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The Impact of High Altitude on Pre-Existing Conditions

Posted Monday 02 September 2019 09:07 by in Altitude Sickness by Tim Deakin

altitude sickness

With increasing numbers of people travelling to more remote and exotic locations, journeying to high altitudes has becoming more popular than ever. High altitude is generally defined as any height between 1,500 and 3,500m, with 3,500 - 5,500m being classed as very high altitude and anything over 5,500m classed as extreme altitude.[1]

Altitude sickness can occur when you move between altitudes occurs too quickly for acclimatisation to take place effectively.[2] Mild forms of altitude sickness are known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), while more severe forms can develop into high altitude cerebral oedema (HACO) or high-altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPO).[3]

Symptoms of mountain sickness can change depending on what form of illness you have developed, and how severe it is. The most common symptoms of altitude sickness include dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, lethargy and sleep problems. In more severe cases, these symptoms become worse and are accompanied by headaches, nausea and vomiting, as well as a tightness in the chest. In the most serious cases, the condition can lead to confusion, immobility and a fluid build-up in the lungs.[4]

But for those with pre-existing conditions, avoiding altitude sickness requires even more care and planning.

High altitude and pre-existing conditions

Most people can enjoy travelling to areas of higher altitudes if the necessary care is taken, but travellers with certain medical conditions should seek out medical advice before travelling to make sure their condition is stable, and won’t be worsened by the altitude change.

These conditions include:

Diabetes

Epilepsy

Heart conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease

Lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Sick cell disease[5]

Pregnancy also requires greater care in higher altitudes, as the World Health Organisation recommended avoiding altitudes higher than 3000m when pregnant.[6]

Age and disability can also impact the risk of altitude sickness when travelling, so be sure to consult your GP if you feel your chances of developing the condition may be higher.

Precautions against altitude sickness

No matter who you are and how robust your overall health is, it is vital that you take precautions when travelling to high altitudes.

It is generally advised that you avoid travelling from altitudes less than 1,200m to altitudes greater than 3,500m in a single day. When you reach altitudes higher than 3,000m, avoid increasing your elevation by more than 500m a day, and make room for a rest day every three or four days.[7]

If you do begin to develop symptoms of high altitude, don’t continue to ascend. Always attempt to descend if your symptoms worsen or become severe.[8]

Medications like acetazolamide can be used to lessen the impact of altitude sickness, aiding recovery, by causing a mild metabolic acidosis which increases respiratory rate, improving oxygenation.[9]

You can find safe and effective altitude sickness treatment like acetazolamide right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Hackett, PR. Roach, RC. High altitude medicine in: Wilderness Medicine. 2011

[2] Palmer, BF. Physiology and pathophysiology with ascent to altitude. American Journal of Medical Science. 2010

[3] Charlton, T. PhD. Altitude sickness — a doctor’s story. Bupa UK. 2018

[4] Cleveland Clinic. Altitude Sickness. 2017

[5] NHS Fit for Travel. Altitude and Travel. 2018

[6] World Health Organisation. International Travel and Health: Travellers with pre-existing medical conditions and special needs. 2019

[7] Travel Health Pro. Altitude sickness. 2018

[8] Luks, AM. Et al. Wilderness Medical Society practice guidelines for the prevention and treatment of acute altitude illness. Wilderness Environ Med. 2014

[9] Williamson, J. et al. Altitude sickness and acetazolamide. BMJ. 2018

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How Putting Pen to Paper Can Help You Reach Your Weight Loss Goals

Posted Thursday 29 August 2019 21:26 by in Weight loss by Tim Deakin

Carrying excess weight is something many people struggle with. In fact, 28.7% of adults in England alone are obese, and a further 35.6% are overweight.[1]

What’s more, 10,660 hospital admissions a year in England can be directly attributed to obesity, and 20% of children aged 10-11 are classified as obese.[2]

These numbers highlight a serious issue, as obesity can be a significant factor in the onset of many health conditions like cancer. In fact, overweight and obesity causes 13 types of cancer: bowel, breast, gallbladder, kidney, liver, meningioma, myeloma, oesophageal, ovary, pancreas, stomach, thyroid and uterus. Obesity causes 6% of cancer cases in the UK, making it the biggest cause after smoking.[3]

So, effective weight management is key to our overall health, and data shows that keeping a food journal is one way to tackle your excess weight.

Food journals make you more mindful of your meals

Food journals can be a helpful way of being more mindful about what and when you eat. It’s recommended that you make a note of what you’re eating, how much you’re eating and when you’re eating. The more specific you can be, the better, so it’s advised that you make a note soon after eating instead of waiting until the end of the day, and jot down factors like where you are eating and who you are eating with to see if there are any common factors in your snacking.[4]

Research shows that keeping a record of what you’re eating can lead to greater success when it comes to weight management. In one study of almost 1,700 participants, those who kept a food diary lost on average twice as much weight as those who kept no record of their dietary habits.[5]

What else can you do to successfully manage your weight?

Food journals are not the only way to tackle weight management successfully. We often think of weight loss as a near-impossible and often lifelong issue, but finding out what works for you is key to achieving your goals.

It is vital that you aim to lose excess weight in a healthy way. Following a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise are the two key components to managing your weight in the long term.

You can also introduce a few lifestyle changes in order to improve your chances of success, such as setting realistic goals to avoid getting disheartened, e.g. losing 0.5lbs per week. You can also stick to meals you’ve prepared yourself, make the time for a good breakfast and have a break between courses to see whether you’re full enough to do without dessert.[6]

When used alongside a healthy diet and fitness routine, medication can help you achieve your goals effectively. Xenical, for example, has been shown in clinical trials to cause significant reduction in weight, BMI, waist circumference, cholesterol and LDL levels compared to a placebo drug.[7]

Safe and effective weight loss medications like Mysimba, Xenical and Saxenda are all available from Express Pharmacy. Get in touch today to find out more about these treatment options. Simply call one of our pharmacists today on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] House of Commons Library. Obesity Statistics. UK Parliament. 2019

[2] NHS England. Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2019. 2019

[3] Cancer Research UK. Overweight and obesity statistics. 2015

[4] McManus, KD. Why keep a food diary. Harvard Health Publishing. 2019

[5] Hollis, JF. Weight loss during the intensive intervention phase of weight-loss maintenance trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008

[6] McArdle, P. Losing weight Safely. Bupa UK. 2017

[7] Jain, SS. Et al. Evaluation of efficacy and safety of orlistat in obese patients. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011

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Minimising Jet Lag Requires Weeks of Preparation, Says Study

Posted Monday 19 August 2019 09:16 by in Jet Lag by Tim Deakin

Research from the University of Sydney suggests that we are waiting too long to prepare for jet lag

Scientists from the University of Sydney conducted a study into the effects of jet lag, looking at what can be done to lessen the impact of the condition.

The research, which began in early 2018, focused on non-pharmacological ways to counter jet lag. They concluded that, without medication, effectively avoiding jet lag can require weeks of preparation.[1]

Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, says that planning is where most travellers fall short. We need to start altering our body clocks for days or even weeks before boarding the flight.

“The way you feel, the way you function – mentally through to bowel movements – is all ultimately controlled by your body clock,” said Simpson.

“What you can do is make sure you’re pushing as quickly as you can to the destination time zone and getting the timing of things right.”[2]

However, public health researcher Dr Sun Bin notes that other factors are equally as important as planning when it comes to jet lag, such as light, alcohol and hydration.

“Basically, jet lag is a mismatch between your body clock and the time at your destination.”[3]

What is jet lag?

Jet lag occurs when your usual sleep routine is disturbed after a long flight. You may feel extremely tired during the day, or wide awake in the middle of the night, or both. Symptoms can last for several days as your body gets used to its new time zone.[4]

Common symptoms of jet lag can include:

Difficulty getting to sleep at night and waking up in the morning

Finding it hard to stay awake throughout the day

Severe tiredness and exhaustion

Difficulty concentrating

Poor memory

Low sleep quality[5]

How do you minimise jet lag?

Beginning your preparations early is an important part of lessening the effects of jet lag. By altering your sleep schedule by 15 minutes or so every day for a few weeks before travelling, you can shift seamlessly into a new time zone.

But there are other factors involved in the regulation of your circadian rhythm. These include eating according to the meal times of your destination, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, staying hydrated and getting plenty of natural light exposure the morning after arriving at your destination.[6]

Your destination can also play a part in the severity of your jet lag. Of course, the further you travel the greater the time difference, and therefore the greater the jet lag. But research has also found the travelling from west to east results in worse jet lag than travelling east to west.[7]

Medication can help to reduce the impact of jet lag

Medication like Circadin can be used to regain control of your sleep-wake cycle by regulating your body’s release of melatonin — your natural sleep hormone.

The effectiveness of Circadin has been shown through rigorous testing, revealing its usefulness in improving sleep quality and helping patients sleep normally when compared to a placebo drug.[8]

Circadin is an effective way to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and is available from Express Pharmacy. Click here to discover more or get in touch with one of our expert pharmacists today. Call 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Bin, YS., Postnova, S., Cistulli, PA. What works for jetlag? A systematic review of non-pharmacological interventions. Sleep Med Rev. 2018.

[2] Attard, M., Extel CV. Long flight ahead? Prepare weeks in advance to avoid jet lag, scientists say. ABC News. 2018.

[3] Bin et al. 2018.

[4] NHS UK. Jet lag. 2017.

[5] National Sleep Foundation. Jet Lag and Sleep. 2018.

[6] Kalia, A. Five ways to minimise jet lag. The Guardian. 2019.

[7] Klein, J. Why Jet Lag Can Feel Worse When You Travel From West to East. The New York Times. 2016

[8] European Medicines Agency. Circadin. 2007.

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Fact or Myth: Does Underwear Really Impact Sexual Health?

Posted Sunday 18 August 2019 15:28 by in Erectile Dysfunction by Tim Deakin

sperm health

Infertility is most often thought of as a curse upon women; but as more studies are done, it is being found that men are struggling too.

One study estimates that nearly 72.4 million couples globally experience fertility problems.” Of these cases, “approximately 40–50% are due to “male factor” infertility and as many as 2% of all men will exhibit suboptimal sperm parameters.

One of the ways men struggle with infertility is caused by excessive heat. But it’s not just the heat of summer that affects men; scientists are starting to look at the myths and fabled wives’ tales surrounding the question of underwear – and whether choosing a specific type of underwear would help men improve their sexual health.

What is the Big Deal?

For a healthy and fertile male, there isn’t an issue. He can wear whichever one he would like. Unfortunately, for those who are struggling with fertility, the debate between boxers or briefs is not just an issue of comfort or support, but it is a specific concern for the health of their sperm.

Oxford Academic published a study looking at 656 men who were complaining of infertility. They found that “overall, more than 50 percent of the men said they usually wore boxers. These men had a 25 percent "higher sperm concentration," a 17 percent higher total sperm count, and 33 percent more swimming sperm than men who said they didn't usually wear boxers.”

Importantly, the greatest statistical difference in sperm quality was found between men who wore boxer shorts and men who wore jockeys or briefs.

In men, sperm are made within the testes. The testes, located within the scrotal sack, are located outside of the body — specifically away from the core heat of the body. Celia E. Dominguez, reproductive endocrinologist, Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine says, “In order for testes to produce sufficient quality and quantity of sperm, the temperature of testes must be lower than the core body temperature.”

Another issue is the sperm’s life cycle. The body is continuously making sperm, and each sperm lives around 10-11 weeks inside the testes. If they get too hot and become damaged in the early growth cycle, they will still remain damaged the length of their life. This means that a man cannot just switch to boxers when he wants to father a child; he must protect the sperm all the time.

The Way to Keep Cool

The main goal is to keep the testes cool, and they need to be away from the core heat of the body. The best underwear choice is the loose, boxer-style underwear. This allows more air to flow into the crotch area, which in turn, keeps the area cooler. Note: Some men like the boxer-brief style. This style of underwear is typically not loose enough for most men. Your underwear should allow the scrotal sack to hang freely. Of course, there are times when men would prefer there to be less testicular movement – when playing sport, for instance – but there should always be ample time made for hanging around, so to speak.

It’s not just underwear that is an issue; tight (or heavy) clothing or an occupation that requires a man to sit for long periods of time can create havoc for the sperm. Don’t dismiss the idea of tight clothing — we’re not just talking about workout gear or riding a bike too much. The wrong clothing can be in the form of dress slacks or even heavy pants that construction workers wear. While you can’t go to work naked, try to dress in looser and lighter clothing that will keep you cooler.

Lastly, avoid sitting in hot water. Summertime may not be as tempting for the extended use of a hot tub, but in the cooler months, a long soak in a hot tub or a hot baths will raise the core temperature of the testes and possibly damage the sperm.

Conclusion

For some men, it can be a fashion choice. But for those who are struggling with infertility, your underwear does have an impact on your sexual health. So remember, anything that makes or keeps the scrotal area too hot, can harm the viability of your sperm. As you keep cool during these hot summer months, remember to keep your sperm cool too.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4691969/

https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article-abstract/33/9/1749/5066758?

https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/features/boxers-vs-briefs-increasing-sperm-count

https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/how-long-does-it-take-for-sperm-to-regenerate#takeaway

Tags: Men's Health Sexual Health

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What’s Stopping You From Losing Weight?

Posted Thursday 08 August 2019 10:38 by in Weight loss by Tim Deakin

weight loss pitfalls

Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of ill health and death in the UK. Worldwide, obesity rates have almost tripled since 1975, to the point where more than a third (39%) of adults aged 18 years and over are now overweight.[1]

In the UK alone, 29% of adults are classified as obese, and 20% of children aged 10-11 are also classified as obese.[2] What’s more, 62% of UK adults are classed as overweight.[3]

These are the kinds of numbers which show us just how important weight loss is. Despite often being thought of as an aesthetic pursuit, losing weight is an important health goal when it comes to shedding excess fat and enjoying an all-round healthier lifestyle. So why do so many of us finding losing weight so hard?

The common pitfalls of weight loss

Obesity is the UK’s biggest cause of cancer after smoking.[4] Just some of the health problems associated with obesity include hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease gastroesophageal reflux, degenerative arthritis, skin infections, sleep conditions and infertility.[5]

But there are causes, as well as consequences, of obesity which should be taken into account if you’re hoping to reach a healthier body weight.

The way you choose to tackle weight loss will be a huge factor in the success of your undertaking. While we can often be drawn in by crash diets offering instant results, the best way to achieve long-term health benefits from weight control is through regular exercise and a healthy mixed diet. Not seeing the results of your efforts instantly is one of the most common reasons why we give up on a promise to be healthier. We want to see a fast turnaround, but it’s important to remember that living healthily is a lifelong commitment, and results come with time.

Mental health is another key weight management factor which is often swept under the rug. Not only can conditions like depression and anxiety make weight gain more likely, but they can also make it harder to shed excess weight, due to a lack of motivation and focus. Research has found a strong link between obesity and mental health conditions like depression. In fact, one study by The University of Exeter, King’s College London and the University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute found that obese individuals had a 45% higher chance of having depression.[6] This relationship also works vice versa — those with depression have been found to be more likely of developing obesity.

Your support system, friends and lifestyle are all further factors which can either help or hinder weight management. Without people to rely on, weight loss can become a difficult undertaking. You should also make your environments supportive of your efforts, not detrimental to them. So make sure you remove any temptingly unhealthy food and drink items from your kitchen and work desk.

When tackled from the right perspective, weight loss can be both accessible and enjoyable

Exercise and diet are the twin pillars of successful weight loss, and both can be rewarding and even fun.

Cardio-focused exercises like running, swimming and cycling can help with weight loss, but it’s important not to get stuck in a rut with exercise. Changing things up or finding something you love enough to do regularly will help you stick to your goals and see them through. Similarly, it’s important to keep in mind that a healthy diet doesn’t have to be a boring or an unsatisfactory one. Educate yourself on a range of healthy meals so that you’re not eating the same things day in day out.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big impact, such as weighing yourself regularly, taking the stairs instead of the lift or switching white bread and rice for wholegrain alternatives.[7] Remember, every little bit of effort helps.

Medications such as Mysimba, Saxenda and Xenical have been tried and tested for their safety and effectiveness, helping to make achieving a healthy bodyweight less of a chore. These weight loss medications are available here at Express Pharmacy. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our expert pharmacists using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] World Health Organisation. Obesity and overweight. 2017.

[2] NHS UK. Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England. 2019.

[3] Cancer Research UK. Overweight and obesity statistics. 2019

[4] Cancer Research UK. Overweight and obesity statistics. 2019

[5] Royal College of Nursing. Obesity. 2019.

[6] Tyrrell, J. et al. Using genetics to understand the causal influence of higher BMI on depression. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2018.

[7] Stanford Healthcare. Obesity Prevention. 2019.

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