Many of you have already discovered our online booking. The easiest way is on our mobile friendly website – either from a PC, your smart-phone or your tablet. It’s a simple process of viewing available appointments which are shown by doctor and selecting the slot you need. You get a reminder and can add it to your diary on your smart phone. This is one of the ways we are trying to improve the experience of booking and seeing the doctor. It’s not perfect and one thing we hope will be improved is the ability to show different appointment types to allow us allocate the right amount of time for the appointment. One of the things we hate is when we keep you waiting – whilst no system is perfect, we are working to improve the way things work to be able to offer a variety of appointment time as well as the flexibility to cope with urgent needs. We are very serious about reviewing and improving our services.
Responding to feedback
We get some feedback from you via emails, verbal comments, facebook and questionnaires from HealthEngine (our online booking service) – your views are important and we listen. We have already made changes to processes, times and practices in response to your comments. We’ve made appointment times longer and extended our sessions. Hearing what you like about our service and how we may be able to improve things really matters to us– why not drop us an email at info@pioneer-LV.com.au.More
Staying great and healthy. We certainly hope so.We’re in the lucky country which means your chances of living longer than others even in highly developed countries is high. In fact for men we’re in the number 3 slot (http://bit.ly/1wqh8PS ). Just as well if you aren’t going to be able to retire quite as early as you hoped 🙁
At Pioneer Health we’ve started to think about what we think should be in an over 50 check
1 A proper assessment of your cardiac risk – calculation tables look not just at your cholesterol, but the bad cholesterol, along with blood pressure gives a 5 year risk. If the risk is high, hopefully we can help you bring it down. If you are higher risk we can check your circulation.
2 A diabetes risk assessment – again using the power of statistics to tell you just how high that risk is and then to reduce it. More than just having a blood test.
3 Grandchildren coming along? The importance of protecting the little ones from YOU giving them whooping cough. A simple vaccination is all you need
4 Shingles prevention. Now available for over 50’s. Your own immune system allows dormant virus to reactivate and causes one of the most painful skin conditions. Why wouldn’t you want to prevent it?
5 Prostates, breasts, cervix – we all know well about these risks. No-ones favourite topic but the message is getting through with all the media campaigns
6 Skin – melanoma still kills. As you get older the risk increases. A full skin check with a doctor trained to pick up the subtle and early melanoma changes
7 At the “bottom” of the list comes the bowel screen…we just posted on this and how testing is becoming easier to do, but how we just never seem to get round to doing it. Since this is a self-test, nothing could be easier than doing a test in the privacy of your own bathroom and putting it in the post! Come and ask about testing kitsMore
Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death in Australia but, if caught early it is VERY treatable. Current medical guidelines recommend regular screening for bowel cancer every 1 to 2 years for everyone aged 50 years and over with no bowel cancer symptoms.
If you are 50,55,60 or 65 the government will send you a free kit – but do you know how many people send it back and take the test? ONLY 1 in 4 of 50 year olds get around to it. Waiting till you’re unwell may be too late. If you have any symptoms or concerns regarding your bowel habits or a known family history of bowel cancer, then please contact the practice to make an appointment.
If you have no symptoms we’d still like you to come and see us to discuss a simple-to-use, ColoVantage Home bowel screening test. The test can detect tiny, invisible traces of blood in the stool, which may be an early warning sign of bowel cancer, before any symptoms are noticed. The kit has easy-to-follow instructions and requires no faecal handling or diet or medication restrictions.
Your free kit comes every 5 years from the Department of Health but we widely recognise every 5 years is probably not enough and many developed countries invite you more frequently. So don’t miss out on this – especially if you were one of the 75% who never returned your kit at age 50!
The ColoVantage Home Bowel Cancer Screening Service is $39.95 and is only payable when you return post your samples for testing (there is no upfront cost to receive the test kit itself). A Medicare rebate is available or many private heath funds may offer a rebate. Your test result will be sent to our practice and to you within 14 days.
We urge participation as early detection of bowel cancer can save lives.
Bowel Cancer Australia has a vision to reduce incidence, death and suffering associated with bowel cancer through advocacy, awareness, education, support and research.
Founded in 2000, Bowel Cancer Australia is the only national charity that works across the entire bowel cancer spectrum.
Bowel Cancer Australia is driven by a small team of staff and volunteers and receives no government funding.
Your support will not only help to save lives, but also to improve the health and wellbeing of those living with bowel cancer.
Call 1800 555 494 or visit bowelcanceraustralia.org
You’d think with a computer on every doctor’s desk, it would be easy to share vital information about your health. After all, its your health we’re talking about isn’t it? Well, its finally getting a bit easier to have that information with you wherever you go
So when may you need this? If you…
- Visit a specialist
- Attend a hospital including emergency visits
- Visit another doctor who is connected to eHealth
…information uploaded by you and your doctor can be shared safely this way. We’ll even be able in time to communicate with your pharmacist
1 An eHealth record is a secure, electronic record containing key health information about your current medications, medical conditions, allergies and immunisations. It can also contain documents such as test results, details of hospitals stays and specialist referrals.
2 By having an eHealth record and only with your approval, this essential medical information will be available to healthcare professionals working to provide better health outcomes for you.
3 You decide who can access this information and when you visit doctors or specialists you can choose to share that information with them and ask them to add information to your record
This month is eHealth month in Pioneer Health. You can come to the surgery and set up an eHealth record for you or your children.
You’re invited you to attend with Rochelle or Karen (nurse and manager) to complete the assisted registration and start your electronic health record. We can answer questions you have and help you register if you feel it is of benefit to you
If you think you’ve registered previously at another practice, see one ofour doctors about uploading your critical details.More
Whooping cough (or pertussis) is a widespread and highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis which can affect people of any age. The nature and severity of symptoms can vary but this blog will focus on the effect of this disease on babies and young children, in which it can be life threatening and involve complications such as pneumonia, fits, brain damage due to oxygen loss or death. Most hospitalizations and death occur in babies less than six months of age. In adolescents and older children the infection may only cause a persistent cough.
It may start like a cold, with a runny nose, sneezing and tiredness and then a cough that is characteristic of whooping cough develops and it sounds just as the name implies. A cough that ends with a crowing noise (the ‘whoop’). View the video below for illustration. These bouts can be severe and frightening as they feel like no air is getting into the lungs and you are suffocating. Air is being drawn back into the chest and it can be followed by vomiting or gagging. In children the breathing may become obstructed and they may become blue or stop breathing. These bouts of coughing may continue for weeks, even after treatment. In babies under six months of age, vaccinated children, adolescents or adults you may not hear the characteristic whoop however the disease is just as dangerous.
Whooping cough is a highly infectious disease and can be spread by people coughing and sneezing or via direct contact with infected mouth or nose secretions. The incubation time (time between being exposured and showing symptoms) is usually seven to ten days, but can be up to three weeks. Unless treated with appropriate antibiotics for at least five days a person is regarded as infectious for three weeks after the cough begins.
Immunisation is the most effective way to control whooping cough and it is recommended as part of the National Immunisation Program Schedule. Currently free vaccine is funded for:
- Infants aged at 6 weeks, 4 months and 6 months
- Children aged 4 years (vaccines due at 4 years can be given from 3 years 6 months)
- Year 8 and year 10 students (this booster is administered as part of the school program)
In 2014, Queensland will offer both Year 8 and Year 10 students a combined diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTpa) booster dose as part of the School Vaccination Program. Vaccination for Year 10 students will cease at the end of 2015 i.e. Year 8 students previously vaccinated will then be in Year 10. Please check with your doctor for what is offered in your state or area.
To ensure full protection, it is important that your child receives all recommended doses of the vaccine at the recommended times. The whooping cough vaccine for children is given as one injection combined with some other childhood vaccines.
Pregnant Queensland women in their third trimester (28 weeks) can receive a free whooping cough vaccine from their GP. Talk to your midwife or doctor at a routine antenatal appointment when you are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant and find out if you should have this vaccine. The aim is to protect newborn babies who cannot be vaccinated until 6 weeks of age and are at greatest risk of severe complications. It will protect your baby if you get whooping cough while pregnant or after the baby is born as the chance your baby can become infected is high. Vaccinating the mother ensures the antibodies are passed via the placenta to the baby and enables protection until their first vaccination.
This is a time-limited program for women who have not received a diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (dTpa) vaccination in the last five years
A booster dose is strongly recommended (but not funded) for:
- Males and females planning a pregnant
- People working with, living with or caring for babies under six months e.g. healthcare workers, childcare workers, fathers and grandparents
- Any other adults who want to reduce the risk of infection and haven’t had a previous booster in the last ten years.
I was vaccinated against whooping cough as a child. Do I need to get vaccinated again?
Yes, unless you’ve been vaccinated against whooping cough in the past five years. Any protection you may have received through either having whooping cough or being vaccinated when you were young will have worn off.
An influenza alert has been issued for Australia with the Influenza Specialist Group (ISG) warning that that a spike in cases have been confirmed with women and children, especially in Queensland being hit the hardest. The 20,979 laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza in August are almost double the number of cases at this time last year.
About 25% more women than men have been struck down and it is hitting young people aged 20-49 particularly hard and of course who has time as a busy wife and mother to have the flu?
The ISG are encouraging people to take up the 2014 vaccine which targets the pandemic strain H1N1 which is responsible for the current outbreak.
Dr Hampson (ISG) speaking about the current outbreak:
Vaccination is the single best protection. With vaccination you are protecting yourself and those around you from serious illness. But don’t put it off. The window is rapidly closing because your body need time to respond to the vaccine. September is often the peak time for influenza
The flu vaccine is free for:
- Pregnant women
- Those aged over 65 years
- Indigenous Australians 15 years or older
- Children and adults suffering underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, chronic neurological disease and impaired immunity.
Prevention is better than cure applies to the flu. The most effective way to protect yourself and others is by yearly vaccination.
Flu Prevention Tips – protect yourself and those around you by being flu smart
1. Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette.
- Turn away from other people
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve
- Use disposable tissues rather than a handkerchief
- Put used tissues into the nearest bin rather than a pocket or handbag
- Wash your hands or use an alcohol hand rub as soon as possible afterward
2. Hand washing can limit the spread of influenza and other respiratory virus infections. Always wash your hands, even when they are not visibly dirty
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
- After being in contact with someone who has a cold or flu
- Before touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Before preparing food and eating
- Wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol based product (gels, rinses, foams)
3. Stop the spread of cold and flu in your household
- Regularly clean hard surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic to kill viruses which can survive on these surfaces for more than 8 hours.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, taps, tables, benches and fridge doors using normal household detergents.
- Keep any personal items such as towels, bedding and toothbrushes separate.
- Do not share eating and drinking utensils, food or drinks.
- Annual vaccination reduces the risk of contracting influenza and the severity of symptoms.
Typical flu symptoms include:
- High fever
- Severe cough
- Muscles aches or pain
- Sore throat
- Children may also experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Treating the symptoms
Over the counter pain medications will help relieve the symptoms but won’t stop the progress of the virus. One of the best ways to work through the flu is to keep hydrated – drinking lots of water will help you deal with the aches, pains and fever. Even if your painkillers are making you feel better its essential to rest and relax as this gives your body a better chance to recover faster.
Rest is the best treatment
Bed rest until the acute symptoms are gone which is typically up to a week but may be longer. Unlike the common cold it may take several weeks to fully recover, even in healthy young people
Is prescription influenza medication helpful in treating the flu?
Antiviral flu medication prescribed by your GP can be effective in treating influenza. They must be taken within 48 hours of noticing symptoms for them to work. The earlier they are taken the better – you won’t feel instantly better but your recovery time will be shorter and you limit the chance of any secondary illness.
Complications from the flu can be nasty and include:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Sinus and ear infections
- Worsening of pre-existing respiratory conditions
- Worsening of other problems such as diabetes
If you suspect you have the flu or wish to be protected from it please make an appointment to see us at Pioneer Health. Use our online appointment booking app here on our website to find out the next available appointment or Click here for contact details or to book an appointment onlineMore
What is Shingles?
Most people have heard of chickenpox and are probably aware that is it is a disease mostly seen in children. However what is less well known is that the virus causing chickenpox (varicella-zoster) does not completely disappear from the body once you have recovered. It can stay dormant in the nerves cells of the spinal cord and as a person gets older may reactivate in the form of shingles, especially if your immune system is weakened.
Shingles is very common, with one in five people being affected at some point in their life. Most cases of shingles are seen in people over 50 years of age, however it can affect you at any age including children as young as 12. Generally it only reoccurs once, unless an individual has a weakened immune system, in which case they may suffer repeated occurrences. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles. If you are an adult and have not had chickenpox or been vaccinated then you can catch the virus from a person with shingles however you will then get a case of chickenpox.
Causes of Shingles
As the virus is latent within the body a number of factors can precipitate an outbreak. These include:
- Being over 50, as you age your immune system naturally weakens.
- Periods of increased stress
- A long term course/s of corticosteroids
- Having a condition that affects your immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or leukaemia
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- Medicines that suppress the immune system such as those used after organ transplants.
The first indication of shingles is often an oversensitivity or a painful burning sensation, stabbing pain, tingling or itching of the skin in a specific area on one side of the body. The infected area may be your chest or neck but it can affect any part of the body, including the face or stomach. The skin will then turn red and break out in tiny fluid-filled blisters. When this rash is at its peak symptoms can range from mild itching to extreme debilitating pain. The rash is characterised by appearing in the shape of a belt or band around or across the body as the virus works down the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord and encircle the body.
The rash may last for a few days or weeks and after the blisters dry up (normally 5-7 days) scabs will form. These drop off within two to three weeks but it can take longer for the skin to totally heal and scaring may occur in severe cases.
The pain caused by shingles is often severe and may stay after the rash has gone.
Transmission is via direct contact with the fluid in the blisters in the period before these blisters dry up and scab. Direct contact with the fluid in the blisters of the rash may cause chickenpox (but not shingles) in people who have not previously had chickenpox or who are not vaccinated. This is because both diseases are caused by the same virus. In addition to direct contact, shingles can also be spread via the air through coughing and sneezing but only if the blisters are present in the mouth of the infected person, unlike chickenpox.
If you have shingles, try to avoid contact with babies, pregnant women and people who have a weakened immune system.
Shingles isn’t triggered by contact with someone who has chickenpox.
Like all diseases early diagnosis and treatment will provide the best outcome so contact your GP as soon as possible to minimise symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Tests are not normally needed as the type and location of the rash is normally indicative of the disease. If your symptoms include a high fever, you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system then medical care is essential.
Shingles can be treated with antiviral drugs but to be effective, treatment must be started within 72 hours of the rash appearing. Most treatment is aimed at reducing the initial pain and rash. Other drugs that may be used to help ease symptoms include pain killers and topical ointments.
Shingles to the upper half of the face may cause serious damage to the eye, and medical treatment should be sought immediately.
It is important that the affected skin site be kept clean to avoid secondary bacterial infections. Avoid pricking or scratching the blisters.
Complications of Shingles
There are a number of know complications from shingles. Out of every four patients who get Shingles, one person will experience one or more complications, some of which may be serious
- Then pain may continue after the rash has cleared, sometimes lingering for weeks, months or years in a condition called post-hepatic neuralgia. This is more common in older people, those who have had a severe rash or if the rash affects the face rather than the body. One in five people who get shingles may experience this.
- It may affect the skin around your eyes (ophthalmic zoster) which can result in red and streaming eyes (conjunctivitis) and may damage your eyes or affect your vision.
- It can sometimes affect your ears causing earache, dizziness, deafness and paralysis on one side of your face (Ramsay Hunt syndrome). The pain may go away within 48 hours but post-hepatic neuralgia or permanent nerve damage may occur.
- A very rare complication is Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). It causes fever, seizures and confusion.
- If you are pregnant – it will not harm your baby. If you come into contact with someone who has chickenpox while you are pregnant contact your GP or midwife.
A safe and effective chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is now available in Australia and as shingles can only occur after getting chickenpox then reducing the incidence of chickenpox will reduce the incidence of shingles. In addition an adult vaccine, ZOSTAVAX is now available for people over 50 years of age.
Vaccination with the chickenpox vaccine is recommended for the following groups of people who have not had chickenpox and are classified as non-immune:
- People in high risk occupations such as health care workers, teachers, and workers in child-care services
- Women prior to pregnancy
- Parents of young children
- Those adults and children who live in households of people with weakened immune systems.
Vaccination is not recommended for people who are allergic to any of the ingredients in ZOSTAVAX and people who have a suppressed immune system from taking autoimmune medicines, high doses of steroids, or have specific health conditions, such as HIV/AIDS.
A single shot of the vaccine can be given to patients over 50. We suggest you book an appointment to come and discuss it with one of doctors or nurse. To discuss whether it may be of benefit to you. At Pioneer Health we are interested in providing this vaccine at a heavily reduced cost for those who may be interested. Please contact us to express an interest in this program.
If you decide not to have a vaccination, it’s still worth knowing about this condition which can be limited if treatment is started as soon as the rash develops – early recognition and prompt treatment are the key.
Download this fact sheet for vital information on the Vaccine. Click here
Asthma is a common disease in which the airways narrow resulting in a reduction of air into and out of the lungs. The muscles in the airways tighten and the lining becomes swollen and inflamed which makes breathing difficult and the person experiencing this, especially if a child, may start to panic. With about one in ten Australian adults and children having asthma it is a condition we treat regularly here at Pioneer Health. In fact Asthma is the most widespread chronic health problem in Australia today. It cannot be cured but with good management can have far less impact on a person’s life. It is important you chose a medical practitioner who offers a range of programs and services to treat this common condition. Asthma even in its milder forms is uncomfortable and of course can be potentially life threatening for those with serious symptoms. Children are often affected and they need caring support from those who understand this condition. It is often exacerbated by pollen, smoke (cigarettes, wood fires and burn offs) as well as colds and flu and can be associated with other allergic conditions such as hay fever and eczema.
Symptoms of Asthma:
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Struggling to breath
- Often worse at night, in the early morning or during exercise.
Children may also:
- Not eat or drink as much
- Have a tummy ache and vomiting
- Become tired quickly
- Get more puffed out than usual when running and playing
Causes of Asthma:
- Allergy triggers such as house dust mites, pollens, pets and moulds
- Cigarette smoke
- Viral infections such as colds and flu
- Cold air or weather changes
- Work related triggers e.g. wood dust, chemicals or metal salts
- Some medicines
Good management and treatment includes:
- Prescription of appropriate medications that relieve and prevent symptoms
- Having regular check-ups and working together to manage your asthma
- Understanding what triggers your asthma
- Using your medications as instructed, even when feeling well
- Making sure you know how to use your inhaler (puffer) correctly. Ask us to demonstrate this for you.
What to do during an asthma emergency
It might come on quickly or gradually and can be life threatening if not treated effectively, even if your asthma is normally mild. The most important thing to do is not to panic.
If in doubt call an ambulance.
Follow this link to find out how to handle an Asthma Emergency
If in doubt call us today and come in an have a chat about how we can work with you to help you manage this common but often debilitating condition.
Once again Meningitis comes into our headlines again with cases across Australia. Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitides (also known as meningococcal bacteria). These bacteria are divided into 13 ‘serogroups’ designated by letters of the alphabet such as A, B and C. Serogroup B and C cause most of the meningococcal disease in Australia, whereas serogroups A, C, Y and W cause disease in other countries such as Africa.
Some people have the bacteria living naturally in their nose and throat. In a small number of people, a dangerous strain of the bacteria can move through the lining of the throat, causing what is known as invasive meningococcal disease. This can take the form of a blood infection (septicaemia) or infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). The infection can develop quickly and can cause serious illness or death. Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics are vital.
The meningococcal C vaccine provides good protection against serogroup C strains. The number of cases of C serogroups has decreased in Australia following the introduction of this vaccine. A combined vaccine against serogroups A, C, Y and W is especially useful for travellers. In August 2013 Australia became the first country in the world to approve the meningococcal B vaccine for widespread use. The vaccine under the trade name Bexsera is available on prescription.
Meningococcal C Vaccine
The meningococcal C vaccine prevents people from becoming infected with a particular type of bacteriumcalled Neisseria meningitides serogroup C (or meningococcus C).
These bacteria can be found in the nose, throat and windpipe (i.e. the upper respiratory tract) of many healthy people, and are not easily spread, but can occasionally be spread in infected droplets in the air particularly where there is crowding and close contact (e.g. in boarding schools or university residential colleges).
The disease can cause:
- meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord)
- pneumonia (lung infection)
- septicaemia (blood infection)
- conjunctivitis (eye infection)
The two age groups that are at highest risk of infection are:
- children under 5 years old
- young adults aged 15 to 24 years old.
The meningococcal vaccine (Meningitec, Neisvac-C) is given free to all children at 12 months of age as part of the National Immunisation Program.
Babies aged 6 weeks to 12 months of age who have a weakened immune system (e.g. due to a medical condition, no spleen, certain medicines) are at high risk of meningococcal disease and may need to be vaccinated before they are 12 months old.
The vaccine is recommended for young adults in this age group who have not been vaccinated.
The meningococcal vaccine is also recommended for people who:
- have no spleen or who have spleen problems
- have a weakened immune system (e.g. due to a medical condition or certain medicines)
- who work in a laboratory with the N. meningitides bacteria
- are travelling to countries where meningococcal disease is present (e.g. pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia)
Adults who need to be vaccinated can do so at their own cost.
The vaccine can be given to pregnant women who are at increased risk of meningococcal infection (e.g. women who have no spleen or spleen problems).
For more information about meningococcal disease or the vaccine, please make an appointment and speak with your GP
Menigococcal B vaccine
In Australia, the TGA approved Bexsero for use in patients ≥2 months of age for the prevention of invasive disease caused by serogroup B meningococci.
• Children aged <5 years, particularly infants aged <1 year, have the highest incidence of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) caused by serogroup B meningococci (MenB). A lower, secondary peak in incidence is evident in late adolescence and early adulthood.
• Bexsero® (4CMenB) is estimated that about 76% of MenB strains are predicted to be covered by this vaccine.
• Meningitis cannot be prevented by the other meningococcal vaccines currently available in Australia, such as the meningococcal C conjugate and quadrivalent (A, C, W135, Y) vaccines, because they target other meningococcal serogroups.
Based on their higher disease risk, Bexsero is recommended for these groups:
• Infants and young children, particularly those aged <24 months
• Adolescents aged 15 to 19 years
• Children and adults with medical conditions that place them at a high risk of IMD, such as an absent spleen
• Laboratory personnel who frequently handle Neisseria meningitidis.
For infants aged <6 months, 3 primary doses of Bexsera plus a booster at age 12 months are recommended. Fewer doses are required for older age groups
About Meningitis – signs and symptoms
If you would like to check out Information on checking on signs and symptoms of meningitis from Meningitis Australia here is a link from meningitis Australia
The Meningitis Centre Australia is continuing to lobby the federal government to put it on the National Immunisation Program so that it is FREE for everybody.
You can sign their petition for the Federal Government to allocate funding for this life saving vaccine!
Read more from the Australian on the campaign to make Bexser0 available on the link belowMore