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- 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?
- I’m going away for 6 weeks and won’t have enough medication
- What do I do if I hurt my back?
- My cold sores often flare up in the spring. Why is this and what can I do to prevent this?
- I suffer from hay fever every year. What is the best way to treat it?
- I fell asleep on the beach yesterday and now I have sunburn. What should I do?
- I am going abroad this summer, how do I organise what vaccinations (injections) I need?
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!
I’m going away for 6 weeks and won’t have enough medication
The last thing you want is to be worried about running out of medication. We are happy to prescribe extra quantities. Just add a note to your email or write on the repeat prescription form.
Make sure you have enough contraceptive pills (or if you want to forget about pills have a chat with the nurse or doctor about long acting methods – LARC)
Spring is the time when we all have a look at those DIY jobs around the house and garden. Make sure your equipment is used safely. Don’t overstretch on that ladder or you may spend a few weeks in plaster ! Don’t be casual with electrical equipment, take proper precautions, including eye and ear protection.
What do I do if I hurt my back?
Most back pains will settle themselves down without specific treatment. Take some pain relief if required (the pharmacist can advise) and keep active if you can as we know that rest is not specifically helpful. A firm mattress also helps. For simple back pain you don’t need to contact the chiropractor, osteopath or doctor unless the pains persist for more than a week or two, or you are at risk because of a medical condition. A telephone appointment might well be sufficient for advice initially.
My cold sores often flare up in the spring. Why is this and what can I do to prevent this?
Cold sores affect many people and are due to the herpes virus breaking out on the skin usually around the mouth or nose. We have no way of eliminating the virus from the body in affected people but the antiviral cream acyclovir can speed up resolution of an outbreak. The chemist can supply this and the trick is to have some in and start using it at the first symptom of an outbreak. Some people find that the first bit of sun they catch in Spring can cause a flare up so be prepared !
Protecting your skin from sun damage is an important part of looking after yourself
I suffer from hay fever every year. What is the best way to treat it?
Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen, either from grass, hay or trees. Your body’s immune system reacts against the pollens and you usually have a runny, itchy, blocked nose, with sneezing and/or watery, itchy eyes. Some people find their asthma becomes worse. And you may need to increase your regular inhalers.
You can avoid some of the effects of the pollen by staying indoors and shutting windows if the pollen forecast is high. Avoid cutting grass, and areas where there is a lot of grass (eg when picnicking or camping). Wash your hair after being in the countryside and wear wrap around sun glasses.
Common treatments can be bought at your local pharmacy or can be obtained by prescription from the GP. (Sometimes, if you pay prescription charges, it is actually cheaper to buy products “over the counter”).
Antihistamine tablets eg loratadine (clarityn) eases most of the symptoms and usually works within an hour. It is better to opt for one that does not cause drowsiness. They can be taken “as required” for mild symptoms or regularly, on a daily basis throughout the hay fever season if symptoms are more severe.
Steroid nasal sprays eg beconase clears the nasal symptoms and can be taken in addition to an antihistamine tablet. It can also help the eye symptoms. It can longer to get the full benefit of the nasal spray, often as much as a few weeks. It needs to be taken on a regular basis through the hay fever season.
Antihistamine eye drops eg opticrom, rapitil, act quickly and are used as required for eye symptoms.
There are other treatment options but these are not commonly used.
I fell asleep on the beach yesterday and now I have sunburn. What should I do?
You will find that your skin is red, hot and painful. A cool bath or shower can make your skin more comfortable. Apply plenty of moisturiser (aqueous cream is just as good as expensive after-sun lotion.) Paracetamol will help the pain. A mild steroid cream eg hydrocortisone 1% can be advised to reduce inflammation.
If you develop vomiting, headache and fever, you may be suffering from sunstroke. Drink plenty of clear fluids to stop dehydration and take paracetamol. If your symptoms do not settle quickly, then seek medical advice from NHS direct or a GP.
It is very important to cover up in the sun, avoid the hottest times of day and regularly apply a high factor sunscreen (15+). Even if you are not sunbathing, but are doing activities or working outside, it is still very important that you protect your skin. You also need to be careful, even if it is cloudy, or you are in the shade. Apply sunscreen 20 mins before, and also after swimming. People with fair skin, freckles, red or ginger hair are most as risk of sun burn. Take extra care with children, using a very high sunscreen, and keep babies out of the sun completely.
The most dangerous effects of the sun may not be apparent until some years later. Too much sun ages the skin, casing wrinkles, brown spots, solar keratoses (benign warty growths) and skin cancer, of which there are a few types, melanoma being the most serious.
I am going abroad this summer, how do I organise what vaccinations (injections) I need?
Our practice nurses are able to offer advice and will be able to give you most of the vaccinations required (we do not offer yellow fever vaccination but we can advise you of the local centre).
It is a good idea to make an appointment well in advance of your travel date, as some vaccinations require more than one injection. You can phone or come into the surgery to book a telephone appointment with the nurse. The nurse will phone you back, obtain details of your trip and should be able access your records to see which vaccinations you have already had, and whether they are in date. She is able to link with a specialist internet site which gives the most up to date recommendations. This will include recommendations for malarial prophylaxis (tablets to prevent malaria). She can then arrange an appointment for you to come in to have your vaccinations.
Although we do not charge for this service (which is outside normal NHS work), there may be a charge for some of the vaccinations and malarial tablets required on prescription.
Should you wish to obtain information about what vaccinations might be recommended in advance of your appointment a useful website is www.nathnac.org.
Travel advice and vaccinations are also available from MASTA travel clinics, the nearest of which is in Plymouth. For further information visit www.masta.org or phone 01752 205556 for an appointment.