The Wollongong Medical Blog


Young Australians not seeking help when stressed says new study

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A new study conducted Mental Health Australia has found that only 18% of young Australian’s seek help when feeling down or stressed. The study looked at various activities including diet, exercise, seeking advice or support and involvement in their community and whether or not people who were experiencing symptoms of depression and other mental health issues sought out such activities.

Generally, Australians are doing better than expected regarding their participation in activities that assist with improving mental health and wellbeing,” Mental Health Australia chief executive Frank Quinlan said

“We have a long way to go to make it OK to do something about our mental health and wellbeing. However, we found when we looked at these and other activities in young adults between 18 and 29, the results were not as strong.

“In fact, the research found this same age group was surprisingly the least likely to socialise with friends and family and, perhaps not surprisingly, the least likely to take time out from their electronic devices.”

Mental Health is one of the biggest issues facing young Australians. The aforementioned activities are all great first steps to improving mental health, along with seeking out advice from a GP.

The first conversation around mental health issues will always be the most difficult and many people are often surprised by the level of support they have. If you are feeling stressed, anxious or down – let your friends, family or GP know.


Do I have hay fever? 

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Hay fever is a common condition, but may be hard to recognise. Frequent symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes.  Some people may only have one of these, or a combination. Other symptoms of hay fever may include, itchy nose, itchy throat, chronic cough, blocked nose, snoring, tiredness, loss of smell/taste and frequent colds.

Despite the name, fever is not a symptom.

When do people get hay fever?

Symptoms often occur during spring and summer. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to particles (allergens) in the air. Common allergens include:

  • Pollens – grass, tree.
  • House dust mite
  • Pets – cat, dog, horse

In some people, immunotherapy can relieve symptoms, help with other conditions (such as asthma) and can save money on over the counter medications. Our allergy specialists can help you choose the best way to treat your symptom. Please come in to our Figtree medical centre for consultation to make sure you receive the appropriate treatment for this seasonal condition.


What is a healthy level for my cholesterol?

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Did you know that approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l? This means that high blood cholestrol is a major health concern in Australia.

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is essential to many of the human body’s metobolic processes, including the making of hormones, bile and Vitamin D. What the body is great at when it comes to cholesterol is making it’s own – so you don’t need to give it any help.

Cholesterol is produced by the liver and most cells in the body and is carried around our blood by lipoproteins, helping to build the structure of cell membranes, facilitate hormones and other essential activities.

What some people don’t realise is that there are two types of cholesterol – LDL and HDL. HDL are the good guys and LDL are the bad guys.

Eating foods high in saturated fats can increase the amount of LDL cholesterol in your body and ultimately lead to coronary heart disease.

So, what is a healthy level of cholesterol to have in your body?

 Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present.

Other risk factors include pre-existing cardiovascular disease, smoking and high blood pressure to name a few. If such risk factors are present then the recommended LDL levels should be below 2 mmol/l.

The liver is the main processing centre for cholesterol and dietary fat. When we eat animal fats, the liver transports the fat, together with cholesterol in the form of lipoproteins, into our bloodstream.

The over consumption of fatty foods, often from animal products, can lead to a build up of fatty deposits within the artieries of the body.

It important to know the level of cholesterol in your blood and considering the statistics there is 1 in 2 chance that Australians have a blood cholesterol level that is too high. 

To have your cholestrol checked, book an appointment at our Figtree Medical Centre to make sure your cholestrol is at a safe level. You can also take the opportunity to have a chat with your GP about some preventative health and lifestyle tips to ensure your future is a LDL cholesterol free future.


How often should I get my skin checked?

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Skin cancer is a major concern for Australians. The notoriously harsh Australian sun coupled with fair skin and a love of the outdoors can mean a high risk of melanoma. It is common for adults to be of a higher risk than teens or children, however everyone should be wary of the damage the sun can cause to our skin.

It is recommended by the Australian Cancer Council that all adults, particularly those aged 40 and over, should:

  • become familiar with their skin
  • check all areas of their skin, including skin not normally exposed to the sun
  • look for changes in shape, colour or size, or a new spot – if you notice anything unusual, see your doctor straight away
  • seek assistance from others to check difficult to see areas, such as their back.

It is recommended that you have your skin checked once a year, but if you are noticing changes then book a check in as soon as you can, after all – it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you do notice a change in your skin or are unsure about it, you should make a booking to have it checked. Crown Medical Centre Figtree offers skin cancer checks.


Choosing a Medical Centre for you and your family and why a modern facility matters

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When deciding on what medical centre in Wollongong you and or your family should frequently visit, it is important to consider what services and facilities you and your loved ones need most but also how these things are delivered, maintained and offered.

From general health and check up requirements to the more focused areas of General Practice, our Figtree Medical Centre has every aspect of care covered, from the comfy waiting room chairs to the purpose built bricks and mortar that make up the centre. All of these things work to create a medical centre that is both comfortable and secure for our patients.

Our commitment to ensuring our patients experience the utmost privacy and security is also what allows our patients to build strong relationships with our doctors and nurses. This is because we believe a good patient-doctor relationship is very important. It is very important that you develop a close relationship with your doctor in order for them to diagnose and assess your health concerns, whether that be a travel medical or a spirometry exam.

We believe that by providing a secure, pleasant, clean and modern medical centre to the public that we are helping to foster a more relaxed and trusting medical centre experience.


Simple Tips To Improve The Way You Eat

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A healthy diet for everyone in your family can be the most effective way to ensure good health. Keeping on top of your own, let alone everyone else’s dieting habits can be rather tricky (to say the least) but there are a few simple tricks that can make a real difference when it comes to what you are eating. Consider these tips if you are going make an appointment at our medical centre for a diet and lifestyle consultation.

1. Never buy fizzy drinks or lollies. It may seem like an obvious tip but saying no in the supermarket aisle will mean that there is no question about it at home. Juice in the morning is OK if you have a real sweet tooth, but make sure it is in moderation and try to avoid them at night.

2. Buy healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, low salt crackers and pita chips. They can be just as delicious as the other brands and much better for you in the long run.

3. There is no such thing as too many veggies! Greens are always going to be good for you, so if you are concerned that you or anyone might still be a little peckish just offer more veggies. Beans, sugar snaps, peas and broccoli are all great.

4. Look at the labels of what you buy. It could add an extra 5 minutes to your shopping routine, but reading what is written on the labels of the food you are buying can help to educate you. Avoid high salt, fat or sugar content. The fresher your food the better, so sometimes avoiding pre-packaged food altogether is the safest bet.

5. Talk about it. If everyone is on the same page about what is in the food, why it is being eaten and how it is better then it is a lot easier to make these changes. At the end of the day, everybody wants to be healthy and happy!

If you are still having trouble with your diet, it may help to see your GP. You can book in to have a discussion with one at our Figtree medical centre.



Spring has arrived, but what does that mean for my health?

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The beginning of Spring is a great time of year, as the weather begins to warm up and the sun goes down a little later our days can often feel more relaxed.

These are all benefits of an Australian spring time. As our climate warms up for summer the beautiful flora and fauna we are so lucky to have at our backdoor here in the Illawarra region also become more active.

Whilst all of these wonderful things are great sites and activities, some people can find this time of year quite difficult due to, you guessed it, allergies!

As trees and flowers bloom, releasing pollen into the atmosphere, many people find themselves with symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy and/or watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.

It can be difficult to know for certain if you are subject to spring allergies and a good place to start is by seeing your GP (make a booking at Figtree).

If your symptoms are mild, there are also several over-the-counter medications that can help to ease them such as an AntihistaminesDecongestants, eye drops or nasal sprays.



4 Ways To Help Ward Off The Winter Blues

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This time of year can be difficult for even the most chipper of personalities. Combinations of cold nights, grey skies and wind chill can sometimes prove to be a recipe for symptoms similar to depression.

Here is a little list of things to keep your mind on the more positive side of things.

1. Exercise

We know it can be hard with the chilly weather, but a bit of exercise can go a long way. Exercise is known to increase your levels of serotonin and endorphins, leading to a happier mood. While it’s understandable that many people are less than keen about participating in outdoor activities during these chilly months, there are alternatives including joining a gym class, walking on the treadmill or even some close proximity exercises such as push ups and body weight squats.

2. Socialise

Keeping in touch with friends and family during winter can help to keep you in a good mood. When you’re feeling down, it’s natural that you may want to isolate yourself from others, but catching up with old friends, relatives or family will keep you in a lighter mood. Maybe join an art class, attend a poetry meet or have a dinner party!

3. Keep a regular sleep schedule

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can lead to symptoms or depression and anxiety. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. If you’re a slow riser in the mornings, it could be an idea to sleep with the blinds open. This way the morning sun will help to wake you up faster.

4. Eat well

Everyone knows the importance of a good diet and just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean there is an excuse to eat outside of a healthy regime. If you’re unsure of what constitutes a good diet, ask your GP. Too many carbs during the day can leave you feeling sluggish and lead to weight gain.


If these tips aren’t helping to improve your mood – you should seek some advice from your GP. Especially if you have trouble sleeping, concentrating or are losing interest in things you would normally find interesting.



How to clear a blocked nose

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Did you know that the human body has a natural mechanism for dealing with a congested sinus (otherwise known as a runny nose)?

It’s a simple little trick that is a very useful quick fix.

Simply press your tongue against the top of your mouth, whilst using your finger to apply pressure between your eye brows. In around 20 seconds, your sinuses should begin to clear.

Whilst a handy trick, it is recommended you visit a doctor if symptoms persist.


flu season ahead

Flu season tips

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As flu season approaches it is good to know how you can prevent yourself from getting sick and missing work.

Cold and flu prevention

Cold and flu spread more easily in the cold winter months because they thrive in colder, less humid environments. More people become infected with colds and flus in winter. In Australia, cold and flu infections are most likely to occur between May and September. At this time you have a higher risk of contracting colds and flus at work, because it is more likely your colleagues will catch colds and flus which they can pass on at work. That means you’re more likely to need time off work in winter to recover from a cold or flu, and this may interfere with work deadlines and your productivity at work.

Whether you work in an office, healthcare facility or other workplace, you are at risk of contracting a virus at work, from your colleagues or people who visit your workplace (e.g. patient if you work in a health facility or children if you are a childcare worker). While cold and flu viruses spread rapidly in indoor environments like offices, they can also spread in outdoor work environments, when they become airborne or contaminate a surface that many people touch, like the handle of a tool.

How do cold and flu spread?

Cold and flu viruses are highly contagious and the contagious period begins immediately afterinfection. In the early stage of infection, a person with a cold or flu does not have symptoms like blocked nose or coughing. Thus they are unaware that they are sick and may infect others unknowingly. Influenza is typically contagious for 24 hours before symptoms appear, and continues to be contagious for up to seven days. Common colds are typically most contagious for the initial 2–3 days of infection but may be passed on to others up to a week later.

People who go to work while they are infected with cold and flu may expose their colleagues and workplace visitors to their virus, for example if they cough or sneeze at work.

Colds and flu cause employees to take more time off work overall and reduce their productivity when they go to work but are unwell. Because it is not always possible to identify people who have a cold or flu and/or keep them away from the workplace, effective cold and flu prevention at work requires more than simply avoiding those known to be infected.

Stopping the spread of cold and flu viruses at work

Avoiding exposure to cold and flu viruses is the basis of prevention, and avoiding people who have a cold or flu is one important way to avoid exposure. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, their cold or influenza virus becomes airborne and survives for approximately one hour in the air. If another person inhales the air carrying the cold or flu droplets, they can catch the virus.

Respiratory droplets containing cold and flu viruses may also settle on surfaces in the vicinity of the infected person (within one metre of them). Other people who touch these surfaces may contaminate their hands and then infect themselves if they touch their face. People might also become infected by shaking hands or making other contact with infected individuals who have coughed or sneezed onto their hands. Employers should take measures to ensure staff who know they have a cold or flu stay away from work until their symptoms resolve and they are no longer contagious.