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6 Ways to Talk to Men About Their Health

Posted Monday 14 June 2021 04:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

It’s a well-known fact that men are less likely to visit the doctor when faced with a health concern. Toxic masculinity is hugely to blame, implementing the illusion that men should never ask for help. While times are changing (and improving!), some men still struggle to come to terms with asking for help, particularly with regards to their health.

In light of Men’s Health Week, we’re taking it upon us to break the toxic masculinity barrier and start an important conversation. Here are six ways to talk to men about their health, both comfortably and discreetly.

1. Offer To Help Them

For some men, taking time out of a busy schedule to visit the GP is often the biggest hurdle. While you don’t want to undermine them by booking an appointment without consent, you can offer to help them by finding a suitable time when they can visit. Perhaps you can offer to drive them to their appointments or be there for moral support if they’re worried about talking to the doctor.

2. Follow Your Own Advice

Actions are powerful - while it’s all well and good telling other people to go to the doctor, if you’re not prepared to do the same when it comes to your health, you can expect them to heed your advice.

Make sure you schedule annual check-ups, address any health concerns, and attend important screenings. This will set a good example to those around you while keeping your health in good check at the same time.

3. Assess Options

If awkward conversations are too daunting for someone, it might be time to assess alternative options. Luckily, in this day and age, there are many ways to order medication discreetly without coming face to face with another human.

Here at Express Pharmacy, you can complete an online consultation and be issued a prescription on the same day. This allows you to order treatment online, without a doctor's trip becoming a burden to your day. Although discussing any health concern doesn’t need to be an “awkward” matter, having the option to deal with it online benefits many people. Consider discussing this option with the men in your life.

4. Pay Attention To Symptoms

If you know someone quite well, more times than not, it will be easy to tell when something is wrong. While diagnosing someone is only something that health professionals can do, kindly asking if someone is feeling okay can go a long way. Whether it’s a change in mood or signs of discomfort, letting someone know that you’re there will make the world of difference. This may be the first step that makes them open up even more.

5. Let Them Know You’re Concerned

As mentioned previously, showing that you care will go a long way. Avoid being too demanding or assertive when talking about their health; instead, show your concern by checking in and offering support. Remind them that the reason you’re broaching the subject is because you care and want them to be healthy.

6. Highlight the Positives

Above everything else, highlight the positives surrounding talking about health. The sooner that we can banish the taboo, the better. Just a few positives include:

  • Encouraging good health
  • Improving confidence
  • Building closer relationships
  • Making it easier to ask for help in the future

While it is down to the man in your life to make the final decision, highlighting the positives of getting help may provide the encouragement they need.

Final Thoughts

If we all foster open communication surrounding health (while approaching the situation sensitively), we can banish shying away for good. The six tips in this guide are beneficial for both men and women, so if you are concerned about someone in your life, consider giving these approaches a try.

Capsule vs Tablets: What's the Difference Between Capsules and Tablets?

Posted Monday 07 June 2021 09:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Capsules and tablets are both common forms of oral medication, used for a variety of conditions. They both work by providing your body with medication via the digestive tract.

While both have similar purposes, there are some key differences between the types of mediations and who they are suited to. To help you get medication online with confidence, we’ve outlined the differences between capsules and tablets in this guide.

What Are Tablets?

Tablets are the most common form of pill – they offer an inexpensive yet highly effective way to deliver medication orally. Tablets are made by compressing one or more powdered ingredients together to create a solid, smooth-coated pill that breaks down within the digestive tract.

How Do You Take Tablets?

Tablets are usually taken with water and, depending on the type of medication, with or without food. You can also buy chewable tablets, which again are available for certain types of medication but not all.

How Do Tablets Work?

Tablets often have a special coating around each pill to ensure that the ingredients are absorbed properly in the gut and not earlier in the digestion process. The dissolved tablet is eventually absorbed into the bloodstream where it then travels to the liver. From here, it distributes to the targeted area of the body.

What Do Tablets Look Like?

In addition to the active ingredient, tablets are usually made with additional ingredients that hold the pill together and also improve the texture or taste. Tablets can be formed into disc shapes, oblongs or round pills and some might have a line across them which makes them easier to break in half (if a half dose is required).

What Are Capsules?

Capsules are a type of medication enclosed in an outer shell. The shell breaks down in the intestines, where the medication is then absorbed into the bloodstream and metabolised (in the same way as a tablet).

What Do Capsules Look Like?

Capsules come in both hard shell and soft gel forms. Hardshell capsules consist of two halves – one half fits within the other to create a closed case. It is filled with either a powder or pellet form of the dry medication - or a liquid medication.

Capsules are great for dual-action or extended-release formulas. Soft gel capsules look a bit different to hard capsules – they’re usually wider and semi-transparent, and they contain a liquid medication that is easy to digest and released into the body.

Capsules Vs Tablets: The Pros and Cons

In short, no medication is “better” than the other. Whether you consume a capsule or tablet will entirely depend on the medication that you are using - rest assured that the manufacturer would have taken the pros and cons of both into consideration.

The Advantages Of Tablets

Tablets are usually shelf-stable and have a longer lifespan than capsules. A single tablet can also accommodate a higher dose of medication than a single capsule, so they’re well-suited to medications where a higher dose is required. Unlike capsules, tablets can be split in two - and some are chewable - which makes them more accessible to people who struggle to swallow tablets.

The Advantages Of Capsules

Capsules, on the other hand, are fast-acting, tasteless and tamper-resistant because they can’t be split in two or crushed like a tablet. Capsules also offer higher bioavailability which means that they can be absorbed by the bloodstream more effectively.

The Disadvantages Of Tablets

There are considerations to make though. Tablets are more likely to cause irritation to your gut and they can be slower acting. Because tablets are more likely to break down inconsistently, they can lead to a lower absorption rate. Many people also find tablets to be less palatable.

The Disadvantages Of Capsules

Capsules are less durable than tablets and can be affected by humidity. Capsules are also more expensive, both to produce and purchase, and can contain animal products such as gelatine which makes them unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians.

So - Which Is Safer?

Neither type of medication is safer than the other – both present only minor risks. If you’re concerned about the ingredients in either tablets or capsules, it’s worth speaking to your GP or pharmacist before taking the medication. If you’re allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients in your medication, speak to your doctor who can prescribe you an alternative option.

Final Notes

Both tablets and capsules are an accessible form of medication. While they usually have a similar purpose, they do present differences that are worth considering. If you have any concerns about the medication you are taking, do not hesitate to get in touch with a health professional.

How to Perform CPR: 3 Important Steps

Posted Monday 24 May 2021 11:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Many people don’t know what CPR involves or even what it does to an individual who is unconscious. Knowing how to perform CPR properly could wind up saving someone’s life one day, so it’s an important skill to learn.

CPR enables you to keep someone who isn’t breathing alive until the emergency services arrive – it works by keeping the blood flowing when their heart stops beating. In fact, CPR can double or even triple the likelihood of someone surviving. Here’s a guide to CPR, including three important steps you need to remember.

What is CPR?

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It’s a vital medical procedure that can save the lives of people suffering with cardiac arrest. The process works by helping to pump blood around the body when the heart isn’t capable of doing so, to help prevent the organs from failing. It could be the difference between someone surviving a cardiac arrest and death, so knowing how to perform CPR is a key skill that everyone should develop and have a thorough understanding of.

3 Golden CPR Rules

1. Check for a response

If someone is having a cardiac arrest, their breathing will either be abnormal, or they won’t be breathing at all. They also won’t be conscious, so if you find someone who is unconscious, always check for any danger or risks before you begin helping them. You can do this by asking them loudly if they’re alright and gently shaking their shoulders to try and help them regain consciousness. You should also gently tilt their chin upwards to open the airways so you can check if they are breathing or not, as it might not be immediately clear.

You shouldn’t leave the person alone, but you should try to ask for help from those nearby or attract attention if you’re by yourself by shouting loudly for help. You, or someone close by, should call for help by ringing 999 – don’t start compressions until you’ve spoken with emergency services and have confirmed that an ambulance is on the way.

2. Cover the mouth and nose

Current governmental advice states that you shouldn’t provide rescue breaths to the individual as there might be a risk of infection. So, it’s important to lay a towel or a piece of clothing over their mouth and nose, and don’t put your face close to theirs as this can transmit viruses and infections, either from you to the individual or vice versa. If you’ve confirmed that they are breathing normally, put them in the recovery position while you wait for the emergency services to arrive.

3. Start chest compressions

Kneel next to the person and place the heel of one hand on the centre of their chest, placing the other hand on top. Interlock your fingers and, using straight arms, push down on the breastbone firmly using the heel of your hand.

Top Tip: Make sure you’re pressing down hard by around 5-6cm before releasing. This is for adults or children aged nine and above. For younger children and infants, give 30 chest compressions or 100 per minute, pushing around 4-5cm in children or 3-4cm in infants, using two or three fingers rather than the heel of your hands.

You need to continue this motion at a rate of between 100 and 120 chest compressions per minute, or around two per second. Keep this rate up until a paramedic arrives and can take over, or until the person regains consciousness. This might look like opening their eyes, speaking, coughing or breathing normally again. Watch out for these signs as you’re performing CPR but keep going until help reaches the scene. If you get tired or you don’t feel that you can keep going, ask someone nearby to take over.

It’s important to act quickly if you spot someone in trouble, as less than five minutes without oxygen can cause lasting brain damage and issues with other organs in the body. Everyone should be prepared for such an event, as knowing how to perform CPR properly may prevent an unnecessary death in the future.

CFS Day: What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

Posted Wednesday 12 May 2021 07:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is an illness categorised by extreme, long-term fatigue that isn’t relieved by rest.

If you’ve experienced intense fatigue for longer than six months, you could be experiencing CFS. It’s a condition that often appears out of nowhere, following a flu-like infection or an episode of physical or psychological trauma. But for some people, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome develops over time and lasts months or even years.

What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Most people who develop CFS feel extremely tired and generally unwell long-term, but there are other symptoms associated with this condition. These include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat or sore glands in the neck that aren’t swollen
  • Feeling dizzy or sick
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heart palpitations

Exercising or leading an active lifestyle can often make these symptoms worse, and the severity can vary from day to day. Some people might even notice that their symptoms vary over the course of a day. But understanding how to manage the symptoms is key to this condition, as it can be extremely debilitating.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

It’s not precisely known what causes CFS to develop, but there are many theories about illnesses or causes for this condition. It can be triggered by an infection, for example, but specialists believe that there are certain factors that can make you more likely to develop these issues. These include:

  • Viral infections, like glandular fever
  • Bacterial infections, such as pneumonia
  • Immune system issues
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Mental health problems
  • Genetic predisposition

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can cause complications such as lifestyle restrictions, increased absences from work, social isolation and depression. It’s important to seek medical advice if you are suffering from these types of symptoms as a GP can help you develop a treatment plan.

How Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, as there’s no specific test for this condition. It’s often diagnosed based on your symptoms and by ruling out other potential problems that could be causing your symptoms. These might include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Hypothyroidism.

Often, your GP will ask you a series of questions to determine what could be causing your health issues, and you may need to have blood tests and urine tests to rule out any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If the common illnesses that produce symptoms that you’re experiencing are ruled out and you don’t get better as quickly as expected, you might receive a diagnosis for CFS.

Can Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Be Treated?

CFS doesn’t have a specific treatment or medication that cures it completely. So, in many cases, the aim for sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is to relieve the symptoms. This means that the treatment for this condition depends on how CFS is affecting the individual and how severe their symptoms are. Some of the treatments might include cognitive behavioural therapy, a structured exercise programme and medicine to control the pain or issues with sleeping.

Making lifestyle changes can help reduce your symptoms, such as reducing your intake of caffeine, which can help you sleep, and minimising your intake of alcohol and nicotine. It can also help to create a sleep routine, such as going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time in the morning, so your body gets used to when to wind down.

Find ways to relax and rest so that your body has a chance to recuperate, as this can help to alleviate some of the exhaustion that you can feel when you’re dealing with CFS.

Can People With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Recover?

People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome usually improve over time with treatment, but not everyone who has CFS fully recovers. There might also be periods where your symptoms will get better or worse, so it’s about learning how to treat your symptoms effectively. Recovery tends to be less likely in people who have experienced their symptoms for a longer period of time, who have long-standing depression, have numerous physical symptoms and those who are over the age of 40 when their symptoms start.

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

Posted Wednesday 05 May 2021 09:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Hand washing has always been important in preventing the spread of germs and viruses, but since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, it has become a primary concern for everyone around the world.

Why It’s Important To Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

Hand washing might seem like a basic task, but if done incorrectly, it will prove ineffective. Even if your hands look like they’re clean, they can still carry multiple germs so cleaning them regularly, and above all properly, is critical.

Be conscious of what you’re touching throughout the day, from railings and stair rails to door handles, light switches and touch screens in public spaces. We are in contact with things more than we realise, which means we are at risk of picking up germs and bacteria that could be damaging to our health.

For this reason, it’s vital that you wash your hands regularly to remove these germs throughout the day.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

If public transport forms a big part of your day, it’s important to wash your hands before you get to work and then again after you’ve been travelling. You should also wash your hands again when you get home, before you eat or drink anything, and before and after handling ingredients like raw meat or vegetables.

This should accompany common-sense hygiene practices, such as after using the toilet, when you’ve coughed or sneezed, or before and after treating a wound. If you’re not able to wash your hands immediately, using hand sanitiser is a good compromise until you’re able to get to a bathroom to wash them properly.

How To Wash Your Hands

The first step to cleaning your hands thoroughly is to remove any rings or jewellery so that you can clean them properly.

You need to physically remove bacteria by making your hands slippery so that the germs can be rinsed off. Soap works well for this, and it’s just as effective for the likes of coronavirus as it is for other viruses and illnesses. The reason for this is that viruses are covered in a layer of fat - soap helps to break this down so that the virus is less damaging to your health.

You should ideally wash your hands for 20 seconds at least. It can help to put a 20-second timer on so you can see just how long you need to be washing your hands for, then follow these steps:

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water
  2. Apply a small amount of soap to your hands
  3. Rub your hands together vigorously, making sure that soap and water is applied to all surfaces of your hands for up to one minute (at least for 20 seconds). This should include your palms, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, your fingertips and nails, and your wrists
  4. Rinse your hands with warm running water
  5. Dry your hands completely using a hand dryer or a disposable paper towel
  6. Turn off the tap using a paper towel or your elbow to avoid re-contaminating your hands with germs from the tap

If you don’t have soap to wash your hands, but you do have access to water, you should use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol in it. This will remove the majority of germs until you can wash your hands properly with soap.

If you have water but no sanitiser either, you should rub your hands together under the water and dry them with a clean towel or air dry them. This will rinse some of the germs off, but it is not as effective as using soap and water together.

Everything You Need to Know About Adult-Onset Asthma

Posted Tuesday 04 May 2021 07:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Imagine stepping outside and taking in a deep breath of fresh air, only to find that it prompts breathing difficulties or a tight chest. For those struggling with adult-onset asthma, this is a reality.

Many people believe that asthma is a condition you develop in childhood, but adults can develop it too, and it’s more common than you might realise. The issue is that, as adults, we’re not as good at spotting the signs of asthma. So, with that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about adult-onset asthma and the symptoms to watch out for.

The Symptoms of Adult-Onset Asthma

Asthma is a lung condition that can come with several different symptoms and triggers. This condition is caused by inflamed airways, which triggers excess mucus production and muscle spasms that narrow the airways, making it more difficult to breathe. This can cause:

  • Tight chest or a pressured feeling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath after exertion
  • Wheezing when you exhale
  • Dry cough or colds that linger after moving quickly to the chest

The symptoms of adult asthma are similar to childhood asthma, but they are usually intermittent in childhood whereas adults may experience them more persistently. It’s important to speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms and a fever, just to rule out Coronavirus.

Is Asthma More Dangerous for Adults?

Asthma is a dangerous condition for anyone, but it’s particularly worrying for adults – in fact, the death rate for adult-onset asthma is considerably higher than it is for children. One of the reasons for this could be that adults tend to ignore the symptoms and attribute them to other issues, such as being overweight or not exercising enough, which means they don’t take them as seriously.

Another reason is that the symptoms can be seen in other conditions, such as stomach disorders, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Delays in getting treatment for asthma can cause long-term, and even permanent, damage to lung function, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Who Is At Increased Risk Of Adult-Onset Asthma?

Some people are more at risk of asthma in adulthood than others. These include:

  • Being overweight or obese (which changes lung physiology and increases the risk of inflammation)
  • Being female (hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy or menopause can trigger asthma)
  • Allergens (cigarette smoke, chemicals, mould, dust or pets)
  • Smokers

Can Asthma Be Treated?

Adult-onset asthma can be treated with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Each person is different, so what works well for one person may not be effective in someone else, so it’s important to seek medical advice for a personalised treatment plan.

Asthma inhalers are a common treatment and there are different ones depending on the severity of your asthma, including fast-acting and long-lasting inhalers. These asthma inhalers work by relaxing the muscles of the airways to widen them, making breathing easier and reducing symptoms such as wheezing or shortness of breath. Lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, exercising more, quitting smoking and eating a balanced diet can all contribute to healthier lung function too.

How Is Asthma Diagnosed?

Getting an asthma diagnosis can be tricky, as the symptoms often crossover with other conditions. But, your GP or asthma nurse can confirm the diagnosis for you and help you get a treatment plan to deal with it. This might include:

  • Asking you questions about your symptoms and what triggers them
  • Asking if there’s a family history of asthma
  • Finding out if you have other allergies like hay fever
  • Listening to your breathing to determine if there is any wheezing
  • Prescribing asthma treatments to see if they help suppress your symptoms

You may also be asked to take a spirometry test which tests your lung function and whether they are working optimally. This is done via a small machine attached to a mouthpiece. You’ll be seated for the test and a soft clip will be placed on your nose to stop air from going in and out. You’ll then inhale fully to fill your lungs with air, close your lips around the mouthpiece and exhale as hard as you can to fully empty your lungs. This will be repeated several times to ensure the result is reliable.

Health Impacts of Air Pollution

Posted Thursday 22 April 2021 11:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Air pollution has been an increasing problem all over the world and is a major cause of premature death and disease. In cities, air pollution can reach extraordinary levels, leading to problems like asthma and reduced lung function, among other health concerns. For more vulnerable people, like the elderly, children or pregnant women, the effects can be even more damaging.

In fact, the World Health Organisation has provided evidence of connections between pollution and Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, among other health concerns. But what are the health impacts of air pollution and how concerned should we be about the quality of the air we breathe in?

This guide outlines some of the primary causes of air pollution, the health impact of each and what you can do to improve the quality of the air you breathe in.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter, or PM, is composed of small airborne particles such as soot and dust. It’s common in urban areas where cars, factories and industrial facilities are in large numbers. Other sources of particulate matter include diesel emissions and particles from gases and vapours.

What’s the damage? Coarse PM can lead to nasal and respiratory tract health conditions, while fine particles can delve deeper into the lungs and cause strokes, asthma and heart attacks. It can also cause premature death from lung disease and cancers.

Black Carbon

Black carbon is produced from burning fuel like wood and coal, and most air pollution regulations are focused on this type of air pollution.

What’s the damage? Exposure to black carbon poses a serious health threat, especially over long periods of time, as it can cause strokes and heart attacks. Black carbon has also been associated with bronchitis, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Nitrogen Oxides

Primarily caused by the transportation sector, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide are formed in higher concentrations around roadways.

What’s the damage? It can lead to asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. It can also increase your risk of heart disease and heart-related problems.


We’re familiar with the ozone in the atmosphere but what about ozone at ground level? It’s more commonly referred to as smog and it’s a known respiratory irritant, caused by the reactions of volatile compounds and nitrogen oxides from the combustion of fossil fuels.

What’s the damage? In the short term, ozone can cause coughing, an irritated throat and chest pains, but in the long term, it can decrease lung function and cause heart problems.

Sulphur Dioxide

Sulphur dioxide is emitted from burning fossil fuels that contain sulphur such as coal, metal extraction and smelting.

What’s the damage? It may cause irritated eyes, make asthma worse and increases the chances of developing respiratory infections and heart problems.

How To Limit Your Intake Of Polluted Air

In today’s society, avoiding air pollution is almost impossible, and long-term strategies sit with businesses and corporations rather than individuals. But, there are ways to minimise the impact that polluted air has on your health.

Avoid Rush Hour: Firstly, limit walking on busy streets and near highways during rush hour, as this is a particularly polluting time when more vehicles will be on the road. It’s worth checking daily air pollution forecasts for your local area before going out each day, so you can be aware when the air quality is particularly low and make alternative plans if possible.

Head To Parks: If you choose to exercise outdoors, stay away from polluted areas and try to find areas such as parks where you’re away from busy roads and can reap the rewards of trees and plants.

Make Better Choices: You should avoid burning waste, such as bonfires, as the smoke they produce can be damaging to your lung health.

It’s also beneficial to use less energy in your home where possible, as it’s not just the outside world that causes air pollution – we contribute in our homes too. By reducing your energy use, you can help to improve the overall air quality and bring carbon emissions down.

Similarly, don’t allow people to smoke in your home as this can bring the quality of the air in your property down and means that others living in the house will be breathing in second-hand smoke.

For more information on reducing air pollution, check out this guide.

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Posted Wednesday 07 April 2021 11:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

High blood pressure can increase the likelihood of you developing coronary heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. But if you can successfully control your blood pressure by changing your lifestyle, you can hopefully delay or even avoid the need for medication completely. Here are our top tips for reducing high blood pressure.

1. Exercise Regularly

Your lifestyle plays a big role in maintaining healthy blood pressure, so taking part in regular exercise can help to combat the negative effects. Regular exercise, even just 30 minutes a day, can help to lower your blood pressure by as much as 5mm Hg – a significant amount if you have high blood pressure.

The key to seeing success with this, however, is to be consistent. When you stop exercising regularly, your blood pressure may rise again. You can mix up the exercises you do to keep things interesting, but try to spend a few days a week doing aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming or cycling. High-intensity interval training can also be a great option if you’re short on time, as you can see great results in just 15-20 minutes.

2. Stick To a Healthy Diet

Eating a diet that’s rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains and legumes can help to lower your blood pressure. Keep your intake of saturated fats and cholesterol to a minimum and lower your intake of sodium as this can increase your blood pressure (a healthy intake of 1,500mg or less a day is ideal for most adults).

Not only will lowering your consumption of fat and salt help with maintaining healthy blood pressure, but it will also help you maintain a healthy weight too. Those who are overweight can struggle with high blood pressure, among other health problems, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your weight and waist measurements to stay healthy.

3. Quit smoking

With each cigarette you smoke, you risk increasing your blood pressure levels. Quitting smoking can be challenging, but your body can start reaping the rewards as soon as hours after your last cigarette, and within the following weeks and months, your body will begin to return to a healthy state.

From going ‘cold turkey’ to seeking assistance from stop smoking treatments, there are many ways to quit the habit for good.

4. Give up alcohol

The occasional glass of wine won’t do any harm, but regular intake of alcohol can be detrimental to your health. Not only does drinking moderate amounts of alcohol impact your blood pressure but it can also increase your weight and lead to liver and kidney problems long-term. Similarly, it can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications, so it’s a good idea to minimise your intake.

5. Lower your stress

Chronic stress has been attributed to high blood pressure and it can also increase the chance of you reaching for alcohol, unhealthy food or cigarettes as a way of coping with a stressful lifestyle.

Consider your lifestyle and how you can find ways to reduce your stress, from your job and finances to your family life and relationships. You may need to change your expectations, reconsider your schedule or focus on the issues you can control so you can make plans to resolve the problems in your life that are causing you stress. It’s also important to make time for relaxing activities so that you have the chance to calm down and take time for yourself.

If you think you might be struggling with high blood pressure, or you have symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, blurred vision, headaches or nosebleeds, it’s crucial that you speak to your doctor so that they can check your blood pressure isn’t at a dangerous level. Many people have high blood pressure but are unaware that they do, which can lead to detrimental effects long-term - getting your health checked regularly is key to keeping blood pressure levels at a healthy rate.

World Health Day Flash Sale!

Posted Wednesday 07 April 2021 07:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Happy World Health Day!

Taking the right measures to look after your health is important. We’re here to help you out, with 20% of ALL products for today, only.

Put yourself first this World Health Day (and every other day!).

Get 20% off ALL products with code WHD20 at checkout

Code valid for 7th April only

What’s Included In This Offer?

5 Main Types of Autism – What to Look Out For

Posted Friday 02 April 2021 10:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

The term ‘autism’ can often lead to preconceived ideas about what the individual in question may be like, but not everyone who is diagnosed with Autism shares these common features and characteristics. In fact, there are several types of Autism, each with different signs and symptoms. In light of World Autism Awareness Day, we’re taking a look at the five main types of autism.

Different Types of Autism

Asperger’s Syndrome

People with Asperger’s Syndrome can find interpreting social cues difficult and they can struggle in social situations as a result. They might develop an intense or even obsessive interest in a subject, as well as showing a high level of intelligence.

People with Asperger’s are often described as ‘gifted’. They can have sensory challenges though, such as intense sensitivity to clothing tags, for example. Asperger’s Syndrome is sometimes wrongly diagnosed as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder, as some of the symptoms can be similar.

Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a progressive disorder, which begins with common characteristics that are found in other types of Autism and develops as the person gets older. For example, in children, there are symptoms such as hand waving and repetitive motions, as well as delayed speech, but as the child gets older, they can develop other symptoms such as growth delays, seizures and grinding their teeth.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

This type of autism tends to show signs after the child is a little older. Children with Disintegrative Disorder can seem fine in the first two years of life, and then they start to regress as they get older which can be confusing and challenging for parents of children with this type of Autism. Their child may stop talking altogether, having shown no problems or issues beforehand. It’s a rare type of Autism that is often connected to seizure disorders.

Kanner’s Syndrome

Kanner’s Syndrome is also referred to as Classic Autistic Disorder. People with this disorder often show classic signs of Autism such as difficulty communicating with others, struggling to make eye contact or a need for a specific routine. People with Kanner’s Syndrome tend to keep to themselves and don’t show much interest in interacting with other people or engaging in the world around them.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a milder form of Autism that can have symptoms such as social delays, such as walking or talking at a later stage than other children. However, people with this type of Autism often learn to cope more easily than those with more severe forms of Autism.

Common Signs of Autism To Look Out For

Autism can often present itself in the early developmental years of childhood, up to the age of 6. It’s during these early years that children might miss specific milestones or be delayed for their age, which can be concerning for parents. The symptoms that someone with Autism displays will vary depending on the type of Autism, the severity of the condition and the individual. Here are some common signs to watch out for that could signify this condition:

  • A loss of speech, babbling or social skills, especially if previously acquired
  • Avoidance of eye contact or difficulty maintaining eye contact
  • A desire to spend time alone
  • Difficulty comprehending other people’s feelings or picking up on social cues
  • Delayed language development
  • Continual repetition of words or phrases
  • Difficulty coping with minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Limited interests or an intense obsession with certain interests
  • Repetitive behaviours like hand waving or flapping, spinning, or rocking back and forth
  • Intense reactions to sounds, colours, smells, tastes, textures or lights

It’s important to remember that these are just some of the common signs of an Autism disorder - they are not a sole indicator of the condition. It’s also worth noting that just because someone has one or two of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have Autism. There may be another reason why someone is experiencing these symptoms.

The Importance of Vitamin D: Should I Be Taking Vitamin D Every Day?

Posted Monday 29 March 2021 11:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

We all know that we need to get a range of nutrients each day in order to stay as fit and healthy as possible, but when it comes to vitamins and supplements, how much is too much? In this article, we explain why vitamin D is so important for your health and whether you should be taking vitamin D every day.

Why is Vitamin D important?

Vitamin D is vital for your health, helping the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus from your diet and maintaining strong teeth, bones and muscles. As we get older, having a strong skeletal system is critical to prevent injuries from falling, so vitamin D plays a vital role. This nutrient is also key for other roles in the body, such as maintaining a healthy immune system and a strong heart. A lack of vitamin D in the body can cause bone issues, such as rickets, and muscle weakness.

How does the body make Vitamin D?

Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D – while we can get a small amount from the food we consume we actually get most of this nutrient from sunlight. The sun reacts with chemicals under the skin which transforms into vitamin D for the body to utilise. But especially in the UK, most of us don’t get the right type of sunlight for this reaction to occur, leading to a deficiency. This is where taking a vitamin D supplement can come in handy. While we don’t need to get vitamin D every day, you do need it regularly in order to prevent a deficiency.

How much do I need?

Adults and children over the age of one require 10mcg of vitamin D each day, and this quantity is the same for everyone, even those who are at risk of deficiency, and women breastfeeding or pregnant. For children under one year, the required amount is 8.5-10mcg of vitamin D per day.

How to get enough vitamin D

In order for your body to make vitamin D, you need to get sunlight on your skin, and this is easiest from April until September when you can get enough of this nutrient from spending time outside. While you can get enough vitamin D from sunlight during the spring and summer months, in the autumn and winter, the UK doesn’t get enough sun for the levels required, so a supplement is recommended.

You don’t need to spend excessive amounts of time outdoors for this process to occur – just 20 to 30 minutes is enough, even if you’re sitting in the shade, although the exact time varies from person to person. However, sitting behind a window doesn’t count as the glass filters out the UVB rays which are the type of light needed to make vitamin D. Sun lotions prevent the skin from making vitamin D, so always protect your skin if you’re going to be outside for long periods of time.

You can also get a small amount of this nutrient from certain foods, including oily fish like salmon and mackerel, red meat, liver and fish liver oil, egg yolks, and fortified foods like breakfast cereals and fat spreads. It’s harder to get vitamin D from food if you’re vegan or vegetarian as it’s typically found in animal products, but many dairy or meat alternatives are fortified with this nutrient.

Those at risk of a deficiency include those who don’t go outdoors, such as:

  • People in hospital or people who are disabled and unable to get about
  • Those who wear dark clothing that covers most of their body
  • People with dark skin
  • If you’re overweight
  • If you eat fewer fortified foods or you don’t eat foods that contain vitamin D
  • If you have a condition that changes how vitamin D is used in the body, such as Crohn’s disease

While you can’t get too much vitamin D from the sun, you can take too much from supplements, so never overdose on the recommended amount and be careful not to consume over 25mcg per day. If you’re unsure, it’s always worth speaking to your doctor or pharmacist to check that you’re taking the right amount of this nutrient to prevent any problems.

Tuberculosis: What It Is and How It Affects the Body

Posted Wednesday 24 March 2021 09:00 by Harman Bhamra in Express Pharmacy

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread by inhaling droplets from an infected person, either from them coughing or sneezing near you. TB affects the lungs primarily, but it can affect other parts of the body, such as the bones, glands and nervous system.

Tuberculosis can be incredibly serious but with the right treatment, it can be cured. So, what is tuberculosis, what are the symptoms and how does it affect your body?

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

There are several symptoms that sufferers of TB can develop, but the most common are:

  • A persistent cough which lasts for more than 3 weeks and involves bringing up phlegm that may contain blood
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • High temperature
  • Constant tiredness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in the neck

If you have any of these symptoms, particularly a persistent cough or coughing up blood, then you should speak to your GP immediately.

How Tuberculosis affects the body

Tuberculosis is caused by a specific bacterium – M.tuberculosis. This virus spreads from person to person when the infected person coughs or sneezes out this bacterium and someone else breathes in the air, which is filled with these bacteria. It takes prolonged contact or exposure to someone who is infected with TB in order for you to develop it yourself, so if you’re spending time with a family member or a colleague, you’re more likely to develop it than from a casual acquaintance. However, once you breathe in the bacterium, it settles in your lung tissue and then develops.

You may find, if you’re someone who is generally healthy, that you contract latent TB which means that the disease may not present symptoms for several months or even years after you breathe it in. When your immune system becomes weak for any reason, this is when the symptoms will develop further. However, if you are someone with a weaker immune system or a pre-existing condition that leaves you more vulnerable to infections, you are at a greater risk of developing TB immediately.

When you breathe in the bacterium, it will settle in the lungs and begin to grow, due to the weakened immune system not being able to fight it off. TB can develop quickly in just a few days or weeks in this case. Active Tuberculosis means that the bacteria are multiplying quickly and attacking the lung tissue and other areas of the body, such as the kidneys, spine, bones, lymph nodes and even the skin. It moves through the blood and lymphatic system from the lungs.

What can cause Tuberculosis?

As a bacterial infection, TB that impacts the lungs is the most contagious form of the disease. This is known as pulmonary TB. However, it is usually contracted after spending long periods of time with someone who has the illness.

The body and immune system of a healthy person is usually capable of defending itself against TB and killing the bacteria, so there are no symptoms. In some cases, the body may not be able to kill the bacteria, but it is able to prevent it from spreading. This means that it will be present in the body, but you won’t have symptoms, which is known as latent TB. However, latent TB can become active if your immune system is weakened.

Can Tuberculosis be treated?

The good news is that with the right treatment, TB can almost always be cured but antibiotics will normally need to be taken for six months. There are several types of antibiotics needed to treat Tuberculosis, as some forms are resistant to certain types of treatment. If you are infected with a type of TB that is resistant to medications, you will require a course of several types of antibiotics for at least six months to clear the infection.

For those diagnosed with pulmonary TB, you will also be contagious for around two to three weeks, even when you’ve started treatment, so it’s important to be cautious and take precautions to prevent the risk of spreading it to those around you. This includes:

  • Staying home from work, school or university until your doctor has advised that it’s safe to return
  • Cover your mouth when coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Dispose of used tissues in a sealed plastic bag
  • Open windows as much as possible to let fresh air into the areas where you’re spending the most amount of time
  • Don’t sleep in the same room as other people if possible

For those spending time with someone with TB, it’s important to get checked to see whether you’ve contracted the infection. These tests may include a blood test, a skin test (which is known as the Mantoux test) and a chest x-ray.