Author: smartclinics

Is it still ok to visit your doctor during coronavirus?

Everything is operating a little differently right now. Businesses are closed or implementing new policies to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. At SmartClinics, we have put in place a number of changes to help improve our patients’ safety and ensure that we do our part to ensure Australia can combat this health crisis as quickly as possible.

A large aspect of the changes we have implemented is our new Telehealth service. Our Telehealth appointments have been put in place to help people get the help they need without risking their health, or the health of others. We have had a number of patients query whether it is still safe to attend their clinic in person. The answer is yes, however, there are a number of caveats.

What is the Telehealth service?

Our Telehealth service allows us to serve our patients without needing them to come into a practice. We have put this in place to help reduce the risk of healthy people being exposed to those who may be potential carriers of the coronavirus. For now, all SmartClinics patients are required to go through a very brief screening process to assess their level of risk. Some patients may be asked to utilise the Telehealth service rather than coming into a clinic. Others will be considered fine to come in.

Please keep in mind that our screening process is by no means evidence of whether or not a person has the coronavirus. It is simply put in place to help mitigate risk. If you go through the screening process and are asked to book a Telehealth appointment, this does not mean you have the coronavirus. Alternatively, if you are cleared for a visit, that does not mean you are not a carrier.

Is it safe to visit a SmartClinics medical practice?

The answer is yes – we have taken (and continue to take) all reasonable precautions possible to prevent those who are ill with the coronavirus being exposed to our staff or patients. Part of this is screening all online bookings and appointments made via phone call, however there are some practices we have put in place inside each clinic to help ensure high levels of hygiene and reduce the spread.

What is SmartClinics doing to keep clinics safe?

Beyond our screening process, we also have a number of measures inside clinics to help reduce any potential spread of COVID-19. All surfaces in our patient meeting rooms are cleaned and sanitised after every single appointment. Preliminary studies have shown that disinfectant is very effective at breaking down the virus and eliminating its presence.

Our sanitisation process is aimed at ensuring there is as little as possible chance of any remnant coronavirus being found inside patient rooms after we have seen a patient, regardless of how healthy they appear or how little contact they had with surfaces.

Additionally, many of our clinics have implemented a dual waiting room approach. In these clinics, there are two waiting rooms – one for those who are feeling well, and one for those who exhibit any potential systems of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections. This procedure has been put in place to help isolate potential carriers of the coronavirus from those who are otherwise healthy.

Social distancing policies are in place at all SmartClinics practices. You will be instructed to maintain your distance, wherever possible, from other patients and staff. Additionally, we have hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes available at all our practices for the use of patients. You are strongly encouraged to use these upon entry to our practice.

What do I do if I believe I have COVID-19?

If you have undertaken our screening process and have been recommended to book a Telehealth appointment, or if you for any other reason believe you may have contracted the coronavirus, please contact us. We will assist you in finding your nearest Fever Clinic so that you may undergo further testing.

Learn more about our Telehealth appointments

We have put together a basic FAQ to help you get a deeper understanding of how the telehealth process works. Please click below to read our guide:

Click here to read the SmartClinics Telehealth Guide.

SmartClinics COVID-19 Policies:

We are not currently accepting any patients into any clinic who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing.

We have a “well waiting room” and an “unwell waiting room” to help keep our patients isolated.

We have screened all phone calls and online bookings to help reduce the chance of a person who is ill with COVID-19 coming into a clinic.

We are practicing social distancing wherever possible.

Have plenty of hand sanitiser and wipes and we strongly encourage all patients to use them.

We are cleaning down and sanitising surfaces in between patients. This includes chairs, tables and all surfaces contacted during each appointment.

Contact SmartClinics

If you still have questions, please contact your local SmartClinics Medical Centre:

Click here to find a SmartClinics near you.

Telehealth appointments – everything you need to know

Speak with a GP in the comfort of your home.

A Telehealth appointment is just like a standard GP appointment, but conducted over the phone. Your GP will go through the normal procedures of asking about your symptoms (if you have any) and assessing potential diagnoses. If a script is required, it’ll be faxed, emailed or posted to you or your preferred pharmacy. Our Doctors can provide over the phone support for pregnancy, mental health, and patients with autism, chronic diseases or eating disorders, plus a wide range of other health services.

What does a Telehealth appointment cost?

Telehealth calls with some SmartClinics Doctors will be bulk billed for current patients with a Medicare card, while other patients will be charged a consult fee.

**ATTENTION NEW PATIENTS**

From July 20, Medicare changes may affect your Telehealth appointment fee. In order to be subsidised by Medicare for your Telehealth appointment, you will need to be an existing patient at the clinic in the last 12 months and have been seen for a face to face appointment – otherwise a fee may apply. This does not apply to anyone aged under 12 months or people who are experiencing homelessness. Please call your preferred clinic location to talk to reception about fees for your appointment.

How do I book a Telehealth appointment?

To book a Telehealth appointment, call your preferred clinic location during their business hours and they will assist you in choosing the best time and day and Doctor to call you back. Alternatively you can book a Telehealth appointment online clicking the pink button and follow the easy steps. 

BOOK NOW: Please call your preferred clinic location or book online below.

Who calls who?

First you need to make a booking for your Telehealth Appointment. You choose which Doctor you want to talk to, and when.  Then, your Doctor will call you back at your requested appointment time.

 

What equipment will I need for a Telehealth appointment?

The best thing about a Telehealth appointment is that you just need yourself, a quiet place and a phone.

Can I still see my GP in person?

Yes! It is safe to see your GP for a face to face appointment, and we strongly encourage you to keep your regular appointments. Skipping important health appointments is very risky and may be dangerous. So long as you don’t currently have flu-like symptoms or think you are at risk of having COVID-19, you are welcome to see your GP inside our medical centres.

All SmartClinics Medical Centres are OPEN and currently offering face to face appointments for:

  • All regular health check-ups
  • Skin checks and mole removal
  • Flu vaccinations and immunisations
  • New scripts / repeat scripts
  • Cosmetics
  • Mental health advice
  • Chronic disease
  • And all other general healthcare services.

Please do NOT put off your face to face appointments. Call your local SmartClinics medical centre to book face-to-face appointment, or book an in-clinic appointment online below.

Do I need Skype or other video technology for a Telehealth appointment?

Just your phone will be fine. In the near future, we will also host video calls for Telehealth appointments, which will allow our GPs to more accurately diagnose some health concerns remotely.

Who can get a Telehealth appointment?

Everybody can! The Commonwealth Government has opened up Telehealth services to every citizen.

Can I get a script for medicine in a Telehealth appointment?

Yes, you can be issued scripts via a Telehealth appointment.

Are all doctors offering Telehealth services?

The vast majority of SmartClinics GPs are, however you may need to talk to a different GP on Telehealth call if your doctor is not available.

What if I need to see a GP in person?

You can still see your GP in-person.  Given that current advice is for everyone to stay at home when possible, we prefer you to make a Telehealth appointment unless it is absolutely necessary for you to see the GP in person. If you need to see a GP face-to-face, call the clinic directly and request an appointment.

Is it safe to go into a medical centre at the moment?

It is still safe to attend a medical centre. We have procedures in place to help prevent spreading infection, such as masks, gloves and hand sanitisers plus screening of sick patients. If you are feeling sick, we prefer you to make a Telehealth appointment and the Doctor will tell you if they want to see you in person. We strongly advise everyone to practice social distancing and stay at home if possible, as per current health advice.

Here are some other ways we are keeping clinics safe:

  • We are not currently accepting any patients into any clinic who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing – we assist them to a Fever Clinic.
  • Some clinics have a “well waiting room” and an “unwell waiting room” to help keep our patients isolated.
  • We are screening all phone calls and online bookings to help reduce the chance of a person who is ill with COVID-19 coming into a clinic.
  • We are practicing social distancing wherever possible.
  • Have plenty of hand sanitiser and wipes and we strongly encourage all patients to use them.
  • We are cleaning down and sanitising surfaces in between patients. This includes chairs, tables and all surfaces contacted during each appointment.

Contact SmartClinics

If you still have questions, please contact your local SmartClinics Medical Centre:

Click here to find a SmartClinics near you.

Coronavirus Vaccine – How far away is it?

WORRIED ABOUT CORONAVIRUS?

Call our Tele Health Coronavirus hotline on 1300 411 748 for a Telehealth call with a GP about any health concern.

If you live in the South Brisbane area, you may be referred to our Alexandra Hills Respiratory Clinic for a COVID-19 Assessment.

Coronavirus Vaccine – How far away is it?

The new coronavirus, widely referred to as COVID-19, has shocked the world with its rapid spread, breach of containment lines and high death rate (relative to influenza). This is a new virus, never before confronted by humanity. As such, our scientists are facing a brand-new challenge – to catch up to a viral scourge that is spreading beyond all efforts to halt it.

Testing and developing a coronavirus vaccine – how it works

Testing a new vaccine can be a process that takes many years. Before human trials even begin, tests are often conducted on a range of animal subjects to gain an understanding of the physiological effects of the vaccine (including its effectiveness in combating the target virus).

If the vaccine appears safe in animals, clinical trials in humans may be approved. These early trials are initially likely to feature small numbers of people, less than 100, but may eventually be scaled to incorporate several thousand human volunteers. During these clinical trials, many questions will be answered, such as the safety of the vaccine, dosage, reaction of the human immune system, and interaction with other medicines that people may be taking.

There are, broadly speaking, a few stages to vaccine development:

  1. Exploratory Stage: 3-4 years
  2. Pre-Clinical Stage: 1-2 years
  3. Application for Trial: approx. 1 month
  4. Phase 1 Trials: approx. 1 year
  5. Phase 2 Trials: approx. 1 year
  6. Phase 3 Trials: approx. 1 year+
  7. Phase 4 Trials: usually conducted post-release

Will a new coronavirus vaccine be safe?

Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved for widespread distribution will likely have undergone extensive testing to ensure it is safe for human consumption. Most developed nations have a body that is responsible for the approval of new medicines, and many have stringent testing requirements. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the responsible body, while in Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates vaccines.

Who is working on the coronavirus vaccine?

Various organisations around the world are working to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Pharmaceutical firms such as Gilead Sciences, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson all have vaccines in active development. One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, GlaxoSmithKline, is working with the University of Queensland and a Chinese firm, Clover Biopharmaceuticals, in an effort to develop a combined vaccine and delivery method.

How long does it take to create a new coronavirus vaccine?

The length of time it will take to develop a new coronavirus vaccine is virtually impossible to determine. Most analysts and industry experts agree that developing, manufacturing and distributing a brand-new vaccine within twelve months would be an extraordinary achievement, and is quite unlikely. A two- or three-year timeframe would be quite ambitious but is much more achievable provided international cooperation continues. As such, we all need to prepare as best as we can for at least twelve more months of the coronavirus spreading throughout the world. 

How long will it take to produce coronavirus shots?

For a global virus like coronavirus, that already (as of March 9th) fulfils the World Health organisation’s criteria for a pandemic, vaccine manufacture is likely to be accelerated. The truly long part of the process is development and testing. Once that is taken care of, manufacturing of the new vaccine can be scaled up rapidly to reach a wide audience. Countries at significant risk are likely to receive support from other nations in vaccinating their populace quickly. Some organisations are working on methods to reduce the amount of vaccine required to be effective, so that will also assist in developing an adequate amount of vaccine for a significant percentage of the world’s population in a short time.

What can you do to avoid catching the coronavirus?

Rather than relying on the discovery, testing, manufacture and distribution of a brand-new vaccine, you can take steps now to greatly minimise your risk of contracting the new coronavirus. Very straightforward tips will help maintain your immune system and lower your exposure to viruses:

  • Avoid large public gatherings
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Cover your face when practical
  • Avoid touching your face
  • If possible, avoid travel
  • Avoid areas where travellers and tourists congregate

 Book a flu shot

The flu shot is entirely ineffective against the coronavirus; the two viruses are very different. However, booking your flu shot now can help prevent you potentially becoming ill from two different viruses, and may also help reduce the burden on the public healthcare system.

Click here to find a medical centre near you.

The Interesting History of the Flu Vaccine

The history of the flu virus

The flu is a fascinating subject. Most Australians are exposed in one way or another. Whether you yourself have had the flu or you’ve seen a family member go through it, you are likely aware of its effects and the illness it can cause the vulnerable, such as children and the elderly. With the 2020 flu season almost upon us, we’ve pulled together some interesting facts about the flu vaccine and the history of the flu in Australia.

The influenza virus was first isolated in 1933, giving rise to a new era in which all of humanity could be protected from one of the world’s most prolific killers. This breakthrough changed thinking about influenza, as previously the consensus was that the flu was caused by a bacterium known as Haemophilus Influenzae.

When was the flu vaccine invented?

The very first monovalent flu vaccine was invented in 1938 and was widely used to inoculate United States defence forces during World War 2. The first bivalent influenza vaccine was developed in 1942 as a response to the discovery of Influenza Type B. In 1978, the first trivalent flu vaccine was introduced. This vaccine typically includes two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain.

In 2012, the first quadrivalent flu vaccine was licensed in the United States. Since then, a variant of the quadrivalent vaccine has become commonly recommended by WHO each year.

How is the flu vaccine determined?

Starting in 1973, the World Health Organisation began issuing guidance to all nations on the composition of the flu vaccine for each coming flu season. Each year, the World Health Organisation meets and may make different recommendations to previous years based on the data they have available and their expectations for which flu strains are likely to be the most widespread the following year.

Most nations will then have a body that determines the flu shot based on the advice of the World Health Organisation. In Australia, this body is the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC). They meet each year at the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Canberra to determine the make-up of the flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season.

Click here to read more about how the 2020 flu shot is determined.

The history of the flu in Australia

In 1919, the Spanish flu arrived in Victoria. For some time it had been held at bay through the extensive quarantining and blockading procedures put in place at all ports. Over the months following its arrival, it spread throughout New South Wales and the rest of the country. During that time, approximately 10,000 Australians died. The Spanish flu was remarkable for its tendency to cause fatalities in young adults, rather than the elderly or young children.

1957 saw the rise of the next major flu pandemic, known as the Asian flu. This flu was far more widespread than the Spanish flu, but with a much lower fatality rate. This was one of the first instances in the modern era of a major global pandemic originating from bird viruses. In 1968, Australia experienced the Hong Kong flu. This pandemic was relatively mild, with global deaths estimated at one million.

2009 was the year of the H1N1 flu. This strain was new and was believed to have arisen from a combination of human, avian and swine flu. It was first identified in Mexico and quickly spread around the world. For most people who contracted this flu, symptoms were mild. However, for a select few it caused serious complications in the lungs and severe pneumonia. Almost 40,000 cases were recorded in Australia and 191 people died. The median age of death was 53, whereas normal, seasonal flu has a median age of death of around 83.

The flu in recent years

Over time, Australia has become better at weathering each flu season. Government programs to improve accessibility to the flu vaccine for the elderly and young children ensure that more people are vaccinated. Growing acceptance of the flu vaccine and corporate programs to inoculate their workforce have also assisted in reducing the number of infected and annual deaths from the flu.

2017 Flu Deaths in Australia (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Get your flu shot!

Avoiding the flu should be high on everyone’s agenda this flu season. Save yourself the wasted time and the days of feeling terrible with a simple jab right at the start of the season.

If you’d like to get your 2020 flu shot, please click here.

WORRIED ABOUT CORONAVIRUS?

You may qualify for a BULK BILLED TELEPHONE CALL with a GP. To find out if you qualify, complete our online form or call our Tele Health Coronavirus hotline on 1300 411 748.

Coronavirus Health Alert: Information from SmartClinics

3 March 2020

As more cases of COVID-19 (the new coronavirus) are confirmed around the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to take some basic precautions to maintain hygiene levels and ensure that we do all that we can as individuals to help halt the spread of the virus.

Who are the confirmed coronavirus cases in QLD?

Of the 10 confirmed cases in Queensland (as of March 3rd), 5 contracted the virus on a tour of Wuhan, 3 came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 1 was from a woman who had been on a trip to Iran, and 1 was from a man from China who travelled through Dubai.

Key messages for SmartClinics patients who suspect they have the coronavirus:

This SmartClinics Health Alert is for people who meet the following criteria:

  • Travelled to, or through, the following countries:
    • China
    • Cambodia
    • Hong Kong
    • Indonesia
    • Iran
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Singapore
    • South Korea
    • Thailand
  • Or had close contact with a person who has travelled in these areas in 14 days prior to presentation; or
  • If you have a fever; or
  • If you have an Acute Respiratory Infection (even if you don’t have a fever).

If you fulfil any of these criteria, please observe the following guidelines:

  • Stay Isolated. If possible, stay inside your home. Avoid contact with other people.
  • If possible, wear a mask if you need to leave your house or travel.
  • Call your local emergency department – do not attend a medical centre to avoid possibly spreading the virus.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1m from all people at all times.

If you are unsure whether you fit the above criteria, please observe the following guidelines:

  • Call ahead of time to book an appointment with the Doctor – DO NOT BOOK ONLINE.
  • Tell your doctor about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has coronavirus.
  • If you must leave home to see your doctor, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.

Queensland Government Coronavirus Guidelines

Queensland Health has released a range of advice for those who suspect they may have coronavirus, or for those who wish to avoid it. A brief summary is below.

If you have recently returned from China or Iran:

  • You should self-quarantine for 14 days from the date you departed those countries.
  • If you develop a fever, a cough or become short of breath you should immediately call a GP or emergency department. Let them know that you have recently travelled, and where to.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of the coronavirus:

  • You should self-quarantine for 14 days from the date you last had contact with that person.
  • If you develop a fever, a cough or become short of breath you should immediately call a GP or emergency department. Let them know that you have recently travelled, and where to.

If you have recently returned from Italy or South Korea and were employed as a healthcare worker or in an aged care residence:

  • You should self-quarantine for 14 days from the date you departed those countries.

How does the coronavirus spread?

Person to person transmission is the most common way for coronavirus to spread. Sneezing and coughing is a common way for the virus to leave the body and find its way to new hosts. Droplets of body fluid, such as saliva, may contain the coronavirus when expressed from an infected carrier. The coronavirus can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. Keep in mind, not much is known about the new coronavirus – it is a very different virus to the flu.

How to protect yourself from the coronavirus

Good personal hygiene is key to limiting your risk to the coronavirus. Some other tips that can help you avoid an infection include:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with alcohol-based hand rubs, or soap and water, regularly throughout the day and after contact with other people or surfaces.
  • If you have a cough, or find yourself sneezing, always cover your mouth. This will help reduce the risk of you infecting those around you.
  • Encourage others to stay home when they are unwell. If you manage a team of employees, let them know that they should call in sick if they have symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who displays symptoms of the coronavirus, including coughing, respiratory irritation, fatigue, shortness of breath, or a fever.

For more information from Queensland Health, visit this page.

Book an appointment with a GP

If you suspect you have coronavirus, please call ahead to make your appointment and explain in detail why you believe you may have the virus.

Click here to find a medical centre near you.

Click here for information about the 2020 flu shot. 

What is the difference between coronavirus and the flu?

WORRIED ABOUT CORONAVIRUS?

You may qualify for a BULK BILLED TELEPHONE CALL with a GP. To find out if you qualify, complete our online form or call our Tele Health Coronavirus hotline on 1300 411 748.

Incidences of the new coronavirus from out of China are spreading around the world, with China updating numbers of those infected and those who have died almost daily. At the same time, the flu season is almost upon us in Australia, with vaccines rolling out across all SmartClinics locations from early March.

In light of the upcoming flu season coinciding with growing incidences of the new coronavirus, we decided to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the new coronavirus, the flu, how they differ, and what steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

What do the flu and coronavirus have in common?

Both influenza and the coronavirus are viruses that can cause respiratory issues. Approximately 1% of flu cases are severe enough to be hospitalised, while the number for coronavirus is 14% (although this is data from China, where they are taking a very strong stance to prevent further spread of the virus). Many of the outward symptoms of the new coronavirus and the flu may be similar, however there are some differences that have been observed to date.

What are the differences in symptoms between the flu and coronavirus?

Understanding differences in symptoms between the two illnesses might help you understand exactly what you’re dealing with when you or a loved one becomes ill. Of course, we always recommend seeking a professional opinion when you’re sick.

There are many commonalities between coronavirus symptoms and flu symptoms. However, with so little known about the new coronavirus, it is extremely difficult to delineate differences that would help a layperson identify which illness they have without proper testing.

Coronavirus

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), common symptoms of coronavirus infection include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties

In severe cases, symptoms become more advanced:

  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Kidney failure pneumonia
  • Death

To highlight the difficulty of accurately describing coronavirus symptoms, around 5% of cases report a sore throat and runny nose, while a small percentage also report diarrhoea and vomiting.

Influenza

Influenza has been widely researched and most Australians are probably already familiar with its symptoms. However, according to WHO, they can include:

  • Fever (often with abrupt onset)
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

Still not sure?

Consider where you live and where you have been in the last 14 days. If you live in an area with very limited cases of known coronavirus, and you find yourself with a sore throat or a runny nose and some muscle pain, you are more likely to have the flu than coronavirus.

The likelihood that you have Coronavirus rather than the Flu really depends on the following factors:

  • If you have travelled to a ‘high-risk’ country. (As of 3 March 2020: China and Iran – to ‘do not travel’; South Korea, Japan, Italy and Mongolia – to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’.) Check updates here.
  • You have been in close contact with someone who has travelled to these countries, or has been diagnosed or suspected of having Coronavirus.

What to do if you suspect you have coronavirus or the flu

If you believe that you have coronavirus, book a doctor appointment BY PHONE, and make it clear when you’re booking your appointment that you are concerned you may have symptoms of coronavirus. Please do not book online. We’ll chat with you over the phone to book you in to see a GP, and ensure that you’re ok. If possible, wear a mask when you leave the house but try to stay home and rest to avoid spreading it further. Please practice good hygiene! Wash hands, cough into your elbow, throw away dirty tissues.

If you suspect that you have the flu, the same rules apply. Speak to a medical professional. Thankfully, we have the flu vaccine available to help people avoid contracting the flu. If you’d like to get your 2020 flu shot, please click here.

What’s more deadly – the coronavirus or the flu?

It is extremely difficult to form an adequate assessment of a novel coronavirus that hasn’t had time to settle into the human population. As a new disease, it is possible that it may have a higher death rate as few people will have a defence against it.

Generally speaking, approximately 0.05% of people who contract influenza will die from it. Some very rough estimates of coronavirus lethality put the death rate at 2%, approximately 40 times higher than that of the flu. However, there is very little value in such estimates at this stage of the disease’s progression and it is more likely to drop rather than increase, particularly as treatments improve and previously mild, undiagnosed cases are also counted.

How widespread is the coronavirus in Australia?

As of Wednesday, February 12th, there were 15 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Australia. Five of those people had recovered, while the other 10 were on their way to recovery. Efforts continue to prevent those with the illness entering the country or spreading it to others around them.

There is a very strong chance that the incidences of coronavirus in Australia will increase. This doesn’t mean that we’re facing a pandemic. It just means that a new disease with a long incubation period is likely to spread very easily in an interconnected world, particularly in a nation like Australia that shares a lot of air travel with affected counties such as China.

Is it safe to travel while the coronavirus spreads around the world?

Should I get the flu shot this year?

2020 Flu Shot – New Strains and where to get yours

Private Flu shots are only $14.95 and your vaccination appointment will be bulk billed if it’s during standard business hours for Medicare Card holders.

CLICK HERE for an updated list of SmartClinics Medical Centres that have flu vaccines in stock today.

***Please note: We have extra safety measures in place to help keep you protected at the clinic. Ask us for more information about this when you speak with us to book your vaccination.***

Flu shots can ONLY be booked by calling your clinic directly.

We know that everyone is itching to find out more about the flu vaccine, so we’ve put together a quick rundown of some fun facts and some questions that you may have about how the flu vaccine is developed and how it may affect your health.

How is the flu vaccine created?

Every year, the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) meets to discuss the flu vaccine for the coming season. In 2019, they met at the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Canberra in early October. There, they made determinations on which influenza viruses the 2020 vaccine should be built upon.

The AIVC took into account advice provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with regard to the specific strains of influenza that should be used in the composition of vaccines for the 2020 southern hemisphere flu season. Once the AIVC made their recommendation, it was accepted by the TGA. Thus, we now have an established and consistent type of flu vaccine for 2020.

Which flu strains are included?

The following viruses will be used to formulate the 2020 flu vaccine in Australia:

Egg based Quadrivalent influenza vaccines:

  • an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/South Australia/34/2019 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Washington/02/2019-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus; and
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.

Egg based Trivalent influenza vaccines:

  • an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/South Australia/34/2019 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • a B/Washington/02/2019-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus.
What is the difference between a Quadrivalent and Trivalent influenza vaccine?

To put it simply, a quadrivalent flu vaccine contains four components, or viruses, that you will be inoculated against. A trivalent flu vaccine contains three. Both vaccines will contain two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus, usually the same across both. The quadrivalent vaccine will also include an additional B strain.

Should you get both types of vaccine?

It is not recommended for people to receive more than one flu vaccination per flu season. There are exceptions for some children who require additional vaccination.

Why is the flu vaccine different around the world?

Different strains of the flu virus are likely to be present in different parts of the world, and populations may have differing herd immunity established. Some nations are more likely to experience influenza A strains, while others may be more exposed to influenza B strains. In some countries, quadrivalent vaccines are very highly recommended due to the presence of two widespread types of influenza B viruses.

Is an egg-based flu vaccine bad for people with an egg allergy?

Most medical professionals acknowledge that there is no significant harm in administering an egg-based flu vaccine to a person with an egg allergy. Even for those with egg anaphylaxis, it is still recommended to receive the flu shot. 

Who should get the flu shot?

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone. However, those who should receive it as a matter of highest priority include pregnant women, very young children, the elderly and those who suffer from chronic health concerns.

Is the flu shot free for children?

The flu shot is free for many children. Through a combination of state and national funding, the following classes of people receive the flu vaccine for free:

  • Children aged 6 months to 5 years.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 6 months and over.
  • Those aged 6 months and older with medical conditions that may expose them to complications if they contract influenza.
Schedule your flu vaccine

Get on the wait list for the 2020 flu vaccine:

CLICK HERE.

Coronavirus – Everything you need to know

Coronavirus has been splashed across front pages, social media and news websites for the last week. This new Wuhan virus is big news and growing exponentially. There’s nothing better than a potential pandemic to sell some newspapers.

So what is it all about and should we really be at panic stations? Just how widespread is this new coronavirus, and how aggressive is it? We’ve done some rapid research using publicly available information to get a clear idea of what kind of threat the coronavirus presents to the Australian public and the steps you can take to protect you and your family’s health.

What’s happened so far?

As of Wednesday, January 29th, more than 4,500 cases had been reported and the death toll exceeded 100 people. There were renewed fears of increased transmission rates, despite the reassurance of experts that it should ultimately be less widespread than other major, similar viruses such as SARS. Australia upgraded its advice to tourists to reconsider travel to all of China, not just Hubei province. Some nations, such as Japan, have begun evacuating their citizens from Wuhan.

What is the coronavirus?

Technically, it’s not the coronavirus, it’s just a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a designation of a virus type that is commonly found among animals. In some edge cases, it’s possible for these diseases to cross the animal-human boundary, which is what has happened here.

How does coronavirus present itself?

People who contract a coronavirus usually get quite unwell. Upper respiratory tract symptoms are very common, and some sufferers may appear as though they have a cold. Symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose and headaches are very common. Some people may present with a fever which will persist for a few days.

How do you treat coronavirus?

Coronavirus doesn’t have a specific treatment regime. The majority of people who contract a coronavirus will eventually recover without medical assistance. General treatment advice includes:

• Cold and flu medication
• Plenty of rest
• Use a room humidifier or take hot showers to ease throat pain
• Stay hydrated

If you have concerns about your illness, or you notice your condition worsening, you should speak with a healthcare provider.

Where did the coronavirus start?

This particular coronavirus has not been identified in humans before. It is suspected to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, through some exposure to a live or recently killed animal.

A recent study indicates that it may have been a snake that originally passed the virus onto the first human. It is one of seven coronaviruses that are known to infect humans. Four of these are very common and express themselves as the common cold. The others, SARS and MERS, are similar to this current virus in that they crossed the threshold from animal to human.

How much is the coronavirus likely to spread?

There are early indications that this coronavirus isn’t as infectious as SARS or MERS. Additionally, there are far better procedures in place now to quarantine and address breakouts more rapidly. Most expectations are that this new coronavirus won’t spread as rapidly or infect as many people as SARS or MERS.

How to avoid coronavirus infection

The same good hygiene practices that you would normally employ during flu season may help you avoid a coronavirus infection. Avoid congested areas where possible. Clean your hands regularly, using an alcohol-based sanitiser. Disinfect your immediate surrounds (such as your desk space at work) regularly. Avoid touching your eyes and mouth with your hands. If you’re sick, stay at home – don’t contribute to spreading illness through your workplace.

What’s being done?

Many nations (including Australia) have issued notices to their population to reconsider travelling to highly affected areas, such as Wuhan and broader Hubei province. In China, the government is taking significant steps to quarantine affected areas and establish field hospitals to help treat those already infected.

China’s capabilities in addressing outbreaks such as this, combined with the powers that may be exercised by their government, ensures that every possible step is being taken to restrict the spread of this new coronavirus. While these efforts are unlikely to prevent the spread of the virus entirely, they will certainly delay it and provide other governments time to implement their own procedures to prevent further infections.

Is it safe to travel?

Schedule an appointment

There’s no need to panic – the chances of you having come into contact with a coronavirus carrier are infinitesimally small. If you have any symptoms that you’re concerned about, schedule an appointment with a GP to discuss it.

Click here to find a SmartClinics Medical Centre near you.

WORRIED ABOUT CORONAVIRUS?

You may qualify for a BULK BILLED TELEPHONE CALL with a GP. To find out if you qualify, complete our online form or call our Tele Health Coronavirus hotline on 1300 411 748.

How to be asthma-safe in pollen season

Spring is a beautiful time of year, yet it brings with it a grave threat: pollen. For many of us, pollen is a trigger for asthma symptoms. There is a fine line between hay fever and asthma for many people, and pollen can tip that balance from inconvenient towards potentially deadly.

Allergic reactions are an extremely common cause of asthma attacks and similar symptoms of asthma. We often see a significant increase in asthma-related visits to our clinics during spring, specifically because of the increase in pollen in the air combined with people spending more time outside as the weather warms up. We’ve put together a quick list of some common questions we see and top tips on managing your asthma this pollen season.

Can an allergic reaction cause an asthma attack?

Allergic reactions caused by pollen and other hay fever-inducing triggers (such as dust mites), can quickly devolve into an asthma attack. When your body is exhibiting symptoms of an allergic reaction, it’s because your immune system is attacking foreign bodies, such as pollen, inside your body.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction are a consequence of your immune system’s antibodies binding with the foreign material. This can lead to a blocked or runny nose, itching skin, eczema symptoms or tightness in the chest and airways. This is how allergic reactions to pollen and other foreign substances can so easily devolve into an asthma attack.

High pollen levels combined with other triggering factors

Sometimes, high pollen levels can coincide with other factors that trigger asthma attack. Thunderstorms, high wind levels, heat or humidity can combine to cause a serious risk for asthma attack. In circumstances like these it is absolutely critical that you take all necessary steps to limit your exposure. If at all possible, stay indoors. Ensure you’re on top of any regular asthma medication and keep your puffer, nebuliser or other treatment nearby.

Where is pollen most common?

In many areas, pollen is most common in grasslands. Grass pollen can occur across large areas of grassland and often arises at once for short, intense periods of the year. Trees are also a big contributor to airborne pollen. As such, parklands ringed by trees can be one of the most trigger-intensive places for people with severe pollen allergies. In some areas, tree pollen can occur at extremely high levels, and should be avoided.

Understand your triggers, plan your day and importantly keep an eye on the weather. A windy day in an area with high pollen levels can be a recipe for disaster.

Keep an eye on the pollen forecast

The pollen forecast can help you understand how much pollen is likely to be getting about in your region on a particular day. Find your local government’s pollen forecast and set up regular alerts for when the pollen is likely to be thick in the air – this can help you make plans to avoid triggering an asthma attack.

How to manage your asthma

Effective management of your asthma symptoms is a critical part of ensuring that you don’t suffer needlessly from ongoing asthma attacks and responses to triggers in your environment. The key to managing your asthma effectively is understanding your personal triggering factors and how best to avoid them. After all, prevention is the best cure.

Secondary to preventing the onset of asthma symptoms is having an effective method of reducing their severity when they begin to take hold. For different people, this may come in the form of a puffer, a nebuliser or steroids in tablet form. There are many ways to treat asthma and your doctor will recommend something that is most appropriate for you.

Asthma cure and prevention

Asthma prevention depends entirely on your management plan. As for a cure, this is elusive. Due to the wide range of causes and symptoms, there is no real “cure” for asthma. However, there are some very effective means of managing it and eliminating symptoms to the point that asthma is only a minimal part of your life.

Get an asthma management plan

Do you want to learn how to better manage your asthma? We can help you with a full asthma assessment to understand your type of asthma and particular triggers. Using that information, we can provide you with an asthma management plan to help you avoid asthma attacks and reduce the severity of your symptoms.

Click here to find a SmartClinics Medical Centre near you and book an appointment for an asthma assessment today.

Click here to find a doctor who specialises in asthma management.

Your Local Women’s Doctors in Ferny Grove

WOMEN’S HEALTH APPOINTMENTS IN FERNY GROVE

Book Now at SmartClinics Ferny Grove or Ph: (07) 3351 5111

If you need a warm and friendly GP who is discreet and private, visit SmartClinics Ferny Grove. Here are some of the health services that the Ferny Grove doctors offer to female patients:

Contraceptives and Family Planning

Understanding your options when it comes to contraceptives and family planning as a woman is important. It allows you to make the right choices, at the right time. At Ferny Grove, we can administer a wide variety of contraceptive options. Whether you are interested in using Depo Provera, Implanon or Mirena, we can help you with your contraceptive needs.   

Depression and Anxiety

Many women will suffer from depression and anxiety at some point during their lives. Surveys indicate that around 40% of Australian women have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression at some point in their lives. These are common and very normal mental health concerns. If you believe you may be suffering from depression or anxiety, visit us and speak with one of our female doctors at Ferny Grove SmartClinics.

Sexual Health

Maintaining good sexual health and safe sexual practices is an important part of every woman’s life. From puberty through pregnancy and ageing, understanding your own sexual health and how things like sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can affect you is important. The women’s doctors at SmartClinics Ferny Grove specialise in helping women with their sexual health. From understanding the changes that occur during life to diagnosing and treating STIs, you can get the right advice in a discreet and private environment.

Fertility and Pregnancy

Fertility and roadblocks to conception are important issues for all women looking to start a family. There is a huge range of factors that may impact a woman’s fertility. Some of these include endometriosis, ovulatory disorders, cancer treatment, fibroids and more. Speak to a GP to understand your own fertility and challenges to conception.

Pregnancy is an extraordinary journey for many women. The women’s doctors at Ferny Grove have followed many women throughout this journey, from preparing to get pregnant through to perinatal care and the early years of children. If you are considering starting a family, find a female GP that can be a part of your child’s entire upbringing and form a good understanding of the health concerns of your young family.

Breast Examinations

Breast examinations can sometimes feel invasive. It can be a confronting procedure, which is why the GPs at Ferny Grove always focus on setting your mind at ease when you visit for a breast exam. If you have any concerns about how your breast examination may be conducted, book a consultation to get an idea of what to expect. It’s important for all woman to undergo regular breast examinations and understand the changes in their breasts.

Osteoporosis

Many women suffer from osteoporosis in their later years. As the body ages, bones can lose their strength and destiny and become much weaker. This means they break or fracture more easily. Speaking with a doctor about your concerns regarding osteoporosis is the first step towards increasing your resilience. Often, simple steps such as increasing your intake of calcium and Vitamin D can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Menopause

Menopause can be a tumultuous period in a woman’s life. Hormonal levels can change significantly, causing a range of physical and mental symptoms that can have a great impact on overall wellbeing and quality of life. Understanding the changes caused by menopause and how it is affecting you can go a long way towards coping with it. Further, hormonal treatments may be recommended by your GP to help you transition more easily.

Dr Siobhan LingardDr Siobhan Lingard

Dr Lingard studied a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland and went on to earn her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (BMBS) at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in the UK. Dr Lingard is a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She takes an interest in managing skin conditions, including minor surgery, elderly medicine and women’s and family health. Book online here with Dr Lingard or call (07) 3351 5111.

Dr Helen Madden

Helen graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery from the University of New South Wales in 1977. She gained a Masters in Public Health from the George Washington University (Washington DC) in 1991. She has worked in both disciplines over many years. She was awarded her Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practice in 1998.

She has worked in Brisbane since 1997 with the exception of a six-month period working for Médecins sans Frontières in Kenya in 2004.

Helens passion remains general practice. She enjoys all aspects of working with and caring for people in the community. She feels comfortable working with everyone from newborn to the elderly. She believes that the best health outcomes are achieved with ongoing care in a community orientated general practice staffed by experienced doctors, nurses and support staff. The Ferny Grove Smart Clinic exemplifies this type of practice.

Helen is happily married. She has two daughters, one of whom is also a GP. Her spare time is filled with family, friends, gardening, and exploring the red dirt, beaches, and spaces beyond. Book online here with Dr Madden or call (07) 3351 5111.

Schedule an appointment

If you would like to meet with a GP to discuss your women’s health issues, give Ferny Grove a call on (07) 3351 5111 or click here to book an appointment.

Our GPs see patients of all ages and offer a range of other health services. While women’s health is important to us, we also assist with other health concerns.

5 Misconceptions about the Flu

When you spend enough time working around doctors and their patients, you hear a lot of very interesting bits and pieces about common illnesses like the flu. A lot of people believe things that they’ve heard, or carry oral traditions passed down from their parents, or simply misunderstand something that is otherwise factual.

We spoke with some of the SmartClinics GPs to put together a list of common misconceptions about the flu to help you know more about the flu than the average person. Here are our top 5 misconceptions about the flu.

  1. The flu shot can give you the flu.

This is a very common misconception about the flu shot. It probably arises from the fact that the flu vaccine is sometimes made using deactivated flu viruses or specific genetic components of the flu virus that trigger an immune response in the human body. However, the fact is, there is no active or viable influenza virus contained in any flu shot that you’re receiving via a needle.

  1. If I get sick this winter, it means that the flu shot didn’t work.

The flu vaccine has an extremely high effectiveness rate. Many people come down with symptoms similar to the flu and assume that the flu shot didn’t work. However, chances are good that if you find yourself with these symptoms, you most likely have a cold or a similar respiratory illness. If you find yourself feeling seriously unwell, you should absolutely get checked out by a GP or other medical professional. However, generally speaking, you stand a far better chance of avoiding flu infection if you’ve received a flu shot than if you have not.

  1. Healthy people don’t need to get a flu vaccine.

The flu can make even the healthiest people feel extremely unwell. It is a serious disease and can have an even more serious impact on anyone with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or heart conditions. The flu can play havoc with your immune system and leave you vulnerable to illness from other sources. It is also very non-discriminatory. Influenza can overwhelm healthy immune systems, so relying on your overall level of health to avoid getting the flu is unlikely to be a particularly effective strategy.

In order to stay healthy throughout the flu season, we strongly recommend that you get a flu shot.

  1. Some flu vaccines are better than others.

There are many types of flu vaccines, some more appropriate for different groups of people than others. However, generally speaking, all flu vaccines in a like-for-like comparison are equally as effective. Of course, the method in which you receive your vaccination may be more or less effective than others, depending on your personal factors such as age, health and any allergies you may have to components in some flu vaccines.

  1. No one dies from the flu anyway.

People absolutely do die from the flu. Each year, anywhere from around 500 to 4,000 Australians die from the flu. Different years and severities of flu strains produce different fatality levels. Young people, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems from other health concerns are more likely to die from the flu. However, of those that don’t die, many experience debilitating symptoms and require hospitalisation. It can greatly affect work and personal life and may leave a person open to infection with other illnesses.

Fast Flu Facts:

  • The flu vaccine can reduce a child’s risk of requiring paediatric intensive care during flu season by up to 74%.
  • Improved uptake of the flu vaccine has led to a reduction of around 40% in adult hospitalisations for flu-related health issues.
  • Adults who receive a flu shot may reduce their risk of being admitted to the ICU with the flu by up to 82%.
  • Among pregnant women, a flu shot can reduce the chances of being hospitalised with the flu by up to 40%.
  • Among those hospitalised with the flu, those who have received a flu shot are 59% less likely to require admittance to the ICU, and of those who are admitted, those with the flu shot require on average 4 fewer days of hospitalisation.

Book Your Flu Shot Now

Getting the flu shot can help maintain your health through the flu season and ensure that you’re able to continue functioning happily and healthily. Additionally, by getting the flu vaccine you are greatly reducing your chances of getting the flu and potentially spreading it those around you, such as workmates, family or even people on your commute.

Click here to find a SmartClinics Medical Centre near you and arrange a flu vaccine today.

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/misconceptions.htm

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/5-convenient-truths-about-the-flu

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/07/flu-experts-predict-4000-australians-will-die-from-influenza-this-year

 

Is it time you booked a prostate exam?

Prostate checks are a part of life for most adult men. It’s a necessary step to ensure that you stay on top of your health and become aware of any abnormalities before they evolve into serious problems.

For many men, it can be a nervous time. General Practitioner, Dr Sir-Kit Leong, from SmartClinics Clayfield in Brisbane has answered some of the most frequently asked questions by patients. Take a read and if you’re still unsure, book an appointment with your GP for a chat before committing.

When should men start getting prostate exams?

Once you reach 40, you should be getting a prostate exam every two years or so. Some men for various reasons may want to start getting prostate exams earlier in life which is also fine.

Can all doctors perform a prostate exam or do I need to go to a specialist?

Both general practitioners and specialists can do a prostate exam. Many men see their regular GP for this exam.

What will happen at my first prostate exam?

This largely depends on the nature of the consult. If you’ve never had a prostate exam before, it would often involve the GP taking a thorough history of your health background, examination and tests.

PSA is likely the most common form of test, and simply involves a blood test.

The test that many men feel nervous about is called a DRE (digital rectal examination) however it is no longer recommended as an initial screening test for prostate cancer. Only if you begin exhibiting signs or symptoms synonymous with prostate cancer, is your doctor likely to refer you on for further test / specialist consultation.

Is a prostate exam painful?

A prostate exam should not be painful. If it’s a PSA (blood test), the blood drawing may cause minor discomfort.

What are the warning signs of prostate cancer?

If you haven’t been for a prostate exam for some time, it is well worth keeping an eye out for the warning signs of prostate cancer. Some of the warning signs include:

  • Changed urination patterns. This can include urinating more frequently or finding it necessary to urinate more often at night. Finding it difficult to empty your bladder, or a weak/interrupted flow can also be a warning sign.
  • Blood in urine or semen. Sometimes this may be accompanied by pain or a burning sensation.
  • Erectile dysfunction or otherwise abnormal function. If you’ve found yourself having difficulties gaining or maintaining an erection, and can’t identify any other likely cause, this may be a symptom of prostate cancer.
  • Discomfort sitting or bending – this can be an indication that your prostate is abnormally enlarged.

These warning signs can vary significantly between individuals. The absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean the absence of prostate cancer. Other symptoms may include weight loss, swollen feet, fatigue, or muscle pain elsewhere in the body. To be sure, it is important to book yourself in for a prostate exam.

If you are healthy and have no symptoms/signs, think about doing a prostate exam from 40 years old.

A prostate exam is advisable every one to two years once you reach the age where there is an increased risk of prostate cancer from around 50 and order.

Regular prostate exams can help establish a history and baseline of what is considered normal. It’s important to take your doctor’s recommendations on how often you should be undergoing a prostate exam.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

Prostate cancer can be diagnosed by following tests, remembering they ought to support the context of the patient’s signs and symptoms.

  1. PSA Test: The PSA test seeks to identify the presence of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) within the blood. Elevated levels of PSA may be an indicator of prostate cancer. For this reason, it’s important to have regular checkups with your doctor, so that PSA levels can be tracked over time.
  2. Radiology test: MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is useful scan to visualize the prostate and proven to be highly effective in detecting prostate cancer changes

Additionally, your doctor may conduct a biomarker test. Biomarkers, found in the blood or urine (or tissue, if you’ve had a biopsy) are substances produced by a cancerous tumour or antibodies produced by the body to combat the tumour. Almost all diagnoses of prostate cancer will require a biopsy at some point.

Book a Prostate Exam Now

Click here to book a prostate exam in Clayfield. 

 

Dr Sir-Kit Leong graduated from the University of Aberdeen United Kingdom in 2005 and commenced his general practice training in Toowoomba in 2011.  

Early in his medical career, he worked in North Scotland before relocating to Brisbane in 2007 and joining Queensland Health.  

Dr Leong then spent 12 months in regional NSW working in emergency medicine in 2009 before undertaking general practice in the Darling Downs.

To book an appointment with Dr Sir-Kit Leong from SmartClinics Clayfield call 07 3268 1937 or click here to book online.

Alternatively you can find a GP near you who has experience in men’s health by using our Doctor Search tool here: Click here to search.

Medical Centres Open This Easter

Need to see a GP over the Easter long weekend?

Many SmartClinics Doctors are working over the Easter break in case you need medical assistance. Click on the location below to find out opening times, clinic phone numbers, address details and appointment information.

Medical Centres open on Good Friday, 19th April

Medical Centres open on Easter Saturday, 20th April

Medical Centres open on Easter Sunday, 21st April

Medical Centres open on Easter Monday, 22nd April

Looking for an Endocrinologist in Brisbane?

Patients often find themselves waiting weeks or months to see an endocrinologist in Brisbane. It’s a busy market with limited specialists available, and this can cause needless stress and medical difficulties.

SmartClinics is proud to be offering in-house endocrinology services through the SmartClinics family. Dr Dragan Banovic is a GP with a special interest and expertise in endocrine disease, and Dr Pieter Jansen is a consultant endocrinologist who has recently joined the SmartClinics network. Dr Dragan Banovic is seeing patients at SmartClinics Alexandra Hills. Dr Pieter Jansen is now seeing patients at SmartClinics West End. If you need to see an endocrinologist in Brisbane, we would recommend to discuss with your family doctor to consider linking in with our endocrinology services.

What is Endocrinology?

Endocrinology is a medical specialty that focuses on medical concerns caused by hormonal problems. The endocrine system is comprised of glands that produce the hormones that our bodies need to function and to stay in balance with their environment. Important endocrine organs are the pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, and parathyroid glands as well as the pancreas, ovaries and testes.

An endocrinologist is a medical specialist who has completed specialty training in the field of Endocrinology under the responsibility of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

 

What do Endocrinologists Treat?

Endocrinologists treat a number of medical conditions. These may include:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Thyroid problems
  • Infertility
  • Menopause
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Cancers in the endocrine glands
  • Osteoporosis

 

Should I see an Endocrinologist for Diabetes?

Not everyone with diabetes needs to be treated by an endocrinology and most patients with diabetes can be managed well by their regular GP. However, sometimes your GP may choose to refer you to an endocrinologist. Reasons for referral to an endocrinologist may include:

  • Ongoing or newly developed complications.
  • You are having difficulty managing diabetes.
  • Your normal diabetes treatment has stopped working.
  • You are newly diagnosed with diabetes and need expert advice on managing it.
  • Your GP has limited experience with diabetes and would like an expert’s opinion.

It is important to note that to see an endocrinologist, a referral from your GP is required, so talk to your doctor if you feel that you would benefit from a review by an endocrinologist.

 

How to Prepare for an Appointment with an Endocrinologist

If you’re visiting an endocrinologist in Brisbane, it helps to be prepared. Make sure you have all the medical information that your endocrinologist will require. This may include a referral, the results of any past tests or scans such as x-rays, and any other information that may be relevant to your appointment. Additionally, ensure you have a full list of current medications with you.

 

What to ask your Endocrinologist

If you’re not regularly exposed to doctors, the first appointment can sometimes be overwhelming. Whether you’re travelling further afield or simply visiting a local endocrinologist in Brisbane, it pays to ensure that you’re ready with some questions. Consider some of these questions if you’re having difficulties fully understanding your condition:

  • What are the underlying causes behind my symptoms?
  • What are some effective methods of managing my condition?
  • Can my condition be fully treated?
  • Are there any tests or other procedures I need to undergo?
  • Will this be a long-term relationship, or simply a one-off visit?
  • Is this a temporary condition or should I make long-term adjustments?
  • How long will my treatment or other procedures last?
  • Is there any information I need to take back to my GP?

 

Questions your Endocrinologist may ask you

During your appointment, it’s likely that your endocrinologist may have some questions for you. Be sure to answer honestly and as completely as you can. The more data your doctor has, the more able they are to provide an effective treatment plan for you. Their questions may include information about:

  • Your existing medications, including supplements.
  • Family history, including hormonal issues.
  • Any other medical conditions you have.
  • Whether you have any allergies.
  • Your dietary and lifestyle habits.

 

SmartClinics West End

Phone: (07) 3844 4111

Fax: (07) 3844 9111

View the SmartClinics West End page.

 

SmartClinics Alexandra Hills

Phone: (07) 3824 3882

Fax: (07) 3824 3833

View the SmartClinics Alexandra Hills page.

 

Dr Pieter Jansen, MD, PhD, FRACP

Dr Pieter Jansen studied Biomedical Health Sciences and Medicine at the University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands) and obtained his medical degree in 2005. After moving to Australia in 2012, he started physician training in 2013. He trained in teaching hospitals in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane before attaining fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2017 in the subspecialty of Endocrinology. Pieter has a special interest and expertise in the assessment and management of hormone causes of hypertension. He also has a particular interest in medical education and has been a lecturer in Clinical Science at the University of Queensland since February 2018.

 

Dr Dragan Banovic

Dr Dragan Banovic has practiced as a general practitioner for over 15 years. Alongside endocrinology, his specialties include chronic disease management, children’s healthseniors’ healthdiabetes care and metabolic diseases. He has several years of experience in both New Zealand and Zimbabwe but is now comfortably settled into the SmartClinics Alexandra Hills.

Getting a Vasectomy in Brisbane? Read our FAQs

Getting a vasectomy is a big decision, so it’s important that you have all the facts. We’ve thrown together a quick list of the questions our doctors commonly receive, but remember – this isn’t medical advice. If you’re looking to get a vasectomy in Brisbane, it’s important that you book a consultation with your GP and get the facts face-to-face. Find a Vasectomy Doctor in Brisbane.

What happens during a vasectomy?

During a vasectomy the two tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm from your testes to a “storage” area near the prostate gland are clamped or cut. As a result, sperm can no longer leave your testes and will not form part of your ejaculate.

Do you still ejaculate after a vasectomy?

Following your vasectomy, you will still be able to ejaculate, with no noticeable difference in volume. Sperm forms less than 5% of your total volume of ejaculate, so you won’t be missing much.

Is having a vasectomy painful?

Most people will experience little or no pain during their vasectomy. There may be some minor discomfort, such as a feeling of pressure or some poking in the general area, but that should be the extent of it. If you’re getting your vasectomy in Brisbane through SmartClinics, our doctors will ensure you experience the minimal amount of pain or discomfort possible.

Are you put under for a vasectomy?

Some doctors will give you the option to be put under a general anaesthetic, but it’s quite rare and barely necessary. The vast majority of vasectomies are performed under a local anaesthetic which is more than adequate.

How effective is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is extremely effective and is the most effective method of contraception available to men. Its effectiveness is almost 100%. The vast majority of failures are in fringe cases involving unqualified or inexperienced doctors. When you get a vasectomy in Brisbane with SmartClinics, you can rest assured that you are in highly experienced, professional hands.

How long after a vasectomy does pain last?

Once your local anaesthetic has worn off, you may feel some minor discomfort. The level of pain you’re likely to experience should be manageable with some over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol. If the pain is significant, chat to your doctor.

What does a vasectomy feel like?

A vasectomy barely feels like anything. There will be barely any pain and only minor discomfort. It’s a very minor surgery and you shouldn’t feel much at all, either during or afterwards.

How long does it take to recover from a vasectomy?

Recovery time from a vasectomy is different for every individual. Most men will be able to get up and be quite active later the same day or in the following days. Every doctor is different, but most will recommend a standard seven-day recovery period following your vasectomy (starting the day afterwards). It’s worth taking the time to recover, as it will help ease any sensitivity or discomfort in the area and reduce the risk of hurting it.

How painful is vasectomy recovery?

Vasectomy recovery, done right, should be almost pain-free. Take a few days and put your feet up. There’s no rush to get out and about after an operation on such a sensitive region.

What is the fastest way to recover from a vasectomy?

The fastest way to recover from a vasectomy is the same as any other minor operation – rest, and plenty of it. Taking it easy and eating healthily will help your body recover faster than anything else you can do.

Can you drive after a vasectomy?

It’s usually not recommended, however it is possible to drive home after a vasectomy. We recommend that you get a ride home from your procedure in order to allow the healing process to begin immediately. If you’re getting your vasectomy in Brisbane, we definitely recommend you dodge dealing with the traffic and let someone drive you home.

How soon can you have sex after a vasectomy?

You will need to wait until you are fully healed before having sex following your vasectomy. It is important to remember that you do not immediately become infertile after a vasectomy. It can take up to 20 ejaculations or a three-month period for any viable sperm to be completely flushed out of your system. You will need to schedule a follow-up appointment three months after your initial procedure to test your fertility. Until then, ensure that you use contraception.

How long does it take for a man to become sterile after a vasectomy?

During your vasectomy, the vas deferens (your tubes) will be separated from your testes. This means that your sperm can no longer be ejaculated. However, some active and viable sperm may remain in the vas deferens.

Where does all your sperm go after a vasectomy?

Because your sperm cannot leave the testes via the vas deferens, they simply stay in the testes. They will “dissolve away” and be reabsorbed by the body over your time. You do not stop producing sperm following a vasectomy – the pathway for that sperm to leave your body is simply removed.

What should you wear for a vasectomy procedure?

You’ll definitely want some support down there – leaving it all to flop around and potentially be sat on is going to greatly increase your level of discomfort. Wear tighty whities or some snugly fitting briefs. Avoid boxer shorts. In Brisbane, vasectomy doctors will likely give you some advice on what to wear at your initial consult.

Do you need to shave for a vasectomy?

You will need to shave prior to your vasectomy. If you don’t, your doctor may be able to have it arranged for you – but you should definitely check ahead of time. If you do decide to shave, just do a close shave with an electric shaver – you don’t want to run the risk of cutting yourself with a razor and leaving yourself open to infection.

 

Book a vasectomy appointment in Brisbane

If you have further questions, why not have a medical consult with one of our GPs? They’ll answer any queries you have and ensure you’re well informed about everything before you book a vasectomy appointment.

Find a Medical Centre.

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Getting a Vasectomy in Cairns? Here is all you need to know.

VASECTOMY APPOINTMENTS IN CAIRNS

Book Now at SmartClinics Woree or Ph: (07) 4033 2525

Dr Aaron Goldstein

Dr Goldstein is a GP and also runs Cairn’s only dedicated Vasectomy service – Great Barrier Vasectomy. Dr Goldstein is originally from Toronto but has called Australia home since since 2006. He earned his Bachelor of Medicine at the Flinders School of Medicine in Adelaide and has been practicing in Cairns since 2014. Dr Goldsteing runs the Great Barrier Vasectomy service out of SmartClinics Woree. A specialist in Vasectomy procedures, Dr Goldstein will happily talk you through the entire process and answer any concerns you may have.

ABOUT VASECTOMIES

There comes a time in every man’s life when he decides he’s had enough children (or doesn’t want any at all). At this point in life, a vasectomy can be a relatively painless and simple solution. It’s a nerve-wracking time and everyone always has plenty of questions. Thankfully, we have a couple of local doctors who are highly skilled in performing this procedure and are more than happy to help answer your questions about getting a vasectomy in Cairns.

How effective is a vasectomy in preventing pregnancy?

A vasectomy is the most effective method of birth control available to men. At almost 100% effectiveness, there are only very rare, fringe cases of the procedure failing to have the desired effect – and often when performed by inexperienced or unqualified doctors. If you’re getting your vasectomy in Cairns, visit our SmartClinics Woree and chat with Dr Goldstein – both are experienced professionals.

Is a vasectomy painful?

The actual vasectomy procedure itself won’t be painful. If you’re getting your vasectomy in Cairns through SmartClinics Woree, we’ll use a local anaesthetic. There may be some minor discomfort, such as pressure or a poke, but other than that you’ll barely know it’s happening. Afterwards, once the anaesthetic has worn off, you may experience minor discomfort, but it is usually manageable with OTC painkillers.

How long does the procedure take?

There are two different methods of accessing and dividing the vas deferens.  These are called the “no scalpel vasectomy” and the “traditional vasectomy”.  Both techniques take about 20 – 25 minutes. The procedure may be conducted under mild sedation depending on patient and doctor preference.  Most men find the procedure day far less challenging than they may have expected, and this is aided by good preparation, and good self care followup.

What is the No-Scalpel Technique?

To access your tubes, an injection is given on both sides to make you numb and this stings for a few seconds and goes away quickly. Once under local anaesthesia, your doctor will make a small hole in the scrotum using a vasectomy forceps and ring clamp. Following this, he clamps the tubes and gently removes the delicate blood vessels to prevent bleeding. Then the cut ends of the vas are clipped and cauterised to ensure the sperm do not get through. There are no sutures or dressings after the surgery and you only need a follow-up check if you want one.

Do you still ejaculate after a vasectomy?

Following your vasectomy procedure you will still be able to ejaculate – your semen just won’t contain sperm, and there will barely be a noticeable difference in volume as sperm usually accounts for less than 5% of ejaculate.

Are you awake during a vasectomy?

If you decide to get a vasectomy in Cairns, we’ll keep you awake during the procedure, but you’ll have a local anaesthetic so there will be no, or minimal, pain.

How long does it take to recover from a vasectomy?

Most men are able to be quite active in the days immediately after a vasectomy. We usually recommend a seven-day resting period, although it can depend on each patient and what they consider to be rest or how active their lifestyle or work is. Everyone should at least take a day after the procedure to allow any sensitivity to subside somewhat.

How long does a vasectomy take?

A standard procedure should take around thirty minutes. If you’re getting a vasectomy in Cairns with Dr Goldstein, we’ll let you know how long your procedure will take and what you can expect before, during and after.

Can you drive home after a vasectomy?

We strongly recommend that you have someone else drive you home after your procedure. This will allow you to begin your rest and healing period immediately and minimise any stress on your body – getting you back into action sooner.

How long until I am infertile?

Following your vasectomy procedure, there is a high likelihood that you will retain some sperm in the vas deferens. It may take up to 20 ejaculations before they are completely flushed out. We strongly recommend you maintain regular contraceptive use for at least three months after your procedure or until you are proven infertile on a semen sample.

What does a vasectomy cost?

Costs vary greatly. If you’re getting your vasectomy in Cairns, you can expect to pay a total of around $650, some of which will be rebated by Medicare. Your final out-of-pocket expense will be around $450.

Do you need a referral to get a vasectomy?

You don’t need a referral to get a vasectomy in Cairns – just come by for a consultation and we’ll chat about your options. However, if you do bring a written referral from your doctor we’ll happily deal with them in return.

What clothing should I wear for a vasectomy?

We recommend you wear something supportive. Avoid boxer shorts – go for something that will help hold things up and fit snugly. This can help avoid undue stress on the area.

Should I shave before a vasectomy?

You may trim the area with electric clippers if that is an option for you. Do not wet shave with a razor. If you are unable to trim with clippers, that’s fine – we will take care of it for you when you come in for your appointment.

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Visit the Woree clinic and book your vasectomy appointment today.

What to do if you think your child has a behavioural disorder

AUTHOR: Dr Kyi Kyi Mon – SmartClinics Lutwyche

It’s natural to be concerned about changing behaviour in your children. As our children grow, their personalities begin to emerge, they experiment with emotions and emotional responses, and they may begin to exhibit some characteristics that can be disturbing to worried parents.

Some behavioural disorders in children are quite widespread, with up to 10% of children likely to exhibit signs of one or more disorders. Boys usually outnumber girls by a factor of two or four to one in the display of behavioural disorders.

Causes of Behavioural Disorders in Children

While there are no universally recognised causes of behavioural disorders in children, there are some triggers that can be observed to have an influence on children developing these issues.

Some factors that may lead to the development of behavioural disorders in children include, but are not limited to:

  • Emotional struggles and problems managing emotions.
  • A poorly structured routine and lack of consistency.
  • Issues at home, such as arguing parents.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Mental, sexual or other physical abuse.

Symptoms of Behavioural Disorders in Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

One of the most widely recognised behavioural disorders in children, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, has a small set of straightforward symptoms that can assist in its identification. These symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, a short attention span or inability to maintain focus.
  • Ignoring or quickly forgetting instructions.
  • Regularly shifting to different tasks, an inability to complete things.
  • Emotional outbursts, easily led to anger or sadness.
  • Few restraints on emotions or recognition of the needs of others, can be exhibited as regularly talking over the top of others.
  • Clumsiness or being prone to accidents.
  • A high degree of activity, restlessness, fidgeting, general inability to sit still.

Conduct Disorder (CD)

Conduct Disorder often exhibits as delinquent behaviour. It is far more common in boys than girls, and around 5% of ten year old children are believed to have CD. It is common for children diagnosed with CD to also receive an ADHD diagnosis. Some behaviours exhibited by children with conduct disorder include:

  • Failure to fulfil required tasks or take responsibility. Can include skipping school.
  • Physical and sexual abuse of others.
  • Substance abuse at a young age.
  • Significant aggression towards other people and sometimes animals.
  • Untrustworthy behaviour, such as lying and causing rifts among friends.
  • Frequent failure to follow directions or obey orders given by authority figures.
  • An apparent inclination towards physical violence, including the use of weapons.
  • Criminal activities such as arson, theft and vandalism.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is believed to be present in around 10% of children aged under 12. Symptoms can include:

  • Frequent, explosive tantrums.
  • Blame-shifting and a failure to take responsibility.
  • Easily frustrated, may believe themselves at fault for minor issues.
  • Seeks to aggravate others, may find enjoyment in seeing others angry or upset.
  • Highly argumentative.
  • Low emotional management, may become irritated or angry quite easily.

Diagnosis of Behavioural Disorders in Children

Depending on the child and their environment, diagnosis can be quite challenging. It is always best to defer to a highly experienced GP for diagnosis. It’s very common for children to exhibit signs of multiple behavioural disorders, making diagnosis and treatment plans difficult. Generally, the process of diagnosis may involve:

  • An initial consultation with a GP, which will explore the child’s activities and how they are viewed by the parent and the child.
  • Further interviews with stakeholders in the child’s life (such as siblings and teachers).
  • Questionnaires, diary-keeping and checklists.
  • Potential referral to allied health professionals, such as psychologists.

This process allows the GP or other specialists to isolate causes for the child’s behaviour and determine whether it is a result of a behavioural disorder or a different factor in their life, such as parental strife or problems at school.

Treatment of Behavioural Disorders in Children

Thankfully, there are a number of SmartClinics GPs who have a very broad range of treatment options available to them to assist in addressing your child’s potential behavioural disorder. Most treatment plans are highly individualised to account for a wide number of factors that may be contributing to behavioural issues. Some of the aspects of a treatment plan may include:

  • Medication – usually as a last resort, medication may help in controlling aggression or impulsiveness, which can help make progress in treating the underlying causes of a disorder.
  • Positive Reinforcement – as one of the major causes of behavioural disorders is low self-esteem, a carefully structured plan that allows the child to succeed and reinforces that success with encouragement and reward may help alleviate symptoms.
  • Addressing Mitigating Factors – Bullying at school, possible sexual harassment, learning difficulties etc.
  • Training – teaching both children and parents about social skills, emotional management and how to manage that in self and others can be a big step towards alleviating issues.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – similar to the above, this will assist the child in monitoring and controlling their own behaviour.
  • Therapy – often, ongoing therapy is involved in order to address communication issues and underlying emotional issues.

Where to Get Help

Many SmartClinics GPs have a experience in the field of behavioural disorders in children. If you’d like to come in for a basic consultation, it may help alleviate some of the stress that you’re under. Click here for a list of GPs who have a special interest in this area near you.

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IUD Contraception & Birth Control Doctors

For many women, a common method of birth control is IUD. The hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) is a small contraceptive device that is put into the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.

It’s important to understand how this method works before deciding whether it’s right for you. We’ll also help you know where to get it done in our medical centres across Queensland, as not all Doctors can offer this service…

What is an IUD?

IUD is an intrauterine device that releases a steady flow of the hormone levonorgestrel into uterus. This hormone acts as a contraceptive that is over 99% effective. It can be inserted by a general practitioner that is trained in its insertion. There are several ways that an IUD can help prevent pregnancy. It thickens cervical mucus which can help prevent sperm entering your uterus. It acts to inhibit sperm reaching or fertilising your eggs, and can thin the lining of your uterus as a last line of defence to help prevent eggs settling there.

When you book an appointment to insert an IUD, we’ll make sure you are booked in with a doctor that has experience in performing the procedure.

Can any GP perform the insertion or removal?

No – only a general practitioner trained in IUD procedures will be able to insert or remove your IUD. Thankfully, we have a large group of general practitioners trained in insertion an removal in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Townsville and Cairns.

Where can I go to get an IUD near me?

Click here to find a GP near you who performs IUD insertion & removal.

Will an IUD stop my period altogether?

Some people do experience their periods stopping altogether when they have an IUD inserted, however it varies from person to person. You are likely to have reduced spotting and bleeding once your IUD has been in for around three to six months.

It is common for spotting and bleeding to increase in the early months of having your IUD inserted, but this usually goes away. If you’re still having irregularities or more blood flow than usual, chat to us.

Around 20% of IUD users may have no period at all once they’ve had the IUD inserted for six months. However, if you’ve missed your period for six weeks, it’s important to chat to us to rule out pregnancy.

How successful is IUD?

IUD is highly effective as a contraceptive. While no birth control method is 100% guaranteed, IUD is one of the most effective forms on the market. It’s important to check up on your IUD once a month and ensure that it’s still placed correctly. This is a relatively simple process that we’ll explain to you when you come in.

How long until the IUD is effective?

Provided your IUD is fitted correctly, it should be effective in preventing pregnancy immediately. However, we recommend waiting at least 24 hours. Some people may experience spotting, in which case a wait of 24 hours is a good idea.

What are the advantages of an IUD over taking the pill or an injection?

IUD is a long-term contraceptive. It lasts for up to five years, whereas many long-term injections tend to last only around three months. Compared to the pill, it is significantly lower maintenance. You’ll only need to check it once per month, as opposed to remembering to take a pill every day.

The IUD lasts longer and is more effective than many other forms of contraception.

What are the disadvantages or risks of IUD?

It is best to discuss any disadvantages or risks when you come in to visit us. Some of the disadvantages of the IUD can include placement complications, such as attachment to the wall of the uterus or pain, bleeding and dizziness during or after the placement. Provided all goes well, most symptoms will go away after around 30 minutes.

Does it hurt to get?

You may experience some pain during and after placement. However, these symptoms should pass within 30 minutes. If they don’t, give us a call.

Can you have a pap test with an IUD?

The IUD won’t interfere with a pap smear. We highly recommend that you get a pap smear at regular intervals. Feel free to ask us about pap smears when you come in for a IUD insertion. Some women choose to do both at the same time.

What if I want to become pregnant?

If you decide that you’d like to have a child, we can remove your IUD at any time. This should only take a few minutes. Once it’s removed, you should be able to try to become pregnant shortly after. Around 80% of women who want to become pregnant are successful within twelve months of having their IUD removed.

How much does it cost?

Costs can vary between clinics and Doctors and the time of your appointment. For costs at your preferred clinic call reception for details.

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Top 10+1 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

Author: Dr Sir-Kit Leong graduated from the University of Aberdeen in the UK in 2005. He spent his general practice training years in Toowoomba, prior to moving back to Brisbane in 2013. Today, Dr Leong consults full-time at Clayfield. View his profile here

 

The holidays are an exciting time of year. We all get together, let some weight off our shoulders and enjoy a few days of respite from the pressures of life. The key to enjoying the holiday season is to be prepared for all eventualities. Fewer surprises and less stress is the ticket to coasting through the Christmas period and starting the new year refreshed and mentally well.

I’ve seen a lot of Christmases come and go. Over the years I’ve learned a few lessons and things that you might want to revisit/focus to ensure the holidays go more smoothly. Here are my top ten tips, plus one.

Be Aware of Storm Safety

Do a rapid storm safety audit of your house and backyard. Make sure loose items in the balcony are secured when you are away. Turn off appliances and power plugs; it saves you electricity and is great for the environment. Clear your gutters so that water doesn’t back up where you don’t want it and ensure there are no fallen branches or leaf matter around the house.

Importantly, take into account the kind of inclement weather that you are likely to experience in your area. If your region experiences heavy winds, ensure that everything is strapped down or put away. If bushfires, clear the backyard. You know your area well, but it’s up to you to apply that knowledge to protecting your home and preventing the heartache of coming back to an enormous clean-up job after a happy holiday.

Waste Not, Want Not

Christmas can be enormously wasteful time of the year. Naturally, no one wants to be miserly or overly anxious about trash. However, there are some very simple ways that you can reduce your waste output.

Reduce food wastage – be sensible in the amount you prepare,going overboard  creates waste.

If you love cooking, then it’s certainly worth starting a tradition where Boxing Day is also known as Leftovers Day.

Spare a thought for our farmers who grow food for us. Do not waste their effort/hardwork.

Keep an eye on your power, gas and water consumption. It can be very easy to get carried away with guests over and leave every light on, but Christmas is expensive enough without an increase in power costs.

Christmas is a great time to consider the environment. Less waste  reduce plastic, water and air pollution,   effects translating to healthier people. Floods, heatwaves, water-borne illnesses and countless other issues occur from environmental harm. Do your bit this Christmas to keep the environment healthy and happy. Planet Earth future relies on each and everyone of us.

Drink Responsibly

Be responsible with your drinking choices. Gatherings, work parties and social events are plentiful at this time of year, with some of us booked solid in the month before Christmas. It’s great to be merry and joyful over some drinks, but nonetheless you should know your limits and make an effort to stay within them.

Always have something to eat with drinks and be mindful of how alcohol can interact with any prescription medications. Do not drink and drive, and certainly do not allow your mates to drink and drive. Ubers are cheap, there’s no excuse.

Quit Smoking

Perhaps it’s time to kick that nasty smoking habit? Sure, this might be the fifth year in a row that you’ve promised to quit, but that’s how everyone starts out. If you’ve failed to quit in the past, that doesn’t mean you’ll fail to quit now. There is so much to keep your mind busy over Christmas that it’s a great time to cut back in anticipation of a new year without nicotine.

Find your “why”. Focus on the financial savings, improved cardio, reduced risk of cancer, longer life, improved taste and smell, or the dozens of other reasons that make quitting the right choice.

There is always help available. Chat to your family, friends, GP, or Quitline and get the right advice for your situation. Keep occupied, and before you know it, it will be weeks since you put out your last cigarette.

Get a Skin Check

Get a skin check before summer really hits!  Do you know what your skin type is? Have you noticed any spots you are worried about? Have you had sunspots frozen before? A full skin check with your GP will tease out nasty skin lesions, especially skin cancers. Never underestimate the brunt of summer sun, irrespective of time of the day.

Prevention is better than cure. Cover yourself up if you’ll be in the sun for extended periods of time. So many of us hit the beach during the holiday break. If that’s you and your family, make sure you’re all taking appropriate precautions. Slip, slop, slap – it works.

Travel Safely

There will be more vehicles on the road, which means inevitably the risk of accidents increases. Check your vehicle and ensure everything is in order. Plan your journey before taking off and if possible, travel outside of peak traffic periods. Take regular breaks. Switch off your phone or turn on hands-free/Bluetooth when you are driving. Think of others who are sharing the roads with you, they want to feel safe too.

Watch Your Budget

Stress can overwhelm us, and a huge cause of stress is financial concerns. We can be tempted to shop more than we need, particularly with the Christmas songs blaring through shopping centres and that ever-so-inviting festive vibe permeating every aspect of our lives.

Plan ahead. Write a list and stick to your budget. Leave in a buffer for unexpected expenses, and make an effort to be sensible about your purchases. Be that one person who goes against the flow and ends Christmas with some spare change and no credit card debt. Financial stress from overspending is the least of things we want.

Get Out and About

Christmas is the perfect time to get outside and soak up some nature. Get out of the house, walk the dog, go for a bush walk, visit a lookout, do something new. Australia has some of the greatest natural surroundings, and for most of us it’s less than an hour’s drive to get somewhere pleasant and away from it all.

Take this opportunity to get out and about, whether by yourself or with the family. Shave off those extra calories and inject some activity into your life. While you’re at it, realise how much you enjoy a casual walk, and commit to doing it a few times a week for the rest of your life.

Eat Clean

I am 99% sure that everyone reading this has plans to do the opposite of clean eating over Christmas, and that’s fine. I’m not advocating that you spend the holidays nibbling on rice crackers and carrots. However, it’s a great time to make some very simple changes for big benefits.

Add some grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables to your meals. You should have 3-5 serves a day of these items, and they tend to go pretty well with just about any meal. Put your thinking cap on and serve up something healthy.

Monitor Your Medications

If you’re travelling, check your medications. Find out what you are short of and know when your surgery is closed. It can be difficult to renew a prescription from a practice that does not know your history, so make sure you have enough medicine for your travels.

Further, it’s a good time to check the medicine cabinet at home and stock up on a few essentials. Basic emergency medicines that are appropriate for your needs and some first aid materials are always a good option to have on hand.

Keep an Eye on Mental Health

Christmas can be an exciting, happy time for many. However, for some, there is always a lingering sadness. While you’re spending time among your loved ones and friends, take the time to call or visit someone you haven’t seen in a while. Reconnect, see how they’re doing, and show them that you care. They’ll be appreciative, and it adds some extra cheer to the season.

There are plenty more tips for the holiday season, but these are a few that if adhered to, will make it a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons. Merry Christmas, and stay safe.