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The Science Behind Altitude Sickness

Posted Friday 04 January 2019 12:30 by Tim Deakin in Altitude Sickness

altitude sicknessWhat really happens to your body when you climb?

For many of us, the best way to tackle the winter blues is to book an exciting winter getaway that’s full of adventure. Unfortunately, a lot of the most desirable spots in the world — the Swiss Alps, Machu Picchu and the Rocky Mountains — are also ones which carry a significant risk of altitude sickness.

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness is actually a term which encompasses three different conditions that occur at high altitudes, the first and mildest being AMS: acute mountain sickness. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 25% of visitors to Colorado (the U.S. state with the highest altitude at 6,800 feet above sea level) experience symptoms of the condition. [1]

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the most common symptoms of AMS include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, a lack of appetite and difficulty falling asleep.[2] Headaches can occur within two to 12 hours of exposure to high altitudes and, in most cases, symptoms last between 12 and 48 hours, only leading to more long-term concerns if you continue to ascend.

It’s thought that AMS primarily occurs due to the way higher elevation impacts your brain. Ascending to a high altitude causes changes in the blood flow to the brain, and in some individuals this can lead to a swelling of the brain tissues.[3] However, most people who experience AMS will find that descending around 1,000 feet will alleviate the symptoms, according the CDC.[4]

Altitude sickness complications

In severe cases however, brain swelling can occur on a more significant scale, leading to a much more serious form of altitude sickness: high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE). This form of altitude sickness impacts the blood flow to the brain tissue, preventing the brain from being able to function normally. The tell-tale symptom that AMS has progressed to HACE is ataxia, or loss of balance. Other symptoms include intense fatigue and confusion, and prolonged brain swelling can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.[5]

High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is another possibly life-threatening complication which can result from altitude sickness. It can occur on its own or alongside AMS and HACE. HAPE occurs when fluid collect in the lungs, resulting in difficulty breathing.[6] The blood flow of the lungs begins to get erratic and cause more pressure in some pulmonary arteries than others. As the air sacs in the lungs fill up, your ability to oxygenate the blood decreases, causing a greater lack of oxygen.

According to the CDC, symptoms can include headaches, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, heart palpitations, fever, chest pain, fatigue and a mucus cough. It can become fatal even more quickly than HACE.[7]

Treating and preventing altitude sickness

altitude sickness medicationTaking things slowly and giving your body time to adjust is key to avoiding altitude sickness. The CDC advises that you should not travel from a low altitude to over 9,000 feet in a single day. Instead, they recommend increasing your sleeping altitude by no more than 1,600 feet a day.[8]

You should also make sure to stay hydrated and avoid substances like alcohol when climbing.[9] Effective altitude sickness relief medication can help you to travel safely and without worry.

Contact the Express Pharmacy team today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

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How Obesity Can Weigh on Your Mind

Posted Friday 28 December 2018 09:46 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

obesity and mental health

We’re often warned about the physical impact of obesity, but what about the emotional toll it can take?

Obesity continues to be a huge issue for UK healthcare. In fact, 62% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese.[1] This is a serious concern, as obesity be a factor in many serious health concerns like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

However, the consequences of living with obesity can also be emotional as well as physical. We’re here to explore the ways obesity and mental wellbeing can interact.

Is obesity a mental health issue?

It’s important to establish that there is no direct causal link between mental health and obesity. The reason this is important to state is that there is often a stigma attached to overweight people that they are ‘slower’ or less intelligent than thinner people. This caricature holds no basis in truth.

Instead, we’re going to explore how mental health and obesity can impact each other in ways shown by research and statistics. Can mental health conditions make obesity more likely, and can being obese increase your chances of experiencing mental health concerns?

Eating disorders

Mental health can impact our weight at both ends of the spectrum, as evidenced by conditions like anorexia. Over the last four decades, the number of eating disorders has escalated hugely both in the UK and worldwide. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 1.6 million people struggling with an eating disorder in the UK.[2]

On the surface, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia represent the opposite problem to obesity; causing sufferers to become extremely underweight rather than overweight. However, they do highlight a key connection between dietary habits and mental health.

This connection also presents itself in habits like binge eating, which is often a key cause of obesity. Binge eating compels people to consume huge quantities of food in a short period of time. Unlike other conditions like bulimia, sufferers rarely purge themselves afterwards. However, feelings of shame, guilt and even depression are common.

Obesity as a symptom: a vicious cycle

hamburger and chipsAlthough we cannot assume that just because someone is obese that they must be living with mental health concerns, obesity can be a symptom of psychological factors. For example, stress is one of the most common mental health concerns in the UK. According to the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 report, 74% of people reported feeling so stressed in the last year that they were unable to cope. What’s more, 46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress.[3]

Conditions like anxiety, stress and depression can lead to the use of food as a comfort or coping mechanism. They can also have a detrimental effect on motivation when it comes to activities like exercise and cooking healthy meals. As such, your likelihood of becoming obese rises with the appearance of these conditions. This can then create a vicious cycle, as being obese can reduce your motivation even further and make you feel more anxious or depressed.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, start the new year off right with safe and effective weight loss medication from Express Pharmacy. Both Xenical and Mysimba can help support you on your weight loss journey and meet your goals in a healthy way. And for further support, contact our team today. Call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our online Live Chat service.

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4 Different Kinds of Fungal Infection (And How to Treat Them)

Posted Thursday 20 December 2018 16:16 by Tim Deakin in Antifungal

ringworm fungal infection

Nobody likes to think too hard about fungal infections, but understanding the condition is key to treating it effectively

Fungus is not an inherently bad thing. Some of our favourite ingredients are classed as fungi, including mushrooms. What’s more, many different types of fungi make their home on our bodies and, in most cases, they don’t cause any issues.

However, sometimes a fungus can change, and this can lead to an infection. There are many different kinds of fungal infections, all of which can affect different parts of the body, and in different ways.

We’re going to take a closer look at some of the most common fungal infections, in order to give you a clearer understanding of how to recognise and treat these conditions in the best way.

Thrush

Thrush is a particularly common fungal infection, and is usually either an oral or genital condition. In fact, up to three quarters of all women will have at least one bout of vaginal thrush in their lives.[1] But the condition isn’t exclusive to women – it can also be contracted by men.

Thrush is usually harmless but can be uncomfortable and resilient. Symptoms include white discharge from the genitalia, irritation and itchiness, burning and stinging when having sex or using the toilet.

Like most fungal infections, thrush is best treated with effective antifungal medication. This can be an oral tablet, a tablet inserted into the vagina or a cream to relieve irritation. Recurring thrush may be caused by a wider issue, and advice should be sought from your GP.

athlete's footAthlete’s foot

Between 15-25% of people are likely to experience athlete’s foot at any one time.[2] As the name suggests, the infection affects feet, usually appearing between the twos but also on the soles or side of the feet. If left untreated, it can spread and lead to fungal nail infections.

Athlete’s foot can cause raw, tender, flaking or split skin. It can also cause fluid-filled blisters to appear. The condition can be treated with creams, sprays and powders. You can also help to prevent it occurring by drying your feet after you wash them, wearing clean socks every day and avoiding walking around barefoot – particularly in public changing rooms and showers.

Ringworm

Ringworm is often the name given to a generic fungal infection, as it occurs when the tinea corporis fungus infects the skin. When it occurs in the feet, it can cause athlete’s foot; when it occurs in the groin, it can cause another infection called jock itch. It is also common on the scalp or the beard.

Although specific figures are hard to gather, ringworm is a frequent problem in most countries, particularly those with less access to effective hygiene.[3] The main symptom of the condition is a red or silver rash which can be itchy, swollen or dry. Antifungal medication in the form of a cream, gel or spray is often prescribed.

Fungal nail infections

Fungal nail infections occur when a fungus infects the top, body or bed of the nail. They are more common in toenails, but can occur in fingernails too.[4] This is because the fungus thrives in warm and moist environments, and our feet spend much more time encased in shoes and sock,s which can get hot.

When infection occurs, the nail can become thicker, drier and begin to crumble. It may also become more yellow in tone and can even come off altogether. Fungal nail infections can take a long time to heal completely, but the best way to treat it effectively is with proven antifungal treatment. Lacquered medications like Curanail can be applied directly to the nail to trap and tackle the infection.

Find effective treatment for fungal nail infections right here at Express Pharmacy, and get it delivered swiftly and discreetly to your home. You can also contact our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our online live chat system.

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Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Contraception

Posted Saturday 15 December 2018 17:06 by Tim Deakin in Emergency Contraception

emergency contraception

Emergency contraception is an effective means of preventing pregnancy following unprotected sex, or sex during which the method of contraception has failed – e.g. a split condom or a missed contraceptive pill.

There are two kinds of emergency contraception: the morning after pill and the intrauterine device (IUD). Emergency contraception is not designed as a primary source of contraception, but rather something to be taken when other methods are not available or fail.

Read on to find everything you need to know about the morning after pill, including where you can get it safely and swiftly.

The fast facts you need to know about emergency contraception

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding emergency contraception, so here are some of the key facts to help clear things up for you.

  • Emergency contraception cannot be used to terminate a pregnancy. The morning after pill and the abortion pill are two completely different kinds of medication and should never be used interchangeably.
  • Emergency contraception has no impact on your ability to conceive in the future. There is no evidence to suggest that even multiple uses of the morning after pill will make you less likely to get pregnant in the future.
  • The morning after pill has up to a 95% effectiveness rating for preventing pregnancy. Less than one percent of women who use the IUD get pregnant.[1]
  • Emergency contraception can be taken up to 5 days after sex and still be effective, depending on the contraception you choose.

Your choice of contraception

Another misconception regarding emergency contraception is that it only comes in one form. In reality, there are several options available. As we mentioned above, the two main kinds of emergency contraception are the morning after pill and the IUD. There are also different kinds of morning after pill to choose from too.

ellaOne emergency contraception

These are Levonelle and ellaOne. Levonelle can be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, though it is most effective in the first 12 hours. It works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg and preventing sperm from fertilising any egg that may have been released.

Similarly, ellaOne can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. A dose consists of one tablet which works to inhibit or delay ovulation, helping to prevent pregnancy.

The IUD is a more long-term commitment to emergency contraception. It involves the insertion of a coil directly into the womb which then releases copper to stop the egg implanting in your womb or being fertilised.

The morning after pill: your questions answered

Who can use the morning after pill?

Most women can take the morning after pill safely, including women who can’t use hormonal contraception and breastfeeding mothers. It’s always best to check with your GP if you are currently taking any other prescription medication. You should also avoid the medication if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Can you use it alongside normal contraception?

You can use emergency contraception if you forget to take a dose of your regular contraceptive pill. If you have taken Levonelle, you should continue your normal course of contraception within 12 hours. After taking ellaOne, you should wait 5 days before taking your next contraceptive pill.[2]

What are the side effects of the emergency pill?

There are no serious side effects to taking the morning after pill. However, it can cause mild, short-term side effects such as headaches, tummy pains, nausea and changes to the timing of your next period.

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Your Guide to Weight Loss

Posted Monday 10 December 2018 16:52 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

weight loss guide

26% of all adults are obese, but losing weight doesn’t have to be a losing battle

Discussions around weight are often contentious, as the media pushes a narrative that being anything other than slim is a bad thing. This is not true, and being larger is not an inherently negative trait. However, being significantly overweight or obese is a significant health issue. Obesity has been proven to trigger a variety of serious long-term health problems – and particularly weight gain that is accounted for by visceral fat around the body’s internal organs.

Your weight is your domain, and it is up to you to find the weight at which you feel most comfortable and healthy. If you want to lose weight in order to lead a happier and healthier life, we’re here to help. Here is everything you need to know about obesity, including how to tackle it effectively.

What causes obesity?

Obesity is not something that can be determined based on appearance alone. The condition is defined by the impact that excess body fat has on an individual’s overall health. In the UK, rates of obesity have risen by almost 400% in the last 25 years.

Obesity is most often the result of gradual weight gain. There are several factors thought to contribute to rising rates of obesity, including the growing accessibly to fast foods and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. We also tend to eat diets with high sugar levels, high levels of saturated fats and a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. Binge eating is another key cause of the condition.

Although obesity can run in families, there is no evidence of a hereditary link. Instead, this is most likely due to parents passing down similar lifestyles and food choices to younger generations.

What effect does obesity have?

Obesity can affect you both physically and emotionally. Psychologically, the condition can significantly impact your self-esteem and confidence levels, while also increasing your risk of mental health concerns like depression. Lack of exercise and poor diet are common traits in both depression and obesity.

Physically, obesity can have a significant impact on the body over time, putting pressure on the organs, disrupting hormones and inhibiting the systems of the body. Some of the conditions which become more likely in the face of obesity include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease, pregnancy problems and even certain kinds of cancer. Obesity can also result in increased aches and pains, breathlessness, difficulty sleeping, chest pain, fatigue and excess sweating.

The benefits of weight loss

When you are obese, losing weight can have a hugely positive effect on your health, wellbeing and daily life in general. Losing weight forces you to make lifestyle changes that can benefit your outlook over time; for example, you may find that you enjoy certain kinds of exercise, or take pleasure in creating healthy, home-cooked meals.

Losing weight eases your breathing, improves your sleep quality, decreases your blood pressure, improves your immune system and can increase your confidence and body image. It also lowers your risk of serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.

How do you lose weight safely?

We’re all aware of some of the fad diets circulating the world of weight loss. Many of these make outlandish promises about helping you lose large amounts of weight incredibly quickly. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that these kinds of diets are effective, and in many cases they can actually put your health in danger.

Losing weight can be a long process, but it is all about making healthy lifestyle changes. Beginning and building on a programme of healthy eating and regular fitness can help you battle your obesity effectively. There is also medication available which can help you do this safely. Prescription weight loss medications like Xenical and Mysimba are proven to aid weight loss in an effective and healthy way. Taken correctly and supported by improvements to lifestyle they can help you to achieve continued, progressive weight loss.

Start the new year off right by establishing your weight loss resolutions now. Find safe and effective weight loss treatment right here at Express Pharmacy. Call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet live chat service.

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