That niggling stomach ache

Abdominal pain can be caused by a range of health conditions and can cause you to have mild discomfort to severe in. Here at My Emergency Dr we can help you to assess the cause of your pain, provide further investigations to isolate the condition and provide you with the necessary medications to manage your pain and other symptoms.

 

Abdominal pain can range from mild self-limiting conditions such as trapped gas in the large intestine causing bloating and ache, to pains during your period or cramps due to food poisoning. More severe pains are concerning and can be suggestive of conditions that requiring more urgent medical attention. Some conditions that can cause you to have severe pain include appendicitis, bowel obstruction or kidney stones.

 

When you see a doctor they will ask you many questions about the pain. The answers you provide give important clues to to help them further assess the cause and appreciate where the pain may be coming from. If you are experiencing additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fevers or bloating please advise the doctor as this may help them to diagnose your illness.

 

There are some basic things you can do which often will help to ease your discomfort. We recommend drinking clear fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated plus using simple pain medications such as paracetamol to reduce your pain.

 

You should arrange an urgent review by a doctor or present to hospital if:

  • your pain is severe and getting worse
  • you have fevers
  • you have difficulty keeping food down and are persistently vomiting
  • it hurts to touch your abdomen or it is swollen
  • you are losing weight
  • you are bleeding from the bowel or have vomited blood
  • your skin is yellow

 

Here at My Emergency Dr we are experts in emergency care. When you call you will be assessed by our specialist doctors who will evaluate your medical condition and help you arrange further tests and care. To speak to a doctor today download the My Emergency Dr app from the App Store or Google Play and follow the simple instructions.

High blood pressure – is it dangerous?

The facts:

– Most of the time there are no obvious symptoms of high blood pressure

– Certain physical and lifestyle choices can place you at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure

– When high blood pressure is left untreated it increases your risk of having a heart attack, stroke and other health problems.

 

Hypertension or high blood pressure is an extremely common condition which affects over 60% of adults over the age of 75. As we get older the pressure in the arteries increases gradually over many years.  Your blood pressure is normal if it is below 120/80. When the reading becomes higher than this it is a sign that there is excessive pressure building up on the artery walls and potentially affecting organs.

 

To diagnose hypertension you need to have serial measurements taken during the course of the day as blood pressure varies upon waking and during the night. It also is important to note that blood pressure is affected by stress so some may go to the doctor and find their blood pressure is higher than when they measure it at home. This is all taken into account when diagnosing hypertension.

 

Hypertension is broken down into two main categories. Essential hypertension is the term given to those who have raised blood pressure but without a cause found. For those who do have a cause they are described as having secondary hypertension. Often those with secondary hypertension have a much quicker onset of raised blood pressure and a much higher reading than those without a cause found.

 

High blood pressure is concerning because the excessive pressure placed on the artery walls causes damage to blood vessels and organs in the body – particularly the heart, kidneys, brain and eyes.  Uncontrolled blood pressure increases your risk serious health problems including heart attack and stroke.

 

The changes you can make in your life to lower your blood pressure include:

– losing weight

– exercising regularly

– eating a healthy diet

– reducing the amount of salt in your diet

– limiting the amount of alcohol you drink

– quitting smoking

 

If your blood pressure is high and you need a specialist medical opinion download the My Emergency Dr App. This is an app that allows you to have a video consultation with a specialist emergency doctor within minutes, 24/7, from wherever you are in Australia.

Dealing with Stress

In the modern world we are on the go all the time. Whether it be working, taking phonecalls, planning our next project, juggling kids, trying to fit in exercise.  Add to that the social media ideals that we see of perfect abs, perfect jobs, perfect clothes…. The stress can be overwhelming.

 

It has been shown time and again the negative effects that stress can have on weight, mood, wellbeing and our health.

 

There are simple things we can do to reduce stress and allow us to enjoy our lives that little bit more…

 

1. Exercise

If a regular exercise programme isn’t something you can manage, just elevating your heart rate for 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference. There is a wealth of free online resources posting workouts that can be done at home. Go for a walk, kick a ball or do running relays with the kids. As well as being good for our bodies, exercise is good for our minds, releasing endorphins and promoting better sleep.

 

2. Sleep

It’s tempting to cut back on sleep when we have such busy lives but missing sleep has such deleterious effects for our health. Our energy levels suffer, concentration deteriorates and we can even gain weight due to hormonal imbalances. Miss that extra hour of Netflix and aim for 8 hours a night and you won’t regret it.

 

3. Eat

Diet can influence our energy levels and in turn our mood. Relying on processed foods high in sugar causes fluctuations in our blood sugar leading to large swings in energy and mood. Not eating enough nutrient rich whole foods can leave us feeling exhausted and add to the workload of our tired brains. Caffeine and alcohol are often relied upon to deal with stress but have numerous negative health effects and can also lead to poor sleep.

 

4. Breathe

It’s so hard to make time for ourselves, let alone go to yoga or guided meditation. What is important though is to take time, even 10 minutes to just be still, empty your mind and breathe. Take deep breaths and fill your lungs. This has not only good effects on your posture but can help you to gain perspective on stressful situations.

 

Even finding the right healthcare can be stressful. Finding the right doctor, one you feel comfortable enough to talk to about intimate physical and mental problems, is no mean feat. Often patients are not sure where to go and who to see, adding to the demand of an already stressful situation. Here at My Emergency Dr we aim to provide you with the medical advice and care that you need for urgent medical situations  that arise anytime (24/7), when your usual GP may not be available.

Youth Sports and concussion

Sports are a great way for children and teenagers to stay well, engage in physical activity and improve their performance at school however some sports do place children at risk of injuries. One of the more common types of injury a child or teenager may sustain is a concussion. This is a traumatic type of brain injury which occurs when a child receives a bump, knock, blow or jolt to the head, causing the brain to move quickly inside the skull. It causes a rapid onset of injury to the brain, with most often a mild quick to resolve time course.

 

Sports associated with a higher risk of concussion include any contact sports or those that place your child at risk of falling and hitting their head.  It is particularly high in the football codes (rugby union, rugby league, AFL) as well as netball, soccer, cricket, martial arts and snow sports.

 

After a head injury the brain has a temporary disruption to the amount of blood flow to the injured area and disruption to hormones in the cells of the brain. This causes the following symptoms and signs:

 

– appearing dazed or stunned or even having a brief loss of consciousness

– confusion about the score, their position or forgets an instruction

– moves clumsily or answers questions slowly

– is unable to recall events prior to or after a hit or fall

– demonstrates abnormal behavior

– complains of a headache, double vision, unsteadiness

– starts vomiting or feels nauseous

– feels sluggish and tired

 

Should you suspect your child has had a concussion they should be immediately removed from play and assessed by a doctor. Symptoms and signs of concussion often show up immediately after the injury however some symptoms may not show up for hours or days.

 

Warning signs of a more serious head injury that requires further medical assessment include:

 

– drowsiness or does not respond to your voice

– has ongoing vomiting or persistent headache

– slurred speech, weakness, numbness or decreased coordination

– new twitching, convulsions or seizures

 

After a concussion the brain needs time to heal and rest. During this period your healthcare provider needs to be actively involved in your child’s care to aide in a return to school, normal activities and sports. This is a gradual process, which needs to be carefully managed and monitored by a health care provider.  Most importantly children with a concussion should not continue to play whilst the brain is healing. A repeat concussion after a recent head injury can be very serious and cause harm to your child.

 

If your child is unwell and you need to speak with an After hours GP download the My Emergency Dr App today to have an immediate consultation with a qualified specialist using our online app.

Back to school checklist to review your child’s health and safety

The start of a new school term presents a good opportunity to have conversations with your children about important topics regarding health and safety. With summer on the way we recommend using the following checklist to guide you and your family towards good health and injury prevention.

 

Safety

– For children to be safe at home it’s important that harmful medications are placed in a locked cupboard and that access to basic first aid information including emergencies numbers are readily available.

– Key emergency numbers include 000 plus the numbers of friends or relatives to call if parents are unavailable in an emergency.

– It’s also a good time to discuss stranger safety and ensure your child knows what to do if approached by a stranger who is acting abnormally.

– Remind your child to always wear a seatbelt and when riding a bike, using a skateboard or roller blading to wear a helmet.

– Review your family’s emergency plans if there is a weather emergency or fire and check fire alarms and fire extinguishers at home to ensure they are working.

 

Nutrition

– Talk to your children about what they would like to eat from their lunchbox. Discuss healthy food options for food and drink choices.

– During this time it’s important to review your child’s intake of processed foods, carbonated beverages, junk food and fruit juices and check that alternative healthy snacks and drinks are available.

– Food is usually stored in lunchboxes for several hours. It’s important to keep the lunchbox cool so that the food stays fresh. Choose an insulated lunchbox or use a freeze pack to help food stay cool.

 

Exercise

– One in four Australian children is overweight. Current evidence demonstrates that overweight children are more likely to carry this weight into their adult life and suffer from chronic diseases associated with excess weight.

– Regular exercise and engaging in physical activity has immediate health benefits like improving fitness, motor skills and self-confidence. It also prevents disease, promoting health and wellbeing into adulthood.

– You can give your child a lifelong love of exercise and movement by being active yourself, and encouraging school-based and weekend activities.

 

Electronics

– This is a good time to review your child’s use of electronic machines like computers, phones and iPads.

– To help them get to sleep, limit their screen time before bed and discuss healthy habits of balancing electronic use with other forms of activities.

– This is also a good time to review your child’s social media use and inform them on how to handle common situations (for example if your child sees information that seems inappropriate or scary).

– It’s also important to discuss with your child about what types of information are unsafe or inappropriate to post online.

 

If your child is unwell and you need to speak with a doctor after hours, download the My Emergency Dr App today to speak with a qualified specialist within minutes.

Things that go bump in the night

Despite our best efforts, kids still seem to manage to find ways to bump their heads. The vast majority of these injuries are not serious and cause no long-term effects but sometimes a knock to the head can be so serious that it damages the brain. When your child hits their head it can be difficult to tell whether they need to be taken to hospital or if they can safely stay at home with you. The team at My Emergency Doctor are here to help you to ensure your child receives the most appropriate care.

 

A head injury is any bump to the head resulting in a bruise, lump or cut. Head injuries can be mild, moderate or severe and while mild head injuries are generally safely observed at home, anything moderate or severe requires immediate medical attention. Before we discuss the management of mild head injuries it is important that you become familiar with the features of moderate to severe head injuries. If, after hitting their head, your child shows any of the below-mentioned features, or if you are concerned about your child, call an ambulance by dialling 000.

 

Signs of a moderate to severe head injury include:

– any loss of consciousness (‘passing out’)
– drowsiness
– confusion
– memory loss
– one or more seizures
– two or more vomits
– persistent or recurrent headache
– visual disturbance
– large cut, bruise or bump on the head (or any object stuck in their head)
– unequal pupils
– arm or leg weakness
– clear discharge from the nose or ears

 

If your child has not lost consciousness and is awake, interacting with you and behaving normally, they most likely have suffered a mild head injury. They may have vomited, but only once, and they may have a bruise or a cut where they bumped their head. Mild head injuries may be safely managed at home but as it can sometimes be tricky to tell the difference between a mild and a moderate head injury it is always a good idea to seek medical advice; that’s where My Emergency Doctor can help.

 

Our Emergency Specialists will ask further details about the injury and about your child’s behaviour. If they deem that your child has had a moderate head injury they will recommend that you present to an Emergency Department but if they determine that your child has had a mild head injury they will recommend a period of observation at home (saving you a trip to hospital). You will receive clear instructions on what to look out for over the following days to weeks as your child recovers from the injury and returns to normal activities.

Ways to stay healthy at work

In our modern day life office work is very common with employees spending an increasing amount of time sitting at desks. Sedentary behaviours such as sitting at a work desk or reclining watching television result in no physical activity or energy expenditure with research establishing that prolonged sitting poses significant risks to the health of workers. Sedentary behaviour is behaviour such as sitting or reclining which when done for extended periods during the day have been shown to increase the risk of multiple preventable health conditions and have a secondary negative effect on the workplace.

 

The length of time spent sitting per day is directly related to the risk of developing conditions such as: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders and premature death. It’s important to remember that humans are built to stand upright – our heart and lungs function more efficiently when we are standing upright. Major muscle groups are also engaged when we stand causing an amount of energy to be expended. When we sit down for long periods our muscles lose size and bulk and our internal organs become sluggish and less effective at regulating sugar and other hormone levels.

 

For those who do spend many hours a day sitting there are simple changes you can make to lessen your risk of cardiovascular and lifestyle related diseases.

 


Diet

– Eat sensibly with 6 small meals a day high in protein, vegetables and fibre

– Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated

Exercise

– Reduce your sitting time at the workplace desk and aim to walk thousand steps a day

– Stand when taking a call

Posture

– Maintain good posture whilst seated and use desk based stretches to prevent workplace injury

Weight

Moving your muscles helps your body digest the fats and sugars you eat. If you spend a lot of time sitting, digestion is not as efficient, so you retain those fats and sugars as fat in your body.

Mental state

– Take regular breaks to refresh and reenergize your mind standing and taking a break from the computer every 30 min

Sun exposure

– Seek a balanced approach to sun exposures your office based location to ensure you get enough Vitamin D from sunlight whilst whilst protecting against skin cancer

 

If you are at work and become unwell MyEmergencyDr can help – download the My Emergency Dr app to connect to a Specialist Emergency Doctor for an urgent health assessment and treatment. Available from http://www.myemergencydr.com

Diabetes, sugar and your health

Diabetes is a worldwide chronic health condition that affects over 400 million people and which has doubled in incidence in those over the age of 18 years. There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes predominantly affects children and teenagers because their pancreas does not produce insulin where Type 2 diabetes affects adults because their body is unable to use the insulin it produces effectively.

 

Insulin is a hormone in the body, which helps sugar (glucose) to be absorbed by the body’s cells. When the body becomes resistant to the effect of insulin the sugar cannot be absorbed and this causes a high level of sugar in the body. Type 2 diabetes is caused by being overweight, physically inactive and eating a poor diet.

 

The rise of processed foods which are rich in sugar, low in fibre and high in calories; combined with reduced physical activity has caused rates of obesity to increase. The excess fat carried on the body directly affects the body’s ability to use insulin to drive sugar into the cells and muscles for energy use and storage. When the sugar is no longer used or stored it causes damage to the major organs of the body.

 

Common effects of chronically raised blood sugar includes:

 

– damage to the heart causing heart attacks and lifelong coronary artery disease

– damage to the kidneys causing kidney failure

– damage to the eyes causing loss of sight

– damage to the nerves causing loss of sensation to limbs

– damage to blood vessels causing infections and amputations

 

To prevent the onset of diabetes it is imperative that you incorporate simple lifestyles measures. These include:

 

– maintaining a healthy weight

– participating in 30 minutes of regular daily exercise

– eating a healthy diet plant based diet and avoiding foods high in fat or sugar

 

If you have diabetes and are unwell and need to speak with a doctor download the My Emergency Dr app to speak with and be assessed by a qualified specialist doctor today.

Prescribe me a tracker

Wearable electronic devices are the ‘it’ item in fitness and health. Calorie counter? Step tracker? Sleep monitor? Is there anything these wearables can’t track, measure or count for the every day fitness of an individual? The media is full of ambassadors and athletes preaching their love for these wrist gadgets. So, should we follow them?

 

The modern fitness tracker varies in price, with higher-end devices allowing options such as GPS route tracking, heart rate monitoring, and waterproof technology. They typically work with your smartphone, tablet or a website, enabling you to keep an eye on your progress over time with graphs and figures. The main idea is that they will hopefully spur you on to exercise more, get fitter and/or lose weight. Imagine you finished your walk and you could see the calories you burnt, or the steps you did, or even how much you pushed your heart rate. Now imagine you could build a virtual diary of this information, allowing you to compare data weekly or monthly to help motivate yourself. This is the type of useful functionality that sets fitness trackers apart.

 

This usage and adoption into mainstream has prompted serious research into trackers with interesting results. A recent University of Pittsburgh randomised controlled trial recently tracked 470 overweight or obese people aged 18 to 35, for 24 months. The group using the tracker lost an average of 3.5kg over two years, compared with an average 5.9kg in the self-monitored group. Their conclusion? Fitness trackers may not help weight loss. There were a lot of variables which could have influenced the result, namely that the study recruited only young adults, as well as the fact that the wearable devices were used only 6 months into the trial.

 

Ultimately, it shows that the basis of living a healthy lifestyle is exercising regularly combined with a balanced diet. However, plenty of people struggle with motivation. Fitness trackers can keep us accountable for missing exercise. They can remind us to keep moving at sedentary jobs. They are also personalised, taking into account our gender, age, height and weight.

 

They may not do the exercise for us, but they have the ability to be part of our lifestyle and general wellbeing. They are more than just fancy pedometers. They can motivate us to lose weight, reduce risk factors for health conditions, improve our cardiovascular health, and even diet and sleep better because we have the ability to track and monitor.

 

Research may not show the significant impact of fitness trackers in terms of objective measures such as weight loss or improving cardiac function, but its really the psychological effects that may prove beneficial, providing a permeable and persistent motivation to improve adherence to exercise and diet.

Urinary Tract Infections

Have you ever felt like you are passing razor blades when going to the toilet? Or found your urine to be blood stained? Or feel as if no matter how many times you go to the toilet you are unable to completely empty your bladder? You’re not alone.  Both women and men can both suffer from urinary tract infections (UTI) however they are more common in women with one in 2 women compared to one in 20 men contracting a UTI in their lifetime.

 

Urine is normally sterile. This means it doesn’t contain any of the bad guys – bacteria, fungi or viruses which can make us unwell. Most often it is bacteria that enters the urinary tract causing an infection in the bladder or if more severe, an infection in the kidneys. Urinary tract infections are very common, particularly in women, babies and the elderly.

 

Some of the symptoms of UTI’s include painful urination, feeling the need to go more often and urgently, pain in the lower abdomen and blood in the urine.  Generally signs of a more serious infection in the kidneys include fevers and chills, nausea and vomiting, abdominal and low back pains.

 

UTI’s are easily treatable with a medical assessment, urine sample and script for antibiotics and they are important to treat in order to prevent the spread of infection to the kidneys and bloodstream. Here at MyEmergencyDr our focus is on helping you get better. Simply download the MyEmergencyDr app on your phone and we will provide a specialist emergency doctor to assess you.

 

Once you’ve been assessed we will provide you with a treatment and follow up plan. This requires a urine sample to be sent off to the pathology lab to ascertain what bacteria is present in your urinary tract to make sure that the antibiotics we commence you on can destroy it.  We will provide you with a script for antibiotics and have you follow up with a repeat urine sample once finished treatment to ensure your urine is clear of the harmful bacteria.

 

With our service you can avoid the queue at your GP and Emergency Department and seek expert care from MyEmergencyDr at a time that suits you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.