Winter maladies to avoid

JD: We’ve gone from tax to health and from tax health to body health. Coming into winter and we have somebody very special on the line. Where from Kaye?

KF: Dr. Billy Stoupas from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Billy’s own practice is called The General Practitioner

JD: Billy welcome to the show

BS: Thank you very much pleasure to be on

JD: Have you had your flu shot

BS: I sure have!

JD: Now Kaye you’ve had your flu shot, your husband has had his flu shot he didn’t have to pay but you did.

KF: I know

JD: Cause you are a child bride.

KF: Apparently I came in under some limit. We’ll call it an age limit and it cost me $40 John

JD: Really, I just had  my flu shot and my flu shot had some extra in it, which gave me something else . Let’s find out all about winter health with Dr, Billy. Fire away Kaye

KF: Okay so all around the country it’s technically winter although I’m sure people in Broome are warmer than people in Melbourne. But the reason for inviting Billy on the program is to see if there’s certain conditions that are more prevalent in winter and if retirees can do anything to really boost their health?

JD: Well I’ve got an expert on the line. Fire away Dr. Billy

BS: So absolutely, I’ll paint the picture down in Melbourne yesterday, I think it was a balmy 13 degrees, raining all day, short days so sun up late, down quickly. That’s the kind of winter that we’re thinking about being the stereotypical winter, so the conditions that you guys might be thinking or eluding to is influenza, the flu season. That’s probably the most common one that people worry about, and one of the reasons why we do see a spike during winter time or in winter months is because obviously the reduced sunlight, people are spending more time indoor seeing each other and therefore more likely to spread the infection.  What people can do is what you already have eluded to and that is to make sure that you’re up to date with your influenza vaccinations and there are some criteria that can be met that allows the government to subsidize the flu injections. If you don’t meet that criteria, whether you’re too young or too healthy,  you might as have to pay for your injection.

JD: That’s Kaye too young, too healthy

BS: That’s right, a couple of the other things that people don’t often think about during the winter months are things like dry skin. Our hands get exposed to lots of cold weather and cold water and the skin does dry out, our faces do dry up and people do get rashes or bit of dermatitis so that’s something we can always try to prevent. Especially as the skin does get a little bit older, continue to moisturize, even for those stoic blokes out there. It’s good for you to  get up in the morning, get dressed, put a bit of moisturizer and the same thing at night. Most women have got a night-time routine going, that’s excellent for your skin. Keep it up going through winter, even if you don’t go out as much.

JD: What about using hand sanitizers? We seem to be using them more and more. Can they have a detrimental effect on our skin?

BS: Well they definitely tend to dry it out more, so you should find the more sanitizer you’re using, the more dry your skin so we do encourage more moisturizing.

KF: And Billy in winter, like yesterday in Melbourne, was gloomy, gloomy.  Do you still use your sun block? 

NS: I didn’t go out yesterday but we do recommend if the sun’s out, sun block goes on. if you are going be outside, definitely.

JD: And of course the lack of vitamin D can also have a detrimental effect on our mental state

BS; It can,  so there has been links to that. The evidence isn’t  conclusive but we often say that vitamin D levels  drop in winter because people don’t get enough sunlight so we do recommend getting out there,  getting some sun. This can sound contradictory, but that’s the only way you going to get some vitamin .  It would still work with some sun block on. Something we haven’t touched on that I’d like to is people’s mood in winter. Some people might have heard the phrase called ‘Seasonal Depression’ this is something that is real. We do see it when winter comes around people find it much harder to get up out of bed, their diet changes and your motivation and exercise changes.  This is something we can all help each other with by trying to keep ourselves motivated, you know catch up with people and go for a walk. Really encourage each other, I think that’s really important and obviously if you’re feeling really flat and really low have a chat with your doctor or have a chat with a psychologist.  You know there are no stereotypes, it is okay to ask for help when you need it.

KF: So as people are coming out of the COVID lock down Billy, you know we’ve been sort of super protected and then we are coming out in about cafes, pubs are re-opening and so on. Are there any particular rules you have for people to reemerge?

BS; The most often used phrase is ‘use your common sense’ but it does become apparent that it’s not so common. So the obvious thing is social distancing, keep your distance away from people when you can (obviously family members and people you live with is okay). Make sure you have your flu shot, make sure if you can have a chat with a doctor about getting your pneumonia shot, avoid sick people. You might be having a bit of runny nose don’t go out ,or if someone, or a friend has got a runny nose it’s okay to let them stay away and say ‘look that’s fine lets catch up next time’. The other important thing I, make sure that your diet is good, make sure you’re eating okay, make sure you’re keeping fit because that will help your immunity.

JD: When you said about influenza that’s something that of course we have sort of maybe not thought about as much cause we are so much concerned about the COVID situation. But influenza kills a lot of people and it’s a very, very bad thing.

BS: Absolutely so influenza-what we want to avoid at the moment is to reduce the risk of people having influenza and potentially contracting something like COVID. We know influenza is highly infective and we know lots of people do get it every year. That’s one thing we do know is its clinically caused and we know people feel more comfortable with it but it is something that we can avoid. We should avoid it all cost and hence,  we should all be getting our flu shot.

JD: Billy before you go, Kaye I think you have a question about opioids, I think this is very important one

KF: Well the rules changed on June 1st of the prescription rules so Billy essentially this means people, if they need opioids will get a much smaller amount is that right?

BS: You know the rules did change on June 1st and what they’ve done is they reduced the packet size so some opioids come in a packet of 20, they now come in a packet of 10.One of the main things we need to be aware of is the fact that it for non-chronic pain so let’s say someone has rolled their ankle and they need some Panadeine Fort,  before June the 1st,  they could have a packet of 20 however now what they’ve done you know you don’t really need 20 because iit should only be a problem for a couple of days so we are going to reduce that down to 10 which is  much safer. The  college stands by this being a good idea and a  good change because what it means is if that pain is on-going you going to go back to the GP and say ‘look my pain still there, could there be something else?’ So that means people are going to  be checked more often and it’s also something people don’t think about is you’re less likely to share it with friends or family.  Because what we noticed was some people would get a packet of 20 and they have used 8 and there’s 12 sitting in the drawer, cousin John rolled his ankle and you say, here you go, I’ve got some for you. But without any proper history taking or any medical advice that’s what they’re trying to avoid.

KF: So there’s much more control of opioids which we now can only be a good thing

BS/JD: Absolutely

JD: Well Dr. Billy, thank you so much for giving up your time today, to speak to us on Mind Your Own Retirement and we wish you great health sir, into the future and hope all our members look after theirs as well.

KF: Thank you Billy

BS:  Thank you Kaye, Thank you John. Take care

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