March 22, 2020 by Community Manager 0 Comments

What to do if you think you may have the Coronavirus

It’s a pandemic, we are hearing and reading about it everyday on the news. A friend of a friend of a friend has it. And now you think you have it too – because you coughed that one time.

Don’t Panic. Take a deep breath, and let’s look at what to do if you think you have the dreaded Coronavirus.

 

COVID-19 Symptoms

The coronavirus causes COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness very similar to the cold and the flu. The initial symptoms are a high temperature and cough. Other, more intense symptoms might be a shortness of breath.

Just a cough by itself may not be cause for alarm here – have you travelled to a country with COVID-19 cases or come into close contact with them? Is the cough new or have you always had one from allergies etc. Did you go to a crowded place or did you come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus?

 

When to Take the Test

Okay, you think your symptoms mimic the virus – the first instinct is to go see your GP and get a test done. However, the latest directive from NHS says that you do not need to visit a GP, pharmacy, or hospital. All they want you to do is to stay put, at home (also called self-isolation) for at least 7 days. In most healthy individuals, the COVID-19 will exhibit symptoms and be gone within that time-frame, very much like the common cold. You are only advised to call the NHS 111 helpline if you are unable to manage the symptoms on your own, or if the condition worsens. The NHS will then appropriately guide you on next steps.

 

Self and Social Isolation

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days. Do not meet with anyone, try not to travel outside unless absolutely essential, wear a face mask or cover your mouth with your sleeve (or a tissue) if you do have to be outside, and wait for the illness to subside.

Anyone who has come in contact with you should also practise self-isolation for 14 days (from the day they met you and you had symptoms) to avoid being carriers of the disease.

Even if you don’t have the virus, it is best to consider social distancing and avoid crowded places where you might pick up the virus. Remember to wash your hands frequently, and with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap is not available) and avoid touching your face, to minimize the risk of being infected.

If you are still unsure and would like some expert opinion and guidance on your case, schedule an online consultation with a qualified GP. Book a phone/video doctor consultation with Gogodoc and get all your questions answered right away. Whatever the case, stay indoors, wash your hands, and let’s ride this out.

 

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March 13, 2020 by Community Manager 0 Comments

Monitor Your Health : Preventive Tests And When To Take Them

When was the last time you had a complete health checkup? Or are you one of those people who only goes to the doctor when something hurts enough to interfere with your lifestyle? We are totally not judging, but just wanted to get on here and remind you that the first step to maintenance, especially in health matters, is monitoring. This is where preventive tests (or screenings) come in.

 

Screenings look for specific indicators of a particular illness or disease in seemingly healthy people. The tests are based off of existing research and the frequency requirements and recommendations for testing are updated as the research updates. The NHS has a list of screenings it provides as part of its service and can be found on their website (or talk to a doctor about it). Screenings help you understand the condition of your health and how best to move forward, should something come back positive (positive meaning the indicators for the illness are present). Screenings are typically ‘recommended’ and not ‘mandatory’ because they are very personal – test results can sometimes be associated with difficult decisions – like terminating a pregnancy because a test shows the fetus is at risk for something, or having to make treatment decisions for life-altering illnesses. Regardless, being aware of preventive screenings and when to take them will help you take charge of your health.

 

Here is a list of common preventive screenings – some of these are administered by the NHS. This list is by no means comprehensive, and your GP will be able to best help you get the type of screening you require, based on your health needs.

 

For Pregnant Women

Screening for possible birth defects, syndromes, infectious diseases and abnormalities – a gynecologist or physician should be able to refer and decipher results.

 

For Children

Hearing Test and physical examination (including bloodwork) is common.

For Women 

Breast Cancer screening – X-ray mammography screenings for women over 50 (every 1-2 years)

Cervical Cancer screening – checks for the health of cervical cells and helps in the early detection of cervical cancer. every 3 years for those in the 25-49 age range and every 5 years for 50-64.

 

For Men

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening (AAA) – For men, and typically around the age of 65

General Screenings

Eye Tests for Diabetics – Anyone aged 12 and above with a  diabetic condition can get an eye test to check for retinopathy

STD screening – for sexually active adults 

Bowel Cancer Screening – Adults over the age of 55, most times a one-off test

 

 

Apart from these, cancer screenings, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, and medication use review should be considered if you are at risk due to genetic, lifestyle, or other factors. There are very many tests out there, but fret not! Talk to your doctor.

Your GP can refer you for most screening procedures (screenings for pregnant women and children might need specialist referrals) and will receive a copy of the results to best direct you on next steps. If you are looking for a GP appointment with no wait time, book your home visit with a Gogodoc GP today  – we have same-day appointments in most cases. Or simply get an online video consultation with our doctors and monitor your health from the comfort of your home. Leave us a comment if you have any questions 🙂

 

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October 6, 2019 by Community Manager 2 Comments

Vaping lung injuries top 1,000 cases as deaths rise to 18

Health officials are amplifying their recommendation that people refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping, particularly products containing THC

 

At least 18 deaths and more than 1,000 cases of a mysterious lung illness have been linked with vaping by US health authorities.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said cases were up a quarter from last week.

The symptoms of those afflicted include chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath, but doctors have been unable to establish what is causing the illness.

Dr Anne Schuchat from the CDC said the outbreak was expected to continue.

“I cannot stress enough the seriousness of these injuries. This is a critical issue. We need to take steps to prevent additional cases,” Dr Schuchat said.

Vaping-related injuries have been confirmed in 48 states, with deaths in 15 of those. The average age of those who died is nearly 50. The youngest victim was in their 20s and the oldest was in their 70s.

CDC officials are intensifying their recommendation that people refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping, especially products containing THC.

Mysterious illnesses aside, many have accused e-cigarette manufacturers of exposing young people to addictive nicotine and luring them toward smoking. Advocates of the vaping ban also cite research on nicotine’s harmful effects on youth brain development.

E-cigarette makers have lobbied aggressively against new regulations and argue that their products can help smokers quit while giving those addicted to nicotine a safer option than smoking tobacco. They say they’re working to address underage vaping and warn that an outright ban could just replace regulated sales with a black market.

The CDC agrees that e-cigarettes can help smokers who substitute them for regular tobacco products, and health professionals believe vaping to be safer than traditional smoking, which kills 8 million people per year, according to the World Health Organisation.

The debate over vaping regulations has split the public health community, as some point to harm reduction for smokers while others emphasise the threat to youth. England’s public health agency cites estimates that the practice is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.

But given that the FDA has yet to vet vaping products, experts caution that the long-term consequences of using e-cigarettes remain unclear.

Whatever your predilection, it doesn’t require much thought to figure out that inhaling clouds of smoke into one’s lungs is not a good idea.

Human lungs have evolved to inhale air and deliver oxygen around the body. Every time we inhale something that is not air, we are insulting our lungs – and we’ll have to face the consequences of that.

 

If you would like to quit smoking, you’re more likely to succeed with the right support. Using your willpower is important but you’ll increase your chances of success if you get some additional help. Contact your GP, pharmacist or your local stop smoking service for more information.

May 23, 2019 by Community Manager 0 Comments

Dementia: WHO guidelines on minimising risk

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia worldwide every year, with the figure set to triple by 2050.

The WHO evaluated 12 modifiable risk factors and offered advice on how to tackle them. It provides evidence-based recommendations on lifestyle behaviours and interventions to delay or prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

 

What is dementia?

Dementia is not a single disease, but rather an umbrella term that describes a group disorders. It’s a term used to describe a progressive deterioration of intellect and social functioning as a consequence of brain disease. Dementia is usually progressive and eventually severe.

There are over 100 different types of dementia, and any progressive brain disease (including e.g. multiple sclerosis) can include dementia later.

Alzheimer’s accounts for 70% of all dementias, affecting 20% of individuals over 85.

In practice, the term dementia is usually used for patients presenting with symptoms such as problems with memory, speech and understanding, where a general medical cause such as infection or a metabolic disturbance can’t be identified.

 

Who’s at risk?

Dementia can develop at any age from adolescence onwards, but is strongly age related, rare under the age of 60, and very rare under the age of 45.

The incidence increases from 6.7 per 1,000 persons, years 65–69, to 68.5 per 1,000 persons at age 85 years and above. About 5% of the population over 65 has dementia at any one time, and around 163,000 new cases of dementia occur in England and Wales each year.

Thus, as people get older and live longer, it is increasingly common and not unusual for patients to know others who have suffered, or have a family history of the condition. Although there are some genetic types of dementia, these usually present at a younger age.

 

Reducing risk

The WHO has launched its first ever guidelines on how people can reduce their risk of getting dementia.

The main takeaways in the guidelines are to exercise more and maintain a healthy diet, with an emphasis on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet – simple plant-based cooking, little or no meat and a healthy dose of olive oil.

Interestingly, supplementation with vitamins B and E, polyunsaturated fats and multi-complex supplements did not make a difference.

People should be looking for these nutrients through food; not through supplements.

 

Other notable factors

There is now ‘extensive evidence’ that smoking and alcohol are risk factors for dementia and cognitive decline.

In terms of other risk factors, the guidelines note the following may be offered to help reduce cognitive decline or dementia:

  • Cognitive training to older adults with normal cognition and mild cognitive impairment.
  • Weight management with interventions for overweight and/or obesity at mid-life
  • Management of dyslipidaemia at mid-life
  • Management of hypertension and diabetes for adults with these conditions

The WHO did not endorse games and other activities aimed at boosting thinking skills. These can be considered for people with normal capacities or mild impairment, but there’s little evidence of benefit.

 

Conclusion

While there is no cure for dementia, there is hope that having better overall health could help prevent it.

In summary, the WHO recommends staying away from tobacco, limiting your alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure through a good diet and exercise.

It seems that what’s good for your heart is probably good for your brain too.

January 28, 2019 by Community Manager 0 Comments

Eating more fibre and whole grains lowers risk of death and disease, major study finds

Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g or more of dietary fibre a day, according to research commissioned by the World Health Organization.

 

People who had higher intakes of dietary fibre and whole grains had lower rates of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, compared to those with diets low in fibre and whole grains.

 

Main findings

Current UK guidelines recommend that people eat 30g a day, yet only 9 per cent of British adults meet the target. Fibre consumption is even worse in the US, with the average adult eating just 15g of fibre a day.

 

Higher fibre diets were associated with a 15 to 31 percent reduction in the risk of death and disease. That meant 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of coronary heart disease, per 1,000 participants in the studies.

 

People with diets high in whole grains saw similar benefits, with up to 33 percent reduction in risk, translating to 26 fewer deaths and seven fewer cases of coronary heart disease.

 

The study, published in The Lancet, one of the most prestigious and oldest medical journals, suggests eating at least 25 to 29 grams of dietary fibre per day to achieve these health benefits. Higher intakes could produce more benefits; however, the authors note that consuming copious amounts of it could have ill-effects for people with low iron or mineral levels.

 

The research consisted of analysing 185 observational studies and 58 clinical trials that were conducted over nearly 40 years.

 

The importance

This landmark study is important and timely because the Internet is a wasteland of deranged dietary advice. Quack ‘doctors’, self-proclaimed nutritionists, and – excuse my French – broscience baloney have infiltrated forums, social media and YouTube. In particular, there is a growing trend advocating the carnivore diet. This consists of consuming only animal foods. No fruits. No vegetables. But all the burgers, steaks and pork chops you want, which are often eaten raw by enthusiasts.

 

This dangerous and stupid dietary advice is gaining popularity, despite it being diametrically opposed to the robust, high quality empirical evidence that continues to emerge in the scientific literature.

 

Supporting evidence

For instance, another recent study, also published in The Lancet, showed that Tsimane people (forager-horticulturalist population of the Bolivian Amazon) have the lowest reported levels of vascular ageing of all populations yet studied. It turns out that their diet is largely carbohydrate-based (72%) and includes high fibre foods such as rice, plantain, corn, nuts and fruits. Protein constitutes only 14% of their diet, and they consume very low levels of fat. So much for the carnivore diet.

 

Conclusion

In summary, recent studies confirm that fibre and whole grain intakes are vitally important for longer term health. If your current diet is low in fibre, increase it gradually to help avoid bowel upset.