Back Pain

Low back pain is a very common problem with approximately 80% of Australians suffering from back pain during their lifetime. It is a significant and debilitating condition that impacts your quality of life and reduces ability to function. Here at My Emergency Dr we can provide you with an immediate assessment and help you to manage this disabling condition.

Back pain can occur after moving heavy objects but often is provoked without an inciting event.  It is also more common in those who are overweight, who are physically inactive or those undertaking repetitive tasks at work.

The low back supports the weight of the upper body and provides the mobility for movements such as bending and twisting. Most acute low back pain results from injury to the muscles of the back, or the ligaments, joints or discs around the spine. After an injury to the back the body reacts by causing the surrounding muscles to stiffen. Patients often experience severe pain at the site of the injury due to the surrounding inflammation.

‘Red flag’ symptoms make a doctor more concerned that there may be a serious cause for your back pain. Please let your doctor know if you have:


  • A history of cancer
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A history of trauma to the area
  • A history of intravenous drug use
  • A fever
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function
  • Weakness of your limbs


More than 85% of patients who present to emergency with low back pain have no specific cause found and their pain improves within a few weeks of simple treatment. Our tips for a rapid recovery include:


  • Speak to your doctor for an accurate assessment and diagnosis
  • Use the pain medication as prescribed
  • Stay active and avoid too much bed rest as it will slow down your recovery.
  • Once your pain subsides undertake gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent further episodes in the future


Here at My Emergency Dr we are experts in the assessment and diagnosis of back pain. Call us today for an immediate online medical assessment using the My Emergency Dr App. If your back pain causes you to develop weakness in your legs or bowel or bladder dysfunction please seek urgent medical attention.

Winter flu and you

Last year we had a horror flu season, one of the worst on record, which caused unexpected deaths and multiple admissions to hospital for patients young and old across Australia. To protect you and your family here are some simple steps you can take to minimise infection and transmission.

Spreading the illness
– Wash your hands thoroughly
– Don’t share cups or cutlery
– Cough or sneeze into your elbow
– Use tissues and dispose of them into the waste bin
– If your child is sick keep them home from daycare or school to prevent spreading the illness

To prevent influenza there is a vaccine. The flu vaccine is free for
– Children aged 6 months to 5 years
– anyone over the age of 5 years with a chronic health condition
– all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
– pregnant women (influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
– people aged 65 years and over
– health workers

The evidence demonstrates that those who are vaccinated against the flu are less likely to get sick and less likely to get admitted to hospital. The vaccine also stops the spread of flu in the community and prevents those that are too young or too sick to be immunised from becoming infected. The vaccine is an inactivated (killed) virus. It will not give you the flu. Side effects of the vaccine include pain and redness at the site of injection. Less commonly, children may develop a fever or aches and pains, which last one to two days.

Vaccination remains the best protection against influenza to help keep you well this winter. To prevent becoming struck down with the flu get a flu vaccine.

App to access doctors

24-hour medical care without having to clog emergency departments

BANYULE residents can get free and urgent after hours medical care through a video consultation using a new smartphone medical app.

They can use the My Emergency Dr app to access specialist emergency doctors when their regular GP isn’t available.

The Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network is funding access until the end of May to the app for residents in its catchment area, including Banyule.

Network chief executive Robin Whyte said the service aimed to prevent people going to hospital emergency departments after hours if it was unnecessary.

“The app allows the user to not only speak with a specialist emergency doctor but also to share video and pictures to assist in care giving,” she said.

Dr Justin Bowra, the chief executive of My Emergency Dr, said the service would help residents who couldn’t contact their normal doctor or were unsure if they needed to go to an emergency department. All doctors working for the 24-hour app are Australian registered specialist emergency doctors able to order diagnostic tests, write prescriptions, refer patients to other specialists or recommend patients attend an emergency department if necessary.

Every assessment is completed with a follow-up letter to their regular doctor.

Residents can download the app and quote their postcode for help after hours.

My chest is on fire

Indigestion is a term that describes recurrent pain in the upper abdomen and a feeling of discomfort, burning, bloating, belching or nausea during or after eating. It is a common problem and is frequently caused by reflux of food contents (and acidic digestive fluid) from the stomach into the esophagus. If this continually occurs the lining of the stomach and esophagus becomes irritated, inflamed and painful.


Heartburn occurs commonly in patients who are pregnant or overweight individuals or those who have a diet high in spicy foods, coffee and alcohol. It is also common in patients who have a hernia of the diaphragm muscle, which causes part of the stomach to move up into the chest cavity. Smokers are at an increased risk of experiencing heartburn and anti-inflammatory tablets can also cause stomach irritation and pain.


The symptoms of heartburn or reflux include:

  • upper abdominal pain
  • a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
  • an acidic taste in the mouth
  • feeling full or bloated
  • burping, belching or flatulence
  • feeling sick or nauseated


You can ease heartburn and acid reflux by undertaking simple lifestyle changes. By quitting smoking and losing weight your symptoms will reduce. Importantly if you eat smaller more frequent meals and avoid foods that trigger your symptoms the irritation and inflammation will subside. We also recommend avoiding eating meals 3 hours before bed to avoid heartburn symptoms.


Should these lifestyle changes fail to reduce your symptoms you can call upon the experienced clinicians at My Emergency Dr for an immediate online consultation and expert care. If you have experienced any of the following symptoms please advise the team at My Emergency Dr – vomiting blood, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss; so, we can expedite your care.

5 steps to strong bones

It is never too early to start thinking about your bone health. Bones are living, growing tissues and are continually broken down and rebuilt, however there is a silent disease affecting the lives of Australians and causing injuries due to weak bones. This disease is called osteoporosis and it makes strong bones brittle causing them to break after a minor bump or fall. In Australia osteoporosis affects one in two women over the age of 50 with women affected two times more often than men due to the hormonal changes from menopause.


Bones are living growing tissues that are constantly remodeling in response to the stresses and strains placed on them during our daily activities. They become weak when they lose minerals, particularly calcium and are less able to regenerate their strength. Osteoporosis increases the risk of breaking a bone. In a woman’s lifetime half will go on to have a broken bone of the hip, wrist or spine.


The good news is that there are 3 vital steps you can take to prevent bone loss, improve bone strength or delay the onset of osteoporosis:

      • Eat a diet rich in calcium
        Almost 99% of the body’s calcium is found in bones and it combines with other minerals to form hard crystals to give bones structure and strength. To increase calcium in your diet eat foods such as dairy, green leafy vegetables and canned fish containing bones which have high amounts of calcium.


      • Ensure your Vitamin D level is in the healthy range
        Vitamin D supports bone growth and helps to absorb calcium into the bones. The main source of vitamin D is through sunlight exposure when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet B light. Just a few minutes of skin exposure to sunlight will increase your Vitamin D levels. You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight, or if you’re worried about exposing your skin.


    • Undertake regular weight bearing exercises to strengthen bones
      Regular exercise that is weight bearing such as walking or weight training helps our bones to become stronger. The extra strain of weight bearing exercises causes the bones to remodel and increases the bone mineral density and bone quality to prevent bony injuries.


    Osteoporosis can easily cause a broken bone due to a minor bump or fall. If this has happened to you and you have ongoing pain, swelling deformity, bruising or if you are unable to use the limb call My Emergency Dr today for an immediate assessment and expert medical advice. We will arrange the treatment you need and help you avoid a long Emergency department queue. Download our App for immediate consultation now!

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.