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Cold and Flu

Winter Illness: 6 Winter Health Conditions and How to Combat Them

Posted Thursday 29 November 2018 12:53 by Tim Deakin in Primary Care Givers

woman blowing her noseTis the season to watch your health closely

There are a large number of health problems that are triggered by cold weather, such as colds, asthma and the flu. We’re here to help you identify and treat these conditions effectively, so you can enjoy this time of year without worry. Let’s take a look.


We’re all familiar with the common cold. In fact, colds are the most common acute illness in the industrialised world, with young children experiencing an average of 6-8 colds per year and adults experiencing 2-4.

Thankfully, you can reduce your likelihood of catching a cold through simple hygiene measures, such as washing your hands thoroughly and regularly. You should also keep your home and any household items clean – especially mugs, glasses, towels and pillows.

Fluwinter illness

The flu is a lot more than just a bad cold. In fact, the flu virus can even be fatal in people aged over 65, pregnant women, and people with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, COPD and kidney disease. The best line of defence against the flu is the flu jab, which offers protection for one year.

Joint pain

Although there is no evidence to suggest that weather has a direct effect on our joints, many people with arthritis complain that their symptoms worsen during the winter months. It is not clear why exactly this is the case, but the likelihood is that an overall downward turn in mood can have an impact on people’s perception of their arthritis. Many people feel more prone to negative feelings in the winter, which could cause them to feel pain more acutely.

What’s more, we also tend to move less in the winter, which could have an impact on our joints. Daily exercise is recommended as a way to boost both physical and mental wellbeing. Swimming is ideal as it is relatively gentle on the joints.

Cold sores

Harsh winter winds can dry out our lips and make them more susceptible to the virus that causes cold sores. However, we also know that cold sores are a clear indication of feeling run down or stressed. So, as well as keeping your lips moisturised this season, you should also look after yourself by taking steps to reduce your stress levels. This could involve doing a simple relaxing activity every day like having a hot bath, taking a walk or watching one of your favourite films. It could also involve talking to those around you – or even a professional – about your stress.


Cold air is one of the leading triggers for asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing. This means that people living with asthma need to be extra careful at this time of year. Put extra effort into remembering to take your regular medications, and be sure to keep a reliever inhaler close by.

Asthma patients should try to avoid going outdoors on particularly cold and windy days. If this is unavoidable, wear a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth for an added layer of defence.

Acid reflux

Although acid reflux is not directly affected by a change in the weather, it often becomes worse in the winter due to the way our diets and habits change. We tend to indulge in more fatty and rich foods in the winter, as well as more alcohol – especially during the festive period. We also tend to move less and spend more time lying down or slouching, which can also worsen symptoms.

Making positive changes to your diet and fitness regime can help to keep symptoms like heartburn at bay. Effective acid reflux relief medication is also available right here at Express Pharmacy.

Don’t risk your wellbeing this winter; take the necessary precautions to enjoy the season with a clean bill of health.

Knowing When to Visit the Doctor Could Be Crucial to Easing the Burden on the NHS

Posted Thursday 16 March 2017 09:57 by Tim Deakin in Express Pharmacy

The government recently admitted that the NHS will need £1bn in order to cover the cost of personal injury claims. Money it can ill afford.

According to a recent report, the NHS will need an estimated £1bn bailout to cover the cost of personal injury compensation claims. With such a hefty bill adding to the already overstretched healthcare budget, what can we do to prevent the health service from reaching breaking point?

Knowing when you need the help of a doctor and knowing when to simply rest and take over the counter medication may sound simple, but it could actually save billions of pounds a year. As GP surgeries become busier and busier it is advised that people take ownership of their own illness rather than making a routine trip to the doctor. Importantly, this advice should not deter those with serious conditions that require immediate treatment.

Here are some of the health complaints that a GP should not encounter from day to day:

Leave your cold at home

Research at the end of 2016 found that there had been over five million visits to GP offices for blocked noses, forty thousand for dandruff and twenty thousand for travel sickness.

While blocked noses can be uncomfortable and travel sickness can be a nasty affliction, it is important to be aware that a doctor will only prescribe medication that is readily available over the counter in your local pharmacist. A simple trip to your nearest community pharmacy or a check online with us should be the first port of call when you are suffering from a problem that does not warrant a GP appointment.

For conditions such as altitude sickness, acid reflux, erectile dysfunction, period pains or hair loss, pharmacists are well equipped to treat you and put your mind at ease.

Minor symptoms and illnesses are responsible for 57 million GP visits in the UK, as well as nearly four million A&E admissions every year. Sprains made up 38% of these A&E admissions last year, while 17% of them were for flu like symptoms, and 13% were for insect bites. All this put together costs the NHS around £2 billion – twice as much as their personal injury claim debt!

Learn the art of self-care

One in five GP appointments are reported to be for minor, self-treatable symptoms. Therefore, encouraging patients to practice self-care could save doctors more than an hour every day. That’s a lot of free time that could be used to work through a waiting room full of serious conditions.

Self-care is exactly what it says on the tin – an individual taking the time to look after both their physical and mental health. Lifestyle diseases, i.e. conditions that are attributable to the way we live, make up 75% of diseases in the UK. This shows that making a few small changes to our daily routines could help us avoid GP visits altogether.

When it comes to physical health, drinking more water, eating three healthy meals a day and doing even a small amount of exercise can make a huge difference. Cutting out bad habits like smoking or excess alcohol consumption also helps. Similarly, therapeutic activities and breathing exercises can help your mental health by lowering stress and anxiety.

Turn to Express Pharmacy for help

Our three-step online treatment programme allows you to select a treatment, undergo a free consultation and purchase your required medicine without any hassle and with complete discretion – all from the comfort of your own home.

Express Pharmacy provides NHS approved medical help, treatment and advice without the need to use up doctor time.

If you are experiencing an illness or a problem that is a significant issue to you but not one that warrants visiting your GP, don’t hesitate to try our discreet live chat today and find out what we can do for you.

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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What Is Seasonal Flu and Should I Be Vaccinated?

Posted Tuesday 22 December 2015 16:00 by Tim Deakin in Primary Care Givers

What is flu?

Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a common viral infection rife in the UK in the winter months and spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing. Flu is not the same as the common cold: symptoms are usually more intense and occur more suddenly than mild cold symptoms - and they also tend to last longer.

Flu symptoms can include a high temperature upwards of 38C, tiredness and muscle weakness, headache, aches and pains and a dry or chesty cough. Although most people should start to feel better after a week, flu can be more dangerous for groups such as the elderly, small children and pregnant women.

There are three types of flu viruses - A, B and C, however, only types A and B affect humans. Type B generally causes milder symptoms than type A, and is more commonly seen in children. With flu estimated to cause between 3-5 million cases of severe illness and 250,000 – 500,000 deaths annually across the world (according to the WHO), it is important to understand how the virus may affect you and how you can protect yourself this flu season.

The flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is available to help prevent your body from contracting flu and is highly recommended for certain age groups. The vaccine is available free on the NHS for: anyone over the age of 65, pregnant women, people suffering from obesity, people with certain underlying health conditions and anyone with a weakened immune system.

The vaccine is made up of a combination of subcategories of flu types A and B. Due to the continuous evolution of the flu virus, these subcategories are reviewed regularly by the WHO to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Most people are healthy enough to fight off flu without experiencing any serious symptoms, which is why the vaccine is only available on the NHS to high-risk patients. Generally, flu can be managed by taking medications such as paracetamol in order to keep temperatures down and aches and pains under control. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Follow the correct advice, and most people start to feel better after one week. In most cases, visiting the doctor is unnecessary and actually risks spreading the virus further. Treatments such as antibiotics have no effect on the flu virus and therefore doctors can do little more than recommend standard over-the-counter medications.

Effectiveness of the flu vaccine

Although the efficiency of the flu vaccine changes every year based on the adaptation of each new strain of the virus, it has been estimated that the vaccine was 29% effective against influenza A and 46% effective against influenza B during the 2014 flu season. These figures are slightly lower than those seen in previous years.

Professor Paul Cosford, Public Health England’s Director for Health Protection, said:

“Whilst it’s not possible to fully predict the strains that will circulate in any given season, flu vaccination remains the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths each year among at-risk group. These include older people, pregnant women and those with a health condition, even one that is well managed.”

Express Pharmacy offers fast, effective prescription medication online. Find out more about our treatments.

Are We Entering a Post-Antibiotic Era? And What Does That Even Mean?

Posted Friday 27 November 2015 12:45 by Tim Deakin in Express Pharmacy

In November, much of the discussion during World Antibiotic Awareness Week revolved around the growing fear that antibiotics will soon no longer be an effective treatment for diseases.

The initiative, run by the World Health Organisation (WHO), established with the aim of increasing awareness of global antibiotic resistance. The WHO declared this issue to be a global threat as early as 2014, but with the recent discovery of bacteria capable of resisting all forms of antibiotic, the question is now less about “How do we avoid resistance to antibiotics?” and more a case of “What do we do when antibiotics become ineffective?”

What is antibiotic resistance and how does it come about?

For those not familiar with the concept of antibiotic resistance, it is important to state that this is a natural phenomenon that occurs as bacteria evolve over time. As bacteria grow and multiply, they adapt and change their ability to combat the antibiotics that humans have come to rely on.

What the WHO and other health organisations have been at pains to point out, however, is the fact that misuse and over-prescription of antibiotics has only served to hasten the process.

Antibiotics are used to cure illnesses and kill harmful bacteria. But different strains of bacteria have varying abilities to fight back against a specific antibiotic. Over time, the interaction of different bacterium shares around resistant properties. The transfer and exchanging of genetic material between bacterium means that resistance genes can spread quickly.

Another way of the bacteria becoming resistant is through genetic mutation. Genetic mutation is a rare, spontaneous change in the genetic material, which can in some cases lead to an improvement in a bacterium’s strength of resistance.

As subsequent generations inherit the resistance gene, the effectiveness of antibiotics decreases at a drastic rate. The result of this is what we term a post-antibiotic era.

Post-Antibiotic Era

The World Health Organisation have confirmed that the world is now on the brink of a Post Antibiotic Era. As the number of ‘superbugs’ increases exponentially, the ability of doctors to prescribe effective treatment will reduce drastically.

In China, bacteria have already been found to overcome the strongest antibiotics, and the worry now is that this problem could manifest itself into a global crisis very quickly. By their very nature, superbugs spread between individuals and even species at great speed.

So, should we be frightened?

While there is certainly cause for concern at the prospect of a return to a world where our most effective antibiotic treatments are no longer of use, medical experts have advised that it is possible to slow down the advance of this post-antibiotic era.

First and foremost it is important that people are informed and educated around issues such as the misuse of antibiotics, the continuing purification of water, development of new drugs and, most importantly, encouraging people to finish a course of antibiotics when prescribed.

If these objectives can be enforced then it may be possible for the world to delay the worst effects of a post-antibiotic era until such time as scientists can find an alternative solution.


Candy Swift on Tuesday 26 January 2016 07:44

We haven't even solve the problem of antibiotic resistance, and now we are facing post-antibiotic resistance! Scientists and biotech companies should speed up related researches.

Candy Swift

Creative Biolabs


Miranda on Wednesday 21 June 2017 21:08
Reply to Candy Swift

These sort of things could have been avoided right from the beginning of antibiotic production if only thorough research was done... It is always wise to look at long-term effects of our developments before we can put them to use... so we can calculate the risk... I believe with the information we have so far ,we can come up with new strategies that will be effective even in the long run.