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How Diet Impacts Cystitis

Posted Friday 11 October 2019 20:56 by in Women's Medication by Tim Deakin

Every year, an estimated four million UK women suffer from cystitis, one of the most common urinary tract infections (UTI). One third of these women are younger than 24 years old.[1]

But what exactly is cystitis, and is there any relation to the food you eat and the severity of your symptoms?

What is cystitis?

Many women will have experienced a UTI like cystitis at some point in their lives. Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by an infection. It can last several days and can result in significant discomfort.[2]

Symptoms of cystitis may include:

  • Pain when urinating
  • A frequent, urgent need to go to the toilet
  • Dark, cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Confusion[3]

How does diet impact cystitis?

No research specifically links certain foods to causing or remedying a UTI. However, some people with cystitis find that certain foods are drinks can act as triggers for symptoms. Most common among these are coffee, soda, alcohol, tomatoes, hot and spicy foods, other caffeinated beverages, chocolate, fruit juices and MSG.[4]

Likewise, some people find that certain foods and drinks help to alleviate symptoms, but again these can differ from person to person. Most importantly, you should aim to eat in moderation and enjoy a balanced diet. Eating a range of healthy food from all different food groups is important for your overall health, including your bladder health.

Drinking plenty of water is key when suffering with a urinary tract infection. This helps to replace the fluids lost by the frequent toilet trips brought on by the infection. It can also help speed up the process of flushing out the infection.[5]

Common misconceptions about cystitis

One of the most commonly shared remedies for cystitis is cranberry juice, but research from Yale University suggests that this is an urban myth. The belief is that a compound in cranberries called proanthocyanin is able to inhibit the growth of the infection, but the study found that cranberries had little to no impact on the condition.[6]

It may just be that drinking lots of cranberry juice is only as beneficial as drinking plenty of any fluid.

Alleviating a UTI

As well as monitoring your diet, there are simple measures you can put in place in order to help prevent cystitis from occurring. These include:

  • Having a shower rather than a bath
  • Not using perfumed cleaning products
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Going to the toilet as soon as you feel the need
  • Wearing cotton rather than synthetic underwear[7]

However, curing an existing case of cystitis usually requires a course of antibiotics. Studies have shown cystitis medication like Trimethoprim to be 94% effective in alleviating a UTI within a week.[8]

Safe and effective cystitis medication like Trimethoprim is available right here at Express Pharmacy. Speak to one of our experts today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] Cox, D. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about urinary tract infections. The Guardian. 2017

[2] NHS UK. Cystitis. 2018

[3] Bupa UK. Cystitis. 2018

[4] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Can what I eat or drink relieve or prevent IC? 2017

[5] Urology Care Foundation. Effect of Diet on Interstitial Cystitis. 2016

[6] Juthani-Mehta, M. MD. et al. Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Old Women in Nursing Homes. JAMA. 2016

[7] NHS UK. Cystitis. 2018

[8] Osterberg, E. Efficacy of single-dose versus seven-day trimethoprim treatment of cystitis in women: a randomized double-blind study. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1990

Tags: Trimethoprim Cystitis Women's Health

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How Did the Smoking Ban Change Our Relationship With Cigarettes?

Posted Friday 04 October 2019 09:25 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

Smoking can have a serious impact on the health of your heart, brain, circulation, stomach, mouth, skin and lungs. When you some, you increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and reproductive issues.[1]

But with the arrival of October comes the effort of many to give up smoking for a whole 28 days. The UK’s history of smoking has had a lot of ups and downs, but undoubtedly one of the most significant moments was the implementation of the smoking ban.

Back in 2006, parliament voted to outlaw smoking in all workplaces, on public transport, in pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants and in shopping centres in England and Wales. The ban came into force in Scotland in March 2006, with Wales following suit in April. The ban came into effect in Northern Ireland on 30th April. England put the smoking ban into action on 1st July 2007.[2]

The impact of the smoking ban, in numbers

The 2007 smoking ban transformed the UK forever. From our social habits and attitudes to our overall health, things have certainly changed in the time since the ban’s introduction:

Changes were implemented quickly and businesses were very complaint. In the first 18 months, councils inspected 590,155 premises. Of these, 98.2% obeyed.[3]

Smoking rates have fallen significantly since the ban. Back in 1974, almost half the UK population were smokers. By 2007, just over a fifth of the population smoked. By 2016, fewer than 17% of people smoked.[4]

Fewer young people now smoke. In 2001, 18% of 11-16 year olds smoked. By 2014, around 5% smoked.[5]

Many people attribute their lack of smoking directly to the ban. YouGov reports that 14% of ex-smokers say the ban helped them quit, while 20% of current smokers say the ban helped them cut down.[6]

Bar workers showed immediate signs of improved health flowing the ban. In 2007, before the ban, more than 65% of bar workers reported respiratory concerns. In 2008, just one year later, this number had fallen to less than 40%.[7]

There is still work to do when it comes to smoking

Despite these positive changes, our fight against the dangers of smoking is far from over. Smoking is still the largest cause of cancer in the UK, and 15% of UK adults still smoke.[8] What’s more, tobacco remains the largest preventable cause of death in the world. [9] In 2015 alone, almost a fifth (19%) of all deaths from all causes in the UK were caused by smoking.[10]

Second-hand smoke is still an issue too, as an estimated 11,000 deaths occur in the UK each year as a result of second-hand smoke.[11] There is also still a clear rich and poor divide when it comes to smoking, as people from low-income households are much more likely to smoke. 19% of people with an income under £10,000 smoke, while only 10.7% of those with incomes over £40,000 smoke.[12]

Medication can help you quit this October

That’s why it’s encouraging that thousands of people every year take part in the Stoptober effort. If you’re hoping to cut down on your cigarette use this October, you can use tried and tested medication to help you find success.

Clinical trials of medications like Champix have proven just how effective they can be in smoking cessation. One study found that almost three quarters of participants using Champix successfully abstained from smoking for 52 weeks, compared to less than half of those using a placebo.[13]

You can find safe and effective smoking cessation medication like Champix right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. How smoking affects your body. 2015

[2] Politics UK. Smoking Ban. 2019

[3] Local Government Association. A breath of fresh air: smoke-free workplaces 10 years on. 2017

[4] Office of National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in Great Britain. 2017.

[5] NHS Digital. Statistics on Smoking, England. 2019

[6] Action on Smoking and Health. England a decade after the smoking ban – heading for a smoke-free future. 2017

[7] Triggle, N. Pub smoking ban: 10 charts that show the impact. BBC. 2017

[8] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco Statistics. 2018

[9] World Lung Foundation. The Tobacco Atlas. 2018

[10] Peto, R., Lopez, A., Boreham, J. et al. Mortality from smoking in developed countries 1950-2020. 2015

[11] Jamrozik, K. Estimate of deaths attributable to passive smoking among UK adults: database analysis. British Medical Journal. 2005

[12] Office of National Statistics. Likelihood of smoking four times higher in England’s most deprived areas than least deprived. 2018

[13] Ebbert, J. et al. Varenicline for smoking cessation: efficacy, safety, and treatment recommendations. Patient Preference and Adherence. 2010

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The Impact of Alcohol on Migraines

Posted Tuesday 01 October 2019 09:13 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

Migraines are extremely intense headaches which can also result in vision problems, dizziness and nausea. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, though they are thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity.[1]

But one theory behind migraines is that they can be caused by excessive drinking. We’re going to take a closer look at this theory.

Can alcohol cause migraines?

Although there is not enough evidence to conclusively state that drinking alcohol causes migraines, there is reason enough to find a link between the two.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you expel more fluid when you take it in, often referred to as ‘breaking the seal’. Losing fluid from your body can lead to dehydration, which is another known migraine trigger. What’s more, drinking alcohol relaxes the blood vessels, which causes increased blood flow to the brain and can make migraines more likely to occur.[2]

One 2014 study studied two groups — migraine sufferers and non-sufferers — after a night of drinking. They found that participants who suffered from migraines experienced a higher tendency of migraine-like symptoms, but no difference in other hangover symptoms compared to non-sufferers.[3]

What’s more, population-based studies in various countries such as Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the US have consistently found that fewer migraine sufferers consume alcohol than those without headaches. This is most likely explained as migraine sufferers giving up alcohol because it is triggering headaches.[4]

Alcohol as a migraine trigger

Of all alcoholic drinks, red wine is often cited as the biggest migraine trigger. Studies have shown that the odds of a person naming red wine as a migraine trigger are over three times greater than the odds of naming beer.[5]

Research does show that red wine could cause issues for people with certain sensitivities. For example, red wine contains 20-200 times the amount of histamine as white wine. Migraines can be a symptom of histamine intolerance, so people with this allergy may experience migraines as a result of drinking.

Red wine can also cause a rise in the level of serotonin in the blood, which has been linked to migraine headaches.[6]

Alcohol is also a well-known trigger of cluster headaches — a similar phenomenon to migraines characterised by pain on one side of the head. Those with a cluster headache are advised to avoid drinking alcohol until the episode has completely passed.[7]

How to reduce the severity and frequency of your migraines

Outside of alcohol, there are many other factors which have been known to trigger migraines in sufferers. These can be emotional, physical, dietary or environmental, and include:

Stress and anxiety

Dehydration

Caffeine

Bright lights

Smoking

Skipping meals

Tension

Lack of sleep[8]

Addressing these problem areas can help to alleviate the intensity and frequency of your migraines. Staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, eating regular healthy meals and getting enough fresh air and natural light are just some of the ways people manage their migraine symptoms.[9]

Migraine medication like Sumatriptan can also be useful in reducing migraine symptoms. In fact, clinical studies showed that migraine intensity dropped by 79% in participants given 8mg of Sumatriptan, compared to just 25% in those given the placebo drug.[10]

Safe and effective migraine treatment is available from Express Pharmacy. Speak to one of our expert pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Migraine. 2019

[2] Panconesi, A. MD. Alcohol and migraine: trigger factor, consumption mechanisms. A review. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2008

[3] Zlotnik, Y. et al. Alcohol consumption and hangover patterns among migraine sufferers. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice. 2014.

[4] Panconesi, A. MD. Alcohol and Migraine. American Migraine Foundation. 2016

[5] Mathew, PG. MD, FAAN, FAHS. Alcohol and headaches. Harvard Health Publishing. 2018.

[6] Panconesi. 2008

[7] The Migraine Trust. Cluster Headache. 2019

[8] NHS UK. Migraine Causes. 2019.

[9] The Migraine Trust. Coping and managing. 2019

[10] The Subcutaneous Sumatriptan International Study Group. Treatment of Migraine Attacks with Sumatriptan. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1991.

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How Is Your Morning Routine Impacting Your Health?

Posted Friday 20 September 2019 14:01 by in Weight loss by Tim Deakin

healthy living

A morning routine can be beneficial to your overall health and productivity. Establishing a positive routine can help to alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, improve your diet, encourage fitness and help you utilise your time better.[1]

What’s more, finding your ideal morning routine can positively impact your attitude, energy levels and performance throughout the day, helping to reduce your chances of feeling depleted later in the morning or afternoon.[2]

So how does your morning routine measure up? We’re taking a look at some of the key components of a healthy morning — breakfast, natural light and fitness — to see just how important they really are.

Breakfast

Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenishes your glucose supply and provides many other essential nutrients to provide you with energy throughout the day. Eating a high-fibre breakfast reduced fatigue, while skipping breakfast can reduce mental performance during the day.[3]

But despite this, research continually shows that many people go without breakfast in the UK. One study conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation found that 14% of teachers and almost a quarter of secondary school students (24%) did not eat breakfast before attending school.[4]

According to many experts, healthy breakfast can also reduce your risk of experiencing conditions like acid reflux. And they advise that you always make time for a balanced breakfast of fibre, fruit and protein to give you a good base of energy for the day ahead.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that there is a growing belief that skipping breakfast has its own benefits. In particular, fans of intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating believe that there are many benefits to restricting eating hours to just an 8 hour window, suggesting that breakfast may not be all that crucial after all. There is some evidence to suggest that time restricted eating has benefits in relation to weight management, digestion and even immune function.

Sunlight

Natural light exposure is one of the key elements for maintaining your overall health. Sunlight has been shown to boost productivity, promote energy, increase your vitamin D storage and even improve your mood.[5]

In the morning, letting the light into your home can help you feel more awake more swiftly, standing you in good stead for the day ahead. In the long term, bright natural light exposure in the morning has even been shown to be effective against insomnia, premenstrual syndrome and seasonal affective disorder.[6]

Sunlight and fresh air are also often advised in cases of migraines and headaches. So try to get up and out in the light early when you wake up.

Exercise

There are numerous benefits to a regular fitness regime. Exercise helps to stimulate the development of bones, joints and muscles. It improves heart and lung health, helps you maintain a healthy weight and can even tackle symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.[7]

Completing an exercise routine in the morning is an effective way of reducing stress and lowering blood pressure, according to a 2011 study by Appalachian State University.[8] Similarly, researchers at the University of Bristol found that exercising in the morning gives you more energy and a more positive outlook.[9]

Incorporating a fitness regime into your morning routine, even if it’s only 10 or 20 minutes long, can help to lift your mood and help you with weight management.

Find safe and effective treatments for a variety of conditions right here at Express Pharmacy. Explore our site today or get in touch with one of our pharmacists by calling 0208 123 07 03. You can also contact us via our discreet online live chat service.

[1] Northwestern Medicine. Health Benefits of Having a Routine. 2019

[2] Harvard Extension School Professional Development. 3 ways to boost productivity with a morning routine. 2019

[3] Better Health. Breakfast. 2012

[4] British Nutrition Foundation. A quarter of UK secondary school children have no breakfast. 2015

[5] Davies, C. Shining light on what natural light does for your body. NC State University. 2014

[6] Mead, MN. Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2008

[7] Raby, A. PhD. Benefits of Exercise. BUPA. 2019

[8] Appalachian State University. Early morning exercise is the best for reducing blood pressure and reducing sleep. 2011

[9] Harvard Extension School Professional Development. 3 ways to boost productivity with a morning routine. 2019

Tags: Weight Loss

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5 Early Forms of Contraception Which Will Make You Thankful for the Pill

Posted Friday 13 September 2019 12:54 by in Women's Medication by Tim Deakin

female contraception

The pill is one of the most popular forms of contraption in the world. When taken correctly, it is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.[1]

However, the pill hasn’t always been an option. For centuries, women have relied on other, often unusual methods of avoiding pregnancy. We’re going to take a look at some of the oddest forms of early contraception to show just how much the pill has changed things.

Botanical beverages

For thousands of years, concoctions have been brewed with the promise of preventing or eradicating a pregnancy. Ancient texts reveal numerous herbal recipes, featuring plants such as hawthorn, willow and ivy. These were alleged to show sterilising properties when drunk. Substances were also commonly applied to the genitals before and after sex – as a way to form of kind of chemical barrier – and things like honey, acacia and even crocodile dung were used to create solid plugs or suppositories.[2]

Douching

During the Roman era, douching was one of the more common forms of post-coital pregnancy prevention. In fact, it was often completed both before and after sexual activity. Douching is the act of rinsing the vagina with fluids, most commonly sea water, lemon juice or even vinegar. The idea was that, by rinsing the vagina, women would flush out any sperm and hopefully kill any sperm cells that remained.[3]

Instances of women using this technique to prevent can be found well into the 20th century.

Early caps and condoms

Male condoms have been present far longer than female ones. Early examples of male condoms were made from linen or – slightly later – animal intestines. In 1883, Dutch doctor Aletta Jacobs created the first vulcanised rubber cap. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that rubber female condoms were first made available, and since 2003 the silicone FemCap has been the only cervical cap available in the UK.[4]

Contraceptive sponges

For centuries, items such as leaves, lemons and sponges were used as vaginal barriers during intercourse. Sponges have continued to be used up until even the present day, though not in the UK. The Today Sponge — a plastic sponge which covers the cervix and contains spermicides to prevent pregnancy — was available in the UK between 1985 and 1995.[5]

Sponges were thought to be able to ‘soak up’ sperm and prevent pregnancy as a result. However, effectiveness rates can be as low as 76%, meaning as many as a quarter of women still get pregnant after using the sponge.[6]

Early contraceptive medicines

Oral contraceptives date back more than 2,000 years. Things like willow shoots, male deer horn scrapings and even bees were once considered to have contraceptive qualities if consumed. Even in the years just before the pill, other forms of oral contraception were considered. In 1945, Syntex SA was established to produce steroids from diosgenin – a plant steroid in Mexican yams.[7]

How did the pill change things?

Introduced to the world in the 1960s, the contraceptive pill is considered by many to be a catalyst for the age of free love, sexual liberation and women’s rights which is associated with the decade.

Within two years of the pill’s release, it was being used by 1.2 million women in the US alone.[8] Nowadays, the contraceptive pill comes in 32 different forms and is used by around 100 million women, offering easy access to safe contraceptive measures. It is the popular prescribed contraceptive in the UK overall.[9]

Safe and effective female contraceptive medication is available right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Combined Pill. 2017

[2] McLaren, A. A History of Contraception: From Antiquity to the Present Day. Oxford: B. Blackwell. 1990

[3] Riddle, JM. Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 1992.

[4] FPA. Contraception: Past, Present and Future Factsheet. 2010

[5] FPA. Contraception: Past, Present and Future Factsheet. 2010

[6] Planned Parenthood. How effective is the sponge? 2019

[7] Dickens, E., Immaculate Contraception: The extraordinary story of birth control from the first fumblings to the present day. London: Robson. 2000.

[8] Bridge, S. A history of the pill. The Guardian. 2007

[9] Davis, N., McIntyre, N. Revealed: pill still most popular prescribed contraceptive in England. The Guardian. 2019

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