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7 Warning Signs of Cancer That You Need to Know

Posted Monday 14 September 2020 10:13 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

Did you know that there are at least 1000 new cases of cancer every day in the UK? With more than half of these cancer cases are either breast, lung, bowel, or prostate cancers.

Your body is made up of trillions of cells. Cells that are too old or damaged normally die and new cells grow to replace them. However, when you have cancer, this natural cycle breaks down. Cells that are supposed to die live on and new cells grow when they shouldn’t. Most of these abnormal cells don’t stop dividing until they form large growths called tumours.

What are Tumours?

Many types of cancer form large masses of tissue called tumours. These tumours can be further classified into two:

Benign tumours - tumours that don’t spread or invade nearby tissues. Benign tumours can be very large. They don’t usually grow back when removed. Benign tumours are not dangerous unless they grow in critical parts of the body. For example, in the brain, even a tiny benign tumour can have fatal consequences.

Malignant tumours - these types of tumours spread or invade nearby organs. As they grow, parts of the tumour break off and travel to other parts of your body through your blood or lymphatic system --- forming new tumours wherever they settle. Malignant tumours also tend to grow back when removed.

Cancers related to the blood (i.e. leukaemia) often don’t form solid tumours.

How to Treat Cancer

There are several ways to treat cancer. Some of the common procedures include:

  • Surgery - removing as much of the cancer cells as possible.
  • Chemotherapy - using drugs to kill cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy - using high-powered beams like x-rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy - a procedure which uses your own immune system to kill cancer cells. Your immune system usually gets rid of dead and abnormal cells but cancer cells know how to “hide” from your immune system. Immunotherapy helps your immune system recognise cancer cells.

These cancer treatments are more effective when the cancer is still at its early stages. This means that early detection is key.

Early Warning Signs of Cancer

Your body usually gives off signals when something is not right. Below are 7 warning signs of cancer that you should know about.

Lack of Appetite and Unexplained Weight Loss

Common illnesses like flu can affect your appetite. Cancer can, too. Cancer makes you feel less hungry by changing your body’s metabolism --- the way your body converts food into energy. Cancers in the stomach, colon, ovaries, and pancreas can press into your stomach making you feel full all the time.

Because of the lack of appetite, most cancer patients also experience weight loss for unknown reasons. If you have lost more than 5 kilograms without knowing why then it’s worth heading to your GP.

Presence of Blood in the Stool or Urine

Cancers, ulcers, haemorrhoids, sores, and other infections in the gut can produce bloody stool. You can usually tell the source by looking at the colour of the blood. If it’s bright red, then you may have some bleeding in your anus or rectum. If the colour is dark, then the source is probably higher up in your digestive system.

Blood in the urine is usually a sign that something is wrong in your urinary tract. Cancer in the bladder and kidneys can produce blood in your pee. But so can common illnesses like kidney stones and bladder infections.

Whatever the cause is, if you see blood in your stool or urine, consult your doctor as soon as possible. They may perform tests like colonoscopy to rule out the possibility of cancer.

Persistent Cough

Coughing that doesn’t go away can be a sign of lung cancer. See your GP if the cough is accompanied by weight loss, extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and hoarseness. If you are a smoker, the more important it is to consult with your doctor.

Fever that Doesn’t Break

Fever is a natural immune response especially if you’ve caught an infection. But some types of cancers like leukaemia, liver cancer, kidney cancer, and lymphoma can also cause your temperature to flare up. Most fevers related to cancer rise and fall during the day. If you’ve been suffering from a fever that’s over 37.7 degrees Celsius for days, consult your doctor.

Changes in Your Skin

Skin changes can be a precursor to skin cancer. If you notice a freckle, mole, or wart change in colour, shape, and size, contact your doctor right away as this may be an early sign of melanoma.

Lumps or Changes in the Breast

An early sign of breast cancer in women include breast pain, changes in the nipples, lump under your arm, scaling and redness over the breast, and discharge from the nipple that is not milk. If you notice any of these changes, see your doctor right away.

Pain During Urination or Ejaculation

An early sign of prostate cancer is painful urination and painful ejaculation. If the pain doesn’t go away after a couple of days, get it checked by your doctor to make sure.

Remember that to fully heal from cancer, early detection is vital. We hope these early warning signs of cancer can give you a heads up on whatever is wrong with your body. If you feel something is amiss, don’t be afraid to consult with your doctor.


Suicide Prevention Day: What Causes Negative Thinking?

Posted Thursday 10 September 2020 11:00 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

Did you know, that based on 2018 data, there were over 6,500 deaths by suicide in the UK in one year? Men account for up to 75% of these cases. According to researchers, most suicides in the UK are due to unemployment, loneliness, recent recessions, and austerity measures.

As the 10th of September is World Suicide Prevention Day, we would like to help increase awareness surrounding negative thinking and its consequences. This blog post will help to unravel what causes negative thinking and how to deal with it.

Causes of Negative Thinking

1. Not accepting that mistakes are part of growth

Sometimes, being too hard on yourself causes more harm than good. Perfectionism can create a lot of anxiety and stress in your life. Try reading aloud the phrases below:

“I should wake up early.”

“I should exercise.”

“I should save money.”

At first, these phrases don’t seem bad. But if you look closer, they are --- because of one word. SHOULD. The word should is damaging. It connotes a feeling of guilt. Of not having done enough. These thoughts of failure can lead you down a spiral path of negative thoughts.

How to overcome:

Don’t lead your thoughts with “I should”. Instead, try saying:

“I will do my best to wake up early by sleeping early every night.”

“I will exercise every day by setting aside a portion of time to go to the gym. I’ll invite my friend, John, so we can support each other.”

“I will save money by tracking my expenses.”

The point here is to not use words that add pressure to your already pressured self. As you go through your day, try to record your negative thoughts and identify the words that guilt-trip you. Then replace these with words that inspire and motivate.

2. Allowing automatic negative thinking to take over

Automatic Negative Thinking or ANTs are the first things that come to your mind every time you have a strong reaction or feeling. Think of it as your thought reflex. ANTs are common among people with depression and anxiety. These thoughts often revolve around ideas of danger or fear. What makes matter worse is that ANTs can be paralyzing.

You don’t pick up ANTs overnight. These thoughts are usually a product of years of experience and conditioning. Example of ANTs are:

I’m going to fail.

She/He will not like me.

I’m dumb.

I’m stupid.

This world is awful.

I hate my life.

How to overcome:

The best way to deal with ANTs is by breaking it down into three parts:

1) The trigger - usually the situation or event that triggered the negative thought

2) Your feelings - what you are feeling at the time the negative thought appeared

3) The thought - the exact thought or image that came to your mind

Identifying these three will help you examine your negative thought process so you can actively change your thinking process into a productive and helpful one. Let’s see this in action!

So, for example, the automatic negative thought is: I’m going to fail. Ask yourself these questions:

1. What situation or event is causing you to think “I’m going to fail” before it even happens?

Is it work? A project? An exam?

If it is an exam, ask yourself: Am I afraid because I failed in the past? How is this exam different from the exams I took before?

Now imagine the worst that could happen and break down your feelings and rate it from highest to lowest in terms of intensity.

Are you afraid?

Are you nervous?

Do you feel guilty?

Let’s say you rated nervousness as number 1. This means that being nervous (a symptom of anxiety) is your dominant mood when your remaining emotions are filled with guilt and fear.

Now that you’ve identified your dominant mood, what can you do so you don’t feel nervous?

As you can see, we are now taking control of your thoughts and emotions --- the first step in eliminating automatic negative thoughts in our lives.

3. Not acknowledging your mental strain

We always have a tendency to fight back or become defensive when an unfavourable situation comes our way. Automatically putting yourself in a defensive or in denial mode can send you into a state of anxiety.

How to overcome:

Embracing the emotional roller coaster you are in requires lesser energy than being constantly in denial.

Remember, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times and you must acknowledge that truth before you can do anything to fix your situation. Don’t exhaust yourself fighting back.

If you take a step back, you’ll eventually notice that most of your negative thoughts have a trigger. Identify these triggers and determine how you can work your way around it. If your negative thoughts are triggered by a situation, opt-out and say no.

Conclusion

We all have negative thoughts. We know that living with depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions is not easy. Remember that you are not alone. You always have your friends and family to support you. Don’t be afraid to work with professionals who can help you identify your negative thought patterns and help you make your way around it.


What to Expect From a HIV Testing Kit

Posted Friday 04 September 2020 11:00 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is the main culprit behind AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This virus is designed to attack your immune system --- compromising your body’s ability to fight against infections, viruses, and illnesses. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about HIV, including what to expect from a HIV testing kit.

HIV: A Quick Overview

HIV has three stages. Let's discuss them briefly below:

Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection

This is the initial stage of the infection. If you are infected, you may begin to notice flu-like symptoms within the first four weeks. These symptoms can last for several days to weeks. During this stage, you are very contagious but may not feel very sick.

Stage 2: Dormant Stage

During this stage, the virus becomes dormant and replicates very slowly in your body. The dormancy stage is usually not associated with any symptoms. This could last for decades or even longer especially if you are taking HIV treatment.

Stage 3: AIDS

The most severe stage of the infection. By this time, your immune system is already compromised and you are most likely to develop opportunistic diseases like:

  • Cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lymphoma

Most deaths occur as a result of several complications caused by these illnesses, not by the virus itself. Life expectancy for people with AIDS is less than five years.

Get Tested Early

Since its discovery, scientists are yet to find a cure for HIV. Early detection is key to enjoying a comfortable and productive life down the road. There are several HIV treatments available but they are most effective when the virus is still at its early stages.

Get tested if:

  • You had unprotected sex with someone who may have HIV.
  • You are sharing needles (tattoos, drugs, piercings, etc).
  • You want peace of mind.

Using A HIV Testing Kit at Home

HIV self-testing is the most convenient and discreet way to test for HIV. The BioSure HIV Self Testing Kit is the first of its kind in the UK to receive a CE approval. This means that the test kit is strictly regulated and scrutinised to meet the highest quality standards.

The BioSure HIV Self Testing Kit is very easy to use. Using a technology very similar to a pregnancy test, this HIV testing kit requires a very small amount of blood (less than a drop). You will know your result after 15 minutes.

Using the BioSure HIV Self Testing Kit

Here is a quick guide for HIV testing at home. Using the BioSure HIV Self Testing Kit can be summarised into five simple steps: prepare, prick, suck, poke, and read.

Step 1. Prepare

Prepare the testing kit by removing the buffer pot from the end of the device. Place it in the hole in the tray.

Step 2. Prick

Remove the cover of the safety lancet and place the red pad on your finger. Push until you hear a click. The lancet will make a small cut on your skin. You can squeeze your finger to make the drop of blood bigger.

Step 3. Suck

Touch the tip of the BioSure HIV Self Testing Kit onto the blood. It’ll automatically suck the blood in until you have enough for the test.

Step 4. Poke

Push the tip of your testing device through the foil in the buffer pot. Push hard until you can’t push any further. Wait for 15 minutes.

Step 5. Read

Once the 15-minute waiting period is up, you can now read your results. One (1) line means negative, two lines mean positive, and no lines mean the test did not work.

If you have a positive result, consult with your GP. They will confirm your result and will help you take the next steps.


Achieve Peace With These Top 3 Tips for Meditating at Home

Posted Friday 21 August 2020 11:00 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

With the coronavirus pandemic completely changing the way we live our lives, it’s become all the more important to focus on our mental health. Staying indoors and having reduced social interactions can naturally dampen our spirits, meaning it’s wise to take time out of our days to actually do things that make us happy. And, what better way to stay grounded than with a spot of meditation?

Within this guide, we will be taking you through how to achieve peace with these top three tips for meditation at home.

How Meditation Impacts Mental Health

Before we dive right into the tips, let’s take a look at why you should practice meditation in the first place.

Meditation involves the art of focusing purely on the mind (or a particular object). The main goal is to achieve a mentally clear - and stable - brain. This stable state is what contributes to a positive mental mindset - all worries essentially melt away while you focus on tuning in with your body.

3 Tips For Meditating At Home

The following three tips are perfect for both beginners and those who practice meditation regularly.

1. Make A Tranquil Space

Meditation works better without any distractions. This means that sitting in the kitchen while dinners cooking or sitting in the living room with the TV on probably won’t help you to achieve peace. For best results, find a quiet space with little distractions. Have a declutter of any unnecessary waste and create a comfy seating area that won’t make you want to move around every few minutes.

2. Don’t Stick To Thoughts

Meditation involves letting go of passing thoughts whenever they arrive. This is a lot harder than it sounds and may take a lot of practice to get right, but if you persevere, you’ll soon find it incredibly easy to do. As soon as a thought pops up, acknowledge it is there and let it float by. Don’t get tangled up in the thought and don’t get anxious over the fact your mind is more active than you’d like it to be. As you start to practice more, the passing thoughts will slow down, and you will achieve greater peace.

3. Make Time For Practice

Achieving mindfulness cannot be done if you’re constantly thinking about the next thing you have to do. This means that, no matter what your schedule, you’ll need to set aside a good chunk of time to practice meditation properly. Whether it be ten minutes or half an hour, allocate a specific slot each day and stick to it. For best results, try to do this in the morning so that you feel prepped and refreshed for the day ahead. Just ensure that the time you allocate is a time when you have no responsibilities elsewhere.

Watch The Benefits Roll In!

While there are hundreds of tips and tricks to learn about for effective meditation, these top three are great starting points. Keep them in mind at all times (but don’t stress about them!) and watch as your ability to meditate gets easier and easier. Before you know it, you’ll have a far more ‘zen’ state of mind, allowing you to tackle most anxieties and stresses thrown at you.

If you or someone you know has been struggling with their mental health as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, check out this list of helpful resources for further guidance.


How Can I Test for HIV at Home?

Posted Wednesday 15 July 2020 12:00 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

If you fear that you may have contracted HIV, the best thing that you can do is stay one step ahead and get a test. While there is currently no cure for HIV, detecting it in its early stages is vital so that you can live a comfortable life.

The easiest and quickest way to test for HIV is in the comfort of your own home. This short guide will take you through everything you need to know about these home testing kits.

How To Know If You Have HIV

The only way to 100% know whether you have HIV is by taking a test. While there are some non-specific symptoms (headaches, fevers, pneumonia, etc), you may not develop them until years after you contract the virus.

Due to lack of symptoms when you first contract HIV, it is recommended to take a test if you have had unprotected sex or sex with someone who you now know has HIV. It is also wise to take a test if you have ever shared needles with someone else - whether it be for tattoos, piercings or drug use.

How Do HIV Testing Kits Work?

Most HIV testing kits work by searching for antibodies in your blood or cells that would have only developed if your body was trying to fight off HIV. These antibodies typically appear after 3 months of contracting HIV, meaning if you test negative the first time, it’s wise to try again a few months later to be 100% certain.

One of the most popular HIV testing kits is the BioSURE HIV Testing Kit. This kit detects the antibodies via your blood which is drawn by a simple pinprick on your finger. After around 15 minutes, the test will have your results ready and will indicate your status through the use of lines (similarly to a pregnancy test).

How To Get A HIV Testing Kit

Buying a HIV testing kit online has never been easier thanks to accredited pharmacies. You can purchase the popular BioSURE HIV testing kit right here at Express Pharmacy and have it delivered to you in as little as 1 working day. This testing kit is priced at £28.95.