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Why Is the Flu Shot So Important?

Posted Monday 06 April 2020 12:24 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

The flu is a common illness which thousands of us suffer from every year. But what is the difference between a common cold and the flu? When is the flu shot needed? Within this guide, we will be taking you through everything you need to know about the flu shot and its importance.

What Is The Flu?

Influenza, or more commonly known as the flu, is a contagious illness affecting the respiratory system. It is caused by a virus infecting your nose, lungs and/or throat. Symptoms of flu can include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Aching body (head and muscles)

The flu is easily caught as it spreads incredibly easily. When those who are infected sneeze or cough, droplets (saliva, mucus) can end up landing on you.

Once you’ve caught the flu, you’ll find yourself feeling under the weather for around one to two weeks, but the healthy few can recover within five days after experiencing symptoms. Children with this illness can face a longer recovery time, due to their less established or immune systems.

What Is The Flu Shot?

The flu shot works to prevent you from falling seriously ill when infected with the flu. It works by injecting you with an existing form of the virus, encouraging your immune system to produce antibodies. It takes around two weeks for these antibodies to fully establish in your body and start to fight off infection.

Why Do I Need The Flu Shot? Why Is It So Important?

Health professionals encourage that everyone over the age of 6-months should be receiving the shot. Despite not being 100% effective at fighting off the virus, it is the best available protection for influenza and the complications that it could cause.

But, if it only causes a sniffle, why is the flu shot so important?

Although the common symptoms are minor and clear up pretty quickly, the illness can cause complications and lead to more serious conditions depending on your medical history. This includes:

Congestive heart failure - this affects the pumping abilities of the heart due to a buildup of fluid around the heart causing it to inefficiently pump blood around the body. If people suffering from this condition were to contract the flu, it can worsen their health and ultimately be fatal.

Asthma - those suffering from asthma face more severe medical complications if they were to fall ill with the flu. Due to their pre-existing difficulting breathing, the respiratory virus (influenza) only worsens their medical condition.

Bacterial pneumonia - some individuals that contract the flu may also be at risk of this medical condition. Bacterial pneumonia is an infection in your lungs causing them to become inflamed and fill up with liquid.

The shot can also also be invaluable to other groups:

Women looking to conceive - women should ensure they are up to date with their flu shot, especially if they are planning on conceiving. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of contracting the flu, which could lead to complications such as premature birth.

Young children - between the ages of 6-months to 5-years, children's immune systems are not yet fully formed or capable of fighting infections as an adult can. This can cause the illness to be more severe. It is advised that parents get their children vaccinated as young as possible (6-months old) to keep them protected.

Older people - when you reach an age of 65 or above, your immune system will begin to become less reliable when it comes to fighting off infections. It is advised for those in this age group to get an up to date flu shot to help strengthen immune systems..

Side-Effects Of The Flu Shot

The shot has been known to give temporary side-effects, often flu-like, for up to 24-hours after being administered due to the antibodies being built up in preparation to fight infection. This typically includes:

  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Red/sore/swollen around the injection area

The vaccine is very safe for the majority of people, but certain people are not medically advised to receive it, such as those who have previously reacted poorly to the shot. People with severe egg allergies are also advised to stay clear of the vaccine.

Mercury allergies also affect your ability to receive the shot as the vaccine can carry traces of the element to avoid contamination.

Treatments Options For The Flu

If you do find yourself feeling under the weather, there are many places to turn to for advice. It’s wise to head to an online pharmacy to avoid spreading your illness to other people.

In terms of the flu, however, the flu vaccination is the most effective preventative method. Types of flu shots can include:

High-dose shot - this shot is advised to those 65-years of age and older. Due to their weakened immune systems, this shot is designed to work harder at fighting infection and contains four times the number of antigens to stimulate antibodies.

Intradermal shot - ideal for 18-64-year-olds, this shot is administered into the arm muscle using a smaller needle (more desirable for those afraid of needles). This shot works just as well as the regular shot, but does increase the likelihood of side-effects occurring, varying from itchiness, head/muscle aching and fatigue.

Nasal Spray - this form of vaccination is ideal for those not wanting to receive an injection, such as young children or those with a fear of needles. To receive this type of shot, you must be aged between 2 - 49 years old, you cannot be pregnant and you must not have any serious pre-existing medical conditions. This nasal spray is said to be just as effective as the injections, but not everyone can receive it so it is wise to do your research and consult your doctor.

We're Still Working and Here to Help

Posted Wednesday 25 March 2020 18:14 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

In light of the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19, we want to keep you updated with operational developments at Express Pharmacy.

Due to Covid-19, there has been increased demand for pharmaceutical supplies and medication. This has meant that our operational pharmacy staff are under immense pressure daily. With that in mind, we are continuing to operate as normal.

The Patient Support Team is currently experiencing an unprecedented level of emails, calls and online helpdesk queries. This has meant that you might experience a slight delay in and would appreciate your support and understanding.

Medication Supply
There has been a massive surge in demand for medications, both online and in our community pharmacy. This has meant that many pharmacies have run out of certain medications, with others limiting supply to make sure that there is enough for everyone. We will be operating as normal until further notice.

As much of the nation is currently following NHS and GOV.UK guidelines on staying at home, there is a huge reliance on national delivery and courier services. As a result, we are monitoring the situation to ensure that your medications and treatments arrive to you safely and on time. Some delivery services may be experiencing delays and, in particular, next-day services.

If your treatment has not arrived, please contact our helpdesk and we will do our best to help you. Please bear in mind that this is a totally unprecedented situation that has affected the entire country, not least the world.

Please show the Patient Support Team some understanding and compassion. They are here to help and continue to show great frontline bravery. Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

We have made Royal Mail First Class delivery FREE until further notice. Please make use of this service unless you need your medication guaranteed by the next day.

We will be introducing some new delivery options soon. Please keep an eye out for an email update.

Stay home. Stay Safe. Be Kind.
Harman Bhamra (Head of Ecommerce)

What Are the Benefits of Using CBD?

Posted Wednesday 25 March 2020 08:50 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

The health and wellness industry is endless, with countless different brands offering revolutionary new medications and treatments for just about anything. But, there has been a substance that has proven effective for a multitude of different health issues - cannabidiol (CBD).

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or more commonly known as CBD, is most famously known for being a key ingredient in cannabis and medical marijuana. The component is synthesised from the hemp plant, a close relative of the marijuana plant, and has been closely linked to having many health benefits for those who take it.

This may be a cause for confusion as cannabis is an illegal drug, so how is it beneficial?

CBD has no evidence to suggest that it causes a ‘high’ nor any abuse/addictive qualities to those who may consume it, but it has been linked to aiding multiple health problems. The substance is most commonly used or consumed in oil form, which is made by adding it to coconut oil or hemp seed oil.

Is CBD Legal?

As you may know, cannabis is classed as an illegal drug in the UK and many other places around the world and in many of these places, CBD is very much thought of with the same stigma, despite being legal. But could these health benefits turn this opinion on its head?

CBD is however only legal in the UK as long as the level of THC is no more than 0.2%.

CBD is available, legally, in different forms…

  • Tablets
  • Oils
  • Creams

The substance is easily accessible, with many health stores and online pharmacies offering it in its multitude of forms.

Other forms of CBD are on the market to maintain overall health, as opposed to treating a specific issue, with tablets available to support heart/mental health and maintain good cholesterol levels.

Health Benefits of CBD

CBD has received praise in recent years due to it being confirmed that the component has health and wellness benefits, varying from anxiety to severe pain. It is common knowledge that people are pushing the legalization of the substance, with many places in the US and all over the world rethinking their stance on cannabis due to CBD benefits and the opportunity to tax the drug.


Acne affects a substantial percentage of the population and can become fairly serious. Much like other common conditions, there are endless products and medication that are sold or prescribed to supposedly aid people with this condition but rarely provide desired results.

CBD has been found to reduce the secretion of sebum in gland cells and lead to anti-inflammatory agents to activate in the skin, all reducing the appearance of acne. However this is yet to be tested on humans and so there is no proof of its effects on people, but it shows promise and hopefully, in years to come, it can be an accessible method of aiding people in their fight against acne.

Pain Relief

CBD has been used to aid pain in conditions like arthritis, cancer and sclerosis.

Your body's endocannabinoid system has cannabinoid receptors in the brain and immune system, therefore these receptors are related to:

  • Coordination
  • Memory
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Thinking
  • Pain
  • Inflammation

THC attaches itself to receptors in the brain and therefore can explain why cannabis users feel their cognitive function affected; CBD encourages the body to create more of these cannabinoids to have a positive effect on the body's responses and helping to fight pain and inflammation more so than before.


Mental health is a growing concern, with depression being the leading mental health issue in the world and anxiety not far behind. It has also been evidenced that there are uses of CBD for anxiety and similar mental health issues.

CBD has previously been effective in treating child PTSD and animal studies have shown promise as effects are proving to mimic those of antidepressants.


CBD can aid nausea caused by chemotherapy, which is the most common side effect of cancer treatment.

Subsiding these distressing symptoms of cancer can seriously improve patients quality of life and allows terminal cases to experience relief in their final stages. With cancer estimated to affect 1 in 2 of us at some point during our lives, it is time to provide patients with effective medication.

Side Effects of CBD

Despite the revolutionary work done in medicine, treatments inevitably come with their own set of side effects. CBD, when taken orally, has been known to leave people with a dry mouth, drowsiness and possibly leave a slight feeling of dizziness (light-headed).

When applied to the skin, it has not yet been evidenced that any side effects take place. In products that include direct contact with skin, creams and oils are typically much weaker than those that you consume, by being mixed more heavily with natural ingredients to give them a nice smell and a smooth feel.

Common Lifestyle Mistakes That Cause High Cholesterol

Posted Friday 20 March 2020 09:20 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

You can find cholesterol in all the cells of your body. This waxy, fat-like substance is used by your body to make vitamin D, hormones, and other chemicals that help you digest food.

Cholesterol is found in foods like meat, cheese, and egg yolks. Your body can also make the cholesterol it needs.

Excess cholesterol can combine with other substances in your blood, forming HDL and LDL. These are lipoproteins, a combination of lipids (commonly known as fats) and proteins.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is considered "good cholesterol". It carries cholesterol from your body to the liver where it is destroyed.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is sometimes called “bad cholesterol”. This cholesterol is responsible for atherosclerosis or the build-up of plaque in your arteries. This build-up can lead to coronary artery disease where your arteries become narrow or blocked.

What is High Cholesterol?

You have high cholesterol when the level of cholesterol in your body is above normal ranges. For an average adult, the total cholesterol level should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If your cholesterol levels are more than 240 mg/dL, you have high cholesterol. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline.

The above parameters refer to your total cholesterol level - the combination of HDL and LDL.

Ideally, LDL cholesterol levels should be below 100 mg/dL while a reading between 100 to 129 mg/dL is considered acceptable but can be concerning for people with heart conditions. If your LDL cholesterol level is between 130 to 159 mg/dL, that’s borderline high. While 160 to 189 mg/dL is high.

You should aim to keep your HDL levels higher, preferably 60 mg/dL or higher.

What Are The Causes of High Cholesterol?

Your genes play a significant factor in your cholesterol levels. If your parents have high cholesterol, there’s a big chance that you will have it too. Aside from heredity, several lifestyle choices cause high cholesterol. Below are some of them:

1. You don’t eat right

Eating food rich in saturated fat is one of the causes of high cholesterol. Saturated fat is usually found in beef, pork, butter, and dairy. Eating processed food rich in trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats or oils) can also increase your risk. Trans fat is commonly found in cookies, pastries, muffins, pizza dough and fried foods.

Eating plenty of fruits, whole grains, fish, nuts, poultry, and vegetables can help to increase the levels of good cholesterol in your body.

2. You are obese

If your body mass index (BMI) is more than 30, chances are, you have more bad cholesterol than good cholesterol in your body. Avoid sitting too long. If you have a desk job, try to move around every 30 minutes to get your blood flowing. Losing just 10 per cent of your body weight can do wonders to your body.

3. You don’t exercise

Exercise burns fat. It also helps boost the levels of HDL in your body. Walking, cycling, or swimming for 40 minutes every other day can effectively lower bad cholesterol.

4. You smoke

Studies found that smoking lowers the level of good cholesterol in your body. It also damages the walls of your blood vessels, causing your blood to circulate poorly. Not to mention smoking is one of the leading cause of lung cancer worldwide.

If you are not a smoker, stay away from second smoke. It’s just as dangerous!

5. You don’t eat good fats

Yep, you’ve read it right. You can still eat fats - just the good ones. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in olives, walnuts, salmon, avocadoes, and trout are good for your body. Just limit your fat intake to 30% of your daily calories.

6. You don't eat fibre

There are two types of fibres - insoluble and soluble. The latter dissolves in water while the former doesn't. Although both types are good for your health, soluble fibres found in oatmeal, fruits, lentils, vegetables, and beans can help lower bad cholesterol.

7. You drink too much alcohol

Alcohol messes up with your cholesterol levels. It can also increase the levels of fat in your blood. Drink in moderation and try not to exceed the recommended daily intake.

8. You don’t check your cholesterol levels

It’s hard to determine your cholesterol numbers on your own. Getting your cholesterol levels checked regularly can help you manage your HDL and LDL levels more effectively. Get a simple blood test every four years to make sure that your cholesterol levels are normal.

9. You don’t pay attention to other health conditions

Diabetes, high blood pressure, liver diseases, and kidney problems are all linked to high cholesterol. If you have one of these health conditions, chances are you have high levels of LDL in your blood. Manage these illnesses well, and your cholesterol levels will follow suit.

List of Foods High in Cholesterol

Below is a list of foods high in cholesterol. It's not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea on what to avoid or eat in moderation.

  • Fried foods – deep-fried foods are loaded with calories and trans fats.
  • Fast foods – studies show that those who eat fast food regularly have higher levels of cholesterol. They also have more belly fat and suffer more from impaired blood sugar levels.
  • Processed meats – products like hotdogs, sausages, and bacon are high in cholesterol and should be taken in moderation.
  • Desserts – ice cream, cookies, pastries, and cakes are not just high in added sugars. They tend to be high in bad cholesterols too.

High levels of cholesterol are linked with various diseases like stroke and heart disease. Getting your cholesterol checked regularly and avoiding the foods and bad habits listed in this article can significantly lower your risks of developing such diseases. Eating healthy and exercising regularly can greatly improve your quality of life.

A Practical Guide to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted Monday 16 March 2020 17:50 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is the classification given to a new illness that can affect the lungs and respiratory pathways. It belongs to a family of viruses known as Coronaviruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory conditions.

How does Coronavirus spread?

The virus is known to spread from person to person, however, as it is a new illness, the exact way it spreads from person to person is still unknown. This will hopefully change in the coming days and weeks.

Similar viruses are spread through coughing and sneezing droplets.

Why is the Coronavirus called Coronavirus?

Corona is the Spanish word for “Crown.” When inspecting the virus under an electron microscope, the virus displays nodes on the ends of its receptors that branch out to aid in its binding mechanism. These nodes make the image of the virus look somewhat like a crown.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus can be like the common cold or flu.

  • Repeated or continuous coughing
  • A fever or high, fluctuating temperature
  • Shortness of breath and respiratory difficulties

What should I do if I have Coronavirus symptoms?

The current advice is to stay at home for 7 days if you have either of the following:

  • A fever, or high temperature
  • A continuous cough that has started in the past few days

If you have any of the above symptoms, DO NOT go to your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Please stay at home and self-isolate until the symptoms clear (usually within 7 days). Please avoid crowded areas, public places and refrain from socialising whilst you have the symptoms.

By staying at home, you will be helping to:

  • protect other people in your community that could be more susceptible to contracting Coronavirus such as elderly men and women, or immunosuppressed individuals (for example, people with serious health conditions that weaken their immune system like Cancer, Chrohns etc)
  • prevent further spread of the illness through others who may come into contact with children, the elderly, or immunosuppressed individuals

If you are unable to cope with the symptoms at home, or if you condition deteriorates over the next 24-48 hours, or if your symptoms have not subsided after at least 7 days, please use the NHS 111 Online Coronavirus service. You can also contact us at help@expresspharmacy.co.uk where we will aim to direct you to the correct healthcare resource.

If you are unable to get the help that you need using the NHS online coronavirus service, call 111.

How can I avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus?

It is important to maintain good personal hygiene throughout the day to mitigate the chance of catching Coronavirus.

This can be done by following the steps below:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – Please follow this guide on how to wash your hands properly
  • Wash your hands when you get to work, and before you make physical contact with anyone
  • Sanitise any shared workspaces, devices or peripherals (such as phone handsets, keyboards etc) before and after use
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home, and before you make contact with friends, family or anyone else living with you
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, handkerchief or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze
  • Safely dispose of used tissues and wash your hands with soap immediately
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if you hands are unclean

The most important bit of advice that we can give you is to avoid crowded places, events and social gatherings and to stay at home, especially if you are personally at risk or if you have a family member or dependent who is immunosuppressed or over the age of 60. If you are young, fit and healthy, there is a very good chance that you will barely realise if you have contracted Coronavirus. If you display any of the symptoms, however minor, be responsible and self-isolate.

Is there are treatment for Coronavirus?

Currently there is no specific treatment for Coronavirus on the market. Treatments that are currently employed aim to relieve the symptoms whilst your body develops resistance and fights the illness.

To prevent the further spread of the illness, it will be recommended that you stay in isolation, away from other people.

Will antibiotics cure Coronavirus?

Antibiotics will not help against Coronavirus. Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent types of bacterial infection and will not work against infections caused by viruses or fungi. Before you take any medication, please contact a health professional by using the online NHS 111 coronavirus service.

Advice for staying at home (Self-Isolation)

The following advice is for people who have either been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) or for those with symptoms.

If you display the symptoms of Coronavirus, or suspect that you may have recently come into contact with someone who either; had the symptoms, or was later confirmed to have contracted the illness, it is imperative that you stay at home for at least 7 days.

This will help to prevent Coronavirus spreading and protect your local community whilst you recover from the infection.

What should I do in self-isolation?

  • Try to maintain relative distance from others in your household (The NHS recommends at least 2 metres). In particular, older people or those with chronic, or long-term health conditions
  • Drink plenty of water and try to ensure that your diet contains as much vitamin-enriched food as possible
  • Explain your situation to your employer, friends and family so that they can help you where necessary
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Sleep alone, if possible
  • Try to plan ahead and ask for assistance from members of your family or the local community
  • For many people, self-isolation can place a great toll on mental health. Below is some practical advice on how to manage the psychological impact of staying at home (self-isolating).

Practice breathing techniques

How often? Aim for 10 minutes, at least once or twice every day. Try incorporating it into you daily routine, as this is how you will see the best results. There is no limit to how often you can do it.

When? Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, or if you have spent extended periods of time in front of a Computer screen, TV or mobile device.

How? Make yourself as comfortable as possible. You can do this lying down, sitting in a chair or even standing up.

Why? The breathing exercise outlined below is an easy, non-invasive and natural way to settle your central nervous system, encourage oxygen flow and encourage self-control. The more you practice it, the more useful and powerful it can become.

  1. Empty your lungs. Breathe out through your mouth, attempting to exhale completely and by making a “whooshing” sound.
  2. Breathe in. With your mouth closed gently, inhale quietly through your nose whilst making a mental count of four seconds. Advanced Tip: When breathing in, try to focus on breathing into your diaphragm rather than into chest and lungs. You can practice this by placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. As you breathe in, you should feel your stomach “inflate” and your chest stay as still as possible.
  3. Hold your breath. Aim to hold your breath for a mental count of seven seconds.
  4. Breathe out. Exhale completely to a mental count of eight seconds. Make as much of a “whooshing” sound as you can. Advanced Tip: When breathing out, trying to focus on emptying your breath from the base of your stomach. As you breathe out, draw your belly button as far into your stomach as possible.

Repeat. Start the breathing routine again by inhaling and repeating the above steps. Aim for a total of 4 breaths.

This can take some getting used to, especially if you are not used to breathing in a controlled manner. Take your time to improve your technique, and, if necessary speed the exercise up. Even if you can’t keep to the exact time, try to ensure that you keep to the ratio of FOUR COUNTS INHALE / SEVEN COUNTS HOLD BREATH / 8 COUNTS EXHALE.

Whilst it may be difficult, try to limit the amount of time that you spend on social media, or watching the news. Whilst it is important to stay updated on developments relating to Coronavirus, the amount of information available can become overwhelming. In certain cases, the information may be wrong, politically-motivated or intended to cause panic. Take as many breaks as possible from all forms of media. This will help to calm the mind, especially if you are able to incorporate the above breathing techniques.

Community Support

During these difficult times, there are many less privileged or less-abled members of our society and communities who will be at greater risk of falling ill and potentially spreading the virus.

If you have elderly neighbours, please leave them a note under their door to see if they need any assistance.

Extend your support and compassion to members of your community who do not have a roof over their heads. They may not have easy to access to hand sanitisers, soaps, toilet paper, food, vitamins or general hygiene products and with your support, you will be helping them and doing good by your wider community.

If you are able to help those around without putting yourself or your family at risk, please do your part to help your fellow community members.

A little compassion can go a long way but costs nothing.

Respect Healthcare Workers And NHS Staff

The Coronavirus pandemic has put an unprecedented toll on the NHS and its workers. Everyone from GP's, Nurses, Pharmacists, cleaners and support workers will be under immense stress to cope with the increased workloads. They are all human beings who are equally at risk and deserve our support and empathy. Please remember to respect NHS staff and healthcare workers.

Unless your symptoms have not subsided after 7 days, or you are struggling to cope, please do not go to your GP, Pharmacy or Hospital.