Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a condition that prevents the lungs from getting enough oxygen due to the build-up of fluid in the lung’s air sacs called the alveoli.

Some of the most common causes of ARDS include aspiration, pneumonia, septic shock, the inhalation of chemicals, as well as traumatic injury. Those who smoke or drink alcohol are also at a higher risk of developing ARDS.

When the lungs become built up with fluid, their ability to expand then decreases. Consequently, you will then exhibit symptoms such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, as well as low blood pressure and even organ failure – such as kidney or liver failure.

In order to accurately diagnose ARDS or other problems with the lungs, Dr. Ali Ghahary will listen to a patient’s chest with a device known as a stethoscope. The stethoscope allows for Dr. Ghahary to hear any abnormalities in a patient’s lungs. If it’s suspected that the patient has Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and their blood pressure is low, they may have a pale appearance as well as a blue-ish tinge to the skin and nails. This is caused by lack of oxygen. Other tests that are performed to diagnose ARDS include complete blood counts, urine cultures, sputum cultures, chest x-rays and bronchoscopies.

As many as 10,000 Canadians die each year as a result of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. As this can be a life threatening condition, ARDS usually requires hospitalization for treatment – often in an intensive care unit (ICU). While in the intensive care unit, the patient will be sedated and they will be placed on a ventilator. The main goal of the ventilator is to not only provide the patient with large doses of oxygen, but to also help the lungs recover. Diuretics, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs are also often prescribed to patients with ARDS.

Though it can take several months to years, patients with ARDS can recover quickly. Some patients, however, may have long-term respiratory problems, including difficulty breathing, fatigue, weakness, and even depression. In order to properly manage your lung health, it is important to go to your physician for regular check-ups and immediately report any abnormal symptoms that you’re experiencing.

For further advice on how you can protect your lungs and for other lung-related support services, visit the BC Lung Association’s website at bc.lung.ca.

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How to Prevent Kidney Stones

In yesterday’s articles we discussed how the kidneys function. Today, we are going to continue that conversation by discussing kidney stones, how they occur, the symptoms associated to them, and how they can be treated.

Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form as a result of your urine containing (and being unable to dilute) crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid. In addition, your urine may also lack the substances that prevent these crystals from forming, which then creates an ideal environment for kidney stones to develop. While kidney stones do not have one definitive cause, there are several factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney stones. These risk factors include having a family history of kidney stones, dehydration, having an unhealthy diet, obesity, digestive disorders and other medical conditions such as metabolic disorders, which can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate found in urine.

An individual suffering from kidney stones usually presents with severe pain in the back that can spread to the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, painful urination, and urine that is cloudy and/or has a foul odor. It is also not unusual for pain to fluctuate in intensity.

There are three different types of kidney stones:

1. Calcium Stones
Calcium oxalate is a naturally occurring substance that is found in certain foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and chocolate. Your liver also produces oxalate.

2. Struvite Stones
These kinds of kidney stones are formed as a result of an infection, such as a UTI (urinary tract infection). Struvite stones can grow rapidly and become large. These stones sometimes come on with little warning and have very few symptoms.

3. Uric Acid Stones
Uric acid stones can form in individuals who are not drinking enough fluids or are losing too much fluid, in individuals who have diets that are high in protein, as well as individuals diagnosed with gout. There are also generic factors that may increase the risk of uric acid stones.

Ali Ghahary
Dr. Ali Ghahary practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC. Click here for clinic directions and contact information.

For individuals prone to developing kidney stones, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests controlling the intake of foods that are high in calcium and oxalate such as beets, chocolate, tea, coffee, cola, nuts, strawberries, and spinach.

For prevention of kidney stones, HealthLink BC also recommends drinking 10 to 12 cups of water per day and eating foods that come from plant-based protein sources such as dried lentils, peas, beans and tofu. You should also limit packaged foods and replace salt with things like herbs, lemon or lime zest/juice, garlic and ginger – and absolutely avoid alcohol! You should also use caution when taking calcium supplements as they can also lead to an increased risk of kidney stones.

While kidney stones are usually passed through urination (something that can cause severe discomfort), depending on the size and location of the stones you may require a procedure known as ESWL (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy). This procedure uses sound wave vibrations to break the stones into tiny fragments, making them easier to pass in your urine. If this is unsuccessful, surgery may then be required.

If you would like more information on kidney stones, you can connect with Dr. Ali Ghahary on social media platforms such as Twitter  at http://twitter.com/dralighahary, and Linkedin.

For any questions you have about kidney stones, or if you suspect you may have kidney stones, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see walk-in patients every Monday and Wednesday from 2 PM to 8 PM, Fridays from 12 PM to 4 PM, and Sundays from 1 PM to 6 PM. Hours are dependent on patient volume, so make sure you take a look at the clinic’s walk-in schedule and contact them to ensure they are still accepting patients on the day you choose to attend.

Epilepsy Triggers and Treatment

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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is the result of abnormal brain activity, bringing about loss of consciousness, convulsions (seizures) and other sensory disturbances. Symptoms of epilepsy range from mild episodes of staring or petit-mal seizures, to more severe and uncontrolled movements and seizures known as grand-mal.

Epilepsy currently affects up to 65 million individuals worldwide and 300,000 Canadians, with 15,000 new cases of the disorder being diagnosed in Canada each year. At least 30% of patients that are diagnosed with epilepsy also have accompanying learning disabilities, psychiatric disorders, memory loss, and even behavioural problems. The number of Canadians diagnosed with epilepsy is higher than the number of Canadians that have been diagnosed with colon cancer, and almost as high as the number of Canadians with prostate and breast cancer. (It is always important to have regular checkups with your physician and go for any screenings required. http://alighahary.blogspot.ca)

In as many as 60% of the cases of epilepsy, the cause is unknown. However, epilepsy can also be the result of serious brain injury (i.e. trauma at birth), being involved a motor vehicle accident, or having a stroke. Brain tumors and certain infections can also lead to epilepsy. While epilepsy is more frequently diagnosed in children and seniors, it can affect individuals of all ages. 44% are diagnosed with epilepsy before the age of 5, 55% before the age of 10, and 75% to 85% before age 18. In nearly half of childhood cases, seizures disappear completely.

Along with the aforementioned causes, seizures can also be triggered by stress, emotions, lack of sleep, having poor nutrition or skipping meals, illness, fever and allergies.

Long-term drug therapy is used to treat epilepsy. Vancouver physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary and Neurologists across Canada prescribe both narrow-spectrum and broad-spectrum AED’s, depending on the types of seizures the patient is having, and they can be prescribed as a single medication or used in combination with others. Medications prescribed to treat epilepsy include those in the class known as Benzodiazepines, such as Clonazepam and Diazepam, which are also commonly used to treat those who have anxiety or difficulty sleeping. Other medications commonly prescribed to treat epilepsy and seizures include Divalproex, Gabapentin and Carbamazepine. If medications are unsuccessful, brain surgery may be considered.

As always, these medications have side effects and one individual may not react the same as another, so it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of these drugs with your doctor and pharmacist and be sure to make them aware of any concerns you have or side effects you may be experiencing.

Common Food Allergies and How to Avoid Them

peanut-999921_1280Food allergies have become an increasing health concern in Canada over the years, with as many as 2.5 Canadians suffering from at least 1 common food allergy. The highest incidence of food allergies is found in children.

Below is a look at some of the most common food allergens according to Health Canada:

Peanuts:
The most common food allergy, especially in children, is a peanut allergy (affecting 2 in 100.) Peanut allergies have become so severe that some schools have banned peanuts or products containing peanuts all together, and is considered a “priority” allergen that must be listed on all ingredient labels if manufactured in a facility that also produces products containing nuts. As a result, more and more companies and begun introducing nut and/or peanut-free products that are specifically advertised towards school-aged children such as cookies, crackers and chocolate. Other nut allergens include tree nuts; these include hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts and pistachios.

Milk:
This includes all dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and ice-cream. Many products contain milk, even in powdered form. It can be found in baked goods, coffee, soup mix, and even tofu.

Seafood:
Clams, scallops, shrimp, and lobster are all common seafood allergies. However, it is important to note that individuals with a seafood allergy are often able to eat certain types of seafood, while having to avoid other types all together. Seafood reactions can be severe, as one does not necessarily need to eat it in order to react to it. The smell of fish is enough to trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals. Seafood can also commonly (but oftentimes unknowingly) be found in salad dressings and sauces.

Soy:
Soy is another common allergen, but one that is not always easy to detect without carefully reading labeling. It can be found in everything from certain foods such as tofu, to candy, chewing gum, and even baby formula.

Sulphites:
An additive that is commonly used to preserve the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, and certain packaged foods. While sulphites are usually safe, they can still trigger allergic reactions and asthma in sulphite-sensitive individuals. If you have a sulphite allergy or sensitivity, it is best to avoid packaged foods and ensure you thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before consumption.

When we think of an allergic reaction, we often think of hives, swelling, or a rash. Anaphylaxis (usually resulting in trouble breathing or swallowing, or other respiratory distress sich as coughing, wheezing ad chest pain/tightness) is another common but serious allergic reaction that can be life-threatening, requiring individuals to carry an Epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) with them at all times, something that is easily prescribed by family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary. Other signs of an allergy include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, dizziness and headache.

It is important to know that one does not need to ingest a large amount of an allergen in order to develop an allergic reaction, as it only takes a trace amount, so to avoid allergic reactions you should always ensure that you take special precautions. When buying food you should always read the ingredients on the packaging, and when dining out you should forewarn your server so that food can be prepared separate from any potential allergens. Proper hand washing and utensil cleaning is also of the utmost importance when it comes to avoiding food allergies and possible cross-contamination.