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RSV Warning

Leah Sarich | posted Friday, Dec 20th, 2013

It’s the time of year when proud parents want to show off their new babies to all the visiting relatives. However, it’s important not to hand off baby to any adult who has a cold! That’s due to RSV.

RSV is one of the most common viruses to affect humans. We develop very poor immunity to it, so we get it many times throughout our lives.

RSV causes a simple cold in adults, but in babies the virus causes serious illness. I spoke with RSV Specialist and Pediatrician Dr. Ian Mitchell from the Alberta Children’s Hospital. He says the RSV season has already started in Calgary and they’ve already had some babies hospitalized. But Dr. Mitchell expects the season to increase in January and February.

RSV in babies starts with a cough, then a runny nose which makes it difficult for babies to feed, then baby starts having difficulty breathing which means a visit to the hospital. And Dr. Mitchell says one in five babies admitted to hospital with RSV are admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

The good news is most babies recover. However 50 percent of them will have residual lung disease that lasts for 2-3 years. Most of these kids will have an illness that looks like asthma that fades over time.

So Dr. Mitchell wants all parents of newborns to be very careful this time of year. They must not give baby to any adults with a cold. And yes, this can be a challenge when Grandma is sniffly but is only in town for 4 days! Parents must protect their children and yes, that may make them a little unpopular.

For more information about RSV visit this website.

Holiday Family Stress

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Dec 18th, 2013

The holidays are inevitably a bit stressful. Of course there’s good stress and bad stress. And for some families, the stress comes when relatives visit.

I spoke with Family Therapist Lynda-Joy Synder who explains Christmas can be like a pressure cooker for families…lots of people in a small space, eating too much, perhaps drinking too much. So, her advice is to make sure to take small breaks. Grab a cousin and go for a walk outside. Parents should lie down with their kids for nap time.

Snyder also recommends if there is something that does need to be addressed in a family, Christmas is not the time to do it. There would be just too many distractions for a meaningful conversation. And everyone needs to be on board.

As for families with children, Snyder says do your best to try and keep some of the routines the same….even if it is just nap time or bed time. Children thrive on routine even if they’re having lots of fun.

And when it comes to blended families, Snyder says have a plan in place well in advance of the holidays. The plan needs to include pick up and drop off times and parents need to stick to the plan. The plan also needs to be shared with the extended family system so grandma doesn’t get disappointed and upset the kids when it’s time to go to their other family. Also, Synder says let the kids know there is a plan and that everyone will be following it. Kids relax when they know there is a plan in place.

And if there are family members missing other family, Snyder says take advantage of technology. Use Skype, Facetime or even the telephone to connect over the holidays. Once again though, have a plan and organize ahead of time when you’ll be placing those calls.

Snyder says if any families are struggling over the holidays, they can call the Calgary Family Therapy Centre at 403 802 1680.

Finding a Naturopathic Doctor

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Dec 11th, 2013

We are in the middle of cold and flu season and some of you may feel you need more than a quick visit to your family physician.

Finding a qualified Naturopathic Doctor in Alberta is now easier than ever. That’s because as of August 2012, there is now the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta. It’s like the College of Physicians and Surgeons. It means that anyone calling themselves a Naturopathic Doctor in Alberta must have graduated from one of only 6 accredited schools in North America, has written board exams and more. Anyone who does not meet this criteria cannot call themselves a Naturopathic Doctor in this province any longer.

I spoke with the President of the College, Dr. Allissa Gaul. She says the big difference with a Naturopathic Doctor is the amount of time they’ll spend with you. The first visit can be an hour to an hour and a half. You will have filled out an extensive medical and family history that you will go over thoroughly with your Naturopath. Follow up visits will then be about half an hour.

Naturopathic doctors are looking for your own personal health patterns. They may use homeopathy, diet therapy, herbal medicine and lifestyle management depending on the pracitioner you choose. They can help you in many ways including pediatric care, cancer support, palliative care and are often even on call.

It’s about finding the practioner who’s the right fit for you.

Currently Alberta Health does not cover these visits, but many third party insurance plans do.

There are 160 Naturopathic Doctors in Alberta. The best way to find a qualified one is to visit the College’s website.

New Treatments for Hepatitis C

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Dec 5th, 2013

It’s an exciting time for those with Hepatitis C. Canadian researchers have discovered two new treatments that work better than current therapies and with fewer side effects!

I spoke with Dr. Rob Myers the Director of the Viral Hepatitis Clinic at the University of Calgary. He explains that around 300 thousand Canadians have Hepatitis C and the numbers are on the rise. Even in Calgary there has been a four fold increase in the number of hospitalizations for Hep C alone and this is only expected to increase over the next ten years.

Many people don’t know they have the disease because it doesn’t cause symptoms until the later stages of disease, until there is significant liver damage.

Currently treatments are a combination of  Interferon and other medications. This combo can cure about 75 percent of patients, but these medications have serious side effects. They can cause flu-like symptoms, depression and anemia. Dr. Myers says often patients become so ill from their medications they have to stop therapy early.

However, there are two new medications in phase 3 clinical trials that have been developed by Canadian researchers that show great promise. Dr. Myers says these new drugs are also curing about 75 percent of patients, but with far fewer side effects and in a shorter amount of time. And further research has found that these new drugs in combination with other antiviral meds, a sort of cocktail approach, has shown to cure all the patients in the study in just 12 weeks.

So there is great hope for patients with Hepatitis C. Dr. Myers says these new medications should be available in Canada sometime next year.

For more information visit this website.