Friday, Sep. 09, 2016 2:35PM EDT
I was doing some research on the Internet for a relative who suffers from arthritis. I came across a bunch of U.S. clinics offering stem-cell treatments for arthritis and other illnesses. Are these clinics legit?
There is good reason to be extremely wary of anyone claiming to be using stem cells to treat patients. Although stem cells hold great promise, there are only a few safe and proven therapies for these cells at the present time.More »
Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 2:59PM EDT
I bought a fitness tracker, hoping it will help me boost my physical activity. However, a friend said the device might expose my personal health information to snooping by Internet hackers. Should I be worried?
A recent study by researchers at the University of Toronto pointed to several security and privacy risks associated with wearable fitness trackers. But whether these are serious enough for you to stop using your device is really your call. You could be concerned – or not.More »
Wednesday, Aug. 03, 2016 3:31PM EDT
Working toward a more ideal posture is important for everyone, but it is particularly important for anyone who is currently or has ever been pregnant; ideal posture decreases the frequency and intensity of back and pelvic pain, prolapses and incontinence, while simultaneously increasing ease and quality of movement and breath.More »
Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2016 2:58PM EDT
My mother is in her 70s and suffers from a lot of health problems. I am very worried that she has been given too many different medications that are too strong for her. What should I do?
It’s possible that your mother may need all the drugs she is currently taking. But it’s also true that patients sometimes get prescribed drugs and remain on them when they are no longer required.More »
Thursday, Jul. 21, 2016 4:35PM EDT
I have a complaint with the care my father received at an Ontario hospital. I’ve heard in the news media that the province has a new patient ombudsman – Christine Elliott. Can she help me?
Ontario is the first province to establish an ombudsman to deal specifically with the concerns of patients and their caregivers.More »
Friday, Jun. 17, 2016 10:27AM EDT
My aunt was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Her doctor said she had about six months to live. But she died just over one month later. Are doctors usually this bad at predicting how long patients will survive?
Unfortunately, doctors get it wrong more often than they get it right, and most of the time, they overestimate how long patients will live.More »
Tuesday, Jun. 14, 2016 3:17PM EDT
If, as a society, we want to become healthier – as opposed to simply continuing to spend money on “health” products and wasting time in a constant cycle of weight loss, weight gain, frustration and self-sabotage – we need to rethink how we frame health and weight.
For the most part we use aggressive language to talk about health and weight: “Fighting the battle of the bulge” becomes about going to “war” with one’s body. The problem is, this type of discourse does not set anyone up for long-term success. If you launch a full-on assault on your body, it will inevitably fight back.More »
Thursday, Jun. 09, 2016 12:52PM EDT
A client of mine recently presented me with her pretty basket of pill bottles. “I never miss one,” she reported with a smile. “I am very careful with my medications.”
With reading glasses perched on her nose, she picked up Bottle 1 and said, “This is for my blood pressure and I take this twice a day.” Check. She pulled out Bottle 2, and said, “This one I am not sure of.” The label was from the local vet clinic, and the “patient’s” name looked like one of a pet. My heart sank.More »
Thursday, Jun. 02, 2016 1:30PM EDT
After I’d been feeling really miserable for many months, my doctor finally concluded I had Lyme disease. He put me on antibiotics for a month and my symptoms went away. But now that I’ve stopped taking the antibiotics, I’m feeling horrible again. Is this typical for Lyme disease?
THE ANSWERMore »
Wednesday, Jun. 01, 2016 3:35PM EDT
Too many people underestimate the stress that golf puts on the body; after months of not golfing during the winter, they jump right back in.
To prevent injuries, golfers need proper biomechanics and a specific base level of strength, range of motion and co-ordination. When the body doesn’t have the capacity to meet those demands, participants are at greater risk of long-term aches, pains and even injuries. No wonder more than half of novice golfers are suffering from back pain at any one time.More »
Thursday, May. 26, 2016 2:23PM EDT
Too often health is framed as deprivation: Something you have to do rather than something you want to do, an existence based on the cake you can’t eat and the social activity (such as drinking) you have to cut out.
It is no wonder so many of us yo-yo diet and exercise, develop feelings akin to adolescent rebellion toward healthy food and exercise, and adopt the all-too-common “I deserve” mentality (the “I have been good all week, so I deserve [fill in the blank]”). Who wants to feel constrained and deprived?More »
Thursday, May. 26, 2016 1:54PM EDT
THE QUESTION: Summertime is finally here and I want to get a new pair of sunglasses. What should I buy to best protect my eyes?
THE ANSWER: There is certainly good reason to guard your eyes against the sun. But it can be a challenge finding a reliable pair of sunglasses that protect you from damaging rays, because the companies that make them are self-regulated.More »
Tuesday, May. 17, 2016 3:18PM EDT
I have a new family doctor and she wants me to stop taking a drug called omeprazole, which I need to control my heartburn. I’ve been on this drug for years without any problems. Why should I stop it now?
Omeprazole, also known by the brand name Losec, is one in a class of medications called proton pump inhibitors – or PPIs. They are extremely effective in reducing the production of stomach acid, which can back up into the throat and cause that horrible feeling of heartburn.More »
Wednesday, May. 11, 2016 3:30PM EDT
Soft or hard, thick or thin, memory foam or latex?
When selecting a pillow, there are many choices. Making the right choice, keeping that pillow clean and knowing when to replace it will affect your sleep quality and potentially how you feel each morning.
There is no single pillow that is best for everyone. And unless you’ve been waking up with neck pain, proper pillow selection is likely not on your radar. Most people use a pillow that is well past its prime – if it has lost its original shape, become flat or lumpy or has been in regular use longer than a year, it’s likely ready for replacement. If that’s your case, consider the following recommendations.More »
Thursday, May. 05, 2016 12:36PM EDT
My father is 84 and has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The medication he has been prescribed for pain isn’t working. He wants to try medical marijuana. But getting a doctor to prescribe cannabis is like pulling teeth. His doctor says there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support its use, even though it’s legally permitted by the Canadian government. What can I do to get my father cannabis?More »
Tuesday, May. 03, 2016 3:31PM EDT
My 80-year-old mother recently spent more than a day in an emergency department waiting for a hospital bed so she could be treated for pneumonia. During the long wait, she became confused and agitated. She just wasn’t herself. The doctor said she was suffering from delirium. What is delirium and what causes it?More »
Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2016 2:26PM EDT
My mom has been diagnosed with colon cancer and has an appointment to see a surgeon. What is the average waiting period from the consultation visit to surgery?
Provincial health authorities have established general targets for how long patients should wait for surgery. (I will return to those targets later.) But it’s still hard to say how long your mother will have to wait because the timing of her surgery will likely depend on the characteristics of her tumour.More »
Sunday, Apr. 17, 2016 12:00PM EDT
Pilates and yoga can be misunderstood as being one and the same.
Both disciplines emphasize breath regulation, mindfulness during practice and alignment, but that doesn’t mean they should be used interchangeably. It is important to understand the key differences; depending on your goals, exercise history and body type, one might be more appropriate for your individual needs.More »
Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016 2:34PM EDT
There is a wealth of information about the sexual activities, unwanted pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infection patterns seen in adolescent girls and boys. As a society, we have become preoccupied with the role of social media on a young person’s sexuality and on their sense of sexual self-esteem. However, one domain of sexuality that we know little about is in regards to the sexual difficulties that adolescents experience.More »
Sunday, Apr. 10, 2016 12:00PM EDT
Can you describe a “typical” assisted death? I would like to know exactly what is given to the patient and whether it involves any suffering.
The federal government is still in the process of drafting assisted-dying legislation. It has until June 6 to enact a new law that complies with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2015 that struck down the country’s ban on doctor-assisted death.More »
Sunday, Apr. 03, 2016 12:00PM EDT
Research shows that sleep is among the most critical factors for peak performance, memory, productivity, immune function and mood regulation – but the speed and information overload of today’s pace of life can challenge sleep quality, resulting in a decline in health and cognitive function.
Our best intentions to catch up on a sleep debt can lead to inconsistent patterns of sleep. This is a slippery slope. Unfortunately, an hour less tonight does not equal an extra hour tomorrow.More »
Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2016 3:16PM EDT
I suffer from depression and my doctor has given me a prescription for antidepressant medication. She says my mood may improve if I also increase my level of physical activity. But I find it hard enough just getting out of bed in the morning – not to mention exercising. Can physical activity really help?More »
Thursday, Mar. 24, 2016 1:31PM EDT
It’s that time of year when we throw out the old, acquire some new, clean up what exists and organize what remains.
Historically, the concept of spring cleaning has been applied to our houses, but moving forward it should also include our bodies.
The winter months can wreak havoc on our physical structure – often encouraging inactivity, muscular imbalance, overall weakness and the accumulation of “possessions” (yes, fat cells) that we may want to shed as the weather improves.More »
Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016 5:28PM EDT
Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016 3:30PM EDT
Do your legs ever drive you crazy in the evening when you are sitting or lying down? Do you feel compelled to get up, stretch them, walk around?
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is an apt name for a common disorder that is considered sleep-related, even though it occurs when you’re awake, usually in the evening. In some cases, it is just annoying; in others, it is downright frustrating, interfering with evening activities and the ability to get a good night’s sleep.More »
Sunday, Mar. 20, 2016 12:00PM EDT
My biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to start running is “just start” – lace up your running shoes and go.
The hardest part of any exercise program – especially running – is getting started. When I first started to run, each step was torture. Now running is my bliss.
Your first workout doesn’t have to be perfect. Even if you simply jog for one minute and then walk the rest of the time, it is always better to do something rather than nothing.More »
Thursday, Mar. 17, 2016 12:51PM EDT
Have you ever said the wrong thing? Of course you have. You’re human. And when it comes to speaking to caregivers, conversations can be especially fraught.
Statistics Canada tells us more than eight million Canadians provide care to a chronically ill or disabled loved one. That’s a lot of people that are going through caregiving journeys, and if you are not one of them, you may find yourself putting your foot in your mouth unknowingly.More »
Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2016 2:38PM EDT
I recently took my elderly father to a hospital emergency department because he was suffering from severe stomach pain. A doctor saw him fairly promptly and decided to admit him. But my father then had to wait more than a day in the emergency department before he was moved to a bed in a hospital room. Why did he have to wait so long?More »
Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016 3:13PM EDT
At least once a week, I hear from patients that smoking marijuana helps them to relax and to sleep. I know that other clinicians hear the same thing because they ask me about it at insomnia workshops. Does cannabis really improve sleep?
Several studies done in the 1970s examined the effects of smoked marijuana on objective sleep patterns, measured using polysomnography. This method of overnight recording involves the tracking of brain waves, eye movements and muscle tone in order to distinguish the sleep stages and their pattern of occurrence throughout the night.More »
Sunday, Mar. 06, 2016 12:00PM EST
Food studies frustrate me. One week a study says one thing. The next week another study says the opposite. Why do researchers churn out so many contradictory studies – and why does the news media keep covering them?
It’s fair to say that many people share your frustration – despite the fact that food studies have a lot of popular appeal. After all, in theory at least, this type of research has the potential to empower people. If you knew what specific foods could prevent certain diseases, you wouldn’t need to rely on doctors and prescription drugs.More »