffered a chemical burn. Still, with any potential eye injury, you should also seek immediate medical attention. A hospital will be better equipped to determine if you have suffered any kind of eye injury, the severity of the injury, and what type of treatment you will need. In some cases you may need to be referred on to an ophthalmologist.

For more tips on how to protect your eyes from injury, visit eyesafe.ca. Also, don’t forget to check out Dr. Ghahary’s other articles on eyesight here.

Halloween Candy and Your Health

Halloween Candy and Your Health | Dr. Ali Ghahary

If you’re wondering what the healthiest Halloween candy is, the answer is, essentially, none. While October 31st may be a time for “tricks”, it’s the treats like chocolate and other sugar-filled products that Dr. Ali Ghahary says people should be concerned about. While it’s technically okay to have the odd candy here and there, they aren’t things that we should let our children indulge in too much of, and the same even goes for adults. Candy can not only have a negative impact on our oral health, increasing the risk of things like cavities, but it can also wreck just as much havoc on one’s physical health, leading to weight gain, and it can also be a trigger for things like headaches and migraines. In addition, consumption of sugar can also be quite problematic for individuals with diabetes. Below, Dr. Ghahary provides more insight into these conditions and the other ways in which candy can harm your health.

Depending on the type of candy you eat, the effects it can have on your body can differ. For example, when it comes to the teeth, no candy is good given the sugary content, but certain candies and types of chocolate can lead to a higher risk of dental problems than others. Sour candy, for example, can be quite acidic. Any type of candy or food that is acidic can cause damage to the enamel on your teeth – the hard, outer later that protects your teeth against decay. The less enamel you have, the more at risk you are of developing cavities. In addition, that lack of tooth enamel can also cause you to have sensitive teeth, which may cause pain when you drink or eat foods and beverages that are hot and cold, in addition to causing sensitivity when you eat sweets, even if cavities aren’t necessarily present. If you are someone who prefers sour candy or eats a lot of acidic food in general, then it’s recommended that you use a toothpaste and mouthwash specifically designed to help rebuild and protect the enamel on your teeth. For those who prefer soft or sticky candies, these tend to be the worst, as the softer and stickier the candy is, the more likely it is to remain on your teeth for a longer period of time, and that gives cavity-causing bacteria more time to work, meaning you’ll ultimately require fillings. Hard candy isn’t any better, either. While it sticks to your teeth for a lot less longer than softer, stickier candy does, it can be just as problematic, as hard candy has not only been known to break teeth, but is also a choking hazard – especially for youngsters.

If candy has been consumed, the number one thing you can do to prevent tooth decay is to floss and brush your teeth immediately afterwards. In other for tooth brushing to be effective, you have to make sure you know the proper brushing technique: By placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and moving it back and forth across the teeth in short strokes. Aside from the teeth, it’s also recommended that you gently brush the gums. If your gums are sore or bleed upon brushing, this could be a sign of gum disease, including gingivitis, and should be addressed by speaking with your dentist as well as going for regular dental hygiene appointments. The better care you take of your teeth, the more the risk of things like cavities and gum disease will decrease.

As mentioned, candy can also increase the risk of gaining weight, as well as be harmful to those with diabetes. When it comes to gaining weight, this is because candy is filled with calories and sugar – and when sugar enters the body, it turns into fat, and that fat then get secreted into the blood. As for diabetes, while sugar doesn’t directly cause it, the consumption of it can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels…and if your blood sugar levels are too high, this can lead to a potential health emergency that needs to be dealt with right away.

If candy is going to be consumed, you need to time it right – such as with a meal or shortly after a meal has been eaten. When we eat things like breakfast, lunch and dinner, our saliva production increases, and it is our saliva that helps to cancel out acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. In addition, saliva also helps to wash away any leftover food particles. Because children can come back with enough candy to last them the rest of the year from trick-or-treating, you can also encourage them to pick out a few they want to keep and donate the rest. Lastly, drinking more water can also be beneficial.

How Men Can Become More Proactive With Their Health

How Men Can Become More Proactive With Their Health | Dr. Ali Ghahary

First founded by Australia’s Travis Garone and Luke Slattery in 2003, the Movember Foundation has gone on to become one of the world’s most prominent leaders in raising awareness on men’s health, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and even men’s suicide, for the last 14 years. As part of Movember, men are encouraged to grow moustaches in the month of November, with the foundation’s goal being to “change the face of men’s health.” Individuals and organizations are also strongly encouraged to host fundraisers for men’s health. You can find a variety of fun and interactive fundraising tips by clicking here.

For whatever reason, men are much more hesitant than women when it comes to being proactive about their health and seeing their family physician for regular checkups – something that Dr. Ghahary suggests people do on a yearly basis regardless of how healthy they may be feeling. Our culture teaches men to be self-reliant, and as a result they tend to ignore certain health concerns they may have, only going to the doctor when the situation reaches an emergency level or when it is too late for treatment to be effective. Because of this, the average life expectancy of a male is between 5 and 6 years less than that of a female. Therefore, Movember isn’t just about growing a moustache; it’s also about opening dialogue and teaching men that their health shouldn’t be ignored. When it comes to discussing health, men should not only reach out to their family physician’s office and book an annual exam, but they should also talk about their health amongst friends. Sometimes having that dialogue can help encourage others to be just as proactive about their own health, too. In fact, it can be life-saving.

It’s also important to know the numbers. You’re at an increased risk of developing certain health conditions depending on your age. For example, by the age of 50, it’s recommended that men begin screening for prostate cancer. If you have certain risk factors of developing prostate cancer (i.e. if you’re of African or Caribbean descent, or if your father or brother has had prostate cancer) then you should start the screening as early as age 45. For younger men, testicular cancer can also be a concern. It can occur as early as age 15, all the way through age 40 or later. Just as women do self-exams for breast cancer, men can also do self-exams for testicular cancer. Testicular Cancer Canada offers a self-examination guide via their website which can be found at www.testitcularcancer.ngo. If you notice any tenderness, lumps or other abnormal growths, then you should inform your physician immediately. Other warning signs of testicular cancer can include back pain, as well as pain in the abdomen or groin. Men who are sexually active should also make healthy decisions, such as practicing safe sex and being tested for sexually transmitted diseases – especially if they have multiple sexual partners. 1 in 2 sexually active individuals will be diagnosed with at least one STD in their lifetime, and the number of STDs being diagnosed are already on the rise at alarming rates in North America.

Lastly, all individuals, including men, should make sure they’re getting regular physical activity and eating healthy. Whether it’s going for a walk or jog, biking to work instead of driving, or working out at the gym – the more exercise you get, the better you will feel. The same goes for the food you eat. For increased energy and to prevent diseases, it’s recommended that men intake their whole grains as well as consume more fruits and vegetables.

Stuttering Awareness

Stuttering Awareness | Dr. Ali Ghahary

This year, the International Stuttering Association marks the 20th anniversary of International Stuttering Awareness Day (also known as ISAD), which is recognized each year on the 22nd day of October. The International Stuttering Association is made up of a number of different groups, with their main focus being on helping others have a better understanding of what it means to have a stutter.

Stuttering (also commonly referred to as stammering or disfluent speech) is a type of speech disorder that is characterized by prolonged or repetition of different sounds, words and syllables, in addition to interruptions/blocks in speech. While an individual who has a stutter will know what they want to say, they will often have trouble getting out their words and having a normal flow of speech, making it difficult to communicate with others. In addition to stuttering, these disruptions of speech can also lead to things like lip tremors and rapid blinking of the eyes. Because there is often a stigma attached to stuttering, it can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life, including relationships, as well as with job opportunities and job performance – particularly if telephone use is frequently involved. Stuttering can range from mild to severe during different times of the day. If speaking is something that the patient is required to do in a frequent basis, this can actually cause the stuttering to become worse. However, things like reading or singing have been known to reduce stuttering temporarily. Stuttering can occur in individuals of all ages, though it is commonly seen in children between the ages of 2 and 7, as this age range is when a child further develops his or her language skills. It also tends to affect more boys than girls. As many as 75% of children diagnosed with stuttering will grow out of it – and it can last as short as a few weeks to several years. However, stuttering can remain a persistent problem in the other 25%, and well into their adulthood. Very rarely will stuttering occur in adulthood. If this is the case, it could be due to different health problems, injuries, or even emotional trauma.

If you have a child who stutters or happen to know someone with a stutter, it’s important to speak to them calmly and slowly, taking pauses in between. Do not interrupt them, criticize, or ridicule or belittle them in any way for their stuttering, and be understanding of the fact that they may need to take a few moments to be able to accurately express their thoughts and words. Letting someone with a stutter know that they are understood and accepted can be beneficial.

As for treating stuttering, it differs depending on who is affected by it. For example, if it is a child that is affected by stuttering, family physicians like Dr. Ghahary will often refer them to a speech therapist. A speech therapist will assist your child with speaking, including teaching them different ways in which they can minimize stuttering when speaking. They may also provide them lessons on how to speak slower, as well as different ways they can regulate their breathing which can also reduce a stutter. In many cases, having a speech therapist can also help reduce the anxiety that one will often feel. Similarly, adults with a stutter can also benefit from speech therapy in addition to counselling. This will not only help reduce anxiety, but boost one’s self-esteem, too. If the stuttering is caused by certain health problems or an injury, such as a TBI (traumatic brain injury), then patients can benefit from a combination of different types of treatment, including speech therapy, physical rehabilitation, and even medication. For more information on the different treatment methods that are available, visit the Canadian Stuttering Association website at www.stutter.ca.

How Pharmacists Can Help Patients

How Pharmacists Can Help Patients | Dr. Ali Ghahary

There are approximately 42,5000 licensed pharmacists working in over 10,000 pharmacies in Canada. These include both community pharmacies as well as hospitals, and other settings such as different organizations and associations, colleges and universities, and other pharmaceutical industry settings. Pharmacists are crucial as they collaborate with both physicians and patients, as well as the families of patients. While the main role of a pharmacist is to fill medications that have been prescribed to you by your physician, they’re also experts in teaching you how to properly administer and manage your medications, as well as have knowledge in management of chronic diseases, wellness, and even immunizations.

When it comes to pursuing a career in pharmacy there are many different options available, including retail careers, clinical careers, long-term care careers, nuclear careers, infusion and chemotherapy careers, and pharmaceutical benefit management careers. As a retail career, pharmacists are often found in places like drug stores. In clinical careers, pharmacists work closely alongside physicians, such as in hospital settings. In long-term care careers, pharmacists can be found in care homes for elderly or facilities for incapacitated individuals. In nuclear careers, pharmacists are responsible for the measuring and delivery of radioactive materials that are commonly used for different medical imaging tests, such as MRIs or CT scans. In infusion and chemotherapy careers, pharmacists are responsible for ensuring chemotherapy drugs are mixed accurately for cancer patients; and lastly, pharmaceutical benefit management careers, in which different corporations negotiate with different pharmaceutical companies to determine all of the coverage/reimbursement amounts for different health plans.

There’s also a difference between pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Pharmacists play the biggest role as they’re responsible for what happens within the pharmacy itself. They’re not only responsible for providing patients with the medications in which they’re prescribed, but they also must ensure that the prescriptions are both legal and valid, as well as double-check all of the prescribed medications before they’re given to the patient. As a pharmacist, you have to pay extremely close attention to detail as things like incorrect medications or dosing instructions can lead to potentially harmful or life-threatening problems for the patient, and can result in serious consequences. When filling a medication, it is essential for patients to stick to the same pharmacy whenever possible so that the pharmacists can be aware of each medication you’re on and be aware of any potential allergies you have, or if there is any risk of drug interactions. Pharmacists are similar to physicians in the sense that they are well versed on many different medical topics, though you should always check with your physician if you have any concerns about your health. In addition, pharmacists also have the ability to provide patients with information on different over-the-counter, non-prescribed medications.

Pharmacy technicians are similar to pharmacists in that they can accept prescriptions from patients as well as help fill prescriptions. However, each prescription must always be double checked by a pharmacist. Once the prescription has been reviewed and it is made sure that the medication is labeled and packaged correctly, the pharmacy technician will be able to dispense the drug to the patient. In addition to filling medications, pharmacy techs also performer other duties such as tracking inventory, processing insurance claims, and performing administrative-related duties.

For more information on the role of a pharmacist or to find out how you can become a pharmacist yourself, visit the Canadian Pharmacists Association website at pharmacists.ca.

Regular Eye Exams Crucial for Visual Health

Regular Eye Exams Crucial for Visual Health | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Your vision is one of the most important aspects of your health. Unfortunately, not everyone takes care of their eyes like they should. The best way to make sure your eyes are healthy is by seeing your optometrist for regular examinations. However, the frequency in which you should have your eyes examined depends on age. Per the Canadian Association of Optometrists, infants and toddlers should have their first eye exam between 6 and 9 months; while children between the ages of 2 and 5 should undergo at least one eye exam, while children and teenagers aged 6 to 19 should have their eyes examined every year. By the age of 20 through 39, it’s recommended that you have your eyes examined every 2 to 3 years, and every 2 years for those aged 40 to 64. By 65, it’s recommended to undergo yearly eye exams. It’s also important to note that just because you don’t notice any problems with your eyes doesn’t mean that’s a reason to skip eye exams. This is because many eye-related conditions aren’t always accompanied with symptoms and can only be detected by your optometrist. Failing to have your eyes examined regularly can expose you to risk of further (and sometimes irreversible) eye problems.

During a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will look for any changes in your vision as well as different diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. As mentioned, these are some of the eye diseases that have very minimal symptoms until they have progressed, therefore early detection is key in saving your eyesight. Other common conditions that optometrists see in their patients include dry eye and astigmatism.

Dry eye is a condition that occurs when you do not produce enough tears, leading to symptoms such as stinging or burning, the feeling as if something is in your eye, eye redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and eye fatigue. There are many reasons why dry eye might occur. For some, it’s simply a matter of infrequent tear production. For others, it can be the result of certain medical conditions, medications, and even aging. You’re also at risk of developing dry eyes if you’re a female, or if your diet is low in Vitamin A. If left untreated, dry eye can cause damage to the surface of your eyes, including inflammation as well as abrasions to the corneal surface, and even corneal ulcers, in addition to the potential of developing eye infections, so it’s something you’ll want to treat sooner than later. The good news is that treatment for dry eye is quite simple. First, you need to be aware of your environment. At higher altitudes, air tends to be dry. To add more moisture into the air, try using a humidifier. If you frequently use the computer, make sure you take breaks. Optometrists also recommend using artificial tears (eye drops) to help keep your eyes lubricated. These drops can often be used 3 or 4 times per day and should be used every single day. It’s not uncommon to experience burning when first using these drops, as the drier your eyes are, the more likely they are to sting your eyes. However, as your eyes gets used to the drops and become more lubricated, the burning should dissipate. If it doesn’t, then you may want to switch to an eye drop that is preservative-free. If you’re not sure which type of eye drops to buy, ask your optometrist what they recommend. Pharmacists can also be helpful.

Astigmatism is another common condition that individuals will develop. This occurs when the surface of the eye (the cornea) or the lens doesn’t curve in the way that it should. As a result of this curve, light enters the eye and doesn’t correctly focus on the retina, which results in blurred vision. Other common symptoms of astigmatism include headaches, and eye strain. The most common way to treat astigmatisms is through corrective lenses (eyeglasses or contacts) or refractive surgery (laser eye surgery, also known as lasik.)

In addition to detecting these common eye problems, it’s also possible for optometrists to detect certain health conditions just by examining your eyes. These conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

What Makes Eggs Healthy?

What Makes Eggs Healthy? | Dr. Ali Ghahary

If you’re looking to make a quick, easy and healthy breakfast, eggs are all of the above. Not to mention cost-effective if you’re not wanting to spend too much money on meals, and they can be easily incorporated into other foods such as baked goods and breakfast omelettes. They can also be made in a variety of ways: Hard boiled or soft boiled, scrambled, sunny side up, over easy. It’s all about personal preference.

Eggs are considered one of the healthiest foods due to their high nutritional value. They contain Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), as well as selenium. Vitamin A helps promote healthy vision, boosts the immune system, assists in reproduction, as well as promotes proper functioning of organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. Vitamin B12 is important for keeping our nerve and blood cells healthy, as well as for preventing anemia. Vitamin B2 is essential for your overall health as it helps the body break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats, produces energy, and allows the body to use oxygen. Vitamin B5 is important for maintaining things like healthy eyes, hair, skin, liver, as well as keeping our nervous system healthy; while Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against things like heart disease and cancer. In addition, eggs also contain Vitamin D, Vitamin E, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, and folate. In total, eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals.

There are many different ways that the nutrients found in eggs can benefit your health. They’re great for our cognitive health as well as promoting early brain development in both pregnancy and infancy. While eggs were once considered risky for individuals with conditions like diabetes or other cardiometabolic health concerns, including high cholesterol and heart disease, recent studies have shown that those who consume eggs actually experience positive changes in their HDL-levels, as well as with insulin sensitivity. You can read more about these studies here.

The protein found in eggs are also a great source of energy. Not only can they can help improve physical performance, but they can also help you build up a healthy body mass. They’re great to eat before workouts, but also after workouts as they can help the body repair and build new muscle tissue. Just make sure you don’t eat eggs in excess, as you’ll be intaking extra calories (which can then convert to fat) if you do. That being said, eggs can actually reduce hunger; you’ll feel fuller longer and be less likely to want to snack in-between meals.

When feeding eggs to infants, you’ll want to be careful as they are one of the most common allergens amongst those that are younger aside from peanuts. Symptoms of an egg allergy can appear as soon as a few minutes after consumption, or a few hours. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may include things like rash, hives, vomiting, nasal congestion, and digestive problems. In severe cases, eggs can cause what’s known as anaphylaxis. When this occurs, the ability to breathe becomes difficult, and it is something that is considered a medical emergency.

For more information on eggs, including healthy breakfast ideas and other frequently asked questions, visit eggs.ca.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – sometimes referred to as Polycystic Ovarian Disease and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – is a hormonal condition that affects anywhere from 6 to 10 percent of Canadian women, and is due to an imbalance of reproductive hormones. This condition can also lead to the development of cysts in the ovaries, in addition to infertility. While PCOS can occur in women between the ages of 15 and 44, most do not find out they have it until they are in their early 20s or 30s; particularly if they are having trouble getting pregnant.

While experts aren’t entirely sure what causes PCOS, the risk of having it increases with genetics (i.e. if there is a family history of the disease, such as your mother, sister or aunt), as well as if you are obese. Another potential risk factor associated with PCOS is having high levels of insulin. It’s not uncommon for women with PCOS to develop a resistance to insulin, as insulin production tends to increase as a result of PCOS, which can then lead to type II diabetes. In addition, high levels of androgens can also be a contributing factor. While androgens are known as the male hormone, women also make a small amount. However, women with PCOS tend to have higher than normal androgen levels which can prevent ovulation, as well as cause things like acne and extra hair growth, which are also two common symptoms associated with PCOS.

Commonly, women with PCOS may have fewer periods (less than 8 per year), or may miss their periods all together. Alternatively, their periods may also occur more frequently and there may be excessive bleeding involved. Other symptoms include hair loss, weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight, darkening of the skin in areas such as the groin, under the breasts, as well as on the neck, skin tags, and even issues with mental health such as depression and anxiety. Given its name, cysts are also common with PCOS. These cysts can cause abdominal pain; however, pain does not tend to be a common symptom of PCOS directly. If you do happen to have pain and PCOS, then that pain may be the result of something else entirely and should be addressed with your family physician as well as brought up to your OBGYN for further investigation.

In order to diagnose PCOS, your physician will ask questions about your medical history in addition to your family’s medical history, as well as ask questions about your menstrual cycle. They will also look for any of the aforementioned physical symptoms (i.e. hair growth, acne, darkened skin.) A pelvic or vaginal ultrasound may also be ordered to see if you have any ovarian cysts, as well as if your ovaries have any follicles, in addition to thickening of the endometrium. Blood tests can also be ordered to measure certain hormone levels as well as insulin and gluclose levels. A blood test is a particularly good diagnostic tool as they can help diagnose or rule out PCOS and many other conditions, such as thyroid disease.

Normal ovaries vs. Polycystic ovaries | Dr. Ali Ghahary
Normal ovaries vs. Polycystic ovaries | Dr. Ali Ghahary

There is unfortunately no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be managed through various methods including medications and lifestyle changes. Medications that are commonly used to help manage symptoms of PCOS include hormonal birth control (such as the pill, patch, or a shot.) These medications can help regulate your menstrual cycle, can improve acne and reduce hair growth, as well as decrease your risk of developing endometrial cancer. However, it is important to note that if you plan on getting pregnant, then you should discuss this with your health team, as birth control is something you’ll want to avoid. Similarly, anti-androgen medicines are also used to manage certain symptoms of PCOS (including hair loss or facial and body hair growth); however, they are risky to take for individuals who are pregnant. Some medications used to treat type II diabetes can also help women with PCOS. Aside from medication, there are certain changes you can make with your lifestyle. Losing weight is important, and can be done through a combination of exercise and healthy eating habits. Weight loss can not only help regulate your menstrual cycle, but can also increase your chances of getting pregnant and ensuring that your pregnancy is a healthy one. If hair growth is a problem, you can try things like laser hair removal or facial hair removal creams that can be purchased from almost all beauty and cosmetic departments.

As mentioned, PCOS has been known to cause fertility issues, as well as issues with pregnancies. Therefore, if you do plan on getting pregnant, you need to be aware of the risks. Pregnant women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing things like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, as well as miscarriage. C-sections are also more commonly performed in women with PCOS, and your baby also has a higher chance of spending time in a neonatal intensive care unit. In order to reduce your risk of having a problematic pregnancy, it’s recommended that you try to reach a healthy weight prior to becoming pregnant, in addition to making sure you have healthy blood sugar levels. It’s also recommended that you take folic acid, as this can help prevent against birth defects.

For more information on PCOS, visit the Canadian Women’s Health Network website at CWHN.ca.

Infertility in Men and Women

Infertility in Men and Women | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Infertility, which is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse, is something that is much more common than you might realize. In fact, 1 in every 6 couples in Canada experience problems with fertility; and, if you’re not directly impacted by fertility problems, then you most likely know someone who is or has been affected by it in the past.

There are many reasons why couples may have trouble conceiving, and those reasons differ between males and females.

When it comes to women and infertility, age can play a significant role. A woman’s fertility can decline by as much as 40% in her early 30s, and declines even further by the time they reach the age of 40. Different types of medical conditions can also cause issues with fertility in females; the most common conditions being PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and endometriosis. PCOS is a condition that causes an imbalance in hormones and results in menstrual and ovulation cycles becoming disrupted. In addition to infertility and menstruation irregularity, PCOS can also cause other symptoms, including excess weight, excess hair, as well as acne. As many as 30% of women who are infertile also suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome. Endometriosis is a very common condition that occurs in women. With endometriosis, the tissue that lines the uterus (also known as the endometrial tissue) winds up growing in other areas of the body, such as the pelvis. This tissue then gets trapped, resulting in inflammation and the formation of scar tissue which can cause the pelvic structures to stick together, and can also cause damage to the ovaries and blockages to the fallopian tube, which prevents fertilized eggs from travelling to the uterus, thus affecting implantation. Aside from infertility, some common symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, excessive bleeding, pain with intercourse, and severe pelvic pain. Weight can also cause issues with fertility. For example, if a woman is underweight and has a low percentage of body fat, they can develop issues with ovulation. Similarly, being overweight can also cause the same problems. In this case, it’s important to try and maintain a healthy weight. However, sometimes as much as a 5% change in weight can be enough to improve a woman’s chances at becoming pregnant (as long as there are not other contributing factors.) If a woman has had a sexually transmitted infection that has gone untreated, this can lead to a condition known as PID – also referred to as pelvic inflammatory disease. In many cases, an STI will not necessarily cause symptoms, meaning you are less likely to get tested and seek out treatment. However, if you have unprotected sex or have had multiple sexual partners, then it’s important to be tested for any potential STDs/STIs. Stress and poor diet have also been linked to infertility in females.

Males can also have problems with fertility. Contributing factors that can make a male infertile include excessive alcohol use, drug use, tobacco use, certain environmental toxins, as well as health problems like kidney disease, mumps, or issues with hormones. Men can also develop fertility problems from certain medications they may be taking, and if they’ve undergone treatment for cancer (such as chemotherapy or radiation.) Like women, age can also play a role. Fertility in males tends to start to decline after age 40, and sperm quality decreases. This not only makes it harder for their partner to conceive, but also increases the risk of miscarriage.

In order to determine whether or not you have fertility problems, a number of different tests can be done. For women, these tests often consist of things such as pap smears (to check for things like cervical cancer or other problems that could prevent pregnancy), urinalysis, transvaginal ultrasound, and surgical procedures like a laparoscopy or hysteroscopy. Blood tests can also be ordered to check a woman’s follicle-stimulating hormone levels. For men, tests can consist of a physical examination, hormone evaluation, sperm and semen analysis, as well as a blood test known as an anti-sperm antibody test. Getting these tests done will help your healthcare providers determine the root cause of your infertility issues.

There are many different ways in which infertility issues can be treated in both men and women, including with medication, assisted reproductive technology, and artificial insemination. In some cases, these treatment methods may be combined. Assisted reproductive technology is done by removing eggs from a woman’s body, mixing them with sperm to create embryos, then placing those embryos back in the woman’s body. IUI (intrauterine insemination) and IVF (in vitro fertilization) are also two common methods used for fertility treatment. During IUI, concentrated and processed sperm is directly inserted into a woman’s uterus. This is a method that is timed with a woman’s ovulation and can be performed as much as twice per day. IVF, which is considered to be one of the most common and most successful methods of fertility treatments, includes the stimulation of ovaries and egg retrieval. Those eggs are then fertilized in a laboratory, and the resulting embryos are then transferred into the uterus.

It is important to note that issues with infertility can have a major psychological impact on couples. If you are struggling with infertility, remember to pay close attention to your own mental health as well as the mental health of your partner, and take the steps that you need to take in order to help yourself and your partner get through this challenging time – whether it’s having an open dialogue with each other, discussing infertility with close friends or family members, seeking help from a therapist, or even practicing calming exercises such as meditation or yoga.

For more on fertility problems, visit HealthLink BC.

Keeping Your Lungs Healthy

Keeping Your Lungs Healthy | Dr. Ali Ghahary

October is Healthy Lung Month. This is celebrated to raise awareness on the various types of lung conditions that can occur in individuals, as well as to promote lung health and teach you the different ways in which you can make sure you have the healthiest lungs possible; because without healthy lungs, your ability to breathe can become quite limited.

One of the most common reasons why people have respiratory problems is allergies – and the spring isn’t the only time of year that allergies can occur. The fall can also be problematic for people, specifically due to common allergens such as ragweed, mugwort, nettle and sorrel which are prevalent during this time of year. Mold is another problematic allergen that tends to be more prevalent during the fall and winter months due to the change in temperature as well as more moisture. Along with breathing problems, these pollens can produce other symptoms including nasal congestion or runny nose, sneezing, chronic sinusitis, eye irritation, sore throat, cough, and even sleep disturbances. If you are prone to developing allergies during the fall, you should speak with your family physician. In many cases, something like an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Reactine, can significantly reduce the symptoms associated to these aforementioned allergens. However, if your symptoms persist or are severe then you may need to be referred to an allergist.

Cigarette smoke is another major problem for the lungs. If you have asthma, tobacco use can also trigger symptoms such as coughing, as well as cause difficulty breathing. Smoking can also lead to conditions like emphysema and COPD (also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.) But perhaps the most common condition associated with cigarette smoke is lung cancer. Lung cancer is linked to as many as 90% of all cases, therefore making it one of the leading causes of death. Tobacco contains as many as 7,000 chemicals, many of them considered toxic and poisonous, so you can only imagine what they would do to the lungs in someone who is a smoker. The only way to prevent lung cancer is to either not smoke at all, or quit smoking; although if you’ve smoked at any time in your life then the risk of lung cancer remains. In addition to causing lung cancer, cigarette smoke can also cause cancer of the mouth and throat, larynx, esophagus, trachea, stomach, liver, pancreas, colon, rectum, bladder, cervix, and can even cause a type of leukemia known as acute myeloid leukemia. Dr. Ghahary has put together an informative and important article that addresses smoking cessation, including helpful tips, which you can read here. If you break the smoking habit, you’ll be doing wonders for your overall health, not to mention increasing your quality of life.

Exercise can also improve your lung health. This is because your lungs normally only work at half capacity. However, when you exercise, they work at full capacity. Therefore, exercising not only makes sure your lungs work better, but also improves your heart health as well. Great exercises for the lungs include things like walking or jogging, or even using the treadmill at a gym. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s an exercise that you can commit to doing regularly, as your whole body will reap some great benefits.

Food can also play a role in lung health. Some of the best foods you can eat for your lungs include those that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, as well as fruits like apples and berries, and nuts such as walnuts. You can find plenty of tips from Dr. Ghahary on healthy eating by clicking here.

In cases where lung conditions are severe, you may need to be referred to a pulmonologist. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, you should always make sure to address it with your family physician. If that shortness of breath becomes severe, the best thing to do is to go to your nearest emergency room. Shortness of breath is often associated with things like heart attacks or blood clots, and could be a matter of life or death, so it’s important to get the issue checked out sooner than later.