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Healthy Living Advice

Self-Help

We encourage all our patients to share the responsibility for their health. Many diseases can be avoided by a healthy lifestyle and without the need for drugs. You are likely to be fitter and have a more enjoyable life if you do not smoke, maintain a healthy diet and have regular exercise.

Many conditions get better on their own and can be treated successfully at home. Your pharmacist may be able to help you with these and advise about medications you can buy over the counter.

Eat a Healthy Diet

The best diet is one includes five portions of fruit and vegetables every day and reduces sugar, alcohol and fat.

For more advice visit www.eatwell.gov.uk

Get A Good Nights Sleep

Difficulty sleeping is a common problem. We do not recommend the regular use of sleeping pills and they are not routinely prescribed by our Doctors. Relaxation tapes can be borrowed from the Practice.

Our Health Visitors would be pleased to offer advice to parents of children with persistent sleep problems.

What to do and what to avoid:

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in the evening.

Remove anything that may encourage wakefulness from the bedroom: TV, radio, tea-making facilities - and leave only one book or magazine by the bed.

Avoid undue daytime naps, except a 15-20 minute 'power nap' after lunch.

Regular exercise reduces stress hormones and improves sleep, but avoid strenuous activity (other than sex) within 3 hours of bedtime.

Avoid eating a large meal within 2 hours of bedtime but an evening snack of banana, milk or wholemeal biscuit helps to create melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

Try to keep a regular bedtime when you feel sleepy and adopt a relaxing bedtime routine such as a warm bath. The bedroom should be well ventilated: 24C (75F) is the optimum temperature.

Some elderly people find sustained sleep more difficult. They can fall into the habit of taking daytime naps for as long as 2 hours then go to bed mid-evening when they feel tired and snap awake at 3am because they have had their full sleep quota. Try taking a 20 minute nap mid-evening (timed with an alarm clock) then proper bedtime around midnight so that waking 5 hours later will not be so miserable.

Get Immunised

Child Immunisation

Immunisation prepares your child's body to fight disease. It is important for everyone to keep up his or her immunity. This protects your child and family and the wider community. Research shows that vaccines are the safest way of protecting your child's health.

Ask your Health Visitor for further information.

Your child should not be immunised under the following circumstances:

  • Has a high fever on the day of the injection
  • Has had a bad reaction to another immunisation
  • Has had, or is having, treatment for cancer
  • Has a bleeding disorder (e.g. ITP)
  • Has had a severe reaction to eating eggs
  • Has had convulsions (fits) in the past

You should also let your Doctor know if your child or any other close family member:

  • Has any illness that affects the immune system (e.g. HIV or AIDS)
  • Has had convulsions (fits) in the past
  • Is taking any medicine that affects the immune system e.g. immunosuppressants or high-dose steriods

Infants receive a combined jab for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae b), starting when your child is 2 months old. Other vaccinations given around the same period of life include Meningitis C vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and MMR.

The MMR contains 3 separate vaccines in one injection. MMR vaccine protects children against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). It is given to children at 13 months of age and again before they to school. The second dose protects anybody who did not respond to the first dose.

Further information is available from:

www.immunisation.nhs.uk

The BCG vaccine immunises against tuberculosis and is usually given to children between the ages of 10 and 14.

Flu and Pneumovax Vaccination

This vaccination is given annually every October and November. It is recommended for the over 65s and anyone with other illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis as they are more likely to develop secondary infections. From September onwards do look out for information from Receptions on how to obtain your Flu vaccination. We also offer pneumovax in line with current NHS guidelines.

Moderate Alcohol Intake

Alcohol is a drug which has the immediate effect of altering mood. Because drinking makes people feel relaxed, happy and even euphoric, many find it surprising to learn that alcohol is in fact a depressant.

Alcohol, even when consumed in moderation, has been linked to a wide range of ailments and diseases, such as increased risk of mouth, pharyngeal and oesophageal cancers (especially if combined with smoking), high blood pressure and gastrointestinal complications, such as gastritis, ulcers and liver disease. Of course, excessive alcohol can also have detrimental social and psychological consequences. Moderation and balance is the key.

Further information is available from: www.alcoholconcern.org.uk

Obesity

Being very over weight makes you more vulnerable to a range of medical disorders such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

You are also more likely to have high blood pressure and you may also have high levels of cholesterol in your blood which can be deposited in your arteries.

Adult-onset diabetes (type II) is largely preventable. It is three times more common in obese people. If uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to complications such as damage in the eyes, nerves and kidneys.

Very overweight women are more likely to develop cancer of the womb and there is an increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women who are obese.

Losing Weight

The most effective way of losing weight is by reducing your calorie intake and increasing the amount of physical exercise you do at the same time. Decrease calories by:

  • Filling up on bread, other cereals and potatoes, fruit and vegetables cooked without added fat. These foods are low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Cutting out table sugar completely
  • Avoiding eating foods containing fat, such as cooking oils, butter and margarine and foods containing sugar such as puddings, biscuits, cakes and chocolate
  • Cutting down on alcohol which contains a lot of calories

Increase your level of activity by:

  • Walking more instead of using the car or taking a bus
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift whenever you can
  • Go to the park, playground or swimming pool regularly and make it into a family event
  • Trying to do more activities around the home and garden and putting a bit more physical effort into doing them
  • Getting involved in a regular sporting activity

Further information is available from: www.nhs.uk/Livewell

Quit Smoking                 

Smokers die prematurely. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals, which together make a toxic cocktail including the following:

  • Nicotine increases the heart rate and blood pressure, constricts the small blood vessels under your skin, causes changes in blood composition and metabolism
  • Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas also found in car exhaust fumes
  • Tar is deposited in the lungs and is know to cause cancer
  • Benzene is a know carcinogen and is associated with leukaemia
  • Formaldehyde is highly poisonous, known to cause cancer
  • Ammonia is used in cigarettes and is also found in cleaning fluids
  • Cadmium is a highly poisonous metal used in batteries and causes liver, kidney and brain damage

After stopping smoking for 12 months the risk of a heart attack is half that of a smoker. Make an appointment with our 'Smoking Cessation Clinic' for help in giving up smoking.

Further information is available from: http://gosmokefree.nhs.uk

Take Regular Exercise   

The best exercise for cardiovascular fitness is aerobic - any exercise that gets you breathing more deeply such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing or using treadmills and rowing machines are recommended. Aim for 30 minutes 5 times every week. Stretching and strengthening exercise can help to control weight and encourage blood flow. Regular exercise also helps to release the tension caused by stress and can give you more energy too.

Further information is available from: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness



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