What is bone marrow and how does it play a role in our bodies?

Depending on how exotic your tastes are, or if you have dogs who like bones from the butcher, you might know what bone marrow is. It’s the soft centre on the inside of an animal bone that is exposed when the bone has been sawed into pieces.

We have it in some of our bones too, and it’s absolutely essential for our lives. This spongy tissue is responsible for the production of stem cells that then become red blood cells (which carry oxygen to all the parts of the body), white blood cells (which fight off disease and infection), and platelets (which assist with blood clotting and help to form scabs when we injure ourselves). The marrow in our bones helps to produce these various cells, which are all part of our normal life systems.

Sometimes, however, these stem cells begin to malfunction by growing too rapidly or in an abnormal way, which leads to disease. One of the most frequent forms that this disease takes on is leukaemia, which is a type of bone marrow cancer. It usually manifests in the white blood cells, although it may also be present in other types of blood cells. It usually comes in two forms: acute (which develops very rapidly), and chronic (which develops more slowly). When this cancer develops, often what is needed is a bone marrow transplant, which requires a donation.

The South African Bone Marrow Registry

The South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) is responsible for coordinating a list of potential donors for bone marrow. According to the SABMR, leukaemia, which requires a bone marrow transplant for survival, affects hundreds of South Africans every year. In only 30% of cases can a matched donor be found in the patient’s own family, which means that in 70% of cases a donor has to be found elsewhere. The SABMR has a database of 73,000 local donors who are able to provide the life-saving stem cells needed to replenish the body, with access to another 34-million donors worldwide.

As such, the SABMR’s mission and vision is to save lives through the following initiatives:

  • Providing information and hope for patients in need of a bone-marrow stem-cell transplant
  • Creating awareness among the broader population in order for people to understand the importance of donation and in so doing, to expand the registry of potential donors
  • Forging stronger relationships with the community in order to benefit stakeholders, from patients and their families to the doctors and medical practices involved in research and transplants
  • Keeping abreast of research into future therapies and embracing technology to this end

Signs of bone marrow cancer (leukaemia)

While you should not assume that the following symptoms automatically mean that you have leukaemia, these are the indications that you could have the disease. Make an appointment with your doctor immediately to have a check-up done, followed by the necessary blood work:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bone pain and body aches
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes or spleen (you will feel this particularly under your arms or your jaw)
  • Regular infections
  • Pale complexion
  • Frequent and unexplained bruising
  • Ongoing bleeding from small wounds

Testing for bone marrow cancer

Do not be alarmed if these are your symptoms, some of which can also be caused by anaemia. See your doctor immediately and get checked for a proper diagnosis, which will usually involve the following:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Bone marrow aspiration (this is when a needle is inserted into the bone to withdraw a marrow sample, and it is done with anaesthetic to eliminate the pain and discomfort of the procedure)
  • Imaging tests such as X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs and PET scans to look for abnormal or damaged bones

Treatment for bone marrow cancer

Treatment of this type of cancer depends on many factors, including how far the cancer has progressed, the person’s general state of health, and other individual elements, which will be discussed with you by your doctor.

Treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stem cell transplant

Outlook for bone marrow cancer patients

While this is a serious disease, survival is possible with the right treatment. It is best to get an early diagnosis is you suspect you may be unwell. Having a positive attitude and making the most of your life will help you to overcome the challenges you may face. Remember, there is always hope, and it is important for you to remain anchored in family and friends if you find out that you are ill.

For more information please contact:
South African Bone Marrow Registry
www.sabmr.co.za
Donation line: +27 21 447 8638
IG: @sabonemreg

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.


Depending on how exotic your tastes are, or if you have dogs who like bones from the butcher, you might know what bone marrow is. It’s the soft centre on the inside of an animal bone that is exposed when the bone has been sawed into pieces.

We have it in some of our bones too, and it’s absolutely essential for our lives. This spongy tissue is responsible for the production of stem cells that then become red blood cells (which carry oxygen to all the parts of the body), white blood cells (which fight off disease and infection), and platelets (which assist with blood clotting and help to form scabs when we injure ourselves). The marrow in our bones helps to produce these various cells, which are all part of our normal life systems.

Sometimes, however, these stem cells begin to malfunction by growing too rapidly or in an abnormal way, which leads to disease. One of the most frequent forms that this disease takes on is leukaemia, which is a type of bone marrow cancer. It usually manifests in the white blood cells, although it may also be present in other types of blood cells. It usually comes in two forms: acute (which develops very rapidly), and chronic (which develops more slowly). When this cancer develops, often what is needed is a bone marrow transplant, which requires a donation.

The South African Bone Marrow Registry

The South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) is responsible for coordinating a list of potential donors for bone marrow. According to the SABMR, leukaemia, which requires a bone marrow transplant for survival, affects hundreds of South Africans every year. In only 30% of cases can a matched donor be found in the cancer patient’s own family, which means that in 70% of cases a donor has to be found elsewhere. The SABMR has a database of 73,000 local donors who are able to provide the life-saving stem cells needed to replenish the body, with access to another 31-million donors worldwide.

As such, the SABMR’s mission and vision is to save lives through the following initiatives:

  • Providing information and hope for cancer patients in need of a bone-marrow stem-cell transplant
  • Research into future therapies and embracing technology to this end
  • Creating awareness among the broader population in order for people to understand the importance of donation and in so doing, to expand the registry of potential donors
  • Forging stronger relationships with the community in order to benefit stakeholders, from patients and their families to the doctors and medical practices involved in research and transplants

Signs of bone marrow cancer (leukaemia)

While you should not assume that the following symptoms automatically mean that you have leukaemia, these are the indications that you could have the disease. Make an appointment with your doctor immediately to have a check-up done, followed by the necessary blood work:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bone pain and body aches
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes or spleen (you will feel this particularly under your arms or your jaw)
  • Regular infections
  • Pale complexion
  • Frequent and unexplained bruising
  • Ongoing bleeding from small wounds

Testing for bone marrow cancer

Do not be alarmed if these are your symptoms, some of which can also be caused by anaemia. See your doctor immediately and get checked for a proper diagnosis, which will usually involve the following:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Bone marrow aspiration (this is when a needle is inserted into the bone to withdraw a marrow sample, and it is done with anaesthetic to eliminate the pain and discomfort of the procedure)
  • Imaging tests such as X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs and PET scans to look for abnormal or damaged bones

Treatment for bone marrow cancer

Treatment of this type of cancer depends on many factors, including how far the cancer has progressed, the person’s general state of health, and other individual elements, which will be discussed with you by your doctor.

Treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stem cell transplant

Outlook for bone marrow cancer patients

While this is a serious disease, survival is possible with the right treatment. It is best to get an early diagnosis is you suspect you may be unwell. Having a positive attitude and making the most of your life will help you to overcome the challenges you may face. Remember, there is always hope, and it is important for you to remain anchored in family and friends if you find out that you are ill.

For more information please contact:
South African Bone Marrow Registry 
www.sabmr.co.za 
Donation line: +27 21 447 8638
IG: @sabonemreg Or

Dr S Ibrahim, Clinical Oncologist
MBCHB, FC RAD ONC (SA)
Royal Hospital and Heart Centre
Tel: +27 (0) 53 045 0515
royaloncology@gmail.com or Info@lenmed.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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6 common health risks for women – awareness, prevention & treatment

As it’s Women’s Month in August, we thought we’d have a little fun and spice things up by creating an acronym that you can use to super-charge your month as a fabulous South African woman. It’s called WOW BOD – and it is the 6 most common health risks for women that you need to be aware of, to create a healthy body that is wow!

Here they are:

1. W = women-only health problems

A big worry for women is being healthy enough to have children, as they are our future generation. The 4 H’s are a concern in this regard: HIV infection, Herpes, HPV (genital warts) and Hepatitis can all be life-threatening and may put an end to having babies. Although these problems are not limited to women, HPV is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer, which only affects women. They are also at greater risk of HIV infection. Always practice safe sex and ensure that you are in a monogamous relationship. Visit your doctor for more information or STD testing.

2. O = osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the body’s bones to become brittle and weak. In worst cases, even a cough or bending over can cause bones to fracture or break. The most vulnerable spots in the body are the wrist, hip and spine. The disease can also affect men and women of all races, but white and Asian women are most at risk. Calcium supplements and increased calcium intake from milk and other products have been shown to aid prevention, while sufferers of osteoporosis should exercise more regularly to strengthen muscles. A bone which has a muscle pulling on it becomes stronger. See your doctor for more information, a bone density test or about treatments ranging from hormone therapy to bone-building medications.

3. W = weight gain

Obesity carries with it a multitude of health risks, from heart attack to cardio-vascular disease (CVD), circulatory problems and respiratory problems. CVD alone is responsible for killing almost 17-million women around the world each year. The incidence of this disease in South Africa among women aged 35 to 44 is 150% higher than in the United States. Although carbohydrates are singled out as being the biggest culprit, any food intake in excess of 1,500-2,000 calories per day (depending on the size of the woman) will lead to weight gain. Processed carbs are the easiest way to gain weight (junk food and sweet drinks are especially dangerous), so these should be eaten as a treat on special occasions only, or avoided altogether.

4. B = breast cancer

This cancer is a leading cause of death in women, with over 3-million women dying of cancer every year. Fear is also a problem here, which may prevent women from seeking proper medical advice and being screened by doctors, before undergoing radical surgeries like mastectomies. Watch out for lumps, growths and soreness in the breasts, and ask your doctor about a mammogram.

5. O = overly-high blood pressure (hypertension)

Hypertension is the primary cause of strokes, which may cause irreparable brain damage and/or physical disability. Too much sodium (salt) in the diet, which causes the body to retain water, pushes up the blood pressure. A lack of potassium may also be responsible. Regular exercise, sustained weight loss and a reduction of salt are all advised. It is vitally important to be checked (anything higher than 120/80 is high), as high blood pressure is known as ‘the silent killer’ because of the lack of symptoms. See you doctor immediately if you suspect you may have it.

6. D = diabetes

This disease affected 143-million women in 2010 and is expected to rise to 222 million by 2030. Over 2-million women die each year from it. Type-2 diabetes is almost always linked to poor diet and excessive lifestyle. An addiction to sugar, gradual weight gain, lack of exercise and smoking are factors leading to diabetes, which occurs when the body stops responding to insulin. Black and Asian women are most vulnerable, but this disease can affect women of any race group who are overweight and not physically active. See your doctor for a simple blood test to determine whether you are at risk.

For more information please contact:
Dr S Silvester MD
Emergency Room Physician, ER Manager
Maputo Private Hospital
Tel: +258 214 88 600
Info@lenmed.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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7 healthy habits a mother can teach her daughter

August is National Women’s Month and Child Health Month. Mothers are important role models for their daughters. Showing them how to be healthy and create healthy lives for themselves as they grow into young women is the most vital gift a mom can pass on to her girl child.

Here are 7 ways mothers can lead the way with health:

1. Go see your doctor and get checked up

If you are already ill with a chronic disease, you have a family history of cancer, or you are over 50, you should be especially aware of the need to visit your doctor more regularly. Breast cancer and cervical cancer can be life-threatening. If caught early, the difference in time could save your life.

Teach your daughter about pap smears and mammograms in particular, as these are not the kind of subjects that daughters can usually talk to fathers or husbands about. Go for pap smear tests every 3 years if you are between 21 and 29, and pap smear and HPV testing every 3-5 years if you are between 30 and 65. HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer in women, so this is essential.

Mammograms are also a must for women, especially starting between the age of 45 and 50 (in most cases, your mom will still be alive when you reach this age). You can commiserate together about how cold and impersonal the instruments are, and how brave you have both been for taking the plunge and getting checked!

2. Spa days

Women are the backbone of our society, and every woman needs a good pampering now and again. Make it a day to bond and get to catch up with each other, chat about life, love, dreams and difficulties, and what the future holds. The health benefits of an aromatherapy massage, a good exfoliation and facial, a mani and pedi, and a delicious healthy lunch will lift both your spirits and invigorate you.

3. Do the fruit & veggie thing

It cannot be stressed enough, as more and more research shows that we must eat our greens if we want to live to see our grandchildren. Moms, this can be an especially important lesson for your adult daughter if she has young kids: she will want them to grow up healthy and strong, so she must herself lead by example.

The recommended dose is 5 portions per day, in a combination of fruit and vegetables. A portion is generally considered to be the size of your hand or about 100g. A banana for breakfast with a glass of orange juice (be aware though that fruit juices are high in sugars), a healthy salad for lunch which includes a whole tomato, half a cucumber and a helping of lettuce (or these on a wholewheat roll), and a sweet potato with your dinner would be considered a good portion of 5.

4. Go easy on the sugar

The irony of life is that as we eliminate dreaded diseases and remove threats to humans from other catastrophes, we have become our own worst enemies, often with what we eat.

While we’re not advocating a complete removal of sugar from your life, cutting back is a good thing if you want to stave off the effects of metabolic syndrome and other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. South Africa has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, so it’s not for nothing that government opted to introduce a sugar tax.

Switch to honey if you can afford it, and raise your children to have less sugar - learning healthy habits at a young age will carry through to adulthood. If you do have a sweet tooth, then take up walking. Research has shown that a good walk for 20 minutes every day lessens sugar cravings, so ask your mom or your daughter to meet with you for a nice walk and a chat, even if only on the weekends.

5. Bond with and grow to love H2O

Yes, we know you’ve heard it a lot, but even so, water is absolutely essential for good living. It gives the kidneys a boost, helps with digestion, and has been linked to longevity of life. Give your children water to drink from a young age and drink water with them. Ensure that the family drinks at least 1 litre (children) to 2 litres (teens and adults) of water a day. Whenever you go out, take bottled water with you and always order a glass of water when bonding with your family at a restaurant. Make water your go-to beverage in your home.

6. Burn the calories

Especially after giving birth, women can tend to battle with excess weight. If you’re a young mom with small kids, make it a habit to get and keep your children active and burning energy. This will help them into adulthood. If you’re an older mom with grown children, see how the two of you can exercise together.

7. Ditch the cigarettes

There are absolutely no health benefits to smoking. As a mom, consider a programme or aids to reduce your craving and addiction to tobacco (speak to your doctor for more guidance), and lead by example. If you smoke, how can you expect your daughter not to?

For more information please contact:
Dr S Silvester MD
Emergency Room Physician, ER Manager
Maputo Private Hospital
Tel: +258 214 88 600
Info@lenmed.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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Healthy parents raising healthy children

August celebrates Child Health Month. Children learn most from their greatest teachers: their parents. If you want your young ones to grow up smart, strong and healthy, then lead them in these 4 areas of life, and you’ll be off to a great start:

1. Combine vegetables and fruit with Maths

Here’s a nifty idea that combos 3 things that children don’t really like, but if they become second nature because they are a habit, they may stick with them for life. Create a home-made game focused on Maths, spelling or grammar using fruit and vegetables, and then spend time playing with your youngsters as you focus on the food.

Let’s say you decide on Maths. Each colour represents a unit of the decimal system. Tomatoes are multiples of 1,000. Peaches are multiples of 100. Bananas are multiples of 10. Cucumber slices are units of 1. Get your child to work out a series of numbers using the fruit and vegetables, and then let them calculate some simple Maths sums. At the end, symbolically “eat” the numbers or words and tell them that they are swallowing genius. This way they also eat their greens!

2. Get the bodies moving

Modern lifestyles are horribly sedentary – we sit in the car or the taxi, we sit at work and school, we sit in front of the TV or phone. A non-negotiable element of raising healthy children is exercise, which will strengthen the body into adulthood. Pack away the smartphone and the TV, and take the young ones outside for some fresh air and some fun time.

Play hide and go seek, throw a ball, jump in the pool if it’s summer and you have one, go for a walk in the park, play with the dog, jump on the trampoline, go for a run, have an egg-and-spoon race in the back yard or down the road (be mindful of traffic), go pick up rubbish on the beach. Your children will love you for the time spent together, and you will all get some exercise (you included, much to your doctor’s delight). Tired children also sleep better at night.

3. Make brushing teeth lots of fun

Cavities and gum disease are strongly related to oral hygiene, and the habits that children form in this area when they are young will last them a lifetime. Always ask your children if they have brushed their teeth, remind them, and do regular check-ups (sneak up on them and have some fun by surprising them in the bathroom).

Turn brushing teeth into ‘Idols’ by using the toothbrush as the microphone. Get them to sing along as they carefully brush both upper and lower teeth, spluttering through all the toothpaste as they belt out their favourite hit. Be careful that they don’t choke on or swallow toothpaste (excess fluoride can be harmful). So what if the bathroom has toothpaste splatters everywhere? All you’ll remember is how much fun you had.

4. Love, love and more love

The thing that children most need from their parents or guardians is love. If they know they are loved and cared for, they will always respond to your leadership and the way you try to steer their lives. A big part of them feeling loved is spending time with them, despite your busy schedule. Make sure that birthdays are extra special, and engage with your children in areas that they enjoy and are interested in.

When young ones mess up or they have to be disciplined, it is far more palatable if they know their parents really care. Work hard to create a loving environment for your children, for they are the world’s future.

Have a chat with your doctor about the best way to prepare meals for school, and how to handle sports injuries and other scrapes and bangs.

For more information please contact:
Dr V Moodley
Specialist Paediatrician
Ethekwini Hospital & Heart Centre
Tel: +27 (0) 31 581 2512
Info@Lenmed.co.za or Vineshm@ehhc.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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When to Take Your Child to Hospital Immediately

As a parent, especially if you are a new parent, every sniffle, cough or bout of tears strikes dread in your heart and, depending on whether it’s day or night, you find yourself calling the doctor or bundling your child up in a blanket and rushing to the nearest hospital. And while it is better to be safe than sorry, here are some tips on when you really do have to take them to the hospital. Remember, it is your right to seek help if you feel you need it.

Winter is especially bad for children’s health. You need to know when to wait and watch and when to seek help immediately. The first thing is to watch your child’s behaviour.

Here are 7 things to which you really need to pay attention

Fever
Babies under the age of 2 months should be taken straight to a doctor or a 24 Hour Accident and Emergency Unit if their temperature is more than 38oC.

Babies aged 2-6 months must get medical attention if they have a temperature of 39oC or more. They may also need antibiotics for an infection.

A child over the age of 2 who has a temperature over 39oC just needs to be watched, particularly if the child is fully vaccinated, and is happy and running around. But if the child is lethargic and refusing to drink any fluids, seek help immediately.

Laboured Breathing
If your baby is breathing more than 60 times a minute, which is very fast, or if their rapid breathing is making it hard for them to drink, your baby may have pneumonia. Get them to the doctor or a 24 Hour Accident and Emergency Unit quickly. If your child is older, and their laboured breathing doesn’t resolve itself with rest, or if they are breathing hard and have a high fever or chest pain then you must take them in as well.

Vomiting
Always have a look at the amount and colour of your child’s vomit to determine if there should be any cause for concern. Even if they have a bad cough they can vomit as both coughing and vomiting is triggered by the same impulses in the body.

So, when do you take your child to the doctor or a 24 Hour Accident and emergency Unit? When they have been vomiting for so long that they are now throwing up bile (a bright green or yellow discharge) this should be checked out immediately.

You should also seek help immediately if they have been vomiting for longer than you think is okay or if they have been vomiting blood, have not been able to drink or eat anything for some time or even if they have not urinated for close to eight hours.

Broken bones
Kids fall and hurt themselves all the time. So, if the bleeding has stopped, your child can move the injured body part, nothing is numb and their pain can be controlled with over-the-counter pain-killers, then just keep an eye on your child. If you’re still concerned in a couple of days then go to a doctor or your nearest Lenmed Hospital.

But, take your child to a 24 hour Accident and Emergency Unit immediately if the child can’t move the injured limb or if there is any numbness, for example:

· If your child can’t feel his fingers
· If there’s a lot of swelling
· If there is severe pain
· If the body part looks deformed

Hitting their heads
Even for an adult, hitting your head can be very concerning. When children bump their heads you need to watch them closely. If your child falls down but doesn’t fall off something, this isn’t something to worry about unless the head hits something hard. You can expect a bump, a bruise, pain and crying. They may even vomit once. If your child is running around an hour later as if nothing happened, responds verbally, and vision, hearing and walking are all fine, there is probably no reason to be concerned. Keep an eye on them and if anything changes seek help immediately.

However, if there are changes, take your child to your doctor or to a 24 Hour Accident and Emergency Unit. In the case of a baby younger than 3 months old that has hit its head so hard that there is now a visible bump, you will also need to seek help immediately.

Changes to look for include:
· Vomiting more than once
· The pain is getting worse
· The child is not his or her usual self
· Vision, hearing or walking doesn’t seem right
· They can’t use their limbs
· They have fallen five feet or more (twice their own height)

Suspected Meningitis
Viral meningitis can be dangerous in children. It can also happen very quickly, so, if your child is suffering from a lack of appetite, irritability, lethargy, sleepiness and fever, seek help immediately.

Convulsions
If your child is having a seizure, no matter how small, take the child to hospital immediately.

Parents are the experts when it comes to knowing their children. If you are concerned that something is not right with your child’s health, listen to your instincts. You are almost always right.

If you have any concerns about your child’s health please visit your nearest Lenmed Hospital or the nearest Lenmed 24 Hour Accident and Emergency Unit.

For more information please contact:
Dr Ntshengedzeni Maligavhada (Paediatrician/Pulmonologist)
BSc (Univen) MBChB (Natal) DCH (SA) FCPaed (SA) Cert.Paed Pulmonology (SA)
Randfontein Private Hospital
Tel: +27 (0) 11 411 3089
Email: riatshikhetha@gmail.com or info@lenmed.co.za  

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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7 things Madiba taught us about healthy thinking

July is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is also the month when we commemorate Nelson Mandela Day and give 67 minutes of our time. This article highlights the benefits of maintaining a positive outlook in the face of adversity, as we learned from Madiba himself.

Could you imagine being locked up in the prime of your life, when you are just 43 years old, knowing that you will spend the rest of your life in prison? Could you imagine, by some miracle, that you are released when you are 71, when the best years of your life are over, and you have missed out on so much?

Nelson Mandela had a hard life – and yet he is widely regarded as one of the greatest statesmen in the world, because he turned all that negative energy into good deeds in his life, for South Africa, and for the world.

Here are 7 things we can learn from Madiba for our own healthy thinking this Mandela Day on 18 July, despite the difficulties we may personally face.

1. Look for the blessing in the crisis

There is sufficient research to show that stress shortens the gene caps (called telomeres) that protect our genes and help us live longer lives. When you go to your doctor for a check-up, they will remind you of this. Looking for the silver lining in the clouds of doubt and fear is what Madiba did for many years. He lived until he was 94 – very good innings!

2. Helping others is good for our health

Studies done in the 1950s and 1990s show that people who help others live as much as a decade or more longer than those who don’t. It’s like Einstein said: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

3. Focus on your passion

Nelson Mandela loved helping people. Like Mahatma Gandhi, it’s one of the reasons he became a lawyer.

What do you love doing? What is your unique and important contribution to the world? Food? Soccer? Animals? Dance? Music? Business? Being a great mom? Even Oprah says, find something that you love, and see how you can use it to serve other people.

4. Find a cause greater than yourself

Madiba had every reason to come out of prison bitter and angry, seeking revenge. But he didn’t. Why? Because he focused on the bigger picture: Liberating South Africa and all its people from the oppression of apartheid. Research has shown that when we focus on our greatest dreams, the amygdala, or animal brain, is disengaged, and the executive centre, for higher brain functioning, is activated instead. This gives our lives meaning.

5. When you give, you get back

Being kind and giving of yourself to others has been shown to help slow down the ageing process, reduce headaches, and alleviate depression. Many recovery programs advise that being of service to others actually helps you just as much.

6. Smile with gratitude

Did you ever see Madiba with a frown on his face? He was grateful for his life. Being grateful releases both dopamine and endorphins, which are some of the body’s natural chemicals involved in creating what is known as the “helper’s high” – great feelings associated with doing something good.

7. Never give up

Madiba never gave up on his dream to see a free South Africa. Living your dream will make you happier, so make sure you get the help you need today.


Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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5 of the most challenging mental illnesses and how to manage them

Mental illness affects 1 in 3 South Africans and can be debilitating for a family. Sadly, 75% of these sufferers will not receive adequate treatment.

If you think someone close to you is suffering from a mental illness, it is important to take it seriously. Show them your support by suggesting they get the help of a mental health professional. If you think you may be suffering from a mental disorder, seek help as soon as you can.

Here are 5 of the most challenging mental illnesses, and how to help someone who suffers from them:

1. Anxiety disorder

When runaway emotions start to affect daily functioning, then it may be time to address an anxiety disorder. Reasons for this illness include a history of family mental health problems, environmental factors such as a very traumatic event, an imbalance of hormones or impaired brain functioning, or some other physiological reason including withdrawal symptoms from an addiction.

Symptoms may include:

  • Feeling jumpy or irritable
  • An irrational fear or response to an everyday event
  • Excessive negativity
  • An inability to cope with life in general
  • Chest pain or heart palpitations
  • Stomach cramps and nausea
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Hot flashes or chills

Techniques to overcome anxiety disorder include practising stress management, exercise, counselling and support groups, and relaxation techniques including yoga, Pilates and aromatherapy.

2. Bipolar disorder

This mental illness is aptly described: it is a binary state where the person is either elated and ecstatically happy and thus manic, or completely depressed and down in the dumps. The alternating states of manic-depressive can come on quickly or slowly over long periods of time and may even result in suicide.

Symptoms may include:

  1. Intense emotional states of either euphoric fantasies or terror nightmares
  2. Self-injuring behaviour such as cutting or scratching
  3. Impulsive behaviours such as overspending or sexual addiction
  4. Intense self-hatred or skewed self-image

The best way to assist someone is to seek professional help. Medication is usually prescribed for the bipolar sufferer. Hospitalisation and psychotherapy may also be needed.

3. Depression

Depression is the state in which you just cannot seem to shake off an ongoing sadness. Everyone has disappointments and regrets, but when these feelings begin to overwhelm us to the point where we cannot seem to recover, this may indicate depression. There is evidence that depression is linked to self-anger that has turned inward.

Symptoms may include:

  • An ongoing sadness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • A sense of lethargy or fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness

Triggers such as the loss of a loved one and other forms of grief (like losing a baby or not being able to fall pregnant) can often be part of the root cause. Ongoing anxiety can also lead to depression.

Time and understanding are two key ingredients in helping someone. Medication may also be necessary to enhance and elevate mood. Helping a person to get back on track with their lives, and encouraging them to follow their interests and passions are good ways to break the cycle of depression. Seek professional help if possible.

4. ADHD

The first thing that often comes to mind when looking at a sufferer of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a wilful and naughty child on Ritalin running around breaking things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ailment affects mostly young people, with some 9% of young children being diagnosed. However, as many as 4% of adults also have the illness.

Symptoms may include:

  1. Jumping around and becoming easily distracted
  2. Being excessively loud
  3. Becoming bored
  4. An inability to complete tasks
  5. Fidgeting and playing with objects
  6. Being impatient and impulsive

The causes of ADHD may be genetic, while strong evidence suggests that the children of mothers who smoked or abused alcohol while pregnant are more prone to the illness.

Treatments include medications to help calm the mind, as well as psychological interventions where linking is done between the person’s value systems and the tasks that they have to complete.

5. Addiction

When we think of addiction, we often think of alcohol or drugs. However, there is growing evidence that sugar and technology are both highly addictive, as is smoking. While it may seem a bit harsh labelling these addictions “mental illness,” oftentimes there are strong psychological reasons and psychosomatic neuroses attached to overuse of any single thing. Being co-dependent on another human being can also be unhealthy.

For those who smoke, research shows that nicotine addicts get cravings that last as long as 20 minutes, which is why cigarettes are so hard to give up, and why many who stop smoking return to it in later life.

Seek professional help to determine the underlying emotional issues that promote addictive behaviours.

For more information please contact:
Dr MJ Ndhlovu Clinical & Consulting Psychologist
PhD (Cons Psy) UNISA, Msoc. Sc (Clin Psy) (UNW)
+27 (0) 11 923 7785
Info@lenmed.co.za or mjndhlovu@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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7 tips for a healthy work life

Do you feel stressed at work all the time? Assuming you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for an average of 22 days per month, between the ages of 20 and 65, and with 20 days’ leave per year, you will, in a normal lifespan, spend about 90,000 hours working – that’s 10 solid years at work (24/7/365), which excludes time getting to and from your job.

How does one have a successful career without sacrificing personal time and family? The concept of a work-life balance is defined as proper prioritising between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development).

The first step in obtaining the optimal work-life balance is by achieving good health because if we are healthy, we feel better about ourselves and have more energy to manage our lives. Since most of our time is spent at work it’s a good place to maintain good health.

Here are 7 tips to keep healthy during your working day:

1. Start with a good breakfast

Even for manual labour, your brain is probably the organ you will most use on the job. It burns about 300 calories, or 20%, of your total intake per day – and it gets that energy from glucose. So, if you skip breakfast you’re headed for a binge of biscuits and tea by 10 am, which will spike your blood sugar and you will eventually gain weight. If you’re pressed for time, most bosses will have no problem if you eat some fruit and yoghurt at your desk at 8 am whilst you check emails.

2. Follow that up with a good lunch

The law mandates break times during working hours, so don’t be a martyr and work through your break. Everyone needs a time out. Have a salad or a healthy sandwich, and if you can, get some fresh air on your face.

3. Drink lots of water

Our bodies are made up of 70% water, so there’s a reason we need it. Tea and coffee are stimulants, so make sure to offset heavy beverage drinking with lots of water.

4. Use the stairs

It may be challenging if you’re on the 49th floor of the Carlton, or if you work in a single-storey office park, but the point is this: get some exercise. It’s a great stress reliever from work pressures. Park the car far from the entrance and take the back exit when you leave. If your company offers gym facilities, grab them, or start a running club with your work friends.

5. Get the work done

Nothing stresses you out – and annoys the boss – more than not sticking to your deadlines and meeting your outputs for the tasks you have been set. Politely tell chatty co-workers that you need to knuckle down and do your job. When you’ve cleared it off your plate, the psychological release is enormous, and the boss will be impressed if it’s good work delivered on time.

6. De-clutter your desk and your computer

Having too many windows open on your PC and scratching around for your pen under a mountain of paperwork, slows you down and clouds the mind, and this just leads to more stress. For clarity and efficient use of your mind space, keep your desk neat. When it dissolves into chaos again, take five minutes and re-organise it. Make this a habit.

7. Get some sleep

It may be that your best mate has their birthday party one night during the week, or you had to pull an all-nighter for your job. Life happens. Make sure that you get enough sleep the next night then, and don’t make all-night partying, TV, phone surfing or work a habit. Adults should be getting at least 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to recharge properly for the next day.

If you’re battling with work balance, seek the help of a medical professional as soon as you can, and try not to let stress and unhealthy living get the better of you.

For more information please contact:
Lana Pitt Occupational Therapist
BSC OT (Wits)
Daxina Private Hospital
+27 87 087 0644
Info@lenmed.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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The Truth about Vitiligo

On June 25th we celebrate World Vitiligo Day to raise awareness about this skin disorder, its causes and treatment.

Vitiligo is a disorder which presents as light patches on the skin. They appear when melanocytes within the skin begin to die off, which means the skin essentially loses its colour. Melanocytes are the cells which produce the skin pigment (colour) called melanin. In vitiligo, there are not enough working melanocytes to give colour. Unfortunately, it is not clear why this occurs.

These patches can remain small or can grow quite large in size. They can affect any part of the body, including the mouth, hair and eyes. And, while it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin, vitiligo can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnic group.

Because the skin disorder is relatively unknown there are many false claims about it. In this article, we dispel rumours and shed more light on the truths about vitiligo.

  1. Vitiligo can be cured with special creams. This is FALSE. While there are treatments that may improve the appearance of the skin and even slow down the growth of the light patches on the skin, there is no real cure for vitiligo. Some treatment options can include exposure to UVA or UVB light and depigmentation of the skin in severe cases.
  2. You can catch vitiligo from someone who has the condition when you touch them. This is FALSE. Vitiligo is not contagious at all. In fact, it is important that we show acceptance and understanding of the person suffering from the condition because they may be struggling with it on a psychological level.
  3. Vitiligo can cause white patches anywhere on your body. Yes, this is TRUE. It can affect different areas including your face, neck, armpits, elbows, hands, knees and even hair and inside the mouth. The patches are usually symmetrical and spread over your entire body.
  4. Vitiligo can be painful. This is FALSE. Vitiligo is quite painless. However, if the skin disorder spreads across the body and causes patches in more visible areas like the face, it can cause some emotional and psychological scarring which can lead to depression. In this case, it may be a good idea to seek therapy to deal with the stress of the condition.
  5. You can get vitiligo from eating certain foods. This is FALSE. Actually, the exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, although doctors believe it may be an autoimmune condition where the body’s immunity accidentally attacks and destroys certain cells in the body. Patients suffering from it can eat and drink anything they like unless their doctor has told them otherwise.
  6. Vitiligo is genetic. Yes, this is TRUE. The skin disorder may very well have a genetic component because it does show signs of running in families. Most people who have vitiligo will get it between the ages of 20 and 40. Vitiligo is sometimes associated with other medical conditions, including thyroid dysfunction.
  7. The condition responds to light. Yes, TRUE, vitiligo is photosensitive which means the affected areas react to sunlight. The doctor will advise you on how to look after your skin when you are outside.
  8. Vitiligo sometimes won’t spread. Yes, this is TRUE to a point. It is hard to predict whether the patches will spread and how far they will spread. It can take just weeks, or the patches may remain the same for months or even years.
  9. Vitiligo starts on your face. Yes, this is mostly TRUE. However, it can also start in your neck, hands and in the creases of your skin.
  10. The only way you can tell you have vitiligo is when you develop a white patch on your skin. This is FALSE. Other symptoms are:
  • Premature whitening or greying of the hair closer to your scalp, as well as lightening of eyelashes, eyebrows or facial hair.
  • Loss of colour or a change of colour to the retina (inner layer of the eyeball).
  • Loss of colour around the mouth and nose.

If you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor who can help you come to terms with the skin condition and find ways to treat it.

For more information please contact:
Dr D Motsepe (Dermatologist)
MMed, MBChB, BSc
Bokamoso Private Hospital
+267 369 4803
info@lenmed.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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Youth Day – time to be young, care-free and drug-free

Filled with hormones and the typical anxieties that come with being pubescent, young people are more susceptible to drugs. They can be well into their 20s, with even pre-teens being affected by the scourge of poisons from tik and nyaope to cocaine and heroin. Even marijuana, though now somewhat legalised by the Constitutional Court, can lead youngsters into trouble.

Here are some practical tips for helping future generations to avoid being caught up with drugs, what to do with drug addictions, and where to seek help.

1. Practice open communication in the family

There comes a time, just like chats about the birds and the bees, when you need to start having grown-up conversations with your children about drugs. Even though kids become self-aware well before they become teenagers, they lack the emotional capacity and mature decision-making skills to make informed choices. We see this manifest itself today with the increase in teenage pregnancies, despite the fact that most schools teach some form of sex education, and many girls know about contraception.

However emotionally unsettling it may be for either you and/or your child, you need to have the drug talk. Begin by broaching the subject more indirectly and ask the child if the topic has come up in school. Without ever being intrusive, try to probe and see if there have already been any exposure to drugs. This should also include a chat about alcohol.

Although there are no hard and fast guidelines on exactly what you should say, honesty is the best policy. Chances are they will never view you as their ‘friend’, but children and young adults should know that they can come to you with anything and that you will always be willing to listen and understand their situation.

2. Drugs are linked to emotions

As with all addictions, from food to sugar and alcohol, drug abuse is linked to emotions, which is why the youth are particularly easy targets.

Life is complex, and circumstances may make it more so. Add to that a volatile cocktail of increased hormone levels, the initial difficulty of experiencing menstruation for the first time, peer pressure, bullying, cyberbullying, and addiction to social media, plus academic pressure to get good marks, and it’s no wonder the youth are emotionally charged.

Again, of utmost importance is to keep open lines of communication. As the adult, you need to manage your emotions better than your child does, in order to be a beacon of strength and a friendly ear. Always ask how things are going, be sensitive yet firm about setting boundaries, and look for behavioural changes, mood swings, weight loss or gain, erratic sleeping patterns, and concern expressed by teachers and/or other parents (outside of the gossip mill).

Help your child learn valuable coping skills. These include support systems like church youth groups, a focus on extra-mural activities that they enjoy and are good at, being involved socially and interacting with others, chores around the house to teach both discipline and responsibility, and seeking professional help if need be, from a therapist.

3. How – and where – to get help

Helping your child to get the attention they require need not be expensive. The most important elements are showing children that they are loved, valuable and worthwhile, which doesn’t cost money. Connecting to the things that they most enjoy will help to bridge lines of communication with them. The “just say no” method can also be used – if children understand that there are both positive and negative consequences attached to behaviour in a cause-and-effect relationship, then they will be less inclined to engage in self-destructive drug abuse.

Organisations such as AA, Al-Anon, Narc Anon and Lifeline are all starting points. A list has been provided at the end of this article for you. Take time to educate yourself further on what the best practices are for drug-proofing your children by reading up on the subject. Even better, turn it into a project and get your kids to research the harmful effects of abuse with you. That way as they face the critical moment when being offered drugs, they know what the consequences are.

Contrary to popular belief that teenagers are difficult and don’t understand parents, the youth are at the beginning stages of what all humans want: love, understanding, acceptance, shelter, security, food, and the opportunity to become their very best. Nurture these needs and cultivate an environment where they can grow, and your youngster may soon see that a life of emptiness either taking drugs or pushing them will lead nowhere.

Schools can also offer some counselling and advice. A word of caution: It is not wise for a parent to use school as a dumping ground to take care of children while they get on with their lives. Children are smart, and they will lose faith in a parent who they think does not care.

4. What to do if things don’t change

As we’ve mentioned before, setting boundaries is paramount. The youth in your care, whether they are over the legal age limit or not, should know your stance on drug-related issues. Of course, you need to lead by example. How can you expect your teenager to not smoke if you do? The same when it comes to abusing alcohol. Children learn by example.

Your sterling leadership aside, what happens if a youthful soul does fall off the wagon? There are no easy answers, unfortunately. One school of thought is the “Tough Love” stance – your child needs to know that destroying themselves is not something you will tolerate or abide by because you love them too much. Linked to this, 12-step programmes suggest that until the addict reaches “rock bottom”, and the drawbacks they perceive from taking drugs outweigh the benefits, the young offender will continue to offend.

Practising tough love and putting your foot down assertively but gently is a method that has proven successful. Here’s an example: “Son, I love you very much, but there will be no drug use while you are living under my roof. Either you enter a programme and get help, or you will have to go and live elsewhere.”

If you are worried that your child may be taking drugs, contact your doctor who can guide you on what to do. Or, make contact with one of the listed organisations below.

Here is a list of resources for you to get more help:

Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous
Al-Anon (for the families of substance abusers)
South African National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence
Lifeline
Recovery Direct

For more information please contact:
South African Depression and Anxiety Group
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline
http://www.sadag.org
+27 (0) 800 12 13 14

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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Dealing with Malaria in 2019

Malaria is a life-threatening sickness caused by parasites. They are transmitted to people when bitten and infected by a female Anopheles mosquito. Fortunately, the disease can be prevented and is curable.

In this article, we will look at ways to prevent being bitten and contracting malaria. We will also look at the symptoms of the disease and how it can be treated.

Did you know?

According to the World Malaria Report, there were an estimated 219-million cases of malaria in 90 countries in 2017 with a total number of 435 000 people dying from malaria in the same year. The African continent makes up the largest percentage of these numbers with 92% of malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths.

High-Risk Areas

In South Africa, Malaria is a seasonal disease. Low transmission periods are between May and September. Through good control efforts, malaria is now restricted to certain districts in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Malaria occurs mainly in low altitude areas but is occasionally found in high altitude areas in these provinces. On rare occasions, malaria is contracted near the Molopo river in the North-West Province and Orange River in the Northern Cape Province (Department of Health, 2009).

In some of South Africa’s neighbouring countries (Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and the Lowveld areas in Swaziland) the risk of malaria is present throughout the year. In the northern parts of Namibia and Botswana, the risk period is November-June. And in Zimbabwe, there is risk throughout the year in the Zambezi Valley, from November-June in areas below 1200m, and neglible risk in Bulawayo and Harare.

How do we take preventative measures?

currently, there is no malaria vaccine available on the market. There are however a number of vaccine constructs currently being tested in clinical trials. The good news is there are ways to prevent getting malaria. By simply taking the following precautions you should be safe from malaria:

Take antimalarial drugs - When travelling to a high-risk malaria area it is vital to take antimalarial drugs. They will reduce the risk of you getting malaria by up to 90%. Visit your doctor at least a week before leaving on your trip because you must start taking the tablets at least two days before you depart. You will continue taking them every day while away and for 4 weeks after you return.

Use mosquito repellents – Apply a repellent to the exposed areas of your skin whether you are inside or outside both during the day and, even more importantly, at night time.

Wear clothing to protect – Be sure to wear shirts with long sleeves and long pants that cover your ankles. Do this especially at sunrise and sunset when mosquitoes become extremely active.

Put protective screens on doors and windows – Use wire or gauze with a very fine meshing so that the mosquitoes cannot get in. Make sure to repair any tears or holes that may appear in the screens over time.

Use insecticide sprays inside homes and buildings – Make sure the spray you use is long-lasting. Remember insecticide sprays are toxic and should, therefore, be used with caution – spray away from people and animals.

Keep a fan running when you sleep – Mosquitoes seem to steer clear of the wind current caused by a fan. Put the fan on a rotate setting allowing it to move the air around the room. Run the fan throughout the night.

Install a mosquito net over your bed – Make sure the net fits properly over your bed and keep an eye out for holes and tears where mosquitoes can find their way in. For complete safety soak the netting in an insecticide but find out first which ones are safe to use.

Indoors is safer at night – Spend your evenings inside rather than outside. This way you stand a lesser chance of being bitten. If you do need to go out at night, just limit the time you spend outdoors as much as you can.

The symptoms of malaria

If you happen to get malaria, you can be treated for it if it’s caught in time and you are prescribed the right drugs by a health practitioner.

If you suffer from the following symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your doctor immediately:

  • Chills that make you shake
  • A high fever
  • Sweating abnormally
  • A persistent headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloody stools
  • Anaemia
  • Muscular pain
  • Convulsions

Also, do make an appointment with your doctor if you are planning to travel where there is a high concentration of mosquitoes or where malaria is suspected.

For more information please contact:
Dr S Mashamaite, General Practitioner
MBChB (Natal), MPH (Unisa), Dip HIV Man (CMSA)
Zamokuhle Private Hospital
+27 (0) 11 923 7785/6
info@lenmed.co.za.

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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TB Truths and Myths

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease which is mostly known to affect the lungs. However, it can also take its toll on other parts of the body such as the spine, brain or kidneys. Not everyone who is infected gets sick – this is called latent TB - but you should make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you begin to show the following symptoms:

  • A bad and persistent cough lasting longer than 2 weeks
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Extremely tired and weak
  • A loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Chills and/or fever
  • Night sweats

We are often misinformed about TB which is why there are so many myths out there about what causes TB and how it is spread. This article dispels some of the more popular ones.

Myth - TB is extremely contagious

Truth – TB bacteria are spread through the air and are infectious. However, the germs do not spread easily and you only stand a chance of contracting the illness if you spend a lot of time with someone who has TB. Did you know that most people who breathe in the TB bacteria are able to fight it and stop it from growing? What happens then is the bacteria lies dormant and is called a latent TB infection. The problem is it’s still alive in your body and if your immune system is weakened in any way, the bacteria can start growing and become active TB disease.

Myth – You can get TB from the food and water consumed by an infected person

Truth – You cannot get TB through food and water, nor by kissing someone or holding their hand. You cannot even get it by sharing a toilet seat or a toothbrush with someone who has the disease. TB can only be spread when a person with active TB disease releases germs into the air by coughing, sneezing, talking, singing, or laughing. Active TB means the person has a pulmonary infection and displays symptoms of the sickness.

Myth – TB cannot be cured

Truth – The good news is it can be cured, even in people who have HIV. TB is treated with a long course of antibiotics. You may even need to take various types of antibiotics for as long as 31 weeks before the TB bacteria have completely cleared out of your system. And, in order for you to get a clean bill of health, you must take all the prescribed medication or not all of the TB bacteria will be destroyed. Some people start feeling better and decide they don’t need to finish their course of antibiotics. This is a big mistake and the bacteria can start growing again.

Myth – Only people with HIV can get TB

Truth – Anyone can get TB but people who are most susceptible to the disease are usually vulnerable in one way or another, such as those:

  • With underdeveloped immune systems, such as babies and young children
  • Suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes and kidney disease
  • Who have undergone surgery to receive organ transplants
  • Who are being treated with chemotherapy for cancer
  • Who are receiving treatments for deficient immune systems

Myth – TB is a South African disease

Truth – While South Africa may have one of the highest incidents of TB, the illness has infected approximately 33% of the world’s population. This means nearly 2,5 billion people are infected with TB on a global level.

There are 5 ways a medical practitioner can check to see if you have contracted the bacteria:

  1. Blood test – Blood will be taken from your arm using a syringe and then sent to the laboratory for testing.
  2. TB skin test – You will be injected into the skin of your forearm. Your skin is checked after to 3 days for signs of TB.
  3. Sputum sample – Mucus from your lungs is collected in a cup when you have your first morning cough. It will then be tested for the TB bacteria and can be helpful in assisting healthcare providers when choosing the best treatment for you.
  4. Chest x-ray – Your chest area will be x-rayed using a special machine which can help healthcare professionals see whether you have TB and can show signs of swelling, infection, or lung collapse.
  5. CT scan – This is quite similar to a chest x-ray in that the results can show lung damage, infection and indicate TB.

To prevent the spread of TB you should:

  1. Listen to doctor’s orders and continue taking your medicine until it is finished. Contact your healthcare provider immediately you forget to take a dose.
  2. Make sure you wash your hands using soap and water after going to the toilet, changing a baby's diapers, or coughing and sneezing into your hands. Also wash your hands just before preparing or eating food.
  3. Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Preferably try cough and sneeze into a tissue, which can be flushed down the toilet afterwards.
  4. Avoid close contact with vulnerable people who are at an increased risk of getting TB, such as babies, the elderly and sickly people.
  5. Be open and honest about your TB with family, friends, and coworkers. They may have latent TB and need to take medicine to prevent it from becoming active.

If you are worried you may have TB, you should make an appointment at your local hospital to be tested. If the results show you do have the disease, you can receive treatment and make a full recovery.

For more information contact info@lenmed.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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Blood saves lives!

Did you know? Every human has almost 5 litres of blood coursing through their bodies. It forms 7% of a human’s weight.

Almost all our vital organs can be kept going with special machines, except for our blood. There is no machine in the world that can make blood and this makes it extremely valuable. It is why the drive to get people to donate blood is so very important. Without blood donors, doctors often cannot save the lives of people needing blood.

To understand the importance of blood we need to understand the functions only blood can carry out in your body. Here are the 6 most important.

  1. Without blood, your body’s tissues asphyxiate. They would literally die from lack of oxygen. The haemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the heart and lungs to your tissues. Once it’s delivered its oxygen payload it then collects the CO2 exhaled by the lungs and carries to the heart to be turned into oxygen.
  2. Without blood, your body’s cells would starve. Your gut breaks down all the food you eat. The capillaries inside the gut absorb all the nutrients out of the food and send it through the portal vein to the liver. The liver then puts all those nutrients into the blood and sends it to all of the cells in your body.
  3. Without blood, your body wouldn’t survive a paper cut. Your blood is made up of plasma, platelets, red and white blood cells. And all 4 are vital. It’s the plasma that stops you from bleeding to death from a paper cut. There are factors in the plasma that cause it to clot, plugging small tears, keeping the pressure in the blood to remain constant. Obviously, if the wound is too large, the clotting can’t cope. A human shouldn’t lose more than 15 to 30% of their blood. After that it becomes life-threatening.
  4. Without blood, your body wouldn’t be able to combat infections. Your white blood cells contain the infection and your plasma defeats them with antibodies. When your system is overwhelmed antibiotics are needed to lend a helping hand.
  5. Without blood, your organs wouldn’t function properly. Your blood delivers the right hormones and signalling molecules to your organs. If you don’t have the hormones in your organs you end up with no energy and your organs start to malfunction.
  6. Without blood, your internal thermometer won’t function. Blood helps to regulate your body’s temperature, helping your gut to digest food and your skin to sweat.

Why donating blood is a civic duty

In South Africa, 3000 plus pints of blood are needed every day to ensure a baseline limit of safe and sufficient bloodstock. The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) separates each pint of blood donated into plasma, platelets and red blood cells. This means your pint could save up to 3 lives.

Everyone knows that donating blood is a good idea, but very few think about it until they need it themselves. It’s time to change that way of thinking. If everyone who was able donated blood every 2 to 3 months there would never be a shortage. And a shortage of blood is never a good idea.

By creating a habit of donating blood you will be playing a vital role in ensuring there is always quality blood available in cases of emergency. You will be participating in saving lives!

For more information please contact:
South African Blood Services
SANBS Toll Free Number +27 (0) 800 119 031
www.sanbs.org.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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The Heimlich Manoeuvre: What to Do in a Choking Emergency

Choking is a terrifying experience for anyone, whether you are the victim or a bystander. The moment the flow of air to our lungs is blocked we immediately feel panic-stricken, while the people who are with us may feel helpless.

Choking always occurs very suddenly, and we are usually completely unprepared for the crisis. It happens when an object gets stuck in the throat or windpipe, making it impossible to breathe. Adults may choke on a piece of food, while young children often choke on small objects they put in their mouths. In either case, as soon as oxygen flow is cut off, you have to act quickly.

The most effective means of removing the cause of the choking is to use an abdominal thrust called the Heimlich Manoeuvre. Most of us will first try other ways to get the object out. We may try to dig it out of the back of a child’s throat or give the victim a few hard thumps on the back. This is not wrong, but if it does not work immediately then the next step is to apply strong compressions on the abdomen or back to force air upwards out of the windpipe, to expel the object.

As a bystander, you may not realise that someone is choking until they are in severe distress. When you see someone clutching their hands to the throat, do you know that this is usually the first sign that the person may be choking?

Other actions will also give an indication:

  • Inability to talk
  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
  • Squeaky sounds when trying to breathe
  • Cough, which may either be weak or forceful
  • Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky
  • Skin that is flushed then turns pale or bluish in colour
  • Loss of consciousness

As soon as you realise that this is a life or death situation, you will need to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre.

The Heimlich Manoeuvre Step-by-step

  1. If possible, first ask “Are you choking?” If the victim nods, proceed with the Heimlich Manoeuvre.
  2. Stand behind the victim.
  3. Place one foot in front of the other to brace yourself.
  4. Reach around the person’s waist.
  5. Clench one hand into a fist and position it against the person’s abdomen, above the navel and below the rib cage.
  6. Grasp your fist with your other hand.
  7. Now pull sharply backwards, using the force of both your arms, so that your fist literally punches the victim in the abdomen. Try for a small upward movement as you pull, to expel air up the windpipe. The thrusting movement should be inward and upward.
  8. Repeat this action over and over again until the object is dislodged and coughed up.

What if it’s a child?

  1.  Kneel down behind the child.
  2. Follow the same process as for an adult but use less force.

What is it’s an infant?

  1. Sit down and hold the baby face down on your lap. Rest your forearm on your thigh and support its head and neck with your hand.
  2. Ensure that the baby’s head is lower than its torso.
  3. Now use the heel of your other hand (the bottom of your palm) to thump the baby gently but firmly on its back. Keep your fingers pointing up so that you don’t hit the back of the baby’s head.
  4. If the baby is still not breathing, turn it onto its back, in the same position, on your lap with your hand supporting the head but holding it lower than the torso.
  5. Place two fingers at the centre of the baby’s breastbone. Thrust firmly down against the baby’s chest to compress it downwards. Wait for the chest to rise again, then repeat. Do this five times.
  6.  If the baby is still not breathing, call emergency services. Then continue to alternate between back and chest compressions until help arrives.
  7. If you are able to clear the airway, but the baby has stopped breathing, start CPR immediately.
  8.  If the child is older than age 1 and conscious, give abdominal thrusts only. Be careful not to use too much force to avoid damaging ribs or internal organs.

What if the person is pregnant or obese?

  1.  Instead of using abdominal thrusts, use chest thrusts, placing your fist against the lower part of the chest, where the lower ribs join to the breastbone.
  2.  If the person becomes unconscious, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with chest compressions and rescue breaths.

What if I am choking and I’m alone?

It’s a good idea to practice this procedure so that you can act swiftly if it ever happens to you. You can perform abdominal thrusts on yourself.

  1.  Lean forward over the back of a chair and position your abdomen against the top of the chair’s backrest.
  2. Thrust hard against the back of the chair to compress your abdomen.
  3. Repeat 6-10 times quickly.
  4. If there is no chair to use, place a clenched fist above your navel, and place your other hand over the fist. Using the force of both arms, perform the abdominal thrust on yourself.
  5. Repeat 6-10 times quickly.

In all cases where you are the bystander, you will also need to perform CPR if the victim falls unconscious. Both the Heimlich Manoeuvre and CPR are essential first aid skills that any individual can learn to do

This article is courtesy of IPSS Medical Rescue. To learn more about IPSS Medical Rescue, visit www.ipssrescue.co.za.

For more information or in the case of a medical emergency in the KZN region, please contact:
IPSS Medical Rescue on emergency number +27 (0) 823 911 911

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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The importance of a medical check-up

It doesn’t matter what state your health is in, as an adult you should be going for routine medical check-ups.

The reason why you should be getting checked by your doctor even when you are feeling healthy is that the medical exams can help detect health problems early on. Sometimes they can be detected before they have even started.

Once the problem has been detected the doctor can help you with treatment and even a cure which ultimately gives you a better chance at a happy, healthy and longer life.

Of course, your age, health, family history and lifestyle choices will affect how often you need to receive a check-up at your health practitioner.

Do not wait until you are sick before you pay a visit to the doctor for what should be a routine examination. Rather make it a habit to take care of yourself and your health by making regular appointments with your doctor throughout your life.

Regular health checks and screening tests are vital for 3 reasons:

  1. Health problems can be detected at an early stage before they develop into something much more serious.
  2. A screening test can detect and prevent a serious illness like cancer.
  3. Preventing health problems from becoming chronic can save you money.

If you have a family history of a certain disease or other risk factors, regular health checks are even more important.

Here are the recommended health tests you should have at least every one to two years - more frequently if you are in the high-risk category:

  • Blood pressure - This is tested using a simple pressure cuff and will tell whether your blood pressure is too low, too high or normal.
  • Cholesterol - This will be checked to see if your LDL (bad cholesterol) level is high which can increase your risk of getting heart disease. A simple prick of the finger to test your blood will show your overall cholesterol levels.
  • Blood glucose - A blood test or simple finger prick will determine whether your glucose or blood sugar levels are normal or not. If the blood sugar tests high, it means your body is struggling to produce insulin and you may have diabetes.
  • Skin cancer screening - The doctor will carefully check for irregular marks on your skin and decide whether any look suspicious. These will be removed and tested for cancer.

Recommended health checks for women:

  • Mammogram - This is an x-ray of your breast to check for developing breast cancer.
  • Pap smear - Your doctor (or gynaecologist) will use a special stick to take cells from your cervix, which is then sent to a laboratory where it is examined for cancerous cells.
  • Bone density test - A special scan is used to determine how weak or strong your bone density is. Weak bones can mean you are at risk of getting osteoporosis.
  • Colonoscopy from age of 50 years

Recommended health checks for men:

  • Prostate exam - The doctor will test for prostate cancer by doing a digital rectal exam and possibly even a prostate-specific antigen blood test.
  • Testicular cancer test - This exam should be done at every routine physical.
  • Colonoscopy from age of 50 years

All these tests may seem quite overwhelming but by simply talking to your doctor about your health history at the first check-up will help you better plan for them. You may find that the doctor recommends you have some of the checkups more regularly because you are at a higher risk and others much less frequently because you are at a lower risk, or some not at all. At the end of the first one, you will not only have a better idea of your medical check-up schedule but peace of mind, too.

For more information please contact:
Dr E Kabuzi (Specialist Physician)
MBChB (MUK) DTM & H (WITS) Dip.Hiv.MAN (SA) Dip.Diabetes.MAN (UK)
Randfontein Private Hospital
+27 (0) 87 087 2731
info@lenmed.co.za or Thato.Sello@Lenmed.co.za 

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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The Truth about Postpartum Depression

After the birth of a baby, many mothers experience the ‘baby blues’, a short period of feeling sad or tearful, which can be triggered by hormonal changes after giving birth. Sleep deprivation and anxiety, especially in first time mothers, may add to these feelings. It is a conflicting time; joy, excitement, anxiety and fear. Add to that the baby blues and mothers can feel overwhelmed.

While the baby blues include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping and begin two to three days after the birth, they only last about two weeks.

When the feeling of sadness is more severe and lasts longer it is known as postpartum depression. There is also an extreme mood disorder which may develop after childbirth – postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum depression is not a character flaw

The most important thing to remember is that postpartum depression is not a character flaw or a weakness. There could be genetic factors, or physical or emotional causes. Factors such as sleep deprivation, personality disorder, complications during birth or pregnancy, a young maternal age, high sensitivity to hormonal change, or psychiatric illness can play a role.

Giving birth is not the only major change you have gone through. Having a baby to take care of is a huge emotional upheaval. It can be overwhelming and as many babies need almost constant attention, sleep may be hard to come by. As a result, you may be struggling to handle even minor problems. Added to that, you may be concerned about how to take care of a baby. Your body doesn’t recover immediately and so you may not feel as attractive as before you were pregnant. You have may feel you have lost control of your life, even of your own identity.

The difference between baby blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis

1. Baby Blues

The baby blues usually occur for a few days after birth to a week or two. Mothers may suffer from mood swings, anxiety, irritability, reduced concentration, trouble sleeping, tearfulness, lack of appetite, and sadness or feeling overwhelmed.

Treatment:

Fortunately the baby blues usually fade on their own within a few days to one to two weeks. Mothers are advised to get as much rest as they can, accept help from family and friends, connect with other new moms, create time to take care of themselves and avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, which can make mood swings worse.

2. Postpartum Depression

Symptoms may emerge either during pregnancy or the first few weeks after birth to as long as a year after birth. Red flags to watch out for are excessive feelings of fatigue, irritability, anger, sadness, guilt, worthlessness or inadequacy. You may struggle to concentrate, think clearly or make decisions; you may lose interest in former pleasures and activities, or want to withdraw from family and friends. Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide are serious warning signals. Sleep disorders, eating disorders and excessive weeping are also common symptoms.

Treatment:

The good news is that with appropriate treatment, most mothers recover from postpartum depression. It is often treated with psychotherapy or medication, or both.

It may help to talk through your concerns with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional. Through therapy, you can find better ways to cope with your feelings, solve problems, set realistic goals and respond to situations in a positive way. Sometimes family or relationship therapy also helps.

Your doctor may recommend an antidepressant that can be used during breast-feeding with little risk of side effects for your baby. But be sure to work with your doctor to understand the potential risks and benefits of specific medications.

In some cases, postpartum depression can continue, becoming chronic depression. It's therefore very important to continue treatment after you begin to feel better as stopping treatment too soon may lead to a relapse.

3. Postpartum Psychosis

This condition can develop within the first week after delivery and can become an ongoing problem, with some patients developing bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Symptoms can include paranoia, excessive energy and agitation, confusion and disorientation, sleep disturbances, attempts to harm yourself or your baby, difficulty bonding with your baby, poor concentration, obsessive thoughts about your baby, or hallucinations and delusions.

Treatment:

Postpartum psychosis could lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviours and needs immediate treatment. Patients with postpartum psychosis will need long term specialist medical care.

Treatment may include hospital admission and require a combination of medications to control the symptoms. Other interventions, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), can also be successful in reducing the symptoms.

A mother who experiences this condition will need to work with her doctor to deal with the challenges of breastfeeding and possible separation from her baby.

You do not have to struggle alone

If you think you may have postpartum depression, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. With prompt treatment you will be able to manage your symptoms.

If you feel you, or someone you know, may be suffering from the baby blues, postpartum depression and especially if you suspect postpartum psychosis, please make an appointment with your doctor immediately.

For more information, contact:
Dr Mathabethe Sebei (Psychiatrist)
MBChB Medunsa (2001), FC Psych (2011)
Randfontein Private Hospital
+27 (11) 411 3024
info@lenmed.co.za or sebeij@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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What is Cancer and Why Do We Get It?

Cancer seems to be such a dreaded disease that we don't even like to hear the word. So we usually don't think about it and hope it doesn't happen to us. Like anything, though, the more we understand about cancer, the less scary it becomes – and the more we realise how much we can actually do to lower the risk and possibly even cure it. So let's take a simple look at what cancer is, what we think can cause it, and the easy things we can do in our lives to avoid getting it.

What is cancer?

Cancer is really just a change in the normal healthy cells in our bodies that makes them grow differently, or out of control or in the wrong place. Of course there are many different types of cancer, but this is basically what happens. It might be a mole that changes colour, or a strange lump that appears – this is simply the result of something having gone wrong with our usually healthy tissue.

This can happen anywhere in our bodies, and it can happen to any of us, whether we are male or female, young or old, rich or poor. That's partly why cancer is so frightening – it seems to strike randomly. However, as you'll see when you read on, the occurrence is not as random as we think and we can do many things to reduce our risk of getting it. Medical scientists are also constantly making breakthroughs in the ways that we treat cancer, and more people are recovering from it than ever before.

How does cancer start?

Our body is constantly refreshing itself. Old cells die and we grow new ones to replace them. That's why our skin stays healthy – old skin cells fall off revealing a freshly grown layer. Unfortunately, sometimes, for reasons we still don't fully understand, changes (mutations) take place in the DNA of cells. In other words, something goes wrong with the 'instructions' that our cells use to replace themselves, and abnormal cells are produced. A cell that should have been healthy emerges with a built-in fault: it might grow too fast, be the wrong type of cell for that part of the body, or grow somewhere else where it isn't supposed to appear. These are what we call cancerous cells.

How do cancer tumours grow?

This problem gets worse when these cells move to other parts of the body. This is why cancer spreads. The medical term for this is "metastasis", but all it really means is that the cancer cells travel through our bloodstream or lymph system, and then form new abnormal growths elsewhere. This is how breast cancer can spread to our lungs or other organs, and create tumours in other areas of our body.

When cancerous cells multiply they can form clusters of cells which form tumours. Some tumours eventually become malignant which means they can seriously damage your health. If not successfully treated, malignant tumours are likely to cause death.

Doctors divide cancer growth into different stages, depending on how serious it is and how much it has spread or not. Stages 1 and 2 usually mean that the cancer has been found quite early, and hasn't started to spread. Stages 3 and 4 mean that the cancer has started to spread and has now appeared in other places too.

What causes cancer?

While doctors don't yet fully understand what causes cancer in our bodies, the good news is that they are learning more every day, and have already identified things that can make a difference in whether we get it or not. These are known as 'risk factors'.

Naturally, one of the 'causes' of cancer is our genes. The potential to develop cancer can be passed on from one generation to another, as you can inherit certain genes from your parents - which is why you are more likely to get breast cancer if your mother had it.

By now we also know about some of the big threats that we should avoid to help us reduce our risk of getting cancer, like smoking, alcohol consumption, going out in harsh sunlight without sunscreen, and being exposed to cancer causing (carcinogenic) chemicals. There are also lots of less obvious things that can cause cancer.

Luckily we can all learn the right changes we can make to our lives to minimise our risk of getting cancer in the future. Also, fortunately, cancer is not infectious and cannot be passed on from one person to another. In other words, you can’t ‘catch’ cancer from someone else who already has it. (Although, as mentioned earlier, you can inherit genes from your parents that may make you more susceptible to the disease.)

How can we lower our cancer risk?

While cancer has now become a preventable disease in many ways, we still don't have control over the genetic aspect (only about 5-10% of cancers are genetic), so to a certain extent we are at the mercy of our genes. Cancer can appear no matter how healthily we live, unfortunately. That said, there are many things we can do to reduce our risk from other cancer risks, and this may even stop cancer genes from becoming active.

1. Don't smoke or use tobacco products

Smoke damages our cells and can turn healthy ones cancerous. Regular smoking of cigarettes, cigars or pipes places us at high risk. You should also avoid other tobacco products, like hookah pipes and snuff, as the tobacco itself contains chemicals that can cause cancer. Even smoked and processed meats contain contaminants that could cause cancer at some time in the future, if consumed excessively.

2. Be very careful of the sun

Skin cancers can be caused by exposure to sunlight. As our climate has changed due to global warming, the ozone layer in the atmosphere that protects us from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun has become too thin. This means that if we expose ourselves too much to direct sunlight it’s much easier to get skin cancer than in the past. We should always protect exposed areas of our bodies with a sunscreen that has an SPF value of at least 20 UV protection factor whenever we go out into direct sunlight. Making this a part of our daily lives can substantially lower the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen must be applied at least 20 minutes prior to going out into the sun. It also needs to be re-applied at least every 2 hours and more often when perspiring or swimming.

3. Live a healthy lifestyle

Cancer is also linked to unhealthy ways of living that weaken our defences against it, or directly cause it. We should try to avoid being overweight and eating too much sugar, and we should avoid drinking alcohol (there is no safe level of alcohol consumption). Keeping ourselves physically fit through regular exercise is also very beneficial.

4. Look after you mind

These days we understand that our minds have a significant effect on our bodies and our health, and can cause all kinds of illnesses. For example, too much stress can lead to immune system failure, which makes us sick. So it’s very important to do some sort of activity that keeps the mind calm and healthy, like yoga or meditation or some other sort of spiritual activity.

5. Eat sensibly

Our modern lifestyles have made us quite dependent on what we call 'fast food'. This food can be very unhealthy, because of its ingredients and the way it is prepared. It usually has far too much sugar, is highly processed, and contains chemicals that we would prefer to not have in our food. Instead of eating a takeaway, follow a sensible diet of basic fresh food, including plenty of fruit and vegetables. Try to avoid too much sugar and artificial ingredients.

So remember: You can reduce your risk of cancer

As you can now see, although cancer is one of the scariest diseases, we can do a lot to reduce our risk and ensure that we live long, healthy lives. As long as we follow these really simple guidelines for living, we have a good chance of being cancer-free, and enjoying happier, healthier lives at the same time.  

With grateful thanks to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) for sharing their cancer research with the Lenmed Health Group. Visit CANSA to learn how each of us has the power to take action for a cancer-free world. www.cansa.org.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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6 Ways to Lose Your Holiday Weight Properly

The Festive Season is over and you may feel your waistline is as well. All is not lost however. In fact, now that we are at the beginning of the year, it is a good time to begin a new diet. By ‘diet’, we mean a healthy lifestyle eating plan. You may have tried one of the numerous crash diets that are popular. Cabbage soup anyone?

Do crash diets work? Yes, but only because you are cutting back on calories. Once the diet is over, you are so hungry you eat more than you should and are in danger of not only putting the original weight back on, but also extra weight.

Because you haven’t made any lifestyle changes you tend to crave food even more while you are on a crash diet. A proper, healthy diet doesn’t leave you hungry.

You probably want to get straight into what you should be eating and what you shouldn’t, but for long-term success there are some things you need to put in place first.

Here are 6 ways to lose weight properly and keep it off

1. Change your perspective

If you are carrying weight that is unhealthy the first thing you need to do is change your perspective. What is really keeping you from losing weight? Very few personal challenges are insurmountable. You need a strategy to help you change those habits and attitudes which have held you back in the past. It is important to remember that even though you may have an occasional setback, you can start again the next day. Building a new, healthy lifestyle could mean it may take longer to lose the weight, but this time you will keep it off and be healthy as well as slimmer.

2. Find your inner motivation

Most people try crash diets instead of implementing long-term, healthy lifestyle changes for the wrong reasons. They have the wrong motivation. The question to ask yourself is why do you want to lose weight? To fit into skinny jeans, to attract someone, to have people tell you how thin you are, or – and this is the only reason that matters - to be healthy?

No one can make you lose weight, but it’s important to have people who will encourage you when the going gets tough. The right kind of positive encouragement is important. The right people will offer accountability, help you create healthy menus and help you develop a healthier lifestyle.

Encourage yourself and keep yourself accountable by having regular weigh-ins, and record your diet and exercise progress in a journal. Remember, this is not about recording calories, but rather about recording the healthy meals you have. Recording calories can lead to the slippery slope of anorexia.

When you feel your motivation is slipping, remember this, losing even 5 percent of your weight can help lower your risk for chronic health problems, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

4. Set realistic goals

Realistic goals for weight loss are important. Losing 0.5 to 1 kilogram a week is a good place to start. To achieve that, you generally need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day. The best way to accomplish your goal is with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

When you are setting goals, there are two things to bear in mind: your ultimate result and how you are going to achieve it. For example, your goal could be to lose 5 kilograms. Walking every day for 30 minutes is an example of how you could do that.

If you need assistance in deciding what is ‘realistic’ for your age and weight, ask your doctor for help.

5. Enjoy healthier foods

You may be overweight for a number of reasons. Two of those could be eating too much food or eating the wrong food. If your calorie intake is higher than it should be then your new diet should consist of fewer calories. If you are eating the wrong food, replace it with the right food. Neither of these mean you should be giving up taste, satisfaction or even ease of meal preparation. Shortly after you have made the switch you will find unhealthy food is something you no longer crave and, in fact, you no longer enjoy it either.

Get your weight loss started with these tips:

  • Eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits daily. An easy way to eat the required fruits is to blend them with yoghurt and add nuts for a great breakfast smoothie.

  • Replace refined grains with whole grains. Or cut them out altogether.

  • Use modest amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, butter and nut butters.

  • Cut out sugar completely. Cinnamon is a good substitute, especially in your coffee.

  • Choose low-fat dairy products, lean meat and poultry in limited amounts.

6. Get active, stay active

Regular physical activity plus a healthy diet will not only help you lose weight faster, but will make you healthier and happier as well.

Exercise boosts your mood by releasing cortisol and endorphins, strengthens your cardiovascular system, reduces your blood pressure and maintains your weight loss. While your new diet can be, and should be taken up immediately, your exercise program needs to be planned carefully and built up slowly. If you leap into a heavy routine too quickly, you may injure yourself. Steady aerobic exercise is a good way to start, for example, brisk walking, such as 30 minutes three days a week. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far end of the parking-lot when shopping, walk the dog twice a day. People who have regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight are generally happier than those who do not. What better motivation for a healthy lifestyle change than that?

If you need help with planning a new lifestyle diet or an exercise program contact your doctor for advice.

For more information please contact:
Lorisha Singh RD (SA)
BSC Med (Hon) Diet, IPPN UWA, PGPN Boston University of Medicine | Consultant Clinical Dietician
Shifa Private Hospital
+27 (0) 31 240 5000
Ethekwini Hospital & Heart Centre (Suite 10)
+27 (0) 31 581 2411
info@lenmed.co.za or admin@lorishasingh.co.za
www.lorishasingh.co.za

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis

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