Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lyme Disease

If a tick has ever bitten you then you are at an increased risk of developing an inflammatory infection known as Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by a certain type of bacteria known as borrelia, which infects animals such as birds, rodents and deer. Ticks pick up the bacteria by biting an infected animal before biting and transferring that bacteria to humans, resulting in Lyme disease.

The problem with Lyme disease is that many individuals who are affected are not even aware they have it – at least not initially – as it is easy to overlook some if its’ most common symptoms. For example, forgetfulness is often attributed to aging; things like not remembering where you put the keys, forgetting a conversation that you had with someone, or forgetting appointments. Other symptoms such as lack of fatigue and lack of concentration are also often attributed to being a normal part of life – especially after a gruelling day at work or in school. However, all of these symptoms mentioned can also be signs of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease rash
One misconception about Lyme disease is that you have to look ill in order to be ill, which is not the case. Outwardly, someone with Lyme disease may appear to be fine. However, in reality they may feel quite unwell and experience low levels of energy, in addition to experiencing a long list of other symptoms – over 100 – including rash, hair loss, headache, facial paralysis, stiff neck, jaw pain, sore throat and other flu-like symptoms, dental problems, blurred or double vision, sensitivity to light, eye pain, plugged or painful ears, ringing/ buzzing in one or both ears, decreased hearing, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, fibromyalgia, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, poor balance, a burning or stabbing sensation in parts of the body, tremors, mood swings, depression, insomnia, memory loss, confusion, slurred speech, decreased libido, pelvic pain, breast pain, weight loss or weight gain, phantom smells, swollen glands and/or lymph nodes, allergies, and chronic infections. These are just some of the many symptoms of Lyme disease, and not everyone will experience the same or all of these symptoms.

When caught early, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. However, if left untreated you are at risk of developing complications, which can sometimes be permanent. Living with Lyme disease can be challenging, but there are some important steps that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients with Lyme disease follow, including getting plenty of rest, avoiding things like smoking, alcohol and caffeine, getting exercise (low-impact – you do not need to over-exert yourself), and eating a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fibre and protein.

If you would like information on what type of treatments may be best suited for you, Dr. Ali Ghahary is always available to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby. To find out Dr. Ali Ghahary’s walk-in hours for specific days, click here.

What is Gout?

Gout is a medical term that you might hear referenced quite a bit – but what is it, exactly? Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in the bloodstream, which then affects the joints, such as those in the foot in addition to other areas and joints in the body including the ankles, knees, hands, wrists, fingers and elbows.

In this article, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, explains what gout is, what causes it, and what preventative measures you can take against it.

Gout can be caused by a number of different factors. A diet that is rich in purines, for example, can play a significant role in the contribution of gout. Foods that are rich in purines include red meats or organ meats, legumes and shellfish, as well as alcohol. Being overweight or obese can also contribute to gout due to extra stress being placed on the joints as a result, thus making them more susceptible to gout. Individuals with diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing gout as diabetes can cause poor circulation. Certain medications, such as aspirin, as well as having high blood pressure can also contribute to gout.

If you have gout, there are certain things you can do to prevent it from occurring. As with many health conditions, it’s important to know your triggers. If food is the suspected cause of your gout, try to avoid those purine-rich foods as mentioned previously. Instead, include more low-fat dairy products in your diet in addition to fruits and vegetables. By eating a healthy diet, you not only alleviate gout and reduce your risk of developing gout in the future, but you also reduce the risk of many other health problems. For more in-depth information on healthy eating, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter and Instagram. You can also find plenty of tips on healthy eating, including low-carb diets, by visiting Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog on Wordpress. In additional to eating healthy, reducing your weight can also reduce your risk of gout. When it comes to weight loss, healthy eating and physical activity go hand in hand. However, it’s important to not go on a crash diet as these can actually be dangerous and cause your uric acid levels to spike. While we’re on the subject of diet, you should also make sure you’re reducing your sodium intake to alleviate or reduce the risk of high blood pressure – as having high blood pressure has also been linked to gout. If you suspect a medication may be causing gout, do not stop taking the medication without first speaking to your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on the medication, quitting it “cold turkey” could be dangerous to your health, so let your doctor or pharmacist make that decision for you. It may simply be a matter of changing your dose or prescribing you a new medication all-together.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Stomach Ulcers

Stomach pain is a very common symptom that Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, comes across in patients. It can be caused by many different things for different reasons. 

Some of the most common causes of stomach pain include food poisoning, diarrhea, constipation, gas, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, kidney stones, gallstones and appendicitis. While many of these causes can be treated with medication (and in some cases, surgery), there are many other causes of stomach pain, such as stomach ulcers, that one should be aware of.

Along with having a general feeling of stomach discomfort, ulcers can produce symptoms such as a burning sensation between the chest and belly button, bloating, nausea and vomiting, dark or tarry looking stools, burping, heartburn, acid reflux, and anemia.

There is a thick later of mucus in the stomach that is responsible for protecting it against digestive juices. However, when this layer of mucus is reduced, this allows acid to eat at the lining of the stomach, which then results in an ulcer, and can even cause stomach bleeding.

To diagnose a stomach ulcer, your physician may refer you for a series of tests, including tests to rule out a potential H. pylori infection. H. pylori is a type of bacteria that enters the digestive tract which can also lead to peptic ulcers, and even cancer. To rule out H. pylori as the cause of stomach ulcers, you can do a blood test, or may be asked to do a stool or breath test. Another test, such as a barium swallow, is a type of X-ray that is performed when drinking a white liquid known as barium. The barium coats your gastrointestinal tract and allows your doctor and radiologist to see if there are any abnormalities in both the stomach and the esophagus. Another test known as an endoscopy is also sometimes performed, and is done by inserting a thin tube through the mouth and into the stomach. A biopsy may also be performed during the endoscopy so that your stomach tissue can be analyzed in a lab.

Treating a stomach ulcer depends on how severe the symptoms are, though most ulcers are easily treated with over-the-counter acid blocker medications such as Zantac. Your doctor may also write you a prescription for a stronger acid blocker like Nexium (esomeprazole) or Dexilant (dexlansoprazole). Eating a healthy diet can also improve your intestinal tract and give you a better quality of life overall.