Category Archives: Health

Behind the Pink Ribbon: Living with Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Infographic

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Who You Gonna Call? A Quick Guide To The Lesser Known Medical Specialist

Medical SpecialistWe 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.

PaediatricianPaediatrician: This doctor specializes in the health of children and babies.

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.Neurologist

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.

Media Releas from the Cancer Association of South-Africa (CANSA)

#CANSA Care Week

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. #CANSA Care Week

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Know when you are stressed: Know the signs of stress (which include feeling exhausted; getting sick more often; sleeplessness; impatience, irritability, or forgetfulness).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Take care of yourself: Make time to exercise, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep.
  6. Stay positive: Having a positive attitude can help set the tone for everything you do and take on.

#CANSA Relay For Life“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: lbalona@cansa.org.za, 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: info@cansa.org.za)

#CANSA Care WeekABOUT CANSA

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: info@cansa.org.za. Follow CANSA on Twitter and join CANSA on Facebook and on Pinterest.

10 Healthy Workout Tips for Men

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We are celebrating Men’s Health Month this June. Here are some Health Workout Tips for Men.

You’re ready to work out. Maybe you’re an experienced athlete, or perhaps you just recently gave up the recliner and set aside the bowl of chips to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Either way, your goal is to take the one body you’ve been given and make it look and work its best.

There are countless reasons to chase this goal. Staying active can help you avoid major illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, give you more energy and make you feel happier. Endorphins anyone? Looking buff certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes to impressing the ladies, either. But in order to optimize your body, you need to optimize your workout plan.

Take It Slow – Motivation is a wonderful thing. Keep in mind, however, that unbridled enthusiasm has led many would-be athletes to write checks their bodies can’t cash. Sports injuries are second only to the common cold among reasons why people pay a visit to their doctor. A large number of the injured are so-called “weekend warriors” who try to trade their sedentary existence for the life of an elite athlete. Here’s the thing — it’s not a trade, it’s a progression. The people who push too hard, too soon, end up right back on the sofa with painful injuries and unwanted medical bills

It’s great to have a passion for working out, but the fire can quickly get out of control. A better bet is to maintain a slow, controlled burn.

Make a Schedule That Works for you – You’ve probably heard that it’s best to exercise in the morning to kick-start your metabolism for the day and help you sleep at night. You may have also read that your workout will be more productive if it’s done between 4 and 6 p.m. when your body temperature is highest. What are you to make of the mixed messages? The most important thing about your workout schedule is that it fits you. If you’re not a morning person, a workout plan that requires you to get up two hours early every day may not last. The same goes if you’re consistently “running on empty” after work — force yourself into an evening workout regimen and you’ll likely throw in the towel before long. Find a time that works for you, whether in the morning, during your lunch break or in the evening, and stick with it

Get the Right Equipment –  Any workout you choose requires some sort of equipment, whether it’s the right shoes for a 5K run or the right racket for a game of tennis. And while you don’t have to spend a fortune on the latest gadgets and the spiffiest outfits, you do need to make sure the equipment is in reasonable condition, fits properly and is right for your sport. Experts recommend that runners replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles (483 to 805 kilometers). Keep the same tattered pair of shoes too long, and you could wind up with a painful problem like plantar fasciitis. The wrong biking saddle or shorts can lead to “saddle sores,” and poorly fitting skates can take you out of your hockey game and land you on the bench with a sprained ankle. Get your gear at a sports store with knowledgeable staff members who can help you pick the right equipment. Your job is to remember to replace it regularly.

Seek Out Accountability – True, Mom always warned you about the dangers of peer pressure, but working out is one part of life in which peer pressure can be a real plus. Even Olympians have days when they just don’t feel like exercising. There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off here and there, but slacking off whenever you feel like it will seriously hamper your progress. That’s where friends step in. Invite some co-workers for regular after-work gym sessions, join a local soccer team or running group, or invite a neighbor along for daily walks through the neighborhood. Knowing that the team will be short a player if you don’t show up will motivate you to get out there. You’re less likely to cancel a workout if you know your friends will (lovingly) heckle you for it. What’s the one color that shouldn’t be associated with your workout style? Click ahead for the answer.

Beware of the Gray Zone – It seems natural to work out at a level that’s not too easy and not too hard. This is the infamous “gray zone,” and it’s infamous for good reason. Medium-effort workouts will help you keep the fitness level you already have, but they won’t stimulate much adaptation. In short, you won’t see significant progress. To escape the gray zone, think of the difficulty of your workouts on a scale of one to 10, with one being easy and 10 being full throttle. Consistent workouts at level five will give you lackluster results but exercising at level eight or above every day will leave you exhausted and prone to injury. The best course of action is to alternate easy workouts (level three or below) with strenuous ones (level eight or above). Your body will be stimulated to improve, and it will have enough downtime to mend and adapt

Consider a Trainer – When the transmission goes out on your car, you see a mechanic. If you’re sick, you see a doctor. Want to get in top shape? You guessed it, you visit a personal trainer. It’s not a sign of ignorance or weakness. It’s a recognition of who is the most knowledgeable when it comes to reaching fitness goals. If you’re primarily a runner, a personal trainer can teach you resistance training techniques that will help you lift your knees for a more efficient stride. If you mostly pump iron, your trainer can teach you exercises to keep you flexible. He or she can also provide valuable insights on nutrition. The costs associated with hiring a personal trainer can vary greatly but keep in mind that some gyms provide the services of a trainer in the cost of your membership. If cost is still an obstacle, consider putting some money aside and giving yourself a month’s worth of sessions for your birthday. Once you’ve run out of sessions, you can continue using what you’ve learned on your own.

Choose Activities You Love – Listen to Your Body –

It may sound a bit touchy-feely, but it’s true — to be a successful, healthy athlete, you need to listen to your body.

“Feeling the burn” in your muscles during a tough workout is a perfectly normal sign that you’re challenging your body. Sweating and labored breathing can also be quite natural. But throbbing joints or sudden, sharp pains anywhere are signs that you need to stop what you’re doing. Failing to heed your body’s distress signals can lead to serious injury and setbacks. Also, post-workout pain that doesn’t let up after a few days of rest and ice warrants a trip to the doctor

Severe swelling or deformity, dislocation of a joint, numbness or bluish color of the skin or nails are signs that you need to head straight to the ER

Pain in the chest or left arm, tightness or a crushing feeling in your chest, or unexplained sweating, such as breaking out in a cold sweat after your workout can be indicators of a heart attack. In that case, call 9-1-1

Take it Up a Notch –  There comes a time when the workouts that used to feel nearly impossible become altogether easy. That’s when you double the mileage, multiply the reps and pack the weight bar with as many iron plates as it will hold, right? Wrong. When we say it’s time to take it up a notch we mean just that — a notch. If you’re a distance runner, remember the 10 percent rule; you shouldn’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent at a time. If your previous max — the most you can lift one time — on the weight bench is 225 pounds (102 kilograms), try adding five or 10 pounds only and using a spotter (someone who can grab the bar if you struggle.) Taking it up just a notch may feel frustrating sometimes, but patience pays off.

Set Your Own Goals – Most men will tell you that they’re most productive when they know what they’re working for. A vague goal such as getting in better shape or an unrealistic focus such as putting Michael Phelps to shame in the pool, will only hamper your progress.

Set a reasonable long-term goal. Maybe it’s to complete your first half-marathon nine months from now. Then work toward smaller goals along the way, such as completing your first 5K or 10K. Celebrate each small goal as a step on the path to the larger objective. And remember that, you’re really competing with yourself. The elite runner in the group who never seems to break a sweat can be an inspiration to you, but don’t break a leg trying to keep up when he or she has probably been training for much longer than you have. You’re on your own path to fitness and you’ll get there at your own pace. Keep your workouts safe and effective, and you’ll reach your full athletic potential.

Credit: How Stuff Works – http://www.howstuffworks.com/