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.

Healthy Meal Ideas and Meal Planning Tips from Dr. Ali Ghahary

Eating a well-balanced diet is an important part of your overall health and well-being. When combined with physical activity, healthy eating can provide a wide variety of benefits – including helping with weight loss and reducing the risk of a number of different diseases.

For working adults or for parents who have school-aged children, planning meals isn’t always easy. Certain meals can have long preparation times, while kids may be picky and not always want to eat what’s put on their plate – but meal planning isn’t as hard as you might think. There are many simple, but nevertheless healthy recipes out there to try – and meal planning can actually be a fun family activity that adults and children can participate in together – from choosing what to eat for the week, to cooking together. By planning out your meals, you not only give yourself more time to relax, but will ultimately find that you’re making healthier food choices as a result.

Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, British Columbia, shares some easy-to-make, delicious and healthy recipes.

Breakfast is the most important meal you can eat. Not eating breakfast would be like trying to drive a car that has no fuel. The mornings, however, can also be a busy time for households across Canada – parents are getting ready to go to work, kids are possibly finishing their homework and/or getting ready to go to school – time available to sit down to a meal is limited. The good news is that there are plenty of breakfast options available, requiring little to no preparation at all – and without the use of your stove or oven. Fruit salad, for example, is easy to prepare. Fruits also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals to help keep you feeling energized, and can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer. The types of fruit you choose to use are entirely up to you. You can also add Greek yogurt for additional texture and flavour. Compared to regular yogurts, Greek yogurt is higher in protein and low in lactose.

Lunch can be challenging. For children and teenagers, many schools offer lunch programs, though sometimes that lunch is also bought from a vending machine. This is neither ideal nor healthy. Instead, try to encourage your child to bring homemade meals with them to school and prepare them the night before. Examples of healthy lunches include: Tuna sandwiches with lettuce on whole-wheat bread, raw baby carrots (or other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and celery) with low-fat ranch dressing used for dipping, hard boiled eggs, sliced ham or turkey.

Lastly, dinner. If you have a slow cooker, you can often begin dinner preparation first thing in the morning and it will be ready when you arrive home. Things like chicken, beef, soups and stews can all be made in a slow cooker. You can find a variety of slow cooker recipes on Pinterest by clicking here. Other healthy dinner options include hamburgers on whole-wheat buns with oven-cooked yam fries (an alternative to the regular French fry), steak and baked potato with steamed vegetables, and pasta made with egg noodles.

For low-carb meal options or more information on healthy eating in general, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Instagram and Twitter.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Infertility in Men and Women

Infertility can affect both males and females. In Canada, infertility accounts for as many as 15% of couples – that’s 1 in every 6 – making it more of a widespread problem than one might think. Infertility is characterized by the inability to achieve pregnancy/conceive after approximately 12 months of unprotected intercourse, and without the use of any oral contraceptives (birth control.) Infertility is more common in women, affecting approximately 40% to 50% percent, while it affects about 20% to 30% of men.

In this article, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, British Columbia, shares information on some of the most common causes of infertility in both men and women.

In women, infertility can be due to a number of different factors, such as irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal imbalances, a history of any STIs or STDs, fibroids in the uterus, blockages in the fallopian tubes, and developing early menopause. The ability to conceive also decreases after the age of 35. In men, infertility can also be the result of hormonal imbalances and a history of sexually transmitted diseases/sexually transmitted infections, as well as having a low sperm count or a poor quality of sperm. Other common, combined factors of infertility in both men and women include the use of alcohol and tobacco, being over or under weight, as well as certain chronic illnesses and treatment for cancer (such as radiation or chemotherapy.)

In order to reduce the risk of infertility and increase the chance of being able to conceive, women should check with their physician or OBGYN to make sure that a hormonal imbalance is not the cause. It’s also important that you avoid drinking alcohol or smoking, eat a healthy diet, and get regular exercise. It’s also quite common to experience a constant emotional roller coaster whenever you are dealing with fertility issues; you may feel a sense of loss, hopelessness, and social isolation. If you are experiencing these kinds of emotions or stress, it is important to speak with someone you trust. This can, again, be a medical professional, such as a family doctor, a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, friends, or family members that you trust and have a close bond with. For couples that are struggling through infertility, it is also important to do different activities together that will help to divert from the stress you’re experiencing.

To check for infertility, certain tests – such as blood tests and urine samples – may be done. Depending on your test results, those responsible for your care will decide upon the best options for fertility treatments – which can include drugs to induce ovulation, intrauterine insemination – also known as IUI, and IVF – also known as in-vitro fertilization. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Overactive Bladder and Urinary Incontinence

Overactive bladder is a common condition that affects every 1 in 5 Canadians, males and females, between the ages of 35 and 65. Overactive bladder occurs when the muscles of the bladder, known as the detrusors, start to contract more frequently/involuntarily, which results in the urge to urinate.

In some cases you may also develop a condition that is known as urinary incontinence – which is characterized by an involuntary loss of urine and is a component of overactive bladder. There are three main classifications of urinary incontinence. Urge incontinence, stress incontinence, or mixed symptoms where overactive bladder and urinary incontinence are combined. 

Similar to overactive bladder, urge incontinence also occurs as a result of involuntary contraction of the bladder muscles, leading to the uncontrollable urge to urinate. It can result in accidental wetting, and is also more likely to happen in the evening while you are sleeping. In cases of stress continence, the bladder muscles become weak. Something as simple as coughing or sneezing can result in urine leakage. Stress incontinence is more common after childbirth as well as during menopause. It’s also important to remember that stress incontinence and overactive bladder are two different conditions with different causes.

How family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary treat overactive bladder and urinary incontinence depends on the severity of the symptoms. In cases where the symptoms are minor and non-disruptive to the patient’s everyday routine, Dr. Ghahary recommends trying pelvic muscle exercises and using absorbent pads. In severe cases of overactive bladder and incontinence, or if it becomes disruptive to your daily life or your ability to get a good night’s rest, medications to help relax the bladder muscles may need to be prescribed.

You can also try some simple at-home remedies to try to relive the symptoms of overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. For example, reduce your intake of caffeine, avoid alcohol, and stay away from artificial sweeteners and spicy foods as these can all aggravate the symptoms. Obesity can also increase symptoms of urinary incontinence, so it is important to reduce your weight. This will also be helpful in other areas of you health in the long-term.

If all of these treatment methods try without success, speak to your GP about being referred to a specialist. A specialist may be able to offer you with alternative treatment options, and in some cases may even suggest surgery.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

How to Prevent Laryngitis

Laryngitis is a condition that occurs when the voice box, which is also known as the larynx, becomes swollen, resulting in temporary loss of voice. Typically, laryngitis is virus-related – usually the result of the common cold or flu. However, it can also be caused by overuse of your voice – particularly if you are a public speaker or singer. You may also be at a greater risk of developing laryngitis if you have acid reflux – this is due to acid traveling from the stomach all the way up to the throat and causing the larynx to become irritated, as well as if you are a smoker.

Along with voice loss, other common symptoms of laryngitis include sore throat, coughing, swollen glands and a low-grade fever.

In order to overcome laryngitis as fast as possible, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician currently practicing in the Greater Vancouver area, recommends resting your voice as much as possible – including whispering, as this can also put more strain on your voice.

You should also make sure that you are drinking plenty of water to help prevent dehydration, while avoiding things like alcohol and caffeine, which can actually decrease fluids from your body. Using a humidifier or inhaling stream from a bowl of hot water or a shower can also help alleviate laryngitis, as can making certain lifesttle changes, such as quitting smoking and making healthy changes to your diet (i.e. avoiding spicy foods and eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.)

While laryngitis will typically get better on its own after ten to fourteen days, you may require treatment should it persist or worsen. In some cases, your physician may prescribe corticosteroids. Corticosteroids can help to reduce inflammation caused by laryngitis, though they are not meant to be taken on a long-term basis.

As always, any concerns you have with your health should be reported to your family physician.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


What is Angina?

Angina, the medical term used to describe chest pain, occurs when not enough oxygen gets to the heart muscle, resulting in a feeling of discomfort, squeezing or pressure in the chest. Angina is also a warning sign of potential heart disease; a condition that causes the build-up of plaque in the arteries and prevents proper blood flow.

Angina typically occurs during physical activity, so it is important to stop what you’re doing and take a break. Angina can also occur due to exposure in colder environments, as well as after eating large meals. 

What Are the Symptoms of Angina?

Along with chest pain, other symptoms of angina include shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and even abdominal pain. All of these are red flags that should not be ignored. If left untreated, you only put yourself at an increased risk of heart attack. It is, however, also important to also understand the difference between angina and heart attacks. While a heart attack can cause damage to the muscles of the heart, angina does not. Instead, it is a precursor to the potential of suffering a heart attack at some point in your life.

What’s the Difference Between Angina and a Heart Attack?

Heart attacks and angina can have similar symptoms – including chest pain, pain or discomfort that spreads to different areas of the body such as the jaw, arms, back or shoulders, as well as dizziness and weakness. The one way you can tell the difference between angina and a heart attack, however, is the duration. An angina attack will typically last for anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, while a heart attack will typically last for more than 30 minutes.

How Do You Prevent Angina and Heart Attacks?

The best way to prevent angina and heart attacks is by living a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor in Vancouver, recommends eating healthy meals (lots of fruits, vegetables, and high-fibre foods) and getting regular exercise as part of your daily routine – this can be low-impact exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, or even yoga. You should also avoid smoking and limit your alcohol consumption.

Dr. Ali Ghahary is happy to answer any questions and help patients interested in making healthy changes to their lifestyle. You can find Dr. Ali Ghahary’s walk-in schedule by visiting http://vancouverphysician.net

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a very common health condition that currently affects an est. 800,000 Canadian woman, and even more women on a worldwide scale. While it is most commonly found in females between the ages of 25 and 40, it does not discriminate, and symptoms of endometriosis can also be present in teenagers – it has even been reported in girls as young as 12 years of age. 

Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus and becomes trapped, resulting in persistent and oftentimes severe abdominal and/or pelvic pain, painful periods, as well as infertility. While there is no known cause of endometriosis, many health experts are in agreement that there are several factors that can play a role in the development of endometriosis, such as genetic and hormonal reasons. Women are also at a higher risk of developing endometriosis if it runs in their families – for example, a blood relative, such as a sister or mother.

There are many health conditions that can mimic the symptoms of endometriosis, such as ovarian cysts, STI’s, pelvic inflammatory disease, or urinary and bowel problems. In order to accurately diagnose endometriosis, it is important for Dr. Ali Ghahary to rule out these or any other conditions with symptoms similar to that of endometriosis. 

In order to confirm endometriosis, a surgical procedure known as a laparoscopy is often performed by a medical specialist (such as a gynecologist or OB/GYN.) To perform a laparoscopy, the patient is put to sleep under general anesthesia. A tiny incision (or incisions) is then made, and a small, telescope-like tube, known as a laparoscope, is then inserted into the skin. If endometriosis is present, the surgeon will be able to see patches of endometrial tissue.

Upon confirmation of endometriosis, your family physician and/or specialist will determine the best course of treatment for you, and will often base the treatment on the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. In mild cases of endometriosis, it’s highly recommended that patients try over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen before moving on to stronger pain relief medications. If you aren’t planning to get pregnant, oral contraceptives can also be helpful in reducing pain. However, if symptoms are severe or if fertility is an issue for you, then the patient may opt for alternative treatment methods – including the use of fertility drugs, and sometimes even surgery.

More information on endometriosis, including support groups as well as details on upcoming events to help raise awareness about this condition, can be found via the Endometriosis Network of Canada.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Preterm Labour / Premature Birth

Typically, a pregnancy is supposed to last up to 9 months. However, when a birth occurs more than 3 weeks (or prior to the start of the 37th week of pregnancy) before your due date, this is known as premature birth (preterm labour.) Preterm labour happens when the contractions of the uterine causes the cervix to open earlier than it should. In most cases, babies that are born prematurely go on to grow and develop as normal; this is due, in part, to the advances that have been made in health care over the years. However, not all premature births are without risk.

There are many risk factors that can lead to premature birth. While some of those risk factors can be decreased, others cannot. For example, certain lifestyle habits can play a significant role in whether or not a pregnancy will last full-term. Doing illegal drugs, smoking or drinking alcohol not only put the mother at risk of going into preterm labour, but also put the baby at risk of health problems. Stress, too, can also lead to premature birth. In order to protect not only your own health, but the health of your child, it is important to make positive, healthy changes to your lifestyle. For help on making those changes, reach out to your family physician. 

If you do not have a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to provide care to patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic. You can find his walk-in schedule by visiting the clinic’s website at brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com. You can also find Dr. Ali Ghahary’s schedule on his own website at alighahary.ca

Women who have previously experienced preterm labour are also at a higher risk of experiencing it with future pregnancies. Studies have also shown that multiple gestations (such as being pregnant with twins or triplets, etc.) also put the mother at a higher risk of preterm labour – in fact, as many as 50% of premature births occur with multiple gestations, whereas that number is significantly lower with the birth of a single infant – at just 10%.

There are also certain medical conditions that can lead to preterm labour. Some of these medical conditions include having high blood pressure, a history of UTI’s (urinary tract infections), STI’s (sexually transmitted infections), being under or overweight, diabetes, IVF (in vitro fertilization), and more. Mothers of certain ages and ethnicities are also more likely to go into preterm labour.

As mentioned previously, not all premature births are without risk. Babies that are both prematurely are at risk of developing respiratory problems, heart problems, brain problems, jaundice, and anemia – though the list of risks is much longer. Premature babies are also at a much greater risk of developing infections, such as pneumonia or sepsis, due to their immune systems not yet being fully formed.

In order to ensure that your baby receives the best care possible, they may be required to stay in-hospital for an extended period of time. This is to ensure that they are able to breathe on their own, are at a healthy weight (at least 4 pounds) and can gain weight steadily, can keep warm on their own without the use of an incubator, and are able to breastfeed or bottle-feed.

For more information on how to reduce the risk of preterm labour and to avoid pregnancy complications, visit the B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre website at www.bcwomens.ca and HeathLink BC.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Muscular Dystrophy Awareness

To date, as many as 50,000 Canadians are living with neuromuscular disorders – a term that is used to describe different diseases affecting the ways in which the muscles function. Muscular Dystrophy, for example, is a disease that causes the muscle mass to decrease, as well as muscle weakness.

While symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy are more noticeable in childhood, it is not exclusively a childhood disorder. Muscular Dystrophy can affect individuals of all ages, and symptoms may not occur until later in life. 

As mentioned, Muscular Dystrophy can lead to muscle waste and/or weakness. Some of the other predominant symptoms include poor balance, frequent falling, having a limited range of movement, difficulty walking and drooping eyelids. We have genes that are responsible for making proteins to help protect the muscle fibers from damage – it is when these genes become defective that Muscular Dystrophy occurs. Muscular Dystrophy is an inherited disease; therefore you are at a high risk of developing it or passing it onto your children if there is a history of Muscular Dystrophy or other neuromuscular disorders in your family. 

As Muscular Dystrophy is a progressive disease, over time you may notice a worsening in the symptoms mentioned above. Some individuals with MD may develop breathing problems and require the use of a breathing device. You may also have trouble swallowing – if that is the case, you may require a feeding tube to ensure that you do not become malnourished. As a result of weaker muscles, your spine may also begin to curve – the medical term for this is scoliosis. The ability to walk may also decrease and can result in the required use of a wheelchair.

To accurately diagnose Muscular Dystrophy, Dr. Ali Ghahary may refer patients for a number of different tests. These include enzyme tests to check your levels of creatine kinase (CK), electrode tests such as electromyography, as well as genetic testing. A muscle biopsy may also be necessary which will be used to analyze the tissue and distinguish the difference between Muscular Dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders.

There is no known cure for Muscular Dystrophy. However, family physicians such as Dr. Ali Ghahary as well as other medical specialists can provide different treatment recommendations to help reduce the symptoms associated with the disease. Prednisone, for example, is a corticosteroid that is used to treat a wide range of health issues. In patients with Muscular Dystrophy, taking Prednisone can delay the progression of the disease as well as improve muscle strength. However, it is important to note that there are many side effects associated with taking this medication on a long-term basis, such as weakened bones, an increased risk of fractures, as well as weight gain. If Muscular Dystrophy has caused damage to the heart, Dr. Ghahary will prescribe beta-blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme medications. As Muscular Dystrophy can impact one’s ability to be mobile, physical therapy is another treatment option to consider. A physical therapist can provide you with range-of-motion and stretch exercises to help keep your joints flexible. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergies can come in many different forms. Food and medication allergies, for example, can be severe and sometimes life threatening; while other allergies, such as hay fever, which typically affects individuals in the spring and summer months, can simply be an annoyance. These kinds of allergies can be treated with OTC allergy medications like Benadryl or Reactine. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, British Columbia, may also prescribe patients with nasal sprays, and in cases of severe allergies he will also prescribe patients with an epinephrine auto injector. If you suffer from serious allergies it is important to keep your epinephrine auto injector with you at all times – and, in the event that you have to use the epinephrine injector, it is important to remember to call 911.

Unlike food and medication allergies, which can occur within 20 to 30 minutes of exposure to the allergen, another type of allergy known as Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) can take as long as 48 to 72 hours before you will notice any kind of reaction. While food and medication allergies can affect the throat and your ability to breathe, allergies that are a result of Allergic Contact Dermatitis affect the skin – causing irritation, a rash, hives, and even eczema

The list of substances that can cause Allergic Contact Dermatitis is long. You can develop it from wearing jewelry (due to nickel), perfumes and other fragrances, from household cleaners, hair dye, and even latex.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis is usually fairly easy to diagnose and is also easy to treat as long as you are aware of what you have been exposed to/what your allergies are, and take extra precautions to avoid exposure to those allergens in the future. Patients will often find relief by using topical creams or topical steroids, and in some cases oral antibiotics may be necessary to prevent or treat secondary infection as a result of ACD. In severe cases, Dr. Ghahary may also prescribe patients with a short course of oral steroids to help reduce inflammation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Medication Interactions

Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, British Columbia, often prescribes medications to patients in effort to cure or prevent diseases, as well as in effort to ease symptoms of certain illnesses. 

The medications in which a physician will prescribe a patient range in variety. They include (but are not limited to) medications to treat over or under-active thyroid (also known as hypo or hyperactive thyroid), anti-emetics to treat nausea, pain relievers to treat inflammation, as well as inhaled corticosteroids to treat asthma, nasal sprays to treat allergies, and medications to treat heart disease and diabetes.

In order to determine whether or not a medication is appropriate for the patient, Dr. Ali Ghahary will take into account the patient’s medical history as well as any medication allergies. While many medications do come with risks, your doctor has deemed that the benefit of taking the medication is much greater.

Upon filling a prescription, it is crucial to follow the exact dosing instructions as outlined by your physician. Taking too little or too much of a medication can result in the worsening of your medical condition or overdose – and your body may even become immune to some medications if not taken properly.

If you are taking multiple medications, Dr. Ali Ghahary says it is important for patients to be aware of any potential interactions that can occur as a result of taking more than one drug. For example, certain antibiotics can increase levels of the anticonvulsant medication known as Tegretol (Carbamazepine). Warfarin, an anticoagulant (blood thinner) used in conjecture with NSAIDs (Naproxen, Advil), could lead to an increased risk of internal bleeding with serious complications; and anti-depressants used in conjecture with sleeping or allergy medications may lead to increased drowsiness and possible agitation. 

If you are concerned about any potential medication interactions, visit Drugs.com There, you will find their Drug Interactions Checker in addition to finding out more information about the medications in which you have been prescribed. If you have questions about your medications, you can always reach out to a physician or pharmacist

Dr. Ali Ghahary is more than happy to answer any questions you might have, and is available to see walk-in patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. For Dr. Ghahary’s walk-in schedule, visit his website at www.alighahary.ca.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cognitive Impairment

There are currently thousands of Canadians living with some form of a cognitive impairment. A cognitive impairment is a type of  disorder that affects an individual’s perception and memory, as well as their ability to learn and problem solve, and may lead to disability.

Typically, cognitive impairments are separated into three different kinds of classifications. These classifications include dementia, amnesia, and delirium. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician from the city of Vancouver, shares more information on these disorders below.

Dementia is a disorder that can occur genetically or as a result of brain trauma, causing a decline in the patient’s memory. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for more than half of all cases of dementia and is the most common form of dementia to have, while vascular dementia (the result of a stroke) is the second most common form.

Individuals with dementia may experience short-term memory loss. For example, difficulty keeping track of where you put things (keys, purse, wallet, etc.), paying bills and remembering appointments. Other signs and symptoms of dementia include lack of concentration; reasoning and judgement may also be affected.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, there over 560,000 Canadians living with dementia. In 15 years from now, that number is expected to grow exponentially to 937,000.

Unlike dementia, which affects your short-term memory, amnesia affects long-term memory. Memory loss in patients with amnesia can be partial or total. Along with memory loss, confusion is also a common sign/symptom of amnesia. 

Amnesia can be caused by head injuries, traumatic events, certain medications, and alcohol. Medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can also lead to amnesia.

Delirium is a temporary disorder that alters an individual’s state of mind, resulting in confusion and reduced awareness. Onset of delirium typically happens quite quickly – within minutes to hours – and can last a few hours to as long as a few weeks. Delirium can be accompanied with mood swings, agitation, anxiety, fear, depression, irritability, and in some cases, euphoria. It can be caused by severe infections such as pneumonia, as well as medications, drug abuse, alcohol withdrawal, and other poisonous substances.

Treating delirium depends on the underlying cause. However, medications such as antipsychotics may be used to treat the emotional symptoms that are associated with the disorder. Quetiapine, for example, is commonly prescribed to relieve these symptoms.

For more information on this and other disabilities, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog all week long. Additional information can also be discovered by following Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Visual Impairment

Visual impairment is a term that is used in the medical industry to describe vision loss. There are over 5 million Canadians that live with an eye disease that either affects their vision or could lead to vision loss in the future – with nearly 65,000 of those individuals being right here in British Columbia, where Dr. Ali Ghahary works as a family physician

To be visually impaired means that your eyesight cannot be corrected to what would be deemed as a “normal” level by medical professionals. Vision loss can mean that you are partially sighted or blind, in addition to having a visual field that is narrowed, declined visual acuity, as well as other forms of visual impairment. Certain types of visual impairment are also considered a disability.

In Canada, the number one cause of visual impairment is a condition that is known as age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD, which affects individuals aged 50 and older. It occurs as a result of damage to the macula – the area in the centre of your eye that is responsible for seeing objects that are straight ahead of you. In many cases, age-related macular degeneration advances very slowly and you will only notice symptoms as the condition progresses over time. When the macula is damaged, your vision becomes distorted. A few examples of distorted vision include blurriness or shadowy areas. You are at an increased risk of developing AMD if you are a smoker or if there is history of it in your family. You can help to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration by avoiding smoking (Dr. Ali Ghahary offers smoking cessation tips here), getting regular exercise, eating healthy and maintaining normal levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.

Glaucoma is another condition that can cause visual impairment. It is a condition that causes increased pressure/fluid build-up within the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transferring visual information to the brain via electrical impulses. Similar to age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma usually does not become bothersome until later in life. If can be treated with eye drops, medication that you take orally, surgery, or a combination of all of these methods. If left untreated, however, glaucoma can lead to permanent loss of vision, so it is important to make an appointment with your physician or with your optometrist at the first sight of symptoms – which include blurred or distorted vision and eye pain.

There are also different types of blindness that an individual can be diagnosed with. These include colour blindness – where the individual is unable to tell the difference between certain colours, night blindness – which occurs in the evening or when in dimmer light and tends to make night-driving difficult, and complete blindness – where the individual has total vision loss.

If you develop sudden visual disturbances or sudden vision loss, this could be a medical emergency. Common medical causes of sudden vision loss include artery occlusion, vitreous hemorrhage, in addition to strokes or brain tumours. Dr. Ali Ghahary urges anyone who experiences sudden disturbances with their vision to seek immediate medical attention.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hearing Impairment

The ears are responsible for allowing us to hear sounds (the cochlea), in addition to helping with balance (the vestibular system). If the cochlea or the vestibular system becomes damaged, however, this can lead to a number of different problems with your hearing, balance and more – including vertigo, dizziness, imbalance and/or trouble maintaining posture, clumsiness, vision problems such as sensitivity to light, short-term memory loss, and even hearing loss.

Hearing impairment affects up to 10% of all Canadians.

Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment can range from mild to severe, and is classified into four categories: Auditory Processing Disorders, Conductive Hearing Loss, Sensorineural Hearing Loss, and Mixed Hearing Loss.

Auditory Processing Disorders occur when the brain loses its ability to be able to properly process sound, such as knowing where noises are coming from and understanding speech. This is a condition that affects adults, though it is also discovered in at least 5% of school-aged children. The direct cause of APD is not known, though studies have suggested it could be linked to chronic infections of the ear, which are also not uncommon in school-aged children, as well as head trauma.

Conductive Hearing Loss is a condition which blocks sound from travelling to the middle ear. It is usually caused by the build-up of earwax, ear infections, or even a punctured eardrum. To remove earwax from the ears, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary may irrigate a patient’s ear with a warm water solution. However, in some cases, a patient may actually require further, more invasive treatment in order to correct CHL, including surgery or a hearing device.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs when the cochlea or auditory nerves become damaged, leading them to malfunction. Genetic factors play a role in SHL, and in some causes it is simply a natural part of the aging process. Sensorineural Hearing Loss can also be caused as a result of exposure to loud noise, trauma to the head/ear, and even certain medications. Cochlear implants or hearing aids are commonly used to help individuals affected by SHL.

Lastly, Mixed Hearing Loss. Mixed Hearing Loss occurs as a result of damage to both the middle and inner ear (Conductive Hearing Loss and Sensorineural Hearing Loss.)

When total ear loss occurs, this is also known as deafness. Deafness is caused by a number of factors; it can be genetic, hereditary, can be caused by noise, or can even be the result of certain types of diseases such as meningitis, mumps or chickenpox. When an individual is deaf, they have little or no ability to hear sounds and also have difficulty communicating with others via speech. In order to communicate with others, individuals who are deaf will often learn how to lip-read or use sign language. Examples of sign language can be seen on the chart below.

In order to diagnose this or any of the aforementioned hearing problems, Dr. Ali Ghahary will often refer patients to an Audiologist. A referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist may also be necessary.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

5 Essential Superfoods

While it's never a bad thing to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, there are also certain foods, known as "superfoods", that are much higher in nutrients and can greatly benefit your health.

Below, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary shares some of the 5 essential superfoods and what, exactly, makes them so super.

1. Blueberries
As pointed out on Dr. Ali Ghahary's blog, blueberries pack a powerful punch of nutrients. They're a great source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K. They are great for cardiovascular health, your memory, and have been linked to the prevention of cancer.

2. Ginger
Ginger has always been known for being a great, natural food when it comes to boosting the immune system and fighting against symptoms of the common cold. It's also a helpful remedy for dealing with nausea. Increased consumption of ginger can also fight against obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

3. Eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein. More than 50% of an egg's protein is found in the egg white. They also contain vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) which helps our bodies produce energy, as well as vitamins B6 and B12.

4. Beans
High in fibre, folate and magnesium, beans have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and also help with weight management.

5. Cranberries
Cranberries have a number of disease-fighting nutrients and can reduce the risk of heart disease, help prevent ulcers, help prevent UTI's, and can even fight inflammation.

For more tips on healthy eating, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Instagram and Twitter!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bracing for Vancouver's Heatwave

With temperatures expected to hit record-breaking highs across much of British Columbia’s south coast this week, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement. Daytime temperatures will exceed 30°C, which means there is an increased risk of developing heat-related illness as a result of the extreme heat. An air quality advisory was also issued, going into effect August 1st, as a result of high concentrations of fine particular matter (such as ash and smoke) in the air due to the number of wildfires that are burning across the Province.

Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause a wide variety of heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Heat exhaustion occurs as a result of exercising or doing any kind of strenuous activity (i.e. heavy lifting) while in a hot environment. This can lead to dehydration as a result of water that is lost due to sweating. You may also experience dizziness, weakness, nausea or vomiting, and headaches. If you suspect that you may have heat exhaustion, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, recommends getting out of the heat immediately and moving into shaded areas or a building that is air-conditioned, rest, and make sure you drink plenty of water!

Heat stroke, which is the most severe heat-related illness that one can develop, occurs as a result of being in extreme heat/sun for prolonged amounts of time. When you stay in the heat for a lengthy period, the body’s heat-regulating system becomes overwhelmed and unable to cool itself down. Symptoms of heat stroke can be similar to those of heat exhaustion, including severe headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, feeling lightheaded, rapid heartbeat, breathing that becomes shallow, changes in behaviour such as disorientation, seizures, and you can even become unconscious. If you are with someone you think may be suffering from heat stroke, it is important to call 911 immediately, as this can be a life-threatening condition.

While the heat can affect anyone, individuals such as infants and elderly patients are more at risk, as well as those who have pre-existing health problems such as lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes. As such, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends avoiding the outdoors and/or strenuous activity until these weather advisories are lifted. If you still insist on going outdoors, it is important to take steps to avoid heat-related illness by keeping hydrated (drink plenty of water!) and keeping your eyes and skin protected by wearing hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. 

You can find plenty of summer health tips by following Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Friday, July 21, 2017

What Are Antioxidants?

When discussing healthy eating, the word “antioxidants” is one you might hear being thrown around quite often. They are responsible for delaying or stopping damaged to the body’s cells by removing waste, commonly referred to as “free radicals.” This is a term that is used to describe certain compounds that attach and ultimately cause damage to body’s healthy cells – i.e. from smoking or other toxins.

The best way to make sure you’re getting the antioxidants that you need is eating a diet that consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables – something Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, already strongly encourages his patients to do. 

Some examples of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables that you can easily incorporate into your everyday meal planning include (but aren’t limited to) prunes, plums, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and oranges, as well as kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and bell peppers. Pecans and kidney beans are also high in antioxidants, as are green and black teas.

The antioxidant properties found in these foods and beverages contain nutrients that are essential for good health and can prevent a number of different diseases. The ways in which your health may be positively impacted consuming more antioxidants include having better eye health, heart health, prostate health and urinary tract health. The skin can also be improved by antioxidants, including reducing the signs of aging, and you may even notice a positive boost in your mood.

In order to prevent disease, it is always important to have regular check-ups with your physician. You can find more tips on healthy eating on Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Wordpress blog and by following him on Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Preparing Healthy Meals

After a long day at work or school, the last thing anyone wants to do is go home and cook a meal. However, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet can actually boost that work or school performance, and your body will be much happier for it in the long run – and the best part? There are still plenty of healthy food choices you can make that are quick and easy…without having to go to the nearest drive-through restaurant.

One way of ensuring you’ll be eating healthy during the work week is to prepare your meals in advance. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to cook all of your meals ahead of time, but you can start the process by portioning out items and by washing and chopping up fruits and vegetables ahead of time. The great thing about meal prepping is that it allows you to carefully choose what you’re going to eat, but to also experiment with a variety of foods and flavours. Once you’ve got your meals figured out, you can place them into containers and freeze or refridgerate them, only to take them out and stick them in the microwave and/or oven when ready – and in most cases, your meal will then be ready to eat in no more than 10 to 20 minutes max.

When it comes to meal prep, it’s important to make sure that you are cooking, handling and storing your food safely, as the last thing you want to do is come down with an illness due to contaminated food. All meats and poultry should be cut on boards that are separate from vegetables. This is due to the possibility of bacteria and avoiding cross contamination. If you are making yourself a meal that is meat, poultry or seafood centric, always make sure you are cooking the food thoroughly. Uncooked food can result in food poisoning, which can be serious and leave you feeling ill for a few days. Thirdly, do not store foods longer than you should, as this can also leave the gut feeling upset. While frozen meals tend to last longer, items in the fridge should be kept no longer than 2 to 3 days at most.

For a long list meal ideas, including casseroles (and even healthy desserts!), follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Pinterest and Instagram. There, you will find an abundance of recipes and other diet-related health tips.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Osteoporosis Prevention

There are approximately 1.5 million Canadians who are currently suffering from Osteoporosis – a condition in which the body’s bones become fragile and brittle due to loss of tissue. While there is no single cause of osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin deficiency can certainly play a role in its diagnosis. It can strike at any age, both men and women, and is often gone undetected until one has suffered a bone fracture, which happens at much higher rates in comparison to individuals who do not have osteoporosis. 

The best way to fight against the development of osteoporosis is to build up your bone health. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, suggests different ways on how to do this below.

First and foremost, make sure you’re getting enough calcium. Calcium is not only beneficial for your bone health, but it also helps our nerves and muscles function. Some great sources of calcium include white beans, salmon, and leafy, green vegetables – and, of course, dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. If opting for non-dairy sources, pair it with vitamin D, that way the calcium will be better absorbed into your body. The recommended dose of calcium for individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 is 1,000 milligrams per day, increasing to 1,200 milligrams for those between the ages of 50 and 70. Click here for more information on healthy diet options.

There are a few other bad habits that one should try to break in order to prevent osteoporosis. Unbeknownst to many, smoking can also play a role in decreasing bone health. On his Wordpress blog, Dr. Ali Ghahary offers tips on smoking cessation. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also lead to a decrease in bone formation over time, so that is something you should also avoid.

Preventing falls is also important. While falls are more likely to happen to elderly patients, they can happen to anyone at any time. Wear shoes that are flat or low-heeled and make sure they have non-slip soles. Speaking of slipping, be careful of slippery surfaces both in and outdoors – particularly floors that have just been washed, or areas that may be slippery due to ice. You should also keep dark walkways and rooms well lit.

Lastly, exercise! It has been scientifically proven that regular physical activity slows down bone loss, and the great part about it is you don’t have to overexert yourself in order to reap the benefits. Walking and/or yoga are great forms of exercise that will strengthen your bones; even swimming. Simply find what you like and stick to it!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Vancouver Physician Dr. Ali Ghahary visits Assisi, Italy

Find out how Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary utilized his medical expertise while on a recent trip to Assisi, Italy by clicking here.

Dr. Ali Ghahary with rising superstar Josh Cumbee

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Dr. Ali Ghahary's Tips on How to Avoid Food Allergies

There are currently as many as 1.3 million Canadians that are affected by food allergies, and this number has continued to increase – especially in children.

In an article on his Wordpress blog last fall, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary touched upon some of the most common food allergies. These included peanuts, tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts and Brazil nuts), sesame seeds, eggs, milk, seafood, soy, wheat, mustard and sulphites.

Food allergies occur as a result of the release of a powerful chemical known as histamine, which happens when the body is exposed to certain food proteins that it deems harmful, causing a reaction in the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, the gastrointestinal tract, and the skin. In extreme cases, this histamine reaction can be fatal. 

Unfortunately, there is no specific cure for food related allergies. The only way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid the foods you are allergic to, and ensure that you are carrying around allergy medication, including an epinephrine auto-injector (commonly referred to as an Epipen.) It is also important that you take time to carefully read food labels when grocery shopping, and do so each time, as manufacturers can often change the list of ingredients and the way things are labeled. You should also avoid any products that say they “may contain” certain allergens, as there is no guarantee that you won’t be exposed to the allergen in question – this is known as cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when allergens are transferred to foods due to being processed/cooked on the exact same machinery (or packaged around areas) that have been exposed to the allergen. When dining out, you should also make your server aware of your allergies when ordering. While many restaurants in Vancouver are well adept in accommodating allergy sufferers, it is always better to double check. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Schools have also implemented strict guidelines as to what students can and cannot have packed in their lunches. For example, peanut butter. As this is a common allergen for children, many Vancouver schools have banned peanut butter all together. Some good, healthy alternatives that parents can pack in their children’s lunch include dried fruits and cheese.

Allergens, however, are not the only problem. Food sensitivities can also be an issue, though they are much less severe than having a food allergy and are often limited to the digestive tract, resulting in GI (gastrointestinal) problems, such as stomach cramps and/or upset. Celiac disease is another common GI condition. Individuals who have celiac cannot eat gluten, and must stick to a strict gluten-free diet to avoid developing associated symptoms. For more information on this and food allergies, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog at https://alighahary.wordpress.com.