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Hay fever sufferer

The best ways to manage hay fever

Countless people across Melbourne suffer from hay fever. Are you one of them?

Medically known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever causes cold-like signs and symptoms. This can include things like runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure.

However, unlike a cold, hay fever isn’t caused by a virus.

Hay fever is caused by the nose and/or eyes coming into contact with environmental allergens, like pollen, dust mites, mould and even animal hair.

How do you manage hay fever?

The first thing you need to do is identify the allergens causing the symptoms.

In some cases the cause may be obvious. But in other cases, your doctor will need to consider your medical history and possibly order tests or a referral to a specialist in difficult cases.

Some medications may help relieve the symptoms of hay fever, such as:

  • Nasal sprays
  • Antihistamines (like Telfast and Claratyne)
  • Eye drops.

Some medications need a prescription while others don’t. It’s always best to ask your GP for advice.

How can you reduce symptoms?

There are ways to prevent or limit your hay fever symptoms, including:

  • In your garden, choose plants that are pollinated by birds or insects, rather than plants that release their seeds into the air
  • Splash your eyes often with cold water to flush out any allergen
  • Reduce your exposure to dust and dust mites, animals and animal hair or fur.

If you’re allergic to grass pollen, it can be difficult to avoid. However, when pollen levels are high the following advice may help:

  • Avoid being outdoors on very windy days and when there are thunderstorms
  • Avoid activities known to cause exposure to pollen, such as mowing grass
  • Shower after outdoor activities
  • Use re-circulated air in the car
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Dry your bedding and clothing inside.

Stay informed about pollen

It’s now easier than ever to know when the high pollen days are.

Just check this website or download the Melbourne Pollen Count app on your phone.

Does hay fever only affect people in spring?

Most people associate hay fever with spring, when airborne grass pollens are at their peak. This is known as seasonal allergic rhinitis or spring hay fever.

However, hay fever can occur at any time of the year. When symptoms occur all year round, this is known as perennial allergic rhinitis. This is usually caused by a reaction to allergens around the home, like dust mites and animal hair.

Hay fever or COVID-19?

Both hay fever and COVID-19 include respiratory symptoms. So, it’s easy to get them confused.

If you have respiratory symptoms and aren’t sure if it’s hay fever or COVID-19, just give us a call.

If you’ve never had hay fever before, you should you get a COVID-19 test straight away and then self-isolate until you get the results.

Get help for hay fever

If you suffer from persistent hay fever, have a chat with us about the best ways to manage it.

Spring is a beautiful season and we’d like to help you enjoy it!

Source: BetterHealth and ABC

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 26 September 2021.

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Get help from PVH Medical in Pascoe Vale, Vic.

Are you struggling with the day to day?

Youre not in top form but you can’t put your finger on it.

You feel tired more often, you’re emotional and the things you used to enjoy doing now don’t hold the same appeal.

It’s hard to generalise how struggling to cope can make you feel or act, but if any of the following symptoms sound familiar, please consider having a chat with us.

  • Lacking energy or feeling tired
  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Feeling tearful
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things.

Talking can help

Talking to a doctor or psychologist about your mental health issues or emotional difficulties is a positive step towards improving your mental health.

Being honest and open will help you get the most appropriate treatment for your needs.

You may feel embarrassed talking about things like anxiety, abuse, voices in your head, drug or alcohol use, grief or depression, but our team deals with these mental health concerns every day.

We can help you with the current facts about your particular mental health issue and give you options, while always having your best interests at heart.

Doctor or psychologist?

Our medical team is trained to deal with sensitive issues and to be aware of the different needs and cultural backgrounds of the people they work with.

While our doctors have loads of experience helping patients with all sorts of issues, you may be referred to our in-house psychologist for specialised care.

You could be entitled to Medicare-subsidised counselling under the GP Mental Health Care Plan Scheme. Simply ask your doctor for details and a referral.

Or, you can go directly to a psychologist for a private consultation without a referral.

Mindfulness self-help

You can always start small with a little self-help.

Smiling Mind is a popular meditation app developed by psychologists and educators to help bring mindfulness into your life. It’s free, great for all ages, and you can even connect it to your Google Home device.

You can find out more about the Smiling Mind app here.

Looking out for others

Every September, we get behind R U OK? Day.

This special day is about staying connected and having meaningful conversations with friends and loved ones, to help prevent suicide.

You don’t need to be an expert, just a great mate and a good listener! So if you notice someone who might be struggling – please start a conversation.

Reach out to us or Lifeline

Some conversations are too big for friends and family to take on alone. That’s why you can always reach out to a doctor or psychologist at PVH Medical Pascoe Vale.

If you need urgent support outside of hours, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Don’t struggle in silence!

Source: BetterHealth

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 31 August 2021.

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Exercise in spring

6 exercise tips for spring

I have some exercise tips to help get you moving this spring.

If you’ve been hibernating, you’re not alone. Let’s face it, sometimes it just seems too hard to keep our motivation and enthusiasm for exercise during winter. The days are shorter, colder and the sofa seems more appealing!

So if you’ve had a break from exercise, lost some strength, gained some weight, felt depressed or been a bit unwell, exercise is the perfect way to change this. Spring is here and it’s time to take control.

Getting back in shape is an exciting but difficult journey so here are some essential exercise tips for doing it right:

1. Get help from a pro

Avoid the common pitfall of too much too soon.

After a break you’re not the athlete that you were a few months ago. Chances are you’ve lost some fitness and therefore you need to plan your journey back to full health.

Exercise physiologists (EP) like me (Mike Fitzsimon from PridePlus Health) are the perfect professional to help tailor an evidence-based exercise routine to your needs. An EP will assess your capacity and recommend an appropriate training routine to get you back in shape whilst avoiding injury and/or burn out.

If you’re in pain and need physio to help get you started, a physiotherapist will diagnose and treat the cause and help you get moving again.

If you’re struggling with foot pain, not sure about what shoes you should be exercising in or wanting advice on changing your running gait, then a podiatrist would be your first port of call.

And finally, your GP in Pascoe Vale should also be part of your ‘Exercise Pro Team’. If you’re battling a chronic medical condition and need clearance prior to returning to exercise, your doctor can give you some guidance too.

2. Join an online group

Exercising with others keeps you motivated and helps you stay on track. Plus, it’s fun to share a common goal and exchange stories. 

Even though COVID-19 has affected people’s ability to join exercise groups in person, there are lots of online groups to keep those motivation levels high. 

Our physios and I can take you through live workouts via telehealth.

For families or those living under the one roof this means everyone can get involved.

Then there are non-specific exercise groups like those on Facebook.

3. Mix it up

Exercise should be varied to stimulate the right outcomes.

Cardio, weights, exercise bands, mobility exercises, balance exercises, indoors, outdoors – it’s like eating a well-balanced diet – get a bit of everything to help you improve.

If you’re running then you need resistance exercises. If you’re losing weight, you need cardio and weights.

I can help you work it out.

4. Move smarter

The quality of your movement will help you stay fit and healthy for longer.

Work on technique and posture before load so that you develop good habits and don’t get injured.

A simple walking or postural assessment or core strength assessment before you get started will help you stay on target to reach your goals and help you exercise whilst minimising injury.

5. Make use of your backyard

Many of us have a backyard, or even a courtyard, to exercise in. Habits can take a while to stick, so map out a little plan for some exercises you can do in your yard. 

For example, if you’ve got a solid bench or seat of some sort, you could use this to do push-ups on if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. Start small (to prevent injury) and then as you gradually build strength you can try doing more. 

You could also do burpees or star jumps, and try to beat your personal best each day. Even little things like this are great to get the heart pumping! 

The kids can join in too – or at least have a giggle at their parents. 

6. Wear the right gear

Starting with the right footwear, and wearing workout clothes that breathe, will make you feel better and more comfortable.

As the days get warmer you should consider wearing breathable clothing and stay hydrated before, during and after exercise. When exercising outdoors make sure you slip, slop, slap to protect your skin from harmful UV rays as well.

This spring we’re looking forward to helping you hit your exercise goals. Book in with your Exercise Pro Team member to get you going.

I hope you liked these exercise tips!

Further reading

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 31 August 2021.

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Heart health check

Top 10 health checks

There are lots of health checks and tests you can get to prevent disease and injury, and to stop things before they get worse.

But what kind of health checks and tests can you get at PVH Medical?

Here are the top 10.

1. A complete physical examination

Our Pascoe Vale doctors will assess you from head to toe, covering all the essentials like your vital signs, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI). We’ll also look for things specific to your age, background and diet.

The older you get, the more often you should have a complete physical exam. We recommend one check every five years from the ages of around 20 to 45, every two years from 45 to 65, and every year thereafter.

2. Skin check

While it’s important to check your own skin, having a doctor regularly check over your skin could be lifesaving.

Melanoma and non-melanoma are big killers in Australia, and that’s why we recommended a skin check every couple of years, and every year once you turn 40 or you work outside.

3. Prostate check

This one is for the blokes.

Around 17,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in Australia. If you’re over age 50, come and talk to your doctor about possible screening options.

4. Colon exam

Colon or bowel cancer is the second most common form of cancer in Australia. That’s why it’s recommended that your colon health is tested from around the age of 40 upwards.

For many people, screening for bowel cancer involves a simple, at-home screening test. In fact, the government sends free test kits to those aged 50 to 74. But we can also help you in the clinic.

5. Blood pressure check

Blood pressure is the force that keeps blood moving through your arteries once it has been pumped from your heart. Finding out how hard your heart is working is super-important.

Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure every two years, or more regularly if you have high blood pressure.

6. Cholesterol

Your cholesterol level is one indicator of your risk of getting heart disease. While there are self-tests you can do for cholesterol, it’s best getting the help of a doctor who can look at your health holistically.

For example, we’ll consider a range of factors including your age, blood pressure, family history and diet, and suggest the best approach moving forwards.

7. Blood glucose levels

You may have seen the news reports about the growing diabetes problem in Australia, particularly type 2 diabetes. It’s a largely preventable disease if we do things like improve our diet and keep the extra kilos off.

You can check your risk of developing type 2 diabetes with this helpful calculator.

Early diagnosis, optimal treatment and continued management is key to reducing diabetes-related complications. And it can start with a simple blood glucose level check.

8. Cervical screening test (CST)

Cervical cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix.

Previously known as the Pap test, the CST is now only required once every five years for women aged 25 to 74.

9. Blood test

Having a blood test can help your doctor evaluate how well your organs (like your kidneys, liver, thyroid, and heart) are working. Blood tests can diagnose diseases and conditions such as cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and STIs including HIV/AIDS. That’s why it’s such a crucial health check.

We can test your blood on-site so you don’t even need to leave the clinic!

10. Bone density test

Osteoporosis is a disease that reduces the density and quality of your bones. This causes a weakness of the skeleton and an increased risk of fracture. Talk to your doctor about your risk and if any tests are required.

We also run a program called Strong to the Bone which can help fight osteoporosis. You can share your test results with the exercise physiologists who lead the program.

Get checked out today!

So there you have it, the top 10 health checks at PVH Medical in Pascoe Vale.

Make an appointment today for the checks you need. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

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AstraZenica COVID-19 vaccine

Information about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca is one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the side effect that people are talking about?

There is evidence of a likely link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and an extremely rare blood clotting syndrome (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia). 

The recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that use of the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer) is preferred over the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in adults under 60 years old who have not already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?

Yes. The individual benefit-to-risk balance of vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine varies with age.

This balance is based on factors including the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age and the potential lower risk of this very rare, but serious, adverse event with increasing age.

I’ve had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, what do I do now?

If you have had your first vaccine dose without this side effect or other serious adverse effects, you should receive your second dose as planned. 

What if I’m worried about side effects?

If you have recently had your first vaccine dose and are experiencing any side effects that you are worried about, please chat with your doctor. 

I’m under age 60 and want the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, can you help?

Per recent government advice, if you’re aged 18-60, you can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine where the benefit of receiving it clearly outweighs the risk in your individual circumstance.

Staying up to date

It’s important to stay up to date with the latest COVID-19 advice from the state government and federal government.

Chat with your doctor

You can discuss your individual benefit-to-risk balance with your doctor. Simply make a booking with your regular GP.

Source: Australian Government Department of Health

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 27 August 2021.

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Flu shot Pascoe Vale

It’s time for your flu shot

Influenza, known as the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause severe illness and even death.

Each year, the flu affects thousands of people in Australia and puts an enormous amount of pressure on our hospitals and health system.

The flu vaccine is your best shot at stopping the flu.

Getting the flu shot in 2021

This year, vaccination against the flu is more important than ever.

While increased hand-washing and social distancing helped to stop the spread of flu last year, more relaxed social distancing restrictions this year may allow flu viruses to recirculate, even if they were hardly seen in 2020.

You can get the flu shot with the doctor of your choice, in a one-on-one consultation, at PVH Medical.

You can easily book on our website or download the HotDoc app on your phone. 

What are the symptoms of flu?

Flu symptoms can start suddenly like fever, headache, tiredness and muscle aches. Elderly people might also experience confusion while children might get an upset stomach and muscle aches.

Symptoms can last for a week or more. When severe, complications such as pneumonia and worsening of existing medical conditions can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes death.

Why should I get the flu shot?

The flu can hit quickly and last for a few weeks, meaning time off work or school and staying away from family and friends. You never forget the flu!

The flu doesn’t discriminate, and anyone can be affected – that’s why it’s so important that everyone (aged over 6 months) is protected against the flu this season by getting their flu shot.

When should I get the flu shot?

Everyone should get an annual flu vaccine anytime from April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September.

Am I eligible for the free flu vaccine?

In Victoria, the following people are eligible to receive a free seasonal influenza vaccine:

  • Children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older
  • Adults aged 65 and over
  • People aged 6 months and over with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza (e.g. severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes)
  • Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy).

For everyone else, the cost of the flu vaccine is $16.

Different vaccines for different age groups

Our team of doctors in Pascoe Vale will advise which flu injection is appropriate for you.

All children under 9 receiving their flu vaccination for the first time require two doses of vaccine, spaced by a minimum of one month.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Common side effects may happen within one to two days after the vaccination. These include soreness, redness, discomfort and swelling at the injection site, tiredness, muscle aches and low fever.

These side effects are usually mild and go away within a few days, normally without any treatment.

Can the flu vaccine actually give you the flu?

The flu vaccine does not contain any live virus, so you cannot get the flu from the vaccine.

Can I get the flu vaccine at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccination experts recommend waiting 7 days between getting a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine. Given this, it will be important to plan both vaccinations.

Make an appointment today

To get your flu shot with a doctor, make a booking on our website or use the HotDoc app on your phone. You can also call us on 9304 0500.

Remember to tell us if you’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine and when you received it.

 

Source: BetterHealth Channel, Australian Government Department of Health and Victoria State Government

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 16 June 2021.

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Top 10 questions about COVID-19

Top 10 questions our doctors are asked about the COVID-19 vaccines

With more than 1,500 patients now vaccinated at PVH Medical, our doctors have been asked a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Some questions are asked more than others, and we’d like to share those with you today.

So, here are the top 10 questions our doctors are asked about the COVID-19 vaccines.

1. The vaccines arrived so fast. How do I know they’re safe?

COVID-19 vaccines went through the same safety checks as other vaccines. Rather than the science being sped up, the administrative and funding processes have been fast-tracked.

2. What are the side effects, and should I worry?

It’s normal to experience mild side effects. The most common ones include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These side effects are temporary and go away without treatment in 1-2 days.

Severe reactions to vaccines are very rare. Health experts are closely monitoring this.

3. Can you get COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine?

No, you can’t. To get COVID-19, a live virus that can multiply in your body has to infect you. No vaccine supplied currently in the world contains live coronavirus.

4. Is it free?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia, as per Australian government policy.

5. Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I get?

We’re currently giving AstraZeneca vaccines. In the coming months, other vaccinations will be available. We will advise when this happens. 

If you have any questions, please make an appointment with your usual doctor beforehand.

6. I’ve heard that AstraZeneca can cause blood clots. Is that true?

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is associated with a very rare risk of a condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS.

TTS involves blood clots (thrombosis) along with low platelet levels (thrombocytopenia), and occurs around 4-28 days after vaccination.

It’s currently estimated to affect around 6 people per million doses. To date, almost all reported cases were after the first dose of the vaccine.

Not all clots that occur after having the AstraZeneca vaccine will be due to TTS. Blood clotting problems occur commonly in the population.

Annually, common clots such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (a clot in the lungs) will affect about 1 in a 1,000 people in Australia, unrelated to any vaccine.

7. I’ve had my first dose of AstraZeneca, can I switch to Pfizer for my second dose?

To be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 you must have two doses of the same vaccine.

If you’ve had your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without developing TTS or experiencing another serious adverse event, then you can safely receive your second dose regardless of your age.

8. Why is AstraZeneca still recommended?

The AstraZeneca vaccine remains highly effective at preventing death and severe illness among people who have contracted COVID-19. The incidence of the blood clotting syndrome (TTS) is very rare.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised the AstraZeneca vaccine remains safe and is recommended to be given to people aged 50 years and over, and may be given to people aged 18-50 if the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.

The individual benefit-to-risk balance of vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine varies with age. This balance is based on factors including the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age and the potential lower risk of this very rare, but serious, adverse event with increasing age.

9. Can I get the vaccine if I’ve recently had other vaccinations, such as the flu jab?

The preferred minimum interval between a dose of seasonal flu vaccine and a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is 7 days.

Chat with your GP for more information when getting your routine vaccinations.

10. Will the COVID-19 vaccines be effective on new variants of the virus?

Current evidence from clinical trials indicates that the antibodies induced from COVID-19 vaccines are likely to provide protection to a variety of mutations and minor changes.

However, in some cases there may be an impact on how antibody developed from vaccines based on the original strain can ‘neutralise’ the virus.

This may mean that the effectiveness of the current vaccines against this particular strain could be affected. This information is still emerging and is being closely monitored.

In the same way that the influenza vaccine changes each season, the technology used to create the COVID-19 vaccines may be able to be adapted to changes in variants.

How to book

You can book in for a special vaccine clinic by calling 9304 0500.

If you can, print this consent form, fill it in and bring it with you to your appointment.

More information

If you’d like to find out more, take a read of these frequently asked questions. Or, make a booking with your GP and they’d be glad to answer your questions!

Source: Australian Government, SA Health, NCIRS, ABC

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 3 September 2021.

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Dr Ana Hernandez

Q&A with retiring doctor, Ana Hernandez

Dr Ana has been with PVH Medical for an impressive 26 years. The time has come for her to take a break and reflect on what she will do in the future.

So Ana, what’s the grand plan? How will you spend your days?

Looking after my grandchildren aged 3, 2 and 8 months and resting, sitting with a cup of coffee looking out the window. I may also do gardening, hiking, sewing, craft, cycling, cooking or visit friends.

What do you look forward to most in retirement?

Answer D, all of the above!

What did your family say on hearing the news?

“Hooray, good on ya ma”.

What’s been your career highlight?

Meeting wonderful people, both patients and staff.

Saving lives, alleviating suffering and stamping out disease all by lunchtime has had its rewards as well.

What will happen to your patients when you retire?

Some have sought Spanish speaking doctors in other clinics, while many have decided to stay at PVH and see the excellent doctors here.

What memorable work story can you share?

Singing 12 days of Christmas with modified words for our Christmas lunch with our choir (of four voices): “On the first hour of Wednesday, Reception said to me… can you see another patient or three…”.

If you could change one thing about your working life, what would it be?

Misdiagnosing a couple of patients will always stay in the back of my mind but it has humbled me and made me realise I am human and will make mistakes.

How will you maintain social connections?

I will work one day a week at the antenatal clinic at Sunshine Hospital.

What do you think about the saying “life begins at retirement”?

As I feel quite tired I don’t want to start to live another life again, just finish this one, thanks.

Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Dr Ana finishes at the end of April 2021. PVH Medical wishes her a well-deserved break.

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Active ingredient prescribing

What you see on prescriptions is changing

From February 2021 onwards, your doctor’s prescription may appear a little different due to ‘active ingredient prescribing’. Read on to find out more.

Active ingredient prescribing

Under new medicine regulations, doctors must include the active ingredient names when preparing prescriptions for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation PBS (RPBS) medicines.

This means most medicines will be prescribed by their active ingredient, not the brand name.

For example, if you were prescribed antibiotics, you may see Amoxicillin (the active ingredient) written on the script instead of the brand name (e.g. Amoxil).

Sometimes the brand name will still be on the script, but the active ingredient should appear first.

What’s an active ingredient?

They’re the ingredients in medicines that have an effect in the body.

Why are scripts changing?

It will help patients understand what medicines they are taking.

The change also aims to:

  • Reduce the risk of patients taking multiple doses of medicines
  • Encourage pharmacists and patients to discuss and use generic medicines
  • Decrease out-of-pocket expenses
  • Make the PBS more sustainable
  • Align Australia with international prescribing practices.

Can my doctor and I still choose specific brands?

Yes, doctors can still include a brand name on the prescription if they believe it’s clinically necessary. And you can still choose your medicine of choice at the pharmacy.

Will this change the cost of my medicine?

There is no change to the cost of PBS or RPBS medicines. However, you may pay less if you choose a generic medicine.

Are generic medicines safe?

Yes. The Therapeutic Goods Administration carefully assesses each generic medicine before it can be sold in Australia. Tests ensure it’s safe and has the same effect as the original brand.

Let us know if you have any questions

Our team of Pascoe Vale doctors are always here to help. Please let us know if you have any questions about your prescriptions.

 

Source: PBS

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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COVID-19 vaccine

Information on COVID-19 vaccines

If youve watched the news lately, you would have seen all the reports about the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s important that you get accurate information about the vaccine, so please take a read of the information below.

How will the vaccination protect me?

A COVID-19 vaccination will help reduce the severity of COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated can also protect people around you, particularly those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, like the elderly.

When can I get vaccinated?

Priority groups can expect to receive a vaccination from early 2021. For everyone else, it’s expected that the vaccine roll-out will continue throughout the year.

Who are the priority groups?

The government has identified these groups as:

  • People who have an increased risk of developing severe disease or dying from COVID-19:
    • Older people
    • People with certain pre-existing medical conditions
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • People at an increased risk of exposure, infection and transmission of COVID-19, or are in a setting with high transmission potential:
    • Health and aged care workers
    • Other care workers such as group residential care and disability care workers
    • People in places like correctional and detention facilities, and meat processing plants.
  • People working in critical services:
    • Essential services staff such as emergency services providers, defence forces, public health staff and staff managing quarantine facilities
    • People working in supply and distribution of essential goods and services such as food, water, electricity, telecommunications and other critical infrastructure.

Here’s a chart of the government’s immunisation strategy (or visit here if you having trouble viewing it).

What can I do while I wait?

Whether you’re in a priority group or not, the best thing you can do is stay informed and continue to be COVIDSafe. Along with the government, we’ll provide more information about how vaccines will be rolled out over the coming months.

In the meantime, everyone still needs to:

  • Practise good hygiene
  • Maintain physical distance and wear a face mask where required
  • Stay home if you’re sick and get tested
  • Download the COVIDSafe app.

Is getting the vaccine compulsory?

No, you can choose not to vaccinate. But we’re calling on everyone to get vaccinated to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and get on with our daily lives.

Is the vaccine safe?

All vaccines are thoroughly tested for safety before they’re approved for use in Australia. This includes careful analysis of clinical trial data, ingredients, chemistry, manufacturing and other factors.

As with any vaccination, you may experience minor side effects afterwards like pain, redness or swelling where you received the needle, or a mild fever. You will be monitored after the vaccination.

Serious reactions like allergic reactions are extremely rare. Chat with your Pascoe Vale doctor if you have any concerns.

How are vaccines being tested?

Testing first begins with laboratory research, then animal studies and finally human clinical trials. Clinical trials involve testing the vaccine in thousands of volunteers, and are conducted in phases.

Before a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in Australia, it must pass the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) rigorous assessment and approval processes. This includes assessment of its safety, quality and effectiveness.

What vaccine will I receive?

Australia has entered into four separate agreements for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, if they’re proved to be safe and effective. You can read more about this here.

Read the special information about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

How many doses of the vaccine will I need?

There are two doses. After the first shot, you’ll need to return three weeks later (for the Pfizer vaccine) or three months later (for the AstraZeneca vaccine), or as advised by the Health Department.

I’m pregnant. Can I get vaccinated?

The government has released some information specifically for pregnant women. Chat with us if you have any questions.

Where can I get vaccinated?

The government is setting up special vaccination sites across the country.

We’re also running special vaccination clinics. This will ensure we can vaccinate as many people as possible in an efficient and COVIDSafe way.

We’ll keep you up-to-date by email, on our website, and on our Facebook page.

How much will it cost?

The vaccine will be free at government sites and our special vaccination clinics.

How will I know when it’s my turn to be vaccinated?

The government will be running a big advertising blitz – you won’t miss it!

We’ll also be in regular contact by email, on our website and on our Facebook page.

More information

Always get your information about vaccines from trusted sources, like your doctor at PVH Medical, the Department of Health or your local hospital.

Let’s fight this virus together!

Source: Department of Health

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 16 June 2021.

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Cholesterol

What’s cholesterol and why does it matter?

Cholesterol is one of those words you’ve heard about and probably seen on food packaging. But what exactly is it and why does it matter?

Cholesterol is essential for the body

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is part of all animal cells. It’s essential for many of the body’s metabolic processes, including the production of hormones, bile and vitamin D.

Cholesterol is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It’s called the ‘bad’ cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – is called the ‘good’ cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.

You don’t need to eat foods high in cholesterol. The body is very good at making its own cholesterol.

Cholesterol is important

Cholesterol is produced by the liver and also made by most cells in the body. It’s carried around in the blood by little ‘couriers’ called lipoproteins. We need a small amount of blood cholesterol because the body uses it to:

  • Build the structure of cell membranes
  • Make hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones
  • Help your metabolism work efficiently, e.g. cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D
  • Produce bile acids, which help the body digest fat and absorb important nutrients.

Effects of high cholesterol

The liver is the main processing centre for cholesterol and dietary fat. When we eat animal fats, the liver transports the fat, together with cholesterol (in the lipoproteins), into our bloodstream.

Too much cholesterol circulating within LDL in our bloodstream leads to fatty deposits developing in the arteries. This causes the vessels to narrow and they can eventually become blocked. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Avoid saturated fats

The best way to have healthy levels of cholesterol in your diet is to limit foods high in saturated fats. Try to avoid:

  • Fatty meats
  • Processed meats like salami and sausages
  • Snack foods like chips
  • Most takeaway foods, especially deep-fried foods
  • Cakes, biscuits and pastries.

Lifestyle tips to cut cholesterol

Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol levels. Suggestions include:

  • Reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks a day, or stop drinking altogether
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly, e.g. at least 30 minutes of brisk walking daily
  • Try to lose any excess body fat
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.

Our range of health services can help you change your lifestyle. For example, exercise physiology can improve your heart health, while dietetics can help ensure you’re eating the right foods.

Medication may be needed

For some people, diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. Your doctor may recommend medications to force your blood LDL levels down.

Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist who treats cardiovascular disease.

Any questions about cholesterol?

Chat to your doctor if you have any questions about cholesterol. It’s better to start managing high cholesterol earlier rather than later.

 

Source: BetterHealth Channel

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Telehealth update

Telehealth update

Need to see a healthcare professional in Pascoe Vale? Here’s how you can make a booking easily.

A face-to-face consultation

To see a doctor or allied health professional (e.g. physio, podiatrist, etc) simply book online here or call 9304 0500.

A telehealth consultation

If you would prefer a telehealth (over the phone) consultation, you must call 9304 0500.

Have a respiratory illness?

If you have any respiratory illness, such as sore throat, runny nose, cough or flu-like symptoms, you must call us to make a booking. Please do not book online.

Thank you!

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Healthy Christmas food swaps

Healthy Christmas food swaps

In the midst of summer and bathers season, a week of feasting may be the last thing you need.

With the lure of Christmas puddings and buffet-style abundance, adults will gain approximately half a kilogram on average over the Christmas period. If you plan to cater an event this year, use these healthy substitutions for your favourite Christmas classics, and keep yourself in shape for the beach!

Out: Water crackers with pate and oil-based dips

In: Wholemeal pita crisps and chopped veggies with tzatziki, salsa, or homemade dips

Let’s face it – no one sticks with the recommended 20g serve when it comes to dips and pate!

And with 30-50% fat, these condiments can pack a calorie punch even before the mains and desserts arrive! Yoghurt-based dips such as tzatziki, and tomato salsas, offer a much lighter alternative and contain less than 10% fat.

If you love dip varieties that are oil based, such as hummus, try making them yourself at home. Chances are you will use a lot less oil than commercial brands! A good tip for reducing the fat content of a homemade dip is to swap 1/3 to 1/2 of the recommended oil content with water. Trust us, it still works!

The ‘vehicle’ for the dip is also important. Water crackers contain highly refined carbohydrates and very little nutritional value, so swap them for low GI homemade pita crisps and vitamin-packed veggie sticks.

Out: Traditional prawn cocktail

In: Summer prawn, avocado and mango lettuce cups

Prawns are a real treat, and are great to offer your guests as a light entrée on special occasions.

However, traditional prawn cocktail recipes for Christmas focus heavily on calorie-rich mayonnaise and sugary sauces like ketchup, which you may want to avoid.

Don’t panic – you can keep the prawns as a highlight, but just try serving them in a healthier way. For example, a summer-inspired entrée of diced prawns, avocado, tomato, cucumber and mango sitting in fresh cos lettuce leaves, with a dash of salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Out: Roast ham

In: Roast turkey

If you have high blood pressure, or are prone to fluid retention, beware of the Christmas ham! At 1,200mg sodium per 100g, roasted ham has over 100% more salt than turkey, as well as being slightly higher in saturated fat and sugars.

If you’ve never attempted a roast turkey before, it’s just like roasting a large chicken. Ask your supplier for guidance with regard to cooking time, but as a guide, Jamie Oliver recommends to weigh the turkey, and allow 20 minutes of cooking time per 500g.

For a festive flair, search for a stuffing recipe that contains dried fruits and nuts, and fresh herbs.

Out: Snags and steaks on the barbeque

In: Fish and seafood on the barbeque

The World Health Organisation published research in 2018 linking higher intakes of sausage meats and red meat with colorectal cancer.

Unfortunately, this research also showed that our great Aussie tradition of barbequing meats increases the health risk, by triggering the production of harmful carcinogens.

The good news is fish and seafood, particularly oily varieties such as salmon, contain beneficial antioxidants and nutrients such as Omega-3’s that protect our bodies against cancer and other diseases. And, barbequing them does not produce carcinogens, so you can still enjoy the tradition!

Out: Pavlova with cream

In: Eton mess with yoghurt and berries

The great Aussie pav might seem like a ‘light’ dessert when compared to a Christmas fruit pudding. However, it can deliver a whole meal’s worth of calories in a single slice, particularly if it’s topped with a sweet whipped cream.

Keep the spirit of this dessert, but reduce the fat and sugar content by creating a healthy Eton mess, one of England’s best-loved desserts.

In individual glasses or a large glass bowl, layer crushed meringue (homemade or purchased), Greek yoghurt swirled with honey or jam, and fresh seasonal fruits such as nectarines, cherries, and berries.

In the spirit of Christmas, you might like to try soaking your fruit in brandy or Cointreau for 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.

Out: Fruit mince tarts

In: Scones with brandy-soaked dried fruit

Boozy dried fruit and Christmas go hand in hand, but if you are watching your waistline over the summer period, you might need to look beyond the traditional fruit mince pies to get your fix.

A basic scone contains far less butter than pastry shells, and can be an excellent vehicle for your brandy-soaked raisins, currents, dried apricots and mixed peel. Simply add your soaked fruits to a traditional scone dough, mix it through, and bake as per recipe.

Bonus Christmas recipes

Are you struggling to come up with your own nutritious Christmas recipes in time for the big day?

Here’s an easy Christmas side salad and healthy Christmas dessert.

1. Christmas colour salad

If you’re after a quick throw-together festive salad, then this is the one for you!

Combine sliced cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, chopped bocconcini and a simple dressing (olive oil, balsamic glaze, salt and pepper). Serve this as a side to any Christmas protein such as turkey.

2. Mango and passion fruit trifle cups

These desserts are as attractive as they are delicious!

First, combine 2 cups of natural Greek yoghurt with ¾ cup fresh passion fruit pulp. Optional – add 1tbs honey for sweetness.

Place a small dollop of yoghurt mix in your small serving glass, then layer with 1-2tbs toasted granola (homemade, or we suggest Carmen’s Fruit Free Muesli or Jordan’s Crunchy Oat Granola Extra Nutty).

Add another layer of yoghurt, then top with fresh diced mango. Finally, add your third layer of yoghurt, and top with frozen or fresh raspberries, shaved coconut and slivered almonds.

Confused by food?

If you have any questions about diet and nutrition, chat with your GP or our resident dietitian, Jessica Fuller.

Have a happy and healthy Christmas!

 

Source: The Nutrition Code

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Dr Helen Brough

Q&A with retiring doctor, Helen Brough

Dr Helen has been with PVH Medical for 17 years after 11 years at Sussex Medical Centre. It is 41 years since she graduated. After much thought, she decided it was time to close her trusty computer. But is Helen retiring from life? Or just work?

So Helen, what’s the grand plan? How will you spend your days?

My plans are pretty open at present. I am fairly confident that children will occupy quite a bit of my time. I want to volunteer at my grandchildren’s schools. This is something I didn’t do for my own children.

I have offered to be involved with a preschool music play group at my church. I am mulling over getting involved in some kind of political activity. I think society will be better if more ordinary people are involved in developing policy at some level.

Everything will take longer because my main mode of transport will be a bike.

What will happen to your patients when you retire?

There are many excellent doctors at PVH Medical who are able to work with the people I have been seeing, to provide ongoing health care. Just make an appointment with one of them and see how it goes.

A few people will prefer to change practices. Their new doctors will send an authority to allow transfer of medical information that the patient will have been asked by them to sign. PVH Medical will arrange to send the information requested.

What do you look forward to most in retirement?

It’s an opportunity to do new things and to do things that I have wanted to do previously but not managed to achieve them.

What did your family say on hearing the news?

“You’ve been talking about it for a long time”.

What’s been your career highlight?

I have two experiences that highlight teamwork.

My husband and I have been able to work together to allow each of us to have the career we wanted while providing all the care, between us, for our three girls when they were little.

The other highlight was when we all (doctors, nurses, admin staff and patients) worked together to move the practice to the surgery on Gaffney St for 11 weeks while the old building was pulled down and the new one put up.

We all had to work efficiently and cooperatively because there were only five small consulting rooms with no time from the end of one doctor’s session and the start of the next. But we did it, and in good spirits.

What memorable work story can you share?

I cherish the day I saw four generations of the one family over separate consultations in the one day. This represented the stable community we serve and how our practice is valued by them.

If you could change one thing about your working life, what would it be?

I would have liked to spend some time in Aboriginal health.

I have also worked in general practice in Fiji, and the Prison Medical Service at Pentridge and Turana Youth Training Centre.

What advice would you give other people thinking of retirement?

It remains important and challenging to continue to make new friends, whether you’re a five-year-old starting school, an 85-year-old moving into aged care or 65-year-old beginning retirement.

What is the smartest thing you did to prepare to retire?

Start working.

Do you think you will downsize your home or move suburbs?

I have no desire to do either of those things. I like my house (it’s not too big) and garden (I hope it will look better by 2022). And I like my suburb.

What will you do to stay fit and healthy?

All the usual things, only more frequently: gym, bike riding, running, dancing, gardening, walking. Dancing is great socially, physically and mentally – all the elements recommended to delay dementia.

How will you maintain social connections?

I will really miss automatic contact with people – patients, families and staff.  People will remain at the heart of most of activities I take on. I will get involved in community activities. The church to which I belong, is very busy.

Are there any new places you would like to see?

Unlike most people, I don’t have a travel bucket list. I expect my holidays will continue to have an eye for global warming issues. I can enjoy local holidays because of the people I am with and activities I am doing.

However, my daughter lives in USA so I am planning varied routes to get to Maryland when I can finally travel to meet my new granddaughter.

What do you think about the saying “life begins at retirement”?

I don’t agree with it at all. Life begins again every day for everyone. I have been blessed in my life, career and family until now. Retirement is another phase of life. I can only hope to feel as blessed in 10 and 20 years’ time as I feel today.

Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

My husband quotes Lewis Carroll’s Mock Turtle: “A wise fish never goes anywhere without a porpoise”.

I don’t usually offer many words of wisdom to others. Wisdom for my own life is found through my position as a person of faith.

PVH Medical wishes Dr Helen a happy and healthy retirement.

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Weights and running shoes and fitness ball

6 ways to get a spring in your step

Spring has arrived!

So let’s go, Pascoe Vale. It’s time to burst out of your caterpillar cocoon and spring into your butterfly wings.

Have a read of these six quick tips to help you break free.

1. Get walking

Ideally, you should be walking (or doing other cardiovascular exercise) for at least 30 minutes every day.

If walking is too ‘comfortable’ for you, try jogging. We all need to get a little uncomfortable and embrace this for optimal health.

Of course, stop if anything hurts and check in with one of our physiotherapists.

2. Start doing some resistance training

This is weights or strength training. Every adult should get two sessions in per week, or the risk of chronic disease, illness and injury skyrockets.

Don’t know where to start? We suggest you have a chat with our exercise physiologist, Mike. He’s the exercise expert!

Getting started is easier than you think.

3. Break up your day

If you’re like most people and have been working or studying from home, set movement breaks in your day.

Inactivity is one of the biggest factors leading to injury and illness. So, avoid this with short bursts of movement.

You can start by working your way through these fantastic exercises that one of our physiotherapists, Dominic, has written about. There are lots of clear pictures to help you.

Free apps like Stand Up can also remind you to get up from your computer or couch.

4. Get your shoes sorted

Wear comfortable shoes for your activities as you start getting out and about.

If you’ve been living in moccasins whilst in lockdown, grab your sneakers, lace them up and get moving.

If your sneakers are in need of an update, treat yourself to a supportive, comfortable and lightweight pair ready for your daily exercise sessions.

Our team of podiatrists can help with any questions you have about footwear.

5. Get outside your comfort zone

Whether it’s physically or mentally, it’s good to get outside your comfort zone now and again. And there’s no better time to do it than spring.

Try running around the block. After a winter layoff this can lead to what’s known as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ – or DOMS for short.

Embrace the soreness because it’s a sign you’re doing the right thing! DOMS is the reward and reminder our body gives us after we physically push ourselves outside our comfort zone.

If any muscle pain lingers for more than a few days, get it checked out by our physio, Dom. Dom knows DOMS!

When ramping up your physical activity, it’s always important to rest and recover. Getting a good night’s sleep and solid nutritional intake are vital.

6. Focus on your diet

Last but not least, your diet.

Try squeezing in some more seasonal fruit and vegies into your meals each day. Often the best seasonal food is in abundance, so it’s hard to miss at your local supermarket.

But if you’re unsure about what food is in season this spring, check out this handy guide.

And, as always, our dietitian and team of GPs can answer any questions you have.

We know it can be hard to burst into spring, especially after a winter of restrictions. But with a healthcare team to support you, you know you’re in good hands.

We look forward to seeing you burst out of your cocoon!

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Holding hands - cancer

Cancer – the basics

Cancer is abnormal cell growth.

The cancer cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. Most areas of the body can be affected.

Cancer is the most common cause of death in Victoria.

What’s the difference between benign and malignant cancer?

You often hear people talking about cancer that is benign or malignant.

Benign cells grow abnormally but do not spread. These cells are not dangerous.

If the cells spread or are capable of spreading to other parts of the body, they are called malignant cancer. These are the dangerous ones.

What are the most common cancers?

There are hundreds of different types of cancer, each with its own methods of diagnosis and treatment. But the top 10 cancers in Australia are:

What are the symptoms of cancer?

Changes to your body’s normal processes or symptoms usually don’t mean you have cancer. But it’s important you see your Pascoe Vale doctor so they can assess and investigate.

Potential signs and symptoms of cancer include:

  • A lump in the neck, armpit or anywhere else in the body
  • Lumpiness or a thickened area in your breasts, any changes in the shape or colour of your breasts, unusual nipple discharge, a nipple that turns inwards (if it hasn’t always been that way) or any unusual pain
  • Sores or ulcers that don’t heal
  • Coughs or hoarseness that won’t go away or coughing up blood
  • Changes in toilet habits that last more than two weeks, blood in a bowel motion or urine
  • New moles or skin spots, or ones that have changed shape, size or colour, or that bleed
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
  • A feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
  • Pain in your abdomen (tummy) or your anus
  • Persistent bloating.

What causes cancer?

Often we don’t know why cancer happens. But there are some things that significantly increase your risk, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, a poor diet, not getting enough exercise and too much radiation from the sun.

Sometimes cancer runs in families. You can inherit genes that make you more likely to get it.

In other cases, cancer is associated with an infection. For example, cervical cancer is associated with some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Being exposed to some chemicals and dust can also increase your risk.

How can you prevent cancer?

There are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk. For example, you can improve your diet, do more physical activity, and avoid staying in the sun all day.

Our team of healthcare practitioners can assist you with making these changes.

Government-sponsored programs (e.g. screening tests for bowel, cervical and breast cancer) and other screening tests, as recommended by your doctor, are also available.

Prevention is better than cure!

When should I see my doctor?

There is a much greater chance of successfully treating cancer if it’s detected early. If you notice any changes, contact us immediately.

 

Source: Cancer Australia, BetterHealth, Healthdirect

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

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Online bookings are currently unavailable. Please call us instead. Consultations are being carried out over the phone or on video (telehealth) unless your practitioner requires you to come in to the clinic. Face-to-face COVID-19 vaccination clinics are still running.