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Self-Care Made Simple

Posted Friday 24 February 2017 11:26 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

Self-care is reported to be on the rise in the UK. But what does self-care actually mean and why is it so important that people take self-care seriously?

What is self-care?

As the name suggests, self-care focuses on taking ownership of one’s own health and wellbeing. Self-care can mean many different things to different people and can relate to both mental and physical health.

Paying closer attention to your health and wellbeing can be as simple as putting aside more time for exercise, placing more emphasis on quality sleep or making improvements to your diet.

Why is self-care important?

It is estimated that 75% of diseases suffered in the UK today are lifestyle diseases – those that develop as a result of the way we live. Problems such as type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, many types of cancer and mental health conditions such as depression can all be, in part, attributed to the way we choose to look after our bodies and minds.

In a fast-paced, constantly shifting society, it can be hard to pay attention to the demands of your body and mind. But it is clear that self-care has an important role to play in supporting the healthcare system and alleviating the pressure on hospitals and busy doctor’s surgeries.

How to look after your mental health

1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from mental health problems each year. Yet, despite 25% of people being afflicted by mental issues, there is still often reluctance among people to discuss their problems.

Mental health issues can be related to a broad range of factors, many of which stem from stresses and strains in everyday life or a physiological problem such as weight gain or hair loss, which impacts on self esteem.

Here are a few simple yet effective ways you can treat your mental health:

Incorporate therapeutic activities into your daily routine: These can mean something different to everyone, but simple acts like breathing exercises, having a bath, or walking outdoors can help unwind the mind and keep you calm.

Avoid drugs and alcohol: They may seem like a form of relief, but indulging in drugs or alcohol only makes your symptoms worse in the long run.

Treat your physical symptoms: If your mental health has suffered due to concerns over issues such as weight gain or even impotence, getting these treated can help you feel better overall.

How to look after your physical health

Your physical health is what we most often think we need a doctor for, but sometimes we can treat the problem ourselves. £2 billion a year is spent by the NHS on conditions which could be treated at home, showing that there is actually a lot you can do yourself to keep your body healthy:

Drink water: It sounds obvious, but keeping hydrated works wonders for our physical health. Try to always have a bottle of water beside you at work, and aim for the equivalent of around eight large glasses a day.

Exercise: Moving around increases your circulation, aids weight loss, and even helps prevent diseases like type II diabetes. Just a short walk a day can greatly increase your physical health.

Watch what you eat: A healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, fibre, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats helps make you healthier and more energized. Try to eat three full meals a day instead of grazing, and pay attention to when you are hungry and full.

If you smoke, stop: The body of evidence against smoking is overwhelming today. Smoking harms you and those around you, and makes serious conditions like heart disease and lung cancer much more likely.

Ask for help when you need it: Self-care doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the doctors at all. Instead it means taking charge of your own health and making lifestyle changes that not only tackle an individual symptom but also improves the underlying condition.

If you are looking for support to help you take the first steps towards change, why not speak to the experienced team here at Express Pharmacy. You can contact us by phone or via our handy Live Chat tool for fast, discreet advice.

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National Walking Month: Getting Healthy the Leisurely Way

Posted Sunday 08 May 2016 12:27 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

national walking weekMany of us associate exercise with an intense workout. Perhaps it is a few sweat-soaked hours using a variety of contraptions in the gym or those punishing early morning group sessions designed to take your body to the brink of breaking.

All of these methods do indeed provide an excellent workout should you be at the correct level of fitness to carry them out, but there's also a lot to be said for more gentle exercise. Walking in particular is a fantastic form of exercise, and one that health professionals believe more people should consider when they decide to get fitter and healthier.

May is National Walking Month, so there's never been a better time to buy a supportive pair of walking shoes and get out in the fresh air. The goal of National Walking Month is to encourage as many people as possible to take a brisk 20 minute walk every day in the fresh air.

Regular walking has been proven to help manage serious conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. It has also been found can strengthen bones and muscles, improve your balance and coordination, and support cardiovascular function.

Research has also found walking's benefits to extend beyond the physical. The chemicals released by the brain during exercise have been found to help in the treatment of addictions and tackling of mental health issues. In particular, the sense of euphoria achieved through the release of endorphins boosts mood and contributes towards overall wellbeing.

As a form of expercise, brisk walks are both good for burning calories and weight management. In contrast to the high impact nature of running, walking puts the musculoskeletal system under less pressure and so is particularly suited to those wishing to exercise as they age.

So, how do you start walking and not just strolling? Well, here are a few tips:

  • Choose your route carefully – Walking is meant to be a stress-free, enjoyable activity, so find a route that isn't too treacherous. Cracked pavements and uneven surfaces should be avoided if possible.
  • Start with a warm up – As with all forms of exercise, you should look to perform some warm up exercises before starting. Walking slowly for five to 10 minutes is a good way to prepare your muscles and ready yourself for a faster pace.
  • Set your own pace Don't worry if you find that you're unable to keep speed up when starting out. Walking is all about finding a pace that suits you and gently increasing it when you can. You can even break up your daily steps into more manageable chunks of five or ten minutes at a time.
  • End with a cool down – Towards the final five minutes of your walk you should gradually slow your pace. This will help your muscles to cool down again, which is vital to keeping healthy and injury-free when exercising regularly.
  • And stretch – To lessen the effects of putting your muscles under stress and strain, try stretching out after exercise. This will not only avoid discomfort and muscle tightness later in the day but also allow you to feel refreshed and repeat the process day after day.

Walking is the perfect activity for people of all ages and abilities. There are no limitations to how long or how frequently you walk, it can be practiced anywhere, wherever you are in the world and whenever is convenient for you.

Weight Loss Surgery: Effective Treatment, Last Resort or Dangerous Avenue to Go Down?

Posted Saturday 17 October 2015 22:29 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

weight issuesAccording to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), more than two thirds of men and women in the UK are obese or overweight. This costs the NHS £4 billion per year, with gastric bypass surgery reportedly costing £85 million per year.

When we think of obesity, physical health and appearance automatically come to mind. However, it is important to remember that being overweight is not just physical; there are important emotional factors to take into account, too. And not only does fighting obesity have an impact on your mental state, the aftermath of losing weight can present its own unique challenges.

A recent study in the news has shown that people who have undergone weight loss surgery are four times more likely to commit suicide and twice as likely to self-harm. Weight loss surgery causes a dramatic change in a person’s life, especially if they suffer from existing mental conditions. For some men and women, finally being able to overcome a long-term battle with weight problems brings with it a belief that life will improve immeasurably and bring with it happiness, self confidence and an end to insecurities over body image. However, in many cases these deep seated fears do not go away post-surgery, and the disappointment that comes after an operation can have serious repercussions for the mental state of patients.

While there certainty are clear health benefits of undergoing weight loss surgery, there are also risks too. It is important to be fully aware of the possible implications involved, to help determine if surgery is the right choice for you.

Get professional advice

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the struggles you’re experiencing with eating and exercise. Not everyone needs the help of surgery to lose weight, and a healthcare professional can help determine this with you. They can recommend eating plans specific to your BMI (Body Mass Index), exercise advice and simple lifestyle changes that could all help along the way.

Depending on your weight and individual circumstance, there are treatments and medications available that can help you lose weight. These are usually in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, but are a lot less invasive than going under the knife. You also have the added benefit of having more energy and feeling better in yourself emotionally as well as physically.

Medication and lifestyle changes don’t work for everyone, however. For many patients in the UK, the only effective solution to dangerous weight issue is surgery. If you are thinking about going ahead with any type of weight loss surgery, be sure to talk it through at length with your doctor, ensuring you are aware of both the physical and mental implications of such procedures. Ask to speak to a counsellor so you can get a thorough understanding of the emotional impacts your surgery could have on you post-op, so you can be as equipped as possible to take them on.

For some people, weight loss surgery can rescue them from future health problems such as heart disease or other weight related illnesses. Weight loss surgery can also help patients overcome self consciousness and body issues. But as recent statistics have shown, surgery without adequate support and understanding can result in devastating effects on confidence, unnecessary stress and even depression.

Anyone considering weight management treatments of any sort should always prepare themselves for a difficult challenge and a long battle that has no easy solution. Losing weight is never going to be an easy journey regardless of which method is used. But with the right approach and a back up team of health professionals, friends and family, it is possible to find light at the end of the tunnel and achieve a healthy physique that a man or woman can be comfortable with.

Cystitis and Interstitial Cystitis: They May Share a Name but There's Big Differences You Should Know

Posted Friday 07 August 2015 14:44 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

interstitial cystitisCystitis is a particularly common bladder infection, in fact pretty much all women will contract cystitis at some point in their lifetime with 20% of sufferers experiencing recurrences. But no matter how common this infection is in men and women, it doesn’t make its symptoms any less uncomfortable for sufferers of cystitis.

Whilst the unpleasant effects of regular cystitis can be reduced and even completely treated within just a few days, lingering symptoms may be a sign of interstitial cystitis.

Whilst the two conditions share a name and a couple of common symptoms, interstitial cystitis does differ from cystitis can help you to access the appropriate medication in order to limit pain.

What is interstitial cystitis?

Like many conditions, interstitial cystitis is defined by its symptoms. Like regular cystitis and other urinary tract infections (UTIs), you may need to urinate more frequently and urgently, but the recurring nature of interstitial cystitis, increased discomfort and lack of responsiveness to standard antibiotics can cause serious discomfort.

The antibiotics used to treat UTIs like cystitis are designed to target bacterial infections, and as interstitial cystitis isn’t caused by bacteria getting into the bladder, other treatments must be sought to relieve its symptoms. It is not clear exactly what causes interstitial cystitis, however research suggests that the condition may be inherited.

Who is at risk?

Whilst cystitis is particularly common in the UK, only 400,000 people are affected by interstitial cystitis. Like regular cystitis, interstitial cystitis affects more women than men, with 90% of all cases experienced by female sufferers. Although the cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown, it is understood that those with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia are deemed more at risk.

Do I have interstitial cystitis?

Knowing the symptoms of interstitial cystitis is the first step to getting the access you need to treatment. Whilst symptoms of interstitial cystitis vary from individual to individual, sufferers of the condition may experience:

  • Intense pain in the lower abdominal, urethral or vaginal area with discomfort worsening after eating certain foods or having sexual intercourse
  • Increased frequency and urgency of urination – in severe cases sufferers may need to urinate up to 60 times a day
  • Increased pelvic pain when the bladder is full, when urinating or during menstruation
  • Lack of responsiveness to antibiotics used to treat regular cystitis.

Seeking treatment

While the usual course of antibiotics will have no impact on interstitial cystitis symptoms, certain lifestyle changes could make a difference.

By avoiding tight fitting clothes, quitting smoking, participating in regular exercise and utilising stress relieving techniques you could manage symptoms without the use of medication. Physiotherapy, painkillers, antidepressants, antihistamines, bladder distension, bladder instillation and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may also provide effective relief.

Like cystitis, interstitial cystitis sufferers can find that their quality of life is dramatically affected, however with the right support and treatment you can manage and reduce its troubling symptoms effectively.

Diet Could Hold the Key to the Treatment of UTIs

Posted Friday 24 July 2015 20:24 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized

cystitisThe common and debilitating problem of UTIs could be combatted by simply improving one's diet, according to new research.

The curse of the UTI is one that millions of men and women in the UK are familiar with. UTIs are particularly common in women, simply because of the closer proximity of the urethra to the anus - causing an increased likelihood of bacterial transfer.

For years, increased acidity of urine was thought to help prevent infection. However, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, have recently discovered that this may not be true in the case of UTIs. In fact, the decreased acidity of urine and the presence of small molecules related to diet appear to influence how well bacteria, and consequently infections can grow in the urinary tract.

Siderocalin is a protein that is part of the body’s natural defence against infection, depriving bacteria of the iron needed to grow and spread. In the Washington University study scientists found that Siderocalin actually works better in a higher pH, particularly when urine has a more neutral level similar to that of pure water.

Infection was also found to be less likely when aromatic metabolites were present in the urine. These are small molecule, related to diet, which are created in the gut as food is processed and metabolised. Scientists believe some of these metabolites may act as iron binders; they help Siderocalin to hold onto iron, preventing the iron from assisting the growth of bacteria causing UTIs.

What does this mean for treating UTIs?

The findings in Washington University's study suggests the possibility of a new approach and new treatment strategy in relation to UTIs.

The bacteria-busting protein Siderocalin could be given a helping hand in depriving bacteria of the iron it needs to grow; while changes to the diet could increase the proteins effectiveness by decreasing the urine pH and increasing metabolite production.

cystitis medication

Of course, cranberries have long been recommended as treatments for UTIs such as cystitis. And the latest research helps to shed a little more light on why drinking cranberry juice, for instance, can be so effective in alleviating troublesome symptoms. Cranberries are known to increase metabolite production, thus making it harder for bacteria to grow.

Significantly, treatment based on diet and manipulation of urine pH would allow treatment of recurring infections, which can be less responsive to current antibiotic treatment. Also, the risk of side effects would also be lessened. For instance, dietary-based treatment would not disrupt levels of natural bacteria in the body in the way current antibiotic treatments can.

What is a UTI?

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are one of the most common infections treated by GPs and pharmacists. Millions of people in the UK will suffer from a UTI during their lifetime and women in particular are susceptible to recurring infections. In fact, 50% of women will develop at least one UTI during their life.

Cystitis is perhaps the best known UTI, although it is an infection that specifically affects the bladder rather than the tract of the urethra itself. included within the umbrella term of UTIs, but is an infection specifically of the bladder.

UTIs cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms. These include dysuria (a pain or a burning sensation when urinating), a need to urinate often, and pain in the lower abdomen. Some UTIs clear up naturally after a few days, but some patients require antibiotic treatment to get rid of the infection, particularly those in which the infection is reoccurring.

If you’re suffering from cystitis or another UTI then you may wish to seek the help of your local pharmacist. The most common medication prescribed for infections such as cystitis is Trimethoprim which works by killing certain types of bacteria. Taking Trimethoprim two times a days for three days is effective in treating cystitis and is available to purchase online at Express Pharmacy.