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ADHD

ADHD, also more commonly known as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders affecting children in Canada today. It is characterized by a wide variety of behavioural problems, including impulsiveness, inattention, and in some cases, even hyperactivity. It can also occur in conjecture with other health problems such as dyslexia, insomnia, and issues with anger management.

There are three main behavioural changes that parents of young children should watch for. Those are restlessness, distractibility, and as mentioned previously, impulsivity. Children with ADHD are often easily distracted by things they hear, see or think, fidget and cannot sit still for long periods of time, and also tend to make decisions before thinking them through. Secondary symptoms of ADHD include feelings of anxiousness, being disorganized, or procrastination. These symptoms typically more prominent between the ages of 3 and 5, but can also affect older children, too – and while these symptoms are certainly a precursor for ADHD, they can also be signs of other mental health issues.

It is important to address signs of ADHD as early as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficulty your child may have – not only with school, but in their social interactions as well. In order to determine whether or not your child has ADHD, healthcare professionals will take an in-depth look into the child’s medical history – including whether or not there is any family history of ADHD, the child’s development/skills, as well as the presence of any other comorbidities, such as anxiety, which is also common with ADHD. Teachers may also be asked to relay information back to healthcare professionals about how a child behaves in the classroom, as this can be helpful in determining a proper course of treatment for the child.

There is no cure for ADHD. There are, however, many ways in which symptoms of ADHD can be controlled. Though it can be a difficult decision for parents of children to make, medication has been shown to be beneficial in treating children with ADHD. Central Nervous System stimulants, for example, help to improve the child’s ability to focus, while other non-stimulant medications can help to improve memory and attention. As with most medication, ADHD medications also come with side effects; the most common being having difficulty sleeping, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, irritability, nervousness, and weight loss. Generally, these side effects will go away after a few weeks. There are, however, other, more serious side effects that can also occur as a result of taking such medications, including allergic reactions, high blood pressure, having thoughts of suicide, or hallucinations. If you notice your child exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is important that you speak with your physician or paediatrician as soon as possible.

The Digestive System

The digestive system consists of several different organs that are responsible for the break-down of food, which then gets converted into nutrients that our bodies require for cell repair, growth and energy. These organs include the liver, the pancreas, the gallbladder, and the gastrointestinal tract.

The Digestive System
Organs of the Digestive System

The liver, for example, which is located on the right side of the stomach, is responsible for the body’s metabolic process, including the break-down of old and/or damaged blood cells, the production of proteins for blood clotting, the detoxification of chemicals, and other important functions. There are certain health conditions and diseases that are commonly associated with the liver, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

The pancreas, which is responsible for secreting enzymes, breaking down food and producing insulin, also has certain disorders associated with it that should not be ignored – though some may be difficult to diagnose. Pancreatic cancer, for example, is often silent and without symptoms until it is in a much later stage. There is also a condition that is known as acute pancreatitis, which can come on suddenly and cause the pancreas to become inflamed. Symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and bloating, and can last for several days.

Gallstones are a common and painful condition associated with the gallbladder, which can occur if your gallbladder does not empty properly. While many people with gallstones will not notice any symptoms, others can. Symptoms that can occur when gallstones are present include sudden pain in the epigastric area (the upper belly), pain after eating meals, and pain when taking deep breaths. In order to treat gallstones or if you are having gallbladder problems, surgery may be a necessary treatment method, though it is not uncommon for physicians to take a watch-and-wait approach.

Lastly, there is the gastrointestinal tract. The most common disorder associated with the GI tract is GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease), also commonly referred to as acid reflux. Gastrointestinal reflux disease occurs when the stomach’s acid content regurgitates or refluxes to the esophagus, which can lead to heartburn.

Click here to learn more about some of the most common disorders of the digestive system.

Choosing the Best Yogurt for Your Health

Yogurt is something that can be incorporated into your diet in a variety of ways – whether you consume it plain, or add fruits, berries and nuts for an extra nutritional boost and flavour. However, there are also many different types of yogurts to choose from – and, depending on your health circumstances, certain yogurts may be better suited for you than others.


PROBIOTIC

Yogurts that contain probiotics are one of the most popular kinds of yogurts people buy; however, most store-bought yogurts already have probiotics in them. Just look for “live/active cultures” on the ingredients list to ensure that you are reaping the benefits from the yogurt you’re eating. Probiotics are help keep your body healthy and in good working form; they help replenish good bacteria in the gut, can help and prevent diarrhea from occurring, reduce symptoms of certain digestive disorders (such as IBS, Chohn’s and ulcerative colitis), help keep the heart healthy by lowering the “bad” cholesterol known as LDL, and boost the immune system.

FULL-FAT or LOW-FAT
Choosing between full-fat or low-fat yogurt depends on your personal preference. While full-fat yogurt can be creamier and more satisfying in taste, low-fat yogurt offers more of a tart taste and assist with weight loss.

LACTOSE-FREE
If you are lactose-intolerant, try opting for a lactose-free yogurt that contain the enzyme known as lactase. When this is added to regular yogurt, it can help those with lactose intolerance to better digest milk sugars that can contribute to gas or bloating as a result of dairy consumption, and other unpleasant symptoms due to being lactose intolerant, such as stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

VEGAN
If you want to avoid animal milk all together, you can opt for some vegan/plant-based yogurts that use non-dairy sources – such as yogurt made with cashews, almonds, coconut, or soy.

100% GRASS-FED
Yogurt that is derived from cows that are grass-fed not only has a more robust flavour, but can contain as much as 150% more inflammation-fighting omega-3s, as well as a type of omega-6 fatty acid known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and more beta-carotene in comparison to conventional dairy products.

Shingles

If you’ve ever had the chickenpox, there is a chance that you could also develop shingles. Along with having had the chickenpox, you’re also at an increased risk of developing shingles if you are over the age of 50 and have a weakened immune system. A weakened immune system can occur as a result of receiving cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation, or from other diseases such as HIV and diabetes, as well as from certain medications, such as steroids.

Shingles is the reactivation of the chickenpox virus known as the varicella-zoster virus. When you recover from the chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in the roots of the nerves. Shingles is a flare-up of this virus, which will then present itself as a rash. Unlike having the chickenpox, which tend to be itchy, shingles tend to be more on the painful side. If you develop a severe headache or have other flu-like symptoms and become sensitive to light, these may be early indicators of shingles. You may also notice a tingling or burning sensation. It may take a few days before a rash will appear, which is usually located on one side of the body. The rash will initially appear as blisters before turning into scabs.

While there is no cure for the shingles, there are certain types of treatments that can reduce the symptoms associated with shingles and potentially shorten the length of time that you have them. A few of these treatment methods include antiviral medications as well as over-the-counter medications (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen) and topical creams to help relieve pain. If you think you might have shingles, it is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible so you can get treated early in order to prevent complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia, from occurring. 1 in 5 people who have had shingles will develop this complication, which causes lingering pain (often characterized by a burning, tingling, stabbing or electric shock-like sensation) even after the virus has cleared.

Healthy Resolutions for the New Year

The most common resolutions that people make going into a new year include weight loss and healthy eating. These resolutions often mean that people will make drastic changes to their diet and fitness plans; but these drastic changes are also some of the reasons why people don’t necessarily see the immediate results they expect. While we should all strive to keep our bodies as healthy as possible, there are things you can do to make it a bit easier to follow through on those new year’s resolutions that you’ve made.

Exercise: Vowing to get more physical activity is never a bad thing. While some people might find it easy to incorporate a strict exercise regimen into their routines, others might have a difficult time – and that’s okay. Try not to be hard on yourself and remember that you’ve already taken the first step in wanting to make a positive change for yourself to improve your quality of life. Next, start slow. The biggest mistake people sometimes make when engaging in new fitness routines is by doing too much at once. This will not only cause you to burn out more quickly, but you also increase your risk of developing muscle-related injuries. Don’t go running a marathon right away (as that’s something people should train for.) Instead, ask yourself how you can incorporate exercise into your day to day life. Do you normally take elevators or escalators? Try taking the stairs, instead. Do you normally go for 15-minute walks? Try increasing the length of your walks each day. By doing this, you give your body the time it needs to adjust to these changes. It can also be fun to keep track of your workout goals each day in a calendar or a journal, so that you have a better idea of what you succeeded in and what you need or want to work on more. To stay motivated, ask a friend or family member to workout with you. There are also many fitness apps that you can download that can not only help you with that motivation but also give you different activities (such as stretches) that you can also try. If you’ve recently joined a gym, it can also be tough to find the motivation to go – at least initially. If this sounds like you, try to remind yourself of all the benefits that exercise has. You’ll not only lose weight, but it will help your general health overall. To mentally prepare yourself even further, try packing your gym bag the night before as this will give you more of an incentive to go rather than procrastinating the day of.

Diet: The second most common new year’s resolution that people make, which often goes hand in hand with exercise, is diet. You’ve consumed far too many carbs and too much sugar over the holidays, and you want to work it off, which is great. However, just like exercise, dieting should also focus on the bigger picture. Eating healthy is something that we should strive to do no matter the time of year, as our health depends on it. Having too much of certain foods (fats, carbs, sodium, sugar), or not having the right portion sizes as recommended by Canada’s Food Guide, can have a detrimental effect on your health. When you don’t eat properly, you’re at risk of developing everything from cardiovascular disease to diabetes, high cholesterol, and, of course, obesity. One thing that can be quite helpful on your weight loss journey is to keep a diet journal by writing down the foods you eat during each meal, including snacks. Next, you need to know what to replace those foods with. The first thing I recommend to anyone wanting to make a change to their diet is to decrease sugar intake and replace it with fresh fruit – many of which are naturally sweet – as well as include more vegetables. You should also include more protein in your diet, as well as foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, for example), whole grains, and legumes. You also shouldn’t deprive yourself of carbs completely, as you can swap the bad carbs with ones that are considered healthy, such as foods with fibre, beans, brown rice and quinoa (also known as complex carbohydrates.) The same goes for fats. Many of the unhealthy foods we consume contain saturated fats, but when you eliminate fat from your diet completely you also eliminate some valuable nutrients. Instead, you should replace saturated fats with foods that contain unsaturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, peanut butter, and nuts, just to name a few.

Mental Health: Our mental health is something we should all take care of, and it something that has been discussed even more-so as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to exercise, things like meditation and yoga can also help to relax the mind and reduce any stress or anxiety you might be experiencing. Keeping a journal can also be beneficial. Unlike a diet journal you might keep, a mental health journal is more of a day-to-day diary of your thoughts and anything else you feel like writing down. Keeping social connections is also important for mental health; and while face-to-face meetings might be limited this year thanks to the pandemic, it’s still important to communicate with loved ones through other avenues like video chats, texting and e-mails.

New Restrictions to Help Curb Omicron Spread

With the Omicron variant now accounting for the recent rise in COVID-19 numbers (with British Columbia seeing its highest case count ever at 1,528 new cases announced Wednesday – those numbers expected to go even higher in the days to come), the Provincial government, on Tuesday, announced several new restrictions that went into effect at midnight which will be in place until at least January 18th in effort to help curb the spread of the virus. These latest measures announced include the cancellation of all indoor events regardless of size – as well as the closure of gyms, dance studios, night clubs, and capacity reduction in places like restaurants and movie theatres. Naturally, with the announcement of these latest restrictions also come lots of questions from the public.

“Am I still allowed to travel?”
As it’s the Holiday season, many British Columbians likely had plans to travel domestically or abroad – and while there was no travel ban announced as part of these latest health measures, Provincial health officials are recommending avoiding all non-essential travel; with the Federal government also announcing a new travel advisory, recommending that Canadians avoid non-essential travel out of the country due to the risk of the Omicron variant. If you do plan to travel right now, it’s important to be aware of any recommendations or advisories for your destination. For travel within BC, you should also be prepared to follow procedures and precautionary measures on public transportation such as BC Ferries, TransLink and BC Transit.

“What types of events are cancelled during the holidays?”
All organized events that include gatherings (of any size) will not be allowed to take place while these public health orders are currently in effect. This includes all Christmas and New Year’s parties, any parties that are sponsored or ticketed, as well as receptions (such as wedding or funeral receptions.)

“If I can’t go to an organized holiday party, can I still host one at my home?”
It is recommended that you currently keep your bubble as small as possible. That being said, if you plan on hosting people, you are limited to your household plus an additional 10 visitors or 1 other household. Everyone whom you do invite you to home also must be fully vaccinated. This order applies to both your permanent residence or any vacation accommodation that you may be staying at.

“What venues are included in the 50% capacity limit?”
Regardless of size, all venues will need to reduce their capacity to 50%. For example, if a venue has a capacity of 10,000, then it must be reduced to 5,000. This includes all sporting events, concerts, and movie theatres. If you are going to attend one of these venues, you must be fully vaccinated, and the venue must scan proof of vaccination QR codes for entry. Everyone who attends one of the venues while under this order also must wear a mask (unless eating or drinking.) If you’re attending a concert, theatre, dance, sympathy or sporting event, all spectators must remain seated.

Disorders of the Digestive System

The digestive system is a collection of organs that work together in getting food in and out of your body. These organs include the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, liver, colon, rectum and anus. Symptoms associated with the digestive system include the occasional nausea, upset stomach and heartburn, to more severe, life-threatening disorders. Such disorders usually have unknown causes and are complex with subtle symptoms. While some may be generic, they may also develop due to a number of different factors including fatigue, stress, diet, smoking and alcohol abuse. Diagnostic testing, including laboratory tests, medical imaging and endoscopic procedures may be necessary to diagnose certain disorders.

Below is further insight into some of the common disorders that are associated with the digestive system.

Appendicitis
As written about in a previous article by Dr. Ali Ghahary, appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed, resulting in abdominal pain and other symptoms, and can be a life-threatening condition if not treated immediately.

Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is a chronic disease and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs as a result of scarring, also known as fibrosis, to the liver. The scarring replaces otherwise healthy tissues which then prevents the liver from being able to function normally. Cirrhosis has many possible causes; however, the most common causes include excessive consumption of alcohol and viral hepatitis (mainly hepatitis B and hepatitis C.) Symptoms include edema, fatigue, jaundice, bruising, weight and muscle loss, and frequent infections. Oftentimes, symptoms of cirrhosis will not present until the disease has progressed.

Colitis
Colitis is inflammation of the large intestine that can be caused by chronic infections, impaired blood flow or other inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of colitis include abdominal pain and/or bloating, bloody stools, dehydration and diarrhea. It can be identified by a colonoscopy.

Colorectal Cancer
This is cancer of the colon, otherwise known as the large intestine which is located in the lower part of the digestive system. In most cases, colorectal cancer begins with small, benign polyps that turn cancerous over time. Because these polyps are usually small, they initially produce very little, if any, symptoms. However, you may notice a change in your bowel habits, have blood stools, persistent cramps and abdominal pain. It is important to go for regular screening as this can dramatically reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, and early detection is also important.

Other common disorders of the digestive system not mentioned here include diverticulitis, hernia, GERD, peptic ulcer disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

High-Risk Pregnancy

When a medical professional deems a pregnancy “high-risk”, this means that the chances of the mother and/or baby developing health problems or complications as a result of said pregnancy are significantly increased in comparison to pregnancies that are not considered to be high-risk.

While being told you that have a high-risk pregnancy can certainly sound scary and seem overwhelming, it doesn’t always necessarily mean that you will run into problems. It’s simply a way for doctors to ensure that you get special attention, and that any problems that might develop during your pregnancy are taken care of early on.

There are a number of factors that can come into place when physicians and other medical specialists, such as OB/GYN’s, make this determination. For example, a pregnancy may be considered high-risk if you’ve ever had problems with past pregnancies, such as preterm labour, or are pregnant with twins/triplets. You may also be considered high-risk if you have health problems such as endometriosis, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, and HIV or Hepatitis C. Age can also determine whether or not a pregnancy is considered high-risk – for example, teenagers who become pregnant are more likely to develop anemia or high blood pressure, and are also less likely to seek prenatal care depending on their circumstances. On the contrary, women over the age of 35 are at an increased risk of developing pregnancy complications, such as excessive bleeding or prolonged labour. Those who smoke, use illegal drugs, drink alcohol and/or lead otherwise unhealthy and unsafe lifestyles are also more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy. All of these aforementioned factors are things that are taken into consideration when dealing with the health of mother and baby.

To help reduce the risk of having a high-risk pregnancy, the first step would be to ensure that you are leading a healthy lifestyle. For example, if you smoke, quit! If you drink, you should stop. These are risky substances that can have a detrimental impact on the health of your child. The second would be to ensure that you have sought out regular prenatal care. By having regular prenatal check-ups, you not only monitor your own health, but the health of your unborn child as well. It is also crucial to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet when pregnant. You may need to satisfy those random pregnancy cravings from time to time, but it’s also important to get essential nutrients like calcium, iron and folic acid. Many expectant mothers will opt to take a prenatal vitamin to help with the intake of these and other nutrients.

If you have any concerns about your pregnancy or about becoming pregnant, do not hesitate to discuss those concerns with your primary health practitioner.

Sinus Infections

The sinuses make up the upper part of our respiratory tract – from the nose all the way down to the throat. They consist of the frontal sinuses, which are located in your forehead, the maxillary sinuses, which are located inside of your cheekbones, and both the ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses, located just behind the nose. Aside from being responsible for helping us breathe and inhale oxygen, the sinuses are also responsible for our ability to smell and taste, as well as immune system defence. The sinuses also help to keep our noses protected from dust, dirt, micro-organisms and other pollutants.

The sinuses, however, can be a very complex part of the body and there are many health concerns that can arise as a direct result of the sinuses. Some of these problems include having a poor sense of smell, nasal congestion or nasal obstruction, difficulty breathing, allergies, nasal polyps and sinus infections.

Generally, nasal mucus is usually clear. However, when the sinuses become infected, this mucus can change to green or yellow in colour, which is usually indicative that the body is fighting a viral or bacterial infection. Sinus infections can occur on their own or as a complication of the common cold or flu. They are also a top cause for temporary loss of smell and taste. Aside from a change in mucus colour, symptoms of sinus infections also include nasal congestion, facial pain and/or pressure, headache, and even tooth pain.

In order to determine whether or not a sinus infection is present, a physician will usually refer patients for a medical imaging test known as an X-ray. This will take a clear picture of your sinuses and the radiologist responsible for writing the report will then let your physician known if an infection is found. If it is determined that you do, indeed, have a sinus infection, Dr. Ali Ghahary will prescribe the patient with antibiotics. One of the most common antibiotics used to treat sinus infections is Amoxicillin; it is usually a first-choice for physicians due to its high success rate as well as the fact that it has fewer side effects reported in comparison to other antibiotics. For patients who are allergic or sensitive to Amoxicillin, or if it does not clear your sinus infection, other antibiotics that can be used include Clarithromycin (also known as Biaxin) and Clindamycin. It is important to treat sinus infections early to avoid any complications.

If you have persisting sinus infections or sinus problems, talk to your doctor about the possibility of being referred to an otolaryngologist – also known as an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.

Why Are You Always Feeling Cold?

Aside from winter weather having an impact on body temperature, there are a few different conditions that can cause you to feel chilled more often than usual, including:

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is something that is common in many individuals, especially women with their periods. In order for our red blood cells to be able to function properly and carry oxygen around the body, iron is required. However, being iron deficient can have a significant impact on this process, which can cause symptoms such as chills, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and pale skin.

Iron deficiency is usually diagnosed via a blood test. If it’s confirmed that you are iron deficient, you will need to increase your iron intake. The easiest way to do this is to incorporate more iron-rich foods into your diet, such as leafy green vegetables, lean meats, and eggs. Sometimes food isn’t enough, however, and you may need to take an iron supplement. They can, however, be hard on the stomach.

Lack of Circulation

Lack of circulation can not only cause chills, but it can also impact many other aspects of our health and cause things like dizziness, hair loss and dry skin. The human body can be lacking in circulation as a result of decreased physical activity/obesity, poor diet, tobacco use, blood clots, and even stress. The best way to get the body circulating as it should be is to make healthy lifestyle changes – including exercising regularly and breaking bad habits like smoking.

Poor Sleeping Habits

Getting a good night’s rest is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing. If you don’t get enough sleep, feeling chilled is one of the most telltale signs. I recommend patients get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, if possible. To avoid sleep disruptions, you should also shut down devices such as televisions and smartphones at least 2 hours prior to going to bed. It’s also a good idea to try and go to sleep and wake up the same time every day; this way your body gets used to the routine.

Being Underweight

While it might come as a surprise, being underweight can also cause the body to feel colder – particularly in those with a low BMI of 18.5 or under. Those who are underweight tend to lack muscle mass, which is important when It comes to maintaining body temperature, producing heat and speeding up our metabolism. Should you go out and eat a bunch of unhealthy food so that you can try to gain weight? No. You can, however, try to build more muscle by lifting weights.

It is important to note that there are certain health conditions, such as eating disorders, that can also cause low BMI levels – the most common being anorexia. If you or someone you know suffers from this type of eating disorder, it’s important to speak to your family physician.