Goodbye….

 

goodbye

It is with a sad heart that I write this entry, as this will be my last blog on this site.

It is something I have been toying with for some time now — whether to continue this blog or not.

However, it is becoming increasingly more evident that shutting down this blog is the right thing to do. My workload is such that I really have trouble devoting proper time to this site. And with personal projects (I’m writing my first novel!) that I need to spend time on, I simply can’t do this blog justice anymore.

I’d like to thank you for following me and hope that you’ve found some of the information on this site helpful.

I’m still very much dedicated to happy, healthy living and hope you continue your journey in living the happiest, healthiest life possible.

If you’d like to follow me, feel free to jump on over to my FB page at https://www.facebook.com/WriteToThePointCommunications/

You can also follow my other blog about writing (and there may be a bit of health content too), at my website Write to the Point Communications.

Once again, thanks for your support.

All the best in health and happiness.

Nerissa xx

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Are you antibiotic aware?

antibioticAntibiotics are a precious resource that are losing their power because we are not using them responsibly.

Introduced to the world in the late 1930s, antibiotics fight bacterial infections and diseases. Since their introduction, they have saved millions of lives. However, the effectiveness of antibiotics is at risk, due to antibiotic resistance.

 

What is antibiotic resistance?

The World Health Organisation has warned that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health today.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic, thereby causing the antibiotic to be ineffective against them. The more antibiotics are used, the higher the likelihood of antibiotic resistance.

In Australia, around 29 million prescriptions for antibiotics are issued each year — one of the highest prescription rates for antibiotics in the world.

According to NPS Medicinewise, major causes of antibiotic resistance include:

  • using antibiotics when they are not needed
  • not taking antibiotics at the doses and times that a doctor prescribes, allowing time for the bacteria in your system to become resistant.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious health issue already present in our community. However, it is set to become even more serious.

It is predicted that antibiotic resistance could lead to an extra 10 million deaths globally each year, by 2050, at a global cost of up to USD$100 trillion!

 

What can YOU do?

We all have a responsibility to fight antibiotic resistance. And the good news is that we can.

Simple actions individuals can do to help stop the spread of antibiotic resistant infections include:

  • not pressuring your doctor for antibiotics when you have a cold or flu, as these are viral infections
  • only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary
  • take your antibiotic medication as prescribed, ensuring you take the entire course, even if you start to feel better

Health professionals can play an important role by adhering to best practice prescribing guidelines and advising patients when antibiotics are not appropriate.

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Join Antibiotic Awareness Week

Antibiotic Awareness Week, held from 14-20 November is an annual, global event to raise awareness about the serious health issue of antibiotic resistance. The event encourages people around the world to use antibiotics responsibly.

This Antibiotic Awareness Week, health professionals and individuals alike will be asked to ‘take the pledge’ to fight antibiotic resistance.

To find our more information about antibiotic resistance, the awareness campaign, and how you can help preserve the miracle of antibiotics, visit NPS Medicinewise   and download their campaign toolkit.

 

 

Gambling: harmless fun or an addiction?

Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex - MelbourneMost of us, from time to time, spend money gambling. After all, a day at the races, is always a bit of fun. Being part of a syndicate in the lottery is exciting. And even having trying your luck at the casino can be thrilling. But for some people gambling is problematic.

 

Why do people gamble?

There are many reasons why people gamble, whether it be on a sports game or purchasing a lottery ticket. Some do it for fun, others for excitement, the thrill of winning or simply to be social. Some people only bet once or twice a year, and some make it a weekly event. However, sometimes gambling for entertainment can take a sinister turn, and become an addictive habit.

Statistics show that as many as 500,000 Australians either have problems gambling or are at risk of becoming problem gamblers. Furthermore, one problem gambler affects between five and 10 other people. This equates to a possible 5 million Australians who are affected by gambling.

 

What do people gamble on?

Around two thirds of Australians gamble. In total, Australians spend around $20 billion annually on all forms of gambling. Statistics show the average Australian spends around $1641 each year gambling, while the average poker machine player spends $2,407 each year.

At risk or problem gamblers spend a whopping $11,500 each year on poker machines, while more than half of Australians buy lottery tickets or ‘scratchies’.

All forms of gambling are on the downward trend, except for two — racing and sports betting.

Sports betting has doubled in recent years with 1 in 7 Australians gambling on sports. This has coincided with extensive promotion of sports betting throughout the media.

 

Clues that gambling may be a problem

People who have a problem with gambling exhibit many signs. If you are concerned that someone close to you is gambling, keep an eye out for some of the following clues:

Financial clues

  • Unexplained debt or borrowing
  • Secrecy around money
  • Money/assets disappearing
  • Unpaid bills/disconnection notices/lack of food in the house
  • Missing financial statements and secret bank accounts/loans/credit cards

Emotional clues

  • Moodiness, unexplained anger or depression
  • Violence
  • Becoming withdrawn from family and friends

Behavioural clues

  • Avoiding social events
  • Skipping work or study to gamble
  • Secretiveness about activities
  • Defensive when questioned
  • Disappearing for amounts of time that cannot be accounted for
  • No time for everyday activities
  • Overuse of sick days and days off
  • Taking unusual amounts of time for tasks or coming home from work late.

 

Is gambling a problem for you?

According to Gambler’s Help, you may have a problem with gambling, if you:

  • Gamble to avoid dealing with problems or disappointments
  • Skip work or study to gamble
  • Spend more time gambling than with family and friends
  • Think about gambling every day
  • Gamble to win money, not just for fun
  • Gamble to win back money lost by gambling
  • Feel depressed because of gambling
  • Lie or keep secrets about gambling
  • Borrow money to gamble
  • Argue with family and friends about gambling or to have an excuse to go out and gamble
  • Gamble for longer periods of time than originally planned
  • Gamble until every dollar is gone
  • Lose sleep due to thinking about gambling
  • Don’t pay bills and use the money for gambling instead
  • Try to stop gambling, but can’t.
  • Become moody when trying to stop or cut down on gambling
  • Try to increase the excitement of gambling by placing bigger bets
  • Break the law to get money to gamble.

 

Help is available

Problem gambling can destroy lives. It can ruin relationships, cost you your marriage, and your job. However, help is available.

If gambling is affecting your life or the life of someone close to you, seek the support of a qualified counsellor who specialises in gambling support, for gamblers and those around them.

Types of support available may include:

  • Telephone help
  • Online help
  • Face-to-face
  • Online self-help tools
  • Financial counselling.

Making a decision to change your gambling behaviour can be scary, but it is possible to get it under control.

For further information, contact the Gambler’s Help Line on 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelponline.org.au

 

References:

About the House Magazine, August 2012, Waiting for the Wins, Australian Government Publication

Problem Gambling, http://www.problemgambling.gov.au/

Australian Institute of Family Studies, Sports betting on the rise, 26 November 2014, https://aifs.gov.au/media-releases/sports-betting-rise

Gambler’s Help, http://www.gamblershelp.com.au/

Gambling Help Online, http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/

The latest in breast cancer research

Breast cancer research

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women after lung cancer. It is estimated that around 16,084 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. This includes 15,934 women and 150 males.

Sadly, around 3,073 Australians (27 men and 3,046 women) will lose their life to breast cancer in 2016.

Over the course of their life, Australian women have a 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer.

 

What is breast cancer?

Put simply, breast cancer is predominantly a female disease which begins as a tumour in the cells of the breast. Tumours occur when cells grow abnormally and multiply. Over time, these develop into cancerous growths which can sometimes spread (metastasise) to other areas of the body. Thankfully, cancer that is contained within the breast is largely treatable and survival rates in these circumstances are high.

However, once the cancer has spread to another part of the body, treatments aren’t usually as effective and survival rate drops considerably.

The only way to increase survival rates and prevent breast cancer is through research. As we better understand how tumours develop, grow and spread, we are better able to prevent and treat the disease.

 

What are researchers investigating?

Researchers around the world are currently working to discover more about breast cancer. Research covers a range of different areas including:

  • causes of breast cancer
  • new ways to prevent breast cancer
  • how to determine the best treatment options for each patient
  • evaluating the need for surgery
  • testing shorter radiation schedules
  • trialing new drug therapies and combinations of therapies
  • determining what early stage cancers may not need chemotherapy
  • ways to give hormonal therapy
  • new reconstructive surgery techniques and approaches
  • reducing symptoms and side effects of current breast cancer treatments
  • how to improve patient quality of life while living with, and undergoing treatment for the disease.

 

Australian research

In Australia, a number of organisations raise funds for and support research into breast cancer. Among these are the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), Australian Breast Cancer Research (ABCR), and the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).

Current research projects being funded by the NBCF include:

  • Identifying factors that make some cancers aggressive
  • Preventing breast cancer progression
  • Understanding the earliest stages of breast cancer
  • The link between obesity and breast cancer
  • Enhancing breast cancer screening
  • Identifying when cancer spreads to the brain
  • Reducing tumour growth through exercise
  • Preventing cancer spreading to the bones
  • Investigating new treatments with less side effects.

 

Researchers supported by ABCR are currently investigating:

  • The role our immune cells play in the risk of developing breast cancer
  • What causes high mammographic density (MD), which is a risk factor for breast cancer
  • The link between genetics and breast cancer
  • How to improve hormonal breast cancer treatments
  • How to best treat patients aged 65+.

 

How can you help?

 While most of us aren’t qualified to undertake research into the causes, prevention and treatment of breast cancer, we can all play our part and be involved. The most important way is to support ongoing research by donating.

There are many ways you can contribute, including via various fundraising activities, a one-off donation, monthly giving, a memorial gift, or through your will. The best way to determine which is the right option for you is to contact the organsations directly.

Won’t you join the fight against breast cancer?

 

 

Further information

Cancer Australia https://canceraustralia.gov.au

Breast Cancer Network Australia https://www.bcna.org.au/

National Breast Cancer Foundation http://nbcf.org.au/

Australian Breast Cancer Research http://www.abcr.com.au/

 

The Write Way to Health blog is part of the portfolio of Write to the Point Communications.

 Melbourne health wrtier & bloger, copywriter & editor, researcher extraordinaire
Delivering high-quality health writing with exceptional customer service

Generic Medicines: are they safe?

Are generic medicines safe?You’ve probably been to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled only to have a conversation that goes something like this:

Pharmacist: “Would you like a cheaper brand if it’s available?”

You: “Umm. What? A cheaper brand? Oh, um, I don’t know. Ah no, I’ll have the brand on the script, thanks.”

But what if that cheaper brand could do the same thing as the brand on the script, at a fraction of the price? Would you say ‘yes’ then?

 

Generic medicines — a bit like generic supermarket products

Just like supermarkets products have their generic equivalent, some medicines do as well. To understand why, you need to understand how medicines are developed.

After a pharmaceutical company develops a medicine, it takes out a patent on the product. This ensures that the company has the exclusive right to manufacture and sell that drug, meaning there is no competition from other pharmaceutical companies.

However, patents don’t last forever. When they expire, other drug companies are allowed to manufacture their own equivalent of the original medicine, in different packaging, providing these drugs are bioequivalent — that is, the medicine contains the same active ingredients. These medicines also meets the same government standards as the original medicine, for safety and efficiency. They are known as generic medicines.

 

Are generics the same as the original?

No. While generic medicines contain the same active ingredients as the original medication, and therefore have the same effect, some of the inactive substances may be different. For example:

  • binders and fillers (that hold tablets together)
  • flavourings
  • colourings
  • preservatives.

Are generic medicines safe?Most people will be able to take generic medications with no problems. However, some people may be allergic or intolerant to an ingredient the original branded medicine doesn’t contain. For example, some people may be lactose or gluten intolerant, or be allergic to some preservatives or colourings. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you.

It’s also worth noting that the potential side effects of the generic medication will be similar to the original one.

 

Should I take generics?

Overall, generic medicines are safe, efficient and can often save you money, but before taking them, ask your pharmacist the following five questions:

  1. Is it okay for me to choose a different brand of my medicine?
  2. What are the benefits and disadvantages for me if I use a different brand?
  3. Is there a difference in cost?
  4. Which of my usual medicines does this replace?
  5. What is the active ingredient in my medicine?

There are some generic medicines (such as warfarin), that may contain the same active ingredient but not be bioequivalent. In this case, stick with your usual brand. Your pharmacist should supply you with the brand that has been prescribed. Of course, if your doctor advises you to stick with one brand, then you should do so.

Most of the time, generic medicines are close enough to the original brand to be safe and effective. However, you have the final say in whether you take a generic substitute or the original medication.

For further information visit http://www.nps.org.au/topics/how-to-be-medicinewise/buying-medicines/generic-medicine-brands

 

The Write Way to Health blog is part of the portfolio of Write to the Point Communications.

 Melbourne health wrtier & bloger, copywriter & editor, researcher extraordinaire
Delivering high-quality health writing with exceptional customer service

 

Spring into fitness — safely

Spring into fitnessThere’s no doubt the warmer weather, and the impending beach season is good motivation to take up a regular exercise regime.

But are you exercising safely?

 

How much exercise do we need?

After emerging from the pile of blankets you’ve been hiding under during winter, usually a few kilos heavier, it can be tempting to start a gruelling exercise plan, in a bid to lose the winter weight. But overdoing it could increase your risk of injury.

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines state that we should:

  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.

 

Benefits of exercise

Many of us make the mistake of seeing exercise as a way to shed unwanted weight. And while exercise does help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, its benefits go beyond weight loss. Regular exercise leads to:

  • Increased muscle mass: The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism; which means it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Increased muscle strength: This is important for balance and reduces your risk of injury.
  • Improved bone strength: The stronger your bones, the less risk of osteoporosis.
  • Healthy immune system: When your immune system is strong, you are less likely to get sick.
  • Decreased risk of chronic disease: Your risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes are reduced.
  • Better energy levels: You will experience increased energy levels.
  • Reduced stress levels: You will be less stressed.
  • Improved sleep: Your sleep quality will improve.

 

Start out slowly

If it has been a while in between workouts, you need to start out slowly and gradually build up to the recommended amount. That means walking before you begin running; engaging in low-impact activities before you start high-impact activities; and lifting light weights before you graduate to heavy ones.

If you are overweight or have a pre-existing health condition, you should also seek the advice of your health practitioner.

 

active aprilStay safe

The whole point of exercise is to improve your health. So with that in mind, it’s worth considering the following safety tips:

  • Invest in shoes that will support your foot appropriately for the activity you will be undertaking.
  • Wear appropriate clothing, preferably clothing that will wick sweat away from your body.
  • Ensure you warm up and cool down correctly.
  • Stretch all the muscle groups properly.
  • Stay hydrated, particularly during warm or hot weather.
  • Apply sunscreen and wear a hat if exercising outdoors.
  • Pay attention to your nutrition, and eat food that will fuel your body. Don’t be tempted to starve yourself in a bid to lose weight quickly.
  • Enlist the help of a qualified personal trainer or exercise physiologist if you are unsure of how to perform specific exercises, or need assistance in developing an exercise program for your goals.
  • Stop if you feel pain of any kind.

Spring is a great time to get off the couch, get moving again and experience the great outdoors. But remember, ease into it gently and build your activity levels up gradually. Before you know it, exercise will be a normal, healthy part of your lifestyle.

 

The Write Way to Health blog is part of the portfolio of Write to the Point Communications.

Melbourne health writer & blogger, copywriter & editor, researcher extraordinaire.
Delivering high-quality health writing with exceptional customer service.