We have come a long way since the days where doctors believed a few leeches, carefully applied to the body, could cure just about any ailment. We may not yet understand all the intricacies of how our bodies work and the diseases that threaten us but the medical community now has a pretty good idea of how complicated it all really is. Doctors spend years specializing in just one small, or not so small, part of the body or ailment. And for this we are grateful. But who can keep track of it all?
Do you need to visit your cardiologist, dermatologist, paediatrician or neurologist? What does it mean when your GP (General Practitioner by the way) sends you off to see the pulmonologist?
Well here is your quick guide to the lesser known medical specialist:
Cardiologist: This is the specialist who deals with matters of the heart: that is the physical muscle that sits inside your chest and pumps blood through your body.
Dermatologist: As a dermatologist will tell you, “Skin, skin what a wonderful thing; keeps the outsides out and the insides in”. This doctor specializes in all matters of the skin.
Occupational Medicine Practitioner: This is not a well known branch of medicine, but it really should be. Your occupational practitioner is the one you call when work and disease meet. Are you worried about the chemicals you may be breathing in at work? Have a chronic cough that goes away when you take leave, or perhaps you hurt your shoulder in an old sports injury and can’t perform the task your boss needs you to do. Your occupational medical practitioner specialises in diseases caused by the workplace, and decides when diseases should keep you out of the workplace.
Neurologist: Contrary to popular belief this is not necessarily a brain specialist. A neurologist treats disorders of the nervous system. That includes diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.
Gastroenterologist: This is the doctor you call when your digestive system is not working as it should be. This specialist deals specifically with diseases of the digestive tract, in other words, the path your food takes in and out of your body.
Rheumatologist: As the name suggests a rheumatologist specializes in rheumatic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis. This is, in short, diseases that affect the joints, muscles and bones.
Pulmonologist or Pulmonary Specialist: Having trouble breathing? Then a pulmonologist is the doctor for you. This doctor specializes in diseases of the lungs.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg in terms of medical specializations, but fortunately, as the patient you do not need to know them all. The best process to follow if things are not working quite as they should be in any part of your body, is to first visit your GP. He or she will then assess the situation, and if need be, send you off to the right expert.
Which medical specialist would you like to know more about? Leave a comment below.
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Caring for Caregivers because you Care
The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) places the spotlight on caregivers this CANSA Care Week 1 – 7 August 2014. A caregiver is anyone who cares, without being paid, for a friend or family member who is fighting cancer and cannot cope without support.
“We feel that sometimes caregivers’ loving care and support, which they lend to those affected by cancer, can go unnoticed. We really hope to change that; the wellbeing of a caregiver is just as important as that of the survivor they are caring for. This CANSA Care Week, we want to encourage everyone to celebrate and salute all caregivers,” according to CANSA Acting CEO Elize Joubert.
Caregivers come from all walks of life, all cultures and ages. Many feel they are doing what anyone else would in the same situation – looking after their loved ones, a best friend or even colleagues and just getting on with it.Some caregivers don’t choose to become caregivers; it often just happens.
Joubert adds, “More than 60% of our volunteers are dedicated to helping our CANSA staff with care and support service as well as promoting health while many help with other projects.” Visit http://www.cansa.org.za/cansa-care-centres-contact-details/ for more information.
Many caregivers often experience compassion fatigue when they neglect their own self-care, in favour of putting most of their effort and focus on caring for someone else – this is known as caregiver burnout. Burnout describes the end result of stress in the life of a caregiver and combines emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and low personal accomplishment.
CANSA’s Top Tips for Caregivers:
- Find Support: Talk to others who are in a similar situation. This can help you to cope with common feelings of anger, guilt, isolation, fear, sadness, or anticipatory grief.
- Know when you are stressed: Know the signs of stress (which include feeling exhausted; getting sick more often; sleeplessness; impatience, irritability, or forgetfulness).
- Take time out: Make time for yourself and others. Although a person who has cancer may have many needs that require your attention, it’s important for you to make time for yourself. Spend time doing something you enjoy, with the people you love.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself: Be kind and patient with yourself. It’s normal to experience occasional bouts of anger or frustration, along with the guilt for having those feelings. Try to find a positive way to deal with these feelings.
- Take care of yourself: Make time to exercise, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep.
- Stay positive: Having a positive attitude can help set the tone for everything you do and take on.
“A fun way for cancer survivors and their caregivers to get involved with CANSA and to receive the recognition they deserve, is through CANSA’s Relay For Life national project. It’s a unique event that is fun-filled, takes place overnight where teams enter to raise cancer awareness and funds to fight cancer. The event emphasises cancer survivorship, is volunteer driven and community owned,” encourages Joubert.
CANSA invites all survivors and their caregivers to a Relay in their community – a CANSA Relay For Life event opens with a ‘Survivors’lap,that celebrates cancer survivors. This is followed by a ‘Caregivers’lap, to honour all caregivers who lend care and support to those affected by cancer. Visit www.relayforlife.org.za for more information.Follow CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA (http://www.twitter.com/@CANSA) and join CANSA on Facebook:CANSAThe Cancer Association of South Africa
(For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, call 011 616 7662 or cell: 082 459 5230. Or visit www.cansa.org.za or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22, or email: email@example.com)
CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and all people affected by cancer. As a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R5 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our wide-reaching health programme comprises health and education campaigns; over 30 CANSA Care Centres that offer stoma support and organisational management; medical equipment hire; a toll-free line and support to those affected by cancer; patient care and support in the form of 12 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients plus one hospitium based in Polokwane, as well as CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment. Read more about how CANSA fights cancer in your community. For more info visit http://www.cansa.org.za or contact CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CANSA on Twitter and join CANSA on Facebook and on Pinterest.
On World Hepatitis Day, 25 organisations and individuals from around the world, including Doctors Without Borders, Southern African HIV Clinicians Society and the Treatment Action Campaign have called for the implementation of hepatitis B immunisations at birth and a reform of the national patent laws to promote access to more affordable hepatitis therapies.
“Preventing infant infection is undoubtedly the most important way to reduce the prevalence of the hepatitis B virus,” said Stellenbosch University virologist, Dr. Monique Andersson.
“A safe, effective, and affordable hepatitis B vaccine has been available for over two decades, and remains the backbone of prevention strategies. Yet infants continue to be infected across sub-Saharan Africa because they don’t receive the immunisation early enough.”
Hepatitis B is highly endemic in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa, where around 8% of people are chronically infected, and the rates of hepatitis B-related liver cancer are some of the highest in the world. Globally, viral hepatitis causes approximately 1.3 million deaths every year—more than either malaria or tuberculosis—with around 240 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV), and 140 million people with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Either of these viruses can result in liver failure and liver cancer.
This “birth dose” reduces mother-to-child transmission of the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Studies in Africa suggest transmission is currently between 2-30% of infants born to HBV-infected mothers. However, in much of sub-Saharan Africa the birth dose has not been implemented and HBV vaccine coverage remains low.
“The DOH needs to set an example for the region,” said Andersson. “It’s time South Africa and other countries add a hepatitis B birth dose to the national immunisation agenda.”
According to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and MSF individuals already infected with hepatitis battle to pay for the drugs they need because of monopoly pricing in the industry. The organisation said effective treatment for hepatitis B is not readily available in the public sector, and could easily cost around R5 000 a month in the private sector. According to the organisations in India cheap generics are available to treat hepatitis B at the cost of just a couple of hundred rand. According to the TAC’s Anele Yawa this is not the case in SA because of the country’s problematic patent laws.
“South Africa doesn’t examine patent applications, so we grant monopolies to companies for things that aren’t new or innovative—patents that other countries wouldn’t grant,” said Yawa.
Author: Natalia Simon
Although hepatitis has become one of the most common and severe diseases globally, it currently takes the back seat when it comes to awareness.
This viral disease has made its mark, with almost 1.5 million people being affected and killed by either hepatitis A, B, C, D or E. It has long- and short-term effects and hepatitis A, C and D can cause life threatening complications to those infected.
The World Hepatitis Alliance has taken a hands-on approach to create much needed awareness of this disease, with the aim of changing people’s mindset on how they view hepatitis. Their main objective is to get people all over the world involved by making available very creative and interactive tools to encourage groups to host their own World Hepatitis Day event.
The tools are available on the World Hepatitis Alliance website at http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/en/ and can be downloaded and edited to fit in with any hepatitis awareness concept. The tools include customisable posters, logos and toolkits to help you through the process of delivering an informative hepatitis event to bring awareness of this disease. To make it even more user friendly and reach a wider audience, the toolkits are available in seven languages.
The main purpose with this year’s theme is “Hepatitis: Think Again” and with the customisable posters, it will be easy to select a poster to fit in with your event or campaign.
The awareness is mainly aimed at highlighting symptoms, prevention, treatment, vaccination and taking action.
As a model of inspiration, The World Hepatitis Alliance will be hosting a mammoth event, #ThinkHepatitis, that will be taking place on 27 and 29 July 2014 and will coincide with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. To raise awareness on hepatitis, the largest LED screen in the world will be used, displaying an interactive Twitter Wall as well as illustration of bricks that represent all the negative aspects that affect those living with hepatitis.
“Every time someone sends a tweet with the campaign hashtag #ThinkHepatitis, a brick will turn around to reveal a positive truth, challenging people’s preconceptions about viral hepatitis. Just one tweet can change a wall of stigma and suffering into messages of strength and hope.” – World Hepatitis Alliance
We have taken ownership as being proudly South African, so let us #ThinkHepatitis, because it is #TimeToAccept the challenge and its #TimeToChange the world.
Information Source: http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/en/
Author – Lynnqwinda Scott Social Media and Communications Co-Ordinator Get Savvi Health