Injury Prevention

An est. 5 million Canadians will suffer an injury each year that is usually severe enough to limit their normal activities and send them to their physician or nearest emergency room.

Ali Ghahary - Injury Prevention

Some of the most common types of injuries that Ali Ghahary sees as a practicing physician in Vancouver include sprains and strains, followed by fractures and broken bones, as well as the typical cuts, scrapes, bruises and blisters.

Those at a higher risk of developing an injury include children and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19, as well as seniors. Injuries can affect many parts of the body including the ankles, feet, legs, hands, wrists, shoulders, elbows, arms and even head – and can lead to concussion, and sometimes even death. In Canada, the majority of injuries in youth are often caused by sports or other recreational activities. For seniors, injuries often occur as a result of walking or doing household chores.

In order to prevent injury, Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests taking precautions, such as wearing helmets and other safety gear.

Concussions, for example, are often a result of physical activity and/or sports, and are most commonly seen in hockey and football players. Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of developing a concussion. For a more in-depth look at concussions and how they are treated, read Dr. Ghahary’s article titled ‘Concussions: Risk and Prevention.’

concussions

Seniors are also at an increased risk of injury due to their bones being more fragile. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations as well as deaths for seniors living in British Columbia. Prevention may include a number of factors such as in-home changes, using wheelchairs and/or walkers, and ensuring that snow and ice is cleared from outdoor staircases and walkways to avoid slips, trips and falls during winter months.

Click here for a detailed slideshow on how injuries can impact the body’s muscles and ligaments. You can also find information on other injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, by clicking here.

Vancouver’s Opioid Crisis

In 2016, there were 922 overdose deaths in British Columbia. In Vancouver, 15 people died from opioid-related overdoses in just one week alone, making it a public health emergency.

As a result of the increased number of opioid-related deaths across the Province, new guidelines based on one similar to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were established for physicians and the prescribing of opioids and other highly addictive drugs, making British Columbia the first in Canada to be bound, legally, by such guidelines. Medications such as opioids often act as a band-aid when treating chronic pain disorders or other health problems, as Dr. Ali Ghahary has written about previously, and can actually make pain worse.

Patients can often develop a high tolerance to opioids over time, which can then lead to addiction and dependency, and can also ultimately result in individuals turning to other unsafe ways to get the drug – which is often off the street, and is why we have heard of so many cases of drugs being laced with Fentanyl, or its more potent cousin, Carfentanil. Even when ingested in small amounts, these drugs can be deadly.

Under the new guidelines, physicians must sit down and discuss with patients the dangers of opioids and offer alternatives for chronic conditions such as back pain, headaches and other ailments. It is important for physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary to also carefully analyze a patient’s personal and medical history, as some patients may be more vulnerable to addiction such as those who have been abused, or those who come from families with a history of addiction or have previously battled addiction themselves. Doctors should not only weigh the risks and benefits of opioids, but all types of medications, and should also review the patient’s PharmaNet file, as those who are prone to addiction will often do what is called “doctor-shopping” and collect multiple prescriptions from different healthcare professionals…to either get more pulls for themselves, pills to give to others, or pills to sell.

More information on the dangers of opioids and alternative treatment options for chronic pain can be found by clicking here.

How to Live the Happiest, Healthiest Life Possible

We all want to live the happiest, healthiest life possible. As a physician in Vancouver, Dr. Ali Ghahary encourages his patients to make healthy lifestyle choices; including healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and smoking cessation. By not eating healthy, not staying fit, and smoking, you are not taking care of your body – and in order to be happy, we also need to be healthy.

When we think of the word “diet” we often correlate that to weight loss. However, weight loss and weight management is not the only benefit of healthy eating. While it is definitely part of it, the food you eat can also play a significant role in other aspects of your health. For example, if you eat food or drink beverages that contain lots of sugar, you are more likely to develop cavities. A trip to the dentist, in this case, is something you want to avoid (though it is important to take care of your teeth by going for regular checkups and cleanings.) Sugar contains no healthy fats, proteins, enzymes, or nutrients. All it does is destroy your body. Individuals who consume sugar are much more likely to develop heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, and are even at risk of developing certain cancers.

Similarly, regular exercise can also have great health benefits aside from weight loss. By staying fit you are at less of a risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. Physical activity can also be great for those who suffer from anxiety and/or stress, and can boost one’s self esteem.

In order to live a long and healthy life, those who smoke should cease from doing so. It has been scientifically proven that smoking causes cancer. In fact, 84% of cancer-related deaths are caused by lung cancer due to smoking. Smoking can also lead to emphysema – a condition in which the lungs become damaged, resulting in difficulty breathing. Alcohol is another thing individuals should try to avoid. Excessive drinking can lead to liver damage and a variety of other health problems.

For further insight into how you can live the healthiest life possible, Dr. Ali Ghahary is able to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and can answer any questions you might have. For his walk-in schedule, click here.

You can also follow Dr. Ghahary on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary.

Cataract Awareness Month

Your eyes are an integral part of your health. In order to ensure your eyes are healthy, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends having regular eye exams with an optometrist. To find an optometrist closest to you, visit the College of Optometrists of BC’s website at optometrybc.com. There, you will be able find information on optometry offices that are accepting patients as well as detailed information on the role of optometrists.

Throughout the entire month of June, Dr. Ali Ghahary and the Canadian Association of Optometrists are working to raise awareness on cataracts and eye health as part of Cataract Awareness Month. Currently, there are close to 3 million Canadians the have cataracts. While cataracts are painless, they are a leading cause of vision loss, which is why treating them is so important. Cataracts are often discovered during a routine eye exam with your optometrist. They develop within the existing lenses of the eye, and can form in one or both eyes – at the same or different times.

Optometrist
It is important to have regular check-ups with your optometrist

The lenses of the eye are made up of protein and water that works to keep the lens clear and allows in light. However, when those proteins clump together or harden, the light is then blocked from reaching the retina and affects one’s vision.

Blurred vision is a common sign of cataracts

Upon initial diagnoses, a patient may not even be aware that they do have a cataract, as they initially do not impact your vision. However, over time, the cataract can grow larger, which then makes it harder to see. Along with cloudy or blurred vision, other signs of cataracts include difficulty seeing at night, the need for brighter light when reading, trouble distinguishing colours or seeing colours that appear faded, double vision, and frequent eyeglass prescription changes. Over time, individuals with cataracts may notice glares from lights and also have an increased sensitivity to light.

There are different types of cataracts that one can develop:

• Age-related cataracts
• Traumatic cataracts
• Radiation cataracts
• Congenital cataracts
• Secondary cataracts

Age-related cataracts are the most common and are usually found in older individuals. However, it is also possible for them to develop in someone as early as the age of 40. Traumatic cataracts are the result of injury to the eye by blunt force (such as a first or ball hitting the eye) or penetrating injury (such a sharp object entering the eye) and can happen at any age. You can develop traumatic cataracts as soon as a few weeks of the injury itself, or months to years later. Radiation cataracts occur as a result of prolonged/overexposure to UV radiation – either from sunlight or tanning bed. Individuals who work outdoors are more susceptible to developing this type of cataract, and should take precautions by wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection as well as wide-brimmed hats. Babies can also be born with cataracts – this is known as congenital cataracts and they are usually inherited as a result of the mother having a certain illness or infection during her pregnancy. Surgery is usually needed in order for the child’s vision to normally progress. Other medical conditions such as diabetes or long-term use of oral steroids can also cause cataracts – this is referred to as secondary cataracts.

In the early stage of cataracts, your vision may improve with new eyeglasses, different/brighter lighting, as well as anti-glare sunglasses. However, if those simple measures have no benefit, then surgery will be the only effective way to treat cataracts, which involves removing the affected lens and having it replaced with an artificial lens.

While cataract surgery can seem scary, Dr. Ali Ghahary notes that it is safe. It usually takes no longer than 15 minutes to perform, and and the recovery should be uneventful and without complication as long as you follow the post-op directions provided to you from your surgeon. Upon surgery, a patch will be placed over your eye – this is to protect your eye from bright light. Some surgeons will allow you to remove the patch a few hours after surgery, while others will request that you leave it on for a few days. Upon removal of the patch, do not be alarmed if your vision appears blurry or cloudy. It may take some time for your vision to adjust. Your eyes may also appear red or bloodshot after cataract surgery, but this will dissipate. Following your surgery, you may also be provided with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops. This is to help prevent infection and reduce any inflammation. Your surgeon will make a foll0w-up appointment with you – approximately 1 week after surgery – to see how you are feeling and to make sure that the healing process is going as it should.