Friday, May 26, 2017

Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The orange ribbon signifies Multiple Sclerosis awareness

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system such as the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. While MS affects everyone differently, below are some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with the disease.

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness
  • Pain
  • Vision problems
  • Mobility problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Speech problems
  • Bladder and bowel problems
For more information on MS, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary's website at

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gluten-Free Foods

If you suffer from Celiac Disease, it is important to maintain a diet that is gluten-free. Below is an example of some gluten-free foods. 

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Tapioca
  • Beans
  • Potato
  • Quinoa
  • Flax
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Nuts
  • Dairy

You can find more information on Celiac Disease and some of the common symptoms that are associated with it on Ali Ghahary's website at

Thursday, May 11, 2017

When to Worry About Tirdness

Tiredness is a common feeling we all experience. However, there are times where it may actually be indicative of a serious problem and require treatment.

For more information on the health conditions that are commonly associated with fatigue, visit Ali Ghahary's blog at

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week

Did you know there are over 600 people in British Columbia who are waiting for a transplant? Have an open and honest conversation about your wishes with your family and register your decision at You could save a life.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

World Meningitis Day

World Meningitis Day is this Monday, April 24th. Learn about the signs and symptoms of meningitis on Dr. Ali Ghahary's website at

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month in Canada

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month in Canada. For more information on Parkinson's disease and how you can get involved in the campaign, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary's website at

Friday, April 14, 2017

Vancouver Physician Dr. Ali Ghahary Meets Dr. Oz

Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, recently had the opportunity to meet surgeon, author and TV personality Dr. Oz. Read all about it at!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (also referred to as AFib or AF) is a common but debilitating heart disorder that results in an irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia, affecting over 300,000 Canadians with a prevalence of 2.3% adults over the age of 40, and 5.9% of adults over the age of 65. 70% of individuals diagnosed with AFib are between the ages of 65 and 85, with men having an increased incidence than women.

As a physician in Greater Vancouver, Dr. Ali Ghahary is able to treat the aforementioned conditions and symptoms in effort to avoid the development of Atrial Fibrillation and its complications. 

As the risk of being diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation can increase with age, it is also important to be aware of other risk factors and underlying conditions that can cause this disorder, i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and sleep apnea. Individuals who have been diagnosed with an underlying heart disease are also at an increased risk of developing AF – such as heart valve problems, previous history of heart attack, congenital heart disease and congenital heart failure, in addition to family history. Those with AF are also five times more likely to have a stroke in comparison to someone without this condition. Complications such as blood clots can also arise, and if traveled through the blood stream can cause a blockage, which can sometimes be fatal.

Those with Atrial Fibrillation may not always experience symptoms. However, manifestations of AFib can include heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting and shortness of breath. If you experience any alarming, sudden symptoms such as chest pain, a feeling of pressure in your chest, or have difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately by calling 9-1-1.

Patients are almost always referred for further non-invasive testing which may include an electrocardiogram to check the heart’s electrical activity, an echocardiogram to take images of the heart, and a holter test – a portable ECG machine that you wear for several days to closely monitor your heart’s rhythm. Blood tests may also be ordered. Dr. Ali Ghahary may also refer patients to Vancouver’s Atrial Fibrillation Clinic for assessment by a Cardiologist. The Vancouver AFib Clinic is an initiative designed to help educate patients on their condition and improve their quality of life by providing treatment plans, referrals to other services if necessary, and follow-up appointments.

The fundamental objective in treating Atrial Fibrillation is to prevent blood clots from forming. The most commonly prescribed meds to ensure that blood clots do not form is Warfarin and Aspirin. Patients may also require other medications like beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers in effort to stabilize their heart rate. Patients diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation should also ensure that they are maintaining a diet that is heart-healthy, exercise regularly, and don’t smoke.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Link Between Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Since 1985, rates of obesity in Canada have tripled. It’s a startling trend, and by 2019 as many as 25% of Canadians are expected to be diagnosed as being obese. Causes of obesity range from genetics, physical inactivity, medications, and unhealthy eating habits. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician in Vancouver practicing at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, has been a long-time advocate of patients leading healthy lifestyles, which includes keeping fit and having diets that are low in carbohydrates. 

Dr. Ali Ghahary personally recommends the Paleo diet or South Beach diet, which are not just focused on weight loss, but instead focus on the patient’s overall health.

There has also been a discovery that shows obesity may be linked to sleep apnea, or vice versa – especially in teenagers, with more than 5% of Canadian teenagers suffering from sleep apnea; that number rises to as many as 60% in teenagers who are obese. 

Sleep apnea is a common condition that affects the airways by causing pauses in breathing, with less air getting to the lungs as a result. This then causes a disruption in sleep. As our quality of sleep is disturbed, one may find it more difficult to control their eating habits, and the want to exercise will also diminish due to feeling overtired. Risks include developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. This is especially worrisome in younger patients, as developing these problems at an early age can have a significant impact on one’s health. Teenagers that are diagnosed as being obese in addition to having a diagnosis of sleep apnea are also more likely to have trouble concentrating in school or at work, and are at a greater risk of developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

An obvious symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring with pauses in breathing that can last as long as 20 seconds. Headaches and a constant feeling of fatigue are also two common symptoms in patients, young and old, suffering from sleep apnea. In order to properly diagnose if this is a condition that you or your teenager may have, your doctor may refer you to a sleep clinic (there are several in and around Vancouver.) These Vancouver sleep clinics are specifically designed to determine what sleep disorders, if any, you might have, and can perform specific diagnostic testing such as a sleep study. A sleep study will monitor your breathing, oxygen levels, as well as the number of times you wake up during the night.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Prostate Cancer: A Leading Cancer in Males Across Canada

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician, practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic, a collaborative family practice and walk-in clinic located at Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby. There, Dr. Ghahary sees patients of all ages – from newborns to elderly, ranging from minor health ailments to more complicated and chronic conditions such as kidney disease and various types of cancer.

One of the leading cancers for male patients across Canada is prostate cancer – the formation of a malignant tumour in the cells of the prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located just beneath the bladder and surrounding the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder. Prostate cancer typically grows slowly, and if caught early enough can usually be managed quite successfully or even removed completely. On average, an estimated 59 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each day, with over 21,000 men in Canada being diagnosed this year alone.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer to watch out for include changes in bladder habits (i.e. frequent urination, the urgency or inability or urinate, a weak or interrupted urine stream, and burning or pain during urination in addition to blood in the urine.) Late symptoms can also include bone pain, weight loss, anemia, fatigue, and complete loss of bladder control.

In order to diagnose prostate cancer your physician may examine you in order to check for any hard bumps that may have the possibility of being cancerous. In addition, patients will also be referred for diagnostic testing. A common screening test to check for prostate cancer is a PSA test, otherwise known as a Prostate-Specific Antigen test. This test is performed by drawing blood and checking your PSA levels. Typically, most men who are healthy will have a PSA level under 4ng/ml. However, with an increased PSA level the risk of having prostate cancer also increases significantly. With a PSA level over 10, that risk grows by 50%. Another common test used to diagnose prostate cancer is a core needle biopsy. This is usually done depending on the patient’s symptoms and results of other tests, such as the PSA blood test. It is important to note that even with a PSA level below 4, that does not necessarily mean you are 100% cancer-free, as 15% of male patients are found to have prostate cancer after a biopsy has been performed. Treatment for prostate cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation – all of which are performed as either standalone treatment or in combination.

There are many prostate cancer support services in and around Vancouver, including the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC, located in Surrey. Their goal is to provide knowledge and help to individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer, in addition to raising funds in support of further research and treatment options. In order to raise funds and bring awareness to the fight against prostate cancer, they hold an annual fundraiser every summer – the Father’s Day Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer. This run takes place across various cities in British Columbia including Metro Vancouver, Chilliwack, Kamloops and Kelowna.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Anatomy of the Ear and Common Ear Disorders

Hearing has always been an essential part of communication – learning to talk is based on the ability to imitate sounds and mimic words used to speak. Without the ability to hear, communication can be difficult. The study of the ear, also known as otology, is the branch of medicine that examines the anatomy of the ear, its physiology, as well as diseases and disorders associated with it.

The ear is divided into 3 different sections, each playing an integral role in the hearing process: The external ear, middle ear, and inner ear.

Anatomy of the Ear

The external ear is the visible portion of the ear and consists of the pinna (or auricle) and the auditory canal. These parts of the ear are responsible for funnelling sound waves and secreting earwax. The tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum, separates the external ear from the middle ear. A common disorder of the inner ear is impacted cerumen (earwax). This occurs when earwax has hardened and obstructs the auditory canal. Signs and symptoms of this condition include ear ache, blocked or muffled hearing, and a sensation of a plugged ear. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a Vancouver physician practicing at Brentwood Medical Clinic, treats this condition by flushing earwax with a syringe. If let untreated, it can lead to permanent hearing loss or tinnitus. 

The middle ear is a small cavity located in the temporal bone of your skull. It contains three bones that are commonly described by their shapes. These are the malleus, which is shaped like a hammer, the incus, which is shaped like an anvil, and the stirrup-shaped stapes. The middle ear is responsible for equalizing air pressure, sound vibration, and protection from damage (i.e. from loud noise.) Otitis media, inflammation of the ear, is a common disorder associated to the middle ear. It is caused by bacterial or viral infections. While it can affect individuals of all ages, it tends to occur in children more than adults. A child suffering from this condition may tug or pull on the affected ear, become unusually irritable, develop a fever and have difficulty sleeping. If infection is present, antibiotics will be prescribed. Decongestants may also be recommended to reduce swelling along with pain relievers. For more information on ear infections in children, click here.

The inner ear is responsible for converting sound pressure impulses to the brain via the auditory nerve. The most common disorder associated with the middle ear is tinnitus, which is characterized by ringing in one or both ears. There are various causes of tinnitus – from hearing loss, allergies, certain medications and even tumours. The ringing caused by tinnitus can be so severe that it can affect the ability to sleep and work. While there is no cure for this condition, many patients say they have found relief with hearing aids.

For persisting ear problems, Dr. Ali Ghahary will refer patients to an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist. There are also hearing clinics in and around Vancouver that are also well adept in conditions associated with the ear.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Importance of Nutrients

Good nutrition has always been a key element in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and is something Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary promotes. 

Nutrition is responsible the growth, repair and maintenance of the body. It is well known that the typical Canadian diet contains too much fat, too much cholesterol, too many calories, too much salt, not enough fibre, and insufficient complex carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains, beans and vegetables.) It is important to have a well-balanced diet with the proper proportion of nutrients; nutrients are the chemical substances found in foods that supply your body with the required elements for metabolism and energy. By doing so, you will greatly increase your quality of life.

The six main classifications of nutrients are as follows:

1. Carbohydrates
2. Proteins
3. Fats
4. Water
5. Vitamins
6. Minerals

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy from foods. These include the sugars (also known as simple carbohydrates), starches (the complex carbohydrates), and fibre (also known as cellulose.) Complex carbohydrates are beneficial to having a healthy diet as they are lower in fat, higher in fibre, and are a great source for other vitamins and minerals. Complex carbohydrates include vegetables such as yams, carrots and peas, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as whole grains and pasta.

Proteins are what from the base of each living cell within our body and are fundamental for growing and repairing tissue, giving our bodies energy, as well as contributing to the structure for our muscles, bones and blood.

Also known as lipids, fats are a dominant source of energy. They have two classifications: Saturated or unsaturated. In moderation, fats can benefit the body as they help to provide a source of energy, assistance in transportation of other vitamins such as A, D, E and K, and add taste to foods. However, many Canadians are consuming more fats than they should be.

The body needs water in order to survive. Unlike food, which the body can survive without for several weeks, it cannot survive without water for more than a few days. Water has many health benefits and it is recommended that at least 6 to 8 glasses are consumed each day. However, the requirement for water intake is also based on an individual’s age, body size, metabolic rate and other factors.

Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for the body’s metabolism, growth and development. They are identified by an alphabetical letter and have two main classifications: Fat-soluble vitamins (such as A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble vitamins (such as B and C.) For more information on vitamins and their benefits, read Dr. Ali Ghahary’s articles titled ‘Vitamin D Important For Optimal Health’ and 'Vitamin D Deficiency'.

These are inorganic elements that are found throughout the body and come from multiple sources. Fruits and vegetables, as well as milk, contain many different minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron and iodine. While minerals don’t provide the body with energy or calories, they do benefit hormones and heart contraction. To ensure you are getting your body the appropriate amount of minerals, try to buy organic fruits and vegetables 

Remember, the key to having a well-balanced diet is eating a variety of healthy foods. Make sure you are eating foods that are fresh as opposed to processed, as well as lean meat, poultry, and fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. While sugary, sweet food can be pleasant to the taste buds, they are not nutritional and should be limited or cut from the diet all together.

For more information, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog at and click on the ‘Diet’ category. You can also find great nutrition-specific information on Dr. Ghahary’s Instagram account, which is updated regularly, as well as by following him on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Integumentary System

The integumentary system, compromised of the skin and its appendages such as hair, nails and exocrine glands, is responsible for acting as a barrier and protecting our bodies from any damage or disease, in addition to regulating body temperature. The skin consists of three layers: the top layer of skin known as the epidermis, the middle layer of skin known as the dermis, and the deepest layer of skin known as the hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue. 

In this article, Dr. Ali Ghahary will discuss the common disorders associated with the integumentary system, including the signs and symptoms to watch for.

Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the leading types of cancers in the world today, affecting more than 80,000 Canadians each year. Skin cancer occurs when normal skin cells change and form a mass known as a tumor. 

There are three major types of skin cancer:

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma
This is the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for 80 to 90 percent of diagnoses. Basal Cell Carcinoma is usually a result of overexposure to the sun or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. With BCC, patients may first notice changes in their skin such as an odd growth, changes in appearance of moles, skin wounds that do not heal and/or skin irritation. Basal Cell Carcinoma commonly affects the nose but it can also affect other areas of the body including the back, beck, chest, shoulders and head.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the formation of a malignant tumour affecting the middle layer of skin, also known as the dermis. Similar to Basal Cell Carcinoma, you may notice changes to the skin including growths on the lips, mouth, tongue or genitals. Neglect of this condition can cause the cancer to spread. Treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma is depending on the size of the tumour…however, the cure rate is high if treated early.

3. Malignant Melanoma
This is a less common form of skin cancer – however, it is the most aggressive and can be fatal due to its high tendency to spread to various parts of the body. Malignant Melanoma occurs when cells called the melanocytes grow out of control and form tumours.

Other diseases and disorders of the skin include congenital skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, bacterial skin conditions such as rosacea and impetigo, viral skin conditions such as warts and herpes zoster (also known as shingles), and fungal conditions such as boils and folliculitis. For more information on skin conditions and diseases, visit the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance website at

You can also follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Disorders of the Urinary System

The urinary system, also known as the genitourinary system, consists of various organs that are responsible for producing urine and excreting it from the body. Urine is a transparent, yellow fluid that contains unwanted waste such as excess water, salt, nitrogen and other compounds.

The central organs of the urinary system are the kidneys. Other organs and components of the urinary system include the ureters, two muscular tubes that carry urine from the kidneys into the bladder. The urinary bladder, a muscular sad found in the pelvic cavity that stores the urine, and the urethra, a tube that expands from the bladder to the external opening of the urinary system known as the urinary meatus.

Cystitis, commonly known as a bladder infection or UTI, is a common disorder of the urinary system. Cystitis occurs when bacteria infects the urinary tract, resulting in inflammation and irritation. A UTI can affect any individual, male or female, of any age. However, they are more predominant in sexually active women between the ages of 20 and 50. While bacteria found in the bladder can be removed by urination, the bacterial will occasionally reproduce quicker than it can be removed, resulting in infection.

In order to treat a UTI, Dr. Ali Ghahary will run a urinalysis. This is done by a patient urinating into a small cup. The urine is then tested for the presence of any disease or bacteria/infection by examining the physical, microscopic and chemical characteristics of the urine. A urinalysis can show the presence of protein, glucose, blood, ketones and leukocytes.

There are also many other disorders that are also associated with the urinary tract, such as:

Interstitial Cystitis
This is another common disorder of the urinary system. Interstitial cystitis is when the wall of the bladder to become inflamed. 90% of individuals with this condition are women. Symptoms of interstitial cystitis can range in severity and include frequent or painful urination and abdominal pain. Unlike cystitis, it does not respond to antibiotic treatment. 

Polycystic Kidney Disease
Affecting over 12 million people worldwide, PKD is a disorder where clusters of cysts form in the kidneys. Symptoms include high blood pressure, back or abdominal pain, blood in the urine, kidney stones and headaches.

Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney that causes scarring which, if left untreated, can be fatal. Symptoms include back, side or groin pain, frequent urination or the need to urinate urgently, painful urination, blood in the urine, nausea and vomiting.

Renal Failure
Also known as kidney failure, this occurs when the functioning of the kidneys changes. Acute kidney failure does not always have immediate symptoms. However, over time a patient may notice that their urine output decreases. The treatment for renal failure is kidney dialysis. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Health Dangers of Mold

Do you have a chronic cough? Do you experience unusual shortness of breath? Frequent headaches? What about recurrent sinus and respiratory infections or flu-like symptoms? These could all be indicative of exposure to mold, which can cause many of the aforementioned symptoms and pose other serious risks to your health.

Moisture is the key cause of mold. Certain molds produce mycotoxins, a toxic secondary metabolite that is produced by fungus, also known as fungal poisons. Exposure to high levels of these mycotoxins can be harmful to both humans and animals, leading to disease, neurological problems, and even death. 


Mold can be found indoors and tends to grow in places with lots of moisture. This can result from leaks in roofs, windows, and/or pipes. Mold can also enter your home from outside through open windows, doors, vents, and even heating or air conditioning systems, and can attach itself to clothing, shoes and pets. Mold can also grow in insulation, drywall, carpeting, wallpaper, paint and cardboard. While mold can be seen – usually appearing as spots – it can also be described as having a musty smell. 

Symptoms of mold exposure/sensitivity include the following:

Chronic cough
Recurrent respiratory infections
Shortness of breath
Red or itchy eyes
Skin rash
Feeling lightheaded
Joint pain
Trouble concentrating

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, recommends seeking medical attention if you have any of these persisting symptoms. If you are in need of the advice of a physician, Dr. Ghahary is available to see patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic on a walk-in basis every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. You can find Dr. Ghahary's full walk-in schedule by visiting the clinic’s website at or

There are also certain tips you can follow to prevent the growth of mold and the symptoms associated to it. First and foremost, fix any leaks. As mentioned, mold likes moisture. If your home has flooded, always clean and dry the home promptly – preferably within 24 to 48 hours. It’s also important to control humidity levels and keep them as low as possible, ensuring that they do not go higher than 50%. If you see mold growth, it can be removed with household products, i.e. soap and water. You can also remove mold with a bleach solution that consists of 1 cup of bleach mixed into 1 gallon of water.

For more great health tips, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary. He is also on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Additionally, Dr. Ghahary's page is frequently updated with health Q&A on a weekly basis and is another great source for health information.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Early Signs of Appendicitis

Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever or chills, loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhea…these are all symptoms that may be suggestive of appendicitis. While these symptoms could also be indicative of other health problems such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Diverticulitis, or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, they are not symptoms that should be ignored. In this article we’re going to take a closer look at appendicitis, why it occurs, and what can be done in terms of treatment.

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix, a narrow, tube-shaped organ that is attached to the large intestine on the right side of the lower abdomen, becomes inflamed and causes pain as a result. Appendicitis typically occurs in individuals who are between the ages of 10 and 40. 

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills and loss of appetite are all symptoms that are indicative of appendicitis. However, the symptoms of appendicitis can differ in children than adults. While abdominal pain is the classic symptom that a child with appendicitis will complain of, it is not uncommon for that pain to also be associated with the flu, food poisoning, or constipation. Another telltale sign of appendicitis is sharp pain that occurs when pressure is placed onto the abdominal area and worsens when that pressure is released. An individual with appendicitis may also have an elevated white blood cell count. If white blood cells are elevated, this suggests that an infection is present. If abdominal pain persists for longer than a day or worsens in a short period of time, it is important that you do not ignore it and instead seek the opinion of a physician immediately. Walk-in clinics like Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, where Dr. Ali Ghahary practices, are well-equipped to deal with patients who may be experiencing these symptoms. In addition, emergency rooms in and around Vancouver also treat acute cases of appendicitis, and patients may be referred by their physician to an ER for further treatment if it is a suspected emergency. It is important to note that symptoms of appendicitis may not always present immediately or as they normally should, sometimes making it a difficult condition to diagnose.

Patients with appendicitis commonly experience LRQ (lower right quadrant) pain

If left untreated, appendicitis can become a life-threatening condition. When the appendix becomes infected or inflamed, bacteria begins to multiply rapidly until the muscular wall of your appendix becomes to thin that it eventually ruptures, resulting in bacteria-laden pus to ooze into your abdomen. If your appendix ruptures, doctors will try to treat it by draining pus from the abdomen as well as prescribing a course of antibiotics for 6 to 8 weeks. However, in most cases, the appendix will need to be surgically removed to avoid further complications – this is known as an appendectomy. An appendectomy can be performed two different ways – as an open surgery, which is done by cutting 2 to 4 inch incision into the abdomen, or via laparoscopic surgery, which is done through a few smaller incisions and guided via a video camera into the abdomen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chronic Sinusitis

Scan showing sinuses/sinusitis
Chronic Sinusitis, also commonly referred to as Rhinosinusitis, is a recurring condition causing inflammation of the nasal passages in addition to mucus buildup, causing a vast array of symptoms. Chronic sinusitis has a reported prevalence of 5% in Canada, which increases with age, as well an increased prevalence in individuals with other chronic health conditions such as asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.) 

The symptoms of chronic sinusitis, the common cold and allergies can all be similar. Each of these conditions can cause the patient to have a congested or runny nose, headache, cough, ear pain/pressure, and even fatigue. When trying to determine whether you have chronic sinusitis, Vancouver physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will perform routine examinations by checking to see if you have tenderness in the nose or face and will also ask if you have discolouration of nasal discharge or nasal obstruction, which may oftentimes be indicative of a sinus infection. To confirm a suspect sinus infection, your physician may give you a requisition for an X-Ray, which can often be done by walking into any Radiology clinic without any appointment necessary, or send you for a CT Scan or MRI, which is typically done by appointment at any Vancouver or Lower Mainland hospital. These kinds of imaging scans will help to detect deep inflammation within the sinuses as well as confirm whether or not any infection is present, and will help guide your physician on the appropriate treatment required.

Nasal Polyps
Causes of chronic sinusitis include nasal polyps (growth of tissue that blocks the sinuses and/or nasal passages), a deviated or damaged septum (restricts or blocks the nasal passages), and respiratory infections (can be viral, bacterial or fungal.) Other medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux and other immune system related disorders have also been linked to the development of chronic sinusitis. You are also at a greater risk of developing chronic sinusitis if you have asthma or are exposed to pollutants such as smoke (or secondhand smoke.) Serious complications of chronic sinusitis include vision problems, potential or complete loss of your sense of smell, and meningitis.

Treatment of chronic sinusitis is dependent on the symptoms and their level of severity. If less than 7 days, chronic sinusitis is typically treated symptomatically; with intranasal corticosteroids (such as Nasonex) being prescribed in effort to help reduce inflammation and alleviate the symptoms you may be experiencing. Other treatment may include immunotherapy (allergy shots) to decrease the body’s reaction to certain allergens. If you are non-responsive to treatment or if the duration of symptoms is greater than 7 days (in addition to imaging showing a present infection), the likelihood of a bacterial infection increases and physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will then consider prescribing antibiotics to the patient. In recurring cases, as well as with persisting severe symptoms, a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist in Vancouver (or the surrounding area) may be required to determine if any further treatment, such as Endoscopic sinus surgery, is necessary. Endoscopic sinus surgery is usually done as a last resort when treatment has not been effective, and will remove any inflamed tissue or nasal polyps, as well as enlarge narrow sinus openings to help sinus drainage.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cancer Statistics and Chemotherapy

On average, nearly 600 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer each day, with an estimated 200,000 new cases diagnosed in 2016 alone. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and accounts for over 30% of all deaths in the country. The most common forms of cancer in Canada are lung, breast, prostate and colorectal. While cancer typically affects individuals over the age of 50, it can occur at any age. It is important to keep in mind that having regular checkups with your physician is vital for your health and can help in early detection of cancer.

Chemotherapy, commonly referred to as "chemo", is the use of cytotoxic drugs. These drugs work to kill cancer cells in the body and stops them from growing or reproducing. There are various types of chemotherapy drugs available and they will oftentimes be used in combination with one another in effort to lead to a better outcome for the patient. Chemotherapy treatment also reduces the chances of cancer cells mutating and becoming resistant to certain drugs.

The dose, schedule and length of chemotherapy treatment is decided by an oncologist, a doctor that specializes in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, and is dependent on the type of cancer the patient is diagnosed with, its stage, the patient’s age, as well as the patient’s overall health. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles – lasting one or two days and one to four weeks long. The cycle will then be followed by a rest period to allow the body’s normal cells to recover before chemotherapy treatment is once again resumed.

Side effects can occur with every type of chemotherapy treatment. However, not every patient will experience side effects in the same way. The side effects a patient will experience depend on the type of chemotherapy drug administered, how it is administered, the dose, and the patient’s general health. The most common side effects that patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment will develop is fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Fatigue occurs as the result of healthy cells being destroyed and can last throughout the treatment process. Nausea and vomiting can occur within the first several hours of chemotherapy and can last up to 24 hours after, and in some cases even longer. Nausea and vomiting is managed by anti-emetic drugs such as Zofran (Ondansetron) and Aloxi (Palonosetron).

Loss of appetite can also occur in patients undergoing chemotherapy. This is due to the chemotherapy causing temporary changes in smell and taste, making food seem less appealing. Still, it is important to maintain good nutrition throughout your treatment to avoid malnutrition and weight loss. Several patients find that speaking to a nutritionist is beneficial.

Chemotherapy can also affect the cells in the GI tract. This can result in diarrhea that may last as long as 2 weeks. Alternatively, constipation may also occur and can start 3 days after treatment.

Hair loss is also another common side effect of chemotherapy treatment, but does not occur with all chemotherapy drugs.

For a complete list of side effects related to chemotherapy and other information on cancer, visit Also be sure to follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for continued updates on the latest health news in Canada.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Seasonal Allergies

With spring right around the corner, this also means the start of nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, and sore or puffy eyes. These symptoms are usually the result of allergies, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever. 

Hay fever affects millions of Canadians and occurs when the mucous membranes become irritated or inflamed by an irritant such as pollen (grass, trees, flowers), causing the aforementioned symptoms. While hay fever typically occurs during the spring, people can also experience perennial allergic rhinitis, which can occur year round. Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by exposure to mold, dust, pet dander or other irritants.

To avoid allergies, it is important to evade certain triggers. You can do this by making a few changes to your home and your daily routine, as outlined below:

• During high-pollen seasons, keep all windows in your home and vehicle closed and opt for air conditioning instead; stay indoors whenever possible. This will help to limit your exposure to pollen and other outdoor irritants. Note: Do not use window fans as these can actually draw irritants into your home.

• Wear sunglasses. Not only will this protect your eyes from UV damage, but sunglasses will also keep pollen from entering your eyes.

• Clean floors and surfaces with a damp (not dry) mop or cloth.

• Use a dehumidifier in damp or humid areas of your home and make sure it is cleaned often. If you notice mold in areas if your home, clean it by using a mild detergent, bleach, vinegar or baking soda.

• If you have a known pet allergy, avoid contact with animals you are allergic to. If you move into a home that was previously occupied by any animals, you may need to clean or replace the carpeting with hardwood or tile flooring.

To treat allergic rhinitis, the most common medications prescribed by general practitioners in Vancouver such as Dr. Ali Ghahary, are intranasal corticosteroids. These include Nasonex, Nasocort and Flonase, just to name a few. Intranasal corticosteroids work to reduce nasal congestion, inflammation and sneezing associated with allergic rhinitis. Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Allegra and Reactine are also affective in providing more immediate relief to symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as hives, sore or itchy eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion.

If you would like further insight into what you may or may not be allergic to, request a referral to an allergist from your family physician.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Common Digestive and Gastrointestinal Disorders

Over 20 million Canadians live with digestive or other gastrointestinal-related disorders, this according to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. There are over 15 types of digestive and/or gastrointestinal conditions, and they can all present with similar characteristics. Below is a look at the most common digestive conditions, their symptoms, and information on how they can be treated.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD occurs when stomach acid or bile backs up and goes into the esophagus. The most common symptoms of this disease are regurgitation, heartburn and indigestion, which can range from mild to severe. Individuals who are overweight, smoke, have diabetes or asthma are at an increased risk of developing GERD. If left untreated, GERD can cause inflammation of the esophagus, resulting in complications such as narrowing of the esophagus or bleeding, causing pain and making it difficult to swallow. GERD is usually detected based on the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. However, in some cases further testing may be required such as an upper GI series, also known as a barium swallow or pH probe tests. You may also be referred to a Gastroenterologist; they can perform a test called an endoscopy. An endoscopy examines your esophagus by inserting a thin tube equipped with a small camera down your throat. To treat GERD, over-the-counter medications are usually the first choice for treatment. These include antacids such as Tums, Rolaids, Gaviscon or Maalox and will provide almost immediate relief of heartburn. H2 receptor blockers such as Zantac are also commonly used to treat GERD and can also be found over the counter. Unlike the previous antacids mentioned, they do not work as quickly but will provide you with longer relief. Your physician can also prescribe stronger versions of H2 receptor blockers. In more severe cases of GERD, PPI’s (Proton Pump Inhibitors) are usually recommended. These block acid production and heal damaged tissue. PPI’s include Prevacid and Prilosec, which can be found over-the-counter, as well as prescription-strength medications such as Nexium, Protonix and Dexilant. Side effects of these medications are usually not a concern…however, they can be related to B12 deficiency with long-term use. If medications are not successful, surgery may be required to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.

Celiac Disease
Affecting over 300,000 Canadians and 1 in every 200 people in North America, Celiac Disease is considered one of the top chronic diseases in the world. Celica Disease occurs as a result of sensitivity to gluten Symptoms of Celiac disease can include abdominal pain and/or bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, fatigue and anemia. While there is no cure for Celiac Disease, it is important to eat a healthy, gluten-free diet to lessen the symptoms associated with the disease. It can also cause certain nutritional deficiencies, so it may be beneficial to take a multivitamin to ensure you are getting the appropriate amount of nutrients into your body. For specific diet information, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Wordpress blog at

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Over 12,000 Canadians are diagnosed with IBS every year. It can cause mild to severe symptoms that oftentimes alternate such as persistent abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and constipation. Click here for more information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

If you suspect that you might have any of these digestive or gastrointestinal related disorders or others not mentioned here, make an appointment to discuss your concerns with your family physician. Alternatively, there are also physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary who are available to see patients at their clinics on a walk-in basis.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Common Types of Skin Rashes

Skin rashes are a common condition that can affect both adults and children. Psoriasis, Eczema and Rosacea are the most common, recurrent skin conditions that are found in adults; Chicken Pox, Measles, Heat Rash, Hives, and Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease are the most common skin conditions that affect children.

A skin rash can also be the result of an allergic reaction – usually the result of a food or medication – with the rash typically appearing within 30 to 40 minutes of consumption or contact with the allergen.

For specific information on food allergies, visit

While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, it is thought to have genetic predispositions as well as environmental factors. Stress has also been said to play a significant role in the flare-ups of psoriasis. Psoriasis can cause small patches of red, scaly, flaky and crusty skin that can be itchy and/or sore. It commonly occurs on the knees, elbows, scalp or lower back, but can appear almost anywhere on the body.


Similar to Psoriasis, Eczema can also cause itchy, scaly skin. It affects anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of infants and 3 to 5 percent of adults. The cause of Eczema is also unknown but it has been linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system, usually to an irritant.


Unlike Psoriasis and Eczema, Rosacea does not typically cause itching. Instead, the main symptom of Rosacea is inflammation causing burning, redness and/or flushing of the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. It can also cause soreness or burning of the eyes. Rosacea can worsen over time if left untreated, so it is important to see your physician if you suspect you have Rosacea to get appropriate treatment.


With many of these skin conditions, Dr. Ali Ghahary will prescribe lotions or creams to reduce the symptoms. The most commonly prescribed lotion is hydrocortisone, which works by reducing inflammation of the skin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Importance of Medical Imaging

For general practitioners in Vancouver, British Columbia like Dr. Ali Ghahary, medical imaging plays an important role in helping to determine certain diseases, cancers, and other health problems that cannot be immediately detected, and has immense benefits for both physicians and patients. Medical imaging has been a revolutionary part of health care for many decades and can detect certain health conditions at an early stage, thus providing patients and their families with the most appropriate and effective treatment, and the best outcomes possible.

Below is a look at some of the different types of medical imaging procedures.

The most common form of medical imaging, an X-Ray produces a detailed 2D image of internal body structures such as bones. Depending on which part of the body is being scanned, you may be asked to stand up or lie down for an X-Ray. You will also be asked to remove any jewellery or other items containing metal prior to the scan, as these can cause inaccurate scans or “ghost images.” In certain cases, a contrast agent may be administered to the patient via IV. Contrast helps to enhance the visibility of the structures being scanned. When contrast is being given, patients may notice a sensation of warmth or the feeling of having to urinate – this is not uncommon. There may be delayed side effects to IV contrast such as skin rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headaches, but these are rare. X-Rays are fast, taking no longer than 15 minutes in most cases, and they are also non-invasive. While X-Rays are generally safe during pregnancy, they are not recommended for women who are or may be pregnant due to the high exposure to radiation, the possibility of cell damage, and the risk of developing cancer, therefore in cases of pregnancy it is only recommended that X-Rays are done if it is an emergency. 


CT Scan (Computed Tomography)
CT scans, also referred to as a CAT Scan, are another common form of medical imaging, and are used to produce 3D images of your body’s structures. This includes bones, organs and blood vessels. Soft tissue, however, is less visible on CT scans, and may require an MRI to be seen properly.

CT Scan

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
MRI’s are often the preferred choice of medical imaging in comparison to X-Rays and CT Scans, as they do not use ionizing radiation. Instead, your body is exposed to a magnetic field and radio waves, which then produce 3D images. MRI’s are used to diagnose various health conditions and can produce photographs of internal body structures such as bones, joints, the brain, spinal cord, heart, blood vessels and other organs. On average, an MRI can vary from 30 to 60 minutes dependent on the part of the body that is being scanned. Similar in look to a CT scan, an MRI is a circular, tunnel-like machine, about 1.5 metres in length. Some patients may find an MRI to be claustrophobic, resulting in panic attacks, and may need to take anti-anxiety medication approximately half an hour before the procedure. This medication can be prescribed by your family physician. In rare cases, especially in children who tend to move around more, general anesthetic may also be administered.


Ultrasound / Sonogram
An ultrasound is a safe test that uses high-frequency sound waves, rather than radiation. Ultrasounds can capture images of your body’s soft-tissue structures such as the gallbladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas and bladder, and can also determine blood flow and detect blockages in arteries. For women who are pregnant, an ultrasound is commonly referred to as a sonogram. A sonogram is typically administered anywhere from 18 to 20 weeks, but can also be done earlier to determine a baby’s due date. They are a great test to ensure that you are having a healthy pregnancy. In the first trimester, a sonogram can let you know how many babies you are carrying, as well as the baby’s heart rate, and show the umbilical cord and placenta. Sonograms are more detailed in the second trimester of pregnancy, showing images of the head/face, heart, limbs, spine and abdomen.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Iron Deficiency - Symptoms and Treatmeant Options

Iron is an essential nutrient found in the hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the substance found in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs and transporting it throughout your body. When the body does not have enough iron, it cannot make enough cells to carry oxygen. In addition, iron is also beneficial in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails.

Low iron is usually found when physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary send patients for routine blood work. Part of that routine blood work usually includes a CBC count (complete blood cell). A CBC measures different components in the blood including the red blood cells, white blood cells, the hemoglobin, hematocrit, and the blood platelets. If you are found to have low iron, it is always recommended that you get proper intake in the form of an iron supplement.

How much iron you need is dependent on your age, gender, and your overall health. Women generally need more iron then men as a result of blood loss during menstruation. It is recommended that women between the age of 19 and 50 get at least 18 milligrams of iron per day, whereas men are only required to get 8 milligrams. An individual may also require more iron if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Individuals on kidney dialysis may also require iron as it can remove iron from the body. Gastrointestinal disorders such as Celiac and Crohn’s can also significantly reduce iron levels.

Symptoms of low iron include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale skin, soreness or swelling of the tongue, cold hands and/or feet, a fast or irregular heartbeat, headaches and brittle nails. Low iron can also lead to anemia – the final stage of having low iron, which occurs when your iron levels or low for a long period of time. As a result, anemia can worsen these symptoms. While the symptoms of low iron are generally quite mild, complications can occur. In severe cases, women who are pregnant may go into premature labour. As such, to prevent this from happening, pregnant women will usually take an iron supplement as a part of their prenatal care. There may also be delayed growth in infants and children, and they may be more prone to developing infections.

As mentioned, low iron is usually treated with iron supplements, which can be found at your local pharmacy. It is recommended that they are taken on an empty stomach so that the body can absorb them better. However, iron supplements are also known to be hard on the stomach, so if you find you are sensitive to the supplement you are able to take them with meals if necessary. It is also important to note that iron supplements can cause constipation and stools that are darker in colour, so do not be alarmed if this happens. If you do have any concerns, always feel free to speak with your pharmacy or physician. Alernatively, iron can also be found in your diet by eating more red meat, nuts, dried fruit, and leafy, dark green vegetables.

More diet information can be found at

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Regular Checkups Vital for Optimal Health

While a large number of Canadians will oftentimes avoid going to their physician and instead opt to be seen only when absolutely necessary, having regular checkups with your physician is vital in ensuring optimal overall health. Despite the common phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” it is important to go for annual examinations as a part of your general health maintenance and to identify any illnesses or diseases before they become serious and/or life-threatening. 

Checkups can include assessment of a patient’s blood pressure and weight, along with discussion on diet, alcohol, tobacco and drug use. For more in-depth information on those topics, visit and

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a Vancouver MD who practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic, will also ensure that a patient’s immunizations are up to date and send them for routine blood work. This allows for the physician to discover common diseases that aren’t necessarily seen by the naked eye – these include hypo or hyperthyroidism, iron deficiency and kidney function – and are often easily treated with medication. Doing a CBC (Complete Blood Count) also helps to determine the amount of red or white cells in the system, and can even determine certain cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

Screenings such as those for colorectal cancer or breast cancer are usually dependent on the age of the patient. In Canada, all provinces offer free breast cancer screening. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends women between the ages of 40 and 49 discuss the risks of breast cancer with their doctor, and it is suggested that women between the ages of 50 and 69 have a mammogram every 2 years. If breast cancer is detected early, you have a better quality of life and may require less treatment, which also means a shorter recovery period. For men, while the majority of prostate cancers are found in those over the age of 50, screening can begin as early as age 40. To check for prostate cancer, two tests are typically done: One known as a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE), as well as a Prostate Specific Antibody (PSA) blood test. 

Children should also have regular checkups with a physician to ensure that their development is at the appropriate stage for their age, that they have good nutrition and hygiene, and that they are also up-to-date on their immunizations. Recommended vaccines include those against chickenpox, influenza, HPV and hepatitis viruses. For an in-depth list of vaccinations available for children, visit

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A - Liver
Similar to Hepatitis B and C, Hepatitis A also affects the liver, causing inflammation. However, unlike Hepatitis B and C, Hepatitis A does not become chronic and is instead an acute infection – meaning its onset is abrupt and typically requires short-term care.

If you are interested in learning more about Hepatitis B or C, read Dr. Ali Ghahary’s articles titled ‘Information on Hepatitis B (HBV)’ and ‘Contracting Hepatitis C’, which can be found on Wordpress at and on Weebly at

Hepatitis A is contracted through feces, and is commonly found in regions such as The Caribbean and South America. While outbreaks of Hepatitis A are uncommon in Canada, they can still occur. These outbreaks are often the result of having sexual contact with someone who is already infected with the Hepatitis A virus, or by eating contaminated food that has been prepared by someone with Hepatitis A who has not washed their hands prior. Eating raw or undercooked seafood that has been in sewage-polluted water can also result in the contraction of Hepatitis A.

While most individuals with Hepatitis A will develop symptoms, not everyone does. Symptoms can occur as little as one-week from the initial contact with the virus, or as long as 50 days later. Symptoms of Hepatitis A include: Abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, loss of appetite, dark urine and jaundice. Typically, children who have been infected with Hepatitis A will experience milder symptoms. However, the older you are, the more severe your symptoms may be. Symptoms can last as little as 1 to 2 weeks or for several months. If you have pre-existing conditions such as chronic liver disease, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, you are at a higher risk of developing complications from Hepatitis A.

The best way to avoid contracting Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. The vaccine is usually given in 2 doses 6 months apart, and it will protect you from the virus for up to 20 years. Alternatively, a combined Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccine is also available and is something that Vancouver physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary recommend, especially for individuals who have not yet been vaccinated.