This section is designed to help you gain valuable knowledge and understanding of any potential condition you may be suffering from, as well as helpful advice on how to deal with it.
Drink SensiblyDiscover how you can moderate your alcohol consumption.
Moderating alcohol consumption improves your health, your energy and your budget.
For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol related disease or injury.
To test your knowledge about the healthy impacts of alcohol go to the CHECK section.
Your GP is a great person to speak to if you would like to find out whether the amount of alcohol you are consuming is safe.
- Alcohol may have a negative interaction with any medications you are taking.
- Alcohol impairs your ability to drive. Impaired drivers endanger themselves and others, and they risk severe legal and financial consequences.
10 Tips on Safe DrinkingFor men and women, no more that 2 standard drinks on any day can reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol related disease or injury.
To ensure that you drink safely and stay healthy:
- Try not to mix your alcoholic drinks
- Aim for 2 alcohol free days per week
- Eat before and while you drink to fill your stomach and reduce the amount of drinks you consume - avoid salty foods as these will only make you thirsty
- Make your first drink non alcoholic to quench your thirst
- Finish each drink before you have another - avoid top ups
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water
- Remember your limits - set a limit for yourself and stick to it
- Know when you have had enough and be able to say so - listen to your body
- Try consuming drinks with a lower alcohol content - light / mid strength beer etc...
- Spread drinking your alcoholic drinks over several hours
- National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2009, Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, Commonwealth of Australia
- Queensland Government, Drinking Responsibly: http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Driver-guide/Alcohol-and-drugs.aspx
Eat healthyUnhealthy food choices and inadequate nutrition can lead to an increase in osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and even some cancers.
Go to the CHECK section to find out How well do you eat?
Eating a nutritious diet gives you more energy, improves your health and helps you feel better.
It is important to get at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day.
There are many simple ways in which you can add more fruit and vegetables (2&5) to your daily food intake - small changes each day can make a big difference.
5 tips for healthy eating
- Plan your meals: write down what you will eat and when, for a two to three day period
- Think before you eat: is this food choice good for me?
- Keep busy: plan regular physical activity and be involved in social activities
- Drink tap water: six to eight glasses per day is recommended for hydration and digestion
- Ask for help: visit your GP and ask for help to improve your physical health
Healthy cooking ideasHealthy cooking is simple.
In many cases, your favourite recipes can be modified so they offer a healthier alternative that still tastes great.
- If you need to use oil, try cooking sprays and apply oil with a pastry brush
- Microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling them
- Don’t automatically add salt to your food – try it first
- Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables
- Use a low salt butter or margarine
- When browning vegetables, put them in a hot pan then spray with oil, rather than adding the oil first to the pan. This reduces the amount of oil that vegetables can absorb during cooking
- Include more stir-fry recipes in your diet. Stir-fried vegetables are cooked quickly to retain their crunch (and associated nutrients)
- Choose the reduced-fat version of a food if it exists – for example milk, cheese, yoghurt, salad dressing and gravies
- Use skinless chicken breasts and leaner meat cuts – look for the Heart Foundation tick of approval
- Substitute whole grain flour for white flour when baking
- Substitute cornstarch for white flour when thickening a sauce or casserole
- A pan or saucepan made with a nonstick metal surface eliminates the need for oil – it allows you to cook food without it sticking
Adding more fruit and vegetables (2&5) to your daily intakeFruits and vegetables are necessary for your health and well-being.
They contribute important vitamins, minerals and fibre that are essential for everyday living.
You should aim for at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables.
Eating more fruit and vegetables (2&5) lowers the chance of developing osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and even some cancers.
Here are some simple ways of adding fruit and vegetables (2&5):
- Add a can of chopped tomatoes to stews, casseroles or mince dishes
- Make a sugar-free jelly and add some drained canned fruit
- Remember baked beans are a member of the fruit and vegetable group
- Bananas and stewed apples are great on top of cereal
- Chop vegetables into fingers and use for snacks when you get the munchies
- Prepare a fruit salad, chopping fruits and mixing in a bowl covered in orange or apple juice. This can be left in the fridge for two days and makes a delicious fruit cocktail
- Go for 2&5: www.gofor2and5.com.au
- Healthy Cooking Tips, Better Health Channel: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
Get ActiveSmall steps achieve big results - just 10 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, three times a day along with a nutritious diet will have you feeling better.
Exercising each day has benefits on your energy levels, weight management and enjoyment in life.
Go to the CHECK section and take the How Active Are You? Quiz to find out.
10 minutes of moderate intensity exercise includes a walk around the block, grocery shopping, gardening, or walking to and from public transport.
Regardless of your shape, size, age or fitness level it is easy to make healthy lifestyle choices and be more active each day.
Remember: when getting active wear comfortable footwear, fill a drink bottle with tap water to take with you and wear sunscreen if you are heading outdoors.
10 tips to get active
- Take regular breaks from driving
- Before getting started on increasing your level of physical activity make sure you visit your GP for a physical health check up.
Your GP will help make sure that the physical activity you engage in will have a positive outcome on your overall well being.
- Choose and plan physical activities that you enjoy
- Get off the bus a stop early and walk
- Wash the car
- Take the dog for a walk
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
- Dance to music
- Park at the back of the parking lot and walk to the shops or office
- Check out what group activities are offered by your local council
- Set up a regular walk with a friend or family member
- Weed the garden or sweep your outdoor area
ReferencesAndrology Australia. (2007, November 29). Retrieved May 18, 2011, from Male Body: http://www.andrologyaustralia.org/
Good oral healthMaking time to consider the health of your teeth and gums is essential. Practicing good oral health is simple yet so important.
Drinking six to eight glasses of tap water a day, brushing your teeth twice a day, using dental floss daily and visiting a dentist will set you on the right path to good oral health.
If you require more information on how to access a dentist - speak to your GP.
- If travelling for an extended period of time, visit you dentist for an oral health assessment before you go.
3 tips for good oral health
- Use a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
- Brush your teeth after meals and snacks to prevent acid build up and tooth decay
- Floss each time after cleaning your teeth
How to prevent gum diseasePlaque can irritate our gums and lead to gum disease which in its early stages can make gums bleed when brushing and flossing. It may also cause gums to become red and puffy (called gingivitis).
Regular brushing and flossing can help prevent gum disease. Using dental floss is the best way to remove plaque from in-between teeth. Use dental floss each time after cleaning your teeth.
Eliminating dry mouth'Dry mouth' means a decrease in the flow of saliva causing the mouth to become dry.
'Dry mouth' can be caused by dehydration, drinking coffee, drinking alcohol, smoking, suffering from anxiety or stress and some medications.
If you have a dry mouth, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- A sore throat
- Dry, tingling or burning sensation of the tongue or mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry, cracked lips or sores and split skin at the corners of the mouth
You can eliminate a dry mouth by:
- Drinking six to eight glasses of tap water per day
- Chewing on sugar-free chewing gum
- Talking to your GP or a chemist about which toothpaste may be best for you to use
- Limiting consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and soft drinks
- Look for saliva substitutes at your local pharmacy
Healthy snacks for your teethDental decay has been linked to sweet and acidic foods.
Plaque bacteria in the mouth change sweet food into acid, which causes decay.
It is important to reduce the number of times per day that decay producing foods and drinks are consumed.
Drinks of water and milk are acceptable between meals because they reduce acid on the teeth.
Tooth friendly snacks include:
- Rice cakes
- Dry biscuits
- Raw vegetables
- Sweetened drinks such as juice, cordial, sports drinks
- Food such as honey, jam, lollies and muesli bars
ReferencesInner South Community Health Service, Tooth Brushing Tips, Queensland Health, Oral Health Fact Sheets
Manage anxietyWe can all feel anxious from time to time. For some people, these feelings occur so often and can be so difficult to control that it can impact their everyday lives.
Anxiety disorders are very common with one in four people experiencing an anxiety disorder at some stage within their life.
Sometimes, anxiety can be confused with stress. Stress is a normal reaction to a situation where a person feels under pressure such as when when driving, meeting travel deadlines, or setting up the caravan or camp. However for people with anxiety disorders, these feelings are ongoing, can happen for no apparent reason and can interfere with daily living.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorders, social phobias, specific phobias (for example agoraphobia and claustrophobia), panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If left untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to depression.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders vary from person to person and often develop gradually over time.
Anxiety generally involves ongoing worry or negative thinking that can interfere with daily living.
Symptoms of anxiety may also include:
- Faintness / dizziness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Avoidance behaviour
Tips to manage anxiety
- Identify stress and trigger factors - structured problem solving is a useful technique to help resolve anxiety by addressing the problem. This can involve a number of steps including:
- identifying the problem
- coming up with as many solutions as possible for solving the problem
- selecting a preferred solution
- developing a plan for trying out the solution and giving it a go
- if it doesn’t work, go back to the solution list and try another
- Breathing exercises - breathing techniques can help slow down breathing and relieve anxiety symptoms and help a person to think more clearly
- Relaxation techniques - relaxation techniques can help a person to maintain a manageable level of anxiety
- Thought management - thought management techniques can assist by redirecting attention away from negative thinking. A simple technique is called ‘thought replacement' which involves developing a set of statements that will counteract worrying thoughts for example "This is difficult but I have been through it before and have got through it okay"
- Lifestyle changes - enjoying a healthy and active lifestyle can not only improve overall well being but may also assist in managing anxiety on a daily basis
Who can help you manage anxiety?The sooner you get help, the sooner you can learn to control these conditions so they don’t control you.
Your GP can assist you to obtain a proper diagnosis as well as access appropriate services and health professionals to help manage your anxiety.
- Beyond Blue: National Depression Initiative: www.beyondblue.org.au
- Anxiety Disorders - Better Health Channel: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
- Australian Psychology Society Limited - Anxiety: www.psychology.org.au
Managing medicinesWhen away from home for a period of time or when travelling, it's important to manage medications appropriately. The following tips will help you to avoid problems with medication when travelling;
- Carry a list of all your medication and a list of contact information for your regular GPs, pharmacies and health providers. This will assist health professionals to assess your current medications should you require medical assistance.
- If you require regular medication, ensure you organise sufficient supplies before you leave.
- fill any prescriptions you require before you go and have a plan in place for refilling them.
- If you require syringes to administer medication (such as for insulin-dependent diabetes), consider how many syringes you will need and check that you can access them; or take them with you.
- If you are taking large amounts of over-the-counter or Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medication with you, it is a good idea that you take a letter of explanation from your pharmacy or your GP.
- Keep your medications with you to ensure you have easy access to medicines at all times
- Check and maintain the storage requirements for your medications when travelling, particularly in hot climates. For example, some medications require refrigeration.
- Some medications may affect your ability to drive.
A number of resources are available from the NPS to help you manage your medications at home and while away:
Click here to download the Medicines List from the NPS website. The Medicines List allows you to record the details of all medications you are currently taking. Some of the most important things you need to know — such as what your medicine is for, how much to use and when to use it — can be found on the Medicines List. Ensure you print an up to date copy of your list prior to embarking your journey.
Brand Choices Brochure
If you require additional supplies of any medication while you are travelling, it is likely that different pharmacies will dispense different brands of the same medication. The NPS' "Brand Choices" brochure explains what it means if you are dispensed a different brand of your usual medication. Click here to download the brochure.
Reduce smokingReduce and aim to quit smoking to live a healthier life and feel better.
Some reasons to quit smoking are:
- it reduces your chance of developing lung cancer, heart disease and other associated diseases;
- it improves appearance and hygiene - stained teeth and fingers as well as the smell of smoke disappears;
- people who quit smoking may only need a lower dose of anti-psychotic medication - your GP can provide you with advice;
- extra cash;
- help increase your confidence and sense of self achievement.
10 tips on quittingQuitting smoking has many health and financial benefits...and there are resources and people who can help support you.
Read through the 10 tips to plan how you can stop smoking.
- Set yourself goals to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you have each day and set a date to quit.
- Keep a journal of how many cigarettes you have each day and the times when you smoke, to help you identify triggers for smoking.
- Let your family and friends know that you wish to quit so they can provide you with encouragement - ask others not to smoke around you or offer you cigarettes.
- Remove items such as ashtrays and lighters that remind you of smoking.
- Plan ahead for situations in which you are likely to be tempted to smoke such as social occasions.
- Write down all the reasons that made you decide to quit smoking and read through your list every day.
- Drink plenty of tap water to flush the nicotine and other toxins out of your body.
- At times when you know you would usually smoke, such as after dinner, plan another activity, such as going for a walk.
- Set a goal to buy something nice with the money you are saving by not buying cigarettes.
- If you are losing the motivation to quit, remind yourself of the many health and financial benefits of quitting.
Who can help you quit?The Quitline 13 QUIT (13 7848) and your GP can help you plan to quit smoking and provide support whilst quitting and staying a non-smoker.
Speak to your GP about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches or chewing gum.
Your GP will be able to help you find a solution that’s best for you.
- Quit Smoking: 10 Tips, MIMS Consumer Health Group www.mydr.com.au
- Planning to Quit, Queensland Government www.health.qld.gov.au
Vaccination historyImmunisation is an important public health measure in Australia and is important for old Australians, particularly grey nomads who have a greater risk of acquiring and transferring disease.
Talk to your doctor and make sure that your vaccinations are up to date before you travel. Relevant vaccine preventable diseases may include:
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
Visit your GP before you travelYour physical health is just as vital to your overall well being as your mental health.
Your GP can provide you with a physical health assessment and, if necessary, provide advice on a number of ways that you can improve your physical health.
The role of a GP is to help improve and maintain your physical health, mental health and overall well being.
Some of the common and routine physical health checks your GP may conduct include:
- Weight, Waist, Height, Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Blood pressure
- Lipids (including Cholesterol)
- Prostate Cancer
Tips for visiting a GPYou are entitled to get the most out of your GP visit.
Your GP is there to support you - you can help them do this by taking these steps:
- Ask the receptionist at your local general practice about bulk billing options
- Take the ‘Questions to Ask Your GP’ sheet with you to help you get the answers you need - access a list of questions in the FIND section
- Take a pen with you so that you can write down the answers to your questions
- Take along a family member or friend if you would like someone with you