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.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Leg Pain: When Should You Be Concerned?

It’s not uncommon to experience leg pain (or pain in other extremities.) This can be due to a number of reasons, with the most common reason for leg pain being normal wear and tear if the tendons, arthritis (which commonly happens as a result of aging), or sports injuries resulting in inflammation. Typically, pain like this is remedied with simple over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and will go away over time…though that is not always the case.

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician, warns about the dangerous side of leg pain, and why it isn’t always something you should ignore.

Leg pain can also be a sign that you may have a blood clot, as the leg’s veins is the most common spot for a blood clot to occur. This is commonly referred to in the medical industry as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, and it affects thousands of Canadians each year. Clotting of the blood is a needed process that helps the body from losing excessive amounts of blood, such as when you suffer from a wound. However, with a clot, the blood does not do what it needs to do and changes to an almost solid state, which then causes pain. Individuals who do have a blood clot may not have any symptoms depending on the size of the clot itself. However, you may also notice the affected area feels unusually warm in addition to swelling and discolouration of the skin – usually bluish or pale.

Poor circulation is another reason you might suffer from leg pain. In order to keep your joints healthy, it is important to stay physically active – something Dr. Ali Ghahary not only advocates for patients, but also does, too, by biking around Vancouver and skiing at Whistler. The city has many great spots to partake in physical activity, including parks, beaches, and community centres.

Whatever the cause of your leg pain, you should always schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss the symptoms that you are experiencing to make sure your health is in order and that nothing more sinister, such as a blood clot, is at play. 

If you do not have a family physician, Dr. Ghahary is always available to see patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC, and you do not need an appointment. His walk-in schedule and clinic directions can be found by visiting his website at http://vancouverphysician.net

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

Understanding the Complexity of Chronic Pain

Part of Dr. Ali Ghahary’s important role as a physician means having the ability to accurately diagnose and treat patients who suffer from chronic (and often complex) medical conditions, including chronic pain. Chronic pain is characterized as pain that is persistent and lasts 6 months or longer.

Currently, there are an estimated 2 million Canadians living with chronic pain, which comes in many different forms such as nociceptive pain, somatic pain, visceral pain, neuropathic pain, psychogenic pain, and idiopathic pain.

Nociceptive Pain
This type of pain is usually detected in the soft tissues of the body, such as the skin and/or muscles. It occurs as a result of the specialized sensory nerves, known as the nociceptors, detecting stimuli that is then sent to the brain and spinal cord, and is ultimately interpreted as pain. Examples of nociceptive pain include broken bones and wounds.

Visceral Pain
This type of pain is internal and can be more difficult to pinpoint. It comes from the body’s organs and/or blood vessels, and is often described as a sensation of aching, throbbing or squeezing. Common types of visceral pain include bladder pain (also known as cystitis), endometriosis pain, prostate pain, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Individuals who suffer from visceral pain may experience other symptoms such as gastrointestinal disturbances, nausea, sweating and/or changes in body temperature, and a pale appearance. It is usually treated with NSIADs or other pain medication, and research is currently underway in effort to find other effective treatments.

Somatic Pain
Unlike visceral pain, somatic pain is much easier to locate as it typically affects the musculoskeletal system. Arthritis, back/joint pain, fibromyalgia and tension headaches are all examples of somatic pain, and it usually responds well to over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. 

Neuropathic Pain
Similar to nociceptive pain, neuropathic pain is also caused by the nerves. However, it is different in the sense that with neuropathic pain, the nerves do not function normally, and it can also be difficult to treat. Neuropathic pain occurs as a result of nerve disturbances or when the nerves spontaneously transmit pain signals to the brain, and is described by patients as a sharp, stabbing or shooting pain. Examples of neuropathic pain include trigeminal neuralgia, peripheral neuropathy and sciatica.

Psychogenic Pain
Psychogenic pain is a very real condition and can be caused by psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety or stress. Physical complications that can occur as a result of these psychological disorders include body aches and fatigue. That being said, due to it not having a specific origin, it can also be difficult to treat. Physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will often take a multifactorial approach when treating psychogenic-related pain. This includes non-pharmaceutical treatments, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), combined with psychological medications such as antidepressants, which have been proven to work better than some of the traditional painkillers.

Idiopathic Pain
Idiopathic pain is pain of an unknown origin – meaning it occurs even when there is no specific physical (or psychological) cause. It is most common in individuals with pre-existing pain conditions.

Vancouver physician Ali Ghahary
As part of chronic pain management, Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests patients try to keep physically fit and stay active as much as possible, as exercise has been known to greatly benefit individuals living with pain. In addition, Pain BC, which is located in Vancouver, works alongside healthcare professionals like Dr. Ghahary, and patients, to help prevent and relieve pain, and include the quality of life of those who suffer from it. This is done through educational tools, empowerment, innovation and awareness. 

It is important for individuals living with chronic pain to have hope and know that it does not have to get in the way of living a full, healthy life.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Few Tips from Dr. Ali Ghahary for First Time Dieters

Dr. Ali Ghahary
Dieting can be a challenge for anyone. However, if you’re a first time dieter, that challenge can be even greater. What should you eat? What should you drink? And what should your calorie intake be? Figuring all of that out can be difficult. First and foremost, know that in order for your diet to be effective, you need to have a healthy lifestyle overall. Weight loss doesn’t just mean changing your eating habits. It also means regular exercise, and sticking to a plan, as pointed out by Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary in his previous article on the many health benefits of combined diet and exercise.

An individual’s reasons for wanting to lose weight vary. From obesity, to losing baby weight, to simply wanting to live a life as healthy as possible. Millions of people work towards weight loss every day, and there are many different choices to be made – especially when it comes to meal planning. The most important part of weight loss is to cut back on sugar and have a low-carb diet. One diet Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends to patients is the Paleo diet. Unlike certain fad diets out there, Paleo diet is designed as a long-term diet. Eating low-carb has many health benefits including decreasing cholesterol, decreasing the risk of diabetes, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, and even decreases the risk of certain cancers. In addition, the Paleo diet can also help improve digestion and reduce inflammation. You may also notice an increase in energy.

A low-carb diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
It is not uncommon for dieters to be unsuccessful at their first, second, and even third attempts – sometimes more. Without motivation and dedication, a healthy diet can be difficult to stick to. Rather than thinking of a diet as something to dread, try making it fun. Social media sites like Pinterest offer thousands of unique, healthy recipes – some of which you can find shared on Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Pinterest page, too, as well as on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. If you’re more focused on staying fit, rather than exercising alone you can always grab a buddy to go with you. Having a friend tag along often helps in keeping you motivated and can make exercise more fun.

Click here for more great tips on diet and exercise!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sore Throat or Epiglottitis?

Sore throats are a prevalent symptom of the common cold or flu. A sore throat can also be caused by tonsillitis, laryngitis, post-nasal drip and even ear pain. Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary also notes that patients with sore throats will often complain of secondary symptoms such as a cough, and can sometimes have difficulty swallowing foods and liquids. Typically, a sore throat will go away within a week – either on its own or with a course of antibiotics depending on whether or not it is caused by a bacterial infection (such as strep throat.) 

Epiglottitis seen in x-ray imaging
Normally, a sore throat is not something to worry about. However, if your pain is extreme, you have a hoarse voice, a high temperature, and are in severe discomfort when swallowing, you may have a condition known as epiglottitis. Epiglottitis occurs when the epiglottis itself becomes inflamed. The epiglottis is a leaf-shaped flat that sits just behind your tongue and is responsible for keeping food from entering your windpipe, and also allows air to pass from your mouth and into your lungs. With epiglottitis, the epiglottis can become so inflamed that your breathing can be affected due to the airway becoming obstructed, which can lead to death.

While epiglottitis can affect individuals of all ages, it most commonly affects children between the ages of 2 and 5. However, developing epiglottitis is extremely rare. Still, Dr. Ali Ghahary urges all individuals to seek immediate medical attention at the first signs of an unusually sore throat or any symptoms that are associated with epiglottitis as mentioned above.

In confirmed cases of epiglottitis, a patient will usually be given oxygen via a mask. If you need more help with breathing, you may need to be hospitalized so that a ventilator may be inserted to better maintain the flow of oxygen into the lungs. In severe cases, if the epiglottis becomes completely blocked, a procedure known as a tracheotomy will need to be performed. A tracheotomy is when a small cut is made into the windpipe, which then allows a tube to be passed underneath the swollen area so enough oxygen can be given. In addition, antibiotics are also commonly used to fight epiglottitis and treat the underlying infection, as well as steroids to help reduce inflammation. If treated quickly, the prognosis is generally good. Rarely does the infection related to epiglottitis spread to other parts of the body, and the likelihood of epiglottitis recurring is very low.

Brain Injury Awareness Month

The brain, an organ of soft tissue, is responsible for the function of the central nervous system. When the brain is injured, however, the nervous system does not function as it normally should. 

Approximately 160,000 Canadians suffer from brain injuries every year, and there are over 1 million Canadians currently living with the effects of a brain injury. While brain injuries can affect anyone at any age, at least 30% of all brain injuries are seen in youth – usually sustained as a result of sports or other recreational activities.

Different types of injuries can happen to the brain. Brain damage can be caused by several factors including physical force, birth trauma, or insufficient blood supply. The severity of a brain injury is dependent on the underlying cause of the injury sustained and/or the amount of force to the head. Brain injuries can affect certain or all areas of the brain, and can result in severe impairments in your cognitive, speech, language and behavioural functioning.

There are many different types of brain injuries. Concussions, often seen in sports, are the most common type of brain injury. A concussion occurs as a result of trauma to the brain due to impact. An individual with a concussion may briefly lose consciousness. They can also result in headaches and a general feeling of brain fogginess. It can take several months to years for a concussion to fully heal. A contusion, another form of brain injury, is characterized as bleeding on the brain, and can also be the result of impact to the head. Similarly, Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries can also have the same result. DABI’s are commonly seen as a result of car accidents. Other brain injuries such as a Closed Brain Injury (CBI) or Open Penetrating Brain Injury are considered to be traumatic brain injuries, and can result in disability.

If you suspect you may have a brain injury or are experiencing any symptoms associated with a concussion, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary urges patients to seek immediate medical attention. 

Early detection is key, as the majority of brain injuries can be treated if they are diagnosed soon enough.

You can find out more information on brain injuries at http://braininjurycanada.ca

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Social Anxiety

Anxiety and other mental health disorders affect millions of individuals worldwide. In Canada alone, anxiety affects at least five percent of households. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician in Vancouver, treats many patients living with mental illness, including social anxiety. 

Social anxiety is one of many common anxiety disorders affecting individuals today. It Is characterized by fear of social situations and interactions with others, often resulting in the patient worrying that they may be judged, talked about or humiliated – even when that worry is unjust. It can be a debilitating disorder to live with and affect many aspects of one’s life, including personal relationships, school and/or work attendance, and the ability to perform normal, basic, everyday activities, such as grocery shopping, banking, attending doctor’s appointments, etcetera.

While people with social anxiety do want to participate in social activities, make friends, and live a normal life, the fear that comes with the disorder almost always makes it difficult for them to feel comfortable enough to do that. As a result, others usually describe individuals living with social anxiety as seeming withdrawn, disinterested, and unfriendly – albeit not by choice.

Varying scenarios, including being introduced to others, having to speak in public, and making phone calls, can trigger social anxiety. The symptoms that often accompany society anxiety are feelings of nervousness, heart palpitations, trembling, facial flushing, dry mouth, and panic attacks. Individuals with social anxiety can also develop dysmorphia – a condition in which they perceive themselves in a negative light. 

Individuals with social anxiety almost always realize that their thoughts and feelings are abnormal, though without proper treatment they are usually unable to control it. In order to properly diagnose and alleviate the symptoms of social anxiety, Dr. Ali Ghahary will often recommend that patients be on medication (such as Ativan or other anti-anxiety drugs) in combination with attending counselling sessions with the primary focus being cognitive behavioural therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy works by changing the patient’s way of thinking, in turn making them feel more comfortable, over time, in social situations.

Anxiety does not have to ruin your life. If you have concerns about your mental health, do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Ali Ghahary at Brentwood Medical Clinic. He takes a compassionate, gentle approach when dealing with vulnerable patients. You can find Dr. Ghahary’s walk-in schedule by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Doctor-Patient Relationship

Trust plays a very important role in the doctor-patient relationship. It allows for physicians and patients to communicate openly and honestly, making way for accurate diagnosing, treatment, and continued care.

In addition to providing patients with exceptional medical care, Dr. Ali Ghahary also uses a compassionate and gentle approach when dealing with patient's healthcare needs. As a result, he has become one of the top-rated physicians in the city of Vancouver.

For more information on the role of a family physician, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary's website. You can also follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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 http://alighaharyvancouver.ca.

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 http://www.alighaharyvancouver.ca.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

When to Worry About Tiredness

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 http://www.alighaharyvancouver.ca/blog.

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 http://transplant.bc.ca. 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 http://AliGhaharyVancouver.ca.

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 http://www.alighaharyvancouver.ca/blog.

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 http://alighaharyvancouver.ca!

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.