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Standing Desks

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Apr 28th, 2016


Sitting is the new smoking. It’s a phrase we’ve heard a lot lately but Assistant Professor of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, Nishan Sharma, really likes the analogy. He and his research team are looking into standing desks as an option for for those in the workplace looking to break up their day.

Sharma says prolonged sitting, where one doesn’t engage the big muscle groups for a 2 to 3 hour period, increases the risk of serious chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One of the best ways to combat this sedentary time is to stand at a desk. Sharma and his team tried a pilot project where people were first given boxes to prop up their computers, then they were given standing desks. Sharma says no one wanted to go back to their sitting desks and everyone reported more energy through the day as well as more alertness particularly around that lull period of the day at 2 in the afternoon.

This positive feedback has encouraged Sharma and his team to do another study on standing desks that will start this summer. This study will measure the cognitive effects of using a standing desk as well as the physiological effects.

Sharma says to be clear, people cannot stand all day long either… that there’s a balance to strike. But Sharma has found in his preliminary research that everyone likes the option of being able to stand at their desk. And there are many standing desks to try out. From the simple boxes, to standing desks that can accommodate a treadmill underneath, Sharma hopes standing desks are a standard feature in the office of the future.

For more information on how important it is to break up your sedentary behaviour and how best to do that visit this website. 

Adult ADHD

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Apr 26th, 2016


Six to seven percent of children have ADHD – or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And these kids are growing up and not growing out of their ADHD.

Consulting Psychiatrist Dr. Carl Adrian says about 4-5 percent of the adult population has ADHD and the bulk are undiagnosed and untreated. He jokes, “why do you think there are so many coffee shops on every corner?” Caffeine is a stimulant and stimulants help with ADHD.

ADHD is composed  of three parts: inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. You do not have to have all three. In fact, many children with ADHD grow out of the hyperactivity part and then the inattention part dominates the picture. ADHD affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part that is in charge of ‘executive function.’ Executive function refers to several things including organizing, planning and emotional control. And Dr. Adrian explains adults with ADHD do not have a problem with focus, they have a problem shifting focus. So for adults with ADHD, interpersonal relationships can be a real challenge.

Dr. Adrian says what often happens is an adult with ADHD has trouble staying focused on what their partner might be saying because they’re constantly shifting their focus to the next thought that pops into their head. Their partner experiences this inattention as not being heard or listened to. Adults with ADHD also struggle with putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. These characteristics can be very damaging in relationships.

In the workplace, adults with ADHD can also struggle because they have difficulty organizing, planning and sequencing. For example, Dr. Adrian says an adult with ADHD may make an appointment with someone but get the time wrong, or they may get so wrapped up in one project they forget about a scheduled meeting.

However, Dr. Adrian says there are good treatment options for adults with ADHD. Dr. Adrian says the first line of medications used are stimulants. He says there is a 70-80 percent response rate. He says stimulants in the treatment of ADHD are “the closest thing to pharmacological magic” he gets to use in his practice. For example, if an adult with ADHD has the right dosage and right medication for about 3 months, that’s when their partner starts to say things like “you’re a much better listener now, I feel much more connected to you.” The other big part of ADHD treatment in adults is skills development. These adults need to learn skills that can help them to better organize their lives and manage their workload like using a digital watch that has reminders or using their smartphone alarm to tell them to move on to the next task.

The ADHD brain is an amazing thing, says Dr. Adrian. These people are highly creative and very interesting. He suggests some of the biggest gifts to humanity have likely been designed by an ADHD brain.

For more information on adult ADHD, Dr. Adrian suggests talking to your family doctor about an assessment and referral. He also suggests reading this book and this book.

For more information on ADHD you can also visit this site.




Organ and Tissue Donation

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Apr 19th, 2016


It’s National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. Last year, 383 organs were transplanted in Alberta. But there are more than 600 Albertans waiting for life-saving organs and many more waiting for life enhancing tissues.

Dr. Debra Isaac, the Director of the Cardiac Transplant Clinic at Foothills Hospital says on average a patient in heart failure will wait for a year for a heart transplant. In that time, 25 percent of patients are taken off the list because they’ve either become too sick or they’ve died. So the need for donation continues to be a concern, and not just for hearts.

Many organs and tissues can be donated says Dr. Isaac, everything from a cornea, heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, small bowel and in terms of tissues one can donate skin, bone, valves, tendons and more. One donation can save 8 lives and improve the quality of life for up to 75 people.

And Dr. Isaac says once most people understand what’s involved when it comes to donation, they’re happy to make that decision. However, many people don’t realize it’s not enough just to register online, or sign the back of  their health card or get the symbol on a driver’s license. Everyone must talk to their family about their organ donation wishes. Dr. Isaac says even if the donor has made their wishes clear, a family member must still sign off on the donation.

Dr. Isaac wants everyone to know that donors are treated with the utmost respect in both the operating room and after because doctors recognize the donor is giving the gift of life to many people. For example, if the family is planning an open casket funeral, their loved one will be just the same.

Dr. Isaac encourages all of us to consider being an organ donor, she saves it’s often a way to find comfort in a tragic situation.

For more information visit this site  or this site  or this site and to register online go here. 

Testicular Cancer

Leah Sarich | posted Friday, Apr 15th, 2016

Nik Knezic was and is a young, fit and active twenty four year old university student. Like most young men, he thought he was invincible. That’s why when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago, he thought it was just absurd. “I never thought it could happen to me.” But it did.

In fact, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men between the ages of 15 and 29. Second year medical student Chris Spence says there’s no way to prevent it, so the best thing guys can do is catch it early. And the best way to do that is to do regular self exams at least once a month. It’s also helpful to know if you might be more at risk. Spence says guys are more at risk if they have a family history of testicular cancer, if their testes did not descend at birth and if they’re tall.

So similar to how women have been doing self breast exams for years, the Movember Foundation is encouraging guys to “know thy nuts.” The idea is if men know what’s normal for them, they’ll also be able to recognize when something is different. So any lumps, bumps or abnormalities need to be checked out by the doctor as soon as possible.

That’s what happened to Nik. He just shifted one day while studying and noticed something felt different. Luckily he got checked out right away because he was diagnosed with stage 1 testicular cancer. He had the lump removed but the cancer returned a few months later as stage two. The cancer had spread to his abdomen. After a big abdominal surgery and 9 weeks of chemotherapy, he is now one year cancer free.

Nik encourages all young men to do the regular self exams at least once a month. And he hopes that by sharing his story he will raise awareness about this type of cancer. Like most cancers, early detection is key!

For more information on testicular cancer visit the Movember Canada website. 


Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Apr 13th, 2016


When Carmen Newsham was a child people used to say they loved her ruddy cheeks. As an adult, it’s a different story. People ask her if she’s nervous, hot or sunburnt. That’s because Carmen has rosacea. For rosacea awareness month, Dermatologist Dr. Catherine Zip explains rosacea is a skin condition where patients experience redness of the central face, usually the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. And some people with the condition will also have bumps on their skin either red ones or white ones. Dr. Zip says half of the those with the condition have eye involvement as well which can mean frequent stys, red, irritated eyes and light sensitivity.

For those who have rosacea, it can be a challenge. Dr. Zip says research shows 75 percent of those with rosacea report decreased self esteem and have a 5 percent greater rate of depression than those with normal skin. Carmen says rosacea can have a huge impact on your emotional well being. She says she’s very self conscious about her rosacea, and even wore her hair over her face or bangs to cover her forehead. But these days, she’s pretty used it. And she’s also been to a dermatologist to explore some treatment options.

Dr. Zip says while there is no cure for rosacea there are many ways to control it. Dr. Zip says treatment usually starts with a topical cream, then antibiotics and if those don’t work there are laser and light therapies that can help.

Carmen has tried a Vitamin C peel and light therapy to reduce the red blood vessels on her cheeks. She’s also aware of her triggers that make her rosacea worse. Carmen tries to avoid sun, caffeine and alcohol and also uses a special skin care regime that is supposed to help with redness. Carmen says her treatments have been “phenomenal” and suggests anyone with rosacea talk to their doctor about a referral to a dermatologist who can determine what treatment options are best for them.

For more information on rosacea visit this website. 


Cans vs. Bottles

Ted & Andy | posted Tuesday, Apr 12th, 2016

Responsive CITY Player for responsive show pages.

Beer tastes better in a bottle – and it is fresher in a bottle too….right?
Apparently you’ve been wrong all these years.
Ted & Andy get the scoop from the folks at “Tool Shed Brewery”.

Subscribe to the podcast

Seasonal Allergies in Children

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Apr 7th, 2016


Does your child have itchy, watery eyes right now? A runny nose? It could be the start of allergy season or it could be a spring cold. Allergist Dr. Joel Doctor says seasonal allergies are very common in kids, for those genetically prone they occur in about 30 percent of the population.

Allergies don’t typically start in children until after the age of four, because children need exposure to pollen for about four seasons and then develop allergies in subsequent summers. Symptoms usually start in the spring, peaking in June and July in Calgary, and then resolving by the fall. Dr. Doctor says symptoms usually appear before the age of 10, peaking in the teens and early adulthood.

Dr. Doctor says typical symptoms of seasonal allergy include itchy eyes, where kids rub their eyes often, sneezing fits, nasal congestion, runny nose and sometimes breathing problems. Seasonal allergies can also be a trigger for asthma. And if itch is dominating the picture and the child has a family history of hayfever, Dr. Doctor says it’s likely allergies and not a cold.

The first step is to avoid triggers. Dr. Doctor says if it’s a dry, hot, windy day maybe that’s a better day to take your child to the movies rather than the park. That said, we want to keep kids outside and active and it’s pretty hard to avoid all those triggers. So, Dr. Doctor recommends starting with an over the counter antihistamine that is non-sedating and long-acting. Dr. Doctor says these medicines are very effective and very safe and can be taken daily for months at a time with no concern for side effects.

If these drugs do not work for your child, then it’s time for a visit to the doctor. Your family physician will confirm the diagnosis of seasonal allergies and then likely prescribe nasal sprays and eye drops. This combination of an antihistamine and prescription eye drops and nasal sprays usually do the trick for most kids, says Dr. Doctor. For those children who are not responding to these therapies a referral to an allergist is required. The allergist will then look at desensitization therapy which is a long and involved process that requires injections or pills taken regularly under the tongue for up to three years. However, the payoff is big with most symptoms being resolved forever.

Dr. Doctor says treating a child for seasonal allergies is very important. New research suggests children with untreated allergies do not perform as well in school. They’re not feeling well, they’re distracted by their itchy eyes and runny noses and their school performance suffers. So, Dr. Doctor says that should be reason enough to get these children the relief they need.

For more information on seasonal allergy visit this website.



World Autism Day

Leah Sarich | posted Friday, Apr 1st, 2016


April 2nd is World Autism Day. According to the World Health Organization one in 160 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other estimates say one in 68 kids, so a lot of families are dealing with this diagnosis. And researchers here at the University of Calgary have noticed much of the services and supports out there for families are based on the idea that there is a stay at home mom able to help the child. Assistant Professor Bonnie Lashewicz says she and her team feel this idea of the mom at home reinforces the idea that dads have little to offer, when in fact, this is not the case at all.

Her research suggests dads are thinking very hard about parenting their child with autism and reflecting on what it means for them as a person. Research already shows dads are often more hands on with their autistic child, more experimental and often help them develop language in different ways.

But Professor Lashewicz’s research suggests there is even more going on with dads. She’s found dads are boldly reclaiming their role as parent, defying the idea that just because they are a dad doesn’t mean they don’t understand their child. Lashewicz tells the story of one dad, tired of the stares and judgement he feels from strangers when he takes his autistic son out in public, had a t-shirt made for his son that says “F-U I’m fine.” She speaks of another dad who takes his autistic son to the movies and to buffer the loud noise of the theatre, he nestles his son against him covering the boy’s ears with his chest and hand.

The goal of this research into dads is to understand the needs and contributions of dads with children on the spectrum. The hope is, in the same way we’re seeing more dads washrooms with diaper changing stations, there will soon be more services, programs and resources for dads with autistic children.

Lashewicz says if all parent resources, both mom and dad, are being supported everyone’s life is smoother.

For more information about this research visit this website.