As a family physician, it’s not uncommon for Dr. Ali Ghahary to refer patients for different types of tests. Blood work, for example, is something that Dr. Ghahary often requests patients have done as a part of their yearly examination to ensure that their cholesterol levels are where they should be, as well as to check for and rule out other common health conditions such as thyroid disease. Blood testing can also detect more serious health issues, too, such as cancer. In addition to having blood tests done, medical screening is also done on patients of a certain age. For example, it’s recommended that men in their 50’s should go for regular prostate cancer screening, while women between the ages of 50 and 69 should have breast cancer screening done every 2 years. Seniors should also have certain preventive testing done for things like colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and high blood pressure.
While blood work is commonly done by nurses, things like x-rays and cancer screening is typically done by someone known as a radiologist. A radiologist is an important part of the healthcare system as they help in the diagnosing of certain illnesses and injury, as well as aiding your physician in determining which examination is best suited for you. For example, would the patient benefit from an X-ray or will they need to have a more in-depth scan such as an MRI or CT scan.
A radiologist is much more than someone who simply takes a few photos, however. They are also able to determine what those photos show through careful examination and can also compare other examinations and tests to help them with their findings. In addition, they can also help treat diseases through radiation therapy – a form of cancer treatment that is often done before, during or after chemotherapy depending on the diagnosis and the stage that the cancer is in. During certain medical imaging procedures, the patient may either be asked to drink a solution or may require a dye that is injected into them intravenously. These dyes and solutions help give the radiologist a better view of certain parts of the body that may not necessarily show up as well as they would without dye or solution being present in the patient’s body. Think of it as a magnifying glass, in a way. The clearer the picture is, the easier it will be for the radiologist to provide your physician with an accurate report and diagnosis.
In order to become a radiologist, one has to graduate from an accredited school and complete a postgraduate residency, which usually lasts for approximately 4 years in the United States and Canada. During the learning and residency processes, a radiologist will learn about things like radiation safety, radiation protection, how radiation can affect the human body (for example, having frequent CT scans can increase the risk of cancer), how medical imaging tests are performed, and how to accurately read the scans.
For more information on the role of a radiologist, the important role they play in patient care, as well as education, visit the Canadian Association of Radiologists website at CAR.ca.
While cold and flu season may no longer be at its peak, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods and can’t still get sick.
Cold and flu symptoms are usually similar (but can vary in severity), with a sore throat being the most common (and usually the first) symptom to develop. Because it’s the first symptom to develop, it’s also the first symptom to go away – usually dissipating after just a few days. However, those few days can be uncomfortable, and everything from talking to eating to swallowing can be painful.
Although there is no cure for a sore throat, there are certain things Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician, recommends patients to do help make them feel more comfortable, such as: Drinking warm liquids (such as tea or lemon with honey), sucking on ice chips or lozenges, or eating popsicles. You can also try over-the-counter medications such as throat sprays and cough syrup, as well as things like Advil and Tylenol. These medications can not only help relieve a sore throat, but can also reduce things like fever and body aches, which are both common with cold and flu viruses. Dr. Ali Ghahary says patients also need to ensure they’re getting enough rest. Lack of sleep can weaken the immune system and make you much more prone to developing reoccurring colds or flu viruses. Making sure you get a good night’s rest (and even take naps during the day, if you feel like your body needs it) will help you heal faster.
If your symptoms persist after one week and you find you’re not getting any better, or your sore throat has gotten worse, it would be a good idea to follow-up with your family physician, as sometimes a sore throat may be the result of a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, or you may have tonsillitis. Strep throat is an infection caused by streptococcus bacteria. With strep throat, patients often describe it as the worst sore throat they’ve ever had. If a patient has tonsillitis, their tonsils become red and inflamed. In some cases patients will have recurring tonsillitis and may require surgery to remove their tonsils. This type of procedure is performed by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT) and is done under general anesthetic. If strep throat is the cause of the sore throat, you will need to be prescribed a course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Treating strep throat with antibiotics is crucial, as complications can develop if it is left untreated, including rheumatic fever, otitis media (middle ear infection), pneumonia, and even meningitis.
While spring is often a welcome change from dreary, winter weather, it can also be a time of year that people dread given how badly allergies can flare up. The biggest trigger of springtime allergies is pollen, which comes from things like trees, grass and flowers. An allergic reaction occurs as a result of the body mistaking pollen as something that is dangerous, which then leads to the release of chemicals known as histamines into the blood. The release of these chemicals ultimately results in symptoms such as a congested or runny nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, coughing, and sneezing.
In order to determine exactly what you’re allergic to, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients go for allergy testing. This is done through a referral to an allergist. In the meantime, you may benefit from trying over-the-counter allergy medications such as Benadryl or Reactine; however, when taking these medications it’s important that you avoid driving or operating heavy machinery as they can cause drowsiness.
For more information on springtime allergies and other things you can to to prevent a flare up of symptoms, visit Dr. Ghahary’s website at AliGhahary.ca. You can also find more tips to help you stay healthy during the spring here.
Everyone experiences a dry mouth from time to time. You can develop a dry mouth due to a number of reasons – with the most common causes being stress and dehydration. Dry mouth happens when the salivary glands fail to work as they should. If you’re a smoker, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, or are undergoing cancer treatment (such as radiation and/or chemotherapy), it is not uncommon to develop dry mouth.
Certain autoimmune disorders, like Sjogren’s syndrome, can also cause a dry mouth, as can certain medications. In fact, there are over 500 medications known to cause dry mouth, including but not limited to antihistamines, antidepressants, antiemetics, medications used to control blood pressure, as well as sedatives. If you do develop a dry mouth and suspect it may be a result of a medication that you are taking, Dr. Ali Ghahary notes that it is important for patients to know that they should not abruptly stop medications before checking with their family doctor or pharmacist. If medication is a suspected cause of dry mouth, your physician may be able to alter its dosage to see if that makes any difference, or might even recommend a different medication all together.
There are also certain things that doctors, dentists and pharmacists also suggest patients try themselves for relief of dry mouth. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy can often help to stimulate the salivary glands, drinking plenty of water during the day, as well as using a humidifier in your home – especially at night. Using an alcohol-free mouth rinse can also help.
If these home remedies are not helpful and you find that you are still suffering from a dry mouth, your doctor and/or dentist may need to prescribe you with a medication to help the function of the salivary glands, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions – like Sjogren’s syndrome – as mentioned above, in addition to lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Treating whatever the underlying cause is will often resolve other associated problems.
Follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Instagram for more facts on dry mouth, as well as for more information on oral hygiene.