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5 common misconceptions about people who have diabetes.

You probably know someone who has diabetes but there are many common myths about this disease, so we want to make sure you have the facts! Here are the top 5 myths about diabetes and those living with the disease… did you believe any were true?

How to check for early signs of bowel cancer?

Checking your poo while in the loo could save your life.

Changes in your toilet habits can be early signs of bowel cancer. Poo checks may not be something that you do on a daily basis- or want to do- but here at SmartClinics we highly recommend you make them a part of your weekly self-care routine. If found early, Bowel cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer which is why we have created an easy-to-follow guide to help you to identify any early signs or symptoms.

How often should I check my poo?

 

Bowel habits are different for each person and can be anywhere between three times a day to three times a week. Only you can know what is normal for you. Given that there is anywhere between 3 and 21 visits to the toilet a week, we suggest you pick one and follow our poo check below. It’s that simple.

What is bowel cancer?

 

Bowel cancer starts in the bowel, affecting any part of the colon or rectum – and without detection can spread to other organs.
Most bowel cancers begin as non-threatening (benign) growths, known as polyps, on the wall or lining of the bowel. Polyps are usually harmless, however they can become cancerous (malignant) if left undetected and can become life-threatening tumours.

Prevention is our No1 priority. Self check + GP check = diagnosis + treatment

How common is bowel cancer?

 

It is Australia’s second deadliest form of cancer. It is very common!
Each week 80 Australians die from bowel cancer, claiming the lives of approximately 5,375 Australians every year.
About 1,400 people diagnosed are under the age of 40.
You are never too young to have bowel cancer, which is why regular self-checks are essential to stay in optimum health.

Is bowel cancer treatable?

 

Yes, early diagnosis and treatment is possible.
If you can identify with what is normal and NOT normal with your bowel movements, you will be able to recognise any unusual signs that can be assessed by your local GP here at SmartClinics.
Only YOU know what is a healthy poo and a normal toilet activity – for YOUR body.

How do I check for bowel cancer?

 

When you think about how long you spend on the toilet every day, an extra two seconds for a poo check should not be an inconvenience. It is a vital part of your self-care routine.

The next time you visit the loo, check for these 4 top toilet troubles..

 

  • Are there any changes in your bowel habits, such as needing to go to the toilet more frequently?
  • Is this combined with looser or more diarrhoea like stools?
  • Is there blood in your poo or sudden rectal bleeding?
  • Is there a change in the appearance of your poo, such as mucus or narrower?

Are any of these symptoms occurring at the same time as:

 

  • Unexplained anaemia causing tiredness, weakness or weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Not all of these symptoms indicate bowel cancer, as medications or lifestyle may affect your bodies changing habits.
  • However, if any of the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you must see your local GP to discuss these changes.

How do you test for bowel cancer?

 

Your GP will discuss with you the best options based on your age, family history, hereditary conditions and personal health.

There are two common tests to diagnose bowel cancer.

  • Screening. From the age of 45 our GP’s can offer an in-home screening test called a Feacal Immunochemical Test (FIT). This involves taking a small sample of poo and sending it to a pathology laboratory. This test checks for blood in your samples. The results given to you by your GP, will determine the next steps.
  • Colonoscopy. In order to take a look inside of your bowel and make a confirmed assessment, a colonoscopy is performed under local anaesthetic at a hospital. It is a short process and involves a thin tube featuring a tiny camera, checking inside your bowel for any polyps or unusual growths.

Our GP will follow up with results and a treatment plan if needed. At Smart Clinics we take care of you during this discreet process and walk you through every step of your testing and treatment journey.

Is it possible to reduce the risk of bowel cancer?

 

Yes. Combining your lifestyle habits with screening and self check-ups can influence the outcome of bowel cancer.

Lifestyle habits you can modify:

 

  • Quit smoking.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake.
  • Avoid a diet of processed meats and moderate your red meat consumption.

Lifestyle habits for optimum health:

 

  • Eat wholegrains and other natural high fibre foods.
  • Ensure daily physical activity is a part of your routine.
  • Take control of your health by taking regular bowel cancer screenings.
  • We know that bowel cancer is treatable if it is discovered early. The good news is that you can start checking today.

At SmartClinics, a GP is available to talk to you about any bowel cancer concerns you may have. Get to KNOW THE SIGNS so that you can self-assess and take control of your health at all times.

Our GP’s are always here to listen and discuss any health concerns you may have.

Click here and make an appointment now.

We know that bowel cancer is treatable if it is discovered early. The good news is that you can start checking today.  At SmartClinics, a GP is available to talk to you about any bowel cancer concerns you may have. Get to KNOW THE SIGNS so that you can self-assess and take control of your health at all times.

Our GP’s are always here to listen and discuss any health concerns you may have. 

Click here and make an appointment now.

 

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.