How’re those stress levels?

We’re into week 2 of South Africa’s lockdown and I think it’s safe to say that there is not a single person who has been immune to the effect this has had on our mental health.  From chatting to friends, family, patients and colleagues, the most common thread amongst all of us, is this underlying worry that plagues us everyday.   It’s this heightened sense of awareness and uncertainty that grabs you at the most random of times.

 

This lead me to thinking about what this whole CoronaMona (as I’ve coined it) is doing to our physical health.  Stress is one of the most common health ailments in our healthcare system  – it is the single most common cause of a variety of health issues.  When seeing my functional medicine patients for the first time, chronic stress or a stressful life event is so often the main catalyst to an entire range of symptoms that eventually leads the patient into my door.

 

If we recognise stress as it starts, we can implement lifestyle changes to support our health and hormonal function so that those changes in our body are mitigated not only in onset but in severity as well.  Making a few early proactive changes will hopefully prevent an entire flurry of health issues a few weeks or month down the line.

 

But I know it is MUCH easier said than done.

 

Before we get to the proactive changes, lets start with the basics of stress and the hormonal response thereof.

When we’re stressed, our body perceives that as a threat and this perceived threat leads to a response in our hormonal system.  The first hormone organ involved is the adrenal gland – many people have heard of adrenal health and the stress response. The adrenal glands are tiny organs sitting on top of the kidneys which initially release our stress hormones – both adrenaline and cortisol.

 

Adrenaline is released first and this tells the body to escape with an immediate increase in heart rate, release of glucose and gets us on alert.  Cortisol is also released at the same time but this release is more slow and sustained than that of adrenaline.

 

Continued stress means that we are producing far too much of these acute hormones which then causes further  imbalances and it is these imbalances that lead to the physical manifestations of stress – chronic inflammation, hypertension, insomnia, fatigue, decreased immunity with repeat and chronic infections, weight loss or gain and mood problems.  This list is endless!

 

Stress is inherent in our life, regardless of what is happening in SA and the world at any given time.  Yet we can help our adrenals out by supporting their health and adjusting the hormonal response to stress before we hit adrenal burnout.  This is where our lifestyle choices come into play:

  1. The best adrenal support is meditation, yoga and breathing exercises.  These interventions have been clinically proven to immediately decrease cortisol levels and produce a sense of calm.
  2. Any lifestyle change would not be complete without addressing diet and here limiting sugar, carbohydrates, processed food and increasing fresh (preferably organic) vegetables.  This is so difficult right now as it is so easy to reach for a bag of crisps while lying in front of your tv watching Netflix but stay with me here – health is more important!
  3. Routine is especially vital as well.  Not only is sleep important but the quality thereof as well!
  4. Daily exercise which isn’t too intense and exhaustive helps improve the quality of our sleep and decreases raised cortisol.  Now is not the time to start these “Lockdown Marathons” of 42km around your house – this does not support ideal adrenal function at all and may place them under further strain.
  5. Last but not least, nutrients and vitamin supplementation to support adrenal health.  None of us are eating properly (myself included) and because of this we need to take in extra nutrients in the form of supplementation.  For adrenal health, the group of herbal adaptogens include ashwaganda, rhodiola and licorice root to name a few.  Others include vitamin B and C as well as phosphatidylserine and some prescription bioidentical hormones as well when needed (you will need to see a functional medicine doctor for these).

 

Having a holistic approach to treating something as “simple” as stress is so important!  Guided intervention with a doctor with routine follow up and adapting your health plan as your health and circumstances change, is so important.  It isn’t a quick fix but it’s a sustainable health plan – that’s what we’re here for.

We are still seeing patients at Elan Healthstyle for functional medicine consults – both new patients and routine follow ups in person or virtual consultation.  If you’re concerned about anything, please pop us an email and we can advise on the best course forward.

But until then, it’s safe to say our lives and the outlook thereof, has changed dramatically in the last few weeks.  I know mine has.

Dr Allison Blair 

Posted: Apr 9, 2020 By: Comment: 1

Elan COVID-19 Protocol

Patient Management Protocol for COVID-19 at Elan Healthstyle

Patients that suspect infection with Corona virus please do the following:
• Do not enter our or any other healthcare facility
• Phone the practice immediately at 013 590 7345
• Phone the NICD (National Institute for communicable disease) tollfree no 0800 029 999 as well
• Implement home isolation immediately and protect yourself and your family members.
• Apply the basic precautionary measure to avoid spread masks, hand and respiratory hygiene.
• Please do not book lung physio session without a doctor’s referral stating diagnosis and management.

 

Please read below for more detailed information:

Patients with a high index of suspicion of Corona virus infection need to be investigated.  Those presenting with the following symptoms:
– Fever
– Sore throat
– Cough
– Shortness of breath
– Runny nose

WITH the following criteria in the 14 days prior to symptom onset:

– Close contact with confirmed/probable case of Corona infection
– History of travel to area/country with local transmission.
– Worked in or attended any healthcare facility where a patient with Corona virus was being treated.

⋅  Please phone our practice immediately and also phone the NICD tollfree number as stated above.

⋅  Please do not enter any healthcare facility without phoning first, in order to limit spread.

⋅  Dr’s Blair and Camphor will assist patients with a high index of suspicion via telephonic/skype consult addressing the following matters:
– Testing for Coronavirus – how, where and what.
– Management of symptoms for uncomplicated infection if confirmed positive.

⋅  Please implement home isolation immediately using the home-isolation fact sheet – please inquire from our reception to send along via email.

⋅  Please implement the necessary precautionary measures immediately – hand washing and de-sanitising with alcohol-based disinfectant, wearing of a mask or any coverage of mouth and nose, cough hygiene.

⋅  Physio patients – no walk-in lung physio patients will be assisted without a doctor’s referral letter stating diagnosis and management. Please arrange doctor’s visit prior to your lung physio appointment and email your referral letter to physio@elanhealth.co.za.  This is for both adults and children. Strict measures are implemented in order to limit spread.

⋅  Please consider getting vaccinated against flu – Influenza, as this might complicate matters heading into winter season. Please inquire form our reception if you would like to have the vaccine done at our practice.

⋅  Travel advice: Please see the WHO recommendations on international travel but travelers who are ill/has underlying chronic disease/elderly should avoid travel to endemic areas:
https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/updated-who-recommendations-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-covid-19-outbreak

⋅  For more information, please visit www.sacoronavirus.co.za

⋅  To join the WhatsApp support group, send “hi” to 0600123456

Please stick to the following protocol in order to keep Elan an infection free healthcare zone so that we may continue to manage patients and continuity of medical treatment.

Posted: Mar 16, 2020 By: Comment: 0

COVID-19

With the recent and worldwide hysteria caused by the COVID-19 / CORONA virus, now also classified as a worldwide pandemic, Dr Carike Camphor addresses some frequently asked questions.

 

 

What is CORONA virus?

COVID-19 or nCoV is a strain descending from the Corona virus family of viruses. It has not been previously diagnosed in humans.  Corona viruses can cause illness ranging from the common cold, to more severe disease such as acute respiratory distress syndrome.

 

How does it spread?

Corona viruses are transmitted from animals to humans and then from human to human via droplets. This means one would come into contact with an infected person’s droplets via sneezing and coughing.  These droplets have been found to be aerosol too – which means they are in the air around us after coughing or sneezing.

 

What are the typical signs of infection of COVID-19?

Symptoms can range from coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever, shortness of breath and in severe cases, lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, organ failure and death.

 

How can you protect yourself?

Frequent and thorough handwashing – alcohol-based hand rubs and with soap and water.

Maintain a good social distance of at least 1m between you and someone who is coughing or sneezing to avoid droplet spread contamination.

Practice good respiratory hygiene by covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.

 

What must you do if you think you have been infected?

Inform your local healthcare facility VIA TELEPHONE FIRST and ask for advice on where to go and whom to see for diagnosis and treatment. This information can be obtained from 0800029999.

Isolate yourself as quickly as possible.

Wear protective gear to cover your mouth and nose such as an N95 mask.

Please do not enter a healthcare facility (your doctor’s consulting room) without precautions or warning as this may put the healthcare workers at risk and further spread of the virus.

We need our healthcare workers to manage the disease during these uncertain times.

 

What about traveling internationally now?

Affected areas should be avoided as much as possible due to the rapid spread of the virus.

If you are already ill or have a chronic illness, complete avoidance is essential.

If travel cannot be postponed, wear protective gear and practice strict hand and respiratory hygiene.

 

Who is more vulnerable to get infected?

People of all ages have been infected but older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk of developing complications.

 

For further information visit http://www.nicd.ac.za/media/alerts/ or call 0800029999.  Please note that Elan HealthStyle is not a designated treatment facility for Corona virus.

Protect yourself and stay safe.

Dr Carike Camphor.

 

Posted: Mar 12, 2020 By: Comment: 0

Better late than never… Welcome!

Dr Carike Camphor, Dr Allison Blair and Dirkie Coomans

One would think that we would be more organised with blog posts, but alas, the months have run away from us!

So, I thought I would start off with a little history of Elan HealthStyle as a brand before we start the educational blog posts.

Elan was created by me, Carike Camphor and Dirkie Coomans in 2018.  We each wanted to create our own working environment where we could grow our practice, be our own boss and focus on those aspects of medicine and physiotherapy which are of interest to us.

The brand has evolved in our short time of being open and will keep evolving to provide services of relevance to our patients.  What worked a few months ago, will not necessarily work in the next few which is why we find it essential to listen to our patients and evolve with you and your needs.

As doctors, Dr Carike Camphor and myself have found that there was a gap in the market with regards to women’s health in Nelspruit.  We aim to provide a confidential and safe medical environment which caters to women’s needs – from having your anti-wrinkle injections done, to having your routine pap smear and health screening.

We are passionate about empowering women and their health and giving them back their confidence, not only in terms of appearance but vitality, health and well-being as well!

While completing my Advanced Diploma in Aesthetic Medicine over the last 2 years, I was exposed  to functional medicine and that approach to treating common presenting complaints within a practice.  Subsequently, that is how both me and Dr Carike Camphor have started approaching our patients.  Dr Carike is furthering her knowledge starting this year with bimonthly functional medicine modules over the next 2 years.  More about that in the next few months…

Going forward, we will continue the blog posts with monthly articles.  If you’re interested in signing up to the doctors’ newsletter, please follow the link on the home page.

Stay healthy!

 

Allison Blair.

Posted: Mar 9, 2020 By: Comment: 0