Health Awareness Month Topics – August 2023




Reading can take kids on incredible journeys of discovery, awaken their imagination, and build confidence.
For 45 years the MS Readathon has been all about kids helping kids! Children are challenged to read as much as they can in August and raise funds for kids who have a parent living with multiple sclerosis – funds raised will help provide vital support services, like professional carers, physiotherapy and speech therapy.

Last year Aussie kids read more than 260,000 books and raised $1.7M! Kids can choose to read anything, including comics, magazines, novels, or read-along with audiobooks.

Parents can register their kids for FREE. Once registered, they can log books through their online dashboard, earn badges, review books, and share their progress. They can also join a school or group.

The MS Readathon is a magical adventure that kids will love, and together we can inspire more kids to read. All you need to do now is register your interest.

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

MS is the most common acquired chronic neurological disease affecting young adults, often diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 40 and, in Australia, affects three times more women than men. As yet, there is no cure.

There is no known single cause of MS, but many genetic and environmental factors have been shown to contribute to its development.

In MS, the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the fatty material – called myelin – around the nerves. Myelin is important for protecting and insulating nerves so that the electrical messages that the brain sends to the rest of the body, travel quickly and efficiently.

As the myelin breaks down during a MS attack – a process called demyelination – patches of nerves become exposed and then scarred, which render the nerves unable to communicate messages properly and at risk of subsequent degeneration. This means that the brain cannot talk to other parts of the body, resulting in a range of symptoms that can include a loss of motor function (e.g. walking and hand and arm function, loss of sensation, pain, vision changes, and changes to thinking and memory).

What are the most common symptoms of MS?

MS has many symptoms, which can be variable and unpredictable. No two people will experience exactly the same symptoms and these symptoms can be a one-off occurrence, can come and go, or change in severity over time.

MS symptoms can be experienced in different parts of the body, depending on which part of the brain, optic nerve, or spinal cord is affected. Some symptoms of MS are invisible, meaning other people can’t visibly see that someone is experiencing a symptom.

If you’re living with MS, speak with your neurologist, MS Nurse or GP about any new and/or ongoing symptom concerns and to develop a personalised management plan, including any medications, treatments or lifestyle modifications to manage your MS in the best way possible.

How is MS treated?

There are many different ways to treat MS, and you might find some treatments work better than others. Developing a plan with your healthcare team is the best strategy to manage your MS, including any medications.

Medications for MS fall broadly into three groups: those that reduce the risk of relapses and disease progression (also known as disease modifying therapies or DMTs); those that treat an active relapse; or those that can help to ease specific symptoms. The types of medications used will depend on a number of factors, including the type of MS and your individual circumstances.

It can be frustrating if treatments aren’t right for you or don’t work as well as you’d like. If this happens, talk to your neurologist, MS Nurse or GP to discuss other options.

It’s also important to let your healthcare team know if you’re using alternative or complementary treatments alongside your drug treatments, to ensure that there are no interactions or possible side effects from their inclusion.

For more information on MS specific to residents of Queensland, head to



National Stroke Week 2023 encourages the community to fight stroke together so that you or your loved ones can continue to enjoy life during and after recovery.

Fighting stroke together aims to bring people together to share knowledge, support and resources to help prevent strokes from occurring and to aid in the recovery process for those who have experienced a stroke.

Help others to keep enjoying life too by sharing the F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) signs of stroke with your family and friends. If you or someone you know experiences the signs of stroke, no matter how long they last, call triple zero (000) immediately.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Blood is carried to the brain by blood vessels called arteries. Blood contains oxygen and important nutrients for your brain cells.

Blood may be interrupted or stop moving through an artery, because the artery is blocked (ischaemic stroke) or bursts (haemorrhagic stroke). When brain cells do not get enough oxygen or nutrients, they die. The area of brain damage is called a cerebral infarct.

How do you know if someone is having a stroke?

Think… F.A.S.T.

The Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke. Using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:

  • Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms: Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time Is critical.


What are some risk factors?

Stroke risk factors are divided into three categories: Lifestyle, Medical, and factors that you cannot control.
Lifestyle factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Alcohol

Medical factors include:

  • Transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • Irregular pulse (atrial fibrillation)
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD)

Factors you cannot control:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family History

You can learn more about stroke and/or donate to the Stroke Foundation here:


Article by: Sandy Brangan, Brangan Medical Business Consultants

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