Saturday, May 5, 2018

Speech and Hearing Month

Unfortunately, many of us take our ability to be able to communicate for granted; that’s why throughout the entire month of May, Canadians are using the hashtag #communicateawareness on various social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to promote Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.

An estimated 1 in 6 Canadians have a communication disorder, which can include speech, language, hearing and auditory impediments, as well as balance and even swallowing disorders. Our speech controls how way say different sounds and words, while or language includes the words we use to share ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc. For anyone with a speech or hearing impediment, they may be unable hear words clearly, stutter, have a hoarse or raspy sounding voice, or have difficulty understanding, speaking, reading, and even writing. These kinds of disorders can have a major and oftentimes negative impact on one’s physical wellbeing, as well as emotional, social, vocational and even financial wellbeing – especially in children, as the child’s first 5 years are the most crucial for development. Which is why the earlier a speech or hearing disorder is identified, the better the chances are for improvement. If the disorder is permanent, early detection can also improve a child’s ability to be able to cope with this type of disorder. Additonally, seniors can also develop speech and hearing disorders. You can ready more about early detection here.

If you or someone you know has a speech-language disorder, a speech-language pathologist and/or audiologist can help to identify these disorders by helping manage speech, language, voice, swallowing, and feeding disorders, as well as work with individuals who suffer from hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. In some cases you may only need to see one type of specialist, while others may need to see both a speech-language pathologist and audiologist for the best care.

When it comes to getting involved in 2018’s Speech and Hearing Awareness Month, there is lots you can do to spread the word. Before posting on social media, think of the message you want to communicate. What’s most important to you? Are you a health professional looking to invite others to join the conversation? Or are you someone who suffers or knows someone who suffers from a speech or language impediment? And, more importantly, what has been your experience? One of the main focuses of this year’s campaign is to not only communicate awareness, but make others aware that there are many different ways to communicate – whether it’s through social media, written word, photographs, or even sign language.

Visit to learn more about Speech and Hearing Month and to find out the different ways in which you can get involved, as well as an array of resources to help get you started.

Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

Throughout the month of May, various health professionals and health organizations are spreading awareness about bladder cancer as part of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. According to Bladder Cancer Canada, an estimated 9,000 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year, and it’s the 5th most common cancer in the country.

There are many risk factors that can increase your chances of developing bladder cancer, including:

• Smoking
• Chemical exposure
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Chronic bladder infections
• Bladder birth defects
• Other urothelial cancer
• Family history
• Race and ethnicity
• Age
• Gender

While some of these risk factors cannot be changed – such as family history and genetics, race and ethnicity, age and gender – there are certain steps that you can take to help prevent bladder cancer, such as quitting smoking, avoiding or limiting exposure to industrial chemicals in the workplace, and drinking plenty of water. Some studies have also suggested that including more fruits and vegetables in your diet can not only prevent bladder cancer, but also reduce your risk of other cancers.

Common signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include:

• Frequent urination
• Lower back pain
• Pain or burning sensation when urinating
• Blood in the urine
• Feeling the urge to urinate throughout the evening
• Feeling the urge to urinate but being unable to pass urine

It is worth noting that sometimes, patients with bladder cancer may experience none or very few of these symptoms. These symptoms are also not 100% indicative that you do have bladder cancer, as these symptoms are also common in urinary tract infections and other medical conditions that are non-cancer related.

When it comes to any type of cancer, early detection is key in order for treatment to be successful. One of the most common screening tests for bladder cancer is via a urinalysis. A urinalysis can test for blood in the urine. Typically, blood that is found in the urine is often caused by a benign condition, such as an infection, but large amounts can also be the first sign of bladder cancer. If it is suspected that a patient might have bladder cancer, some newer tests can also be performed to look for cancer cells/tumour markers. For example, things like chromosome changes, the presence of substances such as mucin and carcinoembryonic antigen (which are commonly found on cancer cells), as well as high levels of the protein known as NMP22. Family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will often recommend regular bladder cancer screening tests for patients that are considered high risk.

Treatment is dependent on the stage of the cancer, but can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, intravesical therapy, as well as surgery. Sometimes a patient may need to undergo a combination of different treatment methods, which will be decided by your team of medical professionals – including radiation and medical oncologists, as well as urologists.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Surprisingly Simple Health Hacks

When it comes to taking care of our overall health, sometimes we want to keep it as simple as possible. If you’re one of those people then you’re in luck, because there are some surprisingly simple health hacks that you can incorporate into your life to improve your overall wellbeing.

Health Hack #1: Oranges
You’re most likely already well aware that oranges are a great source of vitamin C and can help boost immune system and decrease the risk of getting frequent colds or flu viruses. In order to get more vitamin C, this can come by eating oranges, from freshly squeezes orange juice, or through vitamin C supplements found at your local pharmacy or vitamin store. However, a boost in immunity isn’t all oranges are good for. Studies have shown that orange oil can also help improve the mood and reduce anxiety – so if you happen to be under a lot of stress, you might want to consider adding more oranges into your diet.

Health Hack #2: Lavender
Nearly half of all Canadians suffer from some type of sleep disorder – including insomnia. Insomnia is when you either have trouble falling asleep or cannot stay asleep. It is considered chronic when your sleep is disrupted for 3 or more nights per week and for at least 3 consecutive months. To combat insomnia, Dr. Ali Ghahary may need to prescribe a patient with medication. However, there is one natural remedy that has been long-proven to help individuals get a better night’s rest, and that’s lavender. Lavender essential oil can be found in stores that specialize in aromatherapy and come in many different forms – such as room spray, pillow mist, and even soap.

Health Hack #3: The 20/20/20 Rule
It might sound strange at first, but the 20/20/20 rule is something that is crucial for keeping your eyes healthy. Especially if you’re someone who stares at a backlit device for prolonged periods of time – such as a laptop or smartphone. The 20/20/20 rule works as follows: Every 20 minutes you are to take a 20 second break and allow your eyes to wander at least 20 ft. in distance. Doing this will reduce eye strain. To make sure you have no problems with your eyesight, Dr. Ali Ghahary also recommends seeing your optometrist for regular eye examinations.

Health Hack #4: Salmon
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, which is proven to not only improve eye healthy, but also fight depression and anxiety, promote brain health, and improve risk factors for heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acid is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so if you suffer from achy joints then consumption of salmon may not only be just as effective as taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), but also much safer.

Health Hack #5: Apple Cider Vinegar
You’ve heard the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but apple cider vinegar also has some incredible health benefits, including promoting weight loss, reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as improving symptoms of diabetes. It’s also a great alternative to marinades or salad dressings.

For more health tips, visit