Men’s Health: Ask Your Pharmacist

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Male readers, this year’s Ask Your Pharmacist Week (5th-12th November) is all about you.

The aim is to help you feel more at ease walking into a pharmacy and chatting about your health and making better use of the free professional help that is available. Ask about anything that is concerning you, from health worries, information on medication side effects or insight on long-term medical conditions. You can also ask for tips and advice on general health and wellbeing such as boosting immunity, cutting down on smoking or improving sexual health.

Leicestershire-based Mistry’s Pharmacy also offers an online pharmacy facility which is used by people across the UK. Typical men’s health issues they advise on include product recommendations for sports injuries, muscle strains and enquiries on sexual health matters such as erectile dysfunction, which requires GP-prescribed medication.

“No matter how trivial or embarrassing your concern, pharmacy teams are well-trained to offer confidential advice,” says Sanjay, one of the pharmacist’s at Mistry’s. “Pharmacists are very approachable and can guide you through any problem you may have, ensuring you leave with the right advice or product you need. There is no need to suffer alone – it’s imperative to get professional advice as soon as possible, don’t let a nagging problem get worse.”

Go on, just ask…

 

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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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

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.

Can we boost our grey matter with the white stuff?

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I’ve had mine today, have you had yours? Yes, we all know milk is a great source of calcium which helps build and maintain healthy bones, as well as giving our bodies a vitamin and protein boost. But did you know, a glass of milk a day could also boost your brain power too?

New US research certainly seems to think so. Milk drinkers, irrespective of age and health, performed significantly higher on a range of brain and cognitive tests than those who drank little or no milk in the study of 972 men and women.

Each participant was asked to keep a detailed record on their diets and how often they consumed dairy products, even including milk added to tea and coffee. The research, published in the International Dairy Journal, showed adults who consumed dairy products five or six times per week performed better in a series of tests to check memory, concentration and learning ability.

Interestingly, the study also found those who regularly drink milk also tend to maintain a healthy diet, compared to non-milk drinkers.

So, will this new research make you more likely to reach for a milky drink before tackling a looming work deadline? I’d love to know…

 

Image courtesy of Press Loft/Dotcomgiftshop

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!

Get outdoors, laugh and sing to beat winter blues

Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, is urging us to get outside to guard against winter blues and to improve mental health.

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Many of us feel a dip in mood as the days get darker and research shows this is largely due to a reduction in sunlight. Our internal patterns of sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity all rely on natural light cycles. As daylight hours diminish to just eight in December, the winter blues can be something that affects us all. You may feel low, eat and sleep more or feel less inclined to get out and socialise or even go to work.

Getting outdoors, or ecotherapy, increases our exposure to sunlight and can positively impact on our mood. Research shows outdoor exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

Exercise, laughter and music all stimulate and boost endorphins, the feelgood chemicals in our bodies that help to lift our mood. Make a point of spending time with those who make you smile. Or pop on a quality tune and sing-along gleefully. It is also important to eat well.

“By simply getting outdoors, we can all help ourselves in strengthening mental resilience,” says Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind. “Whether going for a lengthy bike ride, a quick jog around the local park or just time pottering in the garden, I encourage everyone to step outside and find something they enjoy this winter.”

Mind has developed a super information and ideas site to coax people outdoors this winter. Use the Ecominds activity picker to conjure up some truly inspiring, fun and unusual suggestions…