Everything You Need to Know About the Common Cold

 

Ever wonder why the symptoms of a cold tend to vary greatly? That’s because the common cold is caused by any one of more than two hundred viruses!

Adults tend to get two to four colds a year but children (especially preschoolers) may have up to eight to ten colds annually. Both adults and children are more susceptible to the common cold in the autumn and winter months when children are in school and people are spending a lot of time indoors.

Haven pharmacists have shared some of their expert advice so that you know what type of cold you have and how best to treat it. Also, we highlight the importance of self-care and dispel some “old wives” tales.

How Do We Catch a Cold?

The cold virus enters your body via your mouth or nose through contact with another carrier who has sneezed or coughed close to you. It can also spread by hand to hand contact with someone who has a cold or by using shared objects such as cutlery, towels, toys or telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact or exposure you are likely to acquire a common cold. Other “old wives” tales about how you catch a common cold, such as going outdoors with wet hair for example, have never been proven with clinical studies.

What are the Symptoms of a Cold?

These symptoms generally gradually develop over a few hours and occur one to three days after exposure to the virus. They usually last about seven days. Some symptoms, such as a cough, may persist after the worst of a cold is over. Symptoms of a cold include:

  • Runny/blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Aches and pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Although you may feel hot when you have a cold it is unlikely to be a temperature. The presence of a fever may be an indication of flu rather than a cold.

During the summer months, you may have symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing and irritated watery eyes but these are likely to be due to allergy or hayfever.

Who is Most at Risk?

Children

  • Children are more likely to get a cold because they haven’t developed resistance to most of the viruses that cause them. They also spend lots of time with other children who aren’t as careful about washing their hands – making it easier for the cold to spread.

Allergy sufferers

  • If you suffer from seasonal allergies (hayfever) or ongoing allergic reactions to dust, moulds or pet hair, which affects your nasal passages, you are more likely to develop a cold than people who do not have allergies.

Those living or working in close quarters

  • Viral and bacterial infections spread easily anywhere people gather – childcare centres, classrooms, hospitals, offices, prisons and military installations.

What are the Complications of the Common Cold?

Children, the elderly (especially those that are frail, malnourished or suffering from other illnesses), asthmatics and smokers have an increased chance of suffering from complications due to the common cold.

Acute ear infection in children

  • The most common complication of common colds in children is an acute ear infection (otitis media), which occurs when bacteria infiltrate the space behind the eardrum. Typical signs and symptoms include earaches and, in some cases, a green or yellow discharge from the nose or the return of a fever following a cold. Children who are too young to verbalise their distress may simply cry or pull on the affected ear.

**Unlike a common cold, ear infections may require treatment with antibiotics. Young children and children with chronic health problems are most likely to need antibiotics to treat an ear infection.**

Sinusitis

  • In adults or children, a common cold that doesn’t resolve may lead to sinusitis. Other secondary infections that may develop following a cold include strep throat, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. These infections need to be treated by a doctor.

When Should You Seek Medical Advice?

A cold generally goes away in about a week, although it may not disappear as quickly as you’d like. If your signs and symptoms last longer than a week, you may have a more serious illness, such as flu or pneumonia.

Seek medical attention if you have:

  • Temperature greater than 102 F (38.9C)
  • High temperature accompanied by achiness and fatigue
  • Temperature accompanied by sweating, chills and a cough with coloured phlegm
  • Symptoms that get worse instead of better

Seek medical attention if your child has any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Temperature of 103 F or higher, chills or sweating (39.4C)
  • Temperature that lasts more than 72 hours
  • Vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent crying
  • Ear pain

What is the Best Treatment for the Common Cold?

There is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics are of no use against cold viruses, and over-the-counter cold preparations won’t cure a cold or make it go away any sooner. However, over-the-counter medications such as decongestants and cough expectorants can relieve some symptoms so make sure you talk to your local Haven Pharmacist for advice.

One of the most important things to do, if you have a cold, is to look after yourself. Follow these self-care tips to make yourself as comfortable as possible:

Drink lots of fluid

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoke, which can cause dehydration and aggravate your symptoms.

Get some rest

  • Consider staying home from work if you have a temperature or a bad cough, or are drowsy from medications. This will give you a chance to rest as well as reduce the chances that you’ll infect others. Wear a mask when you have a cold if you live or work with someone with a chronic disease or compromised immune system.

Adjust your room’s temperature and humidity/steam yourself

  • Keep your room warm, but not overheated. If the air is dry use a vaporiser or humidifier. A cheaper and quite effective method is to boil a kettle several times in a room and place a small bowl of water on top of the radiator (if it is heated). The use of a steam inhalation hydrates the upper respiratory tract and helps loosen phlegm. Menthol and eucalyptus inhalants may also provide relief from the congestion caused by the common cold.

Soothe your throat

  • Gargling with warm salt water several times a day or drinking warm lemon water with honey may help soothe a sore throat and relieve a cough.

 

What is the Best Prevention for the Common Cold?

No effective vaccine has been developed because so many different viruses can cause a common cold. However, you can take some other precautions to slow the spread of cold viruses:

Take a vitamin C supplement during the winter months

  • Vitamin C is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. Supplementation during the winter months may help to boost the immune system so the body can fight off cold and flu viruses more effectively.

Wash your hands

  • Clean your hands frequently and teach your children the importance of hand washing.

Keep things clean

  • Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops clean, especially when someone in your family has a cold. Wash your child’s toys after play.

Use tissues & dispose of them carefully

  • Always sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues right away.

Sharing is not always caring

  • Don’t share drinking glasses or utensils with other family members. Use your own glass & cup when you or someone else is ill.

Steer clear of others with a cold

  • Avoid close, prolonged contact with anyone who has a cold.

Choose your child-care centre carefully

  • Look for a child-care setting with sound hygiene practices and clear policies about keeping ill children at home.

Both COVID-19 and the common cold are highly contagious and can spread through the air, close personal contact and when you touch infected surfaces and then your face before washing your hands.

For more advice contact your local pharmacist. Trust Haven to put your family’s health first this Winter.

How to care for someone with Flu at home

Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. The virus infects your lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains, headache, weakness and exhaustion. Symptoms can last for up to one week. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better. Flu affects people of all ages. In some people flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.

 

How can I care for someone with flu at home?

If you are at home with flu or taking care of someone at home, follow these tips to help stop the flu spreading to others:

  • If you have the flu stay in one room with the door closed and, if possible, open a window for fresh air
  • Family members should limit time spent with someone with flu and avoid sharing dishes, books, toys, etc
  • Avoid face-to-face contact with someone who has the flu
  • Discourage visits from people not living in the house
  • If you have flu, cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues when sneezing or coughing. If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into your arm or sleeve (not hand) is recommended
  • Used tissues should be put into a bin and the bin sealed in the room and immediately taken outside for collection
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing and sneezing
  • Everyone in the house should frequently clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after every contact with someone with flu or their room or bathroom
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with your hands as this helps spreads the flu virus
  • Surfaces and items inside the house should be cleaned regularly with bleach-based household cleaners

How is Flu spread?

If you are carrying the virus, you can spread it by coughing or sneezing. This can happen from 1-2 days before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after symptoms develop. Flu can survive on worktops and objects, especially in low temperatures and low humidity. You can get flu by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours and a soft surface for around 20 minutes.

How Serious is Flu?

The Flu virus is an unpredictable virus. If you are healthy you will usually recover in 7 days. But Flu can be severe and can cause serious illness and death. Complications of flu include bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and rarely acute encephalopathy (swelling of the brain). Serious complications of flu are more likely if you have a chronic medical condition or if you are aged 65 years or older. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of flu complications. In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year, around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646, 000 deaths.

At-risk groups

The HSE are strongly urging people in at-risk groups to get the flu vaccine. It is strongly recommended the vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years of age and over
  • are pregnant
  • are a child or adult with a long-term health condition
  • work in healthcare
  • are a carer or household contact of anyone at increased medical risk of flu
  • live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl

You should not get the flu vaccine if you have had a severe allergic (anaphylaxis) reaction to a previous dose or any part of the vaccine. Don’t get the flu vaccine if you are taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors (e.g. ipilimumab plus nivolumab). Vaccination should be re-scheduled if you have an acute illness with a temperature greater than 38°C.

The Flu Vaccine

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 4 strains of flu virus recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season. The flu viruses that are circulating change every year. This is why you need to get a new vaccine each year. People 10 years and over should get the vaccine from their GP or Pharmacist or Occupational Health Department. Younger children should get the vaccine from their GP. The flu vaccine is free if you are in an at-risk group but you may be charged a consultation fee, unless you have a medical card or a GP visit card. The flu vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses – it cannot give you the flu.

How it works

The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated and you come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and stop you from getting sick. The flu vaccine starts to work within two weeks.

The seasonal flu vaccine is available from October 2021 until the end of April 2022

Speak to your local Haven Pharmacist about the Flu Vaccine. You can make an appointment in selected Haven Pharmacy stores nationwide.

 

For more information about Flu and it’s symptoms check out the HSE website

 

 

Exam Stress & Meditation

It’s that time of year again – exams are looming, students dread the thoughts of studying and wonder how they are going to cope with it all. No matter how well prepared you are, exams can be extremely stressful making it difficult to concentrate, deplete energy levels and affect your sleeping.

Mindful meditation, even for just a few minutes every day is a very useful tool that you can practice to help you feel calmer, help you to focus and reduce your stress.

Meditation in the form of a simple breathing exercise can be done anytime, anywhere for any length of time that suits you. Here is a quick and easy 4 4 4 technique you can try:

  1. Get comfortable and close your eyes
  2. Empty your lungs and take a slow deep inhale through your nose for 4 seconds
  3. Hold your inhale for 4 seconds and then exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds
  4. Continue this breathing exercise 4 times

You can do this as many times during the day as you like – when you wake up in the morning, when you are stuck in traffic, sitting at your study desk at home or just before you enter the exam hall.

There are thousands of studies that have shown mindfulness meditation can positively impact mental and physical health. Here are just some of the immediate and long term benefits of meditation:

Short Term Benefits:

  • Interrupts the output of stress hormones such as cortisol
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Calms your mind
  • Improves focus
  • Lowers heart rate
  • Can lower blood pressure
  • Increases blood flow to the brain
  • Increases sense of well-being
  • Improves mood

Long Term Benefits:

  • Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Decreases rates of pre-existing cardiovascular disease
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves focus
  • Increases energy
  • Decreases reactivity
  • Increases ability to choose helpful thoughts

Simple breathing exercises like the 4 4 4 technique can transform your health in the coming days and weeks, but remember adequate studying, getting enough sleep and eating a healthy breakfast can go a long way in helping to reduce your stress on the day of the exam. Speak to your local Haven Pharmacy for advice on vitamins & supplements that can also improve your brain, heart and vision function so you are feeling your best to give 100%.

Good luck to everyone this exam season, you’ve got this!

 

Managing Stress

Exams can be a really stressful time on student.

Watch our Support Pharmacist in Haven Pharmacy Scannell’s & Riverview – Bandon, Suzanne Goggin give real, relatable advice for anyone who may be suffering with exam stress.

Suzanne answers all your crucial questions:

  • Do we all get stressed?
  • What are her top tips to combat exam stress?
  • How can you best equip your body to cope with exam stress?

Remember Haven Pharmacy are here to help, our doors are always open for a chat about how you are feeling. Find your local Haven Pharmacy here.

Back To School Hair Care

Back to school can unfortunately bring with it dreaded Head Lice. Children are most likely to have head lice infestations because of their relative close proximity to one another in schools and the playground. They are not a cause for embarrassment nor are they a result of unhygienic environments, but because of their highly contagious nature they simply thrive in busy close human to human places, like kids parties, sport activities and summer camps.

Head lice are a harmless but irritating pest that can cause severe distress to both parents and children. Most people will experience trying to tackle head lice at some point in their lives. Head lice are not dangerous for your child, but you do want to get rid of them as soon as possible to avoid spreading to others.

In our Haven Pharmacies, we often meet parents who have taken every precaution available to them and are still surprised when their child manages to catch head lice. You cannot prevent head lice and anyone with hair can get head lice not just children. Despite common misconception, they aren’t fussy about clean or dirty hair!

Hopefully this blog will enable you to spot a louse, but if in doubt, we would encourage you to drop into your local Haven to speak to an expert who can advise you on the best course of action.

What are Head Lice?

Head lice are small blood sucking insects that live on the human scalp. They are one of the most common childhood conditions worldwide. Head lice are tiny wingless insects that are grey-brown in colour. They are the size of a pinhead when they hatch and 3mm long (the size of a sesame seed) when fully grown. Although children are most commonly affected, anyone with hair can get head lice. Nits are empty eggs left behind when lice hatch. They can be white, yellow or brown.

Image result for head lice

 

What Causes Head Lice?

They are passed by head to head contact. They cannot jump or fly from one head to another, so it is this close contact that spreads them from one person to another. They prefer the warmest parts of the head so are usually found behind the ears or in the nape of the neck. Head lice only affect humans and cannot be passed on to animals or be caught from them. Lice will not survive on bedding or clothing, but it’s advised to change and wash pillow cases after detection.

 

 

Signs and Symptoms

The usual symptoms of head lice are persistent itching of the scalp, finding empty white or opaque eggshells in the hair or on the shoulders. Itching is not caused by the lice biting the scalp but by an allergy to the lice so may not always be present. Some people are not allergic to head lice, so they may not notice that they have a head lice infestation. Even if someone with head lice is allergic to them, itching can take up to three months to develop. In some cases of head lice, a rash may appear on the back of the neck. This is caused by a reaction to louse droppings.

Image result for symptomshead lice

Detecting Head Lice

In order to confirm an active infestation, a louse must be found through a reliable method, such as using a fine tooth comb otherwise known as wet combing. No treatment should be used unless a louse is found. Regular combing is more effective at detection than relying on a repellent spray. A good tip is to use a hair dryer on low speed and low heat to search the hair thoroughly.

Image result for wet combing lice

Treating Head Lice

There are many treatments for treating head lice and help reduce their reoccurance:

    • Wet comb children’s hair regularly to prevent an infestation of head lice. The hair is divided into sections with a regular comb, and then a lice detection comb should be drawn from the scalp to the ends of the hair, checking for lice at each stroke. Sufficient combing may take up to 30 minutes per head. Parents can be reassured that regular combing can be just as effective as a chemical-based treatment at removing live lice, especially in smaller numbers.
    • If head lice are found, inform those who they have been in close contact with, to check if they are present in their children.
    • Head lice can be found in all types of hair, clean or dirty, long or short, so children should be reassured it’s not a ‘dirty’ problem
    • Head lice don’t live on pets or other animals, so they can’t be caught from a family pet
    • Resistance to head lice treatments can occur, so only treat those who have head lice. Head lice treatment should never be used unless a live louse is found.
    • Conduct regular weekly checks for head lice to make sure that you can treat an infestation as soon as possible
    • Medicated lotions and sprays are not effective in preventing head lice infestations. They should only be used if a live louse has been found on your or your child’s head.
    • Treatment can be regarded as successful if no live lice are found on both days three and seven after completion of a course of treatment.
    • Itching may persist several weeks after a successful treatment and parents should be reassured not to keep re-treating unless you find live lice.

After Treatment

Check the hair again 2 days after the treatment, to make sure it has worked. If you find nits, but don’t find lice, don’t treat again. Nits may be left behind on the hairs but this does not mean the treatment has failed. Only treat if you find living, moving lice. If you find lice after the treatment, it means that your child has been re-infected with lice or the initial treatment wasn’t carried out correctly. Check the whole family again and treat all those with lice and ask your GP or Haven pharmacist for more advice.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

The best way to prevent head lice is to keep long hair tied up in a plait or a bun. Tea Tree Oil shampoo can also be used to prevent head lice. You can either buy one of these ready-made shampoos or you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your regular soft shampoo. Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which have antiseptic and antifungal properties, and have thus the property to kill adult head lice and nymphs.

Avoid Re-infestation

Head lice do not survive long if they fall off a person and cannot feed.  Follow these steps to help avoid re–infestation by lice that have recently fallen off the hair or crawled onto clothing or furniture:
– Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (60°C) cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
– Soak combs and brushes in hot water (at least 60°C) for 5–10 minutes.
– Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, the risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a rug or carpet or furniture is very small. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the human scalp

There are a range of very effective over the counter remedies available from your local Haven Pharmacy to help treat head lice. If a pharmacy treatment is requested, either a pesticide or a non-pesticide lotion can be recommended. All need to be repeated and none guarantee absolute success. Please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven Pharmacist for advice on which treatment suits your needs. For more information check out the HSE Website 

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Did you know that Vitamin D is vital for the development of healthy bones, teeth and muscles? The best natural resource of Vitamin D is the sun, however in Ireland during the winter months, we are exposed to very little sunlight, especially people working typical 9-5pm office hours.

We can also get our Vitamin D from our diet by eating foods rich in dairy such as milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are a good source of Vitamin D as well as egg yolks. Unfortunately we don’t eat enough of these foods to get the recommended amount of Vitamin D our body needs.

TILDA researchers have found there is insufficient daily intake of the vitamin across Ireland:

  • 47% of all adults over 85 are deficient in winter
  • 27% of adults over 70 who are ‘cocooning’ are estimated to be deficient
  • 1 in 8 adults over 50 are deficient all year round
  • Only 4% of men and 15% of women take a Vitamin D supplement.

In recent years, there has been huge renewed interest in vitamin D, with new global research showing that the health benefits of this nutrient stretch beyond bone health. There is increasing evidence for the beneficial effects from dietary vitamin D which has shown benefits for its contribution to;

  • Normal function of the immune system
  • Maintenance of normal bones and teeth
  • Normal absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus
  • Normal muscle function
  • Normal blood calcium levels
  • The process of cell division

Vitamin D has been in the news frequently recently for its links to Covid-19. A trial on the relationship Vitamin D has in preventing colds, flu and chest infections found that Vitamin D had a significant protective effect when it was given daily or weekly to people with lowest vitamin D levels. The study showed that after taking Vitamin D the risk of having a cold or flu was reduced from 60% to 32% in these people. Therefore, maintaining a sufficient vitamin D level is beneficial in prevention of colds and flus and may therefore be of benefit in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vitabiotics Ultra Vitamin D tablets were developed as a convenient way to supplement the diet with vitamin D. By taking a daily supplement with food, Ultra Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth and is also known for its role in supporting normal function of the immune system, normal cell division and normal muscle function.

 

       

 

Vitabiotics have two Vitamin D strengths available which both come in a three-month supply from just one small daily tablet.. Now available from your local Haven Pharmacy alongside other leading Vitamin D brands.

Summer Health Tips

A healthy lifestyle has huge long term health benefits. By choosing a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight for your age can add years to your life and reduce the risk of certain diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and obesity. The key to reducing the risk of these diseases is making just a few small changes to our daily lives – here are our Top 20 Tips for a healthier lifestyle this Summer:

1. Don’t Drink Sugar Calories
Sugary drinks are the most fattening things you can put into your body. This is because liquid sugar calories don’t get registered by the brain in the same way as calories from solid foods
For this reason, when you drink soda, you end up eating more total calories. Keep in mind that fruit juices are almost as bad as soda in this regard. They contain just as much sugar, and the small amounts of antioxidants do not negate the harmful effects of the sugar. Sugary drinks are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and all sorts of health problems. So during this warm weather, it’s all about H20!

2. Eat more Nuts
Despite being high in fat, nuts are incredibly nutritious and healthy. They are loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and various other nutrients. Studies show that nuts can help you lose weight, and may help fight type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, about 10-15% of the calories in nuts aren’t even absorbed into the body, and some evidence suggests that they can boost metabolism. In one study, almonds were shown to increase weight loss by 62% compared to complex carbohydrates.

3. Avoid Processed Junk Food
All the processed junk foods in the diet are the biggest reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before. These foods have been engineered to be “hyper-rewarding,” so they trick our brains into eating more than we need, even leading to addiction in some people. They are also low in fiber, protein and micronutrients (empty calories), but high in unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and refined grains.

4. Rejoice Coffee Lovers!
Coffee has an undeserved bad reputation. The truth is that it’s actually quite healthy. Coffee is high in antioxidants, and studies show that coffee drinkers live longer, and have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and numerous other diseases.

5. Eat More Fish
Pretty much everyone agrees that fish is healthy. This is particularly true of fatty fish, like salmon, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and various other nutrients. Studies show that people who eat the most fish have a lower risk of all sorts of diseases, including heart disease, dementia and depression.

6. Get Enough Sleep
The importance of getting enough quality sleep cannot be overstated. It may be just as important as diet and exercise, if not more! Poor sleep can drive insulin resistance, throw your appetite hormones out of whack and reduce your physical and mental performance. What’s more, it is one of the strongest individual risk factors for future weight gain and obesity. One study showed that short sleep was linked to 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults.

7. Take Care of your Gut Health with Probiotics
The bacteria in your gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, are sometimes referred to as the “forgotten organ.”  These gut bugs are incredibly important for all sorts of health-related aspects. A disruption in the gut bacteria is linked to some of the world’s most serious chronic diseases, including obesity. A good way to improve gut health, is to eat probiotic foods (like live yogurt and sauerkraut), take probiotic supplements, and eat plenty of fiber. Fiber functions as fuel for the gut bacteria. However, eating too much fiber can cause digestive distress, gas and intestinal blockages.

8. Water! Water! Water! 
Drinking enough water can have numerous benefits. One important factor, is that it can help boost the amount of calories you burn. It can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours. This can amount to 96 additional calories burned if you drink 2 litres of water per day. The best time to drink water is half an hour before meals. One study showed that half a liter of water, 30 minutes before each meal, increased weight loss by 44%

9. Take Vitamin D
Back in the day, most people got their vitamin D from the sun. The problem is that most people don’t get much sun these days, even during an Irish Summer! Many people seek shade from the sun to protect from harmful UVA and UVB Rays, so if adequate sun exposure is not an option for you, then supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to have numerous benefits for health. This includes improved bone health, increased strength, reduced symptoms of depression and a lower risk of cancer, to name a few.

10. Eat more Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruits are the “default” health foods, and for good reason. They are loaded with prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals and all sorts of antioxidants, some of which have potent biological effects. Studies show that people who eat the most vegetables and fruits live longer, and have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and all sorts of diseases. During Summer, some of the best fruit, berries, herbs and vegetables are in abundance and taste even better when they are ‘in season’.

11. Make Sure to Eat Enough Protein
Eating enough protein is so important, and many experts believe that the recommended daily intake is too low. Protein is particularly important for weight loss and works via several different mechanisms. A high protein intake can boost metabolism significantly, while making you feel so full that you automatically eat fewer calories. It can also cut cravings and reduce the desire for late-night snacking. Eating plenty of protein has also been shown to lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

12. Get active! 
Doing aerobic exercise (or cardio) is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. It is particularly effective at reducing belly fat, the harmful type of fat that builds up around your organs. Reduced belly fat should lead to major improvements in metabolic health. Just 30 minutes walking a day improves heart health and reduces chances of getting Diabetes. Now is a great time to start as the weather is warm and dry with long bright evenings. Check our our Blog on Benefits of walking here https://bit.ly/2RpXTcz

13. Don’t Smoke. Don’t take Drugs. Only Drink in Moderation
If you’re a tobacco smoker, or abuse drugs, then diet and exercise are the least of your worries. Tackle those problems first and get advice from your local Haven Pharmacist. If you choose to include alcohol in your life, then do so in moderation only, and consider avoiding it completely if you have alcoholic tendencies. For more advice on drinking alcohol responsibly check out https://www.drinkaware.ie/

14. Minimize Your Intake of Added Sugars
Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. Small amounts are fine, but when people eat large amounts, it can wreak havoc on metabolic health. Avoid taking sugar in tea, coffee & breakfast cereals. Remember to avoid drinking Sugar Calories (Reference point 1) A high intake of added sugar is linked to numerous diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many forms of cancer.

15. Don’t Eat a Lot of Refined Carbohydrates
Not all carbs are created equal. Refined carbs have been highly processed and have had all the fiber removed from them. They are low in nutrients (empty calories) and can be extremely harmful. These include white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and many breakfast cereals (Yes all the nice things!) They digest quickly and their high glycemic index causes unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. You may have heard about the White Diet which basically means cutting out anything White from your diet. Studies show that refined carbohydrates are linked to overeating and numerous metabolic diseases.

16. Avoid Artificial Trans Fats
Artificial Trans fats are one of the worst fats you can eat when it comes to your cholesterol levels. It’s best to avoid them altogether – deep fried fast food, pastries, cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, frozen food, crisps and crackers. Artificial trans fats are harmful, man-made fats that are strongly linked to inflammation and heart disease. instead, focus on choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats such as Salmon, Avocado, Nuts which are all a good source of Omega-3 and are great anti-inflammatory foods to include in the diet.

17. Use Plenty of Herbs and Spices
There are many incredibly healthy herbs and spices out there. For example, ginger and turmeric both have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, leading to various health benefits. Try make an effort to include as many different herbs and spices as you can. Many of them can have powerful beneficial effects on your health and a great substitute for salt and sugar filled sauces.

18. Track Your Food Intake
The only way to know exactly what you are eating, is to weigh your foods and use a nutrition tracker like MyFitnessPal or keep a food diary. This is important to know how many calories you are eating. It is also essential to make sure that you’re getting in enough protein, fiber and micronutrients. Studies show that people who track their food intake in one way or another tend to be more successful at losing weight and sticking to a healthy diet. Not only can you measure your food intake but you can measure your waistline too – the first step to starting your healthy lifestyle. Measure your steps, measure your calories intake, measure your weight… when you start to see the difference it will motivate you even more.

19. Get rid of excess Belly Fat
Not all body fat is equal. It is mostly the fat in your abdominal cavity, the belly fat, that causes problems. This fat builds up around the organs, and is strongly linked to metabolic disease. For this reason, your waist size may be a much stronger marker for your health than the number on the scale. Cutting carbs, reduce sugar, eat more protein and eating plenty of fibre are all excellent ways to get rid of belly fat. Get that measuring tape out!

20. Short term “Diet”, short term solution
Diets are notoriously ineffective, and rarely work well in the long term. In fact, “dieting” is one of the strongest predictors for future weight gain. Instead of going on a diet, try adopting a healthier lifestyle. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it. Remember, weight loss should follow as a natural side effect of better food choices and improved metabolic health.

Improving your lifestyle with small steps in the right direction will have a big impact on your well-being. Start Today! 

#HavenHealth

Daily SPF Protection

Did you know you should wear SPF everyday?

Sun protection factor (SPF) plays an important preventative role against the long term effects of overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun including: sunburn, skin damage, premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer.

There are two types of UV radiation that we need to be concerned about: UVA and UVB

UVA rays penetrate more deeply through the layers of the skin than UVB. It is associated with Skin Ageing (wrinkles, lines, age spots) but also associated with Skin Cancer. UVA can pass through window glass and is present year round, even on cloudy days.
UVB rays are mainly responsible for sunburn, can’t pass through window glass and are strongly associated with two types of Skin Cancer: malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma.
SPF is more accurately the sun burn protection factor, as it primarily shows the level of protection against UVB, not the protection against UVA. SPF Ratings are on a scale of 2-50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with ratings between 2 to 14 forming the least protected end of the spectrum and ratings of 50+ offering the strongest forms of UVB protection.

Broad Spectrum SPF refers to sunscreen which offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Originally, sunscreens were designed to protect against just UVB rays, which cause sunburn but only account for a small portion of the full UV spectrum. UVB rays were once thought to be the only rays that could cause harm and UVA rays were thought to produce a “healthy” tan. Now we know that UVA rays contribute to premature skin aging and some forms of skin cancer. According to the EU recommendation, the UVA protection for each sunscreen should be at least a third of the labelled SPF. A product that achieves this requirement will be labelled with a UVA logo which is the letters “UVA” printed in a circle.

UVA ratings range from 0-5 stars and indicate the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVA rays, compared with the level of protection it provides against UVB rays (i.e. the ratio between the level of UVA and UVB protection offered by the product). The higher the number of stars, the greater the level of protection against UVA. Sunscreens with a low SPF can still have a high number of stars, not because they are offering high UVA protection, but because the ratio between UVA and UVB protection is the same as offered in sunscreens with higher SPF.

That’s why it’s important to choose a high SPF as well as a high UVA protection (e.g. a high number of stars).  A good broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 and a UVA rating of 4 – 5 stars is generally considered as a good standard of SPF. So why not introduce an SPF as part of your daily skincare routine – we should all wear a minimum of SPF 30 or 50+ on the face, neck and décolletage everyday.

For more information, call in to your local Haven Pharmacy for expert advice on the best UVA & UVB protection for you and your family. Remember, SPF is not just for the sunny days- but all year round!

Information Source: The Irish Skin Foundation

Quit Smoking with Haven Pharmacy

1 in every 2 smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease. It doesn’t have to be that way – you can quit!

Have you tried to give up smoking in the past? Have you managed to give up for long periods of time and then one little slip spiralled you back to your former full-time smoking self?

The disappointment in returning to this bad habit might off trying to quit again? Don’t let it… Never give up giving up!

Giving Up
With our customers health in mind, we have put a plan in place for anyone that wants to quit, so please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven pharmacist if you would like advice on which Nicotine Replacement Treatment (NRT) is best suited to your needs. There are a range of very effective over the counter remedies available from your Haven pharmacy to help stop smoking.

Health Benefits 
Straight away you will have fresher breath, hair & clothes and

Straight away you prevent staining your fingers & teeth and delay premature aging

Straight away you will have more money in your pocket!

Within 20 mins your blood pressure and pulse rate begin to return to normal

Within 1 day your risk of heart attack begins to fall

Within 2 days you will have a better sense of taste and smell

Within 3 days you will feel fitter as you will be less breathless as the nicotine is gone from your body completely

After 2-3 weeks your lung function will improve

Within 2-3 months your lung capacity can increase by up to 30%

After 1 year your risk of sudden death from a heart attack is almost cut in half, while your risk from cancer is also reduced

After 5 years the risk of smoking related cancers will be greatly reduced

After 10 years the risk of a heart attack drops to almost the same as a non-smoker

Did you know Ireland has more quitters than smokers?

Join the Quitters and start your journey today! Here are some helpful tips to guide you on the road to a smoke free life…

  1. Decide to Quit

Write down all the reasons why you want to quit so you can refer to them in moments of weakness.

  1. Make a Date

Pick a date that you feel you will be relaxed and focused on quitting and then stick to it. Throw out all your cigarettes including any emergency supplies as quitting outright is more effective than cutting down gradually.

  1. Talk to Your Support Team

Friends and family can offer wonderful encouragement when trying to quit. Talk to your Haven Pharmacist for advice in our private consultation room or contact the National Smokers’ Quitline on 1850 201 203 for Free Support

  1. Avoid Your Triggers and Temptations

Know your trigger situations and prepare in advance. Many of our customers find it difficult to avoid a cigarette when drinking alcohol. Try to remove this trigger in the first couple of weeks/months after quitting.

  1. Learn how to cope with cravings

Cravings can occur frequently in the first week of quitting. Remember cravings intensify over 3 to 5 minutes then subside.

Practice the Four D’s:

  • Delay acting on the urge to smoke – it will pass
  • Deep breathing, calm your nerves
  • Drink lots of water, it will decrease the need for snacking
  • Distract yourself, do something else to take your mind off it
  1. Make positive lifestyle choices

Increase your level of exercise as this helps improve mood and manages your weight. Many quitters experience a spike in appetite after giving up initially, this is your body and mind adjusting to a habit and it will level out. Avoid snacking on sweets, choose healthy snacks like fruit and nuts instead. Go for a brisk walk or jog to get rid of your anxiety or stress – it will help your body and mind.

  1. Stay positive!

In moments of weakness remember why you are quitting and believe in the strength of your will power. Look back at the list of reasons you put together when you decided to quit. This will shift your focus back to the long term goal.

  1. Reward yourself

Cigarettes are expensive! Get a money box, work out how much money you were spending each week on cigarettes and put it away. Buy yourself something as a treat instead. The important thing is, be kind to yourself. Don’t see quitting as a punishment, see it as a liberation and a step on the road to a happy and healthier life!

For more information on starting your Smoke Free journey – contact your local Haven Pharmacy who will help you with your plan and start you on the right NRT products from Nicorette- we have a range of patches, gum, quick mist, lozenges and inhalers. Using these NRT products increases your chance of successfully stopping by up to 70%!

Sign up for your Quit Plan from the HSE and start your smoke free journey today to look forward to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Good luck, YOU CAN DO THIS!

 

 

Managing Menopause

 

Menopause affects people differently. Some may experience very disruptive symptoms. As well as managing symptoms, we also need to protect our overall health as menopause may bring increased risk of heart disease & osteoporosis.

Here are some tips that may help you whether you are at the early stages of PeriMenopause or the later stages of Menopause:

  • Talk about it! Speak with friends about your experiences and seek advice. A problem shared will help reduce stress. If you have a partner, make sure to tell them about what you’re going through.
  • If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco/nicotine products, quit. Smoking can bring about early menopause, as well as worsen symptoms.
  • Keep your weight at a healthy level – this is important to reduce your risk of heart disease and other illnesses, as well as reducing the severity of menopausal symptoms.
  • To keep your bones healthy and improve your overall health, exercise at least three times a week – choose weight-bearing activities like walking up & down stairs or dancing.
  • Give yourself your best chance of a good night’s sleep – many symptoms are worse at night so give yourself a head start by reducing your caffeine intake, avoiding screens at bedtime, and keep your bedroom cool.
  • Speak to your doctor about your symptoms – there are medications that can help.
  • A healthy, balanced diet, rich in fibre, healthy fats, dairy, protein and fruit & veg, will improve your overall health and help energy and sleep – check out our advice on Food & Menopause for specific foods that may help.

Hot Flushes are probably the first symptom of menopause we think of, it can also be one of the most disruptive. Some of these tips might help to relieve the discomfort but make sure to speak to your GP if symptoms become too disruptive…

  • Invest in a fan or two! A small hand-fan can make all the difference to help cool you down but it’s also worth adding a more substantial device to your night-stand. Or bedroom. There are many options of electrical fans available in a range of sizes.
  • Dress in layers so you can remove each one gradually if needed. Light, cotton-rich clothing is most comfortable.
  • Think about the fabric that surrounds your skin – from your clothes to your duvet cover. Avoid fibres that increase temperature, such as polyester. Opt for cotton, linen or bamboo when choosing bed sheets and nightwear.
  • Practice deep breathing and distraction during an onset of hot flushes – better again, try some mindfulness meditation or yoga. This will help you stay calm as you wait for symptoms to ease.
  • Boost your odds of a good sleep! Hot flushes often get worse at night so limit anything else that might effect your sleep – avoid screens at least an hour before bed, keep your bedroom for sleeping, not working or watching tv, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and reduce your intake of alcohol and sugar.
  • Keep a trigger diary – some people find that certain foods (such as spicy foods), drinks, or even situations, are particularly likely to bring about hot flushes. Keeping track will help you avoid triggers.

A healthy diet and plenty of water is essential for everyone. But during menopause, there are some foods that have been shown to improve or relieve symptoms. It’s also important we consider our overall health during menopause, when risk of other illnesses increases, notably osteoporosis

  • A healthy diet rich in high-fibre foods and low in fat will boost overall health. Avoid processed foods and refined sugar which can impact bone health. Never skip meals to make sure even energy levels.
  • Drink plenty of water – this can combat symptoms such as dryness, hot flushes and bloating. Staying hydrated also improves metabolism and energy levels.
  • Make sure to include Calcium-rich foods to prevent deterioration in bone health. Good sources include milk, yoghurt and cheese. If you prefer non-dairy, choose products that have been fortified with added calcium.
  • Get enough Vitamin D – not only does this improve overall health but also aids in symptom relief, including bleeding during peri-menopause. We should get enough Vitamin D from the sun, but food sources include eggs and oily fish.
  • Protein is essential for muscle and bone health, both which can be impacted by menopause. Choose healthy proteins such as fish and legumes.
  • Phytoestrogens found in some foods are believed to improve hormone balance during menopause. Sources include green tea, chickpeas, soya beans, peanuts, flax seeds and grapes.
  • Adding lots of fruits and vegetables to our diets not only ensures we get all the nutrients we need but studies also show it helps reduce menopausal symptoms and improves overall health.
  • Avoiding stimulants, such as caffeine and alcohol, will help sustain energy levels, improve sleep, and reduce stress.

Your local Haven Pharmacist can offer confidential advice & chat with you in private about your menopause symptoms.

Haven, you’re in expert hands.