Another year has gone by already. Brace yourselves: Flu season is coming. And along with the coughing, fevers and aches, you can expect a lot of unreliable or downright wrong information about the flu vaccine. While you can’t entirely germ-proof yourself or your child, you can learn to separate fact from fiction, keep your family healthier, save time, money and frustration. Let’s start by putting some of the more common myths and misunderstandings to rest.

A couple travelling through Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) came to see me a few weeks ago. The 28-year-old Caucasian female of the couple had been in Hanoi for the last five days. She had been suffering with sore bones and was feeling she may have overdone it in Thailand where they had been trekking, but the pain was getting worse.

This story starts over a year ago when a happy gentleman from the Philippines visited me for his yearly health check. These involve a range of tests and with this particular patient I noticed that his blood pressure was on the high side. I gave him advice which included a change of diet and some steady exercise. My patient was also starting to show early signs of diabetes and so I prescribed him medication. But this is difficult to understand for a person who does not feel ill; health checks have a purpose of finding disease early and preventing disease from developing further.

 

The biggest challenge to being a GP is sometimes meeting patients who aren’t actually ill, but really need more emotional help. It can be like deciphering a mental puzzle with no clues. One morning a few weeks ago, a young Caucasian female traveller arrived at the clinic. She was in her twenties, was travelling through Asia with her friends, and had arrived from Thailand a few days before. The consultation started as she was concerned as she’d had diarrhoea for three days with lower abdominal pain.

A student turned traveller turned up at the FMP clinic on Saturday night at 10.45pm with pains across the chest and an uncomfortable heartbeat; he’d spent the day with friends walking the streets of Hanoi looking at some of the old buildings and having great fun. He told the staff he’d had a few late nights with friends drinking the local beers and enjoying the new tasty food. He was having a really great time; but now he felt strange with pains and dizziness.

Why does becoming an expatriate bring out the Extreme Sports Expat? Do we have to become more adventurous than friends and family back home? A recent survey of expats revealed that just over half expect to take part in extreme sports while abroad; off-piste skiing, quad biking, kite surfing, sand boarding, kayaking, white-water rafting and rock climbing are booming. The expat community seems not short of enthusiasts and the sports are getting more dangerous.

 

We are continually dealing with patients who have been in traffic accidents. Some 95% of our traffic accidents are as a result of motorbikes or scooters.

Living in Vietnam; travelling through Asia; enjoying street food; children and play dates; family pets — these all mean that at one time you will have to research and ask for assistance regarding worms.

Vietnam’s wildlife is as diverse as it is beautiful. In fact, Vietnam alone boasts more than 11,000 species of animals. As beautiful as these are, it is important to recognize the dangers that wildlife can bring and be prepared for any eventuality.

We all know small amounts of bacteria in food won’t affect us; our immune systems can fight off minor infections. But this isn’t the only reason for concern. Vegetables and fruits on the shelves in the supermarket and produce labelled ‘organic’ are showing high levels of pesticides and pollutants. Are we helping ourselves by removing the skins or washing?

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