Health Topics

Our Health Topics section offers health information on various medical topics that touch on our day-to-day health issues. Here we have a few tips, preventative measures and mainly general awareness around current health topics / issues. Our aim is to educate the public, increase awareness and encourage healthy living.

World TB Day | 24 March 2015

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World TB Day  |  24 March 2015

Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB World TB Day provides the opportunity to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions and to support worldwide TB-control efforts. While great strides have been made to control and cure TB, people still get sick and die from this disease in our country. Much more needs to be done to eliminate this disease. This World TB Day, we call for further collaboration to find and treat TB. By working together to raise awareness that TB still exists and sharing the personal stories of those people affected by TB, we can bring attention to this public health problem. This year’s World TB Day theme encourages local and state TB programs to reach out to their communities to raise awareness about TB. We don’t have to fight TB alone; we should partner with others who are also caring for those most at risk for TB such as people with HIV infection or diabetes, and the homeless. Everyone has a role in ensuring that one day TB will be eliminated. CDC and our partners are committed to a world free of...

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International Women’s Day | 8 March 2015

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

International Women’s Day  |  8 March 2015

All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Make It Happen is the 2015 theme, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women. In light of women being the focus during this time, it is important to focus on women’s health aswell. Screening tests Screening tests Ages 18–39 Ages 40–49 Ages 50–64 Ages 65 and older Blood pressure test Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher. Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher. Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher. Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher. Bone mineral density test (osteoporosis screening) Discuss with your doctor or nurse if you are at risk of osteoporosis. Get this test at least once at age 65 or older.Talk to your doctor or nurse about repeat testing. Breast cancer screening (mammogram) Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Starting at age 50, get screened every 2 years. Get screened every 2 years through age 74.Age 75 and older, ask your doctor or nurse if you need to be screened. Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Get a Pap test every 3 years if you are 21 or older and have a cervix.If you are 30 or older, you can get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years. Get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years if you have a cervix. Get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years if you have a cervix. Ask your doctor or nurse if you need to get a Pap test. Chlamydia test Get tested for chlamydia yearly through age 24 if you are sexually active or pregnant.Age 25 and older, get tested for chlamydia if you are at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant. Get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant. Get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and at increased risk. Get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and at increased risk. Cholesterol test Starting at age 20, get a cholesterol test regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease.Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested. Get a cholesterol test regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease.Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested. Get a cholesterol test regularly if you are...

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Game-boy back

Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Game-boy back

The long hours spent gaming are taking their toll on children’s bodies Wherever you go, you see them – restaurants, the doctor’s rooms, even on the couch at home. Children sitting hunched over some new gadget, or the latest console, pounding away as they fire little birds at laughing piggies. But the time children spend playing computer games is putting their bodies under strain. Liska Thom, a physiotherapist in Durban, says that children spend long hours in a stationary position, often with poor posture. This causes an imbalance between muscles, which can’t hold the joints in place. The soft tissue and joints strain, become inflamed and start to hurt. Over time, bones may also fuse in the incorrect position, causing curvature of the spine. Repeating actions when playing games doesn’t help either. Repetitive use of the same body part can result in an overuse or repetitive strain injury, says Joburg-based paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr Greg Firth. The resulting injuries have taken on names like “Gameboy back”, “Nintendonitis” and “Playstation thumb”. Damage done Repetitive strain injuries are a group of injuries caused by prolonged repetitive movement and are often found in fingers, hands, arms, shoulders and necks, says Cape Town chiropractor Dr Per Rehn. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common example, where pressure on a nerve in the wrist causes numbness, pain or even loss of movement in the hand. Arm muscles can also be strained from using a computer mouse, thumbs from using Game Boys or phones, and upper and lower back muscles from poor posture. Look out for tenderness, pain or throbbing in muscles or joints. Other symptoms could include tingling, numbness, stiffness or weakness in the affected area. “The repetitive strain on the joints over time can be quite substantial,” notes Thom, adding that children are likely to carry these injuries with them into adulthood, when they will experience more chronic back, neck and shoulder problems. These problems are also becoming more common. The technology is readily available, and with cellphones and tablets, increasingly mobile. While more research needs to be done in South Africa, Rehn believes that these injuries will become more of a problem in the future. Time out You can’t pretend the technology isn’t there, says Rehn, but you can limit children’s gaming time and encourage them to sit properly, and play outside. If children are experiencing pain or discomfort, have them take a break, as problems should resolve if they stop playing, says Firth. If the pain doesn’t clear up, see a physiotherapist or doctor. Game plan Encourage good posture when sitting at tables, desks or on the couch, ensuring backs are supported. Get children to lie on their tummies and prop themselves up on their elbows while playing games. Encourage regular breaks, exercise and stretching. Stretch hands and fingers: Make a fist, hold and release, pushing your fingers out; Grip and release a soft ball several times with each hand; Place your hand, palm down, on a table. Lift and drop fingers one at a time. Stretch shoulders, neck and back: Roll shoulders forwards, then backwards; Standing straight with legs slightly apart, stretch one arm up and overhead, while bending the spine sideways. Repeat with the other arm; Slowly roll the neck from side to side, first with your neck tilted forward and then backward. Source:...

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World Cancer Day | 04 Feb 2015

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World Cancer Day  |  04 Feb 2015

The 4th of February marks the International World Cancer Day and the International Childhood Cancer Day follows on the 15th of February. Cancer is the leading cause of death globally and the top killer among the non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) which are the major focus of the WHO and UN. Over 100 000 South Africans are being diagnosed with cancer annually, and more people around the world are dying from this illness than TB, Aids and malaria combined. Statistics also show that one in four people in South Africa is impacted by this illness, either as a cancer patient themselves or because they are close to someone who has cancer. The World Economic Forum held in Davos from the 21-24 January had two sessions dedicated to the role of political, civic and business leaders role in turning the tide on cancer. The 2015 global campaign for World Cancer Day 2015 is themed: ‘Not Beyond Us’. With the focus on: •   Choosing healthy lives •   Delivering early detection •   Achieving cancer treatment for all •   Maximising quality of life Test yourself: Am I at risk of cancer? For South Africa this would mean: •  A National Cancer Control Plan that makes provision for vaccination for HPV and HBV against cervical and liver cancers, early detection and screening for breast, cervical, oral and colorectal cancers; •  effective cancer surveillance; •  equitable access to essential medicines and technologies; •  and  effective implementation of palliative care policies.  Thus far, South Africa has succeeded to make progress on: •  The HPV Vaccination programme for girls for between nine and twelve years since Mach 2014 although this does not form part of the national cervical cancer policy. •   HBV Vaccination as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme since 1995 •   The Cancer Registration Regulation of 2011 makes provision for the compulsory registration of all cancer cases The Cancer Alliance is working closely with the DoH and other role players to address the following priorities for effective cancer control in SA: – The National Cancer Control Plan of 1998 is outdated and has been in process of updating since 2009. – The cervical cancer screening policy has been in process of updating since 2009. – For breast cancer, the highest cancer killer of South African women a breast health policy is urgently required to ensure equitable service delivery for all women. –  Despite the cancer registration regulation the completeness of the National Cancer Registry remains a challenge evident by the last available report of 2008. The National Cancer Registry falls under the jurisdiction of the NHLS that is currently experiencing huge financial and management challenges. – Equitable access to essential medicines and technologies as well as palliative care for cancer patients across the nine provinces is not in place and often leads to patients not receiving treatment of palliation timeously leading to unnecessary suffering of unrelieved pain and symptoms. Cancer stigma is well documented and a reality on our South African communities impacting negatively of the disease even further. People Living With Cancer a member organisation of Cancer Alliance have launched a compelling video “Unsilenced” for World Cancer Day on their website: Source:...

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Kids Health | 5 reasons girls should play sport

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Kids Health  |  5 reasons girls should play sport

Why play sports? You might say “to get exercise” and you’d be right. To have fun? That’s true, too. But there’s more. In fact, there are at least 5 more reasons. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls who play sports get a lot more than just fit.       Girls who play sports do better in school. You might think that athletics will take up all your study time. But research shows that girls who play sports do better in school than those who don’t. Exercise improves learning, memory, and concentration, which can give active girls an advantage in the classroom. Girls who play sports learn teamwork and goal-setting skills. Sports teaches valuable life skills. When you working with coaches, trainers, and teammates to win games and achieve goals, you’re learning how to be successful. Those skills will serve you well at work and in family life. Sports are good for a girl’s health. In addition to being fit and maintaining a healthy weight, girls who play sports are also less likely to smoke. And later in life, girls who exercise are less likely to get breast cancer or osteoporosis. Playing sports boosts self-confidence. Girls who play sports feel better about themselves. Why? It builds confidence when you know you can practice, improve, and achieve your goals. Sports are also a feel-good activity because they help girls get in shape, maintain a healthy weight, and make new friends. Exercise cuts the pressure. Playing sports can lessen stressand help you feel a little happier. How? The brain chemicals released during exercise improve a person’s mood. Friends are another mood-lifter. And being on a team creates tight bonds between friends. It’s good to know your teammates will support you — both on and off the field! Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD| Source:...

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Sun Smart | Skin Cancer

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Sun Smart  |  Skin Cancer

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is urging all South Africans to be SunSmart to reduce the high incidence of skin cancer in the country. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in South Africa with about 20 000 reported cases every year and 700 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that between two and three million non-melanoma skin cancers and approximately 132 000 malignant melanomas occur globally every year. South Africa has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia. The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented by respecting the sun. The three most common types of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and malignant melanoma. A significant part of a person‟s lifetime exposure occurs before the age of 18. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can also lead to inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye, and may cause and accelerate the development of cataracts. What does a sun protection factor (SPF) mean? It refers to the extra protection offered by applying a specific sunscreen lotion to the skin. If your skin usually starts to change colour within five minutes, a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 20 protects your skin for 20 times as long, i.e. 5 times 20, which equals 100 minutes. Remember, there is no such thing as a „complete‟ sun-blocker, as all sunscreen lotions need to be reapplied at regular intervals. What does UV mean?  Ultra violet (UV) rays are part of the light spectrum that reaches the earth. There are two kinds of UV rays that damage our skin. The broader UVB rays cause the browning reaction that we call „tanning‟ and are responsible for the redness of skin, painful burning, skin damage and skin spots and ultimately skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and can damage the structure of the cells, causing ageing, as well as increasing the risk of skin cancer – it is currently accepted that UVA rays are the cause of malignant melanoma. Owing to the hole in the ozone layer (known to protect the earth from the sun), South Africa is receiving increased amounts of UVA and UVB rays from the sun. High Risk Exposure  Everyone is at risk of getting skin cancer, although people with darker skins are less susceptible because their skin contains more natural melanin that protects against sun damage. People with fair skin, especially those with red hair, moles or skin spots, as well as people with a personal or family history of skin cancer, or who play sport outdoors, work in the sun or spend a lot of time driving, are considered high-risk. At least 80% of sun-induced skin damage occurs before the age of 18 and only manifests later in life. Therefore it is imperative to take special care of children in the sun, whether it is at the pool, on the beach, at play or at school. Babies younger than one year should never be exposed to direct sunlight. When it comes to protecting the young ones, mothers of babies and toddlers; educators and caregivers can play an important role. Spot the Spot  Check your skin carefully every month and ask a family member or friend to examine your back and...

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Exam stress – a challenge for the whole family | Nov 2014

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Exam stress – a challenge for the whole family  | Nov 2014

Exam time is stressful for the whole family, especially when you’re dealing with Matric finals. Kids’ exam time is an extremely stressful time for the whole family, especially when you’re dealing with Matric finals. Normal interactions and activities tend to get put on hold for the entire period as everyone’s focus – whether they like it or not– is on the countdown to the last paper. Because the pressure affects every single family member, it’s vital for parents to take control by being supportive and tolerant during emotional outbursts, and by putting the following stress-busting tips into practice. • Put things into perspective. There’s a huge amount of pressure for your child to perform. It’s vital to explain that exams are not a matter of life and death, and that this too shall come to an end. Exams are an important stepping stone and things may get pretty intense, but there’s a lot to look forward to once they’re over. • Supply the right coping tools, from a quiet uncluttered study area, to gentle reminders to take regular breaks – outside if possible – to lending an ear, if needed. • Lead by example: Encourage healthy habits for better concentration and brain power by encouraging your child to make healthy choices. Keep your kitchen well-stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables, cereals, grains, nuts and lean proteins to support the brain and keep blood glucose levels at optimal levels. Limit junk food to the occasional treat – the high fat and sugar content dulls body and mind! Also be careful of the caffeine in coffee, colas and chocolate. Gently push for lots of water instead (flavour with fresh mint/lemon slices/strawberries and lots of ice). • Kick your child out of the house.  Ban the books for a while every day in favour of fresh air and exercise. Whether it’s a run around the block, a walk in the park, a game of soccer or a swim in the pool, exercise should form an essential part of every study plan. It’s a great stress-buster, the perfect way to re-energize, and will banish the cobwebs from tired minds. • Remember to relax- and breathe. Relaxing after a full-day of studying is essential in order to wind down. Relaxation techniques are very effective to counteract rising anxiety levels. For example, lying down and listening to gentle music with closed eyes while taking deep breaths is very calming. When you’re stressed, you tend to breathe quickly and shallowly, depriving your body of much-needed oxygen. Breathing slowly and deeply increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, enabling it to work more efficiently. • Get enough shuteye. A good night’s sleep improves concentration and thinking, and is more effective than pulling an all-nighter with last-minute cramming. Encourage – without nagging – a routine of going to bed at a reasonable hour, preceded by some quiet time. You should also chat to your pharmacist or healthcare practitioner about Sédatif PC® – a non-habit forming, non-sedating homeopathic medicine that can help relieve the symptoms of mild anxiety and sleeplessness caused by everyday stress, and can be safely used by the whole family to ease their journey through this very stressful...

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World Heart Day | 29 Sept 2014

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World Heart Day  |  29 Sept 2014

World Heart Day was founded in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year. World Heart Day is an annual event which takes place on 29 September every year. Each year’s celebrations have a different theme, reflecting key issues and topics relating to heart health. 2014’s theme is creating heart-healthy environments. Together with World Heart Federation members, World Heart Day spreads the news that at least 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) could be avoided if four main risk factors – tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol – are controlled. The success of World Heart Day depends on the proactivity of organizations from around the world to help us spread awareness of CVD, the world’s number one killer. This year, World Heart Day’s theme is creating heart-healthy environments. The places in which we live, work and play should not increase our risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But individuals frequently cannot make heart-healthy choices due to environmental factors, such as the availability of healthy food or smoke-free zones....

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Eye Care Awareness Week | 23 Sept – 20 Oct

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Eye Care Awareness Week  |  23 Sept – 20 Oct

It’s Eye Care Awareness Month! Are you one of millions of people around the world walking around with a sight-threatening disease? Unless you have your eyes checked regularly by a professional, you might not even be aware that your sight’s in danger. Some diseases, like glaucoma, have no early warning signs. Instead, vision deteriorates silently and painlessly until it results in total blindness. But if glaucoma’s detected early enough and is correctly treated, vision loss and blindness may be prevented. Eyesight’s one of the most precious gifts a person can have. That’s why we encourage you to have your eyes checked this October, during Eye Care Awareness Month (ECAM). Many people don’t pay much attention to their eyesight or the health of their eyes. It’s unfortunate, as 80% of blindness is avoidable. Most eye conditions can be successfully treated if detected early. So please get your eyes tested this October, and take practical measures to protect your eyes like wearing sunglasses and protecting your eyes against injuries. Your vision is a great gift. Please pay it the attention it deserves. ECAM eye-care tips: Visit an optometrist or doctor regularly and don’t ignore problems with your eyes. This way you can detect and treat eye conditions early on. Protect your eyes from damage or scratches from foreign objects that can lead to infection or damage. Wear protective eye-wear when working with equipment that may cause shards to fly into your eyes. Wear sunglasses that give your eyes proper protection from the damaging rays of the sun. Take regular breaks from your computer screen to minimise eye strain and the development of eye-focusing problems.   Have you ever wondered what the world looks like through the eyes of someone who has glaucoma, a cataract or other vision problems? This will give you some insight Normal 20/20 vision What do images look like? Everything is sharp and in focus. There are no blurred edges when you look at objects close to you or far away. Why? The lens of the eye focuses the light rays exactly on the retina at the back of the eyeball. The eye is like a digital camera on autofocus – just more sophisticated. The eye muscles, cornea and lens continuously adjust, allowing the image you’re looking at to focus precisely onto your retina. Near-sightedness What do images look like? Objects close by are clear and in focus but everything far away looks blurred and hazy. Why? If the eyeball is too wide (like a ball being squeezed from the top and bottom), mainly because of genetic factors, or if the cornea is too curved, light rays focus on a point in front of the retina instead of on the retina itself. Some people even struggle to see objects right in front of them clearly. How many people are affected? It’s very common: one in three people are affected. How can it be corrected? With glasses or contact lenses. Laser surgery can enable people with a low degree of near-sightedness to stop using their spectacles or contact lenses while people who are badly near-sighted may afterwards be less dependent on them. Laser surgery can be done only once the condition has stabilised, usually after the age of 18. Presbyopia What do images look like? Objects that are close, such as the text in a magazine, are...

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9 Ridiculously Simple Things All Women Should Be Doing For Their Health

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

9 Ridiculously Simple Things All Women Should Be Doing For Their Health

Like many people, I dread going to the dentist, not because of the threat of pain, or the oddly intimate experience of someone handling the backsides of my teeth. It’s the flossing conversation. Invariably I’m asked, “You floss, right?” And invariably, I go pink and stammer some nonsense about trying … busy mornings … sensitive gums … blah, blah, blah. Because for the record, no, I have never been a regular flosser, despite knowing full well that it is a key part of good health. It’s cheap and quick. I should do it. With that in mind, we wondered, what other relatively easy and painless things should women be doing for their overall health and wellbeing — but aren’t? We asked a group of women’s health experts for their insights and here’s what they said: 1. Prep before you go to the doctor. …Or midwife or whichever qualified provider you choose to see. Alice Cooper, a nurse practitioner in the department of obstetrics and gynecology with Duke Medicine asks her patients: “Why don’t you think about the three top things that are important to you before you come to see me the next time?'” she said. “That way, we are making sure that your needs are being met, in addition to whatever boxes we need to check off to get the routine things covered.” Of course, for the many women in this country who lack access to quality, affordable health care, getting in to see a doctor is easier said than done. But if anything, that probably makes prepping ahead even more important. 2. Get to know your breasts. Several studies make the case against monthly self breast exams, finding they both needlessly worry healthy women, and give those who miss lumps a false sense of security. But Cooper disagrees: “I do encourage people to do a check once a month, after their period, in the shower,” she said. “Often, they do find their own breast lumps.” The American Cancer Society says that from age 20 on, all women should be told about the potential benefits and limitations of self breast exams so they can do what seems right to them. Those who choose not to do regular exams “should still know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to their doctor right away,” the group recommends. 3. Monitor your moles. Checking moles is very, very important,” said Dr. Nasreen Ghazi with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Pennsylvania. “Women who are fair skinned and have a lot of moles are [often] actually more cognizant of the mole thing, but women who are darker skinned should also be looking out.” Pay attention to the ABCDEs — asymmetry, border, color, diameter and whether and how any given mole is evolving — and try to do it around once a month. (Use a mirror and ask a friend to help check your back.) Oh, and wear sunscreen daily, too. “Even if you don’t burn, you’re still at risk for skin cancer,” Ghazi said. 4. Track your period. And your sex drive. A recent survey found that many women don’t understand basic reproductive concepts (like when ovulation typically occurs), but paying attention to your cycle makes it easier to alert your provider...

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