Spot the Difference: Do you know the difference between a cold and the flu?

Cold_and_Flu_VirusAn estimated one third of Britons wrongly think that flu is just a bad cold. Although many symptoms of cold and flu overlap, they are very different so it is essential to understand which illness you have.

Common symptoms of a cold include a runny nose, blocked nose, sore throat, sneezing and coughing, but you may also develop a mild fever, earache, tiredness and headache. Symptoms develop over one or two days and gradually get better after a few days, although some colds can last for up to two weeks.

Flu usually comes on much more quickly than a cold, and common symptoms include fever or chills, muscle aches and pains, sweating, feeling exhausted, dry, chesty cough and sneezing. Flu symptoms appear one to three days after infection and most people recover within a week, although fatigue may last longer (up to two or three weeks). Flu can cause serious respiratory complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, especially in at-risk groups, including people over 65, people with diabetes, serious heart or chest complaints (including asthma) or serious kidney or liver disease, people with lowered immunity due to disease or medical treatment and those who have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

The table below gives a brief summary of the differences between colds and the flu:

Cold Flu
Fever Sometimes Common: higher than 38°C and lasts 3-4 days
Headache Sometimes Common
General aches & pains Common: mild Common: often severe
Fatigue / weakness Common: quite mild Common: can last up to 2-3 weeks
Stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort /cough Common: mild to moderate, often a hacking cough Common: can become severe.
Complications Sinus congestion or earache Bronchitis or pneumonia, which can be life threatening.
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Stop Smoking with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) from Chemist.net

Chemist.net has put together some information about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to help you along the journey to giving up smoking.With the start of Stoptober just a day away, Chemist.net has put together some information about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to help you along the journey to giving up smoking.

Nicotine is seen as being the addictive component of cigarette smoke. NRT provides the body with doses of nicotine that would otherwise have been provided by cigarette smoke. NRT is available as nasal sprays, lozenges, inhalers, sub-lingual tablets (tablets that dissolve under the tongue), gums, and patches. You can use a single product, or a combination. NRT basically helps prevent some of the withdrawal symptoms you may experience when trying to quit smoking, especially for the first 12 weeks after quitting smoking.

Smoking while using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

It is not advised to carry on smoking while using Nicotine Replacement Therapy as smoking while using NRT products can make you feel dizzy, raise the pulse rate and cause heart “pounding”.

However there are some NRT products that are available to use specifically to reduce the number of cigarettes being smoked:

These are the only NRT products that are able to be used while cutting down on the number of cigarettes being smoked.

It is better to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy products than to carry on smoking, because NRT is considered to be safe to use by most patient groups. If you are pregnant, using NRT products may increase the chance of having a birth defect.

NRT studies

It is not suggested that one NRT product is better than another, but there are differences:

  • The stronger gum (4mg vs 2mg) has shown to be more effective at getting heavy smokers to stop smoking.
  • Higher dose patches have also shown to be slightly more effective than low dose patches for the heavy smokers group. The patches may be worn only when awake (16 hour patches), or all the time (24 hour patches) but both types have shown to work equally well.
  • In a study, heavy smokers have shown to produce better results when using the nasal spray, and the less heavy smokers have shown to produce better results using the patches.
  • Some studies seem to suggest the use of two types of NRT better aids the process of smoke cessation, than the use of just one NRT. For example, use a 16 hour patch while awake, and if any cravings occur, use a 2mg or 4mg gum.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy Side Effects

  • NRT gums: Have been known to cause dental problems, jaw pain, upset stomach and hiccups. The gum is just meant to be held in the mouth and chewed only about twice a minute. If chewed too fast, too much nicotine is released causing an upset stomach. Hiccups and jaw ache are a result of chewing too much.
  • NRT inhalers and sprays: Have been known to irritate the mouth or nose. These effects are considered to be common (A high proportion of users have experienced the effects of runny nose and irritated mouth during the first two days of use).
  • NRT patches: Are known to cause mild skin rashes- using the patch on a different site every day will prevent such a side effect. The patches can keep the user awake at night- if this occurs, you can take the patch off at night, or just use the 16 hour patches when awake.

Which Nicotine Replacement Therapy Should I Use?

    1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy Gums: These are available as 2mg or 4mg and in different flavours and allow you to have easy control of cravings – simply chew a piece of gum whenever you crave a cigarette.
      • If you smoke less than 20 cigarettes a day: Use the 2mg gum and keep using this strength until you have stopped smoking.
      • If you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day: Use the 4mg gum. Depending on how much you usually smoke per day, you may use 8-12 pieces of gum a day (maximum of 15 pieces a day).

      Chew gum slowly until taste becomes strong (less than a minute). Rest gum between gum and cheek. Chew gum again when taste has faded.

    2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy Inhalator: These keeps your hands busy, so are ideal for those who miss the physical action of holding & smoking a cigarette. They may also be useful in areas where you are not allowed to smoke, for example at work or on a plane. Inhalators should be used whenever the urge to smoke is felt or to prevent cravings in situations where these are likely to occur. Smokers aiming to reduce cigarettes should use the Inhalator as needed to prolong smoke free intervals and with the intention to reduce smoking as much as possible. As soon as they are ready they should aim to quit smoking completely. For smokers unable or unwilling to quit they can swap some cigarettes with the inhalator as a safer option to smoking. Initially replace all cigarettes with inhalator Gradually reduce inhalator cartridges until stopping completely. Max. daily dose: 12 cartridges.
    3. Nicotine Replacement Therapy Lozenges: Lozenges can be used as a safer alternative to smoking and may be useful in areas where it is not permitted to smoke, for example at work or on a plane. Lozenges are suitable for smokers who smoke 20 or fewer cigarettes per day and should be used whenever you feel the urge to smoke or to prevent cravings in situations where these are likely to occur. Smokers aiming to reduce cigarettes should take the lozenge, as needed, between smoking episodes to prolong smoke-free intervals and with the intention to reduce smoking as much as possible. As soon as they are ready smokers should aim to quit smoking completely. Most smokers require 8 to 12 lozenges per day and you must not exceed 15 lozenges in one day. One lozenge should be placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve. Periodically, the lozenge should be moved from one side of the mouth to the other, and repeated, until the lozenge is completely dissolved. Do not chew or swallow the lozenge and do not eat or drink while a lozenge is in the mouth.
    4. Nicotine Replacement Therapy Patches: People who like the patch find it very practical – simply put one on in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day. This may be useful in areas where they are not permitted to smoke, for example at work, or on a plane. Always apply to a clean, dry, hairless area of the skin on the front or side of the chest, upper arm or hip. Don’t apply to the same spot two days running
      • 16 hour patches for those who smoke over 10 cigarettes a day: A typical 12 week program will start with the 25mg patches, to be applied daily in the morning and removed at night before bed. As the cravings during the day reduce, the strength of the patches may be reduced to the 15mg patches, again applied daily in the same routine. Depending upon the cravings, you may then step down (once you feel stabilized on the 15mg patch) to the 10mg patch daily, Or you may step up to the 25mg strength once again if the cravings have got the better of you. Once stabilised on the 10mg patches, it’s up to you when you want to step down further by removing the need for NRT patches. All the while when using the patches, you may use other NRT products such as the gum or inhalators to control cravings or urges.
      • 16 hour patches for those who smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day: A typical 12 week program will start with the 15mg patches, to be applied daily in the morning and removed at night before bed. As the cravings during the day reduce, the strength of the patches may be reduced to the 10mg patches. If the cravings increase upon stepping down to the 10mg patches, move back to 15mg patches daily, until you have stabilized and try stepping down to the 10mg patches daily. Once stabilized on the 10mg patches it’s up to you when you want to step down further by removing the need for NRT patches. All the while when using the patches, you may use other NRT products such as the gum or inhalators to control cravings or urges.
      • 24 hour patches: For 6 weeks, start with the 21mg Patch if you smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day. (Go straight to 14mg if you smoke less). For a further 2 weeks, change to the 14mg Patch. (Alternatively start with 14mg for 6 weeks if you are a light smoker). Finally, move onto the 7mg Patch for 2 weeks.

      Following the step-down programme will let you gradually wean yourself off nicotine so you can quit for good.

    5. Nicotine Replacement Therapy sub-lingual/Microtab (dissolves under the tongue): Microtabs a suitable for smokers who wants a discreet and flexible form of NRT. It’s recommended for smokers that want to stop abruptly, or cut down and then stop. It is recommended that the tablets are used for at least 12 weeks. For smokers who smoke 20 or less cigarettes per day, start with one Microtab each hour. If you smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day, start with two Microtabs each hour, placed under the tongue at the same time. The maximum dose is 40 Microtabs per day. After 12 weeks you should aim to reduce the number of Microtabs used each day. Use beyond nine months is not recommended.
    6. Nicotine Replacement Therapy Nasal Sprays: Nasal sprays provide rapid relief for those heavily-dependent smokers who smoke over 20 cigarettes a day and often light up within 20 minutes of waking and need fast acting relief from strong cravings. It is recommended for smokers that want to stop abruptly straight away.12 week programme:
      • 8 weeks: Use as required. No more than two sprays to each nostril every hour for a maximum of 16 hours
      • 2 weeks: Reduce usage by half
      • 2 weeks: Reduce usage to zero
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Joining the fight against antibiotic resistance

Get_Well_Soon_Without_AntibioticsWhat are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are medicines that can kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria to cure bacterial infections (such as pneumococcal pneumonia or staphylococcal bloodstream infections). Not all antibiotics are active against all bacteria. There are more than 15 different classes of antibiotics that differ in their chemical structure and their action against bacteria. An antibiotic may be effective against only one or multiple types of bacteria.

What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is the inability for an antibiotic to kill or stop the growth of a particular bacteria. Some bacteria are naturally resistant to certain antibiotics, however the growing concern is acquired resistance, which is when bacteria that are normally susceptible to antibiotics become resistant as a result of genetic changes.

Why is antibiotic resistance a problem?
Resistant bacteria survive in the body despite you taking the antibiotic. They continue to multiply causing longer illness or even death. Infections caused by resistant bacteria may require more care as well as alternative and more expensive antibiotics, which may have more severe side effects.

Multidrug-resistant bacteria can cause a wide range of infections including urinary tract infection, pneumonia, skin infection, diarrhoea, bloodstream infection. Patients in hospitals are at risk for infections unrelated to the reason for admission, including bloodstream and surgical site infections like MRSA.

Why is antibiotic resistance a growing problem ?
The situation is getting worse with the emergence of new bacterial strains resistant to several antibiotics at the same time (known as multidrug-resistant bacteria). Such bacteria may eventually become resistant to all existing antibiotics and we cannot be sure that always be able to find new antibiotics. Without antibiotics, we could return to the “pre-antibiotic era”, when organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, intensive care and other medical procedures would no longer be possible. Bacterial diseases would spread and could no longer be treated, causing death.

What can I do?
While antibiotic resistance cannot be prevented entirely, we can all do our part to slow it down, buying time to develop new types of antibiotics.

Only use antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so. We now know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics. Your doctor will only prescribe them if you need them, for  example for a kidney infection or pneumonia. Antibiotics may be life-saving for infections such as meningitis. By not using them unnecessarily, they are more likely to work when we need them.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure that you take the full course as directed by your doctor, even if you feel better before the course is complete. If you do not finish your treatment, some bacteria may be left to develop resistance.

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Gluten Free Pancake Recipes

 

Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day is here once again! For you Coeliacs out there, we’ve gathered together a couple of recipes for gluten free pancakes from Juvela and Glutafin, so there’s no need to miss out:

 

 

Juvela

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place the Juvela Gluten-Free White Mix and salt in a bowl, beat in the eggs and gradually add the milk, beating well to produce a smooth batter.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan, pour off the excess, and pour in sufficient batter to evenly coat the base of the pan.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes until golden, then flip pancake and cook other side.
  4. Serve with fillings of your choice.

Glutafin

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place the flour mix into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and a little milk. Whisk to form a thick paste. Gradually beat in the remaining milk to obtain a smooth batter.
  2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Pour in a little batter and tilt the pan back and forth to evenly cover the base with the batter.
  3. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side and transfer to a warm serving plate. Cover with greaseproof paper or foil and keep warm while the rest of the pancakes are made.
  4. Sprinkle with the caster sugar and lemon juice, roll up and serve.
  5. Best eaten fresh or within 24 hours.
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Your guide to eradicating head lice on National Bug Busting Day

What are head lice and do you get them?

Head lice are very small six-legged insects (up to 3mm long) that live in the hair, usually near the scalp and neck, and feed on human blood. Nits are the empty lice eggs which are yellow, brown or white and are generally a little easier to see.  In many cases, head lice won’t cause any discomfort, so the only way you’ll know you or your child has them is by spotting them. If there is itching, this is an allergic reaction to the lice bites. Research suggests that combing through wet hair with a head lice comb is the best way to spot whether you have nits. Check out the video below for tips on checking for head lice, courtesy of the NHS.

Head lice are usually spread via direct head-to-head contact; they are most common in nurseries and primary schools as young children often play closely together. However, lice can live for a short period on clothing, bedding or other personal items such as a hairbrush so they can easily spread to family members, which is why it is important to check every member of the household as soon as they are discovered on one person.

Head Lice Treatment

There are many different treatments available to get rid of head lice:

  • Permethrin head lice treatments: head lice treatments containing the chemical permethrin used to be the head lice treatment of choice, however there is some evidence that lice are becoming resistant so these may not be as effective as they once were, although they are still successful in many cases. Treatments include Lyclear Dermal Rinse
  • Dimeticone head lice treatments: dimeticone is a silicone-based substance which physically coats the lice, stopping them from moving, feeding and being able to excrete excess water. This kills the lice, and as the action is physical not chemical, there is no chance of resistance. Products include Nitrid with Licerum, Hedrin Lotion, Hedrin Once Spray Gel and NYDA Pump Spray.
  • Natural head lice treatments: there are non-medicated treatments such as Delacet Herbal Head Lice Solution. Alternatively, you can avoid using any lotions or sprays by combing wet hair with a fine-toothed comb. You should apply plenty of conditioner to the hair while washing to help loosen the grip of the lice. The Bug Buster Kit contains a selection of combs to help you detect and remove lice. The only downside to combing only is that it is a very time-consuming process to ensure that you get rid of all of the lice and nits.

Don’t forget to treat every person in the household with head lice at the same time!

Head Lice Prevention

While there is no guaranteed head lice prevention, there are some products such as Hedrin Protect & Go Conditioning Spray and Nitty Gritty Head Lice Defence Spray which may help to prevent head lice. You can also reduce the risk of lice spreading by avoiding head-to-head contact and examining hair regularly to catch any infestation early and prevent it spreading to the rest of the family.

Head Lice Myths

  • Only children with dirty hair or bad personal hygiene get head lice: this is absolutely not true. Lice don’t care what condition your hair is in and can survive underwater for up to six hours so bathing makes no difference. Washing your hair does not get rid of lice either.
  • Head lice prefer long hair: lice have no preference about hair length. Boys with very short hair are just as likely to get head lice as girls with long hair.
  • Children with head lice should be kept at home: there is no need to keep your child off school. However you should ensure that they take precautions such as not sharing personal items and avoiding close contact with others.
  • Head lice can fly/jump: no they can’t, they can only crawl. That’s why the most common way to spread head lice is through direct contact.
  • Head lice can live in your home: head lice can only live and reproduce on human hair. They can live for a short time on items such as hats and hairbrushes, however will die if they do not find a new host, so they are not living in your home and re-infesting your family.
  • Head lice can be transmitted between humans and pets: we cannot spread head lice to our pets, nor can they give lice to us.
  • Head lice carry diseases: no research has shown that head lice spread disease. They can however be irritating, and it is possible to develop a rash from the bites, which may become infected from scratching.
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