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Each year Dr. Bandi sources health related articles during November, in the theme of 'A to Z'. He posts these to his Movember page to help educate the public on common health issues*.

Articles from 2012 and 2013 can be found below, they are freely available to the public and he urges all those who read the contents to have a serious think about the messages being portrayed. Happy Reading!


2013 Articles

A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/I/J/K/L/M/N/O/P/Q/R/S/T/U/V/W/X/Y/Z

2012 Articles

A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/I/J/K/L/M/N/O/P/Q/R/S/T/U/V/W/X/Y/Z

 

* Not all content has been written by Dr Bandi.

A (2013): Alchohol Abuse

Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men's Health:

Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g. drive fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death. 1-4

Drinking levels for men:

Approximately 63% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days. Men (24%) were two times more likely to binge drink than women during the same time period. 5

Men average about 12.5 binge drinking episodes per person per year, while women average about 2.7 binge drinking episodes per year. 3

Most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent. 6, 7

It is estimated that about 17% of men and about 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives. 8
Injuries and deaths as a result of excessive alcohol use

Men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women.1, 9, 10

Among drivers in fatal motor-vehicle traffic crashes, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated (i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater). 11
Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and, as a result, can increase the risk of physically assaulting another person. 12
Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide. 13-15

Reproductive Health and Sexual Function:

Excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in impotence, infertility, and reduction of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair. 16, 17

Excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault. Impaired judgment caused by alcohol may worsen the tendency of some men to mistake a women’s friendly behaviour for sexual interest and misjudge their use of force. Also, alcohol use by men increases the chances of engaging in risky sexual activity including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex with a partner at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. 4

Cancer:


Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, and colon in men. 18-20

There are a number of health conditions affected by excessive alcohol use that affect both men and women. Some additional conditions are covered in the Alcohol Use and Health Fact Sheet.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Atlanta, GA: CDC.
Levy DT, Mallonee S, Miller TR, Smith GS, Spicer RS, Romano EO, Fisher DA. Alcohol involvement in burn, submersion, spinal cord, and brain injuriesExternal Web Site Icon. Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(1):CR17–24.
Naimi TS, Brewer RD, Mokdad A, Clark D, Serdula MK, Marks JS. Binge Drinking Among US AdultsExternal Web Site Icon. JAMA 2003; 289(1):70–75.
Nolen-Hoeksema S. Gender differences in risk factors and consequences for alcohol use and problemsExternal Web Site Icon. Clinical Psychology Review 2004;24:981.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System prevalence data. Atlanta, GA: CDC.
Dawson DA, Grant BF, LI T-K. Quantifying the risks associated with exceeding recommended drinking limitsExternal Web Site Icon. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2005;29:902–908.
Woerle S, Roeber J, Landen MG. Prevalence of alcohol dependence among excessive drinkers in New MexicoExternal Web Site Icon. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2007;31:293–298.
Hasin DS, Stinson FS, Ogburn E, Grant BF. Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence in the United StatesExternal Web Site Icon. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64:830-842.
Minino AM, Heron MP, Murphy SL, Kochanek KD. Deaths: final data for 2004 Adobe PDF file [PDF 3.37MB]. National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 55, No. 19, August 21, 2007. Hyattsville, MD: CDC National Center for Health Statistics.
Chen CM, Yi H. Trends in alcohol-related morbidity among short-stay community hospital discharges, United States, 1979–2005 Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon [PDF 1.78MB]. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA Surveillance Report #80, 2007.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2006 Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon [PDF 990KB]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center for Statistics & Analysis. DOT HS 810 818, 2008.
Scott KD, Schafer J, Greenfield TK. The roles of alcohol in physical assault perpetration and victimizationExternal Web Site Icon. J Stud Alcohol 1999;60:528–536.
Hayward l, Zubrick SR, Silburn S. Blood alcohol levels in suicide casesExternal Web Site Icon. J Epidemiol Community Health 1992;46(3):256–260.
May PA, Van Winkle NW, Williams MB, McFeeley PJ, DeBruyn LM, Serna P. Alcohol and suicide death among American Indians of New Mexico: 1980-1998External Web Site Icon. Suicide Life Threat Behav 2002;32(3):240–255.
Suokas J, Suominen K, Lonnqvist J. Chronic alcohol problems among suicide attempters—post-mortem findings of a 14-year follow-upExternal Web Site Icon. Nord J Psychiatry 2005;59(1):45–50.
Adler RA. Clinically important effects of alcohol on endocrine functionExternal Web Site Icon. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1992;74(5):957–960.
Emanuele MA, Emanuele NV. Alcohol’s effects on male reproductionExternal Web Site Icon. Alcohol Research and Health 1998; 22(3):195–201.
American Cancer Society. Alcohol and Cancer Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon [PDF–181KB]. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2006.
Donato F, Tagger A, Chiesa R, Ribero ML, Tomasoni V, Fasola M, et al. Hepatitis B and C virus infection, alcohol drinking and hepatocellular carcinoma: a case-control study in ItalyExternal Web Site Icon. Hepatology 1997;26(3):579–584.
Baan R, Straif K, Grosse Y, Secretan B, et al. on behalf of the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group. Carcinogenicity of alcoholic beverages Lancet Oncol 2007;8:292-293.

 

B (2013): Bladder Cancer

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer occurs when abnormal cells within the bladder grow in an uncontrolled way. The bladder is located in the lower abdomen. It is a hollow organ with a muscular wall that allows it to get bigger or smaller as needed. The bladder stores urine until it is released from the body through the urethra. 1

If cancer cells do not spread beyond the lining of the bladder, this is called superficial bladder cancer. 1,2. Sometimes, cancer cells can spread into the muscle wall of the bladder or to other organs and lymph nodes. This is called invasive bladder cancer. 1,2

What are the different types of bladder cancer?

There are three main types of bladder cancer. These are named after the cell type in which the cancer first develops.

The most common type of bladder cancer starts in the urothelial cells in the inner-most layer of the bladder wall. 2 This is called urothelial cell carcinoma (or transitional cell carcinoma).1,2,3 Over 90 per cent of cases of bladder cancer start in the urothelial cells. 
Squamous cell carcinoma starts in the thin, flat cells lining the bladder. 1 About 6 to 8 per cent of bladder cancers start in squamous cells. 3
Adenocarcinoma is a rare type of bladder cancer that starts in glandular cells lining the bladder. 1 Adenocarcinoma occurs in 2 per cent of bladder cancer cases. 3

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

The most common symptoms of bladder cancer are,

  • Blood in the urine – this is called haematuria 4
  • Frequent urination or urgency of urination (a feeling of needing to urinate immediately) 4
  • Pain during urination or pain in the pelvis/lower back. 4


There are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms, not just bladder cancer. If any of these symptoms are experienced, it is important that they are discussed with a doctor.

What are the risk factors for bladder cancer? 

A risk factor is any factor that is associated with an increased chance of developing a particular health condition, such as bladder cancer. There are different types of risk factors, some of which can be modified and some which cannot.

It should be noted that having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop bladder cancer. Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop bladder cancer, while others with bladder cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with bladder cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.

While the causes of bladder cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. These factors include:

  • Tobacco smoking 4
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene derivatives and arylamines 4
  • Exposure to radiotherapy treatment for cancers in the pelvis/lower abdomen. 4


How is bladder cancer diagnosed?

A number of tests may be performed to investigate symptoms of bladder cancer and confirm a diagnosis. Some of the more common tests include:

  • A physical examination
  • Examination of a urine sample
  • Imaging of the bladder and nearby organs, which may include ultrasound, X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    examination of the inside of the bladder using a cystoscope (a camera on a thin tube inserted into the urethra)
  • Taking a sample of tissue (biopsy) from the bladder wall for examination under a microscope.

Treatment options:

Treatment and care of people with cancer is usually provided by a team of health professionals – called a multidisciplinary team.

Treatment for bladder cancer depends on the stage of the disease, the severity of symptoms and the person’s general health. Treatment options can include surgery to remove part or all of the bladder, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.

Research is ongoing to find new ways to diagnose and treat different types of cancer. Some people may be offered the option of participation in a clinical trial to test new ways of treating bladder cancer.

Finding support:

People often feel overwhelmed, scared, anxious and upset after a diagnosis of cancer. These are all normal feelings.

Having practical and emotional support during and after diagnosis and treatment for cancer is very important. Support may be available from family and friends, health professionals or special support services.

More information about finding support can be found on this website - Living with cancer. This information deals with some of the challenges experienced by people affected by cancer. It includes information about managing some of the longer term side effects of treatment, how people close to you might feel after a diagnosis of cancer, and where to find practical and emotional support. 

Cancer support organisations:

In addition, State and Territory Cancer Councils provide general information about cancer as well as information on local resources and relevant support groups. The Cancer Council Helpline can be accessed from anywhere in Australia by calling 13 11 20 for the cost of a local call. Click here for a list of Cancer Councils and other cancer support organisations.

Disclaimer:

While Cancer Australia develops material based on the best available evidence, this information is not intended to be used as a substitute for an independent health professional’s advice. Cancer Australia does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information contained in this document.

last updated: 2 August 2013 - 11:44am


References:

National Cancer Institute. Bladder cancer treatment (PDQ) – patient version. Available from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/bladder/Patient. [Accessed July 2012].
Arianayagam M, Rashid P. Bladder cancer – current management. Australian Family Physician 2011; 40(4): 209–13.
National Cancer Institute. Bladder cancer treatment (PDQ) – health professional version. Available from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/bladder/HealthProfessional. [Accessed July 2012].
Stenzl A, Witjes JA, Comperat E et al. Guidelines on bladder cancer – muscle-invasive and metastatic. European Association of Urology 2012. Available from http://www.uroweb.org/gls/pdf/07_Bladder%20Cancer_LR%20II.pdf. [Accessed July 2012].

 

C (2013): Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection involving any part of the urinary system, including urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidney. UTIs are the most common type of healthcare-associated infection reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Among UTIs acquired in the hospital, approximately 75% are associated with a urinary catheter, which is a tube inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine. Between 15-25% of hospitalized patients receive urinary catheters during their hospital stay. The most important risk factor for developing a catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI) is prolonged use of the urinary catheter. Therefore, catheters should only be used for appropriate indications and should be removed as soon as they are no longer needed.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection involving any part of the urinary system, including urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidney. UTIs are the most common type of healthcare-associated infection reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Among UTIs acquired in the hospital, approximately 75% are associated with a urinary catheter, which is a tube inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine. Between 15-25% of hospitalized patients receive urinary catheters during their hospital stay. The most important risk factor for developing a catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI) is prolonged use of the urinary catheter. Therefore, catheters should only be used for appropriate indications and should be removed as soon as they are no longer needed.

 

D (2013): Disease prevention in men

Routine screening tests are part of basic prevention medicine. All of the following screening tests are commonly available through your doctor. Take an active role in your own health care and discuss screening tests with your doctor early in life. Following is a list of diseases for which screening is recommended along with mention of the commonly used screening tests, which usually are safe and simple and can help detect many diseases before they become harmful.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

The incidence of this disease increases with age. 
High blood pressure can cause arterial disease (atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.

Tests or procedures for high blood pressure

Blood pressure measurements,

High blood pressure: systolic >140, and/or diastolic >90
Borderline high blood pressure: systolic 130-140, and/or diastolic 85-90

Who to test and how often

How often blood pressure should be checked depends on how severely elevated the blood pressure is, and also depends on the number of other heart attack and stroke risk factors that are present.
Adults with most recent normal blood pressure of systolic <130 and diastolic <85 should be checked at least every other year. Adults with borderline high blood pressures (systolic 130-140 or diastolic 85-90) should be rechecked in 3-6 months.

Benefits of early detection

High blood pressure can cause arterial disease (atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.
High blood pressure can cause diseases without any early warning symptoms.

There is good evidence that treatment of high blood pressure can reduce the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and kidney failure. There is good evidence that adults with borderline blood pressures can benefit from blood pressure lowering. Therefore, you should discuss with your doctor measures that you can take to reduce blood pressure, which can include reducing salt intake, exercise, and stress management.

Hypercholesterolemia (Hyperlipidemia, Dyslipidemia)

Elevated LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries"). Atherosclerosis can begin to develop in adolescence and progress without any symptoms for many years and it leads to heart attack and stroke later in life.

Hyperlipidemia is a common and treatable cause of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death in both men and women in developed countries. The goal is to diagnose and retard or reverse atherosclerosis while it is still in a silent early state before complications occur.

Tests or procedures for hypercholesterolemia

Blood lipid panel that includes, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, "bad" cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, "good" cholesterol, total/HDL cholesterol ratio, and triglycerides.

Who to test and how often

All adults over 20 should have a lipid panel every 5 years if LDL cholesterol is less than 130, and every 1-3 years if LDL cholesterol is borderline (between 130 and 160). LDL is the part of the cholesterol panel that is most significant when determining treatment, as well as determining how often lipid panels should be checked. Tests may be carried out more frequently in those with risk factors for heart or vascular disease or when medically indicated.

Benefits of early detection

Elevated LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries).
Atherosclerosis can begin to develop in adolescence and progress without any symptoms for many years. It leads to heart attack and stroke later in life. There is good evidence that lowering elevated or borderline LDL cholesterol and increasing low HDL is beneficial in heart attack prevention and in some cases stroke prevention in subjects with or without known atherosclerosis.
Treatment of elevated or borderline cholesterol is multi-dimensional. Individuals should discuss potential treatments with their doctor, including nutritional planning (regarding total calorie, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol intake) as well as weight reduction and regular exercise.

Type II diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a condition with elevated blood sugar level (hyperglycemia) due to impaired utilization of insulin, decreased production of insulin, or both.

Diabetes is very common among the Aboriginal and Islander population in Australia. Many more have a condition that precedes diabetes, referred to as prediabetes, characterized by elevated blood sugar levels but to a lesser degree than is present in those with diabetes.

Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults aged 20-74 years, the leading cause of chronic kidney failure, and the leading cause of lower extremity amputations not related to injury. Individuals with diabetes are two to four times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as are those without diabetes.

Tests for diabetes mellitus

Fasting blood sugar (blood sugar test after at least 8 hours without calories), normal level less than 126 mg/dl

Two hour postprandial blood sugar (blood sugar test 2 hours after a meal), normal level less than 140mg/dl

Who to test and how often

Healthy adults over 45 years should have fasting blood glucose level checked every 3 years.

Adults at a higher than normal risk of developing diabetes mellitus should be checked more frequently than every three years; these individuals include:

  • People who are overweight
  • Blood relatives with type II diabetes
  • Certain ethnic groups such as Aboriginal and Islanders, Srilankan and Indian origin and Asian populations
  • Individuals with prediabetes
  • Low HDL cholesterol (35 mg/dl. or less) or elevated triglyceride level (over 250 mg/dl)

Benefits of early detection

Diabetes mellitus can cause atherosclerosis that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and compromise of arterial circulation to the legs and feet. Diabetes mellitus also can damage the nerves, eyes, and kidneys. Diabetes mellitus commonly causes organ damage without symptoms until extensive damage is present.

There is good evidence that controlling hyperglycemia in diabetes with medications, diet, weight control, and regular exercise can slow the development of atherosclerosis and heart, eye, nerve, and kidney damage. There is good evidence that curtailing total calorie intake (especially intake of processed starches, sugar and sweets), regular exercise, and losing excess weight can help prevent the development of type II diabetes mellitus, especially in adults at higher than normal risk of developing diabetes.

 

E (2013): Eye Health

You probably know that wearing sunglasses protects your eyes from the sun's harmful rays, but
did you know that a good night's sleep and regular exercise keep your eyes healthy too?

What is eye health?
Eye health is about - Protecting your eyes during sports and other activities that could cause damage to your eyes

Getting early treatment for any injury to your eye(s)

Seeing an eye specialist if you have certain eye conditions such as dry or itchy eyes
Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants You should see your primary care provider (PCP) every year for your check-up. During that visit let your PCP know if you are having any problems seeing the black board at school or when you're watching movies. Any time you have any
problems or symptoms with your eyes, call your PCP, who will help you decide if
you need to see an eye specialist.

Have you ever thought about what's inside your eyes? Your eyes have many parts working together to create the images you see.

  • Let's follow light as it enters your eye to understand how the eye works.
  • The cornea is the eye's clear surface and what light first hits.
  • The cornea bends light and sends it through the pupil.
  • The pupil is an opening that gets bigger or smaller. The coloured part of your eye, the iris, controls the pupil's size.
  • The lens focuses the light onto the back of the eye (retina).
  • The retina contains special cells (photoreceptors) that change light into signals.
  • The optic nerve receives signals from the retina and passes it to the brain. The brain uses these signals to create a picture of what you see

Other cool facts about your eyes

Your eyes are filled with a jelly-like stuff called vitreous gel that gives your eyes their round
shape. The pupil (opening in your eye) gets larger when it's dark to let in more light.
Muscles inside your eye can move your eyeball in almost any direction. That way you don't have to move your head to see what's out of the corner of your eye.

Iris (colored part of your eye) means "rainbow" in Greek. Even though the iris can be hazel, green, grey, blue, or brown, only one pigment is responsible for creating the iris' colour - it's called melanin.

Eye Exam/Vision Testing

Your primary care provider will check your vision during your adolescent years. Some schools also do vision testing. You will be referred to an eye specialist for more testing if necessary. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you should see an eye specialist once a year (or more often if you have an eye condition).

What's the difference between vision testing and an eye exam?

During vision testing, an eye specialist tests how well you can see, usually by having you read a chart with letters of different sizes. This is also called an acuity test. The test helps the eye specialist figure out if you need glasses or contacts to improve your vision. A full eye exam usually takes longer since it tests not only your vision, but other parts of your eyes as well.

What happens during an eye exam?

During an eye exam, the eye specialist performs tests to make sure your eyes are healthy. You may have a full eye exam or just a few tests, depending on what he/she thinks you need. Eye exams aren't usually painful, but your eyes may feel a little irritated after the testing.
Dilation: The eye specialist may put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils, which makes them bigger for a little while. It takes about 10-20 minutes for the medicine to work. Your eye specialist will then be able to look at the back of your eyes (called the retina), to check for any problems.
Dilated eyes are very sensitive to the sun so it's a good idea to wear sunglasses after your eyes have been dilated. Dilation also makes your vision blurry for several hours, but they will return to normal. You should make sure someone can drive you home from your eye appointment.

Pressure:

The eye specialist may put the tip of an instrument called a tonometer near your eye. You will feel a quick puff of air. This tests the pressure of your eyes, which is also called tonometry, and is a test for glaucoma.

Side vision:

The eye specialist asks you to look up, down, right, and left while shining a light in your eyes. This tests your side (peripheral) vision.

Acuity:

Next, you'll be asked to look up, down, right, and left while a light is shined into your eyes. This tests your side (peripheral) vision.

Reflex:

The eye specialist shines a small light in your eyes to see how the light is reflected on the cornea (front of the eye). The test is normal if the reflection is at the center of the pupils (eye opening).

Cover:

While you cover one eye, the eye specialist will shine a light into your eye to see if your eyes are properly aligned.

How often should I have my eyes checked?

You should visit your primary care provider every year for a well checkup and vision testing, and more often if you're sick. You should see your PCP if you're having problems with your eyes, such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing double
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Light bothering your eyes
  • Tearing
  • Squinting
  • Itchy eyes - needing to rub your eyes often
  • Trouble reading
  • Trouble seeing the chalkboard at school

*Sometimes eye symptoms such as redness and itchiness of the eye can be caused from allergies.

Why would I need to get my eyes checked more often than my friends?

Some diseases, injuries, or infections can affect the health of your eyes.
Your PCP may want you to have your eyes checked more often if you have any of these problems:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Eye injuries
  • Eye infections
  • Changes in vision
  • Other people in your family have eye diseases such as glaucoma

Corrective Lenses

Has your primary care provider said you need glasses, but you're afraid they won't look good? Do you think contacts might hurt your eyes or be hard to take care of?

It's normal to have lots of questions and feel nervous about getting glasses or contacts. However, it's important to wear them if your vision needs correcting. Not wearing corrective lenses can cause headaches and other problems.

How do I know if I need glasses?

If you're having trouble reading, it's possible that you need glasses or contacts. If you already have glasses or contacts, your vision may have changed and you need a new prescription. Learning disabilities can also cause reading problems by making it difficult to write, read, or do math. It's important to see a doctor to understand why you're having trouble reading.

Why do I need glasses or contacts?

Many teens have trouble seeing objects up close or far away. This is called a refractive error and is the most common type of eye problem. Refractive errors are caused by the eyes' shape being abnormal. This means that the eye doesn't bend light in the right way to create a clear picture.

Wearing glasses or contacts is one way to correct your vision and help your eyes see clearly.
You may have a refractive error if:

  • Your vision is blurry or hazy
  • You have headaches
  • Your eyes hurt
  • You see a glare around bright lights
  • You have to squint to see well
  • You see double
  • You have trouble driving at night

How do glasses and contacts work?

To understand how corrective lenses work; let's first review how your eyes see. Your eyes have lenses that focus light on the retina, or back of the eye. The retina changes the light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. The brain uses these signals to create an image of what you see.

The cornea and lens bend the incoming light so that the image is focused on the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. (See image above)

Many people's eyes are abnormally shaped. This means that the lens can't focus light on the retina. Depending on the type of vision problem you have, the light can fall in front of or behind the retina. This creates a blurry image.

Glasses and contacts change the direction of light so that it hits the retina and creates a clear picture.

Glasses

Glasses have been around since the ancient Egyptians and they work even better today. Glasses are easy to wear and take care of.

Choosing Frames

Frames are the part of the glasses that hold the lenses. They come in lots of different shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. You'll to decide what shape/style looks best and is most comfortable on your face. However, some frames will fit better than others.

Here's what you should look for:

  • Choose frames that don't touch your eyelashes or cheeks.
  • Make sure your eyes are in the center of the lenses.
  • Adjust the pieces behind the ear and pads near the nose for the best fit.

Other things to think about:

  • Some frames last longer than others.
  • Spring-loaded frames are less likely to bend or warp.
  • Nose pads prevent the frames from slipping on your nose and provide added comfort.


The Right Lenses for Your Lifestyle

Eyeglass lenses come in different prescriptions, depending on what type of vision problem you have. Lenses correct your vision by refocusing light onto the retina, or back of the eye. After your doctor gives you a prescription for lenses, you still have some choices to make about the type of lenses you'd like.

Lenses are made from different materials. Choosing the right lenses depends on what activities you do and how you're going to use your glasses. Only you can decide what lenses are right for your lifestyle. But your lenses do need a couple of things to last a long time and give you the right amount of protection.

Make sure your lenses:

  • Are shatter proof (made of polycarbonate) - This will protect your glasses from breaking if you drop them.
  • Have U.V. (ultraviolet) protection - This protects your eyes from the sun's harmful rays.

You may want your lenses to have other features.

Talk to your eye specialist and parent(s) or guardian(s) about what lenses are best for you. Keep in mind that these features usually cost more money.

  • Anti-Reflective Coating cuts down on glare from bright lights. May make it easier to see when you're driving at night.
  • Scratch Coating reduces number of scratches on your lenses.
  • Tinting - Color added to lens for style or to block out the sun. Lenses can also get darker in outdoor light to act as sunglasses.
  • Thin lenses are lightweight and very thin. They may feel lighter on your face.

Taking Care of Your Glasses

Even shatter proof glasses can break, if you're not careful. Here are a few tips for taking care of your glasses:

  • Put your glasses back in the case when you're not wearing them.
  • Be careful not to set your glasses down on the lenses, which may scratch.
  • Adjust the frame a little at a time to make sure it doesn't break.
  • Keep your lenses clean by wiping them with a clean, dry cloth, or with an eyeglass cleaning liquid.
  • Only wear sports goggles when playing sports. Wearing normal eyeglasses could cause injury.

When should I wear my glasses?

Wear your glasses as often as you need them to see. This may be all the time or only sometimes. Bring your glasses with you at all times, so you can be sure to have them if you need them.
Bring your glasses to your driving test and wear them if you need them. If your driver's license says you wear corrective lenses, wear your glasses every time you drive.
Wear sports goggles during sports or other physical activities when you need your glasses. Do NOT wear your normal glasses during sports. Glasses can break and seriously injure your eyes. Sports goggles are designed to protect your eyes and can be made with the same prescription as your eyeglasses, eyeglasses but they're shatterproof and safe.

Contacts

Contact lenses work in much the same way as glasses. They correct your vision by focusing light on the back of the eye, or retina. The difference is that contacts sit on your eyeball, instead of in front of your eyes.

Because contacts are worn in your eyes, they can be dangerous if not used properly. Keep reading to find out how contacts work and how to keep your eyes safe when wearing contacts.

What are contacts?

Contacts are small, plastic discs that sit on your cornea-the eye's clear surface. More than 24 million people in the U.S. wear contacts. Like glasses, contacts can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

There are different types of contacts, but most people wear soft lenses. These lenses are thin and usually feel comfortable on your eye. Soft contacts can be worn once and thrown out or reused for weeks or months, depending on the type of lenses you buy.

Single use lenses are worn for only one day and then thrown out, but are more expensive.
Daily wear lenses are worn during the day and taken out at night. You throw them out after many weeks. They are less expensive but need to be cleaned frequently.
Extended wear lenses are worn day and night for a certain number of weeks. They have a higher risk of infection and other eye problems.


Are contacts right for me?

Contacts are not right for everyone. People with certain eye conditions or who are prone to infections should wear glasses instead of contacts. If your doctor doesn't think contacts are right for you, he or she will give you a prescription for glasses.

Contacts are harder to take care of than glasses. They also take more time to clean and to put in your eyes. If you're going to wear contacts, you have to be willing to put in the extra time and energy to keep your eyes healthy.

Some people have trouble touching their eyes. If you don't like touching your eyes, it may be difficult for you to put in and take out your contacts. You may have to practice doing this before you feel comfortable wearing contacts or you may find that glasses are a better choice for you.

Reasons contacts may not be right for you:

  • Allergies
  • Eye infections
  • Dry eyes
  • Don't have the time to take care of lenses
  • Trouble touching your eyes

What happens when I get contacts?

Your doctor may prescribe contacts for you during your eye exam or you may have to come back for another visit to get your prescription.

Finding the right contacts for your eyes is called a contact lens fitting. This may take two to three hours as your doctor finds a contact lens that fits your eye and feels comfortable. During the fitting, the doctor may put different contacts in your eyes and examine how they look while you're wearing them.

Your doctor will show you how to take your contacts in and out and how to take care of them. Then you will practice with the doctor until you feel comfortable doing it on your own.

The doctor may have your contacts in the office or will have to order them. A follow-up appointment is usually scheduled for a week after you start wearing contacts, so the doctor can check how your eyes are doing.

How do contacts feel?

Wearing contacts may feel strange at first. You may feel like there is something moving on the surface of your eye. It takes 10-15 minutes for contacts to settle into place when you first put them in your eyes. Once they stop moving, you will probably feel nothing.

If you wear your contacts for too long or your eyes are dry, the contacts may feel uncomfortable.

If this happens,

  1. Use wetting drops to moisten the contacts (Do not use eyedrops. They can damage your contacts.)
  2. Take out the contacts and give your eyes a break. Some lenses are larger, like the ones that correct for astigmatism. It may take longer to get used to these lenses because they may feel uncomfortable at first.

How do I put contacts in my eyes?

  1. Put in your contacts in the morning, after you shower or take a bath or wash your face.
  2. Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit bathroom.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them on a clean, lint-free towel.
  4. Take one lens (either right or left) out of the case and place it in the palm of your hand. The lens should look like a bowl sitting on its base, not an upside down bowl.
  5. Add several drops of fresh contact solution to the lens.
  6. Rub the lens gently with your figure up and down and then back and forth for 30 seconds. Do not rub the lens in a circle. This can damage the lens.
  7. Place the lens on the tip of your middle finger on the opposite hand of the eye you're going to put the lens in. If you have the lens for the right eye, place the lens on the tip of the middle finger in the left hand.
  8. Use the middle finger of the opposite hand to gently pull back the upper eyelid of the eye you're going to put the lens in.
  9. With the hand holding the lens-use the two fingers on either side of the middle finger to gently pull down the lower lid.
  10. Look straight ahead as you gently place the lens on the colored part of your eye (iris) with your middle finger. Make sure the lens follows the shape of your eyeball.
  11. Rinse the lens case out with fresh solution.
  12. Place it upside down to dry.
  13. If the lens feels uncomfortable for more than 15 minutes, it may be inside out. Follow the steps for taking out your contacts.
  14. Gently flip the lens right side out and put the lens back in.

How do I take contacts out of my eyes?

Take out your contacts at night before going to bed. Do this before your wash your face or take a shower. Do not leave your contact in overnight or while you take a nap. This may cause eye infections.

  1. Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit bathroom.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them on a clean, lint-free towel.
  3. Fill the lens case with fresh contact solution.
  4. Gently pull back the upper eyelid with the middle finger of the hand on the same side as the lens you are taking out. Use your right hand if you are taking out the right lens.
  5. With the opposite hand, gently pull down the lower lid with your middle finger. Use the thumb and index finger to gently push the contact toward the nose, until it lifts out off the eyeball.
  6. Place the contact in the palm of your hand. The lens should look like a bowl sitting on its base, not an upside down bowl.
  7. Add several drops of fresh contact solution to the lens.
  8. Rub the lens gently with your figure up and down and then back and forth for 30 seconds. Do not rub the lens in a circle. This can damage the lens.
  9. Place the lens in the right compartment of the lens case. Make sure it is covered by fresh solution. Replace the cap and screw tightly into place.
  10. Repeat with the other lens.
  11. Be very careful when removing your contacts. Pressing too hard or scratching the eyes with your nails may cause serious injury.

How long can I wear my contacts?

Only wear your contacts during the day. Take out your contacts at night before you go to bed or before you take a nap.

Ask your doctor how long you can use your contacts before changing to a new pair. Some contacts are thrown out after a day and others after weeks or months.
Mark the date you need to replace your contacts on your calendar. If you use a calendar on the computer, set an automated reminder so that you won't forget to replace the contacts.
When it's time to replace the contacts, simply throw out the old ones and open a new pack. Make sure you put the right lenses in each eye, if your eyes have different prescriptions.

How can I keep my eyes healthy when I wear contacts?

Keeping your eyes healthy while you wear contacts takes time and energy. However, proper contact care prevents eye infections and other problems.

  • Keep your lenses clean to reduce the risk of eye infections.
  • Wash your hands before you handle your contacts.
  • Don't shower or wash your face while you're wearing contacts. Take them out first to prevent infections.
  • Keep your nails short to keep from scratching or harming your eyes while taking out your contacts.
  • Don't smoke while you're wearing contacts. If may cause eye problems.
  • See your doctor every year for an eye exam. Bring your contacts with you. Your doctor will check and see if you need a new prescription.
  • Contact Lens Solution
  • Always clean and store lenses with fresh solution. Do not reuse old solution or use another type of liquid.
  • Only use contact solution to store and clean your contacts. Homemade solutions, hydrogen peroxide, saline solution, or other liquids can damage your eyes or contacts.
  • Keep the tip of the solution bottle from touching anything and the bottle tightly closed.
    Buy trial size bottles of contact solution for travel. Do not put solution into an empty bottle. This may cause infections.

Wetting Drops

Use only wetting drops while you're wearing contacts. Regular eye drops may damage your contacts or eyes.

Replacing Lenses

Replace your lenses according to your doctor's and the manufacturer's instructions. Some lenses can be used for weeks and others for months, depending on the brand.
Throw out torn or damaged lenses. They may not work properly and could hurt your eye.
Only wear your contacts during the day and take them out at night, even if you have extended wear contacts. Do not store contacts for a long period of time. Replace lenses after 30 days if they have not been worn.

Lens Case

Rinse out your contact lens case with contact solution and let it dry while you're wearing your contacts. This keeps the case clean.
Replace your contact lens case every three months to keep the lenses clean and prevent infections.

When should I see a doctor?

It's important to see a doctor right away if you have any problems with your contacts. See a doctor immediately if you have:

  • Blurry vision
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light

Never Cool: Circle Lenses

Decorative lenses, also called circle lenses, are worn for fashion or as part of a costume. Decorative lenses are not prescription lenses. They do not correct vision problems and are not prescribed by a doctor.

Decorative lenses change the color or shape of your eyes. They are usually much larger than prescription contact lenses. They also have not been tested for safety. They are sold in costume shops or over the Internet. The manufacturer may say that the lenses are "one size fits all" or that you don't need to see a doctor to wear these lenses.

The truth is that decorative lenses are potentially very dangerous. Because they are larger than contact lenses, they prevent oxygen from reaching the eyes. They are not disinfected and can cause serious infection or even blindness.

The only safe way to wear decorative lenses is to not wear them at all.

Common Vision Problems - What are the different types of vision problems?

There are three common types of vision problems: nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Nearsightedness

Nearsightedness is also called myopia. People who are nearsighted can see fine up close, but things that are far away are blurry. One out of every four people in the U.S. is nearsighted. Nearsightedness may get worse when you're a teenager. People whose parents are nearsighted may be more likely to be nearsighted themselves.

What causes nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness is caused when the eyeball, lens, or cornea has an abnormal shape. If the eyeball is too long, then light is focused in front of the retina. This makes distant objects appear blurry.

Farsightedness

Farsightedness is also called hyperopia. People who are farsighted can see distant objects clearly, but things up close are blurry. But some people with severe farsightedness have trouble seeing things up close and far away.

About one in every ten to twenty people is farsighted. You may become farsighted if your parents are farsighted.

What causes farsightedness?

Farsightedness is caused when the eyeball, lens, or cornea has an abnormal shape. If the eyeball is too short, then light is focused behind the retina. This makes close objects appear blurry.

Astigmatism

People with astigmatism may see blurry or stretched out images. You may have mild astigmatism and not know it because it doesn't cause a noticeable change to your vision.

What causes astigmatism?

A normal eyeball is round, but the eyeball of a person with astigmatism is shaped like a football. This means light entering the eye doesn't reach the retina and creates a blurry image.

How do I fix my vision problem?

If you think you have a vision problem, see an eye specialist for a full eye exam. He/she will test your vision during the exam and decide what type of vision problem you have. Then, your eye specialist will write you a prescription for corrective lenses, if you need them. Then it's time for you and your eye specialist to decide what type of corrective lenses is best for you: glasses or contacts.

Should I get glasses or contacts?

Deciding between glasses and contacts can be a difficult choice. Talk to your eye specialist and your parent(s)/guardian(s) about the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Common Eye Conditions

Watery Eyes

Watery eyes make too many tears, which is why this condition is also called excessive tearing.

Watery eyes may be caused by:

  • Blocked tear duct
  • Irritation
  • Dry eyes
  • Cold
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Cold weather
  • Wind
  • Medications such as antihistamines

Is there anything I can do to make my watery eyes feel better?

Yes. You can try applying warm compresses to your eyes and/or use saline eye drops to keep your eyes moist. If the problem doesn't go away, see your primary health care provider (PCP). If you have any pain or changes in vision, call right away.

Pink eye/Conjunctivitis

A person with conjunctivitis usually has one or two eyes that look very red; this condition is often called, "pink eye". Conjunctivitis is the swelling of the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid.

Conjunctivitis may be caused by infection, allergy, or irritation. Infections are very contagious and may be spread at school when teens are in close contact. Not taking care of contact lenses may also cause infection.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Soreness
  • Pus
  • Swelling
  • Crusting of the lashes, especially on awakening in the morning

Treating Conjunctivitis

Contact your PCP if you have any symptoms of conjunctivitis. Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause. Antibiotic ointments or eye drops may be prescribed if you have a virus or bacteria causing the conjunctivitis.

Virus - There is no treatment, though cold compresses on the eyes will make you feel more comfortable. The infection should clear up in one to two weeks.
Bacteria - Your doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment to clear up the infection.
Allergies - Antihistamines may keep the allergies under control. Cold compresses on the eyes usually help.

Preventing Conjunctivitis

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes.
  • Keep your contacts clean and take them out at night.
  • Use clean towels to wipe your face.

Colour-blindness

For many people, it's hard to imagine the world without colour, but for people with colour-blindness, or a colour vision defect, living without colour is a way of life.

There are three types of colour-blindness - not being able to see red and green, not seeing blue and yellow, and seeing no colour at all. Most people inherit colour-blindness from their parents and since there is no treatment, they learn to live with the condition.

Approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world are colour-blind. Although some medications can cause colour-blindness, most people are born with the condition.

Bell's Palsy

Bell's Palsy is a disease that affects the muscles of the face and eyes. Someone with this condition may have trouble closing one eye or have trouble making facial expressions.

If you have any weakness or paralysis (numbness) in your facial muscles, you should see your primary health care provider right away to see if you need test(s) and/or medicine.

The symptoms can go away in a month, if the infection is mild. More serious cases can cause dryness or even blindness, however, most people with Bell's Palsy have a complete recovery.

 

F (2013): Fast Food Facts

Fast food refers to food that can be prepared and served quickly. Fast food restaurants usually have a walk up counter and/or drive-thru window where you order and pick up your food without having to wait long.

Why is fast food so popular?

Fast food restaurants are popular because they serve filling foods that taste good and don't cost a lot of money. However, the food is often made with cheaper ingredients such as high fat meat, refined grains, and added sugar and fats, instead of nutritious ingredients such as lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

Is fast food bad?

There's no such thing as "bad" food, but there are some foods you should try not to have on a regular basis. Because fast food is high in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, it isn't something you should eat very often. Eating too much over a long period of time can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Fast food also lacks many of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals our bodies need. It's helpful to remember that with fast food, moderation is important.

Is some fast food healthier than others?

Many fast food chains are changing their menus so there are more healthy options to choose from. For example, some chains no longer serve foods with trans fat, and many have menu items that contain fruits and vegetables. If you're having fast food more than once a week, try to make healthier choices. Here are some tips:

  • Go light on the toppings
  • Don't overdo the salad dressing. Choose oil-based dressings such as Italian or balsamic vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressings such as blue cheese and ranch which are high in saturated fat.
  • Use mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise.
  • When ordering pizza, add veggies instead of meat, and get thin crust instead of deep dish.
    Top your sandwiches with veggies such as onions, lettuce, and tomatoes instead of bacon or extra cheese.
  • Don't add more salt to your meal. Salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease, and fast food tends to be loaded with it.

Know how your food is made:

Choose foods that are broiled, steamed or grilled over fried such as a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried chicken or chicken nuggets and steamed vegetables instead of French fries.
Choose soups that aren't cream based. For example: If the name of the soup includes the word cream, such as "Creamy Tomato Soup", choose something else.

Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium.

When ordering a sub or sandwich, select lean meats such as turkey or grilled chicken instead of items such as burgers, steak, or cheese sandwiches.

Ask for sauces or dressings that come with meals to be served on the side and use just a small amount.


Practice portion control:

Order smaller entree portions. For example, instead of a large sub, try a small sub with a side salad and low-fat dressing or piece of fruit. If you're getting a side, order a small, or kid sized portion. Never supersize anything, these options pack in an even larger amount of calories and fat.

Don't fall for the deals. Many fast food restaurants are now advertising value deals for larger portions of food. These foods may come in what is called a "value box", a combo pack, or just be a larger portion for a cheap price. If you want the deal, eat only half and save the rest for later, or split with a friend.

Remember, you can get too much of a good thing. Even if a fast food restaurant uses healthy ingredients, they still usually give you a lot more food than you need and eating too much of any kind of food can lead to weight gain. Watch your portions, even when you're eating healthier fast foods such as burritos, sandwiches, and soup.

Look for healthier side options for your meals:

  • Have a salad or soup instead of fries.
  • Choose water, low-fat milk, or diet sodas instead of regular sodas, fruit drinks, milkshakes, or whole milk, which can be a huge source of hidden calories and sugar.
  • Instead of a slice of pie or cookie for dessert, try fruit and yogurt.

Enjoy your meal:

Sit down while you eat. Fast food is known as a meal on the go. Many people eat in their cars or while doing another activity. If you are distracted, you may not pay attention to how much food you are eating, and you may eat much more than you need. Sit down at the restaurant you visit and pay attention to your meal. If you can't sit, eat just a little and save the rest for later. That way you won't be starving once you have the chance to sit and finish your meal, and you’ll be less likely to overeat.

Where can I find nutrition facts about fast food?

Most fast food and restaurant chains offer free nutrition information online. There's usually a link to the nutrition section on the home page where you will find nutrition facts including fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, calories, and more. Many of these menus are now interactive as well, so you can preview your plate and modify it to be more nutritious. Take a look at this information to help you make healthier choices when eating out. If you don't have time or access to a computer, many restaurants offer nutrition pamphlets in the restaurant or have a way of pointing out healthier options on their menus.

Remember: Balance fast food with nutritious foods throughout the day and make healthier choices whenever possible. There are many healthy food choices that are easily available, tasty, and don't cost very much that can be eaten on the go. If you like fast food, try to limit it to once a week and choose healthy options.

Fad Diets vs. Healthy Weight Management

Fad diets are marketed as quick ways to lose weight. They most popular fad diets tend to change from year to year, but the promises they make don't. Diets such as low-carb diets, the master cleanse, the grapefruit diet, and even the cookie diet are all fads. Read on to learn how to spot a fad diet and find out about healthier ways to manage your weight.

Do fad diets work?

Some people will lose weight while following a fad diet, but most fad diets are impossible to stick to for long. This means that once you stop following the diet, you'll probably gain back the weight you lost. Some people actually gain back all the weight, plus more.

Most of these fad diets are hard to stay on. This means that you can't stick with them for long and once you stop following the diet, you will probably gain back the weight you lost. For example, most people who lose weight on a low-carb diet gain all their weight back within one year. Some people even end up weighing more than what they did before starting the diet.

Fad diets don't usually provide enough vitamins and minerals which can lead to health problems.

How can you spot a fad diet?

You can spot a fad diet by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • Does this diet make some foods completely off-limits?
  • Does this diet promise that I'll lose an unrealistic amount of weight in a short amount of time? For example: "ten pounds in one week."
  • Does the diet refer to food as being "good" or "bad"?
  • Do I have to buy certain foods for this diet at a special store?
  • Does this claim I can lose weight "without exercising"?
  • Is this plan temporary?
  • If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you've probably spotted a fad diet. Ads for these diets may draw you in and convince you that it's really easy to follow the diet and lose weight quickly. However, these types of weight loss plan are really just a quick fix and not a healthy way to lose weight.

Are there healthier ways to manage weight?

Yes. There are much healthier ways to manage weight rather than following a fad diet. We lose weight by eating fewer calories than our bodies burn. To lose weight, add calorie-burning activities into your day, and cut down on your portion sizes or the amount of food that you eat. Be sure not to restrict your calories too much, though.

You can make some easy changes to cut back on the calories you eat by:

  • Choosing less sugary beverages. Drinks such as soda and juice are loaded with sugar and empty calories.
  • Eating breakfast. Starting your day with a nutritious meal will prevent you from getting too hungry during the day and give you energy to think at school.
  • Packing fruit for a snack. Choosing fruit over chips or candy will provide your body with important nutrients.
  • Eating more whole grains. Choose whole grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and high-fiber cereals. They are more filling than refined grains such as cookies and pastry.
  • Choosing lean meats. Chicken and fish or vegetarian sources of protein such as beans and tofu are much healthier choices than fatty meats.
  • Eating more servings of fruits and/or vegetables. Aim to include one or both at most meals and for snacks.
  • Watching your portion sizes. Choose regular portions not super-sized ones. Eat only until you feel satisfied.

Simple ways to fit exercise into your day include:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walk instead of taking the bus
  • Joining a sports team
  • Going for a walk with your family or friends
  • Joining a gym

Is there a way to tell if a diet is healthy?

An easy way to make sure that a weight loss program is healthy and right for you is to see if it includes the following:

  • A balance of healthy foods from all food groups (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy dietary fats)
  • Regular exercise or physical activity
  • Regular portion sizes
  • Regular meals and snacks
  • Some of your favourite foods
  • Flexibility to fit your schedule
  • Foods you can find in restaurants or at social events

If your weight loss plan includes all of the above, it's most likely a healthy approach. Remember to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups and to choose fruits and vegetables from all the colours of the rainbow to get important nutrients for your body. It's okay to eat treats once in a while. Always choose healthy portion sizes and try to do 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Making these healthy changes will help you to lose weight, and then keep the weight off.

 

G (2013): Good Bladder Habits:

Good bladder habits can help improve bladder control. You need good bladder habits for a healthy life. Poor bladder habits can lead to poor bladder control, and even wetting yourself. Here are some
easy steps that everyone can take to keep a healthy bladder.

Step 1 – Use good toilet habits

  • It is normal to go to the toilet 4 to 8 times a day and no more than twice a night
  • Don’t get into the habit of going to the toilet just in case. Try to go to the toilet only when your bladder is full and you need to go (Going to the toilet before you go to bed is fine)
  • Take your time so that your bladder can empty. If you rush, and do not empty your bladder fully, over time, you could get a bladder infection
  • Women should sit to go to the toilet. Do not hover over the toilet seat

Step 2 – Keep good bowel habits

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and stay active to keep your bowels regular
  • Do not strain when using your bowels as this can weaken your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that help your bladder and bowel control)

Step 3 – Drink plenty of water

  • Drink 1.5 - 2 litres of fluid each day unless your doctor says this is not okay¬
  • Cut down on how much caffeine and alcohol you drink. These may upset your bladder
  • Do not drink too much coffee, tea or cola, Instant coffee has less caffeine than brewed coffee. Tea has less caffeine than coffee.

Step 4 – Look after your pelvic floor muscles

  • Keep your pelvic floor muscles strong with pelvic
    .floor muscle training
  • You can get a Pelvic Floor Muscle Training leaflet for Men, or for Women
  • See your doctor, physiotherapist or continence nurse to check that you are training your
    muscles the right way

Step 5 – Seek help from your doctor physiotherapist or continence nurse if you..

  • Wet yourself, even a few drops, when you cough, sneeze, laugh, stand, lift or do sports or other activity
  • Have an urgent need to pass urine, have a strong feeling of not being able to hold on
    or often don’t get to the toilet in time
  • Pass small amounts of urine, often and regularly. That is more than 8 times per day
    in small amounts (less than about what a tea cup holds)
  • Have to get up more than t 8 times per day in small amounts (less than about what a
    tea cup holds)
  • Have to get up more than twice in the night to pass urine
  • Wet the bed over the age of five years
  • Have trouble starting your stream of urine or have a stream that stops and starts instead of a smooth flow
  • Strain to pass urine
  • Feel that your bladder is not empty when you have passed urine
  • Have burning or pain while passing urine
  • Have to give up things you enjoy like walking aerobics or dancing because of poor bladder
    or bowel control; or
  • Have any change in your regular bladder habits
    that you have worried about

Seek Help

Qualified nurses are available if you call the *National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66
Monday to Friday, between 8.00am to 8.00pm) Australian Eastern Standard Time) for Information, Advice and Leaflets.

If you have difficulty speaking or understanding English you can access the Helpline through the free Telephone Interpreter Service on 13 14 50. The phone will be answered in English, so please
name the language you speak and wait on the phone. You will be connected to an interpreter who speaks your language. Tell the interpreter you wish to call the National Continence Helpline on
1800 33 00 66. Wait on the phone to be connected and the interpreter will assist you to speak with a continence nurse advisor. All calls are confidential.


Visit bladderbowel.gov.au or continence.org.au

 

H (2013): Hair Loss

Summary


Hair loss (alopecia) affects most men and women at some stage in their lives. Causes of hair loss include acute illness, chemotherapy, infections, burns, rough handling of the hair, autoimmune disease and inflammation of the scalp. Hereditary hair loss is the result of genetic and hormonal factors, and occurs when cells that normally control hair regeneration are lost. There are treatments for some types of hair loss.

Hair loss (also known as alopecia) can ‘just happen’ or it may be linked to some medical conditions or use of medicines. It can be patchy or widespread, and may range from mild to severe.

Male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) is the most common cause of hair loss in men and is the result of genetic and hormonal factors. Hereditary baldness is so common that many people think it is a normal part of the ageing process.

Many men and women will be affected by hair loss at some stage in their lives. For most people, hair loss is mild and occurs later in life. However, when hair loss is premature or severe, it can cause distress. A range of treatments is available to slow or reduce hair loss, and stimulate partial regrowth.

How hair grows

The human body is completely covered with hair follicles, except on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and lips. Hair follicles are pouch-like tubes of skin cells that contain the hair root. Most follicles are tiny, and many of the hairs they produce do not grow long enough to stick out from the pore.

Hair is made from a protein called keratin. The only living part of the hair is the root (sometimes known as the bulb), which is attached to the base of the follicle. The follicle supplies oxygen and nutrients to the root, and lubricates the hair shaft with an oily substance called sebum.

Hair is in a constant cycle of growth, rest and renewal – it is natural for everybody to lose some hair each day. Hair grows in phases. The colour, curl, length, thickness and amount of hair depend on genetic factors.

Causes of hair loss

There are many possible causes of hair loss. Some result in temporary hair loss (known as telogen effluvium), while others may have longer-term effects. Breaking or damaging the hair shaft has no effect at all on the health of the hair root.

It is likely that several genes determine your susceptibility to baldness. Some of these genes come from your mother’s side and some from your father’s side of the family. Identical twins lose hair at the same age, at the same rate and in the same pattern. This indicates that genetic factors are more important than environmental factors in causing hair loss.

Androgenetic hair loss is caused by androgen hormones (produced in different amounts by both men and women) and occurs in people with a genetic susceptibility.

Some causes of hair loss include:

  • Severe illness
  • Major surgery
  • High fever, which may lead to a period of excess hair shedding
  • Hormonal changes caused by thyroid disease, childbirth or the birth-control pill
  • Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder
  • Medications such as those used in cancer chemotherapy or oral retinoids (strong medication used to treat skin conditions)
  • Nervous habits such as continual hair pulling or scalp rubbing
  • Rough handling – brushing too vigorously, tight rolling of hair curlers
  • Over-bleaching, or use of harsh dyes and chemicals
  • Burns or injuries
  • Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp)
  • Certain skin diseases such as lichen planus or lupus
  • Long-term illness

Some people think that stress, diet, wearing hats, frequent washing, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are causes of hair loss, but these are usually not the cause.

Male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia)

While there are a number of treatments available for male pattern baldness, there is no cure. Treatments include minoxidil lotion and finasteride tablets, which are available on prescription. Cosmetic options include camouflage sprays, wigs and hair transplant surgery.

Hair loss in women (androgenetic alopecia)

Hair loss in women produces scattered thinning over the top of the scalp rather than a bald spot. Minor patterned hair loss occurs in over 55 per cent of women as they age, but only about 20 per cent of women develop moderate or severe hair loss.

A number of treatments are available for female pattern hair loss, including topical minoxidil lotion (not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women) and tablets such as spironolactone, which have antiandrogen properties (they lower the levels of male hormones). These are available on prescription and require a doctor’s supervision.

Hair loss treatments

Although there is no cure for hair loss, a number of treatments can slow or reduce hair loss, stimulate partial regrowth or replace damaged hair. Surgical hair transplantation can help some men who have advanced balding.

Despite advances in our understanding of hair loss, there are limits to current treatment. In particular, age-related hair loss and inherited forms of hair loss are difficult to reverse, although treatment may prevent further loss. There are also limits to controlling alopecia areata. In many conditions, hair loss or thinning will stabilise and may not progress to baldness.

Non-surgical treatments include lotions and tablets. These generally need to be used continuously to maintain regrowth. If you stop the treatment, regrowth will cease and your hair loss will start again.

Cosmetic options include wigs and hairpieces.
A number of other treatments have been suggested for hair loss including massage, vitamin supplements, herbal remedies (such as saw palmetto), zinc, amino acids, hair lotions and tonics. None of these has been shown to promote hair growth or prevent hair loss. There is also no scientific evidence that the use of lasers is effective.

If unsure, consult with your doctor before starting treatment.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil lotion has been available in Australia since the 1970s. A number of different brands are available from pharmacies without a prescription. Drops are applied to the scalp morning and night and rubbed in. There is also a new foam preparation that appears to be easier to use and just as effective. Hair regrowth generally takes six months to appear. People considering using Minoxidil should tell their pharmacist if they are taking any other medicines, especially high-blood-pressure medication.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use Minoxidil.

Finasteride

Finasteride is the active ingredient in the men’s hair-loss treatment Propecia, which has been available in Australia since the late 1990s. One tablet a day will stop further hair loss in over 90 per cent of men and stimulate partial hair regrowth in over two-thirds of men. Regrowth may be visible at six months, but can take up to two years to be visible. Side effects are uncommon, although Propecia does require a prescription from your doctor.

Women should not use Finasteride.

Spironolactone

This medication has been widely used in Australia since the 1960s to treat high blood pressure and fluid retention. It blocks the effect of androgen hormones. In women, androgens can cause oily skin, acne, unwanted facial and body hair, and hair loss on the scalp. Women can use Spironolactone to treat all of these conditions, but you need a prescription from your doctor.

Men, and pregnant or breastfeeding women, should not use Spironolactone.

Cyproterone acetate

This medication was also developed in the 1960s. It blocks the effect of androgen hormones. It is also a weak progestogen and is in some oral contraceptives (the pill). Cyproterone acetate can also be used to treat acne, unwanted facial and body hair, and hereditary hair loss in women. Cyproterone acetate requires a prescription from your doctor.

Cyproterone acetate is not recommended as a treatment for hair loss in men.

Hair transplantation surgery

Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure for the treatment of hair loss that first became popular in the 1950s. Originally, large plugs of hair were used, which sometimes led to unsatisfactory and unnatural-looking results.

These days, very small mini- and micro-plugs of skin, each containing between one and five hairs, are used. Unlike the original large plugs, this modern technique does not produce very thick or dense hair growth. It appears more natural and, in many cases, is undetectable as a transplant.

Types of hair loss that respond best to hair transplantation include:

Androgenetic hair loss in men – this is the most common type of baldness that can be helped by hair transplantation
Hair loss due to accidents and operations.


The surgeon removes hair plugs from the back or sides of the scalp (where the hair is less likely to fall out) and transfers them to the bald areas. The surgeon places the plugs in such a way that they receive adequate blood flow during the healing process. The transplant session may take several hours.

One to three months later, the surgeon may add more grafts. A person needs several treatments to give a progressive increase in the amount of hair. Hair will regrow in the area from which the hair plug was taken for transplantation.

A sedative is usually given prior to the procedure. Local anaesthetic is used at the hair removal (donor) and recipient sites. As the anaesthetic wears off, you may notice some discomfort. This can be eased with simple pain-relieving medications.

Complications of hair transplantation surgery

Complications of hair transplant surgery can include:

  • Infection – this can occur because the skin is broken to perform the procedure. It can be treated with antibiotics
  • Bleeding – this is usually controlled through careful post-operative care
  • Scarring – approximately 11 per cent of people have a tendency to scar
  • Temporary, operation-induced hair loss – known as telogen effluvium, can occur with hair transplantation as well as some other operations. It occurs in approximately five per cent of people
  • Unacceptable cosmetic results – scarring and poor cosmetic results are more common when hair transplants are carried out by inexperienced practitioners.

Many hair clinics offer hair transplantation. However, specialist dermatologists are best qualified to properly advise about this surgery, as they generally have the most knowledge about hair in health and disease.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Australasian College of Dermatologists Tel. 1300 361 821
  • Wigmaker
  • Plastic surgeon

Things to remember

Most men and women will be affected by hair loss at some stage in their lives.
There are many causes of hair loss, ranging from rough handling to hereditary factors.
Different treatments are available to slow or reduce hair loss and stimulate partial regrowth.

 

I (2013): Infertility:

Reproduction (or making a baby) is a simple and natural experience for most couples. However, for some couples it is very difficult to conceive. Male infertility is diagnosed when, after testing of both partners, reproductive problems have been found in the male partner.

How common is male infertility?

Infertility is a widespread problem. For about one in five infertile couples the problem lies solely in the male partner (male infertility).

Are there any signs or symptoms of male infertility?

In most cases, there are no obvious signs of an infertility problem. Intercourse, erections and ejaculation will usually happen without difficulty. The quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen generally appears normal to the naked eye.

Hormonal causes are uncommon, and affect less than one in 100 infertile men. 

For further information go to https://www.andrologyaustralia.org/reproductive-problems/male-infertility/

 

J (2013):Juvenile Arthritis

Summary

Juvenile arthritis refers to the types of arthritis that affect children. Other names for juvenile arthritis include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile chronic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Still's disease. More girls than boys develop juvenile arthritis.

Juvenile arthritis is a general term that describes all types of arthritis diagnosed in someone under the age of 16 years.

Arthritis is a general term describing over 100 different conditions that cause pain, stiffness, swelling and often inflammation in one or more joints. It is commonly believed that arthritis only affects older people, but around one in every 1,000 children has some form of juvenile arthritis. It is one of the most common chronic conditions to affect children.

The cause of juvenile arthritis is not known. We do know that juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The normal role of the body’s immune system is to fight off infections, however when a person has an autoimmune disease, the immune system starts attacking the body’s healthy tissues. In juvenile arthritis, the immune system targets the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and joint damage.

Other names for juvenile arthritis include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, juvenile chronic arthritis and Still’s disease.

Symptoms of juvenile arthritis

Some of the symptoms of juvenile arthritis can include:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Fever and general feeling of being unwell
  • Skin rashes
  • Anaemia
  • Vision problems.

Different types of juvenile arthritis

There are different types of juvenile arthritis, including:

  • Oligoarticular arthritis.
  • Systemic onset arthritis
  • Polyarticular arthritis
  • Enthesitis-related arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Unclassified juvenile arthritis.
  • Oligoarticular arthritis
  • Oligoarticular arthritis is the most common form of juvenile arthritis. It may also be called pauciarticular arthritis – ‘oligo’ and ‘pauci’ mean not many or few joints are affected.

Characteristics include:

  • Starts between the ages of two and four years
  • More common in girls
  • The risk of an eye condition called uveitis, which involves inflammation of the inner eye.
  • There are two types of oligoarticular arthritis based on the number of joints involved:
    • Persistent oligoarticular – no more than four joints inflamed after six months
    • Extended oligoarticular arthritis – up to four joints inflamed in the six months after the onset of symptoms, and more joints inflamed after six months.

Systemic onset arthritis

Systemic onset arthritis means many areas of the body are affected at the same time. It is the least common type of juvenile arthritis.

Characteristics include:

  • Affects boys and girls equally
  • Affects joints and other parts (systems) of the body such as the skin or internal organs
  • Often causes a fever and a skin rash. 

Polyarticular arthritis

Polyarticular arthritis means five or more joints are affected. ‘Poly’ means many.

Characteristics include:

  • Starts between the ages of one and twelve years
  • More common in girls. 

There are two types of pauciarticular arthritis based on whether rheumatoid factor (RF) is found in the blood:

  • Polyarticular arthritis – rheumatoid factor negative
  • Polyarticular arthritis – rheumatoid factor positive.

Enthesitis-related arthritis

Enthesitis means inflammation of the places where tendons attach to bone (entheses). Other names for this type of arthritis include juvenile spondylitis and juvenile spondyloarthropathies.

Characteristics include:

  • Tends to target the large joints of the legs, the spine and the enthuse
  • More common in boys than girls
  • Usually develops in late childhood or adolescence.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis includes inflammatory arthritis of the joints and the skin condition, psoriasis.

Characteristics include:

  • The psoriasis and arthritis may not develop at the same time – the skin condition may come first or second
  • More common in girls
  • Develops in preschool children, or at around 10 years of age
  • There may be a family history of psoriasis. 

Unclassified juvenile arthritis

This is where the condition does not fit any of the types of juvenile arthritis.

Diagnosis methods for juvenile arthritis

Juvenile arthritis is diagnosed using a number of tests including:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests – however most children diagnosed with juvenile arthritis do not have rheumatoid factor in their blood, so blood tests do not eliminate juvenile arthritis
  • X-rays and scans
  • Eye examination.

Treatment options for juvenile arthritis

In most cases, early diagnosis and treatment means a good outlook for the child with juvenile arthritis. Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, podiatrists, psychologists and social workers may all be a part of the team that treats the child. As there are different types of juvenile arthritis, and each affects a child differently, treatment needs to be tailored to each child.

Treatments may include:

Therapy to strengthen muscles, keep the joints flexible and encourage normal limb development
Medications to control inflammation and pain and to prevent long-term damage to joints
Special steroid (cortisone) eye drops to treat uveitis
Exercise to help maintain muscle strength and joint flexibility and assist in managing pain. 

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • NURSE-ON-CALL Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
  • A specialist paediatric rheumatologist
  • Arthritis Foundation of Victoria Tel. (03) 8531 8000 or 1800 011 041

 

K (2013): Kidney Stones:

Summary

Kidney stones occur when salts in the urine form a solid crystal. These stones can block the flow of urine and cause infection, kidney damage or even kidney failure. Pain (renal colic) is often the first sign. Most kidney stones can be treated without surgery, but always seek immediate medical attention if you are suffering strong pain.

Kidney stones occur when salts in the urine form a solid crystal. These stones can block the flow of urine and cause infection, kidney damage or even kidney failure. Between four and eight per cent of the Australian population suffer from kidney stones at any time. They can vary in size and location. Kidney stones are sometimes called renal calculi.

Most kidney stones can be treated without surgery. However, pain can be so severe that hospital admission and very strong painkillers may be needed. Always seek immediate medical attention if you are suffering strong pain.

The risk of kidney stones is about one in 10 for men and one in 35 for women. After having one kidney stone, the chance of getting a second stone is between five and 10 per cent each year. Up to half the people with a first kidney stone will get a second stone within five years. After five years, the risk declines. However, some people keep getting stones their whole lives.

Types of kidney stones

There are four major types of kidney stones, including:

  • Stones formed from calcium not used by the bones and muscles, combined with oxalate or phosphate – these are the most common kidney stones
  • Stones containing magnesium and the waste product ammonia – these are called struvite stones and form after urine infections
  • Uric acid stones – these are formed when there is too much acid in the urine
  • Cystine stones – these are rare and hereditary. 

Causes of kidney stones

A kidney stone can form when substances such as calcium, oxalate, cystine or uric acid are at high levels in the urine, although stones can form even if these chemicals are at normal levels.

Medications used for treating some medical conditions such as kidney disease, cancer or HIV can also increase your risk of developing kidney stones.

A small number of people get kidney stones because of some medical conditions, which can lead to high levels of calcium, oxalate, cystine or uric acid in the body. 

Symptoms of kidney stones

Many people with kidney stones have no symptoms. However, some people do get symptoms, which may include:

  • A gripping pain in the back (also known as ‘renal colic’) – usually just below the ribs on one side, radiating around to the front and sometimes towards the groin. The pain may be severe enough to cause nausea and vomiting
  • Blood in the urine
  • Shivers, sweating and fever – if the urine becomes infected
  • Small stones passing out in the urine like gravel, often caused by uric acid stones
    an urgent feeling of needing to urinate, due to a stone at the bladder outlet.

Diagnosis of kidney stones

Many stones are discovered by chance during examinations for other conditions. Urine and blood tests can help with finding out the cause of the stone. Further tests may include:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT scans
  • X-rays, including an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), where dye is injected into the bloodstream before the x-rays are taken.

If you pass a stone, collect it and take it to your doctor for analysis. Analysis of a stone is very useful.

Complications of kidney stones

Kidney stones can range in size from a grain of sand to that of a pearl or even larger. They can be smooth or jagged, and are usually yellow or brown. A large stone may get stuck in the urinary system. This can block the flow of urine and may cause strong pain. 

Kidney stones can cause permanent kidney damage. Stones also increase the risk of urinary and kidney infection, which can result in germs spreading into the bloodstream.

Treatment for kidney stones

Most kidney stones can be treated without surgery. Ninety per cent of stones pass by themselves within three to six weeks. In this situation, the only treatment required is pain relief. However, pain can be so severe that hospital admission and very strong painkillers may be needed. Always seek immediate medical attention if you are suffering strong pain.

Small stones in the kidney do not usually cause problems, so there is often no need to remove them. A doctor specialising in the treatment of kidney stones is the best person to advise you on treatment.

Surgery for kidney stone removal

If a stone doesn’t pass and blocks urine flow or causes bleeding or an infection then it may need to be removed. New surgical techniques have reduced hospital stay time to as short as 48 hours.

Other treatments include:

  • Extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL) – ultrasound waves are used to break the kidney stone into smaller pieces, which can pass out with the urine. It is used for stones less than two cm in size.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy – a small cut is made in your back, then a special instrument is used to remove the kidney stone.
  • Endoscope removal – an instrument is inserted into the urethra, passed into the bladder and then to where the stone is located. It allows the doctor to remove the stone or break it up so it can pass more easily.
  • Surgery – if none of these methods are suitable, the stone may need to be removed using traditional surgery. This will require a cut in your back to access your kidney and ureter to remove the stone.

Medication for kidney stones

For most people with recurrent calcium stones, a combination of drinking enough fluids, avoiding urinary infections and specific treatment with medications will significantly reduce or stop new stone formation.

Certain drugs such as thiazide diuretics or indapamide reduce calcium excretion and decrease the chance of another calcium stone. Potassium citrate (Hydralyte, Pedialyte, Urocit-K), or citric juices are used to supplement thiazide treatment and are used by themselves for some conditions where there is a problem acidifying the urine.

For people who have a high level of uric acid in their urine, or who make uric acid stones, the drug allopurinol will usually stop the formation of new stones.

Avoiding recurrence of kidney stones

If you have had one stone, some tips that may help to prevent a second stone forming include:

  • Talk to your doctor about the cause of previous stones.

  • Ask your doctor to check what medications you are on to see if they might be causing your stones. Do not stop your medications without talking to your doctor.
  • Get quick and proper treatment of urinary infections.
  • Avoid dehydration. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine volume at or above two litres a day. This can halve your risk of getting a second stone by lowering stone-forming chemicals.
    Avoid too much tea or coffee. Citrus juices may reduce the risk of some stones, particularly orange, grapefruit and cranberry. Mineral water cannot cause kidney stones because it contains only trace elements of minerals.
  • Reducing salt often lowers the risk of calcium containing stones. Don’t add salt while cooking and leave the saltshaker off the table. Choose low or no-salt processed foods.
  • Lowering calcium below that of a normal diet is only necessary in some cases where absorption of calcium from the bowel is high. A low-calcium diet has not been shown to be useful in preventing the recurrence of kidney stones and may worsen the problem of weak bones. People with calcium-containing stones may be at greater risk of developing weak bones and osteoporosis. Discuss this risk with your doctor.
  • Don’t drink more than one litre per week of drinks with phosphoric acid, which is used to flavour carbonated drinks such as cola and beer.
  • Always talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.

Where to get help

  • In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
  • Your doctor
  • Your local community health centre
  • Kidney Health Australia Information Line Tel. 1800 454 363, TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 454 363

Things to remember

The lifetime risk of developing kidney stones is one in 10 for men and one in 35 for women.
New techniques can remove kidney stones without the need for an operation.
A combination of drinking enough fluids, avoiding urinary infections and specific treatment with medications will significantly reduce or stop new stone formation.

 

L (2013): Lung Cancer

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in one or both lungs grow in an uncontrolled way.

The lungs are part of the body’s respiratory system. They are made up of a series of airways called bronchi and bronchioles that end in tiny air sacs called alveoli.
What are the different types of lung tumour?

There are several types of lung cancer, each beginning in a different type of cell in the lung.

Small cell carcinoma (around 12% of lung cancer) usually arises from epithelial cells that line the surface of the centrally located bronchi.

Non-small cell carcinoma (over 60% of lung cancer) consists of a different group of cancers that tend to grow and spread more slowly than small cell carcinoma. It mainly affects cells lining the bronchi and smaller airways. 

Other types account for around 25% of lung cancer. 5

What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Lung cancer does not always cause symptoms, and may be found incidentally during a chest X-ray for another condition. 2,3

Some common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Blood in sputum coughed up from the lungs – this is called haemoptysis 2–4
  • A new or changed cough
  • Chest and/ or shoulder pain or discomfort2–4
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss/ loss of appetite.2–4
  • A chest infection that doesn’t go away 2

There are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms, not just lung cancer. If any of these symptoms are experienced, it is important that they are discussed with a doctor.
What are the risk factors for lung cancer? 

A risk factor is any factor that is associated with an increased chance of developing a particular health condition, such as lung cancer. There are different types of risk factors, some of which can be modified and some which cannot.

It should be noted that having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop lung cancer. Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop lung cancer, while others with lung cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with lung cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.

While the causes of lung cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. These factors include 1-5:

  • Tobacco smoking
  • Environmental factors such as passive smoking, radon exposure and occupational exposures, such as asbestos and diesel exhaust
  • A family history of lung cancer
  • Previous lung diseases such as lung fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and pulmonary tuberculosis.

How is lung cancer diagnosed?

A number of tests will be performed to investigate symptoms of lung cancer and confirm a diagnosis. Some of the more common tests include:

  • Physical examination 2,3
  • Chest X-ray 2–4
  • Examination of a sputum sample 2–4
  • Imaging of the lung and nearby organs , which may include chest X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 4
  • Examination of the inside of the lung using a bronchoscopy 4
  • Taking a sample of tissue (biopsy) from the lung for examination under a microscope. 4

Treatment options

Treatment and care of people with cancer is usually provided by a team of health professionals – called a multidisciplinary team.

Treatment for lung cancer depends on the stage of the disease, the severity of symptoms and the person’s general health. Treatment may involve surgery to remove the affected area of the lung. Sometimes radiotherapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapies may be used to destroy cancer cells. 2–4

Research is ongoing to find new ways to diagnose and treat different types of cancer. Some people may be offered the option of participation in a clinical trial to test new ways of treating lung cancer.
Finding support

People often feel overwhelmed, scared, anxious and upset after a diagnosis of cancer. These are all normal feelings.

Having practical and emotional support during and after diagnosis and treatment for cancer is very important. Support may be available from family and friends, health professionals or special support services.

More information about finding support can be found on this website: Living with cancer. This information deals with some of the challenges experienced by people affected by cancer. It includes information about managing some of the longer term side effects of treatment, how people close to you might feel after a diagnosis of cancer, and where to find practical and emotional support.
Cancer support organisations

In addition, State and Territory Cancer Councils provide general information about cancer as well as information on local resources and relevant support groups. The Cancer Council Helpline can be accessed from anywhere in Australia by calling 13 11 20 for the cost of a local call. Click here for a list of Cancer Councils and other cancer support organisations or the Lung Foundation Australia www.lungfoundation.com.au

 

M (2013): Mental Illness

Mental Health

Over their lifetime, mental illness affects almost half the Australian population. Depression and anxiety are serious illnesses affecting many Australians. Men in particular, face a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing their mental wellbeing, with the associated stigma (of shame and embarrassment) often preventing them from seeking help and taking action.

What is depression?

Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious illness. Depression affects how you think and feel about yourself. You may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things you normally enjoy. You may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel anxious or irritable and find it difficult to concentrate. Over one million people in Australia live with depression each year.

The good news is, just like a physical illness, depression can be managed and effective treatments are available.

Is depression in men different?

Depression in men often doesn’t look like the typical depression of low mood, anxiety, and loss of interest, as described above. Depressed men may become more irritable or angry. Their behaviour can be hostile, aggressive or even abusive. Often men will engage in risky activities, such as drunk driving or risky sexual encounters. Men will often turn to abusing alcohol or drugs. Men may also become over-involved at work or socially isolated.

Men aren’t always good about discussing their feelings, especially when it comes to sadness, depression or stress. Men instead act out with more work, drinking, and risk taking to numb or avoid the real problems they face. To many men, being “manly” means not admitting to any vulnerabilities or expressing emotions. It is these same qualities that prevent so many men from seeking help for their depression.

Are mental health issues common?

Mental health issues are very common.

  • In any 12-month period, 1 in 5 adults (over 16) will experience at least one mental illness. Lifetime experience of mental illness is 45%.
  • In any 12-month period, 1 in 4 young people (aged 12-25 years) develop a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Are there different types of mental illnesses?

Different types of mental illness have different symptoms and may require different treatments.

Depression

The main types of depression are:

  • Major depression: a depressed mood that lasts for at least two weeks. The symptoms include a persistent sad, anxious or empty mood. Also feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness. A person may lose interest in a pleasurable activity they once enjoyed. This may also be referred to as major depressive disorder, clinical depression, unipolar depression or simply depression.
  • Melancholia: a severe form of depression where many of the physical symptoms of depression are present. One of the major changes is that the person can be observed to move more slowly. The person is also more likely to have a depressed mood that is characterised by complete loss of pleasure in everything, or almost everything.
  • Psychotic depression: a depressed mood which includes symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis involves seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations), feeling everyone is against you (paranoia) and having delusions.
  • Dysthymia: a less severe depressed mood that lasts for years.
  • Mixed depression and anxiety: a combination of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Bipolar disorder: formerly known as manic-depressive illness, involves periods of feeling low (depressed) and high (manic).
  • Cyclothymic disorder: a milder form of bipolar disorder which includes very short periods of normality between periods of hypomania (a mood characterised by persistent and pervasive elevated (euphoric) or extreme happiness which is sometimes followed by an irritable mood) and depressive symptoms

What makes a person more at risk of depression?

Some major events or situations have been linked with depression while others also contribute to increasing the risk for men:

Major Risk Factors

  • Previous experience of depression
and/or anxiety
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Serious medical illness (physical or mental)
  • Isolation or loneliness
  • Unemployment

Other Risk Factors

  • Stress (work / financial / life)
  • Partner going through pregnancy and the first 12
months of fatherhood
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Having a family member with depression
  • Conflict (family / political)
  • Poverty / Homelessness

It’s important to remember that each person is different and it is often a combination of factors that puts a person at risk of depression

What are the treatments for depression?



There are a range of treatment options available depending on the type and severity of the condition. These can vary from lifestyle interventions such as alcohol avoidance and physical exercise, through to psychological and drug treatments for more severe cases. The most important first step is to talk to someone about your feelings, stress or concerns. Whether it’s your doctor, your family, your friends, your clergy, or an anonymous person on a support line– you need to trust someone else and not manage it alone.

Who can help?

Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.



A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, it usually passes once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.

Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don't subside. Anxiety is when these feelings are ongoing and exist without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with daily life. We all feel anxious from time to time, but for a person experiencing anxiety, these feelings cannot be easily controlled.

Is anxiety common?

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in five men and one in three women will experience anxiety at some stage in their life.

What causes anxiety?

Often, it’s a combination of factors that can lead to a person developing anxiety. Some triggers include:

  • Family history of mental health problems
  • Stressful life events
  • Physical health problems
  • Heavy or long-term use of substances such as alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines or sedatives
  • Personality factors – some research suggests certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety

Are there different types of anxiety?

Symptoms of anxiety can often develop gradually over time. Given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much. In order to be diagnosed with anxiety, the condition must have a disabling impact on the person’s life. There are many types of anxiety including:

  • Social phobia: characterised by an intense fear of criticism, being embarrassed or humiliated even just in common everyday situations.
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD): in which a person feels anxious most days, worrying about lots of different things over a period of six or more months
  • Specific phobias: a person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): a person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they find themselves trying to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): can occur after a person experiences a traumatic event such as but not limited to war, assault, accident or disaster.
  • Panic disorder: a person experiences panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms.

What types of treatment are available for anxiety?

As with depression, there are many health professionals and services available to help with information, treatment and support, and there are many things that people with anxiety can do to help themselves under the guidance of a professional.



The type of treatment will depend on the anxiety being experienced with the aim of helping the person learn how to control the condition – so that it does not control them.



Who can help?

Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.



A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.


Physchosis

There is a group of illnesses, which disrupt the functioning of the brain so much they cause a condition called psychosis. When someone experiences psychosis they are unable to distinguish what is real — there is a loss of contact with reality. Most people are able to recover from an episode of psychosis. The causes of psychosis are not fully understood. It is probable that some people are born with a predisposition to develop this kind of illness, and that certain things — for example, stress or use of drugs such as marijuana, LSD or speed — can trigger their first episode.

About three in a hundred people will experience psychosis at some time in their lives. Most of these will be first affected in their late teens and early twenties

Among symptoms doctors look for are:

  • Confused thinking
  • When acutely ill, people with psychotic symptoms experience disordered thinking. The everyday thoughts that let us live our daily lives become confused and don’t join up properly.
  • Delusions, a delusion is a false belief held by a person, which is not held by others of the same cultural background.
  • Hallucinations
  • The person sees, hears, feels, smells or tastes something that is not actually there. The hallucination is often of disembodied voices which no one else can hear.

Treatment can do much to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms. Treatment should generally include a combination of medication and community support. Both are usually essential for the best outcome.

Who can help?

Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.

A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.


Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is an illness, a medical condition. It affects the normal functioning of the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to think, feel and act. Some do recover completely, and, with time, most find that their symptoms improve. About one in a hundred people will develop schizophrenia at some time in their lives. Most of these will be first affected in their late teens and early twenties

If not receiving treatment, people with schizophrenia experience persistent symptoms of what is called psychosis. These include:

  • Confused thinking, when acutely ill, people with psychotic symptoms experience disordered thinking. The everyday thoughts that let us live our daily lives become confused and don’t join up properly.
  • Delusions, a delusion is a false belief held by a person which is not held by others of the same cultural background.
  • Hallucinations, the person sees, hears, feels, smells or tastes something that is not actually there. The hallucination is often of disembodied voices which no one else can hear.

Treatment can do much to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms. Treatment should generally include a combination of medication and community support. Both are usually essential for the best outcome.

Who can help?

Different health professionals provide different types of services, treatments and assistance to help people on the road to recovery. It’s very important to find the right mental health professional to suit your individual needs.

A doctor is a good person with whom you can discuss your concerns in the first instance. They will be able to provide you with further information along with guidance and advice about treatment options.

 

N: Nutrition and Men's Health

Eat for health and well-being

The Australian Dietary Guidelines give advice on eating for health and wellbeing. They’re called dietary guidelines because it’s your usual diet that influences your health. Based on the latest scientific evidence, they describe the best approach to eating for a long and healthy life.
What are the Australian Dietary Guidelines?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines have information about the types and amounts of foods, food groups and dietary patterns that aim to:

Promote health and well-being

Reduce the risk of diet-related conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity; and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines are for use by health professionals, policy makers, educators, food manufacturers, food retailers and researchers, so they can find ways to help Australians eat healthy diets.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines apply to all healthy Australians, as well as those with common health conditions such as being overweight. They do not apply to people who need special dietary advice for a medical condition, or to the frail elderly.

What is the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating?

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is a food selection guide which visually represents the proportion of the five food groups recommended for consumption each day.
Why do we need Dietary Guidelines?

A healthy diet improves quality of life and wellbeing, and protects against chronic diseases. For infants and children, good nutrition is essential for normal growth.

Unfortunately, diet-related chronic diseases are currently a major cause of death and disability among Australians.

To ensure that Australians can make healthy food choices, we need dietary advice that is based on the best scientific evidence on food and health. The Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating have been developed using the latest evidence and expert opinion. These guidelines will therefore help in the prevention of diet-related chronic diseases, and will improve the health and wellbeing of the Australian community.

How do I make healthy food choices?

There are many things that affect food choices, for example, personal preferences, cultural backgrounds or philosophical choices such as vegetarian dietary patterns. NHMRC has taken this into consideration in developing practical and realistic advice. Keeping the Australian Dietary Guidelines in mind will help your choice of healthy foods.

There are many ways for you to have a diet that promotes health and the Australian Dietary Guidelines provide many options in their recommendations. The advice focuses on dietary patterns that promote health and wellbeing rather than recommending that you eat – or completely avoid – specific foods.

Many of the health problems due to poor diet in Australia stem from excessive intake of foods that are high in energy, saturated fat, added sugars and/or added salt but relatively low in nutrients. These include fried and fatty take-away foods, baked products like pastries, cakes and biscuits, savoury snacks like chips, and sugar-sweetened drinks. If these foods are consumed regularly they can increase the risk of excessive weight gain and other diet-related conditions and diseases.

Many diet-related health problems in Australia are also associated with inadequate intake of nutrient-dense foods, including vegetables, legumes/beans, fruit and wholegrain cereals. A wide variety of these nutritious foods should be consumed every day to promote health and wellbeing and help protect against chronic disease.

Do the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that I only eat certain foods?

No. The Australian Dietary Guidelines, Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and consumer resources assist by helping you to choose foods for a healthy diet. They also provide advice on how many serves of these food groups you need to consume everyday depending upon your age, gender, body size and physical activity levels.

Evidence suggests Australians need to eat more:

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Fruits
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Reduced fat milk, yoghurt, cheese
  • Fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes/beans (including soy), and nuts and seeds.
  • Red meat (young females only)

Evidence suggests Australians need to eat less:

  • Starchy vegetables (i.e. there is a need to include a wider variety of different types and colours of vegetables)
  • Refined cereals
  • High and medium fat dairy foods
  • Red meats (adult males only)
  • Food and drinks high in saturated fat, added sugar, added salt, or alcohol (e.g. fried foods, most take-away foods from quick service restaurants, cakes and biscuits, chocolate and confectionery, sweetened drinks).

How have the Australian Dietary Guidelines changed since the last edition?

Key messages in the Guidelines are similar to the 2003 version, but the revised Australian Dietary Guidelines have been updated with recent scientific evidence about health outcomes. To make the information easier to understand and use, the revised Guidelines are based on foods and food groups, rather than nutrients as in the 2003 edition.

The evidence base has strengthened for:

  • The association between the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks and the risk of excessive weight gain in both children and adults
  • The health benefits of breastfeeding
  • The association between the consumption of milk and decreased risk of heart disease and some cancers
  • The association between the consumption of fruit and decreased risk of heart disease
  • The association between the consumption of non-starchy vegetables and decreased risk of some cancers
  • The association between the consumption of wholegrain cereals and decreased risk of heart disease and excessive weight gain.

 

O (2013): Overweight and obesity

Excess body weight

Excess weight, especially obesity, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers. As the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions. In addition, being overweight can hamper the ability to control or manage chronic disorders.

Excess body weight is a concern.

  • Rates of overweight and obesity are continuing to rise in Australia. Collecting information on these trends is important for managing the health problems associated with them.
  • Overweight and obesity by the numbers 3 in 5 adults are overweight
  • 3 in 5 Australian adults are overweight or obese (based on BMI). That's over 12 million people!
  • 5% increase in overweight . 5% more adults are overweight or obese than in 1995.
  • 1 in 4 children are overweight. 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese.
  • Over 30% more people living in outer regional and remote areas are obese than people living in major cities.
  • 3rd place in overall burden of disease.
  • Overweight and obesity is only beaten by smoking and high blood pressure as a contributor to burden of disease.

Body weight

People who are overweight or obese have higher rates of death and illness than people of healthy weight, both overall and from a range of specific conditions. These include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, osteoarthritis, psychological problems and reproductive problems for women.

Body mass index (BMI)

You can quickly check whether your weight is in a healthy range by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI).

Your BMI is your body weight in kilograms, divided by the square of your height in meters.

For example, if you weight 75kg and you are 175cm tall (1.75m), your BMI = 75 / (1.75 x 1.75) = 24.5. 

Calculate your BMI by going to 
http://www.aihw.gov.au/default.aspx?id=10737422352

Rate your BMI

Your BMI will fall into one of four categories:
BMI (kg/m2) Classification
Less than 18.5 Underweight
18.5 to less than 25 Normal weight range
25 to less than 30 Overweight
30 or more Obese

Source: World Health Organization (WHO) 2000. Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO consultation. WHO technical report series 894. Geneva:WHO.

Limitations of BMI

BMI does not necessarily reflect body fat distribution or describe the same degree of fatness in different population groups.

Waist circumference

An alternative way to assess your risk of developing obesity-related chronic diseases is to measure your waist circumference. A higher waist measurement is associated with an increased risk of chronic disease.
Increased risk Substantially increased risk
Men 94 cm 102 cm
Women 80 cm 88 cm

Source: WHO 2000. Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO consultation. WHO technical report series 894. Geneva:WHO; National Health and Medical Research Council, Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, 2003.

For information on how to correctly measure your waist, visit the How to measure yourself page on the Australian Government’s Measure Up website.
http://www.measureup.gov.au/internet/abhi/publishing.nsf/Content/How+do+I+measure+myself-lp

Limitations of waist circumference measurement

As height and body composition are continually changing for children and adolescents, a separate classification of overweight and obesity for children is recommended based on age and sex.

Who is overweight?

Adults

In 2007–2008, 62% of the Australian adult population were either overweight or obese. While there are more overweight males than females, the prevalence of obesity between the sexes is similar.

Trends in overweight and obesity

There are no recent trend data for BMI using measured height and weight. However, self-reported data are available for recent years. These data show that the rate of overweight and obesity among Australian adults is rising. 

Risk from overweight and obesity

Risk can be determined by measuring waist circumference. Based on the 2007–08 NHS, more females are at substantially increased risk of developing chronic diseases than males. 

Children

For Australian children aged 5–17 years, the proportion of overweight and obese children increases as the age group increases.

Causes of overweight and obesity

While many factors may influence an individual's weight, overweight and obesity are due mainly to an imbalance of energy intake from the diet and energy expenditure (through physical activities and bodily functions). Genetic and environmental factors play a role, but attention to diet and physical activity is important not only for preventing weight gain, but also for weight loss and subsequent maintenance.

Energy intake

The total amount of food that your body needs depends on your age, sex, body size, level of physical activity and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The body converts the protein, fat and carbohydrate in food to energy. Fat is the most concentrated source of energy.

Energy intake from food varies greatly between individuals, for example, the average intake for children ranges from about 6,000 kilojoules for children aged 2-3 to about 10,000 kilojoules for adolescents aged 14-16. The average energy intake for adults was about 10,000 kilojoules for men and about 7,000 kilojoules for women aged 18 and over.

Energy needs increase during periods of growth, during pregnancy and breastfeeding and with increasing physical activity.
Energy expenditure

The human body expends energy in three ways:

basal metabolism (the energy used to maintain vital body processes)
thermic processes (the energy taken to digest and absorb food)
physical activity (the energy used to move around)

Physical activity is the most variable component of energy expenditure, and the only component a person has any direct control over. For a normally active person, physical activity contributes about 20% to daily energy expenditure.

The balance

Healthy eating and physical activity are important for a healthy active life. Maintaining your weight means balancing the energy going into your body (as food and drink) and the energy being used for growth and repair, for physical activity, and to keep your bodily functions working. An excess energy intake, even a small amount over a long period, will cause weight gain. Children and adolescents need enough nutritious food to grow and develop normally. Older people need to keep physically active and eat nutritious foods to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight.

The Australian guide to healthy eating provides practical advice on the types and amounts of foods different groups should eat every day. Following these recommendations and limiting the number of energy-dense, nutrient-poor discretionary foods and drinks is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. Being physically active and eating healthily throughout life helps to promote health and wellbeing and prevent chronic disease

Burden of overweight and obesity

High body mass was responsible for 7.2% (or around 9,500 deaths) of total deaths in Australia in 2003. Of these deaths, almost two-thirds (65%) were from ischaemic heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

High body mass was responsible for 7.5% (or around 196,000 DALYs) of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia in 2003. Of these DALYs, just over three-quarters (77%) were from ischaemic heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

DALYs: disability-adjusted life years.

High body mass was estimated to be responsible for 7.5% of the attributable burden of disease and was third in line behind tobacco and high blood pressure. Between the sexes, high body mass in males was responsible for 7.7% of the attributable burden of disease, while for females high body mass was responsible for 7.3% of the attributable burden.

 

P (2013): Prevention is better than Cure

Australia's health at a glance: We're fat, depressed and battling cholesterol 

AUSTRALIA has been warned of the urgent need to tackle the growing obesity crisis after we ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world.

The latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation shows Australia has jumped from fifth to fourth fattest nation with 28.3 per cent of the adult population obese.

We are just behind the US (36.5%), Mexico (32.4%) and New Zealand (28.4%).

"Obesity is a leading cause of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Governments need to invest in cost-effective strategies to reverse the obesity epidemic," the organisation says in a new report on health in developed countries.

The OECD's Health at a Glance report shows Australia has the seventh highest life expectancy in the developed world.

Life expectancy at birth now stands at 82 years in Australia; almost 2 years above the average life expectancy of the 34 OECD countries.

We are in the top five countries for survival after a cancer diagnosis or a heart attack, proof of our high quality health system.

This could be because our use of cholesterol busting drugs is the highest in the world with 137 in every 1,000 people using them.

We might be living longer but we're not happy about it.

Australia has the second highest use of antidepressants in the developed world with 89 in every 1,000 Australians using them.

And when we go to hospital we've got a higher chance of suffering and adverse events.

Surgeons left a foreign body inside 8.6 in every 100,000 patients compared to the OECD average of five, the report says.

We have the highest rate of blood clots developing after hip and knee surgery in the developed world, and the fifth highest rate of post- operative infection.

Our good health though is also coming at an economic price.

We're spending just 8.9% of our Gross Domestic Product on health compared to an OECD average of 9.3%.

Individuals are paying for 20 per cent of health spending in Australia, around the OECD average.

Our governments foot 68 per cent of the bill.

The report shows that on average around the developed world death from heart attacks fell by 30 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

Deaths from stroke fell by almost 25% and survival has also improved for many types of cancer, including cervical cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

 

Q (2013): Questions we need to ask ourselves?

What behaviour are we looking to change?

On average men die almost five years younger than women. The suicide rate is about four times higher for men than women and more than four men die prematurely each hour from potentially preventable illnesses.

From Movember’s perspective the reasons for the poor state of men’s health include:

lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues men face
men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling
reluctance to seek help when men don’t feel physical or mentally well
men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health 
stigmas surrounding mental health

Movember aims to change the face of men’s health and reverse this way of thinking by putting a fun twist on this serious issue. Using the moustache as a catalyst, we want to bring about change and give men the opportunity and confidence to learn and talk about their health more openly and take action.

Using scary stats to motivate people is not how we roll at Movember, but the facts below are too startling to ignore.

Every hour, more than four men die from potentially preventable conditions in Australia
Male deaths are greater across all age groups and the total burden of disease and injury (including premature death, ill health and disability) for males in Australia is 10% higher than for females
Nearly two thirds of Australia’s population is overweight, with men being twice as likely to be overweight or obese than women
1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85
More men have diabetes than women (4.3% of all men compared to 3.6% of all women) 
Men are more likely to smoke than women, with about one in five men smoking compared to one in seven women
In 2009, there were an estimated 19,438 new cases of prostate cancer in Australia. In 2010 more than 3,200 men died in Australia, accounting for 13.3% of all cancer deaths
Excluding skin cancer, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in Australian males between the ages of 15 and 39
Researchers estimate that around one in eight Australian men (1.3 million) experiences depression at any given time
In any 12-month period, 1 in 5 adults (over 16) will experience at least one mental illness

Our vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health by supporting prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. We focus our efforts on:

Awareness and Education
Staying Mentally Healthy
Living With and Beyond Cancer
Living With and Beyond Mental Illness
Research

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER | PREVENTION IS EVERYTHING | EARLY DETECTION IS KEY

Every man should maintain a healthy lifestyle, a good diet and take action early when they experience a health issue. This resource page is here to help you enjoy a happy and healthy life.

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
No matter your age one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to know and track your key health numbers. Tracking your health numbers and keeping them in the healthy range will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many types of cancer.

The health numbers you should track are:

• Body Mass Index / Weight
• Waist line
• Blood pressure
• HDL Cholesterol (healthy cholesterol)
• LDL Cholesterol (unhealthy cholesterol)
• Blood Glucose (sugar)

BE HEALTHY

To keep your health numbers in check, follow these simple tips for a healthy lifestyle
MOVE
If you are not already doing some form of exercise, start small and work up to 20 - 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. If you are overweight or want to lose weight then 60 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended. Stay on the move throughout the day. Every little bit counts – take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk during your lunch break, stand instead of sit.

DON’T SMOKE!

If you do smoke, try to stop! Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in males and doubles your risk of heart disease.

DRINK ALCOHOL IN MODERATION

Alcohol can be part of a healthy balanced diet, but only if consumed in moderation. This means two drinks a day for men, and one drink a day for women (a standard drink is one 285ml bottle of beer, one 100ml glass of wine or 30ml of 40% spirits).

WEAR SUNSCREEN

When you’re enjoying life in the sun wear sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. Check regularly for changes to your skin with an emphasis on moles. If you’re concerned about any skin changes see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment dramatically increases the survival rate from melanoma.

MANAGE YOUR STRESS

Stress, particularly long-term stress, can be the factor in the onset or worsening of ill health. Managing your stress is essential to your health and well-being. Take ‘time out’ each day and go for a walk or do something you find relaxing.

STAY MENTALLY HEALTHY

We all go through spells of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it's not a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together". Work on your mental wellbeing by staying physically healthy, enjoying a good diet, cutting down on alcohol, regular exercise, and taking time out for fun and relaxation. With the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery from depression so, if you, or someone you know, have been feeling low for a few weeks or months, visit the Doctor.


STAY AT A HEALTHY WEIGHT

Know and track your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waistline. Your BMI is calculated from your height and weight, the Heart Foundation provides a good calculator. For men with a waistline over 94cm the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and general health problems greatly increases. Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories you burn off by physical activities. Only 36% of adults are at a normal weight for their height. Obesity and being overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and certain cancers.

SLEEP WELL

The quality of your sleep can dictate how much you eat, how fast your metabolism runs, how fat or thin you are, how well you can fight off infections and how well you can cope with stress. Keep a regular pattern of sleep, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time is key.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY

Family history is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health. Family history affects your level of risk for some cancers, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, among other illnesses. It all starts with a conversation; talk to your family and take note of illnesses that a direct relative has experienced. Be sure to learn about relatives that are deceased as well.

TAKE ACTION EARLY

If you experience a health issue, take action early. Find a doctor and make an appointment. Speak to your doctor about preventative health checks. Knowing your health numbers is a really important thing you can do to stay healthy. Ask your doctor about health risks based on your family history.

EAT A HEALTHY DIET

Fill up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and choose healthy proteins like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Drink water instead of beverages that contain a lot of sugar like soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks or shakes. Moderation is key, as is eating a wide range of foods to ensure you get a variety of nutrients. The best source of vitamins is from food.

KEEP SMILING


R (2013): Resourceful Websites for further information on Men's Health in Australia

Movember is committed to helping men and their families stay on top of their health. Below are some useful links for further information and various health support providers.


Alzheimer’s Australia provides information, support, counselling, training and education to people with dementia, their families and carers as well as to professionals working in the dementia field.
Phone: 1800 100 500

Andrology Australia provides information on reproductive health for men. They bring together health and education experts to enhance the reproductive health of males through community and professional education programs and research.
Phone: 1300 303 878

Australian Drug Foundation is a recognised leader in alcohol and drug prevention. They engage with a range of organisations and community groups to educate and support people to change Australia’s drinking culture and illicit drug use. The website offers extensive information on community programs, research and support information.

Beyondblue aims to build awareness of depression and anxiety, remove the associated stigma and improve the quality of life for those affected. The website is a great resource for those who think they may suffer from depression or anxiety as well as an information source for people looking to help a loved one.
Phone: 1300 224 636

Black Dog Institute is a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
Phone: (02) 9382 4530

Cancer Australia works to reduce the impact of cancer and improve the well-being of those diagnosed by ensuring that evidence informs cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and supportive care.
Phone: 1800 624 973

CanTeen provides a range of free programs, services and resources to help young people aged 12-24 deal with the emotional, physical and practical issues of cancer, so they can take back control of their lives.
Phone: 1800 226 833

Cancer Council Australia provides a wealth of information regarding cancer prevention, treatment and support. The website includes credible, up-to-date information about different types of cancer, diagnosis and treatment.
Phone: 13 11 20

Continence Foundation of Australia is the peak national body representing the 4.8 million Australians with bladder and bowel control problems, including men affected by prostate cancer. Continence nurse advisors provide advice, free resources and referrals to local services through their National Continence Helpline.
Phone: 1800 330 066

Diabetes Australia is the national peak body for diabetes in Australia providing a voice for people living with diabetes, their families and carers. Their website provides advice on preventing and living with diabetes, with links to local support organisations in your area.
Phone: 1300 136 588

Eat For Health outlines the Australian Dietary Guidelines and provides advice about the amount and kinds of foods we need to eat for health and wellbeing.

Foundation 49 is dedicated to improving the health status of men across each decade of life. Their website provides vast information on various men’s health issues and advice on managing your changing health needs.

Headspace offers information, support and services for young people aged 12 to 25.

Heart Foundation provides a wealth of information on you and your heart and healthy eating and active living advice including recipe ideas for healthy cooking.
Phone: 1300 362 787

Kids Helpline is a 24-hour nationwide service that provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and counselling services for Australians aged 5-25.
Phone: 1800 55 1800

Lifeline provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services.
Phone: 13 11 14

MensLine Australia is a dedicated service for men with relationship and family concerns. They provide support to men who are dealing with relationship difficulties, particularly surrounding family breakdown or separation. The service offers anonymous telephone support, information and referral.
Phone: 1300 789 978

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA). The MHiMA project is funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing to provide a national focus for advice and support on mental health and suicide prevention for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Phone: 1300 136 289

National Asthma Council Australia provides information on symptoms, triggers and how to manage asthma. They aim to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of people with asthma and their careers.
Phone: 1800 032 495

National Stroke Foundation works with stroke survivors, carers, health professionals, government and the public to reduce the impact of stroke on the Australian community. The website provides useful information on preventing stroke, recognising signs of stroke and support advice following stroke.
Phone: 1800 787 653

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia is the premiere resource for prostate specific information in Australia. The website has been of great assistance to many going through the prostate cancer journey.
Phone: 1800 220 099

Quit is a great resource for those who wish to quit smoking. The website outlines the health benefits of quitting along with a step-by-step guide on getting started and managing cravings on the path to being smoke-free.
Phone: 13 78 48

Reach Out is an online youth mental health service, providing resources and tools that cover a range of topics.

Sane offers information and support for people affected by mental illness.
Phone: 1800 18 SANE (7263)

Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia lists Family Planning Organisations (FPOs) in each state and territory. FPOs provide a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services that focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and education.

Suicide Call Back Service provides free nationwide professional telephone and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide.
Phone: 1300 659 467

Suicide Prevention Australia supports communities and organisations throughout Australia, and promotes collaboration and partnerships in suicide and self-harm prevention, intervention and postvention. The website provides resources and information for people who may be feeling suicidal, for those looking to help someone else, bereavement support and advice for those searching for ways to move forward.

This Way Up provides evidence-based online learning programs that help individuals manage anxiety and depression and is an initiative of the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD), a joint facility of St Vincent’s Hospital and the University of New South Wales.
Phone: (02) 8382 1408

 

S (2013): Stress

Summary


Stress is a feeling you have when you face a situation you think you cannot manage. You can feel anxious, irritable, forgetful, sleepless and unable to cope. There are many different ways to deal with stress, once you understand the causes. A regular daily routine that includes a nutritious diet, exercise and regular sleep also help.

Stress is a process, not a diagnosis. We experience stress when there is an imbalance between the demands being made on us and our resources to cope with those demands. The level and extent of stress a person may feel depends a great deal on their attitude to a particular situation. An event that may be extremely stressful for one person can be a mere hiccup in another person’s life.

You may feel under pressure to do something and fear you may fail. The more important the outcome, the more stressed you feel. You can feel stressed by external situations (too much work, children misbehaving) and by internal triggers (the way you think about external situations).

Stress is not always a bad thing. Some people thrive on stress and even need it to get things done. When the term ‘stress’ is used in a clinical sense, it refers to a situation that causes discomfort and distress for a person and can lead to other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

Stress may also contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease. When stress turns into a serious illness, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. Untreated anxiety disorders can lead to serious depression.

Your response to stress

Your attitude, personality and approach to life will influence how you respond to stress. Factors that play a part include:

  • How you think about a problem
  • How anxious you feel generally
  • How severely the problem affects you
  • Whether you have experienced anything like this before
  • Whether you can control what is happening
  • How long the event affects you
  • How important the outcome is to you
  • The different ways a person copes with difficult situations
  • Your life experiences and life history
  • Your self-esteem
  • Whether you have people around who can provide support.

Stress as a health problem

As a health problem, stress occurs when a person feels that the demands made on them exceed their ability to cope. Factors contributing to a person feeling stressed might include:

  • Environment (work, home, school)
  • Lifestyle
  • Emotional and personal problems.

Stress and physical illness

When we feel under stress, our body kicks into high gear to deal with the threat. Our heartbeat, breathing rate and blood pressure all go up. The longer we feel stressed, the greater the demand on our body.

The more often we are placed under stress, the more often we have to use energy to cope. There is growing evidence that stress may contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease (although this link remains controversial and research is ongoing), high blood pressure, proneness to infection and chronic fatigue.

Whatever the cause, physical diseases need appropriate medical management before any attempt is made at stress management. Discuss with your doctor how stress management may be used to support treatment of your physical symptoms.

Stress and anxiety

Untreated stress can turn into a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression.

Almost everyone experiences some anxiety. This is normal. However, an anxiety disorder is different from everyday anxiety – it is more severe, can persist and may interfere with a person’s daily life.

Common anxiety disorders include:

  • Panic disorder
  • Specific phobias – such as fear of flying or of spiders
  • Agoraphobia – fear of public places or of being away from home
  • Social anxiety disorder – fear of the scrutiny and judgement of others
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – following a real and very distressing event such as a disaster, accident, war, torture, violent death or assault.

Other, less common, anxiety disorders include:

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Acute stress disorder
  • Generalised anxiety disorder – the person is constantly worried, often about irrational things, and cannot be reassured.

Anxiety is a very treatable condition. There are many different psychological and medication options. Treatments need to be individually decided on and regularly reviewed to make sure they are effective and to minimise side effects of medications. Separately and in combination, psychotherapy and medication therapy generally produce good results.

Untreated anxiety disorders and depression

Untreated anxiety disorders can lead to serious depression. Depressive illness is common – about 17 per cent of Australians will suffer from depression at some time in their life.

Depression is about twice as common in women as in men. The most common time in life for people to suffer from depression is in their 40s. However, it can develop at any age. Depression is often associated with an increased incidence of suicide. The annual suicide rate for people with depression is three or four times higher than that of other psychiatric disorders.

Stress at work

Stress in the workplace is common and is caused by many different factors, including excessive hours, conflicts with others and feelings of isolation. The amount of stress a person experiences is often determined by whether or not they can accept that some things in life will simply never be sorted out to their satisfaction. For example, a person may feel stressed by the way they are treated by their employer or by the behaviour of a work colleague.

Sometimes, this stress can be resolved by dealing with the particular behaviour. In many organisations, there are processes to deal with workplace problems like harassment, victimisation or unfair treatment. In many cases, the problem can be resolved if the behaviour is changed.

However, some problems will never be fully resolved and you may have to accept them. For example, if someone who you think is poorly qualified is given a job you felt entitled to, you may continue to feel stressed, unless you are able to let go of that grievance and move on.

Management of stress

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

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

To deal with stress more effectively, it helps to investigate your stresses and how you react to them. Try to:

  • Understand what situations make you feel stressed
  • Understand what situations you can and can’t control
  • Prepare for stressful events in advance, by thinking about the future
  • Keep yourself healthy with good nutrition, exercise and regular relaxation
  • Try to do happy things every day,

Getting help for stress

You should see your doctor or community health centre if:

  • You feel stressed often
  • Particular things stress you and you feel they are beyond your control
  • You feel your reactions to stress are extreme or worry you
  • You feel anxious or depressed about stress.

Things to remember

  • Stress is when you feel under pressure to do something and think you will fail.
  • A balanced lifestyle and coping strategies can help you manage stress.
  • Issues that cause stress cannot always be resolved but changing your expectations of a problem may help.
  • Untreated stress can lead to serious illness.
  • It’s important to get help if you feel you can’t cope

 

T (2013): Testicular Self Examination

The testicular self-examination (TSE) is an easy way for guys to check their own testicles to make sure there aren't any unusual lumps or bumps — which can be the first sign of testicular cancer.

Although testicular cancer is rare in teenage guys, overall it is the most common cancer in males between the ages of 15 and 35. It's important to try to do a TSE every month so you can become familiar with the normal size and shape of your testicles, making it easier to tell if something feels different or abnormal in the future.

Here's what to do:

  • It's best to do a TSE during or right after a hot shower or bath. The scrotum (skin that covers the testicles) is most relaxed then, which makes it easier to examine the testicles.
  • Examine one testicle at a time. Use both hands to gently roll each testicle (with slight pressure) between your fingers. Place your thumbs over the top of your testicle, with the index and middle fingers of each hand behind the testicle, and then roll it between your fingers.
  • You should be able to feel the epididymis (the sperm-carrying tube), which feels soft, rope-like, and slightly tender to pressure, and is located at the top of the back part of each testicle. This is a normal lump.
  • Remember that one testicle (usually the right one) is slightly larger than the other for most guys — this is also normal.
  • When examining each testicle, feel for any lumps or bumps along the front or sides. Lumps may be as small as a piece of rice or a pea.
  • If you notice any swelling, lumps, or changes in the size or color of a testicle, or if you have any pain or achy areas in your groin, let your doctor know right away.

Lumps or swelling may not be cancer, but they should be checked by your doctor as soon as possible. Testicular cancer is almost always curable if it is caught and treated early.

 

U (2013): Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a term used to describe poor bladder control.


There are different types of incontinence with a number of possible causes. The following are the most common:

  • Stress incontinence
  • Urge incontinence
  • Overflow incontinence
  • Functional incontinence. 

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence is the leaking of small amounts of urine during activities that increase pressure inside the abdomen and push down on the bladder. This occurs mainly in women and sometimes in men (most often as a result of prostate surgery).

Stress incontinence is most common with activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking, lifting, or playing sport. Other factors contributing to stress incontinence include diabetes, chronic cough (linked with asthma, smoking or bronchitis), constipation and obesity.

Stress incontinence in women

Stress incontinence in women is often caused by pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Pregnancy and childbirth can stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles that support the urethra causing stress incontinence during activities that push down on the bladder.

During menopause, oestrogen (a female hormone) is produced in lower quantities. Oestrogen helps to maintain the thickness of the urethra lining to keep the urethra sealed after passing urine (much like a washer seals water from leaking in a tap). As a result of this loss of oestrogen, some women experience stress incontinence during menopause.

Stress incontinence in men

Many men develop stress incontinence after prostate surgery. This can take 6 to 12 months to resolve and it is recommended that men seek help from a health professional to address the issue.

Urge incontinence

What is urge incontinence?

Urge incontinence is a sudden and strong need to urinate. You may also hear it referred to as an unstable or overactive bladder, or detrusor instability.

In a properly functioning bladder, the bladder muscle (detrusor) remains relaxed as the bladder gradually fills up. As the bladder gradually stretches, we get a feeling of wanting to pass urine when the bladder is about half full. Most people can hold on after this initial feeling until a convenient time to go to the toilet arises. However, if you are experiencing an overactive bladder and urge incontinence, the bladder may feel fuller than it actually is. This means that the bladder contracts too early when it is not very full, and not when you want it to. This can make you suddenly need the toilet and perhaps leak some urine before you get there. 

Often, if you experience urge incontinence you will also have the need to frequently pass urine and may wake several times a night to do so (nocturia).

What causes urge incontinence?

The cause of urge incontinence is not fully understood however it seems to become more common as we age. Symptoms may get worse at times of stress and may also be made worse by caffeine in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks or by alcohol.

Urge incontinence can be linked to stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and other health conditions which interfere with the brain's ability to send messages to the bladder via the spinal cord. These conditions can affect a person's ability to hold and store urine.

Urge incontinence may also occur as a result of constipation (not being able to empty the bowel or having difficulty doing so), an enlarged prostate gland or simply the result of a long history of poor bladder habits. In some cases the cause of an over-active bladder is unknown. 

Overflow incontinence

What is overflow incontinence?

Overflow incontinence is when the bladder is unable to empty properly and frequent leakage of small amounts of urine occurs as a result. 

Signs that your bladder is not completely emptying include:

  • Feeling that you need to strain to pass urine
  • A weak or slow urine stream
  • Feeling as if your bladder is not empty just after going to the toilet
  • Little or no warning when you need to pass urine
  • Passing urine while asleep
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or cystitis, and
  • ‘Dribbling' more urine after visiting the toilet.

What causes overflow incontinence? 

There are several possible causes for overflow incontinence. These include:

  • A urethra blockage caused by a full bladder (the full bladder can put pressure on the urethra, making it difficult to pass urine)
  • An enlarged prostate
  • A prolapse of pelvic organs which can block the urethra
  • damage to the nerves that control the bladder, urethral sphincter or pelvic floor muscles
  • Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke or Parkinson's disease (these conditions can interfere with the sensation of a full bladder and with bladder emptying)
  • Some medications (which can interfere with bladder function) including over the counter medications and herbal products.

Functional incontinence

What is functional incontinence? 

Functional incontinence is when a person does not recognise the need to go to the toilet or does not recognise where the toilet is. This results in not getting to the toilet in time or passing urine in inappropriate places.

What causes functional incontinence?

Functional incontinence has many causes, including:

  • Dementia
  • Poor eyesight
  • Poor mobility
  • Poor dexterity (a lack of fine motor skills makes removing clothing difficult)
  • An unwillingness to go to the toilet because of depression, anxiety or anger
  • Environmental factors such as poor lighting, low chairs that are difficult to get out of, and toilets that are difficult to access.

Key statistics

If you or someone you care for experiences bladder or bowel control problems, you're certainly not alone. In fact, over 4.8 million Australians experience bladder or bowel control problems. The statistics below demonstrate the widespread nature of incontinence. 

Urinary incontinence 

Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2006).

65% of women and 30% of men sitting in a GP waiting room report some type of urinary incontinence, yet only 31% of these people report having sought help from a health professional (Byles & Chiarelli, 2003).

70% of people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem (Millard, 1998).

An Australian study found that over a three month period, 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence (Millard, 1998). 

The prevalence of urge incontinence, which is strongly associated with prostate disease, is fairly low in younger males and increases to 30% for those aged 70-84 and 50% for those 85 years and over (Australian Instiute of Health and Welfare, 2006).

 

 

V (2013): Vasectomy Reversal (Vasovasostomy)

A vasectomy is considered a permanent method of birth control. Vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy) reconnects the tubes (vas deferens) that were cut during a vasectomy.

Vasectomy reversal is usually an outpatient procedure without an overnight stay in the hospital. Spinal or general anaesthesia is commonly used to ensure that you remain completely still during the surgery.

The chances of vasectomy reversal success depend on how much time has passed between the vasectomy and the reversal. Over time, additional blockages can form, and some men develop antibodies to their own sperm.

The surgery is more complicated and takes more time when blockage between the vas deferens and the epididymis requires correction (vasoepididymostomy).

What to Expect After Surgery

Vasectomy reversal usually takes from 2 to 4 hours, followed by a few more hours for recovery from the aesthetic. You can expect to go home the same day.

Pain may be mild to moderate. You should be able to resume normal activities, including sex, within 3 weeks.

Why It Is Done

Vasectomy reversal is performed when you have had a vasectomy and now want to be fertile.

How Well It Works

Chances of a successful vasectomy reversal decline over time. Reversals are more successful during the first 10 years after vasectomy.1

In general, vasectomy reversal: 2

  • Leads to overall pregnancy rates of greater than 50%.
  • Has the greatest chance of success within 3 years of the vasectomy.
  • Leads to pregnancy only about 30% of the time if the reversal is done 10 years after vasectomy.

Risks of vasectomy reversal include:

  • Infection at the site of surgery.
  • Fluid build-up in the scrotum (hydrocele) that may require draining.
  • Injury to the arteries or nerves in the scrotum.

What to Think About

Before a vasectomy reversal is performed, your doctor will want to confirm that you were fertile before your vasectomy.

You can have tests to see whether you have sperm antibodies in your semen before and after vasectomy reversal. If there are sperm antibodies in your semen after surgery, your partner is unlikely to become pregnant. In such a case, you may wish to try in vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

 

W (2013): What every Mo Bro Should Know

You don't have to wait till you are sick to see a doctor; the fact that 1 in 2 men are diagnosed with cancer and 1 in 8 men will experience depression in their lifetime, should highlight the importance of staying on top of your game when it comes to your health.


Men live an average 5 years less than women

Almost twice as many Australian men die of skin cancer than women, the fourth most common cancer among men

A man's life span is affected by genetics(24%) and modifiable factors (75%)

More than two thirds of Australian men are overweight or obese-increasing their chances of disease

More than 5 men die prematurely each hour from potentially preventable diseases

Every cigarette you smoke takes 8 minutes off your life. Smoking a pack a day reduces your life expectancy by 13 years

Men account for 70% of alcohol related deaths

72% of men admit to binge drinking -which can lead to long term brain,heart and liver damage and increased risk of cancer

The suicide rate is 4 times higher for men than women

75% of people with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease

One third of men have not seen a doctor in the past year. 10% have not seen one for 5 years.

Men in blue-collar jobs are two and a half times more likely to die from liver disease than white collar workers.

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

No matter your age one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to know and track your key health numbers. Tracking your health numbers and keeping them in the healthy range will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many types of cancer.

The health numbers you should track are:

  • Body Mass Index / Weight
  • Waist line
  • Blood pressure
  • HDL Cholesterol (healthy cholesterol)
  • LDL Cholesterol (unhealthy cholesterol)
  • Blood Glucose (sugar)

BE HEALTHY

To keep your health numbers in check, follow these simple tips for a healthy lifestyle

MOVE

If you are not already doing some form of exercise, start small and work up to 20 - 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. If you are overweight or want to lose weight then 60 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended. Stay on the move throughout the day. Every little bit counts – take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk during your lunch break, stand instead of sit.

DON’T SMOKE!

If you do smoke, try to stop! Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in males and doubles your risk of heart disease.

DRINK ALCOHOL IN MODERATION

Alcohol can be part of a healthy balanced diet, but only if consumed in moderation. This means two drinks a day for men, and one drink a day for women (a standard drink is one 285ml bottle of beer, one 100ml glass of wine or 30ml of 40% spirits).

WEAR SUNSCREEN

When you’re enjoying life in the sun wear sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. Check regularly for changes to your skin with an emphasis on moles. If you’re concerned about any skin changes see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment dramatically increases the survival rate from melanoma.

MANAGE YOUR STRESS

Stress, particularly long-term stress, can be the factor in the onset or worsening of ill health. Managing your stress is essential to your health and well-being. Take ‘time out’ each day and go for a walk or do something you find relaxing.

STAY MENTALLY HEALTHY

We all go through spells of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it's not a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together". Work on your mental wellbeing by staying physically healthy, enjoying a good diet, cutting down on alcohol, regular exercise, and taking time out for fun and relaxation. With the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery from depression so, if you, or someone you know, have been feeling low for a few weeks or months, visit the Doctor.

STAY AT A HEALTHY WEIGHT

Know and track your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waistline. Your BMI is calculated from your height and weight, the Heart Foundation provides a good calculator. For men with a waistline over 94cm the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and general health problems greatly increases. Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories you burn off by physical activities. Only 36% of adults are at a normal weight for their height. Obesity and being overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and certain cancers.

SLEEP WELL

The quality of your sleep can dictate how much you eat, how fast your metabolism runs, how fat or thin you are, how well you can fight off infections and how well you can cope with stress. Keep a regular pattern of sleep, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time is key.

KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY

Family history is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health. Family history affects your level of risk for some cancers, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, among other illnesses. It all starts with a conversation; talk to your family and take note of illnesses that a direct relative has experienced. Be sure to learn about relatives that are deceased as well.

TAKE ACTION EARLY

If you experience a health issue, take action early. Find a doctor and make an appointment. Speak to your doctor about preventative health checks. Knowing your health numbers is a really important thing you can do to stay healthy. Ask your doctor about health risks based on your family history.

EAT A HEALTHY DIET

Fill up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and choose healthy proteins like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Drink water instead of beverages that contain a lot of sugar like soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks or shakes. Moderation is key, as is eating a wide range of foods to ensure you get a variety of nutrients. The best source of vitamins is from food.

KEEP SMILING


X (2013): X-Ray Exposure? How Safe Are Repeated X-Rays?

Any form of X-ray exposure (radiation) should be carefully monitored and controlled so that the patient is only exposed to safe amounts. Even though doctors are extremely careful when exposing their patients to diagnostic tests where radiation is involved, it is important to bear in mind how low the risks really are, especially when compared to other forms of radiation exposure.


Every human being on this planet is being continuously exposed to natural radiation - it is in our environment, it comes from the ground, from space through cosmic rays. Radiation even exists in our food.

In many parts of the world radon gas seeps up through the ground and builds up in homes. Experts say radon gas accounts for over half of our natural radiation exposure.

How does an X-Ray compare to other forms of radiation?

As with any kind of medical procedure, x-rays are safe when they are used properly. Professionals who use x-rays, x-ray technologists and radiologists, have specialized training in using the smallest quantity of radiation needed to get the required results. When clinically indicated, properly conducted imaging with the smallest risk should be performed. The tiny amount of radiation exposure should always be considerably outweighed by the benefits for the patient.

The x-ray machine only emits radiation while it is switched on, and this is only done when it takes a picture. It is switched on for a very short time.

An x-ray radiation dose is several thousand times smaller than that required to burn the skin or cause illness. Even the risk of causing cancer is tiny.

The dose required for an x-ray depends on what needs to be imaged. For example, a chest x-ray has the equivalent dose of a few days of normal background radiation we are continually exposed to. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, it increases your risk of developing cancer by about 1 in a million, a negligible increase. Bear in mind that humans have a 1 in 3 chance of developing cancer at some time during their lifetime anyway.

Other x-rays may have a higher dose than a chest one, but they still pose a tiny risk.

Radiation Dose Comparison

Chest x-ray
Equivalent to 2.4 days natural background radiation.

Skull x-ray
Equivalent to 12 days natural background radiation.

Lumbar spine
Equivalent to 182 days natural background radiation.

I.V. urogram
Equivalent to 1 year natural background radiation.

Upper G.I. exam
Equivalent to 2 years natural background radiation.

Barium enema
Equivalent to 2.7 years natural background radiation.

CT head
Equivalent to 243 days natural background radiation

CT abdomen
Equivalent to 2.7 years natural background radiation 

A fetus/embryo is more vulnerable to x-ray damage than a baby, child or adult. Women who are or might be pregnant should make sure they tell their doctor or radiographer beforehand. 

Imaging methods that use x-rays

Radiography - the typical x-ray most of us are familiar with. It looks at broken bones, the chest and our teeth. A beam of x-rays are directed through the targeted part of the body and on to a special film, on which a picture is produced. The picture shows the inner parts of the person's body. Simple photographs involve tiny amounts of radiation.

Fluoroscopy - also known as screening. The x-ray beam goes through the individual's body. The radiologist or radiographer can see a moving picture on a monitor. Snapshots of any important findings can be taken. The whole movement can be recorded on video, as in a barium meal when the patient swallows a drink of barium which shows up by x-rays and the whole movement can be tracked. A higher radiation dose than radiography is used, but it is still very safe.

CT (Computed tomography) scan - a more sophisticated x-ray technique. The patient lies on a table which then goes into a large doughnut-like device. A fan-shaped beam of x-rays passes through a part of the body onto a bank of detectors. The detectors and where the beams come from rotate around the patient inside the doughnut hole. A picture of the section (slice) appears on a monitor. The patient travels slowly through the hole so that different slices of the body can be taken. Sometimes three-dimensional pictures are created. The radiation dose is either as high or more than fluoroscopy. 

Imaging using radioactivity

Nuclear medicine or isotope scan - here an x-ray machine is not used, but rather radioactive material (isotope) which is injected into the patient's vein. Sometimes it may be inhaled or swallowed. The material collects in a specific organ or tissue and emits gamma rays - quite similar to x-rays in their behavior. A specially designed camera detects the gamma rays as they leave the human body, this camera creates a picture of everything that is occurring inside the patient. Within a few days radiation levels drop to insignificant levels. Total radiation dose is about the same as that for fluoroscopy or perhaps less.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and ultrasound - these use neither x-rays nor gamma rays. No ill-effects have been reported from ultrasound or from high magnetic fields using magnetic resonance imaging scans. MRIs and ultrasounds have not replaced the methods completely because on some occasions using x-rays or gamma rays are better. MRI scanners are costly and not available everywhere - patients with metal inside them cannot use this type of scanner.

The doctor's main concern

Doctors and health care professionals use medical imaging for several reasons. Their main concern is making sure that when radiation is used, that the benefits far outweigh any tiny risk involved. Medical imaging has saved many lives, it helps the doctor make an accurate diagnosis so that proper and effective treatment can be administered.

 

Y (2013): Youth Cancers:

Young people (15-25 years) with cancer have unique needs: physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically.


All of these needs must be considered and met in order to provide young patients with the best possible opportunity to overcome their cancer and return to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Youth Cancer Services are specialised treatment and support services for young people with cancer, which are based in major hospitals throughout Australia. They are the only places in Australia to offer specialised services to young people with cancer. The services are staffed with expert doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and others experienced in working with young cancer patients.

CanTeen funds these specialist Youth Cancer Services in major hospitals throughout Australia, from funding received from the Australian Government’s Youth Cancer Networks Program and CanTeen's generous donors, in order to make sure that young cancer patients have their very special needs met.

The vision over the next 4 years is for these specialist teams to reach, assess and support as many young Australians diagnosed with cancer as possible in order to ensure the very best care for young cancer patients.

How do I find a service?

There are 5 Lead Youth Cancer Services across Australia. The services are available to any young person with cancer. They can be accessed through:

  • Referrals from their doctors or GPs;
  • Self-referral/request for treatment or a second opinion;
  • Secondary support - the team from the Youth Cancer Services are able to provide advice and help local treatment centres to provide the best possible care for AYAs.

For more information about Youth Cancer Services and to find the service closest to you visit www.youthcancer.com.au.

Youth Cancer Services are specialised treatment and support services for young people with cancer aged 15-25 (the age range is flexible in some States).

It doesn’t matter where you live in Australia there is a Youth Cancer Service that can help you. Check out the map to find the service closest to you.
What are the Services

Youth Cancer Services are based in hospitals around Australia and offer treatment and support to young people with cancer. They are the only place in Australia to access cancer care designed specifically for young people aged 15-25.

Each Youth Cancer Service has a variety of staff experienced in treating and caring for young people with a range of different cancers. Staff at the services can include: doctors, nurses, care navigators, social workers, leisure therapists and more (the fancy name for this group of staff is a ‘Multi-Disciplinary Team’).

Why access a Youth Cancer Service?

Each Youth Cancer Service is staffed by experts who are experienced in working with people your age and offer an environment specifically designed for your age group.

 

Z: Zee Time is Now

Australian men are more likely to get sick from serious health problems, such as cancer than Australian women. Their mortality (death) rate is also much higher. 
The poor health status of Australian men is complicated by the fact that men are more likely than women to shy away from medical treatment of any kind. 
The lack of health awareness and unwillingness to adopt a healthier lifestyle also disadvantages men.

Men have a higher death rate than women

The Australian Bureau of Statistics ‘Mortality Atlas Australia’ (December 2010) shows that the death rate from the main causes of death is generally higher for men than women.

The average death rate per 100,000 persons ( upto 2010) includes:
Those causes where a high proportion of deaths were males included: 
Intentional self-harm (Suicide, (X60-X84) - 76.9% and 333 male deaths for every 100 female deaths 
Trachea and lung cancers (C33-C34) - 60.9% and 156 male deaths for every 100 female deaths 
Blood and lymph cancers (including leukaemia) (C81-C96) - 58.1% and 139 male deaths for every 100 female deaths 
Colon and rectum cancers (C18-C21) - 55.3% and 124 male deaths for every 100 female deaths 
Ischaemic heart disease (I20-I25) - 53.9% and 117 male deaths for every 100 female deaths 
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47) - 52.7% and 111 male deaths for every 100 female deaths.

My Theories for the above:

  • Males are more likely than females to suffer from genetic disorders, so are inherently ‘weaker’ and more susceptible to illness. Most researchers do not support this theory.
  • Men are encouraged by our culture to be tough. Many men believe that complaining of feeling ill or visiting the doctor is a threat to their masculinity or a waste of time, unless they are sick or injured.
  • Health is largely determined by social factors such as education status, employment and income. Men from low socioeconomic backgrounds make up one of the sickest subgroups in Australia.
  • Unlike women, men (particularly younger men) do not value good health and
    longevity. 

Social reasons

Males in Western societies, such as Australia, are less inclined than women to take an active role in maintaining their own health. They are also less likely to seek professional help for problems, particularly those of an emotional nature. 

Some of the social and cultural reasons for this include: The Western definition of masculinity includes strength and silence. Men may feel that it is a sign of weakness or ‘femininity’ to seek help.

Males, particularly younger men, tend to act as if they are invulnerable. This can lead to destructive behaviour such as drug or alcohol binges, reckless driving or other risky behaviour.
Women are more likely to have regular contact with doctors because of periods, contraception and pregnancy issues. 
Men don’t have a similar ‘system’ that requires them to regularly see a doctor, and are less likely to recognise or ‘act on’ signs of risk.

The above facts have been the Inspiration for all my campaigns till date....and I hope they will inspire many more........

 

 

A (2012): Androgen Deficiency

What causes androgen deficiency?

Androgen deficiency can be caused by genetic disorders, medical problems,
or damage to the testes or pituitary gland. Androgen deficiency happens
when there are problems within the testes or with hormone production in the brain.
A common chromosomal disorder that causes androgen deficiency is Klinefelter’s syndrome.

How is androgen deficiency diagnosed?

A diagnosis of androgen deficiency involves a number of steps including a full
medical history and physical examination, and at least two blood samples, taken
in the morning on different days, to measure hormone levels.

What are the symptoms of androgen deficiency?

Low energy levels, mood swings, irritability, poor concentration, reduced muscle strength and low sex drive may be symptoms of androgen deficiency (low testosterone). Symptoms often overlap with those of other illnesses.
The symptoms of androgen deficiency are different depending on the age
when testosterone levels are below the normal range.

https://www.andrologyaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/Factsheet_AndrogenDeficiency.pdf

 

 

B (2012): Bone Health

Bones play many roles in the body. They provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles, and store calcium. Adequate calcium consumption and weight bearing physical activity build strong bones, optimizes bone mass, and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

It is important for young girls to reach their peak bone mass in order to maintain bone health throughout life. A person with high bone mass as a young adult will be more likely to have a higher bone mass later in life. Inadequate calcium consumption and physical activity early on could result in a failure to achieve peak bone mass in adulthood.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis or "porous bone" is a disease of the skeletal system characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Osteoporosis leads to an increase risk of bone fractures typically in the wrist, hip, and spine.

While men and women of all ages and ethnicities can develop osteoporosis, some of the risk factors for osteoporosis include those who are.

Female
White/Caucasian
Post menopausal women
Older adults
Small in body size
Eating a diet low in calcium
Physically inactive

 

 

C (2012): Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary artery disease occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries). Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits, which can accumulate in your arteries. When this happens, your arteries can narrow over time. This process is called atherosclerosis.

Plaque build-up can cause angina, the most common symptom of CAD. This condition causes chest pain or discomfort because the heart muscle doesn't get enough blood. Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle. This may lead to heart failure, a serious condition where the heart can't pump blood the way that it should. An irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, can also develop.

For some people, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when plaque totally blocks an artery carrying blood to the heart. It also can happen if a plaque deposit breaks off and clots a coronary artery.
Important Tests

Doctors can determine your risk for CAD by checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, and by finding out more about your family's history of heart disease. If you're at high risk or already have symptoms, your doctor can perform several tests to diagnose CAD including—

  • ECG (electrocardiogram) Measures the electrical activity, rate, and regularity of your heartbeat.
  • Echocardiogram Uses ultrasound to create a picture of the heart.
  • Exercise stress test Measures your heart rate while you walk on a treadmill. This helps to determine how well your heart is working when it has to pump more blood.
  • Chest X-ray Creates a picture of the heart, lungs, and other organs in the chest.
  • Cardiac catheterization checks the inside of your arteries for blockage by threading a thin, flexible tube through an artery in the groin, arm, or neck to reach the coronary artery. Can measure blood pressure and flow in the heart's chambers, collect blood samples from the heart, or inject dye into the coronary arteries.
  • Coronary angiogram Monitors blockage and flow of blood through the heart. Uses X-rays to detect dye injected via cardiac catheterization.

Treatment

If you have CAD, there are steps you can take to lower your risk for having a heart attack or worsening heart disease. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet, exercising, and not smoking.

Medications may also be necessary. Medicines can treat CAD risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, and low blood flow. In some cases, more advanced treatments and surgical procedures can help restore blood flow to the heart.

 

 

D (2012): Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. 

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

People who think they might have diabetes must visit a physician for diagnosis. They might have SOME or NONE of the following symptoms:

  • Couple focusing
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual.

Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains may accompany some of these symptoms in the abrupt onset of insulin-dependent diabetes, now called type 1 diabetes.

What are the types of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes, which was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes, may account for about 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes, may account for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies. Gestational diabetes develops in 2% to 10% of all pregnancies but usually disappears when a pregnancy is over. Other specific types of diabetes resulting from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses may account for 1% to 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

What are the risk factors for diabetes?

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. Aboriginal, Indian and Sri Lankan ethnicity and some Asian and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors are less well defined for type 1 diabetes than for type 2 diabetes, but autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved in developing this type of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently in Aboriginal, Indians and Sri Lankan and Pacific Islander people with a family history of diabetes than in other groups. Obesity is also associated with higher risk. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35% to 60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 10–20 years.

Other specific types of diabetes, which may account for 1% to 5% of all diagnosed cases, result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses.

 

 

E (2012): Eating disorders

Find out the facts about eating disorders, including what they are, who's affected by them and what to do if you need help and support.
Whatever your age, it's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

What is an eating disorder?

There are several different types of eating disorder, the most common being anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

Eating disorders are mental health conditions that all involve an unhealthy relationship with food and eating, and often an intense fear of being overweight.

If you have an eating disorder you may experience one or more of the following:


You have a preoccupation and concern about food and gaining weight.
You would like to lose weight even though friends or family worry that you are underweight.
You let people around you think you have eaten when you haven't.
You're secretive about your eating habits because you know they're unhealthy.
Eating makes you feel anxious, upset or guilty.
You make yourself vomit or use laxatives in order to lose weight.

Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of background.

What causes eating disorders?

It's unlikely that an eating disorder will be the result of one single cause. It's much more likely to be a combination of many factors, events, feelings or pressures that lead to you feeling unable to cope.

These can include low self-esteem, problems with friends or family relationships, the death of someone special, problems at school, college, university or work, lack of confidence, or sexual or emotional abuse. Many people talk about simply feeling too fat or not good enough. You might use food to help you cope with painful situations or feelings without even realising it.

In situations where there are high academic expectations, family issues or social pressures, you may focus on food and eating as a way of coping.

Traumatic events can trigger an eating disorder. These might include bereavement, being bullied or abused, a divorce in the family or concerns about sexuality. Someone with a long-term illness or disability (such as diabetes, depression, blindness or deafness) may also have eating problems.

Some studies have also shown that there are biological factors involved. In other words, some people will be more likely to develop an eating disorder because of their genetic make-up.

Who is affected by eating disorders?

Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age, sex or cultural or racial background.

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa occur in about 0.5% of girls and young women in developed societies. Of all people with anorexia nervosa, 1 in 10 is male, with young males being most commonly affected.

What should I do if I think I have an eating disorder?

People with eating disorders often say that the eating disorder is the only way they feel they can stay in control of their life. But, as time goes on, it is the eating disorder that starts to control you. You may also have the urge to harm yourself, or misuse alcohol or drugs.

If you think you have an eating disorder, talk to someone you trust. You may have a close friend or family member you can talk to. There are also a number of organisations that you can talk to, such as The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673.

Your doctor can also give you advice and talk to you about getting a diagnosis and the possible treatment options, which will depend upon your individual circumstances and the type of eating disorder you have.

Worried that a friend or relative has an eating disorder?

If you are concerned about a friend or family member, it can be difficult to know what to do. It is common for someone with an eating disorder to be secretive and defensive about their eating and their weight, and they are likely to deny being unwell.

You can talk in confidence to an adviser from The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673.

And you will find more information on the following link www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au.

Sources: Butterfly Foundation (Homepage), Department of Health and Ageing, Cth (National effort to tackle eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa – the facts), NHS Choices, UK (Eating disorders explained)

 

 

F (2012): Food Safety

Food poisoning cases increase over the summer, so remember these simple steps to help keep food safe.

Sausages and burgers must be cooked thoroughly.

Food poisoning is usually mild, and most people get better within a week. But sometimes it can be more severe, even deadly, so it's important to take the risks seriously.

Children, older people and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning.

If cooking only on the barbecue, the two main risk factors are undercooked meat and spreading germs from raw meat onto food that's ready to eat.

This is because raw or undercooked meat can contain germs that cause food poisoning, such as salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter. However, these germs can be killed by cooking meat until it is piping hot throughout.

Cooking meat on a barbecue

When you're cooking any kind of meat on a barbecue, such as poultry (chicken or turkey), pork, steak, burgers or sausages, make sure:

It's important to keep some foods cool to prevent food-poisoning.

Frozen meat is properly thawed before you cook it.
You turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbecue to cook it evenly.
If you are using a charcoal barbecue, make sure the coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking, as this means that they're hot enough.

Remember that meat is safe to eat only when:

it is piping hot in the centre
there is no pink meat visible
any juices are clear.

Some meat, such as steaks and joints of beef or lamb, can be served rare (not cooked in the middle) as long as the outside has been properly cooked. This will kill any bacteria that might be on the outside of the meat. However, food made from minced meat, such as sausages and burgers, must be cooked thoroughly all the way through.
Raw meat

Germs from raw meat can move easily onto your hands and then anything else you touch, including food that is cooked and ready to eat. This is called 'cross-contamination'.

Barbecues are often the scene of cross-contamination. When raw meat juices mix with cooked or ready-to-eat food this can lead to food poisoning.

One of the most common food handling mistakes involves people putting cooked chicken or meat back on the same plate that contains raw juices so be sure you have plenty of clean utensils and platters.
Do not pour liquid that has been used to marinade raw meat or poultry on to cooked meats.
Store uncooked food and ready-to-eat foods in separate sealed containers and keep them cold during transport to the barbecue. Make sure eskies are packed with enough ice/coolant to keep foods chilled.
Always wash your hands after touching raw meat.
Use separate utensils (plates, tongs, containers) for cooked and raw meat.

Keeping food cool

It's also important to keep some foods cool to prevent food poisoning germs multiplying.

Make sure you keep the following foods cool:

salads
dips
milk, cream, yoghurt
desserts and cream cakes
sandwiches
ham and other cooked meats
cooked rice, including rice salads

Always keep raw meats cold and don't leave cooked foods and salads lying out in the sun for more then two hours. If bacteria that can cause food poisoning are present they can multiply quickly in warm to hot temperatures.

If meats cooked on the barbecue are to be eaten later, make sure they are kept cold for transport back home – and then put immediately into the refrigerator!
Cook sausages, patties and poultry thoroughly – cook until juices run clear and there is no blood.
A meat thermometer can remove the guesswork. Correct temperatures for common barbecue foods:
Chicken & turkey (whole), thighs, wings, legs and breasts: 74 °C
Minced meat, sausages: 71 °C
Fish: 63 °C

Finally, if you are not feeling well (symptoms may include diarrhoea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, fever or jaundice and infectious skin conditions), avoid handling food and even better, consider postponing your barbecue.

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Fire safety

Make sure your barbecue is steady on a level surface, away from plants and trees.

Fire Services advise covering the bottom of your barbecue with coal to a depth of no more than 5cm. Use only recognised firelighters or starter fuel, and then only on cold coals.

Ensure that your barbecue is serviced and maintained correctly including scheduled pressure testing of any gas cylinders and checking of the condition of all hoses and connections.
Carry out a check of the cylinder for rust or damage, and ensure any connections are correctly tightened on gas barbecues before lighting.
Have a garden hose or similar continuous supply of water available at all times.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the correct start-up and shut-down procedures.
Only use a barbecue in a well ventilated area as fumes and gases emitted may be harmful.
Never use petrol on a barbecue.

Sources: NHS Choices, UK (Barbecue food safety), NSW Food Authority (BBQs)

 

 

G (2012): Genital Herpes

Herpes infection is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV:

Type 1 can be found around the lips and is then known as a cold sore, but also commonly occurs in the eye and genital and anal area.
Type 2 is usually found around the genital or anal areas.

Either type can occur in either place and it is very common. In Australia, approximately 1 out of every 7 people has active genital herpes. Remember, genital herpes is exactly the same as cold sores just in a different spot!

The first time you are infected is called the primary infection. This may, or may not, cause symptoms. Once you are infected, the virus stays with you for life. For most of the time the virus remains inactive (dormant) in a nearby nerve causing no problems. In some people the virus 'activates' from time to time, and travels down the nerve to the nearby skin. This causes recurrent genital herpes if the primary infection was in the genitals, or recurring cold sores if the primary infection was around the mouth.

What are the symptoms?

The first time someone gets genital herpes they may be very unwell. The sores usually start as blisters and then as they heal will form scabs. They are often red and painful but with proper treatment, will improve quickly. Untreated, a first episode will last up to 3 weeks and may be associated with headache, and difficulty passing urine. However, the severity is extremely variable and in some people the symptoms are very mild - about half the people with HSV don't know they have it. Future episodes are usually less severe.

Many people can predict an episode, by the presence of early symptoms. These range from an itch or irritation to a sharp pain. They may last from a few hours to days before the sores appear.

It is also normal to be very upset at the time of a first episode of genital herpes.
How does someone get infected?

The herpes virus is transmitted by close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the infection. This usually occurs during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

If you have sex with someone with obvious herpes sores then you can easily become infected with the virus. However the herpes virus is not always obvious and many people are unaware they are infected with HSV. Surprisingly, despite the lack of sores the virus can still be active. This is how most people get infected.

How long does it take for symptoms to develop?

The first episode usually takes 2 to 20 days to occur after the initial contact, but occasionally symptoms may not occur until months or even years later.

How often does herpes recur?

Recurrent outbreaks occur in most, but not all people. They can even happen years after the first outbreak.

Why do outbreaks occur?

Outbreaks occur when the virus inside the nerve cell is reactivated. The herpes virus lives in the nerve cell and has the ability to switch "on" or "off". When the virus is "switched-off" or is dormant there is usually no sign of infection. For some people, the virus will "switch-on" when they are premenstrual, tired, stressed, sunburnt, or consumes excessive alcohol or other drugs. This will result in an outbreak. Obviously, we can avoid some stress but we do live in the real world! Advice from a counsellor on making healthy lifestyle changes can be of help. Recurrences may occur from once a month to once every few years and tend to be less frequent with time.
How can the chances of transmitting HSV infection to a sexual partner be minimised?

From the time symptoms are experienced the virus can be transmitted by having close skin-to-skin contact with the affected area. During this time it is advisable to avoid sexual intercourse. In between these episodes there is still a small chance that the virus will be active, despite the lack of sores or symptoms. This is called "viral shedding" and occurs (on average) about 3/100 days. Always using condoms reduces the risk of contracting HSV from people who have viral shedding even when they do not have symptoms. However, if you are in a long-term stable relationship then using condoms is something to be discussed.

Condoms should always be used with new or casual partners this also provides protection from other sexually transmissible infections.

Is there any treatment for herpes?

For people having a first episode of herpes or who have frequent or more severe recurrent outbreaks there are antiviral tablets called acyclovir (Zovirax), Valaciclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir). They can be taken for five days or longer if necessary. The will improve healing and reduce the risk of complications. All three drugs are well tolerated and safe but they do not "cure" herpes. For more information speak to a doctor or nurse.

Pain relief and ice packs can be used to sooth area. Drink lots of water and if you have difficulty passing urine you should contact a health service.

The herpes virus has a bad reputation! Whilst it is a nuisance and cannot be cured, it can be controlled. The good news: you won't die from it and it does not cause cancer.

Good information and knowledge is the first step to avoiding or controlling the virus. Please ask us for more information.

 

 

H (2012): Haematuria

Haematuria is the presence of red blood cells in the urine. It can either be:

visible haematuria (VH) - also referred to as macroscopic haematuria or gross haemtauria
non visible haematuria (NVH) - also known as microscopic haematuria or ‘dipstick positive haematuria’ (1)

Significant haematuria is defined as:

any single episode of VH
any single episode of symptomatic -NVH (in absence of UTI or other transient causes).
persistent asymptomatic -NVH (in absence of UTI or other transient causes). Persistence is defined as 2 out of 3 dipsticks positive for NVH(1)

Note:

presence of haematuria (VH or NVH) should not be attributed to anti-coagulant or anti-platelet therapy and patients should be evaluated regardless of these medications (1).

Reference:

(1) Renal Association and British Association of Urological Surgeons (2008). Joint Consensus Statement on the Initial Assessment of Haematuria 
(2) Rodgers M et al. Diagnostic tests and algorithms used in the investigation of haematuria: systematic reviews and economic evaluation; Health Technology Assessment 2006;10(18)

 

 

I (2012): Immunizations

Each year, scientific and medical experts review and update the recommended immunization schedule for adults based on the latest research on how to control vaccine-preventable diseases.

Changes in the 2013 recommendations reflect research that shows the best way to protect you and young, vulnerable children around you.

Take a look at the following updates; one or more may apply to you.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

CDC now recommends two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines for adults.

One dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) is recommended for adults aged 19 years and older with asplenia, sickle cell disease, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, cochlear implants, or conditions that cause weakening of the immune system.
Adults 19 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions (for example, certain kidney diseases, cigarette smoking, chronic heart or lung disease, asplenia, and conditions that cause weakening of the immune system) should receive one or two doses of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
All adults 65 years and older should still get one dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
If you are recommended to get both PPSV23 and PCV13 vaccines, you should get the PCV13 vaccine first, followed by PPSV23 eight weeks later.

Tdap and Td Vaccine

Photo: Couple with young babyAll adults 19 years and older, including those 65 years and older, should get a dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine.
The Tdap vaccine is now recommended for all women in the third trimester (ideally 27th through 36th week of their pregnancy), even if they have previously received Tdap vaccine.
Tdap is especially important for anyone in close contact with infants younger than 12 months old – for example, parents, guardians, grandparents, babysitters, nannies, teachers, and those who have not previously received the Tdap vaccine.
Other adults who are not close contacts of children younger than 12 months old, should receive a one-time dose of the Tdap vaccine. After your initial dose of Tdap, you'll need the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster every 10 years. You don't need to wait to get the Tdap vaccine if you have recently received the Td booster vaccine.

Find Out Which Vaccines You Need

Throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to get and maintain protection against vaccine-preventable diseases such as shingles, seasonal flu, hepatitis, and human papillomavirus (HPV). Take this simple quiz to find out which vaccines you might need. Check with your doctor about which vaccines are right for you.

 

 

J (2012): Juvenile Diabetes

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long autoimmune disease that usually occurs in childhood but can be diagnosed at any age. Type 1 diabetes affects over 122,300 people in Australia alone.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system mistakenly turning on itself, destroying beta cells within the pancreas and removing the body's ability to produce insulin. Insulin allows the body to process sugar to create energy - without insulin, the body literally starves as it cannot process food.
Treating Type 1 Diabetes

The goal of type 1 diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible. It sounds easy, but in reality, this is very difficult to achieve.

To stay alive, people with type 1 diabetes must have a constant supply of insulin through injections or an insulin pump and they test their blood sugar by pricking their fingers at least four times a day. People with type 1 diabetes must be constantly prepared for potential hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can both be life threatening.

Hypoglycaemia and Hyperglycaemia

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is a common and dangerous condition for many people with type 1 diabetes. It can be caused by eating less than usual, more exercise than normal or too much insulin administered.

Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) occurs when the body has too much food or glucose, or too little insulin. It can be caused by a clog in insulin pump tubing, missing an insulin dose, eating more than usual, stress or less exercise than normal.

These low and high blood sugar level reactions show the constant balance that those with type 1 diabetes have to endure in their everyday life.

Type 1 Diabetes Statistics

Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, it occurs more frequently than cancer, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy
Approximately 1825 Australians are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year
Incidence is increasing at 3.2% a year

In Australia, around 95% of the diabetes found in children is type 1 diabetes

Read more about type 1 diabetes symptoms.

Read more about type 1 diabetes complications.

Read more about research to cure type 1 diabetes.
Insulin is not a cure - only a treatment!

To help JDRF find a cure for type 1 diabetes, you can donate to type 1 diabetes online. No matter how large or small, your gift will help JDRF continue to move research from the laboratory through to a clinical reality for the 122,300 Australians currently living with type 1 diabetes.

For more information go to http://www.jdrf.org.au

 

 

K (2012): Kidney Facts in Australia

Who is at more risk of CKD?

1 in 3 Australians is at an increased risk of developing CKD1.
Adult Australians are at an increased risk of CKD if they:
are 60 years or older
are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin
have diabetes
have a family history of kidney disease
have established heart problems (heart failure or past heart attack) and/or have had a stroke
have high blood pressure
are obese (BMI more than or equal to >30)
are a smoker
The greater prevalence of CKD in some Indigenous Australian communities is due to the high incidence of traditional risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking2, in addition to increased levels of inadequate nutrition, alcohol abuse, streptococcal throat and skin infection, and poor living conditions3.

How many people have CKD?

Approximately 1.7 million Australians (1 in 10) aged 18 years and over have indicators of CKD such as reduced kidney function and/or the presence of albumin in the urine4.
Less than 1% of the people with CKD are aware they have this condition5.
The incidence of kidney failure is considerably greater in Indigenous people compared with non-Indigenous people6. 
After adjusting for age differences, kidney disease is 10 times more common among Indigenous people than among non-Indigenous people7.
The incidence of end stage kidney disease for Indigenous peoples is especially high in remote and very remote areas of Australia, with rates almost 18 times and 20 times those of comparable non-Indigenous peoples7.
Indigenous Australians are almost 4 time as likely to die with CKD as a cause of death than non-Indigenous Australians8.


What causes CKD?

The three top causes of end stage kidney disease in Australia are6:

Diabetes (35% of new cases)
Nephritis or inflammation of the kidney (23%)
Hypertension (15%)

Why worry about CKD?

In Australia, CKD is:

Common
10% of people attending general practice have CKD, but most do not know it9.
42% of people over 75 years of age have an indicator of CKD4.
Harmful
People with CKD have a 2 to 3-fold greater risk of cardiac death than people without CKD10.
For people with CKD, the risk of dying from cardiovascular events is 20 times greater than the risk of requiring dialysis or transplantation11.
Treatable
If CKD is detected early and managed appropriately, then the otherwise inevitable deterioration in kidney function can be reduced by as much as 50% and may even be reversible12.

How many Australians have treatment for Kidney Failure?

Most recent data from Australia & New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant (ANZDATA) Registry6 shows:

2,453 people started kidney replacement therapy (dialysis or transplant) in 2011.
The number of people on dialysis increased by 4% from 2010 to 2011.
Although Indigenous Australians represent less than 2.5% of the national population, they account for approximately 9% of people commencing kidney replacement therapy each year.
22% of people who begin kidney replacement therapy are referred ‘late’ to a nephrologist i.e. less than 3 months before beginning kidney replacement therapy.
In Australia, late referral is more common among people of Pacific Island (29%), Indigenous Australian (29%), Maori (26%), or Asian (23%) origin, compared with the Caucasoid population (22%).

Dialysis

A total of 10,998 people were receiving dialysis treatment at the end of 2011.
22% were receiving dialysis at a hospital, 27% were dialysing at home and 50% in satellite centres.
Home Dialysis includes:
Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis CAPD (7% of all dialysis)
Automated Peritoneal Dialysis APD (12% of all dialysis)
Home Haemodialysis HD (9% of all dialysis)
Rates of Home Dialysis range from 38% in New South Wales to 12% the Northern Territory, and 19% in South Australia.

Transplantation

825 kidney transplant operations were performed in Australia in 2011.
As at 1 August 2013 - 1,048 people were waiting for a kidney transplant in Australia13.
This represents approximately 10% of the people receiving dialysis.
73% of people on the waiting list are aged less than 60 years, and 79% are waiting for their first transplant.
The average waiting time for a transplant is about 3.5 years, but waits of up to 7 years are not uncommon.
The survival rate following a kidney transplant is high - 98% of recipients are alive at 1 year and 89% are alive at 5 years.
In 2012, there were 354 deceased organ donors in Australia, who saved or improved the lives of 1,052 people14.
This equates to a rate of 15.6 donors per million population (pmp) - the highest annual total of deceased organ donors and transplant recipients in Australia's history.
The 354 deceased organ donors in Australia in 2012, compares with 337 organ donors in 2011, and 309 in 2010.
Live kidney donations represented 31% of all kidney transplants in 2011, down from 35% in 2011, and 42% in 2009.

How much does Kidney Failure cost the Australian Health System?

The best available evidence15 we have on cost per person per year on dialysis is:
Hospital or Unit-based Haemodialysis - $79,072
Satellite Haemodialysis - $65,315
Home Haemodialysis - $49,137
Peritoneal Dialysis - $53,112
The costs of treating end-stage kidney disease from 2009 to 2020 is estimated to be around $12 billion to the Australian Government.
Increasing the use of Home Dialysis over the next 10 years is estimated to lead to net savings of between $378 and $430 million for the health system.
Kidney disease contributes to approximately 15% of all hospitalisations in Australia.

How many Australians die from Kidney Failure?

The most recent data available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics16 show:

Over 54 people die every day with kidney related disease.
In 2011, diseases of the kidney and urinary tract were the 10th leading cause of death in Australia, with 3,386 deaths.
The number of deaths from kidney-related disease has increased 17% since 2002.
While there has been significant progress over the past 15 years, kidney-related disease kills more people a year than breast cancer, prostate cancer or even road traffic accidents.
*Causes of Death, Australia 2010, published 2011
in 2011, disease of the kidney and urinary system contributed to 13.5% of all Australian death.


How many Australians get Kidney Stones?

About 4-8% of Australians suffer from kidney stones at some time.
The lifetime risk of developing kidney stones is approx. 1 in 10 for Australian men, and 1 in 35 for women.
The chance of developing a stone increases as you age, and also increases if you have a family history of stones.
After having one kidney stone, the chance of getting a second stone is about 5-10% each year.
About 30-50% of people with a first kidney stone will get a second one within five years and then the risk declines. However, some people keep getting stones their whole lives.

 

 

L (2012): Liver Health

Where it is and what it does

Your liver is one of the most amazing organs in your body, but it’s hard to truly love and appreciate it if you don’t understand it. So here’s a little introduction.

Getting to know and love your liver

It sits on the right-hand side of your abdomen, just below your diaphragm, behind your ribs. It’s the largest internal organ in your body, about the size of a rugby ball, weighing in at around 1.25-1.5 kilograms. And it’s responsible for performing many functions that are critical to your wellbeing.

What your liver does for you every day

Clears the blood of waste products, hormones, drugs and other toxins
Breaks down hormones and old blood cells
Makes, stores and releases sugars and fats
Produces essential proteins, including blood clotting factors and enzymes
Aids digestion by releasing bile salts to break down food
Stores and supplies vitamins, minerals and iron to parts of the body where they are needed

Did you know?

Your liver is the only organ in your body that has the ability to regenerate itself by creating new tissue. That means it can still function, even if a significant part of the organ is diseased or removed.

You just have to love something that ingenious! Find out more about what makes your liver so important, learn about what can damage your liver and discover simple ways to love your liver.

What makes it so important?

Your liver is your very own chemical processing plant. It receives 30% of the blood circulating in your system every minute – performing chemical reactions to remove harmful toxins and distribute and store essential nutrients.

This vital process is called ‘metabolism’ and cells in the liver, known as hepatocytes, are put to work to keep your body working at its best. Essentially, your liver loves and cares for you.
Your nutrient processing plant

Every time you feed, your liver feeds you. Once food is digested, nutrients enter the blood, which are taken straight to your liver for processing. Depending on how low or plentiful these nutrients are in your body, the liver cells will either release the goodness to when it’s needed or store it for when your body needs a boost.

Keeping you energised

We all know we need carbohydrates for energy. But did you know that it’s your liver that does the job of managing the release of this vital energy source?

Once carbs have been broken down into glucose in your gastrointestinal tract, the glucose enters the blood stream and is taken straight to your liver to regulate and maintain healthy levels. Your liver also stores excess glucose in the form of glycogen, ready for converting back into glucose when levels drop between meals, during exercise or when you’re fasting.

And here’s the really clever thing. Your liver can also convert non-sugars, such as amino acids, into glucose to keep levels healthy. It does some pretty impressive things with fats too.

Making fats work for you

Your liver is your fat processing factory – it breaks down fat and compounds such as lipoproteins, cholesterol and phospholipids. If fat is in excess, the liver combines fatty acids and glycerol to form a storage molecule and transports it to your body’s storage depots, such as the subcutaneous tissue (tissue just under the skin). Then, at times when energy levels are low, between meals and during exercise, this stored fat is converted back into glycerol and the liver turns the remaining fatty acids into an alternative energy supply.

Processing your proteins

Proteins are also vital for a healthy body, and your liver takes charge of these too. Once proteins are broken down into amino acids in your intestines, they enter the blood stream and flow direct to the liver. Here, the liver cells (hepatocytes) go to work on removing nitrogen from the proteins which rapidly changes into ammonia – a highly toxic substance. Your liver then acts fast to convert this into urea to be excreted into the urine and eliminated from your body. With excess amino acids, your liver converts them into fat for storage or, if your body needs an energy boost, it will use them to create glucose.

Your very own health store

As well as glycogen for energy, many vitamins and minerals are also stored in your liver for use when your body needs them most. Each individual liver cell will stock many of your essentials, including vitamins A, B12, D, E and K, as well as minerals like iron and copper.
How your liver looks out for you

When harmful toxins and substances enter your blood stream, your liver acts fast to detoxify and destroy them. Some may simply be a by-product of a normal metabolism, others may be ingested or inhaled substances such as drugs and alcohol.

Filtering the blood, your liver removes dead cells and invading bacteria, processes nitrogen and cholesterol and neutralises harmful hormones. All the unwanted substances and toxins are then quickly transported to your intestine or your kidneys for disposal.
Making everything better with bile

To aid absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins and flush out unwanted substances from your body, your liver produces bile. It stores the bile in your gall bladder, where it can be emptied into your intestines when needed.

There’s a lot your liver does for you on a daily basis, so show it some appreciation. Check out our liver-loving recipes, pick up some diet tips, discover how exercise can help, and show you care by finding out what can damage your liver, including common toxins to avoid.

 

 

M (2012): Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Having just one of these conditions doesn't mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, any of these conditions increase your risk of serious disease. If more than one of these conditions occur in combination, your risk is even greater.

If you have metabolic syndrome or any of the components of metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems. 

Having metabolic syndrome means you have three or more disorders related to your metabolism at the same time, including:

Obesity, with your body fat concentrated around your waist (having an "apple shape"). For a metabolic syndrome diagnosis, obesity is defined by having a waist circumference of 40 inches (102 centimeters or cm) or more for men and 35 inches (89 cm) or more for women, although waist circumference cut-off points can vary by race.
Increased blood pressure, meaning a systolic (top number) blood pressure measurement of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or more or a diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure measurement of 85 mm Hg or more.
High blood sugar level, with a fasting blood glucose test result of 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 5.6 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or more.
High cholesterol, with a level of the blood fat called triglycerides of 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) or more and a level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the "good" cholesterol — of less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) for men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) for women.

Having one component of metabolic syndrome means you're more likely to have others. And the more components you have, the greater are the risks to your health. 

When to see a doctor

If you know you have at least one component of metabolic syndrome — such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or an apple-shaped body — you may have the others and not know it. It's worth checking with your doctor. Ask whether you need testing for other components of the syndrome and what you can do to avoid serious diseases. 

Metabolic syndrome includes several symptoms that have different causes.

Insulin resistance

Metabolic syndrome is linked to your body's metabolism, possibly to a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps control the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.

Normally, your digestive system breaks down the foods you eat into sugar (glucose). Your blood carries the glucose to your body's tissues, where the cells use it as fuel. Glucose enters your cells with the help of insulin. In people with insulin resistance, cells don't respond normally to insulin, and glucose can't enter the cells as easily. As a result, glucose levels in your blood rise despite your body's attempt to control the glucose by churning out more and more insulin. The result is higher than normal levels of insulin in your blood. This can eventually lead to diabetes when your body is unable to make enough insulin to keep the blood glucose within the normal range.

Even if your levels aren't high enough to be considered diabetes, an elevated glucose level can still be harmful. In fact, some doctors refer to this condition as "prediabetes." Increased insulin resistance raises your triglyceride level and other blood fat levels. It also interferes with how your kidneys work, leading to higher blood pressure. These combined effects of insulin resistance put you at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other conditions.

Combination of factors

Insulin resistance probably involves a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some people may be genetically prone to insulin resistance. But being overweight and inactive are major contributors. 

The following factors increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:

Age. Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting less than 10 percent of people in their 20s and 40 percent of people in their 60s. However, warning signs of metabolic syndrome can appear during childhood.
Race. Hispanics and Asians seem to be at greater risk of metabolic syndrome than are people of other races.
Obesity. A body mass index (BMI) — a measure of your percentage of body fat based on height and weight — greater than 25 increases your risk of metabolic syndrome. So does abdominal obesity — having an apple shape rather than a pear shape.
History of diabetes. You're more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or a history of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
Other diseases. A diagnosis of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or polycystic ovary syndrome — a similar type of metabolic problem that affects a woman's hormones and reproductive system — also increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.

 

 

N (2012): Nocturia

Urination - excessive at night

Excessive urination at night is a condition in which you wake up several times during the night to urinate. Waking up at night to urinate is called nocturia.
Considerations

Normally, urine decreases in amount and becomes more concentrated at night. That means most people can sleep 6 to 8 hours without having to urinate.

People who have nocturia get up during the night to urinate. Because of this, they often have disrupted sleep cycles.

Causes

Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Chronic or repeated urinary tract infections
Drinking alcohol, caffeinated beverages, or too much fluid before bedtime
Chronic renal failure
Congestive heart failure
Cystitis
Diabetes
High blood calcium level
Medications including diuretics, demeclocycline, lithium, methoxyflurane, phenytoin, and propoxyphene
Obstructive sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders

Home Care

Keep a diary of how much fluid you drink, how often you urinate, and how much you urinate. Record your body weight at the same times and on the same scale daily.
When to Contact a Medical Professional

Make an appointment with your health care provider if:

Excessive nighttime urination continues over several days and is not explained by medications or increase of fluids before bedtime
You are bothered by the number of times you must urinate during the night 

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your nighttime urination, such as:

When did it start?
How many times does this occur each night?
Has there been a change in the amount of urine you produce?
Do you ever have "accidents" or bedwetting?
How much urine do you release at a time?
What makes the problem worse? Better?
How much fluid do you drink before bedtime? Have you tried limiting fluids before bedtime?
What other symptoms do you have? Do you have increased thirst, pain or burning on urination, fever, abdominal pain, or back pain?
What medications are you taking?
How much caffeine do you consume each day?
Have you had any bladder infections in the past?
Do you have a family history of diabetes?
Does nighttime urination interfere with your sleep?
Do you drink alcoholic beverages? If so, how much each day?
Have you changed your diet recently? 

Tests that may be performed include:

Blood sugar (glucose)
Blood urea nitrogen
Fluid deprivation
Osmolality, blood
Serum creatinine or creatinine clearance
Serum electrolytes
Urinalysis
Urine concentration
Urine culture 

Treatment depends on the cause. If excessive night time urination is due to diuretic medications, you may be told to take your medication earlier in the day.
Alternative Names

Nocturia
References

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: History, physical examination, and the urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 3.

Landry DW, Bazari H. Approach to the patient with renal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 116.

 

 

O (2012): Overactive Bladder

The overactive bladder is characterised by urinary frequency( 8 or greater voids in 24 hours) and urgency (a strong desire to void) with or without urge incontinence(involuntary loss of urine with urgerncy). This condition affects 15% of adults with half experiencing urge incontinence Women affected more frequently than men The incidence increases with advancing age

CAUSE

Unstable bladder:
Involuntary bladder contraction resulting in urgency or incontinence Most common cause and the reason is unknown May be related to the bladder muscle contracting to quickly Common triggers include washing hands, putting the key in the door, anxiety

Hypersensitive bladder:
Urinary urgency and or pain or urge incontinence when the bladder does not contract Causes include infection, inflammation, foreign bodies or tumours

Detrusor hyperreflexia:
When the unstable bladder is due to neurological disease( ie spinal cord injuries, parkinsons, alzhiemers, multiple sclerosis)

Diagnosis

Is made by a combination of history, examination and investigation by your doctor. Infection is usually excluded with a urine test. Your doctor may ask you to complete a 24-hour urinary diary. This is an excellent means of confirming how many times you void, the volume voided and the amount of incontinence experienced Your fluid intake may also be recorded. To download a urinary diary click the Urinary Diary on the left. Women with a hypersensitive bladder classically pass small amounts of urine frequently. Women with an unstable bladder may have normal urinary frequency but experience significant urge incontinence. Urodynamics may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

The overactive bladder is a treatable condition that you should discuss with your doctor.

The treatment options include behavioural therapy, medical and rarely surgical options.

Medical and behavioural therapies are commonly used together. Bladder retraining is the mainstay of bladder retraining which helps you to learn to overcome the urge to urinate. Pelvic floor exercises and avoiding excessive fluid intake are other methods to help control the overactive bladder.

 

 

P (2012): Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men and is the second largest cause of male cancer deaths in Australia. Each year around 20,000 new cases are diagnosed in Australia and close to 3,300 Aussie men will die from the disease every year, which exceeds the number of women who die from breast cancer annually. Despite these figures, the level of awareness, understanding and support for prostate cancer lags significantly behind that of women’s health causes.


The Hairy Facts:

One in eight Australian men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime
One in seven men will be diagnosed by age 75
One in four will be diagnosed by age 85
Around nine men die from prostate cancer each day in Australia
Around 90% of all men diagnosed will be alive five years after diagnosis

 

 

Q (2012): Questions Men should ask their GP: What Every Man Needs to know

Under 40 years of age

1. Why do I need a check-up if I'm healthy?
What is involved? What is important

2. Do I need any tests?

3. Is my family history important?

4. How does my partner's health affect me?

5. What is a STI? Should I have a test?

6. How much alcohol is OK?

7. What will cigarette smoking do to me? What about other drugs?

8. Can young people get cancer? How would I know?

9. Should I be exercising?

10. How does Medicare help me with the costs of care?

11. Should I have medical insurance?

12. Is my medical information confidential?

Over 40 years of age:

1. Now I am over 40, how often should I have a check-up?

2. What can I expect as I get older?

3. Am I at risk of developing any diseases? 
Do I need any tests?

4. Is my family history important?

5. What about my prostate? Should I get it checked? 
Is a blood test enough?

6. What changes do I need to make to stay healthy?

7. Are medicines for "men's problems" safe?

8. Is my weight a problem?

9. Do I need to exercise?

10. What about my cholesterol?

11. Do I have diabetes?

12. How much alcohol is OK?

13. What will cigarette smoking do to me? What about other drugs?

 

 

R (2012): Renal Failure

What is renal failure?

Renal failure occurs due to damage to the functions of the kidneys that lead to failure of the normal filtration process. This could be sudden or rapid in onset in case of acute renal injury or damage or acute renal failure.

Renal failure may also occur due to long term damage to the kidney functions leading to chronic renal failure.

Symptoms and diagnosis

As the kidneys fail to excrete the wastes from the blood adequately, they tend to accumulate in the body.

There is commonly an elevated level of blood creatinine. Creatinine is a component released from the damaged muscle tissues and excreted normally by the kidneys. In case of renal damage the blood levels of Creatinine begin to rise.

Some of the other features include passing of proteins and blood in urine. Over long term this may lead to abnormal fluid and electrolyte levels in blood, abnormal levels of acids in blood, abnormal levels of minerals and electrolytes including sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphates and also lead to anemia.

Causes of renal failure

Renal failure may be caused both in the acute and chronic scenarios due to several factors.

Acute renal failure for example may be brought about by problems affecting the flow of blood to the kidneys (including dehydration, heart failure etc.), problems or diseases of the kidneys (including damage to kidneys caused by certain medications or toxins) or problems affecting the outflow of urine from the kidneys (including kidney stones, posterior urethral valves etc.).

Chronic renal failure commonly results from long term or chronic damage to the kidney function.
Treatment of renal failure

The aim of treatment of renal failure is to remove the cause of the failure as much as possible – e.g. correction of dehydration stopping medications that cause renal failure etc.

Another main aim is to restore or take over the functions of the kidney as the filter using dialysis. Acute renal failure may require hospitalization and correction of the minerals and electrolyte imbalances along with the causative factor.

 

 

S (2012): Scizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is an illness, a medical condition. It affects the normal functioning of the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to think, feel and act. Some do recover completely, and, with time, most find that their symptoms improve. However, for many, it is a prolonged illness which can involve years of distressing symptoms and disability.

People affected by schizophrenia have one ‘personality,’ just like everyone else. It is a myth and totally untrue that those affected have a so-called ‘split personality’.

What are the symptoms?

If not receiving treatment, people with schizophrenia experience persistent symptoms of what is called psychosis. These include:

Confused thinking
When acutely ill, people with psychotic symptoms experience disordered thinking. The everyday thoughts that let us live our daily lives become confused and don’t join up properly.

Delusions
A delusion is a false belief held by a person which is not held by others of the same cultural background.

Hallucinations
The person sees, hears, feels, smells or tastes something that is not actually there. The hallucination is often of disembodied voices which no one else can hear.

Other associated symptoms are low motivation and changed feelings.

What causes Schizophrenia?
The causes of schizophrenia are not fully understood. They are likely to be a combination of hereditary and other factors. It is probable that some people are born with a predisposition to develop this kind of illness, and that certain things — for example, stress or use of drugs such as marijuana, LSD or speed — can trigger their first episode.

How many people develop Schizophrenia?
About one in a hundred people will develop schizophrenia at some time in their lives. Most of these will be first affected in their late teens and early twenties.

How is Schizophrenia treated?
Treatment can do much to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms. Treatment should generally include a combination of medication and community support. Both are usually essential for the best outcome. 

Medication
Certain medications assist the brain to restore its usual chemical balance. This then helps reduce or get rid of some of the symptoms.
Community support programs
This support should include information; accommodation; help with finding suitable work; training and education; psychosocial rehabilitation and mutual support groups. Understanding and acceptance by the community is also very important.

How do I find out more?
It is important to ask your doctor about any concerns you have. SANE Australia also produces a range of easy-to-read publications and multimedia resources on mental illness. For more information about this topic see:

Translations

Find a translated version of this factsheet.

SANE Guide to Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Illness
Explains what it means to have a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, examining effective treatments and what family and friends can do to help.

Schizophrenia DVD Kit (37 minutes)
People who've experienced illness and their carers talk about the things which have helped them cope better. The SANE Guide to Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Illness included. See above for details.

Voices: The Auditory Hallucinations Project
An Audio CD that explains how it feels to hear voices and what can be done to help.

Tell Me I’m Here by Anne Deveson
Writer, journalist and filmmaker tells the moving and courageous story of what happened to her family when her son Jonathan developed schizophrenia.

Recovered, Not Cured by Richard McLean (audio CD)
A graphic journey exploring the author's experience of schizophrenia: the first signs, reactions from friends and family, how he sought help and the challenges of recovery. 

Flying with Paper Wings by Sandy Jeffs
Flying with Paper Wings is the story of one woman’s struggle to survive against an invisible illness, and her continued fight for an identity, self-esteem and a future.

To order visit the SANE Bookshop at www.sane.org or call 1800 18 SANE (7263)

 

 

T (2012): Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is the second most common cancer in young men (aged 18 to 39).1

The most common type is seminoma, which usually occurs in men aged between 25 and 50 years. The other main type is non-seminoma, which is more common in younger men, usually in their 20s.
Incidence and mortality

In 2009, around 750 new cases of testicular cancer were diagnosed in Australia. For Australian men, the risk of being diagnosed with testicular cancer by age 85 is 1 in 202. The rate of men diagnosed with testicular cancer has grown by more than 50% over the past twenty years, however the reason for this is not known.

Most testicular cancers are successfully treated. In 2007, there were 26 deaths from testicular cancer.
Screening

There is no routine screening test for testicular cancer. There is also little evidence to suggest that testicular self-examination detects cancer earlier or improves outcomes.
Symptoms and diagnosis

Testicular cancer may cause no symptoms. The most common symptom is a painless swelling or a lump in a testicle.

Less common symptoms include:

feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
change in the size or shape of the testicle
feeling of unevenness
pain or ache in the lower abdomen, the testicle or scrotum
enlargement or tenderness of the breast.

Tests used to diagnose testicular cancer include:

ultrasound (to confirm the presence of a mass) and
blood tests for the tumour markers alpha-fetoprotein, beta human chorionic gonadotrophin and lactate dehydrogenase.

However, the only way to definitely diagnose testicular cancer is by surgical removal of the affected testicle. While many other types of cancers are diagnosed by biopsy (removing a small piece of tissue from the tumour), cutting into a testicle could spread the cancer to other parts of the body. Hence the whole testicle needs to be removed if cancer is strongly suspected.
Staging

In addition to the results of the diagnostic tests above, a chest x-ray and CT scans of the chest, abdomen and pelvis are done to determine whether and how far the cancer has spread.

Stage 1 means the cancer is found only in the testicle, stage 2 means it has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen or pelvis, and stage 3 means the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes to other areas of the body such as the lungs and liver.
Causes

The causes of testicular cancer are unknown, however factors that may increase a man’s risk are:

undescended testicle (when an infant)
family history (having a father or brother who has had testicular cancer).

There is no known link between testicular cancer and injury to the testicles, sporting strains, hot baths or wearing tight clothes.
Prevention

There are no proven measures to prevent testicular cancer.
Treatment

If the cancer is found only in the testicle (stage 1), removal of the testicle (orchidectomy) may be the only treatment needed. If the cancer has spread beyond the testicle, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may be used as well.
Prognosis

An individual's prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer as well as their age and general health at the time of diagnosis. All testicular cancers can be treated. The five year survival rate for men diagnosed with testicular cancer is close to 98%.

For more information, contact Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 (cost of a local call).

1) Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, which is the most commonly diagnosed cancer according to general practice and hospitals data, however there is no reporting of cases to cancer registries.

 

 

U (2012): Urinary Tract Infections in Men

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are rare in adult males younger than 50 years but increase in incidence thereafter. Causes of adult male UTIs include prostatitis, epididymitis, orchitis, pyelonephritis, cystitis, urethritis, and urinary catheters. Owing to the normal male urinary tract’s many natural defenses to infection, many experts consider UTIs in males, by definition, to be complicated (ie, more likely to be associated with anatomic abnormalities, requiring surgical intervention to prevent sequelae). 

Signs and symptoms

Dysuria is the most frequent chief complaint in men with UTI. The combination of dysuria, urinary frequency, and urinary urgency is about 75% predictive for UTI, whereas the acute onset of hesitancy, urinary dribbling, and slow stream is only about 33% predictive for UTI.

Relevant clinical history includes the following:

Previous UTI(s)
Nocturia, gross hematuria, any changes in the color and/or consistency of the urine
Prostatic enlargement
Urinary tract abnormalities: Personally and within the family
Comorbid conditions (eg, diabetes )
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status
Immunosuppressive treatments for other conditions (eg, prednisone)
Any previous surgeries or instrumentation involving the urinary tract

Diagnosis

Perform a thorough physical examination in males presenting with genitourinary complaints. Focus particularly on the patient’s vital signs, kidneys, bladder, prostate, and external genitalia.

Examination findings may include the following:

Fever
Tachycardia
Flank pain/costovertebral angle tenderness
Abdominal tenderness in the suprapubic area
Scrotal hematoma, hydrocele, masses, or tenderness
Penile meatal discharge
Prostatic tenderness
Inguinal adenopathy

Laboratory testing

The workup of male UTI is dependent on the suspected diagnosis.

Routine laboratory studies include urine studies, such as urinalysis, Gram staining, and urine culture. The threshold for establishing true UTI includes finding 2-5 or more white blood cells (WBCs) or 15 bacteria per high-power field (HPF) in a centrifuged urine sediment.

Note that a positive nitrite test is poorly sensitive but highly specific for UTI; false-positives are uncommon. Proteinuria is commonly observed in UTIs, but it is usually low grade. More than 2g of protein per 24 hours suggests glomerular disease.

Imaging studies

Consider imaging and urologic intervention in patients with the following:

History of kidney stones, especially struvite stones: Potential for urosepsis
Diabetes: Susceptibility to emphysematous pyelonephritis and may require immediate nephrectomy; diabetic patients may also develop obstruction from necrotic renal papillae that are sloughed into the collecting system and obstruct the ureter
Polycystic kidneys: Prone to abscess formation
Tuberculosis: Prone to developing ureteral strictures, fungus balls, and stones

If concomitant obstructive uropathy is suspected, this is an emergent condition that requires prompt intervention, including the following imaging studies of the urinary system:

Ultrasonography
Intravenous pyelography
Contrasted computed tomography (CT) scanning or helical CT scanning (currently preferred by most experts)

Management

In general, all male UTIs are considered complicated. Consider the potential for renal involvement when planning treatment strategies.

Inpatient management is recommended for patients with the following features:

Appear toxic
Have obstructive uropathy or stones
Unable to tolerate oral hydration
Have significant comorbid conditions
Unable to care for self at home

Initial inpatient treatment includes the following:

Intravenous (IV) antimicrobial therapy with a third-generation cephalosporin (eg, ceftriaxone, ceftazidime), a fluoroquinolone (eg, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, ofloxacin, norfloxacin), or an aminoglycoside (eg, gentamicin, tobramycin) (beware ototoxicity)
Antipyretics
Analgesics
IV fluid resuscitation: To restore appropriate circulatory volume and promote adequate urinary flow

Other medications used in the management of male UTIs—or etiologic conditions such as prostatitis; epididymitis; pyelonephritis; or cystitis/urethritis—include the following:

Antibiotics such as trimethoprim, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, ampicillin, amoxicillin, ertapenem, erythromycin, vancomycin, doxycycline, aztreonam, nitrofurantoin, rifampin
Urinary analgesics such as phenazopyridine

Broaden the antimicrobial coverage and add an antipseudomonal agent in patients with risk factors associated with an unfavorable prognosis (eg, old age, debility, renal calculi, recent hospitalization or instrumentation, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, underlying carcinoma, or intercurrent cancer chemotherapy).

Surgery

Surgical intervention may be required in the patients with the following conditions:

Prostatitis involving bladder neck obstruction, prostatic or bladder calculi, or recurrent prostatitis with the same bacteria[5]
Emphysematous pyelonephritis (ie, emergent nephrectomy)
Epididymitis involving spermatic cord torsion

 

 

V (2012): Varicoceles

A Guide for Parents

A varicocele is a mass of swollen and enlarged veins in the scrotum. It's usually painless and is fairly common, especially in young men between the ages of 15 and 25. Although most small varicoceles don't cause problems, larger varicoceles can cause pain. Read on to learn more about this common condition.

What causes varicoceles?

A part of the body called the spermatic cord provides a connection to the testicles, and has arteries, tubes, veins, and nerves in it. Normally, the valves in the veins keep the blood flowing in the right direction from the lower body to the heart. However, sometimes the valves don't work correctly, and the blood backs up. When this happens, the veins stretch and swell up. These swollen veins are called a varicocele. Varicoceles are most commonly found in the left scrotum.

How would my son know if he has varicocele?

Because varicoceles are usually painless, many young men don't even realize that they have one until they go to their health care provider (HCP) for an annual check-up.

You should also encourage your son to perform regular testicular self-exams. This way he will notice any changes in his testicles, including signs of varicoceles, which include:

Swollen veins in the scrotum that feel kind of like worms
A heavy, uncomfortable, or dull aching feeling in the scrotum

What should my son do if he thinks he has a varicocele?

If your son has any of these signs or symptoms, or has any questions after performing a testicular self-exam, it's important for him to see his HCP. If he's reluctant to make an appointment, assure him that even though it might seem a little embarrassing, health care providers are trained professionals who see varicoceles often.

How does a medical provider diagnose a varicocele?

To diagnose a varicocele, your son's HCP will take a look at his groin and perform a physical exam. He or she will check the area around his testicles for lumps, swelling, or tenderness.

Will a varicocele cause problems for my son?

It's not likely that a varicocele will be harmful to your son, as most small varicoceles don't cause any problems. However, some varicoceles cause pain, some may affect testicular growth, and some men with varicoceles have infertility problems.

What is the treatment for a varicocele?

If your son has no pain and his testicles are growing normally, it's likely that his HCP may recommend coming back annually for a check-up.

If he does have pain or swelling, his HCP may prescribe an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen. He/she may also advise him to wear snug fitting underwear or a jock strap for support and will likely monitor the size of his testicles to make sure there are no problems. If a difference in his testicles is detected with an ultrasound, your son's HCP may recommend an appointment with an urologist.

A urologist may recommend a simple outpatient surgical procedure called a varicocelectomy to correct the varicocele. This procedure involves making a small incision and removing only the veins that are causing a problem.

Remember, most varicoceles don't cause problems, but it's still important to have your son see his HCP for an annual check-up. He should also see his HCP any time he's worried about a lump or change in his testicles.

Read more: http://www.youngmenshealthsite.org/varicoceles_in_teens.html#ixzz2j0lyEMoC

 

 

W (2012): Weight Loss - The Common Myths

Summary

Dieting is surrounded by myths and gimmicks. No single food or diet can help you lose weight. Extreme low-carbohydrate, high-carbohydrate, high-protein or limited diets can damage your health. To reduce body fat and lose weight, you need to change the way you eat and increase your physical activity.

More Australians are overweight or obese than ever before, and the numbers are steadily increasing. Around 68 per cent of men and 55 per cent of women are carrying too much body fat and 25 per cent of children are overweight or obese This means that the incidence of obesity-related disorders, such as coronary heart disease and diabetes, is also on the rise.

There's no magic weight loss potion

Dieting has led to many unhealthy misconceptions about weight loss. There are no magical foods or ways to combine foods that melt away excess body fat. To reduce your weight, you need to make small, achievable changes to your lifestyle. You need to change the way you eat and increase your physical activity.

Some dietary fats cause weight gain

Fats contain approximately double the amount of kilojoules (calories) per gram than carbohydrates or protein. They are a very concentrated form of energy. If you eat a lot of fat you are more likely to put on weight than if you eat a lot of carbohydrates.

The type of fat you eat may also be important. Research shows that animal fats (saturated fats) may be more 'fattening' than plant and fish fats. Fish and plant fats appear to be more readily used by the body and less likely to be stored as fat in the belly. They can also provide some health benefits.

Excess carbohydrates or protein can also be converted into body fat. If you eat more kilojoules than you use, you will put on weight whether those kilojoules came from fats, carbohydrates or proteins. 

Low, moderate or high-carbohydrate diets

In the short term, very low-carbohydrate diets can result in greater weight loss than high-carbohydrate diets but in the long term weight loss differences appear to be minimal. Very low- carbohydrate diets can be unhealthy if too much animal fat is consumed and if plant foods are overly restricted. The long-term safety of these diets is unknown.

Five food myths exposed

There are many myths about foods - what you should eat and when you should eat them. We expose five myths as false!

1. Potatoes make you fat – false
It was once thought that the key to weight loss was eliminating all high-carbohydrate foods, including pasta, rice and potatoes. We now know that carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source. Eating a potato, or any type of carbohydrate rich food, won't automatically make you fatter. However, if you are watching your weight, enjoy potatoes in moderate quantities and be careful of how you eat them (for example, butter and sour cream are high in fats).

You have to regularly eat more energy than your body needs to put on weight. This is harder to do with high-carbohydrate foods than high-fat foods. Eating a diet high in carbohydrate (and also fibre) is likely to push fat out of the diet.

2. Food combining diets really work – false
There are plenty of diets based on the belief that the digestive system can't tackle a combination of foods or nutrients. Commonly, carbohydrates and proteins are said to 'clash', leading to digestive problems and weight gain. The opposite is often true. Foods eaten together can help the digestive system. For example, vitamin C in orange juice can increase iron absorption from a meal rich in plant-based iron like beans and rice, lentils and other legumes.

Very few foods are purely carbohydrate or purely protein; most are a mixture of both. The digestive system contains enzymes that are perfectly capable of breaking down all the foods we eat. Food combining diets should be avoided.

3. Breakfast should consist of fruit only – false
There is no evidence that eating only fruit at breakfast has any health or weight loss benefits. Most fruits are not very high in complex carbohydrates, which the body needs after an all-night fast. They are, however, a good source of fibre and vitamins. Cereal foods (especially wholegrain varieties) like bread, muffins and breakfast cereals are a much better source of carbohydrates to get you going in the morning.

4. There are some magical foods that cause weight loss – false
Some foods, such as grapefruit or kelp, are said to burn off body fat. This is not true. Dietary fibre comes closest to fulfilling this wish because it provides a feeling of 'fullness' with minimal kilojoules. High-fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, and legumes also tend to be low in fat.

5. Drinking while you are eating is fattening – false
The theory behind this misconception is that digestive juices and enzymes will be diluted by the fluid, and this will slow down the digestion and lead to excess body fat. There is no scientific evidence to back this up. In fact, evidence suggests that drinking water with your meal improves digestion. Kilojoule-heavy drinks such as alcoholic beverages can be fattening if consumed in excess, but drinking them with meals doesn't make them more so. 

The key to weight loss

Suggestions for safe and effective weight loss include:

Don't crash diet. You'll most likely regain the lost weight within five years.
Aim for slow weight loss. You should lose no more than 0.5 kg a week or 10 kg in six months.
Aim for a healthy waist circumference of less than 94 cm for men and less than 80 cm women.
Cut down on dietary fats, especially saturated fat, and choose low fat varieties where possible.
Cut back on refined sugars.
Increase your intake of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain breads and cereals.
Consume less alcohol.
Eat less takeaway and snack foods.
Exercise for approximately 30 minutes at least a few times every week. Introduce more movement into your day – try to accumulate 30 minutes of walking daily.
Don't eliminate any food group. Instead choose from a wide range of foods every day and choose 'whole', less processed foods. Have a regular pattern of eating and stick to it.
Drink at least 1.5 litres of water per day.

Where to get help

Your doctor
Dietitians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942

Things to remember

'Crash dieting' can affect your physical and mental wellbeing.
There are no magical foods or ways to combine food that will help you lose weight.
The best way to lose weight is slowly, by making small, achievable changes to your eating and exercise habits.

 

 

X (2012): X-Ray Examination

Summary

An x-ray examination creates two-dimensional images of the body's internal organs or bones to help diagnose conditions or diseases. A small amount of ionising radiation is used. An x-ray examination is a painless and non-invasive procedure. Tell your doctor or specialist if you think you may be pregnant as another type of test may be recommended.

An x-ray examination is used to create images of your internal organs or bones to help diagnose conditions or diseases. A special machine emits (puts out) a small amount of ionising radiation. This radiation passes through your body and falls on a film or similar device to produce the image.

The dose of radiation is roughly the same as you would receive from the general environment in about one week. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Another type of test may be recommended.

Who can perform x-rays

Two health practitioners are involved in x-ray examinations:
A radiographer who conducts the examination
A radiologist (a medical specialist) who interprets x-ray images.

How x-rays work

A tiny amount of ionising radiation is passed through the body. In the past, this went onto a sheet of special film. Nowadays x-ray examinations are more likely to use a device that will capture transmitted x-rays to create an electronic image.

The calcium in bones blocks the passage of radiation, so healthy bones show up as white or grey. On the other hand, radiation passes easily through air spaces, so healthy lungs appear black.

When x-ray examinations are used

This test is very common. About seven million x-ray examinations are made every year in Australia. Some of the many uses include:

Diagnosis of fractures – detection of broken bones is one of the most common uses of this test.
Diagnosis of dislocations – an x-ray examination can reveal if the bones of a joint are abnormally positioned.
As a surgical tool – to help the surgeon accurately perform the operation. For example, x-ray images taken during orthopaedic surgery show if the fracture is aligned or if the implanted device (such as an artificial joint) is in position. X-rays may also be used in other surgical procedures for the same purpose.
Diagnosis of bone or joint conditions – for example, some types of cancer or arthritis.
Diagnosis of chest conditions – such as pneumonia, lung cancer, emphysema or heart failure.
Detection of foreign objects – for example, bullet fragments or swallowed coins.
Medical issues to consider

Medical considerations prior to the procedure may include:

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Another type of test may be recommended.
A conventional x-ray examination does not require any special preparation.
Some x-ray examinations involve the use of an iodinated contrast agent (a type of dye). This substance helps to improve the detail of the images or to make it possible to see body structures such as the bowel or blood vessels. The hospital x-ray department or private x-ray clinic will give you instructions on how to prepare for the test and what to expect.
X-ray examinations can only detect severe cases of osteoporosis. Your doctor may suggest other tests to help confirm the diagnosis.

X-ray examination procedure

Depending on the part of the body being examined, you may be asked to undress, remove all jewellery and wear a hospital gown. The basic procedure then involves:

You will either stand up or lie down on an examination table, depending on which part of your body is being investigated.
The radiographer will place you between the x-ray machine and the imaging device that captures the x-rays being transmitted through that part of your body.
The radiographer may shield parts of your body with a lead apron. This is to reduce the risk of unnecessary exposure to radiation.
The radiographer will need to touch you in order to position your body correctly for each picture.
The radiographer operates the controls while each image is taken. To do this, they will stand behind a screen and call instructions to you if necessary.
You may be asked to hold your breath for a couple of seconds as each picture is taken, so that the breathing movement doesn’t blur the images.
A straightforward and conventional x-ray examination of the hand, for example, usually takes a few minutes. Other types of x-ray examination may take longer.
Immediately after the procedure

You can get dressed. A radiologist will interpret the x-ray images. The results are usually sent to your doctor so you will need to make a follow-up appointment.

Possible complications from x-ray examinations

An x-ray examination is a painless and non-invasive procedure that doesn’t cause any side effects. You will not be radioactive after the test. The dose of radiation is considered safe – roughly the same as you would receive from the general environment in about one week. Your increased risk of developing cancer within 10 years of the x-ray examination is negligible (very small) at less than 0.01 per cent.

Taking care of yourself at home

A conventional x-ray examination does not require any recovery time. You can go about your normal business as soon as you leave. If you have had an examination that has used a contrast agent, you will be given specific instructions concerning any after care that may be necessary.

Long-term outlook

Treatment will vary depending on the condition under investigation and the results of the x-ray examination.

Alternatives to the x-ray examination

Depending on the medical condition, alternatives to x-ray examinations may include:
Ultrasound – the use of sound waves to create a picture of internal body structures.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – the combination of a magnetic field and radio waves to produce three-dimensional pictures.
Computed tomography scan (CT scan) – the use of x-rays and digital computer technology to create three-dimensional pictures.
Bone density testing – a procedure to determine bone strength. A range of medical procedures is available.

Where to get help

Your doctor
Radiographer
NURSE-ON-CALL Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice 24 hours, 7 days
Things to remember
An x-ray examination uses an electrical device to emit (put out) x-rays and digital technology to create two-dimensional pictures of internal body structures.
This test is particularly useful in diagnosing conditions or diseases that affect the bones and chest.
A conventional x-ray examination is non-invasive, painless and does not require any recovery time.
The dose of radiation from an x-ray examination is considered safe – roughly the same as you would receive from the general environment in about one week.

 

 

Y (2012): Youth Suicide

There is a silent killer in our schools, stalking the youth of Australia. It is silent because we don't talk about it. It is not cancer or obesity. It is suicide, and as many as five Australian children attempt it every day.

About 100 Australian boys and girls complete suicide each year. That's one bright light extinguished every four days. Research indicates that for every suicide there are 10 to 20 attempts. That equates to as many as five children a day across Australia.

The NSW Department of Education directs staff not to engage with students about suicide. It wants to avoid normalising it, avoid a copy-cat syndrome.

Yet a side effect of not talking about suicide is that teachers do not know how to recognise warning signs. A study done at James Cook University last year found that 85 per cent of teachers could not identify a suicidal student.

Mental illness has increased in successive generations of Australian youth. About a quarter of teenagers suffer significant psychological distress at one time and more than 7000 young people a year are admitted to hospital after self-harming. Seven thousand.

Schoolchildren spend more hours a week, face to face, with their teachers than with any other adult. The World Health Organisation tells us that our current crop of year 7 boys and girls will face a greater threat from depression than from any other disease by the time they reach 30.

Some stress is brought on because of trends in society: the rise of individualism and consumerism; a decline in a sense of community and of the importance of the family unit. Each of these trends has a direct impact on mental health.

Clearly, many children thrive despite society's influence. But too many of our youth are unaware, or apathetic as they race headlong into what the WHO predicts will be a depression epidemic by 2030.

Teachers want to know their role in helping to address this and whether a back-to-basics curriculum meets the needs of today's youth? I believe we need a national curriculum that addresses the demands of this century, not the last. The draft curriculum has been widely criticised as being overcrowded and old-fashioned.

In the digital age, with information at the fingertips of every student, teachers are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge. So let's use our time and resources more appropriately for the 21st-century child.

The new curriculum must educate young people towards a greater understanding of the world and their role in it. I propose stripping some of its content to free up time in schools for students to engage in their strengths and their passions.

Professor Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, agrees: "By engaging one's strengths and passions in the service of others, one can inoculate against depression.''

Furthermore, evidence-based programs have been implemented in Italy and Britain, where school time has been given over to the teaching of social and emotional learning. These programs improve self-efficacy and reduce feelings of hopelessness. Students are taught how to rationalise problems and build resilience. Italy and the Britain have youth suicide rates less than half that of Australia.

Similar programs are implemented in most Australian schools but on an ad hoc basis, with little direction from the government. I propose they be fully integrated into a national curriculum, with appropriate teacher training, funding and time allocation.

Academic learning is important, but it depends on students' well-being. If we can distance ourselves from rote learning and be weaned off our addiction to standardised testing, we could give young Australians a fighting chance of surviving the epidemic, and enable them to lead fulfilling lives and play a part in creating a better society for future generations. This could just be the education revolution we have heard so much about.

The federal government wants to have the national curriculum ready by December. I would hope the government would show more patience when developing a curriculum that has the potential to affect the wellbeing of every child in Australia.

Depression is to suicide as obesity is to diabetes, and it is killing our children. At the very least, can we please start talking about it?

Suicide and age

With the exception of those aged over 85, there has been a trend towards men in their middle years (i.e. 30-49) having the highest rates of suicide.
In 2011, the peak age group for suicide was recorded in men aged 85 or above (32.1 per 100,000).
For men, the largest drop in suicide rates between 2002 and 2011 was observed in the 25-29 years old age group, with a fall of over 58%. All male age groups showed a decrease in suicide rate in 2011 compared to 2002, with the exception of the 45-49 age group, which indicated a modest increase of 2.5%. 
For women, the largest drop in suicide rates between 2002 and 2011 was observed in the 80-84 year age group, with a fall of 55% in the suicide rate. In contrast, from 2002 to 2011 there was a 35.3% increase in the suicide rate in women who were aged between 20-24. 
From 1980 onwards, there has not been any one age group of females that has consitently had a higher rate of suicide than other age groups.
According to official data, child suicide (5-15 years' old) is a rare event in Australia. Based on 5 year aggregate scores from 2007 to 2011, age-standardised suicide rates were low in both males (0.4 per 100,000) and females (0.3 per 100,000). 

Suicide and gender

Suicide is much more common among males than females in every state and territory of Australia. This is consistent with trends observed in other Western countries.
The ratio of male to female suicides rose from 2:1 in the 1960s to over 4:1 in the 1990s. Throughout the early 2000s, the ratio of male to female suicides has been somewhat below 4:1, and stood at 3.1:1 in 2011.
In 2011, 56% of male suicide deaths were by hanging, followed by 10% due to poisoning by agents other than drugs and then 9% due to poisoning by drugs.
In 2011, hanging was the most common method of suicide used by females, constituting 48% of all female suicide deaths. The second most common cause of suicide death was poisoning by drugs (26% of suicide deaths).
In 2011, suicide represented 2.3% of all male deaths and 0.8 % of all female deaths.
Suicide rates for men born outside Australia are slightly lower than for Australian-born men, whereas corresponding rates for women are very similar.

Youth suicide

In 2011, 80 males aged 15-19 years and 151 males aged 20-24 years died by suicide. In the same year, 35 females aged 15-19 years, and 55 females aged 20 to 24 years died by suicide.
Considering all causes of death, suicide accounted for 25.8% of deaths among 15-19 year old males and 29.0% of deaths among 20-24 year old males in 2011. The corresponding percentages for females in both of these age groups are 21.0% and 25.0% respectively. 
During the mid-1980s, suicide rates for 15-19 year old males rose rapidly and peaked at 21.0 per 100,000 in 1988. Over the following decade, rates fluctuated around 17-19 per 100,000 for this group and stood at 18.4 per 100,000 in 1997. 
Since 1997, suicide rates among 15-19 year old males have shown a pattern where they are gradually decreasing. There was an increase in rates to 11.3 per 100,000 in 2007 after the ABS revised its original estimates following their quality improvement processes, however this number has decreased to 10.4 per 100,000 in 2011.
For females aged 15-19 years, the suicide rate has been relatively stable over the past 20 years at around three to five suicide deaths per 100,000. In 2011, the rate was 4.8 per 100,000, slightly higher than the 3.4 per 100,000 in the previous year. 
Males aged 20-24 have shown considerable decreases in the age-standardised suicide rates since the 1997 peak, with 17.7 per 100,000 in the 2011 preliminary data.
Suicide rates for females in the same age group show a similar but less dramatic pattern. These rates also decreased from their highest level in 1997 to their lowest level in 20 years in 2003 when the rate was 3.7 per 100,000. There has been a pattern of slight increase in rates since then. The revised rate for 2007 and 2008 were 4.6 per 100,000. Preliminary data for 2011 show the rate has not changed from the 6.8 per 100,000 observed in 2010.

 

 

Z (2012): Zee Things Men Need to Address

What behaviour are we looking to change?

On average men die almost five years younger than women. The suicide rate is about four times higher for men than women and more than four men die prematurely each hour from potentially preventable illnesses.

From Movember’s perspective the reasons for the poor state of men’s health include:

lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues men face
men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling
reluctance to seek help when men don’t feel physical or mentally well
men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health 
stigmas surrounding mental health

These reasons can and are being addressed by Movember’s Awareness and Education program.

How do we take action?

Movember’s tagline, changing the face of men’s health, aptly describes the challenge of participating in Movember – changing your appearance by growing a moustache for 30 days, and the outcome – changing the understanding and attitudes men have towards their health. The Mo is Movember’s ribbon, it’s the catalyst for change.

Some of the funds raised are used to run the annual Movember campaign, which inspires literally billions of conversations. Additionally some funds are used to create and maintain engaging resources, which educate men on the health risks they face, how to stay healthy and how to take action if they become ill. The Movember website is the ultimate hub for all of this information. Movember also hosts and attends events throughout the year where we deliver health related information in a fun and engaging way.

Is it working?

Absolutely, but there is always more work to be done.

Our community share stories about how their Mo helped others learn about health issues, and this video captures how one Mo got another man taking action resulting in a life-changing diagnosis.

Time is running out and there is no doubt in my mind that THE TIME IS NOW.........


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