General health information
This page gives brief information on some health issues and conditions that you may be interested in, and includes some links to articles and websites which we believe provide reliable information.
Acne (Acne vulgaris) is the common cause of ‘spots’, blackheads and pimples. Acne is common in people aged between 12 and 35. 90% of teenagers develop some degree of acne. It is estimated that 30% of teenagers have acne that is bad enough to need treatment to prevent scarring. Even mild to moderate acne can cause significant psychological distress and medical treatment can greatly improve the sufferer’s wellbeing. There are a variety of treatments available for acne. Some treatments are topical (applied to the skin) and these may be sufficient to adequately treat mild acne. Often oral treatments (take by mouth in tablet form) are needed.
For more information on acne and its treatment visit www.dermnetnz.org/topics/acne-management/
Allergies occur when a person’s immune system reacts to substances in the environment that are harmless for most people. Allergies are very common in New Zealand. They affect one in three people at some time in their lives. There are many different causes of allergy. Allergies can sometimes be life threatening. Effective prevention and treatment is available for most allergies.
Useful places to look are:
Anxiety is a natural feeling experienced by most people at some time in their lives. Different situations can trigger feelings of nervousness and anxiousness, but the feeling usually passes quickly. Some people however, experience anxiety that is very intense and it does not pass quickly so that it prevents them from coping with daily life comfortably and efficiently. These people suffer from an “Anxiety Disorder”. Anxiety Disorders are very common and most people will know someone in their family, at work or in their circle of friends, who has or will develop an anxiety disorder.
Helpful information on anxiety can be found at:
Arthritis means inflamed (irritated, painful and stiff) joints. There are more than 140 different forms of arthritis, with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout being 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 very informative:
In New Zealand each year over 2,600 women and 20 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. For every person who is diagnosed, other people are affected including husbands, wives, partners, children, family and friends. This means that in one year, thousands of New Zealanders are affected by breast cancer.
The website of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation is helpful:
Details of the New Zealand Government-funded breast screening programme and other related information can be found here:
Good information for New Zealand parents about children’s health is available at:
This website was developed by New Zealand health professionals and is reviewed and endorsed by the New Zealand Paediatric Society.
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 visit:
Your doctor can give you contraceptive information and advice. At Hamilton East Medical Centre, a number of doctors provide specialised contraception services including:
- IUCD (including Mirena), and
- Contraceptive implants.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), also known as Chronic Obstruction Respiratory Disease (CORD) is a condition where there is obstruction in the airways. This causes coughing, sputum production and difficulty breathing. It affects hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. The New Zealand Asthma Foundation provides education and support for COPD sufferers, and their website is well worth a look:
Dementia occurs as a result of physical changes in the brain that result in a decline in reasoning, memory and other mental abilities (the cognitive functions). Behavioural and personality changes can occur. As the decline progresses, there is eventually loss of the ability to carry out everyday activities adequately. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. While no single factor has been identified as a cause for dementia of Alzheimer’s Disease, it is likely that a combination of factors, including age, genetic inheritance and environment are all responsible. Alzheimer’s New Zealand is the organisation that assists dementia sufferers and their families. Their website is well worth looking at:
Depression is a common illness that can affect anyone: Children, teenagers and adults of any age including pregnant women, woman with young babies (postnatal depression), successful business or professional people, rugby players and the elderly. It can be difficult to diagnose because it can affect different people in different ways. 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. Currently there is no cure for diabetes but it can be controlled and a person with diabetes can lead a full and active life.
For more information, visit www.diabetes.org.nz/about_diabetes
See Alcohol and drugs (recreational) and addiction earlier in this list.
“A life is something to be celebrated and treasured, even in a time of sadness. Things can be eased for loved ones when they understand more about what’s happening following a death and what someone’s wishes are” From end of Life Service Te Hokinga a Wairoa.
For information on how to handle the situation when someone close to you dies or if you wish to plan and share your wishes and information with those close to you before your die, visit the website of End of Life Service – Te Hokinga a Wairoa
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:
Heart problems including heart attacks affect thousands of New Zealanders every year.
Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD)
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:
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:
A note about the ‘flu (Influenza) vaccine
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.
For information on these bowel disorders, see:
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).
In 1999, Sue Shepherd, a dietician working with gastroenterologists in Melbourne, developed the low FODMAP diet during her research into IBS. Many people with IBS find that their symptoms are much less if they avoid eating food containing FODMAPs.
For information on IBS and FODMAPs, check out the websites below.
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.
To read more about Melanoma, visit www.melanoma.org.nz/about-melanoma
NAEVUS Mole Mapping uses the most up-to-date dermoscopic video imaging and computer technology. Dermoscopy improves the accuracy of skin cancer diagnosis by allowing structures that are not normally seen with the naked eye to be examined under magnification. To find out more, visit our page about NAEVUS skin cancer screening
Normal menopause can start in women aged 40 years and over. It can be the cause of some distressing symptoms. For information on menopause including associated symptoms and treatment options see the website of the Australasian Menopause Society:
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.
For information on osteoporosis and its treatment take a look at the website of Osteoporosis New Zealand: www.osteoporosis.org.nz
Check out the services offered by Hamilton East Medical Centre for information about the Osteoporosis treatment Aclasta (zoledronic acid).
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, visit:
Visit www.prostate.org.nz/prostate-cancer for information about prostate cancer.
Smoking causes damage to nearly every organ in the body. It is linked to many cancers. It is a major factor in heart attacks, strokes and respiratory diseases. Smoking can cause blindness. It can also cause infertility and impotence. Smoking can harm children through the effects of being exposed to second-hand smoke. It can be very hard to quit smoking but there is support available. There are medications that your doctor can prescribe that can help make it easier to quit.
For more information, visit the following websites:
Please visit the following websites for information, including downloadable pamphlets:
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a painful blistering rash caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus (Varicella).
For more information, visit www.dermnetnz.org/viral/herpes-zoster or www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/shingles
There is now a Shingles vaccine available in New Zealand. It can be used to prevent Shingles in adults aged 50 years and over.
For more information, visit www.immune.org.nz/vaccines/zostavax
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 also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA).
The Stroke Foundation has a good website:
Hamilton East Medical Centre has the Travel Clinic which provides valuable information, advice, vaccinations and help in preparing for an overseas holiday.
Formally known as Travellers Medical and Vaccination Centre (TMVC), The Travel Doctor was established in New Zealand in 1996 and is one of nine clinics around New Zealand. All three doctors have done postgraduate study in travel medicine, are members of the International Society of Travel Medicine and are experienced practicing general practitioners, so can combine their knowledge of personal medical conditions and medications. They have also advised school groups going on overseas trips.
Useful websites for travellers
The Travel Doctor, New Zealand
- General advice regarding travel clinics, vaccinations, and travel health alerts.
- New Zealand websites.
- Hamilton East Medical Centre is a member of The Travel Doctor.
- Online shop for travel-related items.
Safe Travel, New Zealand
New Zealand Government advice about the potential safety of each country.
International Society for Travel Medicine
List of worldwide travel doctors
International Society for Mountain Medicine
Information regarding medications and rules for travelling with medications (consumer medicine information, importing medicines, personal importation).
Fit for Travel
United Kingdom website for information on health considerations at destination. Malaria maps provide useful overview.
Due to the high volume of results processed every day, we will only inform you of test results in the event they are abnormal.
We encourage you to register for ManageMyHealth so that you are able to view all of your results as soon as they have been checked by your Doctor (please enquire at reception about this).
We are more than happy for you to contact us if you are concerned about any results