Health A-Z

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Oral health – plaque & tartar

Plaque and tartar provide the ideal environment in which bacteria thrive, causing gum disease and tooth decay. Keeping plaque and tartar at bay with good dental hygiene is key to oral health.

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Oral health – tooth decay

Tooth decay is damage that occurs when a combination of bacteria, plaque and acids in our mouth eat away at a tooth. This can lead to a 'hole' in the tooth, known as a cavity or caries.

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Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis affecting people as they get older. It causes pain, swelling, and reduced movement in the joints and is often called 'wear and tear' arthritis.

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Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to be thinner and weaker than normal. This means, they can break easily, such as after a small bump or fall.

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Overactive thyroid

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is a condition in which the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. It can cause symptoms such as weight loss, feeling anxious, rapid heartbeat, sleep problems and low energy. Possible treatments include medication, radioactive iodine or surgery.

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Parkinson's

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that affects movement and coordination. Symptoms of Parkinson’s usually take many years to develop. The first sign of Parkinson's is sometimes a tremor or slowness of movement. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, but its symptoms can be treated with medication, surgery and lifestyle changes.

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Periodontitis

Periodontitis or gum disease is caused by an infection that destroys the bone surrounding and supporting your teeth. It is a serious condition and if you have the symptoms you should see your dentist.

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Prediabetes

Prediabetes means the amount of glucose, a type of sugar, in your blood is higher than normal and you are at much higher risk of getting diabetes.

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Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that tends to run in families. The most common form causes red, flaky patches of skin covered with raised silvery scales, known as plaques.

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Raynaud's syndrome

Raynaud's (pronounced 'ray-nose') is an extreme response to cold, usually affecting the hands and feet.

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Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis is an inflammatory condition that causes pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling in the joints. It usually occurs as a reaction to an infection and normally goes away on its own within a few months without causing ongoing problems.

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Rheumatic fever

Rheumatic fever is a serious illness that affects the valves of the heart. It mainly affects children or teenagers, after a specific type of sore throat called Group A streptococcal (GAS) infection.

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Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body’s defence system attacks your joints between your bones, causing symptoms such as swelling, pain and stiffness. Early treatment, which includes medicines and non-medication therapies, can help slow the progression of the disease and minimise joint damage.

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Shingles

Shingles is a painful, itchy skin rash that usually appears on your chest, but can also affect your trunk, back, legs or face. It is caused by varicella zoster virus, the same virus responsible for chickenpox. It is more common in the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Treatment is works best within 2-3 days of the rash appearing. Vaccination with the shingles vaccine can reduce your risk of shingles and the long-term pain it can cause.

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Skin cancer

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It is the most common cancer affecting New Zealanders; however, it is largely preventable. If you protect your skin from the sun throughout your life, you will greatly reduce your risk of skin cancer.

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Sleep tips

Everyone knows they feel better after a good night's sleep. But for some, sleep does not come easily. Just over half of Kiwis say they never wake up feeling refreshed, while 25% report having ongoing sleep problems. The good news is that there are things you can do to improve your sleep.

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Strains and sprains

Muscle strains and ligament sprains are two common injuries that cause various degrees of pain and swelling.

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Stroke

A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain stops suddenly. This can cause permanent damage. If you think someone is having a stroke, ring 111 immediately. If treatment is started within a few hours, permanent damage can be avoided.

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Teeth – sensitive

A sharp, intense shooting pain that goes deep into the tooth is often the telltale sign of sensitive teeth. It is important to get any new sensitivity checked out by the dentist, who can look for decay or cracks that need treatment.

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Tinea skin infections

Tinea is a condition caused by a fungi that infect the skin. Tinea infections are most common on the feet, particularly between the toes, and around the upper thigh and groin.

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Tiredness & fatigue

Fatigue is the feeling of being tired all the time, even after you have rested. Most of the time fatigue is your bodies way of saying "slow down".

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Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Urinary tract infections are often painful infections of any part of your urinary system – your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.

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Vaginal thrush

Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that affects most women at some stage. Common symptoms include pain, itching and vaginal discharge.

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Warts and verrucas

Warts are very common and appear as small rough lumps or growths on the skin. They are usually harmless and in most cases eventually go away on their own. Common treatments for warts include applying a paint or gel, or freezing with liquid nitrogen or a cold spray.

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Whooping cough

Whooping cough is an infectious disease that causes coughing, choking and difficulty breathing. The bacteria are easily spread by coughing and sneezing. Complications can be serious, including pneumonia and seizures. Vaccination with the pertussis vaccine is the best way to protect yourself or your child against whooping cough. It also reduces the number of people in the community who can pass on the bacteria.

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Why sleep is important

Sleep plays an essential role in your health and wellbeing throughout your life. Getting enough good quality sleep has many benefits, including protecting your physical and mental health, quality of life and personal safety.

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