Posts tagged Womens health

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May Bank Holiday opening hours and last order dates

Posted 20 May 2019 in Men's Health, Sexual Health, Womens health

A quick reminder that Thursday 23rd May 4pm is the last time to place an order for treatments and testing kits for guaranteed free delivery before May Bank Holiday.

Order on Friday 24th before 4pm and you can get delivery on Saturday 25th May for just £2, otherwise deliveries will be on Tuesday 28th May.

Any orders placed after 4pm on Friday 24th May will be processed and dispatched for delivery on Wednesday 29th May.

Our pharmacy will be closed from 5pm on Friday 24th May until 9am on Tuesday 28th May.

STI Testing

The testing Lab is open 365 days a year, but DPD and Royal Mail are closed on Bank Holidays and this determines when your sample arrives at the Lab.

The last day for you to post your sample to the Lab is Wednesday 22nd May, to get your test results before May Bank Holiday.

Don’t post any samples to the Lab from Saturday May 25th until the morning of Tuesday 28th May when normal service resumes.

Have a Great May Bank Holiday from all the team at Webmed!

New therapy in the pipeline for Parkinson's disease?

Posted 14 March 2019 in Men's Health, Womens health

A brain scan showing substantia nigra in red. Source: medicalimages.comParkinson’s disease affects one in every 500 people, with symptoms beginning to show over the age of 50 in most cases, but for 5% of people with the condition, symptoms will first appear before the age of 40. It can have a devastating impact on a person’s quality of life, with movement, balance, memory, mental health and sleep all having the potential to be affected. Current treatment aims solely to ease symptoms and does not cure the condition. But a recent trial of an innovative therapy has hinted at new hope for those with Parkinson’s disease. (1, 2)

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease involving damage and death of dopamine-releasing nerve cells in a region of the brain known as the substantia nigra, which regulates body movements. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical which acts as a communicator between nerve cells. Therefore, the diminution in dopamine levels in the brain caused by the death of these cells reduces intercellular communication relating to movement and leads to tremor, sluggishness and stiffness. Symptoms do not usually show until only around a fifth of these nerve cells remain. (2, 3)

In addition to the primary movement symptoms, people with Parkinson’s disease can also experience a deterioration in mental health, difficulty keeping balance (and therefore greater risk of falling), insomnia, reduced sense of smell and poor memory. (2)

What is the outcome of the recent trial?

The results of a recent trial of a radical treatment for Parkinson’s disease have been released. The treatment, known as glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), is an entirely new approach, administered via a ‘port’ that is embedded in the side of the patient’s head. This allows the drug to be delivered directly into the brain, where it then acts on dopamine nerve endings. (1)

Before the trial, the 35 participants had surgery which involved embedding four tubes into their brains. These tubes would be the route of administration of the drug into the brain, with the outer end being attached to the port where the drug would enter the tube. (1)

The trial lasted nine months, during which half of the participants were administered with a dose of GDNF every month, with the other half being administered a placebo infusion (containing no drug). For those given the drug, brain scans after the trial suggested that the progression of the disease had been significantly reversed. The average length of time since diagnosis for the trial’s participants was eight years, but the post-trial scans appeared to show features typical of brains just two years after diagnosis. This implies that GDNF can revitalise dying nerve cells and restore their function. (1)

However, it is too early to know whether GDNF will become a routine treatment at this stage – more trials involving larger numbers of participants, longer treatment courses and different doses will need to be performed before its licensing is considered. The placebo effect will need to be ruled out (this is when a participant being given a placebo experiences an improvement in their condition or symptoms). (1)

Regardless, it is very exciting that new modes of drug delivery such as this are being developed and tested. If successful, the approach may even be used to develop treatments for other conditions affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumours. (1)

References

  1. Therrien A (2019). ‘Radical Parkinson’s treatment tested in patients’, BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-47370498

  2. NHS. Parkinson’s disease – Overview [cited 1 March 2019]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/

  3. NHS. Parkinson’s disease – Causes [cited 1 March 2019]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/causes/

    Author
    Gabby Gallagher MPharm

    Medically reviewed by
    Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 
    14/03/19

Sore throat: a real pain in the neck!

Posted 12 February 2019 in Men's Health, Womens health

A woman with a sore throat. Source: medicalimages.comAt this time of year, sore throats are just one of many ailments that become rife in the community. Most are caused by simple viral infections and will resolve on their own within a week or two. But it’s also useful to know in which instances you’d need to seek medical advice or treatment.

What can I do to help ease a sore throat?

When you first develop a sore throat, there are several self-care approaches that you can take to ease the symptoms while your body fights off the infection:

  • gargling with warm salt water (not recommended for young children due to the risk of swallowing)

  • resting (including resting your voice!)

  • getting plenty of fluids, but steering clear of hot drinks

  • avoiding rough, sharp, hot or acidic foods

  • sucking ice cubes, sweets or lollies (ice cubes and boiled sweets not recommended for young children as they pose a choking hazard)

  • avoiding smoking, including second-hand smoke (1)

What medication is available to buy to help a sore throat?

There are a number of medicines available on the shop floor and over the counter in pharmacies to help ease a sore throat, including:

  • ibuprofen (which is also an anti-inflammatory)

  • paracetamol (which can also help with any associated fever)

  • medicated or anaesthetic lozenges and anaesthetic sprays and mouthwashes, containing active ingredients such as flurbiprofen and benzydamine (anti-inflammatories), benzocaine (an anaesthetic), and amylmetacresol (a mild antiseptic) (1)

When should I see the GP for a sore throat?

Most sore throats will get better by themselves after a few days. However, if you find you experience any of the following, you’ll need to see your GP:

  • your throat is just as painful after a week of symptoms developing

  • recurrent sore throats

  • fever (feeling hot and shivery with a raised temperature)

  • you have a condition that weakens your immune system, such as diabetes

  • you are receiving treatment that weakens your immune system, such as chemotherapy (1)

A long-lasting and very painful sore throat can be a sign of infection with a type of bacteria called Group A Streptococcus (this condition is commonly known as strep throat). This will need treatment with a course of antibiotics. (1)

A recurrent or long-lasting sore throat can signify other underlying health issues, such as deficiencies and low levels of certain types of blood cells. Your GP can investigate this and ensure you get the appropriate treatment.

A long-lasting sore throat accompanied by hoarseness and coughing with no other symptoms can be indicative of throat cancer. That’s why it’s so important to see your GP if you experience this with no signs of improvement.

In the news: new pharmacy-based sore throat scheme

Over 30 pharmacies in North Wales are offering a new scheme involving the use of a questionnaire and potentially a swab test to determine whether a patient’s sore throat is bacterial or viral in origin. If a bacterial infection is present, then pharmacists who provide the Common Ailments Scheme (which encourages patients to visit a pharmacy before seeing their GP) will be authorised to supply the relevant antibiotics to treat the infection. If this is a successful service, it may eventually be rolled out across the country, giving the public greater and faster access to the sore throat treatment they need. (2)

References

  1. NHS. Sore throat [cited 28 January 2019]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sore-throat/

  2. North Wales Pioneer. New sore throat test and treat service to be piloted in pharmacies across North Wales [cited 28 January 2019]. Available at: https://www.northwalespioneer.co.uk/news/17386085.new-sore-throat-test-and-treat-service-to-be-piloted-in-pharmacies-across-north-wales/

Author
Gabby Gallagher MPharm

Medically reviewed by
Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 
05/01/19

Stress: how can I regain control?

Posted 17 December 2018 in Men's Health, Womens health

A stressed lady with her head in her handsThe festive season is well underway, but it can often be overlooked that the financial, social and emotional pressures associated with this time of year can be a major source of stress. So now is the perfect time to consider the ways in which we can aim to reduce the impact of stress on our day to day lives.

What is stress? 

Stress is a physical response to a challenging or threatening situation, initiated by an increase in ‘fight or flight’ hormone adrenaline. It is characterised by an increase in heart rate and breathing rate, sweating and tensing of the muscles. Once the situation is overcome, the body can quickly return to the usual relaxed state. However, if the difficult situation is long-term, such as financial worries, workplace pressures, family or relationship problems, illness, or bereavement, it can cause chronic stress, which can lead to the development of stress-related symptoms. (1)

What are stress-related symptoms?

Chronic stress can manifest itself in various forms. Emotionally, it can make you feel overwhelmed and helpless. You may find you have a short fuse and snap at people easily. Your confidence in yourself and your abilities may drop, and you may feel anxious and uncertain about the future. (1)

Stress can make it difficult to concentrate on tasks, with fleeting thoughts constantly popping up in your mind. You may worry excessively, and sometimes irrationally. Decision making can become very daunting as you over-analyse each option and its outcome. (1)

Physically, you may experience frequent headaches, feel tired and/or dizzy, have trouble sleeping and develop muscle pain as a result of constant tensing. Stress can also affect our diet – some people find they feel less hungry or forget to eat, meaning they don’t eat enough; others find they turn to food for comfort and eat too much. Other unhealthy behaviours that may be adopted during times of stress include heavy drinking, smoking and recreational drug use. (1)

How can I beat stress?

It’s often not possible to completely remove the factor that is causing stress from your life – at least not immediately. Therefore it’s important to try to find coping mechanisms to reduce the impact stress has on your health and wellbeing. If chronic stress is not tackled, it could lead to mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, and changes in diet could lead to poor physical health – undereating potentially leading to being underweight, deficiencies and muscle wastage, and overeating to being overweight or obese, with associated problems such as raised blood pressure and cholesterol and increased risk of diabetes. (1, 2)

Talk to someone about your stress

Talking to people close to you about the causes of your stress can not only help you to feel less alone in your struggles, but to gain a different insight and receive advice which could help to solve problem(s). Spending quality time with friends and family can help you to wind down and focus on enjoying the moment. (1, 2)

Alternatively, you can speak to your GP, or there are a number of organisations which have helplines available to offer advice and support, often 24 hours a day, including SupportLine and AnxietyUK. (1, 2)

Look after number one

Many people find work begins to become the centre of their life, or they strive to look after others whilst neglecting their own needs. Try not to let this happen - make sure you take time to do the things you enjoy. Whether it’s something as simple as setting an hour aside in the evening to do some reading, to going for a family meal, to booking a short break to escape from the stresses of day to day life for a few days. Finding a new hobby can help to refocus your thoughts and renew your sense of purpose. (2)

Get moving

Physical exercise can also help to clear your mind and boost levels of mood-enhancing chemicals (called endorphins) in the brain. Not to mention the clear benefits to your physical health! Find a form of exercise that works for you – whether it be going to the gym, a walk or run, swimming, cycling, attending a dance class, or even gardening! (2)

Offer a helping hand

Doing your good deed for the day can be surprisingly uplifting and increase your resilience. It can be something as small as pointing someone who’s lost in the right direction to donating to a charity of your choice or volunteering for a good cause. (2)

Count your blessings

Remember the positives in your life. It’s easy to take them for granted when something else is really getting you down. At the end of each day, try writing down three things that you enjoyed or that you’re grateful for. This should help you to put things into perspective and think more rationally. (2)

References

  1. NHS Moodzone. How to deal with stress [cited 10 December 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/
  2. NHS Moodzone. 10 stress busters [cited 10 December 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/reduce-stress/

Author
Gabby Gallagher MPharm

Medically reviewed by
Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 
17/12/18

HIV: commonly asked questions

Posted 28 November 2018 in Men's Health, Sexual Health, Womens health

A question mark of pillsNational HIV Testing Week begins on Saturday 17th November 2018 and World AIDS Day on December 1st, so now is the best time to look over some of the most commonly asked questions about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) testing and treatment!

How soon can HIV be detected by a blood test after contracting the virus?

Generally, it is one month after exposure to HIV that the virus is easily detectable in the blood. Tests done less than one month after exposure are considered unreliable. (1)

What is the window period for HIV testing?

The window period is the one-to-three month time frame following possible exposure to HIV, depending which test you use. The window period for the lab test is 28 days but is 90 days for the “Home” test. If you test before the recommended time frames then the HIV test may need to be repeated. This applies whether an earlier test came back positive or negative, as results from tests conducted earlier than the recommended “window period” for HIV can be unreliable, as previously mentioned. (1)

However, you shouldn’t wait until you may be in the window period before seeking medical help - you should do this as soon as you can if you believe you may have come into contact with HIV. Within the first 72 hours after suspected exposure, a type of medication called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can be taken, which may prevent the infection from taking hold altogether. (1)

Can you receive instant results from an HIV Test?

Tests which provide instant results are available to use. Some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics and sexual health clinics offer finger prick testing, and home testing kits can be purchased from some online or high street pharmacies. (1)

How can I test for HIV at home?

There are a number of tests available from Webmed Pharmacy which allow you to test or take a sample in the comfort of your own home.

How accurate are HIV Tests?

  • The latest 5th generation HIV lab test kit is 99.8% effective at detecting HIV at least 28 days after potential exposure. It contains a sterile lancet and a test tube. A blood sample is collected by pricking the little finger with the lancet and massaging a small amount of blood into the tube. This is then sealed (further instructions are found in the kit) and sent off to a lab for testing using the pre-paid envelope included. Results should be available two to three days after the sample is received by the lab – you will be able to access these via your secure account.

  • The 3rd generation INSTI HIV Home self test allows you to sample and test for HIV yourself, all within just 60 seconds. It is only reliable if used at least 90 days after potential exposure. Like the lab test, blood is collected by pricking the finger (full instructions supplied in the kit). The result is clearly shown as one dot for HIV negative, two dots for HIV positive. Negative results are at least 99.5% accurate and positive results are at least 99.8% accurate.

  • The PrEP annual test kit can be used if you are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – this medicine is used by HIV negative people to prevent infection with HIV. This test can be performed yearly to check HIV status and also kidney function, which can be affected by taking PrEP.

  • The pre-treatment PrEP test kit is suitable if you are thinking of starting PrEP. It checks your HIV status, kidney function and also whether you have hepatitis B.

What should I do if I test positive for HIV?

If you get a positive result, seek medical help. You will need to have regular blood tests to monitor the levels of a type of cell called CD4 lymphocytes. CD4 lymphocytes are one of the types of cells that make up the immune system and are also the cells that are targeted by HIV. HIV particles ‘hijack’ the CD4 lymphocytes, replicate themselves within the cells, and are then released in greater numbers when the cell dies, going on to infect further cells. You will need to start treatment to keep your CD4 levels high enough to keep you in good health - if someone with HIV does not start treatment, their CD4 levels will eventually fall so low that they will be at risk of serious infections such as flu, pneumonia and tuberculosis, which their immune system will not be able to cope with (this is known as AIDS  - see below). (2)

Even if your CD4 levels are high, you will still need to start medication to limit the progression of the disease. The aim of treatment is to achieve an undetectable viral load (levels of HIV in the blood being so low that they do not show up on blood tests).

What medications are available for HIV?

There is a wide range of HIV medications available, which are grouped into the following categories:

Other HIV medications outside these categories include enfuvirtide and maraviroc, which work in different ways to the medications listed above. (3)

Taking HIV treatment correctly should allow you to stay in good health, free from symptoms and to achieve a normal lifespan.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

We often hear the abbreviations ‘HIV’ and ‘AIDS’ used interchangeably, but they are not the same! AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the most severe stage of HIV. It is characterised by CD4 levels falling so low that the body is very susceptible to opportunistic infections and cancers. Without treatment, AIDS will lead to death, usually within around three years. Fortunately, it is rare in the present day for people in the UK with HIV to progress to AIDS thanks to the thorough prevention, testing, monitoring and treatment strategies. (4)

References

  1. NHS Choices. HIV and AIDS: Diagnosis [cited 16 Nov. 18] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/diagnosis/

  2. NAM Aidsmap. Factsheet CD4 cell counts [cited 16 Nov. 18] Available at: http://www.aidsmap.com/CD4-cell-counts/page/1044596/

  3. British National Formulary (version 2.1.6) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from: www.bnf.org

  4. CDC. What is HIV? [cited 16 Nov. 18] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html

    Author: Gabby Gallagher MPharm

    Medically reviewed by: Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 28/11/18

Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD): How will pharmacies make sure your medicine is genuine?

Posted 19 November 2018 in Men's Health, Sexual Health, Womens health

Blister packs of various medications. Source: medicalimages.comThe Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) is to be implemented in all member states of the European Union (including the UK) and the European Free Trade Area on 9th February 2019. This is a response to the growing number of falsified medicines entering the pharmaceutical supply chain, which can have serious consequences for patient health and safety. But how will it work? (1)

What is FMD?

FMD stands for Falsified Medicines Directive, a term used both to describe the process by which pharmacies will identify the medicines they receive from wholesalers as legitimate or falsified, and to refer to the European Directive on Falsified Medicinal Products, the piece of legislation concerning this process. (2)

What are falsified medicines?

Falsified medicines are illegitimate copies of legitimate medicines, from unlicensed manufacturers. Despite tight controls, some find their way into the supply chain, allowing them to reach patients. They have not been produced in the same highly regulated way in which legitimate medicines are produced by licensed pharmaceutical companies, but are often passed off as coming from such companies due to identical or stolen packaging. Falsified medicines can contain too much or too little of the active ingredient(s), no active ingredients at all, different active ingredients to what is stated on the packaging, and potentially harmful, banned or dangerously concentrated excipients (excipients are all ingredients of a medicine other than active ingredients). Clearly, there is a risk posed to patients, with overdose, drug interactions, poisoning or a condition being left untreated all possible outcomes of taking falsified medicines. (1)

How can you tell if you are buying falsified medicines?

Legitimate online pharmacies such as Webmed are approved and accredited by official regulatory bodies including the  MHRAGPhC and CQC. The independence and unbiased nature of these bodies provide regulation, monitoring and inspection to ensure we and our peers are held to the highest standards.

You can rest assured that when you purchase treatments from Webmed (from erectile dysfunction medication all the way to Hair Loss Treatments) you are purchasing legitimate, official medicines.

How will FMD be implemented in pharmacies?

From 9th February 2019, two new features will be present on all prescription medicines supplied to pharmacies (bar a handful of specialist medications):

  • A unique identifier (UI) – a 2D data matrix, or barcode, unique to each pack of medication

  • An anti-tampering device (ATD) – an addition to the packaging that will make it evident whether or not it has been tampered with, such as adhesive seals, shrink wrap, or perforated sections of boxes that must be broken to open the pack. (2)

It is expected that electronic patient medication record (PMR) systems in pharmacies will be updated to incorporate a medicines verification feature that can be used to scan the UIs on packs and identify the medicine as genuine or falsified. By law, stock will not need to be verified until it is being prepared for a patient, but optional verification will most likely be performed when stock is received into the pharmacy, allowing suppliers to be alerted as soon as possible when a suspected falsified medicine is found. (2)

The safest way to verify medicines before supply to patients will be using aggregated codes, if PMR systems allow. During the dispensing process, each pack of medicine will be scanned and codes for all packs to be bagged up for the patient will be ‘aggregated’ and printed on a label to attach to the outside of the bag. Then, when the patient comes in to collect the bagged prescription items (or before handover to delivery drivers), the aggregated codes will be scanned and, if verified as legitimate, all packs inside the bag will be decommissioned, meaning that their UI codes become inactive. Since UIs will be unique by name and nature, the same UI showing up on a further pack will be flagged, highlighting the pack as potentially falsified and unsuitable for supply to the patient. Aggregated codes will be preferable to scanning each item individually as it will mean that the bag does not need to be reopened on handing over to the patient or delivery driver, which will uphold patient confidentiality, save time and lower the risk of a dispensing error. (2)

Once packs are decommissioned, they can be recommissioned (the UI reactivated and the pack put back to stock as long as it hasn’t left the pharmacy) within 10 days. This may happen if a patient no longer requires the item(s) or if a pack is decommissioned in error. (2)

Scanning will also flag up any recalled, discontinued or out of date medicines, further minimising the impact of human error on patient safety. It is hoped that eventually it will even be used to ensure the correct medicine has been picked against the prescription! (2)

Will Brexit have an impact on FMD?

Since FMD is part of EU law, there has been confusion over whether FMD in the UK will be continued after the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have assured “high regulatory alignment” with the EU, meaning FMD will be here to stay. It is also believed that the UK will still be considered part of the EU for the purposes of FMD after Brexit, so the process should remain unchanged – this is the best outcome for ease of operation in pharmacies and for patient safety. (2)

References

  1. UKFMD Working Group for Community Pharmacy. FMD (1): What is the Falsified Medicines Directive? [cited 31 October 2018].

  2. UKFMD Working Group for Community Pharmacy. The way forward for FMD in community pharmacy [cited 31 October 2018]. Available at: https://www.communitypharmacyni.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/fmd-cp-working-group-way-forward-paper-jan-18-public-v1-0-final.pdf

Author: Gabby Gallagher MPharm

Medically reviewed by: Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 16/11/18

Bowel cancer: new plans to reshape the screening programme

Posted 15 August 2018 in Men's Health, Womens health

The Human Bowel. Image from medicalimages.comDespite there being a dramatic increase in bowel cancer cases above the age of 50, the screening programme in England is currently only offered to those aged 60 and over. However, Public Health England have recently announced that it plans to bring the starting age for screening down to 50, a move which will mean countless more cases are spotted in the earlier, more easily treatable stages. (1)

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is cancer of the large intestine, and depending on the area affected, may be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer. It is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, responsible for 42,000 cases and over 16,000 deaths each year. (1, 2)

What are the symptoms?

One of the most common symptoms is blood in your poo. This may be noticed as red streaks on the surface of your poo or the poo being discoloured (red, very dark red/brown or black), toilet water being stained red or pink, or blood visible on toilet paper. Often, blood in poo has other, less serious causes, such as haemorrhoids or anal fissures (cuts). But if you’ve had any of the above symptoms for three weeks or longer, visit your GP. (2, 3)

A change in bowel habit can also be a sign of bowel cancer. One off changes in bowel habit can be caused by eating certain foods or stressful situations, but if this occurs persistently don’t ignore it. If you find you are needing to poo more frequently than what’s usual for you, and the poo is softer and thinner than usual for three weeks or more, see your GP. (2,3)

Another common symptom is lower abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating. This tends to worsen after eating and may therefore put you off eating, leading to weight loss. See your GP if you experience any of the above symptoms. (2, 3)

Other symptoms may include tiredness from anaemia caused by persistent blood loss from the bowel, slime in your poo and feeling like you can’t fully empty your bowel when you poo. (2, 3)

Bowel cancer screening

Currently, the bowel cancer screening programme in England involves inviting everyone aged between 60 and 74 to have a faecal occult blood (FOB) test every two years. This is a simple home testing kit which allows a small stool sample to be collected. When sent to the laboratory, this sample is tested for traces of blood, which could indicate bowel cancer. (1, 2)

A new, more accurate bowel screening kit is due to replace the FOB test this autumn, known as the faecal immunochemical test (FIT). It is the FIT that will be in use when bowel screening is introduced to people aged 50 and over in England. (1)

In some parts of England, a different test is also offered to 55 year olds, called bowel scope screening. During this screening, a healthcare professional will inspect the lower bowel for polyps (small growths that can be an early sign of cancer) using a gentle instrument. (2)

What causes bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer, like all cancers, doesn’t have a definite cause, but there are several risk factors:

  • Regularly eating red or processed meat
  • Not eating enough fibre
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Being 60 years of age or older
  • Having a parent or sibling who had bowel cancer under 50 years of age
  • Having had ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease for over 10 years

As you can see, some factors are unavoidable, but others can be changed. A diet high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in red and processed meat will help protect against bowel cancer, as will stopping smoking (if applicable), drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all, getting moderate exercise regularly and maintaining or attaining a healthy weight. (2)

For more information and support, visit Bowel Cancer UK here.

References

  1. BBC News (2018). Bowel cancer screening to start earlier at age 50 in England [cited 13 August 2018]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45143895

  2. NHS Choices. Overview: Bowel cancer [cited 13 August 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer/

  3. NHS Choices. Bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding) [cited 13 August 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bleeding-from-the-bottom-rectal-bleeding/

    Author: Gabby Gallagher MPharm

    Medically reviewed by: Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 15/08/18

Poorly Boo - essential care for your little ones

Posted 3 August 2018 in Womens health

Poorly Boo

Meet Poorly Boo

How did it all start?

Poorly Boo was the vision of Mumpreneur Manju Bhatia, who quickly realised that many new parents did not have the essential remedies in their homes for when their little ones became ill. Having young children herself, Manju was often in the company of other mums with small children and often heard them saying their baby had a high temperature and had to run out to get some medicine.

Manju thought, “Why are so many new parents so ill equipped at home? Why do so many not have the medicine in the cupboard to alleviate their symptoms?”

When Manju become a mum in 2013, she made sure she was prepared with all of the remedies and over-the-counter medications that she might need. Although it didn’t stop the sleepless nights when they were poorly, it did mean she had what she needed so the family could all rest a bit easier.

Since 2017, Poorly Boo has been selling essential healthcare products online at: https://poorlyboo.com/

Who is Manju?

Manju Bahtia is originally from Yorkshire, where her interest in business came from working in her parents’ uniform shop, Natasha’s.  The family run business, which had several outlets in Yorkshire, sold school uniforms to dozens of schools in the region. At a young age, Manju had a strong business nous and enjoyed the buzz of a business environment.

Manju helped her father set business goals and was successful in growing the business to reach a turnover of more than £1 million.

After successfully reaching their goal of £1million, Manju left her family home to get married and start her own family. She focused her attention on raising her 2 children, and after spending time with new mums and their babies, Manju realised there wasn’t anything in the market to help new parents understand what medicines and remedies were important to have on hand.

Her eureka moment came during these conversations, and PoorlyBoo was soon launched.

Discover Poorly Boo's Products

PoorlyBoo Baby Box

13 carefully selected must have products, all parents will need to deal with the most common baby illnesses and give peace of mind to all worried parents. Put together in a travel sized medicine box, that can be stored at home or taken away with you.
RRP £34.99

Poorly Boo Baby BoxWhat's in the box?

  • Vapour rub
  • Teething gel
  • Teething granules
  • Digital thermometer
  • Sudocrem - antiseptic healing cream
  • Metanium nappy ointment
  • Medicine dispenser
  • Olbas for children – inhalant decongestant oil
  • Paracetamol 120mg/5ml oral suspension
  • Ibuprofen 100mg/5ml oral suspension
  • Saline solution nasal drops
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Infacol oral suspension
  • Poorly Boo First Aid Kit

    100 piece First Aid Kit, for Travel, Car, Home, or Work.  A complete kit to protect you and your family.
    RRP £14.99

    Poorly Boo First Aid KitWhat does the first aid kit include?

  • Ice pack
  • Thermal blanket
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Bandages
  • Plasters
  • and much more
  • Find out more

    You can find Poorly Boo at https://poorlyboo.com or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

    Medically reviewed by: Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 03/08/18

Group B Strep testing - should I get tested?

Posted 10 July 2018 in Womens health

Group B Strep - should I get tested?

Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies in the UK, and the most common cause of meningitis in babies under age 3 months and yet a lot of pregnant mums know nothing about it!Pregnant Lady holding a flower Group B Strep Blog

At least two babies every day in the UK fall ill with Group B Streptococcus (often known as Group B Strep or just GBS). For some, the illness is fatal, for others, it can cause permanent disabilities.

The following information may help you to gain a better understanding of GBS and to make an informed decision on whether a GBS test may be right for you! (1)

What is GBS?

GBS is a type of bacteria which forms part of the natural bodily flora of up to four in ten people. Up to a quarter of women also carry the bacteria in the vagina. Usually, the bacteria are harmless, but in certain cases such as in people with a compromised immune system, babies and pregnant women, it may develop into an infection. (1)

If a woman carries GBS in her vagina and becomes pregnant, there’s a small chance that she could pass the bacteria on to the baby during childbirth. Because the immune system of babies is not yet developed, it is much easier for GBS to get out of control and make them ill. For a small number of babies it can be life-threatening, causing blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis. This may lead to death in a very small number of cases. (2)

Will the NHS test for Group B strep?

Despite this, there is no routine testing provided on the NHS. Even if a pregnant woman is offered testing it’s usually the Standard ‘non-selective’ test for group B Strep carriage. A negative result using this method is not very reliable – it gives a high proportion of falsely negative results. 

However, there is another test that can be obtained from Webmed Pharmacy and this is the GBS-specific ECM(Enriched Culture Medium), which is the international ‘gold standard’ for detecting GBS. These tests are highly reliable and are good predictors of your GBS carriage status for 5 weeks after the swabs have been taken.  

Therefore, it’s best to test in the 5 weeks before you go into labour and give birth. The 35-37 week ‘window’ for testing is usually thought to be the best time to test for most people as your GBS carriage status is not likely to change between testing and giving birth, and you should receive the result before your baby arrives.

What are the symptoms of GBS?

If GBS infection is going to occur, it usually does within the first few hours of birth, but it may occur as late as when the baby is aged three months. Symptoms include:

  • the baby becoming limp and floppy

  • lack of response to stimuli

  • a grunting noise when breathing

  • high or low temperature

  • rapid or slow breaths

  • rapid or slow heartbeat

The appearance of any of these symptoms warrants a 999 call or an immediate visit to A&E. Time is of the essence as once the infection has taken hold, the difference between life and death can be a matter of hours. If the baby is diagnosed with GBS, they will be treated in hospital with antibiotics administered via a vein. (2)

How does GBS testing work?

If you’re pregnant and concerned about your baby contracting GBS, you can  consult your midwife or GP to help you decide whether to get tested. (2)

At Webmed Pharmacy, our testing kit allows you to take both a vaginal swab and a rectal swab to send off for testing (the above link takes you to the product specific page which explains the test in detail). If your results come back positive, you need to tell your midwife or GP. Your birth plan will need to be reconsidered if you’ve intended not to give birth in hospital. (2)

When you go into labour or your waters break, let your midwife know immediately. You will need regular injections of antibiotics into a vein throughout the labour. Any allergies to antibiotics must be reported to your midwife so they can ensure hospital staff administer a safe antibiotic for you. The hospital may want to keep a close eye on the newborn baby in case any signs of GBS infection arise, so you may need to stay in hospital for up to twelve hours after the birth as a precaution. If symptoms do appear, the baby will be given urgent antibiotics into a vein. (2)

For further information, visit the Group B Strep Support website.

Why take the risk - test now!

Click here to buy your Group B Strep test.

Author: Gabby Gallagher MPharm

Medically reviewed by: Superintendent Pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 10/07/18

References

  1. Group B Strep Support. What is group B Strep? [cited 6 July 2018]. Available at: https://gbss.org.uk/info-support/pregnancy-and-birth/what-is-group-b-strep/

  2. NHS Choices. What is group B strep? [cited 6 July 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/group-b-strep/

Insect bites and stings on the rise

Posted 8 July 2018 in Allergies, Men's Health, Womens health

A biting mosquito - picture from medicalimages.comThe current heatwave in the UK has provided perfect conditions for a wide range of biting and stinging insects to thrive – and this has been demonstrated by the huge increase in medical help being sought for insect bites and their complications. Twice the usual number of calls to NHS Direct (111) have been made recently regarding this issue, and there has been a spike in hospital admissions to treat infected bites, particularly horsefly bites. (1)

In light of this news, this blog explores some of the most common insect bites and stings in the UK, highlighting what to look out for and how to manage them.

Horseflies are common in the UK, and as the name suggests they do bite horses, but also other mammals including humans. If you’ve been bitten by a horsefly you’ll know about it! That’s because not only do horseflies tend to ‘hone in’ on their targets by buzzing round them before finally finding a place on their body to land and bite, but their razor sharp mouthparts dig in to the skin, tearing rather than piercing it to extract as much blood as possible. This will be particularly painful and leave a nasty looking raised red bite which takes longer to heal than most other insect bites. Because of this, the bite can become infected. Look out for pus appearing in or from the bite, worsening pain, fever, or redness and swelling spreading from the bite to the surrounding areas – see your GP if you notice any of these symptoms as you may need treatment with antibiotics. (1, 2)

Mosquitoes are also abundant and particularly favour areas with standing water, such as those near lakes and ponds, but they can be found in other areas too. Generally, people do not realise they have been bitten by a mosquito until a rash develops, as their bite is painless. The bites appear as small red lumps which may contain fluid-filled sacs and can be intensely itchy. (1, 2)

Bees tend to keep themselves to themselves as they travel between flowers collecting pollen. They will usually only sting if they feel threatened. A sharp, piercing pain is felt and a small red mark may be left which often contains the bee sting. It is important that the sting is removed as soon as possible as it is venomous. Scrape the sting out using an object with a thin, hard edge, such as a bank card, or your fingernail. Do this in a sideways motion to draw the sting out of the wound. Don’t try to pluck or squeeze it out as this may release more venom into the surrounding tissue. (2, 3)

Wasps and hornets can be more bothersome, attacking people who are just keeping themselves to themselves! Also, they may sting more than once at a time. The sensation will be similar to a bee sting, but there is no sting left in the wound. Within hours, a red, painful and itchy lump can form around the sting wound, and in some cases the irritation and swelling can cover a considerable area for up to a week as part of a mild allergic reaction. (2)

Bee, wasp or hornet stings can occasionally cause serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). If you or someone around you begins to struggle breathing, experiences severe swelling on the face (mainly around the eyes and lips), or dizziness after being stung, call 999 immediately. (2)

Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures which can leave a small red, itchy bite and sometimes a blistered or bruised surrounding area. The bite doesn’t tend to cause any pain, so you may not notice you’ve been bitten. In the UK, ticks are generally harmless unless they carry Lyme disease (covered in more detail in an earlier blog), in which case a characteristic ‘bullseye’ rash may develop. See your GP if this happens.

To ease itching, apply calamine lotion or crotamiton cream to the bites or stings. You can also purchase hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines such as chlorphenamine or loratadine over the counter. Painkillers such as paracetamol can be taken to ease pain associated with stings or bites. Applying a cold compress to the affected area can help to reduce swelling. (3)

Continual scratching of the stung or bitten area can break the skin, which makes infection more likely. Signs of infection include pus or yellow crusting, spreading of the red and swollen area, worsening pain and fever. Don’t hesitate to contact your GP if this develops as you may need antibiotics to clear the infection.

If you’ve been stung or bitten in a sensitive area, such as inside the mouth or near the eyes, or if you experience worsening symptoms or see no improvement after a few days, see your GP or call NHS 111. (3)

References

  1. Ives L (2018).Heatwave causes spike in insect bite calls to NHS [cited 18 July 2018]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44823286

  2. NHS Choices. Insect bites and stings – Symptoms [cited 18 July 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insect-bites-and-stings/symptoms

  3. NHS Choices. Insect bites and stings – Treatment [cited 18 July 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insect-bites-and-stings/treatment

    Author: Gabby Gallagher MPharm

    Medically reviewed by: Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons)MRPharmS 08/07/18

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