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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of HIV?

Posted Tuesday 30 June 2020 11:20 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a type of virus that attacks the cells - specifically the CD4 T cells - of your immune system. As more and more CD4 cells are killed by the virus, your body gradually loses the ability to fight off diseases and infections.

Currently, there is no cure for HIV. Once you get it, you have it for life. There are, however, some antiretroviral therapy treatments available to control the spread of HIV but early detection is key.

So, what are the signs and symptoms of HIV? Read on to find out.

How Do You Get HIV?

HIV was first identified in 1981. It’s one of humanity’s most persistent diseases, and it can be deadly too. Because there’s no cure or vaccine available for the virus, not getting infected should be your number one priority.

HIV is transmitted through direct contact with certain body fluids of an infected person. These fluids include blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. You can only acquire HIV if these fluids get into your bloodstream through open cuts, direct injection, or through the mucus membrane found at the tip of the penis, mouth, vagina, and rectum.

In the UK, the most common way of transmitting HIV from one person to another involves:

  • Anal or vaginal sex with a HIV positive person without wearing a condom or taking HIV medicine. Compared to vaginal sex, anal sex is riskier.
  • Sharing injections with someone who has HIV.

The less common ways:

  • Mother-to-child transmission through pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
  • Getting stuck with a HIV-contaminated needle (commonly for health care workers).

In extremely rare cases, HIV may also be transmitted by:

  • Oral sex
  • Blood transfusion, organ or tissue transplant
  • Contact between broken skin or wounds

What Are The Symptoms Of HIV?

HIV symptoms vary from one person to another. Upon infection, it usually takes 2-4 weeks before you can feel any symptoms of HIV. According to studies, about 80% of infected individuals will have flu-like symptoms. HIV symptoms may take years to appear.

The virus infects the body in stages. For clarity, we will list down the signs and symptoms of HIV according to the stage the virus is in.

HIV symptoms in men

Around 80% of HIV cases are men. The virus is more prevalent among men who engage in sexual practices with men (gay men and bisexuals). HIV is also racially common among black heterosexual men.

Stage Symptoms
Acute (new infection)

Common Symptoms:

  • Skin rash
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Severe headaches

Less Common Symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweat
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Ulcers on the genitals
  • Vomiting
Asymptomatic or Dormant During this stage, the symptoms of HIV disappear. The virus may remain dormant for months or even years. During this stage, the virus is still actively replicating and attacking your immune cells and can still be transmitted to others.

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

Advanced stage of infection

Depending on the person, it may take months or years for HIV to enter its advanced stage. During this stage, the damage caused by the virus to your immune system is beyond repair, leaving you more susceptible to opportunistic illnesses and infections.

Symptoms of men with AIDS include:

  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss, confusion
  • Coughing
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurring fevers, chills, night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ulcers or sores in the mouth or on the genitals
  • Persistent swelling of lymph nodes

HIV symptoms in women

Most women get HIV from their male partners while others get infected through intravenous drug use.

Stage Symptoms
Acute (new infection)

Common Symptoms:

  • Skin rash
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Severe headaches

Less Common Symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweat
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Vaginal infections (yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, etc.)
  • Vomiting
Asymptomatic or Dormant During this stage, the symptoms of HIV disappear. The virus may remain dormant for months or years. During this stage, the virus is still actively replicating and attacking your immune cells and can still be transmitted to others.

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

Advanced stage of infection

Depending on the person, it may take months or years for HIV to enter its advanced stage. During this stage, the damage caused by the virus to your immune system is beyond repair, leaving you more susceptible to opportunistic illnesses and infections.

Symptoms of men with AIDS include:

  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss, confusion
  • Coughing
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurring fevers, chills, night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ulcers or sores in the mouth
  • Vaginal infections (yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, etc.)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Persistent swelling of lymph nodes
  • Changes in your menstrual cycle
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer is left untreated

Testing For HIV

HIV symptoms may take months or years to appear and you can easily mistake them for the flu. The best and only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to get yourself tested. Knowing your status means you can take precautionary measures to keep you and your sexual partners healthy.

Early diagnosis also gives you access to several HIV medicines which help control the virus in your body so you can live a long, healthy, and happy life.

Get yourself tested for HIV if:

  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You have multiple sex partners
  • You share needles
  • You’ve been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted illness
  • You are worried about your status

You can get a HIV testing kit from Express Pharmacy which will be delivered discreetly to your doorstep. Our testing kits are 99.7% accurate and you’ll get your results within minutes.

Study Reveals the Nations Sordid Lockdown Search History

Posted Friday 26 June 2020 11:51 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

A recent study conducted by Express Pharmacy showcased some seriously sordid Google search volume change since lockdown took hold.

Key National insights

  • In May 2020, Searches for “Pornhub” grew by 50% year on year.

  • Interest in specific positions grew, with each term growing by at least 49% year on year, with examples like: “reverse cowgirl” - up 233%, “missionary” - up 234% and “doggy style” - up 120%.

  • Sex toys remained front of mind for many, with search volumes growing from 110,000 in May 2019, to 246,000 in May 2020, a whopping 123% growth year on year.
  • Some decided nudes didn’t count during lockdown and searches reflected that, with search demand up 175% for “nudes” 310% for “thirst trap”.
  • Hundreds of thousands of men decided practice makes perfect, with searches for “how to last longer” growing 125% year on year in May.
  • Searches for Sildenafil reviews - the generic Viagra substitute grew by 84% year on year and even during lockdown searches for Viagra increased by 23% from last year.

  • Thousands were asking questions like “How to masturbate?” - up 83% year on year, “How to have sex?” - up 50% from last year and “How to kiss a girl?” - up 50% year on year.

Key City Specific Insights

  • The largest UK cities showed a significant increase in demand for "virtual dating", with search volume increasing by over 1000% year on year in May, in Birmingham, followed by London, Leeds & Bradford and Glasgow, whose demand all increased by over 600%.
  • Liverpool had little imagination on the whole, as search demand for "pornhub" grew by over 82% YoY during May 2020.
  • Men prepared for a long and boring lock with searches for "male sex toys" growing 83% nationally YoY, with significant demand growth in Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle (+128%, +141% & +180%).
  • Whilst national interest in ways to “last longer” more than doubled, Interest change was greatest in Liverpool and Leeds and Bradford where demand was +200% and +180%.
  • Whilst national demand for keeping oneself entertained grew overall, Liverpool and Sheffield saw the biggest change, leading the way with searches for "sex toys" growing 190% and 120%.

For full study data and information, please visit our contact us page and send us a note.

Please note that the volumes were correct at time of writing and sourced from Google Adwords (UK).

3 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Posted Tuesday 19 May 2020 12:20 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

Looking to get a better night’s sleep? We’re taught from a young age that a good night’s sleep fixes most problems, but as adulthood comes around, it becomes easier said than done to get a solid 8-hour kip.

How To Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Check out these 3 proven ways to get a better night’s sleep.

1. Change Your Bedroom’s Temperature

Think about how your sleep is affected during a particularly warm summer. The constant tossing and turning can sometimes go on for hours. This is no surprise, considering several studies have found that increased body temperature can decrease your quality of sleep.

It’s clear to see how the temperature can affect your quality of sleep, which is why it’s important to make sure your room is never too hot nor too cold. Studies have found that a temperature of 20°C seems to be the most suitable for a good night’s sleep, but you can play around with different temperatures to see what works for you.

2. Take Melatonin Supplements

Melatonin is a hormone that helps our brain to relax, signalling when it’s time to go to sleep. Those suffering from insomnia or jet lag tend to take melatonin supplements to help them fall asleep faster.

While supplements shouldn’t be your first port of call when struggling with sleep, it is advised to take melatonin supplements when the problem persists. Here at Express Pharmacy, you can buy Circadin 2mg to treat the symptoms of jet lag. Circadin contains melatonin; it will help to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

3. Cut Out Liquids Before Bedtime

Although it might feel normal to have a glass of water before going to bed, health experts have proved that it probably isn’t the best idea. If your body feels the need to urinate during the night, then it won’t be able to rest, affecting both the quality of your sleep and your energy for the next day.

Be sure to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day and try to avoid drinking 2 hours before going to sleep.

The Health Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep

Asides from the obvious point of having more energy the next day, there are many health benefits which come from a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that those who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are at a far greater risk of developing problems like heart disease and diabetes.

Other health benefits of a good night’s sleep include:

  • Increased sex drive
  • Boosts immunity
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Increased fertility

If you have been struggling with lack of sleep for quite some time, get in touch with your GP to discuss further.

World Asthma Day: What Is Asthma?

Posted Tuesday 05 May 2020 12:12 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

Around 5.4 million people in the UK are currently being treated for asthma. It is a condition which doesn’t discriminate, affecting people of all ages.

In light of - what would have been - World Asthma Day, we have put together this helpful guide to uncover the basics about asthma.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a lung condition that affects your airways. It is typically known for causing occasional breathing difficulties.

As mentioned earlier, asthma affects people of all ages. Most sufferers develop the condition during childhood, but there have also been many asthma cases that haven’t developed until adulthood.

What Are The Symptoms of Asthma - How Does It Feel?

There are four main symptoms of asthma:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness
  • Having a tight chest

These symptoms tend to get worse - and can even cause an asthma attack - when the sufferer is exposed to certain triggers. These triggers usually depend on the type of asthma someone has.

What Types of Asthma Are There?

Luckily, all types of asthma are usually treated the same, meaning you don’t need to categorise yourself if you’re unsure. These types, however, may help you to know what type of triggers to stay away from.

Allergic/Atopic Asthma: Allergic asthma can be triggered by a whole range of allergens including dust, pollen and pets. It is extremely common for those with allergic asthma to also have other ‘allergies’ such as hay fever and eczema. There are also high chances of an allergic asthma sufferer having some sort of food allergy, too.

Those with allergic asthma have to be very careful around - or avoid - the allergens which trigger them.

Seasonal Asthma: Seasonal asthma is the one type of asthma which allows sufferers to go symptom-free for a good chunk of the year. As the name suggests, those with seasonal asthma tend to only suffer during a certain season. Most commonly, this is during hay fever season.

Exercise-Induced Asthma: Many people with asthma soon discover that exercise makes their symptoms worse. While most people who exercise will get out of breath and recover quickly, those with exercise-induced asthma will be putting themselves in danger if they were to carry on as normal.

Severe Asthma: Severe asthma affects 4% of people with asthma. It is diagnosed by the onset of severe symptoms such as frequent asthma attacks, but it can also be diagnosed when current treatment is proving to be ineffective.

Those with severe asthma require specialist treatment, usually from the help of an asthma clinic.

Late-Onset Asthma: Late-onset asthma - also known as adult-onset asthma - is the type of asthma which doesn’t develop until adulthood. This is usually triggered by smoking, obesity, female hormones, or even your job.

For more information regarding the different types of Asthma, check out this guide from Asthma UK.

How Long Does Asthma Last?

Unfortunately, asthma is a long-term condition for most people. There is, however, a chance that you can grow out of it if diagnosed as a child. Everyone is different.

How Do Doctors Test For Asthma?

When you go to your GP, they will ask basic questions about your symptoms and any known allergies. From here, they may wish to take further tests. These tests aren’t usually carried out on young children - instead, young children will receive an inhaler until they’re at a suitable age for testing.

In the UK, the three main tests for asthma are:

FeNO Test: All that you need to do is breathe into a machine which can measure the level of nitric oxide in your breath. Traces of nitric oxide tend to suggest that your lungs are inflamed.

Peak Flow Test: A peak flow test involves blowing into a device which will measure how fast you can breath out. This can be repeated as much as need be to look for any patterns.

Spirometry Test: Similarly to the peak flow test, a spirometry test involves blowing into a machine which measures how fast you can breath out. In addition to this, a spirometry test will also measure how much air your lungs can hold.

Treatments For Asthma

Sadly, there is currently no cure for asthma, but there are plenty of effective treatments which help to relieve symptoms:

Inhalers: Inhalers are the most common form of treatment amongst asthma sufferers. They contain a special medicine (which you inhale).

Reliever inhalers - blue inhalers - are the most common type. Reliever inhalers are used to treat symptoms as and when they occur. If you find that you’re relying on your reliever inhaler more than three times a week, then you may have to move on to a preventer inhaler.

Preventer inhalers are used every day to prevent any asthma-related symptoms. They contain a special steroid medicine which helps to reduce the inflammation of your lungs/airways.

If the above two types of inhalers are not effective, then you might receive a combination inhaler which combines the medicines from both.

Tablets: Tablets can also be taken if an inhaler isn’t effective enough. The most common forms are LTRAs, Theophylline and steroid tablets. Your GP will help to decide which tablet is most suited for your symptoms.

Injections: Injections are a more modern form of treatment for those with severe asthma. They are given every few weeks to control severe symptoms.

Get More Information

If you wish to know more about asthma and the effects it has, then check out these incredible resources:

8 Ways to Cope With Anxiety

Posted Friday 24 April 2020 12:00 by in Express Pharmacy by Harman Bhamra

Anxiety is normal. It is your body’s response to stress. It’s often characterized by a feeling of fear or apprehension about future events - for example - one may feel anxious before giving a speech, moving to a new place or going to a job interview.

Although a normal feeling, there are times in life when your anxiety may feel like too much to handle. If your anxiety lasts longer than six months, doesn’t seem to have a trigger or affects your daily life, then you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Compared to ordinary anxiety which comes and goes, anxiety disorders are usually intense, debilitating, and extreme.

Who Can Anxiety Disorders Affect?

Anxiety disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age. Below are the most common disorders associated with anxiety:

  • Phobia – irrational fear of an activity, object, or situation
  • Panic disorder – recurring, unexpected panic attacks. A person who experiences sudden panic attacks may also develop a phobia (i.e. agoraphobia)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder – commonly known as PTSD, this type of anxiety is usually caused by a traumatic event
  • Separation anxiety disorder – the fear of being far or separated from loved ones
  • Social anxiety disorder – extreme fear of being judged by other people

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety symptoms vary from one person to another. But in general, people experience:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Increased heart rate
  • Inability to focus
  • Restlessness

How to Cope with Anxiety

Can I overcome my anxiety? Of course, yes! There are many ways to cope with anxiety. Read on to discover some of these ways.

1. Exercise regularly

We can’t stress enough the importance of exercise to your overall well being. Moving your body can ease your anxiety and boost your self-confidence. Aim for light, 30-minute workout sessions at least 5 times a week. It doesn’t have to be in a gym. You can always workout at home using the online tutorials.

2. Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol intake

Alcohol is considered to be a "downer" while caffeine is an "upper". Food and drinks containing these substances can kick your anxiety into overdrive. So, try to limit or avoid them. It’s not just coffee and soda. These substances are also present in chocolates, teas, weight loss pills, and even headache meds.

3. Practice deep breaths

Through taking deep breaths, you can help your mind and body to relax. This is why mindful practises like meditation and yoga are so effective! Here’s how to do it right:

Step 1: Lie down on a flat surface

Step 2: Put one hand on your chest and another hand on your belly

Step 3: Breathe in slowly (make sure you can feel your belly rising)

Step 4: Hold your breath for a second

Step 5: Breathe out slowly

Step 6: Repeat

4. Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the many ways to cope with anxiety. But it’s not just how long you sleep - it’s also about how good your sleep is. Doctors recommend at least 8 hours of sleep per night. If you find it hard to fall asleep, try these tips:

  • Create a routine and stick to it
  • Make sure your bedroom is free from clutter and your bed is comfortable
  • Avoid staring at phones or computer screens at least one hour before you go to bed (try reading a book instead!)
  • Keep your room temperature cool

5. Tame your thoughts

“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” – Invictus by William Ernest Henley

You are the boss. You can control how you react towards anxiety. When negative thoughts nag you, take control and turn them into positive ones. Don’t run away from your fears. Instead, face them head-on! The more you tame your thoughts, the easier it is for you to fight off anxiety.

6. Allow yourself to have 'worrying time'

According to experts, one way to cope with anxiety is to schedule your worry time. Set aside a specific time - let’s say 30 minutes a day - to confront your fears and anything that makes you anxious. Do this at the same time every day. No what-ifs. Focus on what’s bothering you and deal with it as much as you can.

7. Identify your triggers

Look for patterns in your anxiety attacks. Identify times, places, or events where you feel anxious. Write these down. Once you know what triggers your anxiety, you can work on ways to confront these triggers so you’ll be better prepared next time they come round.

8. Speak to your doctor or therapist

If anxiety is dampening your quality of life, then a doctor will be able to get you on the road to recovery. Whether they refer you to a therapist or prescribe you medication, there are many routes to take to win back a life without anxiety.