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Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Flood Health

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, Jun 27th, 2013

As so many of us continue to clean up following these devastating floods in Southern Alberta, we have to remember to take care of ourselves.

No question pulling out carpets and ripping out drywall is hard work. But there are a few things to consider health wise as you do your demolition. I spoke with Urgent Care Physician Dr. Raj Bhardwaj and he says it’s important to let our feet dry out. He says people are working so long and hard in the water in their boots, their skin on their feet is starting to break down. Our skin is our best protection against infection, it’s our first line of defence, our barrier. But when the skin is wet for a prolonged period of time it starts to break down. And Dr. Bhardwaj says bacteria and fungus love to grow in moist and warm locations, like between wet toes. So Dr. Bhardwaj says please let your boots dry out, put on dry socks and let your feet dry out too….particularly between the toes.

Dr. Bhardwaj also says do not wear flip flops. Of course, flip flops are good in water, but not in this flooding situation. You cannot see what’s in the muddy water, so it easy to step on nails and screws and flip flops offer no protection.

Also when it comes to clean up, you’ll inevitably get cuts and scrapes. Dr. Bhardwaj says you want to stop the bleeding on the cuts as soon as possible by applying pressure. If you’re having trouble doing this, he says get to a clinic. If your wound has stopped bleeding it needs to be cleaned and disinfected. Soap, water and polysporin is the protocol. This is also a good time to make sure your tetanus is up to date. The shot is effective for 10 years. If you can’t remember the last time you had one, it’s probably a good time to get a booster at your family doctor’s office or walk in clinic.

And finally, Dr. Bhardwaj is encouraging everyone to try and get some good quality rest and to eat well. As difficult as this may be to do at this time, it will keep your immune system functioning at optimal levels to keep you safe from infection.

If you have any questions about your health during the flooding, don’t hesitate to called HealthLink at 403-943-LINK. It’s staffed 24 hours a day with nurses who are willing and able to help.

Andrew Schultz – BT Calgary Weather

Andrew Schultz | posted Friday, Jun 21st, 2013

7-Day-June-21-300x225

CALGARY WEATHER
TODAY: 15, Rain (Up to 15mm) Wind: NE 30
TONIGHT: 9, Chance Showers
TOMORROW: 16, Partly Cloudy
SUNDAY: 17, Scattered Showers
>A break in the precip is in sight – as the system will start to pull off late today…Be safe out there kids – take heed to all closures and evacuation orders.
-Meteorologist Andrew Schultz (twitter: @AndrewSchultzWX)

Andrew Schultz – BT Calgary Weather

Andrew Schultz | posted Thursday, Jun 20th, 2013

7-Day-June-20-300x225

TODAY: 16, Rain (Up to 30mm possible) Wind: NE 40-60
TONIGHT: 8, Rain (Clearing late this evening)
TOMORROW: 13, Scattered showers
SATURDAY: 17, Partly Cloudy
**Heavy rainfall warning still in effect: 50mm or more still possible by Friday West sections of the Province (Mountain Parks, Foothills…).
(( oh, and ‘Summer’ arrives tonight at 11:04pm! ))
-Meteorologist Andrew Schultz (twitter: @AndrewSchultzWX)

Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Nephrotic Syndrome

bt.calgary | posted Tuesday, Jun 18th, 2013

It’s the leading cause of kidney failure in children. It’s called FSGS…and it’s a subset of a kidney disease called Nephrotic Syndrome.

In Nephrotic Syndrome protein leaks out of the kidneys into the urine. Pediatric Nephrologist Dr. Julian Midgley explains it causes swelling in children, makes them prone to infection and can lead to clots in their veins. Treatment includes immune suppressing medications like steroids that stop the leaking of the protein into the urine. But steroids have a host of nasty side effects including weight gain in the children, personality changes, and a lowered immune system which makes these young patients very susceptible to colds and flus. And this can mean everyday childhood activities like birthday parties, even school are challenging situations.

Most children with Nephrotic Syndrome have “Minimal Change Disease” and eventually grow out of the disease and have normal kidney function as an adult. A small subset of patients, about 5 to 10 percent, have FSGS where the filters in the kidney develop scarring. This scarring is permanent kidney damage that lowers kidney function which means patients will eventually require dialysis and ultimately a kidney transplant. The real kicker though? The disease will likely attack even a new kidney because it’s an auto immune disease. Dr. Midgley says he’s seen new kidneys start to leak urine within a couple of hours of transplant.

So you can imagine how devastating the disease is for the child and the entire family. I met Sophia Galbraith who is six years old and was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome and FSGS when she was 2 years old. Her mom Andrea says Sophia has been hospitalized 5 times this year alone. She explains that while Sophia may be well one day, the next she’ll be very sick. Andrea says Sophia may look fine, but she’s slowly being poisoned on the inside.

Andrea has organized a Run and Walk. It’s this Saturday, June 22 at Edworthy Park.

For more information visit: Nephrotic Syndrome

Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Women and Constipation

bt.calgary | posted Monday, Jun 17th, 2013

One in five women is suffering from chronic constipation. This state is defined as having a bowel that doesn’t get rid of stool properly, or poor colonic motility, lasting for 6 months or more.

I spoke with Gastroenterologist Dr. Mani Kareemi and he says he often sees women that having been living with chronic constipation for years. He says it can severely affect their quality of life: they don’t want to go out for dinner because they’re uncomfortable, they have problems sleeping, problems with intimacy and eating what they want.

Dr. Kareemi says it’s important that women with chronic constipation talk to their family doctor. He says there is no reason to live in this state. He says the first thing patients need to do is to make some lifestyle changes. Eat more fibre and drink more water. If this doesn’t work, then a good place to start is with over the counter laxatives. Dr. Kareemi says many people don’t take laxatives because they feel they’re not safe to take long term. However, Dr. Kareemi one group of laxatives called “osmodic” laxatives are indeed safe to take over time.

That said, Dr. Kareemi says patient should really discuss their constipation with their doctor. It is important to make sure there is no underlying medical problem that is causing the constipation. He also says certain medications, some very common ones, may cause constipation. Also, Dr. Kareemi says your doctor can help you understand which laxative to use and how long to use it. And if all else fails, there are prescription medications that can help.

For more information about treatments for constipation visit: Mayo Clinic

Mike Yawney – Gadget Guy: Game Review: The Last of Us – PS3

bt.calgary | posted Sunday, Jun 16th, 2013

tlou1

The world as you know it is over. A fungal virus has swept across the US completely devastating society. Everyone who has breathed in the toxic spores has turned into a mindless, zombie-like creature, hell-bent on feeding off the flesh of the living. In an effort to contain the outbreak, entire cities have been bombed. The handful who survived the devastation now live in fear, not only of the horrific creatures which prowl the streets, but of other survivors who will stop at nothing to ensure they have enough supplies to make it on their own, even if it means killing others.

I know what you’re thinking; you’ve heard it all before. In fact, you’ve probably played many games with similar zombie-style plots. Let’s get one thing clear, they’re not like The Last of Us, quite possibly the PlayStation 3’s swan song.

You play as Joel, a veteran survivor. Joel remembers what life was like before the outbreak, unlike Ellie, the young girl you stumble upon. Ellie was born after the devastation, and her knowledge of what life was like before the virus and the bombings is limited. She is naive, although not stupid, and she holds a secret, one which even Joel can’t ignore.

The game plays out as a massive escort mission; Joel and Ellie making their way from city to city across the continental US. While the cities and landscapes appear to be sprawling, it’s a bit deceiving. Yes, maps are large, but for the most part your path is fairly limited. Barbed wire, barricades and downed trees keep you on a set path, often preventing you from exploring areas which are out of bounds. That’s not to say there isn’t a chance to explore. You’ll spend hours searching abandoned buildings looking for supplies and items to help craft weapons.

Your choice of weapons is limited but by no means boring. You’ll start off with a simple hand gun, but as you make your way through the game you’ll stumble upon more powerful weapons such as a shotgun, assault rifle, bow and arrow and flamethrower. You’ll need them. Enemies are fast and fierce, taking multiple shots to put them down, unless of course you can pull off a head-shot on the first pull of the trigger. This is where Ellie can be a huge asset. She can fend for herself, and isn’t afraid to jump in on the action, firing a pistol and jumping on an enemy’s back to deliver a glass bottle to the head. Yes, she is one feisty sidekick.

The Last of Us is far from a straight forward shooter. You choose if you want to take on your enemies with firepower or stealth. Ammunition is limited so sometimes it’s best to sneak up on your opponents. Enemies are smart and are attracted to sound. You can pick up bricks and bottles to throw to confuse your enemy, or you can sneak up behind them to take them out. It’s the stealth component of the game which will really get your heart racing. Enemies known as Clickers can’t see very well, but they can hear you. Hence their name, they emit an eerie horrifying clicking sound, one which will give you nightmares. You will want to crawl out of your skin as you sit quietly hoping they will pass without noticing you.

As you progress through the game you will have the opportunity to upgrade not only weapons, but your skill set as well. Upgrades are based on points which come in the form of gears found scattered inside drawers and other hidden areas in homes and warehouses. Players will have to decide whether to use the points on increasing weapon attributes or giving themselves abilities such as quicker healing or faster crafting of weapons. The system is fair and there are plenty of gears to find even on your first play through.

While the enemies are plentiful, and the action intense, by far the most enjoyable part of the game comes from the dialogue and story. Joel and Ellie form a very quirky, likable relationship, one rarely seen in a video game. The voice acting is superb which breathes life into these characters. You truly begin to care for them and those they encounter along their journey.

While the dialogue is engaging, the game does have a few weaknesses. Ellie’s AI doesn’t quite live up to expectations. There are times you’ll be hiding and Ellie will be running around the room even as an enemy nears. What’s even stranger is the enemy won’t react, almost like they are programmed not to see her. Other times Ellie will disappear all together with no trace of where she went. Fortunately she always seems to show up near the exit to the next area.

The other issue is with the rules the game itself creates. Sound plays a key role in the game, yet there are times when the game simply ignores this. There are sections where you must sneak up on Clickers. Remember, these are the creatures that can’t see very well but they have a tremendous hearing. Joel is somehow able to choke them to death one by one even if another Clicker may be only a few feet away. If Clickers can hear so well don’t you think it would hear the struggle?

While Naughty Dog doesn’t reinvent the action adventure genre with new styles of game play, it does elevate this type of game to another level we haven’t seen before. Characters you care for and feel for is somewhat of a rarity in games, and Naughty Dog has accomplished just that.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced ultra-gory zombie shoot em’ up then you’ll want to stay clear of The Last of Us. Instead what you find is a well-paced, smart adventure with characters so life-like you feel like you are playing a blockbuster movie. The Last of Us is one of those rare games you’ll be thinking about long after you put the controller down.

The Good

Character development
Beautiful environments
Simple and fair upgrade system

The Bad

Ellie’s AI certainly has its moments
Game breaks its own rules

The Last of Us – 9.5/10

Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Seasonal Allergies

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, Jun 13th, 2013

It’s that time of year again. Your nose is itchy, your eyes are watering. It’s allergy season. The grass pollen is set to explode as soon as it really dries out and gets hot and windy. Symptoms are starting now and getting progressively worse, peaking right around Stampede.

Allergist Dr. Joel Doctor says the first line of defence is the over the counter antihistamine. And if those meds are not giving you enough relief, see your doctor about a prescription for nasal sprays and eye drops. Dr. Doctor says most allergy sufferers will get relief with this combination of antihistamines and prescription sprays and drops.

For the 10 percent that don’t get enough symptom relief, in the past, the only other option was allergy shots. Allergy shots work really well, they’re just a huge commitment. It’s a desensitization process, so patients need to get shots at their doctor’s office weekly, then monthly for 3 years. But after that time, they’ll have a permanent 70 percent reduction in symptoms.

However, now, there is a good intermediate option. If a patient isn’t ready to commit to allergy shots, they can now try a new pill for grass allergies. This a daily pill placed under the tongue and it can be done at home. While the pill dissolves, patients will likely feel some tingling and itchiness in the throat and mouth, but these symptoms will subside quickly. Then patients will have a 30 percent reduction of symptoms. Patients have to start taking the pill 4 months before the season starts and two months into it. So in Alberta, patients would start taking this pill in February, and finish in July. And if a patient were to do this therapy for 3 consecutive years, like allergy shots, they would have that 30 percent reduction of symptoms permanently.

Bottom line according to Dr. Joel Doctor, those who suffer from hayfever should not have to suffer. Just find the treatment options that works best for you.

Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Sun Safety

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, Jun 6th, 2013

There is no safe tan. This is the message Dermatologists want to get across for Sun Awareness Week. Dr. Lynne Robertson says people know a sun burn is bad, but they don’t realize a sun tan is still damaging the skin cells. She says rates for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are still on the rise. Dr. Robertson says people need to understand these skin cancers are largely preventable by protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

The best way to stay safe is the sun is to wear sunscreen, the Canadian Dermatology Association recommends at least an SPF of 30, wear protective clothing including a hat and avoid the peak sun hours between 11am and 4 pm.

Also when applying sunscreen make sure you use enough. Dr. Robertson says a palm sized dollop should be used for each limb and sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours. And don’t forget the ears, back of the neck and top of the head!

It’s also important to regularly get your moles checked. Dr. Robertson says most people should get their moles looked at by their family doctor at their annual physical exam. Those who are high risk including people with red and blonde hair, those with a personal or family history of skin cancer and those who have 50 or more moles may need to get their moles checked more often.

If you would like to get your moles looked at by a Dermatologist, there is a free public screening at Eau Claire Market on Thursday June 14th from 10am until 1pm.

For more information about staying safe in the sun visit:

http://www.dermatology.ca/skin-hair-nails/skin/sun-safety/

For a list of sunscreens approved by the Canadian Dermatology Association:

http://www.dermatology.ca/programs-resources/programs/recognized-products/

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