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, and has become one of the top-rated physicians in Vancouver as a result.

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 Tirdness

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


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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Anatomy of the Ear and Common Ear Disorders

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

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

Anatomy of the Ear

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Importance of Nutrients

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


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

The six main classifications of nutrients are as follows:

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

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


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



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



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



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



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



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

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Integumentary System

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

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


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



There are three major types of skin cancer:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Disorders of the Urinary System

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Health Dangers of Mold

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

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

Mold

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

Symptoms of mold exposure/sensitivity include the following:

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Early Signs of Appendicitis

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chronic Sinusitis

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

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

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

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