Is your dairy intolerance self-diagnosed?

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If you answered yes to the above, you could be at risk of nutritional deficiency, warns Allergy UK.

New research from Alpro has revealed 44% of people that class themselves as dairy intolerant are relying on the internet and general guess work to self-diagnose. 72% of those suffering from dairy intolerance symptoms have removed all sources of dairy from their diet, the main source of calcium in the UK. A further 25% have cut out some dairy food groups. Gut problems including stomach pain, bloating and diarrhoea were cited as the most common reasons for cutting out dairy: eczema and nasal/sinus congestion were listed fourth and fifth.

Calcium is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth; it also regulates muscle contractions including the heartbeat. Calcium is particularly vital for women as low levels can increase your risk of osteoporosis. It’s found in foods including milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt, green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cabbage, dried fruits such as apricots, tofu and sesame seeds.  

Over half of the people surveyed felt there was not enough advice out there for dairy intolerance sufferers. They would like to see more information on calcium, recipes, suitable dairy swaps and ideas for eating out. A huge 75% said they would prefer to be diagnosed by a face-to-face consultation.

If you are concerned you may have symptoms that indicate dairy intolerance, Allergy UK advises: “to help identify whether a food is a cause of symptoms, a food/symptoms diary can help to identify a pattern. We would always recommend taking the diary to your GP or allergy specialist who can diagnose what may be causing the symptoms or refer you to a dietitian.”

Whether you are dairy intolerant or a dairy lover, make sure you maintain a good calcium intake in your diet…

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

Get heart healthy (and watch the salt)

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As it’s National Heart Month and I seem to be writing an awful lot about salt at the moment, I thought it was high time I whipped up a timely blog post on the topic.

Every day, 26 million of us are eating too much salt and as 75% of the salt we eat is already added to a variety of manufactured foods: we may be eating more than we realise.

The top salty food culprits are: cheese, certain breakfast cereals, processed meat (ham, bacon), stock cubes, sauces, gravy granules, bread, bread products, salted nuts and potato-based snacks.

A diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), which often has no symptoms. Hypertension affects one in three adults in the UK. If you have high blood pressure, this can increase the risk of stroke and heart problems developing.

Making small changes can help to lower blood pressure. Instead of adding salt when preparing meals, add flavour to food using herbs, spices, wine, vinegar, garlic, onion, lemon and lime juice. Reducing the number of processed foods and ready meals you eat will also help.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Ladies: let’s talk common concerns (down there)

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For many women, going to the doctors can be an embarrassing prospect – especially if the problem you have is of a somewhat intimate nature. It’s no surprise then that a recent study found a quarter of British women have turned to the internet for advice on treatments rather than seeking medical opinion.

Whilst the internet is good for most things, when it comes to your health, the web can sometimes be more of a hindrance. By self-medicating you may join the one in ten women who end up with unpleasant side effects as a result of a misdiagnosis. Below are three of the most common concerns women tend to encounter with advice on what to do if they affect you.

Cystitis

Probably one of the most well known women’s health issues, cystitis affects approximately half of all women in the UK. Whilst there are no blanket symptoms, most women will suffer with pain when urinating, a strong smelling and dark coloured urine and an urge to urinate frequently. Cystitis can also lead to vaginal irritation which is where remedies such as Canesten will come in handy. Ensure you drink plenty of water and urinate regularly as this will also help to effectively prevent this issue.

Bladder Weakness

Due to its highly sensitive nature, thousands of women just assume bladder weakness is something that is just part of normal life and something they have to put up with – it isn’t! There are products and remedies that will make suffering with this a breeze such as Tena pads. It is also important to note that reaching for your normal sanitary products just won’t do the trick. This is because urine is thinner and comes out in larger quantities – you need something that will be able to cope with this.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

This is sometimes mistaken for thrush and so many women will simply reach for a thrush treatment though this won’t effectively combat the symptoms of BV. When a woman is suffering from BV, her discharge will be clear and fishy smelling. Though antibiotics are the best remedy for this problem, products such as Balance Activ Vaginal Gel will also help to relieve some of the discomfort and neutralise the odour of discharge.

Don’t suffer in silence, get help today with some of life’s more intimate problems!

Please note: this is a guest blog post from Mistry’s Pharmacy

 

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Talking summer SAD

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While most of us are craving more sunshine and blue skies, summertime can be one of despair for the estimated 600,000 people affected by summer or reverse SAD in the UK.

Seasonal affective disorder is more commonly known as a wintertime condition, where the shortened days and decreased sun exposure cause symptoms of depression. Summer SAD is simply the reverse of this.

Symptoms include: increased sense of heat at night, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, reduced appetite and a general feeling of being miserable, often for no reason. You may also experience a sense of not enjoying what are usually pleasurable activities.

I’ve recently written a piece on summer SAD for the current issue of the Depression Alliance’s membership magazine Single Step. As part of the piece, I spoke to Ricky and Julia, two people who fantastically illustrated just how difficult life in the summer months can be for those affected.

Some tips that can help to minimise the effects of summer SAD include: using black-out curtains, opening windows at night, avoiding bright light, having frequent cooling showers, taking an ice-cold water bottle or cooling blanket to bed and exercising regularly.

For more information on the causes, expert insight, further tips and Ricky and Julia’s stories – take a look at my piece.

If you would like to commission me to write a piece for you, do get in touch

Get ovarian cancer savvy

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Ovarian cancer
kills a woman every two hours in the UK. Almost 7,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year. Most shockingly, UK women are MORE likely than other European women to be diagnosed only when the cancer has spread. The reason? A lack of awareness of the symptoms, which makes the advanced disease harder to treat.

Recognise the symptoms…

* Persistent stomach pain

* Persistent bloating or increased stomach size

* Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

* Needing to wee more frequently

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may not signal ovarian cancer, but it is vitally important you see your GP at the earliest opportunity to rule it out.

 On Sunday 1st July, Ovarian Cancer Action wants people all over the nation to flash their teal knickers to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for the charity – by taking part in Walkathong. Go for a sponsored Walkathong walk or show your support by making a donation (£10 or more), contacting the charity for a pair of snazzy teal Walkathong knickers and simply slipping them over your clothes. All you need to do is wear your pretty panties for two hours or more and you’ll help to raise awareness and get people talking. Finally, make sure you take a picture and email to the Walkathong team.

One in four women use Google to diagnose health issues

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Picture the scene: you have a female health irregularity and are both concerned and embarrassed to talk about it. Do you a) pluck up the courage to share your concerns with a medical professional or confide in someone or b) bask in the anonymity of the online world and simply type in your symptoms and wait for a solution to pop up courtesy of a quick Google search. One in four of us would opt for option b).

New research reveals one in four women have misdiagnosed themselves online, then bought the wrong products to try and relieve their symptoms. Searching their symptoms online and self-medicating can come with some pretty unpleasant side effects as a result of misdiagnosing – this affected a tenth of the 1,000 women surveyed.

Worries about what could be wrong commonly drive women to look for help online. We may also feel uncomfortable talking about health issues with friends or family, another reason why our first port of call may be to check online.

The study found symptoms including having problems sleeping, headaches, depression, muscle pain, itching and fatigue were most likely to prompt women to diagnose themselves. While most women spent a few days worrying over symptoms before speaking to anyone and a third waited at least two weeks; fear that something may be seriously wrong prevented one in 20 women from getting checked out by a GP for a number of years.

If going to your family GP or confiding in someone really is an issue, please tread very carefully when searching online for information. The Health Counter, the sponsors of Channel 4’s BAFTA award-winning Embarrassing Bodies, offers a personal and confidential online doctor service for those times when you would rather not go to your own GP. Made up of a panel of registered GPs, the online doctors service delivers remote medical consultations.

Are you a prescribed medicine skipper?

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New research from Pharmacy2U, has revealed one in three of us fails to collect our prescriptions following GP visits. I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading, so delved a little further into people’s reasons given as part of the survey.

I’ve had a shocking run of ill health over Christmas and was diagnosed with severe bronchitis. Without three courses of antibiotics I would still be in a state of constant breathlessness, incessant painful coughing and insomnia. For me: when I need to see my GP, whatever they prescribe, goes. I need their help to get better and they know which medications work best to get my chest problems under control. That prescription sheet doesn’t leave my hand until I’ve handed it in to the pharmacist.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed the main reasons given for not handing over their prescription were: they were too busy to go to a chemist’s, 15% also said they just couldn’t be bothered to go. One in five were put off by the price and did not want to pay for their prescription, 12% disagreed with their doctor’s diagnosis while others decided they would just get better without the prescribed medicine, or looked for cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

Additionally, 34% of patients on regular medication admitted to forgetting to pick up repeat prescriptions. As a regular medication taker for asthma myself, I can imagine this could really lead to problems with long-term health conditions. 

“Particularly worrying are the numbers of patients on repeat prescriptions who regularly forget to pick up medication and run out,” says Julian Harrison, commercial director of Pharmacy2U. “Among them are people suffering from serious, long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and COPD, where compliance is crucial.”

Getting your health right is so important. If you are a prescribed medicine skipper at the moment, here’s some helpful tips to try on for size:

Many chemists offer a free prescription pick-up service where they will collect your prescriptions from your GP surgery, so you only have the one trip to make to your local chemist to collect. If you really don’t have time: use the online prescription services all the major pharmacies offer, pop your prescription in the post and have the items delivered to your door. 

Finally, Cost-wise, if you have to buy more than 4 items over a three-month period, buying a pre-payment prescription certificate is a really great money saver – I can’t recommend this enough. Saves me a small fortune!