Every season brings its special joys and problems. Our Doctors have outlined some of the common issues arising through the year. If your question is not answered here try Frequently Asked Questions or you can email the Doctor direct.
10 most questions about Seasonal Care.
- SHOULD I HAVE A FLUJAB?
- SHOULD I HAVE A PNEUMONIA JAB?
- I HAD A COLD 3 WEEKS AGO AND I’M STILL COUGHING
- IT’S THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY - HOW DO I CONTACT THE DOCTOR?
- Treatment for hay fever?
- How can I get fit?
- How much activity is advised?
- I am worried about my risks of heart disease ??" how can I find out?
- My mother has diabetes. What are my risks and what can I do to reduce them?
SHOULD I HAVE A FLUJAB?
Flu is an unpleasant and potentially serious illness especially for those at risk. It can be caused by any of a number of flu viruses, and each year the Department of Health commissions a vaccine against the strains most likely to invade us for the winter. This is why there is a different vaccine each year.
The peak time for flu is winter (January to March) and so we carry out our flu vaccination programme in the autumn. Notices of our flu clinics will be on the website, advertised in the surgery or on the prescription notices, or just call the surgery.
Am I at Risk?
Those most at risk from an attack of flu are those with long term conditions especially
• Chest disease
• Heart disease
• Liver or kidney disease
• Carers and health professionals
• Patients over 65
Should I not have the jab?
The flujab rarely causes problems. We will ask you if you have a serious allergy to eggs or chicken protein (the vaccine is cultured on eggs) or have had a previous severe reaction.
SHOULD I HAVE A PNEUMONIA JAB?
Pneumococcal bacteria cause serious illnesses like pneumonia, blood poisoning and meningitis. We can now vaccinate against this bacterium and recommend it for people
- over 65
- with Chest disease, Heart disease, diabetes or weakened immunity.
- who have no spleen also should have this vaccine.
This is not seasonal so the vaccine is available all year. Each jab lasts a lifetime.
If you are in one of the risk groups, please make an appointment with the nurse at the surgery.
I HAD A COLD 3 WEEKS AGO AND I’M STILL COUGHING
When the cold virus attacks, your body produces extra mucus to protect itself and wash the virus out of the chest and respiratory passages. The temperature and cough also helps the body get rid of the virus.
However after the first few days, the virus goes, and you may be left with a continuing cough while the extra mucus production subsides.
Now you will have a tickly cough, mostly lying down, and the temperature will have gone. Smokers will be particularly affected by this. So unless you are continuing to feel unwell, the cough does not represent continuing infection and does not need antibiotics. Simple treatment with steam inhalations, or perhaps a mixture from the chemist, may sooth your symptoms, and the cough will gradually settle down.
Consult the doctor if you have a continuing temperature, chest pain, or coloured sputum.
IT’S THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY - HOW DO I CONTACT THE DOCTOR?
During the Christmas break – and any out-of-hours period – our surgery is covered by Devon Doctors, one of the most highly praised out-of-hours doctor services I the country. When you make your call, the service takes your details and the doctor will ring you back to organise the most appropriate service for you. This may be advice, a prescription, an attendance at the centre or a visit. Calls to the District Nursing service are also handled by this service.
If you forget the number, the answerphone message on the practice emergency line gives the information you need.
• Pembroke House emergency line – 546450
• Out-of-Hours Doctor service – 0845 6710 270
• NHSD – 0845 4647
Treatment for hay fever?
Hay fever is just around the corner. The most important message is to get started with your hay fever treatment before the pollen count really rises and the symptoms take hold. There are three types of commonly used treatments: antihistamines (usually a daily tablet), nasal sprays and eye drops. Any of these can be helpful. For many people just one type is enough but others might require two or all three types.
How can I get fit?
Many of us are thinking of shedding those extra pounds gained during the winter or having a renewed attack on those pounds gained over the years ! As well as attention to eating habits, increasing activity is a great way of getting fit.
Have a look at the Torbay care trust website http://www.torbaycaretrust.nhs.uk/ for lots of ideas. There is the Bay Walks scheme, Fitness in Torbay scheme and a whole range of healthy activities, details of which you can download from www.torbay.gov.uk/gethealthygetactive.pdf
We know that activity is good for reducing stress, losing weight, lowering blood pressure, controlling blood sugar and general wellbeing. It is a good way of socialising too.
The children also benefit from activity. Try the change4life website for ideas about eating and activities.
How much activity is advised?
For adults, 30 minutes of moderate activity per day on at least 5 days per week is beneficial for health. Moderate activity is enough to increase your heart rate, rate of breathing or make you feel warm. You don’t have to join the gym. Get into the habit of walking to the shops, taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting out your bicycle
I am worried about my risks of heart disease ??" how can I find out?
Several factors contribute to risk of heart disease (or CVD), including blood pressure, smoking, diet, diabetes, cholesterol, genetic factors, physical inactivity and age. Many of these can be modified so we are happy to do some checks and advise you on your risks. We can check cholesterol or some of the chemists are doing this, as well as checking blood pressure.
My mother has diabetes. What are my risks and what can I do to reduce them?
Diabetes is becoming more common these days but we know much more about it than we used to and it has been shown that the earlier it is picked up the better. It certainly can run in families and the best screening test is a fasting blood sugar and another test called HbA1c. It is worth having this done every couple of years or so if you are at higher risk due to family history.
Two factors which have been shown to reduce risk, or delay onset, of diabetes are keeping weight down (or preventing it going up !) and increasing activity and exercise.
Even in a recession many of you will be hoping to go on holiday in the summer. If your destination requires you to have immunisations then do plan early. Our nursing team offer excellent advice but don’t leave it to the last minute!