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.

Are you up to date with the latest Food Pyramid changes ?

Nutrition is an integral part of your wellbeing. Check it out to make sure you’re eating the right quantities of the right food.

 

– eat a diet rich in vegetables, lean meat, fish and chicken

– avoid saturated fats and processed foods

– reduce sugar and salt intake

 

Part of staying well and reducing chronic disease involves eating a varied balanced diet rich in whole foods. In 2015 Nutrition Australia modified the food pyramid to reflect the increasing obesity rates in the Australian population. Currently Australia has one of the highest obesity rates in the world with almost two out of 3 adults and 1 in four children defined as overweight or obese.

 

Unhealthy diets and obesity are leading contributors to poor health in Australia. The redesigned Healthy Eating Pyramid has been intended for use as a simple visual guide to aide people in choosing the types and appropriate amount of food that we should eat every day for good health.

 

The pyramid’s foundation layer focuses on plant-based foods such as vegetables and legumes, fruits and grains. Plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also high in fibre and low in fat helping you to feel fuller for longer. Grains also make up the foundation layer of the triangle and reflect their role in lowering risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

 

The middle layer recommends dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese plus lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and nuts. These foods are important in moderate amounts in our diet so we can obtain protein for muscle growth plus healthy fats, vitamins and minerals for cellular repair and strengthening our immune system. The top layer of the pyramid encourages the use of healthy plant-based fats to support heart health and brain function.

 

What foods should I avoid? Foods with bad fats are those high in saturated and trans fats. Types of food high in unhealthy fat include cakes, pastries, margarine and takeaway food likes hamburgers and chips. Eating food high in saturated fat increases your blood cholesterol and places you at higher risk of heart disease.

Who says you can’t do that with Telemedicine and medical apps?

“You can’t do that by Telemedicine!”

 

TLDR;

– Telemedicine is being increasingly used worldwide because of its numerous advantages, primarily easier access to highly qualified physicians.

 

– Appendicitis is unlikely in a child with abdominal pain who is still active and running around.

 

My Emergency Dr helps distinguish between patients who need to go to the emergency department and those who can stay at home and/or be followed up by a GP.

 

The electric lightbulb. The telephone. Aeroplanes and cars. Personal computers and online shopping. These are just a few examples of concepts that were once ridiculed and heavily criticised but have now become ubiquitous and indispensable.
And yet, telemedicine is not an entirely new concept, having been around in various forms since the late 1960s. Fifteen million Americans used telehealth in some form in 2014 and 72% of hospitals in America currently use telemedicine daily as part of patient management.1

What does this mean for a concerned mother who thinks her young child with abdominal pain could be having appendicitis? Firstly, the majority of patients presenting to emergency departments have medical conditions which are not life-threatening and do not require urgent intervention. Secondly, doctors obtain a lot of information about a patient’s condition just from taking a good history and looking at the patient “from the end of the bed”.

 

If your child has abdominal pain and is jumping on a trampoline in the backyard, he is unlikely to have appendicitis; children with appendicitis will usually prefer not to move as movement worsens the pain. The doctor who answers your call to My Emergency Dr is an emergency medicine specialist: s/he is highly qualified with several years’ experience in emergency medicine, and will be able to tell you based on your history and what your child looks like (via the High Definition camera on the app) whether or not to take your child to the emergency department.

In the case of My Emergency Dr, Telemedicine is essentially the difference between getting a qualified, highly experienced emergency physician to reassure you from the comfort of your home that your child is ok, or waiting several hours in a crowded emergency department to be told that your child is ok.
Telemedicine is the future, and the future is now.

 

References

1. The Wall Street Journal: “How Telemedicine is Transforming Healthcare.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-telemedicine-is-transforming-health-care-1466993402. Accessed 30/07/2017

Common cold information and treatment. How can a medical app work for me?

This has been a tough winter for illness! It seems that nearly everyone has the sniffles, not least our little ones.  But what is the common cold?  How is it spread?  How do you treat it?  And when should you take your child to see the doctor? When can you use a medical app?

 

Symptoms and Definition of Common Cold

 

The common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat.  Many different viruses can cause a cold but one called rhinovirus (which is easy to remember because ‘rhino’ means ‘of the nose’) is responsible for most colds.  Symptoms include sneezing and coughing, a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, a headache, ear pain and watery eyes.  Younger children often develop a fever (a temperature of 38°C or more); this is the body’s way of supporting the immune system while it fights the infection and is not dangerous.

 

How exactly are colds spread?

 

We all know that colds are spread when someone sneezes or coughs around others but many people don’t know that most colds are transmitted by touching infected secretions then touching your nose or eyes.  For example, if you shake hands with someone who has coughed into their hands, and then you rub your nose, you’re at risk of catching a cold.  So wash your hands! (And your kids’ hands, and their toys, and your door handles too).

 

How Can I Treat It?

 

Unfortunately, there is no wonder treatment for the common cold.  Sorry.  Antibiotics won’t help because colds are caused by a virus (remember, antibiotics only work for bacterial infections).  The aim is therefore to treat the symptoms until the body can clear the infection.  Symptoms are usually at their worst on days 2 to 3 before gradually improving over the next 10 to 14 days.  Many kids will then go on to have a lingering cough for a few more weeks – this is called a ‘post-viral cough’.

 

Top Cold Busting Tips

 

1. Give your child plenty of fluids (if your child is old enough, warm liquids such as good quality chicken soup are great)

2. Try unblocking little noses with gentle suction followed by sterile saline nose drops or sprays (and don’t ever use nasal decongestants in children under the age of 12)

3. Humidified air may be helpful

4. Paracetamol and/or ibuprofen are available over the counter at the chemist, and help painful ears and throats. They will also help if your child is grizzly or uncomfortable due to a fever (always follow the instructions on the bottle)

5. A teaspoon of good-quality honey given 30 minutes before bedtime may help to reduce the severity and duration of the cough (but don’t ever give honey to any children under the age of one as it can cause life-threatening muscle weakness).

6. Use your best veggie-disguising skills to get lots of brightly coloured vegetables into your kids

7. Many cough medicines are dangerous for children under the age of 12 and we therefore do not recommend them

8. Don’t ever smoke around children (and better still, don’t smoke at all)

 

What to do if they are still sick?

 

If your child is very unwell or sleepy, not drinking enough fluids or having difficulty breathing you should see your doctor.  Please also see your doctor if your child has had a fever for five days or more, or if the post-viral cough has persisted for three weeks or more.

 

And remember: if you’re just not sure if you need to go to the emergency department, download the My Emergency Dr medical app and talk to our friendly doctors!

Worried about food poisoning on holidays? Rest easy with My Emergency Dr

So you have been hanging out for that break away, work has been hectic and you are looking forward just to have time, your time, to do things at your pace or do nothing at all.

 

What happens however when you get on that holiday and you or a family member gets sick? It’s not always easy to know where to go or who to call. Should we use the local emergency department? Where can I get medical advice that I can trust?  With good internet access and My Emergency Dr on your smartphone, you can access specialist medical assessment within minutes, wherever you are in the world. (*only for Aussies OS and for travellers within Australia)

 

Unfortunately when on holiday, illness sometimes occurs. It take many forms: food poisoning is the commonest, followed by accidental injury from holiday activities or even what has been termed“ holiday heart syndrome”.  MED Blog  has some tips to help you reduce the likelihood of illness when away.

 

Studies from overseas show that 50% of travellers returning to Europe and North America from the tropics experience health problems related to their travel and that 8% consult doctors either abroad or on return. Figures are not available for Australian travellers but are probably similar. Over the last decade Australian travellers increasingly visit tropical and developing countries and hence can now present with infections that are rare in Australia.  For those heading to such countries, a visit to your GP beforehand is essential to receive the recommended vaccines for the region where the holiday is based, and other medication such as antimalarials. The need for travel insurance is also highly recommended.

 

Let’s look at the common illnesses and any preventive measures that can reduce their frequency.

 

Food Poisoning


This is the number 1 cause of holiday sickness and is caused by eating contaminated food. It can range in its presentation from mild stomach cramps to life threatening severe gastrointestinal losses from diarrhoea and/or vomiting.  In 2015 the World Health Organisation (WHO) compiled a report on foodborne illness and concluded that 550 million people a year develop a diarrhoeal illness. They noted that most foodborne diseases are preventable through good standard food hygiene, improvements in sanitation and risk assessments by food preparation staff.

 

While on holiday you may be unfamiliar with the hygiene standards of many of the restaurant’s kitchens that you visit. It can be hard for you to know if your food has been reheated, stored at the correct temperature or even left open for pests to contaminate.

 

So what can you do to reduce your risks?


– check your food is cooked through properly


– avoid drinks with ice and be careful with the local tap water


– avoid salads and any uncooked fruit and vegetables  that may have been handled unhygienically (this is more applicable to overseas destinations)


– wash your hands frequently before and after meal times and after using bathroom


– frequently use alcohol-based hand gel

 

How good are the alcohol-based hand gels?


The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines for Hand Hygiene recommend alcohol based gels over washing your hands with soap and water!  This is because they are often more accessible, they kill many more germs and also are less drying to the skin. However if your hands are visibly dirty (eg soil contamination) then a soap-and-water wash is superior.

 

How good is soap and water?


As discussed above soap and water manages to remove visible dirt as alcohol based gels cannot degrade organic materials. It is important to ensure that your hands are washed adequately with soap and water if it is to be effective. The CDC recommends washing your hands thoroughly for at least 15 seconds ( if you don’t have a timer this is equivalent to singing “Happy Birthday” twice).

 

How do you treat food poisoning?


Oral Rehydration Therapy
irrespective of the cause or type of food poisoning, the most important treatment is to replace the excessive salt and water losses that occur.. Fluid and electrolyte replacement is key to preventing dehydration and worsening of a patient’s medical state. At its most extreme, acute kidney injury and even death can occur.

 

A number of oral rehydration therapies are available and providing they have the correct proportion of sugar and salt, they allow adequate rehydration. It is important to give oral fluids in small volumes to prevent stomach distension and reflex vomiting. They readily available over the counter at the local pharmacy. If you are not near to a pharmacy a homemade oral rehydration can suffice: 5 cups of sterile (eg boiled) water, 6 level teaspoons of sugar, half a teaspoon of salt mixed until all is dissolved.

 

Reduce exposure to agents that can exacerbate diarrhoea:


Magnesium supplements, antibiotics, sorbitol containing foods and drinks (often found in artificial sweeteners), alcohol and antibiotics.

 

Medications: Antidiarrhoeal Agents


If diarrhoea is persistent, medications can be used in adults to help reduce the frequency eg Loperamide. This drug slows the gut down a dose of 4mg is given to slow the diarrhoea down and a further dose may be required a few hours later if it returns.

Furthermore if severe cramping abdominal pains occur, Hyoscine (eg ‘Buscopan’) is an antispasmodic agent that sometimes helps reduce the pains severity. There are certain conditions where buscopan cannot be used eg glaucoma, myasthenia gravis and certain heart arrhythmias.

 

What organisms cause food poisoning?


From the WHO global report the infective agents that cause diarrhoea include 5 types of bacteria, 1 virus, 3 protozoa and 10 parasitic worms. In Australia the commonest causes are:

 

– Bacteria: Campylobacter, Eshcerichia Coli, Salmonella, Listeria

– Viruses: Norovirus, Norwalk virus

– Protozoa: Giardia, cryptosporidium, amoeba

 

Campylobacter is one of the commonest causes of holiday sickness in Australia and abroad. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea (often blood stained), stomach cramps, fever, muscle aches and headaches. It occurs when food is prepared in an unhygienic manner and is classically spread by food being left to cool in environments such as Hotel buffet areas. Campylobacter can incubate for between 2 and 10 days after the contaminated food has been eaten.

 

Warning
If diarrhoea is ongoing beyond a few days or if bloody and associated with a fever then medical attention should be sought. Furthermore young children and the elderly are much more susceptible to the ill effects of severe diarrhoea and acute dehydration should seek medical attention sooner.

 

Ear Infections: Swimmers Ear
On holidays we frequently swim daily and hence increase our susceptibility to a condition called swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is infection of the outer ear canal often brought on by ear remaining in your ear canal thereby providing a moist warm environment for bacteria to flourish. It is not contagious. Prompt treatment of this can prevent more severe infection and complications. It may start as itching in your ear canal and mild irritation.  When it progresses it becomes more itchy, more painful, hearing may become muffled, redness may be noted around the ear canal, a discharge may develop as may  fever.

 

Risk Factors: Swimming in water with elevated bacteria levels: a lake, some swimming pools if not regularly cleaned, a  narrow ear canal, aggressive cleaning of the ear canal with cotton buds, irritation from devices such as headphones or hearing aids.

 

Treatment: topical eg drops with antibiotics are often required plu additional preventive measures to stop recurrence eg getting rid of ear plugs that may be a potential source of reinfection

 

Prevention of Swimmer’s Ear
-Tip your head to the side and empty your ear canal of water after swimming
– some pliable ear plugs providing they fit your ear canal and keep it dry can be used, but ensure to change these regularly
– Avoid putting cotton wool or any materials into your ear canal

 

 

Accidents abroad

 

It is often on holiday that thrill-seeking behaviour is indulged. Skiing, water sports, horse riding, moped riding all seem more enticing when we are away and hence accidents are more likely to occur on holiday. Sadly accidents can occur on something even more trivial such as slipping on the edge of the swimming pool. Preventive measures seem obvious here and in retrospect we often wish we hadn’t indulged. It is in this situation that a My Emergency Dr specialist can asses whether you need to go to an emergency department, go to a radiology practice for an Xray or manage with simple measures such as ice pack and elevation.

 

 

“Holiday Heart Syndrome”

 

This term has been coined for the increased incidence of heart irregularities that occur when individuals are on holiday. It was first described in the 1970s when doctors noticed an increase incidence of heart rhythm abnormalities following public holidays and holidays. These patients were apparently healthy with no prior heart history but following binge drinking noticed a racing heart, shortness of breath and sometimes chest pain.

 

It mainly associated with what are known as supraventricular heart arrhythmias, with atrial fibrillation being the most common cardiac arrhythmia in this syndrome. However, other less frequent types of arrhythmias can also occur such as atrial flutter and extra ectopic heart beats. If these heart arrhythmias persist there is a potential risk of stroke and hence any symptoms should be investigated.

 

Holiday heart syndrome can occur in both regular and non-regular drinkers. It can occur due to excess alcohol but also is associated with some electrolyte  (salt abnormalities) or when someone has undiagnosed thyroid disease. It is more prevalent in the middle aged and elderly when on holiday. It would appear that while all alcohol leads to structural changes to the heart over time. One study has suggested that beer is more likely to cause rhythm disturbances than wine.

 

Prevention: Once the symptoms described occur, abstinence is the best treatment or at least avoidance of binge drinking. Chronic drinkers tend to drink more on their holidays and hence A patient should have a complete cardiac work up if these symptoms occur and hence see either their Gp or if unwell present to an emergency department.

 

In the elderly traveller forgetting your heart medication or forgetting to bring your medication can also make you heart more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Telehealth can allow you access to an urgent prescription if you have forgotten to pack you medications.

 

Summary

 

In summary, illness can occur when we are away on holidays sometimes for reasons out of our control but also may be as a result of our risk taking behaviour.  In the event sickness does occur, My Emergency Dr can provide you with the reassuring comfort of an Australian Specialist in Emergency Medicine to assess whether you can stay and be treated in your holiday home or need to attend the local emergency department.

 

 

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/patients/index.html

http://www.gastrohep.com/conreports/bangkok/JGHS3.pdf

https://www.mja.com.au/system/files/issues/181_10_151104/ell10338_fm.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/swimmers-ear/symptoms-causes/dxc-20201445

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/swimming/resources/pseudomonas-factsheet_swimmers_ear.pdf

Alcohol and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation : A Prospective Study and Dose Response Meta analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25034065

Holiday Heart Syndrome Revisited after 34 years. Arq,Bras cardiol 2013: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3998158/

Nervous about going away? Get peace of mind with My Emergency Dr

In-flight

 

Almost all travellers have encountered someone with an in-flight medical emergency. When we think about in-flight emergencies, the most dramatic episodes come to mind.  These include heart attack, trauma from falling objects and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs) leading to a pulmonary embolism (clot traveling to your lungs).  However, the most common things are somewhat more mundane. A general understanding and approach to them will make flying a bit smoother and less daunting for the hypochondriac in us all.

 

So, what are the common concerns?

 

Most studies and data show that “syncope” or fainting is by far the leader among presentations on a flight. The issue with syncope is that it can be caused by visual or emotional stimuli which trigger nerve pathways which can cause a person to faint. So, if you are a nervous flyer, or encountered a rather surprising and powerful stimulus, it may cause you to faint. Most of these episodes are self-limiting and cause no long-term issues. The second most common are gastrointestinal symptoms, and by far the common complaint is nausea and vomiting caused by air sickness. While air sickness is mediated by your nervous system, the usual combination is nausea, vomiting and spatial disorientation. Third, and potentially more serious, are heart / lung issues. These include mostly hyperventilation and chest pain, keeping in mind some cases of chest pain may be related to anxiety rather than a problem with the heart.

 

Oxygen

 

The issue is that altitude has an effect on the partial pressure of oxygen. While the oxygen in the atmosphere is 21% everywhere, the partial pressure is 160mm Hg at sea level and 118mm Hg at 8000 feet. Why is 8000 feet an important number? Because the Aviation authorities require the cabin to be pressurised to somewhere below 8000 feet. The decreased partial pressure leads to a decrease in the proportion of oxygen you breathe in and the ease with which the body can take the oxygen in. Most of us can handle this level of oxygen, with popular tourist destinations such as Aspen sitting at about 7800 feet above sea level and Machu Picchu at about 8000 above sea level. However, those with significant heart or lung disease are more susceptible to these changes and should seek medical advice before travelling.

 

Our travel advice

 

Think about if you are a settled flyer or if you are a nervous flyer, what makes you that way? If there are certain symptoms that bother you, appropriate medications may help. Sensible precautions are still relevant, such as calf exercises and adequate hydration, alerting crew members early and providing support if you are able. You also might want to think about learning basic life support if you haven’t already – it can be really useful wherever you are. And rest assured that there are well trained people traveling with you (be it crew members, doctors or nurses) and the emergency kit on flights have now evolved to become quite sophisticated. A little insight goes a long way. Think about your existing medical conditions. If you are concerned you can use our doctor app and speak with a Specialist Emergency Doctor via video based chat directly from your smartphone. Download the app from our website or talk to your GP before flying.

 

Summary

 

In summary, illness can occur when we are away on holidays or even while we are travelling to our holiday. If you are concerned prior to your flight, the My Emergency Doctor App will allow you to have a review with a Specialist Emergency Doctor before you fly. In the event sickness after your flight, our medical app can provide you with the reassuring comfort of an Australian Specialist in Emergency Medicine to assess whether you can stay and be treated in your holiday home or need to attend the local emergency department. Please note that the My Emergency Dr service is unavailable during flight.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3789915/

Getting Smart With Your Smartphone

According to the experts, approximately 80% of a medical diagnosis is made from taking a ‘medical history’ (essentially talking and dissecting through what’s happened as well as gathering background information)? The examination contributes ~10% to the diagnosis, and investigations a further ~10%. So the main contributor to arriving at a diagnosis is pure conversation; which is why Telemedicine services like ours work, but also why effective communication is key to accurate diagnosis and subsequent management.

 

In a nutshell, the standard ‘medical history’ structure includes:

 

1. History of presenting complaint

 

= What it is that has brought you to seek medical attention and specific details about this issue e.g chest pain, left sided, squashing pain, occurred at 10:30am whilst walking the dogs, lasted 15 minutes, resolved on its own, never had it before.

 

2. Your past medical history

 

= All your previous diagnoses (minor complaints such as common colds or gastro need not be mentioned unless excessively recurrent, but generally, everything you know about your history should be mentioned) e.g. high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes (type 2), left knee replacement

 

3. Medication history and allergies

 

= Regular medications, ‘as required’ medications as well as allergies to medications

Eg Telmisartan 40mg once /day, Simvastatin 20mg once /day, Metformin 1g twice /day

 

4. Social history

 

= Your occupation, who’s in the household, smoking, alcohol, drugs

Recalling previous diagnoses or regular medications (including doses) can often be a challenge at the best of times let alone under pressure. Keeping a list of each in your wallet is one option, taking phone photos of your medication boxes is another, but my personal favourite is using a smartphone app – which is still little known.

 

How your smartphone can keep you healthy

 

This week, let’s see how it works on an iPhone:

 

iphone app

 

Even with your iPhone is locked, you can you can access your medical information and emergency contacts:

 

 

To set up your Medical ID, go to the ‘Health’ app on your phone

This app is incredibly useful for encounters with unfamiliar healthcare staff, emergency departments or after hours GPs. The added bonus of setting up the Medical ID on your smartphone is that your NOK (next of kin) can be contacted in an emergency without passcode access to your phone – useful if you lose your phone or are involved in an accident.

 

However, since the information you choose to add is accessible with your phone locked, sensitive information probably ought to be omitted.

 

Want to get even healthier with your smartphone? Download our My Emergency Dr app and when you need advice in a hurry or an after hours doctor, just press CALL DOCTOR and within minutes you’ll be talking face to face with a senior, experienced specialist emergency doctors in Australia. You can also receive x-ray requests and prescriptions right on your phone.

 

My Emergency Dr: wherever you are, we will be there.

 

References

  • Peterson MC, Holbrook JH, Von Hales D et al. Contributions of the history, physical examination, and laboratory investigation in making medical diagnoses. West J Med. 1992; 156: 163-165.

Hampton JR, Harrison MJG, Mitchell JRA et al. Relative Contributions of History-taking, Physical Examination, and Laboratory Investigation to Diagnosis and Management of Medical Outpatients. BMJ 1975; 2: 486-489.

Debating whether or not you should be getting the Flu Shot this season ? Here are 4 good reasons why you should get the flu shot

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to preventing the spread of flu and other diseases. Here’s why you should become a role model for your friends, family and colleagues:

 

1. The flu can be serious

An average of 2,800 Australians die from influenza and pneumonia every year.
Some people are at greater risk of influenza complications. If you catch flu, apart from feeling dreadful yourself, you risk spreading it to vulnerable people at risk of serious complications. If you come into contact with infants, pregnant women, older people or immune-compromised people while you have flu you are putting them at risk.

Apart from that, it takes an average of two weeks to recover from flu. That’s a long time for work and chores to pile up.
If you get the flu shot:

• You can avoid spreading it to at-risk people
• You can avoid feeling awful yourself
• You can avoid having to put your life on hold.

 

2. You can’t get sick from the flu shot

It is not possible to get the flu from getting the flu shot. The vaccine does not contain any active virus.
The vaccine contains particles of killed viruses, so it cannot cause influenza. Some people can experience side effects from the vaccine, which include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, low grade temperature, muscle aches and/or drowsiness.
It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting the flu shot, so if you do get flu soon after getting your shot, it’s because your immunity was not yet fully developed.

 

3. You need the flu shot every year

Influenza viruses change frequently therefore the influenza vaccine is usually updated every year (depending on the circulating strains). Having an influenza vaccine every year in Autumn is recommended, particularly for those in the high risk groups. Protection develops about two weeks after being given the injection and lasts up to a year, which makes it important to be vaccinated every year.

 

4. It’s free for some people

The National Immunisation Program Schedule provides free influenza vaccine for people at greater risk of influenza complications. This includes:

• All people aged 65 years and older
• Pregnant women
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and older
• Everyone aged from six months and over with medical conditions that put them at risk of complications from influenza infection.

Some workplaces provide free influenza vaccine to their staff. You can also get influenza vaccine by visiting your doctor. The vaccine costs around $20 plus the cost of the doctor’s visit.

Further information on influenza and vaccination is available at:

http://www.health.vic.gov.au/immunisation/fact- sheets/factsheets/influenza

Reference: health.vic.gov.au

My Emergency Dr: What makes us different?

When your loved ones fall sick and your usual GP is unavailable, where do you turn? Do you call an after hours doctor? Do you call an after hours medical helpline? Do you get the kids in the car and drive to the local Emergency Department or the local after hours medical centre?

 

Or do you call My Emergency Dr?

 

People often ask us, ‘What’s the difference between your service and an after hours GP?’

 

My Emergency Dr (MED) is not an after hours GP service. And we are not a nurse helpline. We are not staffed with nurses or junior doctors. We are staffed with Emergency Specialist Doctors.

 

Our doctors are the experts who run the Emergency Department – they have completed years of training in dealing with every possible medical emergency, and they are Fellows of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, or FACEMs). Each one has passed his or her Fellowship or ‘Consultant’ Exam in Emergency Medicine. They are the doctors best qualified to deal with the full range of emergencies suffered by all patients, regardless of age or gender.

 

Further information about Emergency Medicine specialist training can be found here:  https://www.acem.org.au/Education-Training/Specialist-Training/Training-Program-Overview.aspx)

 

Timing is Everything

 

There’s another crucial difference: the time it takes to see the doctor. We all know that it can take hours of waiting to complete your treatment in the Emergency Department, but it’s easy to forget that it can also take hours for that visit by an after hours doctor.

 

It takes only minutes to download our app, register and call one of our Emergency Specialists. The typical wait time to speak face to face with one of our doctors is less than two minutes, and a typical call takes less than ten minutes. Within half an hour of your face-to-face online consultation, your prescription or x-ray order form could be in your email inbox.

 

My Emergency Dr. Wherever you are, we will be there.

Germ Proof Your Kids! Back to School and the bugs that live there…

So schools have been back for a couple of weeks and routines have been re-established. Sadly those routines get challenged when kids need to take time off school due to illness and working parents often struggle managing the work home commitments. According to the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, primary school children get on average 8-12 cold or flu episodes each year. Teachers and parents commonly call this “ the back to school plague”.

 

Why? Schools are often perfect places for germs to flourish- what one paediatrician calls a germ candystore. The confined space of the classroom is a perfect medium for “coughs and sneezes to spread diseases”.

 

However there are some simple rules to instil in your children with the aim of reducing their risks of infection ie germ proofing your kids. We have come up with a list of 7 simple rules:

 

Rule 1. Be careful at the water bubbler/fountain

 

Paediatrician Dr Harley Rotbart has written a book on germ-proofing children in order to reduce infection. He states that the number one source of germs in schools is not the toilets but the water bubbler. It may not get disinfected as regularly as the toilets and small kids often put their mouths on the fountain itself. To reduce your risks the water should be run a little first before drinking or preferably use your own water drink bottle. Finally, remind your kids not to share their water bottles!

 

Rule 2. Clean your hands properly before eating

 

Some schools tell their pupils to wash their hands before eating but not all schools do this. Teach your children to wash or use a hand sanitiser before they pick up food and eat: at home, at school and out and about.

 

Properly-washed hands reduce the occurrence of stomach problems such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Studies in the USA showed that only 28% of children know how to wash their hands properly.  A simple trick is to sing the “Happy birthday to you” song twice while washing. This helps ensure that your kids will wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. They should also make sure they clean between their fingers and under their fingernails, and use a clean paper towel or dryer to dry off. Washing with soap and water is superior to hand sanitiser if done properly.

 

Rule 3. Ensure the eating area is clean

 

Schools manage eating areas and try to keep them clean. However with the numbers of children in coming and out of the eating area, it can be challenging to keep things completely germ free. Children should eat from their own boxes or trays and avoid putting their food directly on tables.

 

Rule 4. Hand covering for coughs and sneezes

 

Teaching children to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze reduces their chances of spreading germs. Germs can travel up to 3 metres with a simple sneeze! It can be a good idea to stock tissues in your child’s school bag. Teach them to use tissues for all coughs and sneezes and then bin the tissue straightaway, as hands transfer germs to every surface they touch.

 

Rule 5. Don’t believe the ten-second rule!

 

Many people follow the so-called ten-second rule which alleges that food is still safe to eat if it has fallen to the floor, provided that you picked it up within ten seconds. Very few studies have looked specifically at its validity, and those that have been done give conflicting results. This is because it all depends on how well cleaned the floor is, the food type and whether the food can be washed once it falls on the floor. To date it would appear that if the floor is not clean and microorganisms are present, they will transfer in less than 10 seconds. So judge your response based on what you know about the environment in which you are dining.  If you have any doubt and maybe while at school your kids should just throw the fallen food away.

 

Rule 6. Vaccinate your kids!

 

Vaccines used in Australia are safe and must pass strict safety testing on thousands of individuals in large clinical trials before being approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In addition, the TGA monitors the safety of vaccines once they are in use. It is important to keep your children’s vaccinations up to date to prevent these severe communicable diseases that caused significant health issues in the previous century.

 

Whooping cough (bordetella pertussis) is a highly infectious respiratory illness that can cause severe illness. Severe bouts of coughing can cause vomiting, rib fractures, rupture of small blood vessels and hernias. About 1 in 125 babies aged less than 6 months who catch whooping cough die from pneumonia or brain damage. The good news is that all children are vaccinated against whooping cough, and that the vaccine is safe. But the bad news is that immunity wears off with time. So as well as vaccinating your kids, ask your GP whether you need a booster too.

 

The vaccine against Chickenpox is a single dose vaccine that is given up to the age of 14. Once diagnosed with chickenpox a child is infectious 2 days before the appearance of the rash and at least 5 days after the rash when it has scabbed over. If adults or pregnant women acquire this virus it can have more serious consequences, so vaccinating your child helps others too.

 

Rotavirus causes significant diarrhoea, and since teh rotavirus vaccine was introduced there has been a 70% reduction in hospital admissions with gastroenteritis. Vaccination is performed only once, at younger than 6 months age.

 

Rule 7.  Prevent Head Lice

 

Head lice are the curse of most preschools and primary schools, because younfg children are in close contact with each other sharing hats, hair bows or bands. Mechanical removal  (wet fine combing) is the mainstay of treatment coupled with chemical treatment. However key factors to reduce infestation are:

Teach your child not to share items that touch the head like combs or towels

Avoid activities that lead to head to head contact.

Tie your child’s hair  up preferably into plaits/braids.

Regular examination of your child’s hair and scalp thereby allowing quick treatment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, more research is needed to prove whether certain chemicals prevent lice eg tea tree, eucalyptus or citronella. Hence none of these products are endorsed for this indication by the Therapeutic Goods Of Australia or the Food and Drug Administration in the US.

 

Conclusion

 

In the end, there is no 100% guarantee that your children won’t get sick during the school term. Remember that you too as parents need to follow these simple rules at home especially when your kids are sick. Good personal hygiene and regular cleaning of surfaces is key to reducing transmission, but as a busy parent try not to become obsessed, crazy and more exhausted!

 

References

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Publications/coughs-and-sneezes.pdf

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Documents/iec.pdf

http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/content/home

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/headlice/Pages/treatment.aspx#bookmark2

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lice/basics/prevention/con-20021627