There are many different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common. Arthritis can affect anyone at any age, from infancy through to adulthood. It is the single greatest cause of disability in New Zealand.
Arthritis New Zealand’s website is an excellent source of information
Asthma is a common condition that affects up to 20 percent of nzchildren and adults. It causes breathing difficulty and coughing.
For detailed information visit:
Cervical cancer usually develops over many years, often with no symptoms. It can be prevented, however, through screening and early detection. Smear tests are recommended for women between ages 20 and 70 as a means of detecting cervical cells that may develop into cancer
Cervical cancer is caused by some strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common virus that is passed on by sexual contact.
You can help protect yourself against cervical cancer by:
- having the HPV immunisation (when you’re young)
- having regular cervical smears, as an adult, if you’ve ever been sexually active
Chickenpox is very easy to catch (it’s highly contagious).
The chickenpox virus spreads through the air (by coughing and sneezing) and by direct contact with mucus, saliva, or liquid from blisters. You can catch the chickenpox virus from touching clothing or other objects that have the blister liquid on them.
The incubation period is the time from when your child comes into contact with a person with chickenpox, to when the first symptoms appear. The incubation period for chickenpox is usually 14 to 16 days but can range from 10 to 21 days.
A child is infectious 1-2 days before they get the rash until all the blisters have dried up. This usually takes 5 to 7 days.
Please view the following websites for useful information :
Good information for New Zealand parents about children’s health is available at:
It is currently estimated that 60,000 to 70,000 New Zealanders have coeliac disease (1 in 70), however up to 80% of those are unaware they have the condition.
Coeliac disease (pronounced see-lee-ak) is a permanent intestinal reaction to dietary gluten. In coeliac disease the cells lining the small bowel (intestine) are damaged and inflamed. This causes flattening of the tiny, finger like projections, called villi, which line the inside of the bowel.
The function of the villi is to break down and absorb nutrients in food. When these villi become flat, the surface area of the bowel is greatly decreased, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. This may lead to deficiencies in vitamins (such as folic acid) and minerals (e.g. iron and calcium).
Common in adults:
- Diarrhoea – This may begin at any age and is often present for years prior to diagnosis. It may first appear after other illnesses (e.g. gastroenteritis) or abdominal operations
- Fatigue, weakness and lethargy
- Anaemia – iron or folic acid deficiency are the most common. The anaemia will either not respond to treatment or will recur after treatment until the correct diagnosis is made and a gluten free diet is commenced
- Weight loss
- Chronic constipation – some are more likely to experience constipation rather than diarrhoea
- Flatulence and abdominal distension
- Cramping and bloating
- Nausea and vomitin
- Osteoporosis (thin bones)
Coeliac disease is treated by a life-long gluten free diet.
For more information and advice on gluten free diet, visit the below websites
For good up-to-date information that is easy to follow, the Family Planning Association of New Zealand has excellent on-line resources. This includes pamphlets which can be downloaded.
For detailed information on different methods of contraception, see the following website
Depression is a common illness that can affect anyone.
It can affect different people in different ways. There are a variety of treatment options including medication and talking therapies
Some useful websites to check out are:
Diabetes is diagnosed when a person has too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. This occurs because the body is not producing enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels in the normal range.
For more information, visit www.diabetes.org.nz/about_diabetes
Gout is a common and painful form of arthritis. It causes severe joint pain and swelling, especially in your toes, knees, elbows, wrists and fingers. If left untreated, gout can cause serious damage to your joints, kidneys and quality of life.
- Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in your blood. The uric acid forms crystals in your joints.
- High uric acid levels are mainly due to genetic factors. While common in Māori and Pasifika men, gout is not normal – see your doctor if you have the symptoms.
- If you have more than two attacks of gout per year, your doctor may prescribe a medication to prevent further attacks by lowering your uric acid levels. The key to preventing gout attacks is getting uric acid levels to below 0.36 mmol/L.
- If left untreated gout can cause permanent damage to your joints and harm your kidneys.
- With effective treatment, a gout attack may be controlled within 12–24 hours. Medication and lifestyle changes can help prevent gout attacks.
What are the symptoms of gout?
The symptoms of gout include severe pain in one or more joints. In most cases, gout affects one joint at a time.
- The joint most commonly affected is the large toe. Other sites include your forefoot, instep, heel, ankle and knee. Gout is uncommon in the upper body, but it can affect your fingers, wrists and elbows.
- Gout attacks are very painful. A gout attack usually begins suddenly, often at night. Within hours, the joint becomes red, swollen, hot and painful. This is due to uric acid crystals in the joint causing sudden inflammation.
- The pain and tenderness can be so severe that even gentle pressure from bedding is a problem. Even though only one small joint is affected, the inflammation can be intense enough to cause fever, muscle aches and other flu-like symptoms.
- An attack usually lasts for 5 to 10 days but in rare cases, it can continue for weeks.
For more information , view the following websites :
Hayfever is an allergic reaction to something (an allergen) in the environment. Common allergens are pollen from grasses (hence the name hayfever) or trees, spores from fungi and moulds and animal fur. The symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes and an itchy throat.
For more information, visit:
Useful information is available at:
Immunisation information: the National Immunisation schedule
This is the group of immunisations( vaccinations) that is publicly funded in New Zealand.
For further information on these immunisations and the infectious diseases that they can prevent, go to:
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
Influenza immunisation is available annually and is free to people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women and adults and children with long term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. Even if you do not qualify for a free flu vaccine, you can still benefit from having one every year.
People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can experience a number of symptoms including abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and distension, excess wind (flatulence), nausea, diarrhoea and constipation.
It is important to make sure there is no other underlying cause for the symptoms before assuming that IBS is the problem because sometimes serious illnesses can cause these symptoms. Your doctor can arrange tests to help detect serious illnesses that may need urgent treatment. These tests may include blood tests (including a test for Coeliac Disease), stool tests and colonoscopy (where the large bowel is visualised with a fibre-optic scope).
Specialists advise treating IBS with a diet known as the FODMAP diet .Many people with IBS find that their symptoms are much less if they avoid eating food containing FODMAPs.
For information on IBS and FODMAPs, see the following website
Also called Coronary Heart Disease and Coronary Artery Disease, occurs when the blood vessels (known as coronary arteries) which supply the heart muscle become narrowed (clogged up). IHD causes heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis. People with IHD often also have narrowing of blood vessels in other parts of the body including the brain, the kidneys and the feet. They have what is called Cardiovascular Disease. ‘Cardio’ refers to the heart and ‘vascular’ refers to the blood vessels). Cerebrovascular disease affects the brain. Peripheral vascular disease affects the blood vessels in the peripheries especially the feet.
Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of poor health and death in New Zealanders. There are a number of factors which can increase a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease – their Cardiovascular Risk.
The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand’s website gives helpful information:
You can calculate your cardiovascular risk (your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years) using the knowyournumbers tool:
IF YOU THINK YOU OR YOUR CHILD HAS MEASLES , PLEASE RING THE PRACTICE AND DISCUSS WITH A NURSE OR DR . We will try to keep you away from the waiting room , as it is so infectious to others
Key points to remember about measles immunisation
- measles can be a serious disease
- it’s caused by a virus
- measles is very easy to catch
- immunisation is the only way to prevent measles
Immunisation given on time is the only way to prevent measles.
If you’re unsure about whether your child has had MMR immunisation, or you can’t find your records, you can check with your Well Child Tamariki Ora provider or Well Child book, or contact your family doctor.
Combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) immunisation is the only vaccine available to prevent measles in New Zealand.
For more information see the following websites :
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It can spread rapidly and become life-threatening. Early diagnosis and treatment is important. New Zealand and Australia have the highest reported melanoma incidence rates in the world, with around 2,200 people diagnosed in New Zealand with melanoma every year.
Warning signs of a melanoma are a lesion that grows, changes size or shape or bleeds . If you have concerns about a mole , or if it looks different to your other moles, then please make a medical appointment as soon as possible
A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling.
Warning symptoms known as aura may occur before or with the headache. These can include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg.
Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. Talk to your doctor about different migraine treatment options if you can’t find relief. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, may help.
Women with get migraine with aura MUST avoid the combined oral contraceptive pill , as they have an increased risk of stroke
In a person with osteoporosis, the density, quality and strength of bone are reduced, leading to weakness of the skeleton and increased risk of fractures. Osteoporosis is a major health issue in New Zealand. It affects more than half of women and nearly a third of men over the age of 60 years. There are treatments available which can help strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of fracture.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the brain. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness or rigidity, and slowness of movement (bradykinesia).
According to Parkinson’s New Zealand, approximately 1% of people over the age of 60 have the condition. Various theories exist regarding causes of the disease. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease so treatment will normally focus on managing symptoms, typically with medication.
For more information and supports ,visit:
Many men begin to have problems with their prostate as they get older. The problems usually affect the passing of urine. Most problems are caused by simple enlargement of the prostate, but a few are caused by cancer.
For detailed information, on prostate enlargement, visit:
For more information , on prostate cancer, visit:
- rheumatic fever is a serious illness
- it often starts with a sore throat caused by strep bacteria
- without treatment, the strep throat can cause rheumatic fever
- rheumatic fever can damage your heart – this is called rheumatic heart disease
- it is very important that your child does not get rheumatic fever again
- the best way to stop your child having another attack of rheumatic fever is to make sure they have regular penicillin injections – on time
Syphilis cases are currently rising in New Zealand , as well as the more common chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Syphilis is extremely contagious and easy to catch . Diagnosis requires a blood test.
If having a sexual health test , we recommend a blood test for syphilis and hiv , as well as the traditional swabs or urine test
For information about STI’ , visit the following websites
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a painful blistering rash caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus (Varicella).
If you think that you have shingles, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible, to start early treatment
For more information, on shingles, visit :
There is now a Shingles vaccine available in New Zealand. It can be used to prevent Shingles in adults aged 50 years and over.
It is free to those aged between 65 and 79 years . Please contact our nurses for advice .
For more information, about shingles immunisation, visit
Smoking is a major cause of heart attack, stroke , respiratory disease, and cancer in New Zealand.
Nicotine is incredibly addictive .
If you are wanting help to stop smoking , we can help you ,
By us prescribing the right products and enrolling smokers in our smoking cessation programme , we can increase the quit success rate for smokers by 6 to 10 x better , than just trying on their own
For more information, visit the following websites:
A stroke occurs when there is a sudden interruption of blood supply to part of the brain causing it to stop working and eventually damaging brain cells. The effects of a stroke may be minor and temporary if a small area of the brain is affected, but they can also be devastating and may last a lifetime.
A stroke is a medical emergency. If you think someone might be having a stroke , dial 111 and go immediately to hospital in an ambulance
Common first signs of stroke include:
- Sudden weakness and/or numbness of face,
- Sudden weakness of the arm (and/or leg)
- Difficulty speaking, or lost voice