Transform Your New Year with Haven Pharmacy!

Happy New Year Everyone!

January can be tough… Not only are we suffering the come down after the festive season and feeling the pinch, we are all generally trying to improve our health and well-being – which can sometimes feel like deprivation or punishment after all the indulgence. The good news is, it doesn’t have to feel this way. At your local Haven Pharmacy, you have access to expert advice on health, nutrition, smoking cessation and a range of topics for you and your little ones to get 2019 off to a great start!


Haven Health Check Service

This service includes cholesterol testing, blood glucose testing, Body Mass Index Measurement, Blood Pressure testing. We provide you with an easy-to-understand written record of your results that you can discuss with our pharmacist in confidence. We will tell you where you can get the right kind of help to improve your health and if there is anything you can do yourself to instantly start making a difference. (As this service uses very advanced technology we apply a small charge).


Free Blood Pressure Testing

High Blood Pressure puts extra strain on your arteries and your heart and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes. High Blood Pressure can also damage the eyes and kidneys if left untreated. In most cases, hypertension can be known as a ‘silent disease’ in that it may produce no symptoms even while it is damaging the body. This is why it is important to have your blood pressure checked periodically even if you feel fine. Managing high Blood Pressure is something we will be happy to help you with.


Weight Measurement and BMI

Talk to the experts in your local Haven Pharmacy about their weight measurement programmes and nutritional advice. Many of our pharmacies have programmes to regularly monitor your weight and BMI and all our staff will be able to provide you with expert advice on minor changes that can make a big difference to your health.


Smoking Cessation

Follow our 8 Step Guide to giving up smoking this year, put together by our experts. Our key message in relation to smoking cessation is to be kind to yourself, you can do it and never quit quitting!! This is one of the best things you can do for yourself this year. You will reduce your risk of cancers, heart problems and general health by kicking this habit.


Remember that decisions to improve your health are a great start to the new year. However, they are not limited to January. Set your goals, try to stick to them as best you can, but don’t give up if you feel like you’ve ‘failed’ –  you’re trying, therefore you are not failing! Everyone has difficult days, keep going and be good to yourself. At Haven, our priority is looking after you and your family.

Call into us today for some expert advice.


Understanding Asthma

What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition that causes coughing, wheezing, breathlessness, a tightness in the chest and a build up of sticky mucous in the airways. The severity of asthma symptoms varies. Another symptom of asthma is night time coughing with some sufferers also experiencing hoarseness.

Who is more likely to suffer from asthma?
Asthma usually starts in childhood. Children of mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to develop asthma. The exact cause of asthma is not known although there is a strong genetic link. If your parents have asthma then you may be more likely to suffer. Many people who suffer from asthma also suffer from hay fever and asthma symptoms can get worse during the hay fever period.
Ireland has the fourth highest incidence of asthma in the world. There are around 470,000 people who suffer from asthma in Ireland and there are two asthma related deaths in Ireland every week.
Over 90% of asthma deaths are preventable

What can trigger asthma?
There are a number of factor that can trigger asthma and these include:
– Smoking and tobacco smoke
– Dust
– Pollens
– Animal hairs
– Chest infections
– Some drugs such as anti- inflammatories and beta blockers. Check with your local Haven Pharmacy
– Moulds and fungal allergens
– Food allergies

How can you help your asthma?
– Stop smoking
– Avoid being exposed to passive smoking
– Reduce weight if you are overweight
– Avoid asthma triggers
– Improve your overall fitness although it’s important to consult your local Haven Pharmacist or GP as exercise can sometimes be a trigger
– Make sure there are no damp areas in your house.
– Avoid certain medications, consult your local Haven pharmacist
– Make sure you are using your inhalers properly

What is the correct inhaler technique?
Around half the difficulties associated with asthma are caused by poor compliance with medication use and by poor inhaler use so you need to make sure you have the correct inhaler technique. This includes:
– Make sure you know the difference between the two types of inhalers: preventers and relievers
– Always rinse your mouth with water after you have used your inhaler as this helps prevent fungal infections
– When using an inhaler, do not obstruct the inhalation with your tongue or teeth
– Do not breathe out through the inhaler, this is a common error particularly for younger asthma sufferers
– Do not take your inhaler apart
– If you are using easi-breathe inhaler devices make sure you close them after each inhalation – and before you take a second inhalation
– Make sure the inhaler is not empty
– Improve your breathing exercises. Try the Buteyko breathing exercises

When should you see your doctor about asthma?
Some asthma symptoms are also common in other chest conditions so it’s important you see your doctor first for an accurate diagnosis if you suspect you have asthma or you have any of the symptoms of asthma. Your doctor may prescribe inhalers and/or other medication such as steroids. Make sure you consult your doctor if you find yourself using the reliever inhaler frequently. You may need to have your medication reviewed or it may be just a simple matter of checking your inhaler technique.

Find out more about asthma and improve your inhaler technique by talking to your local Haven Pharmacist.

Self Care – Taking charge of your health

An exciting societal shift is taking place in relation to how we look after our health and well-being. Increasingly, we have people coming into our pharmacies to seek advice about minor ailments and treatment options from our healthcare experts. This year saw the launch of the #SelfCare initiative organised by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) and the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA). The event was held in light of new research that demonstrates consumers are increasingly willing to take charge of their health, leading to a more effective and efficient healthcare system. This initiative sets out a range of proposals for a more focused approach to self care which could lead to better patient outcomes and considerable savings for the State as turning to pharmacists for medical advice could help to reduce waiting lists at GPs and hospitals.

Research demonstrated by yesterday’s publication, which is based on research from Behaviour & Attitudes, illustrates that there is a clear desire from the majority of Irish people (92%) to be involved in their own self care. Furthermore, the IPU recognises that the role of community pharmacists is pivotal to the successful development of self care and its more widespread adoption.

  “Embracing a philosophy of self care can lead to real, measurable savings in healthcare expenses and better outcomes for patients. Pharmacists can play a critical, expanded role in this area, utilising our accessibility and professional capabilities to benefit patients in partnership with our healthcare colleagues and the pharmaceutical industry.”

-Daragh Connolly, Haven Pharmacist and President of the Irish Pharmacy Union


-Source: PSI Public Survey – Attitudes to Pharmacy in Ireland

“As well as the obvious benefits for individuals in taking a greater role in maintaining healthy lives, adoption of self-care principles could also help the State manage the financial challenges of an ageing population and strained healthcare budgets. The Government is clearly committed to encouraging people to take more control of their own health, as set out in the Healthy Ireland strategy. Our industry is committed to working with healthcare professionals, especially pharmacists who are often the first port of call for health information and advice, to support consumers to identify the most appropriate channel within the healthcare system.”

-Dave Barrett, Chairman of IPHA Consumer Healthcare Division

Where to Start

The healthy Ireland strategy is a major Government-led programme which aims to encourage and support everyone living in Ireland to have the best possible physical and mental health and wellbeing. The information will be a good foundation for people looking to self care. Furthermore, discussing your health with your local pharmacist, and building trust with them to offer expert advice for you and your loved ones, will put you on the right track to making self care a common aspect of your life.

Ask Your Pharmacist First

The purpose of this information and indeed this initiative, is to emphasise the changing nature of your local pharmacy. With continued hard work, pharmacies hope to be able to expand on their provision of treatments for minor ailments within local Irish communities. Self care is a preventative method of looking after your health – while you have it, so that you can avoid illness/disease later in life. Expert advice is available in all Haven Pharmacies across Ireland. Our pharmacists will take the time to listen and offer advice on how you and your family can self care.

 For further information:

Call into your local Haven Pharmacy to discuss self care and the role of the pharmacist for you and your family. Our pharmacists will provide great-quality, trustworthy information so patients can seek care at the appropriate level and enhance their independence within the healthcare system.

A full copy of Self Care – taking charge of your health can be downloaded from and

For further information contact:

Jim Curran, Director of Communications & Strategy, IPU, on 01 493 6401/086 264 0469


Philip Hannon, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, IPHA, on 01 663 0933/087 287 0891

Case Study: Swedish ‘Flu’ Map

The meeting heard about a unique Swedish IT-based self-care initiative that reaches 70% of the Sweedish population, which builds a ‘flu’ map and encourages patients to visit pharmacies for prevention and treatment. Jonas Vikman of LIF, the Swedish pharmaceutical trade association, on a unique predictive health campaign they ran with the retail pharmacy association in Sweden. Treat yourself with advice from your pharmacist analysed real-time data to track where people were accessing online information on colds and flu. From this, they built a ‘flu’ map of Sweden, which was constantly updated and was used to target online advertising on the benefits of visiting a pharmacy. It is estimated that the campaign reached 70% of the Swedish population. It also promoted a valuable public health issue by conveying the message that antibiotics were ineffective in tacking colds and flu.

5 Signs of Acne and How to Treat it

Acne Vulgaris is a common skin disease that develop in the pores around hair follicles and oil producing glands. If mainly occurs in adolescence, affecting approximately 80% of teenagers but can also affect people in their 20’s and 30’s.

What Causes Acne?

Acne results from blockages in the hair follicles caused by too much sebum (oil) being produced in the sebaceous glands, usually triggered by hormonal changes. Stress may increase the severity of an attack but there does not appear to be a definitive link between high sugar foods such as chocolate and the appearance of acne. Due to the hormonal changes, acne may be more evident around the time just before a woman’s period.

5 Signs of Acne

  1. Seborrhoea (Increased oil-sebum production)
  2. Pimples
  3. Blackheads
  4. Whiteheads
  5. Pustules and Possible Scarring

How to Treat Acne

The right treatment can reduce the risk of damage to the skin or scarring. Here are some of the treatments that you can use:

  • Medicated washes used twice daily can help to control excessive oil build up as well as killing the bacteria
  • Local treatments including Benzoyl Peroxide can help decrease excessive oiliness by clearing excess skin and reduce the presence of bacteria
  • Antibiotic treatments prescribed by your doctor include both oral medicines and topical preparations

Your Haven pharmacist can advise you on the medication you have been prescribed in terms of optimal usage of the medication and precautions to be aware of.

How to Prevent Acne

  • Cleanse skin morning and night with a mild cleanser (natural ingredients advisable)
  • Use water based moisturisers
  • Keep make up off the face
  • Keep hair clean and off the face
  • Eat healthily, exercise regularly and drink plenty of water
  • Aim to reduce stress
  • Wash hands frequently and try not to touch the face
  • Wear loose clothing if acne is affecting the torso in order to avoid sweating
  • Don’t pick spots, this can lead to unnecessary scarring
  • Follow any prescribed medication for the full course

When Should You See a Doctor About Acne?

  • If acne is severe
  • If months of over-the-counter (non-prescription) treatments haven’t helped
  • If the acne appeared after starting a medication. Some medications can result in acne or similar symptoms
  • If spots are becoming larger and more severe
  • If your acne is affecting your self-esteem

Contact your local Haven Pharmacist for more information about acne

2 Most Common Reasons People Avoid The Flu Vaccine

Getting your flu vaccine, is now more convenient than ever before.

Ever chat with your friends about the flu vaccine? Do you all get it? If not, why? Last year, the Health Service Executive issued a statement indicating that uptake on the vaccine was “nowhere near” where it ought to be. Why do you think that is? Flu is responsible for 200-500 deaths a year in Ireland and can even reach the 1000s in an epidemic. So why have we a low uptake on the vaccine?

Here’s the two most common misconceptions we find among men, and the truth behind them

  1. “I don’t need the vaccine, I’ve never had the flu”

Luckily many of us have never had the flu and if you are not in the at risk category getting the flu will probably just result in a few days in bed with fatigue, aches and pains, nasal congestion and a bad cough. However if you are in one of the at risk categories getting the flu can result in serious illness, in some cases require a stay in hospital and may even be life threatening. For this reason if you are in one of the at risk categories you should get the flu vaccine every year.

  1. “I don’t want the vaccine because it will give me the flu”

Impossible. The vaccine can’t give you the flu. The most common side effects will be mild and may include soreness, redness or swelling where the injection was given. Headache, fever, aches and tiredness may occur. Some people may have mild sweating and shivering as their immune system responds to the vaccine, but this is not flu and will pass after a day or so.

At Risk Groups

  • Persons aged 65 and older
  • Those with long term medical conditions such as diabetes and chronic heart, kidney, lung or Neurological disease
  • People whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment including all cancer patients
  • Persons with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
  • Pregnant women (at any stage in pregnancy)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
  • People with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs
  • Health care workers
  • Carers


Since October 2011, pharmacists in Ireland have been authorised to administer the seasonal influenza vaccine. These additions to the pharmacists’ role have been widely welcomed, with former Minister for Health and current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying that

“Pharmacy-based vaccine is an excellent example of safely making health services more accessible to patients”.

leo getting flu vaccine

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar getting his flu shot 

Reasons to Visit Your Haven Pharmacy

  • Expert Advice – Our Pharmacists are fully trained and qualified, but also our staff have been trained, so from the moment you walk in you are in safe hands. We provide you with all the information you need, answer any questions or concerns you may have and help you to set up your vaccine appointment
  • We Care – At Haven, we pride ourselves on ‘Care in the Community’ and providing you with ‘Expert Care, Made Personal’. Our priority is the health and wellbeing of the people in our local communities. We are happy to take time to explain anything to our customers and patients so that you are confident in making your own decisions
  • Convenience – Our Haven Pharmacies are embedded in local communities throughout Ireland. Many of our pharmacies provide the flu vaccine and all our pharmacists can give advice and information around the vaccine.

Find your local Haven here and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with health information, and the latest news from Haven pharmacy, your charity partners.



Blood Pressure – What you need to know!

Blood pressure refers to the amount of work that our heart has to do to pump blood around the body. It measures how strongly blood presses against the walls of your arteries (large blood vessels) during this process. If this pressure is too high it puts a strain on your arteries and your heart, which makes it more likely that you will suffer a heart attack, a stroke or kidney disease.

Circulatory system disease is the number one cause of death in Ireland. Treatment and detection starts with you.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (which is written as mmHg) and it is recorded as two figures:

  1. Systolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out
  2. Diastolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart rests in between beats

The normal level of blood pressure is usually about 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) written as 120/80mmHg.

“If you are over 30, it’s best to have your blood pressure checked every year”

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (medically known as hypertension) is when blood pressure readings taken on separate occasions consistently show your blood pressure to be 140/90mmHg or higher. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it means your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be. Thankfully, there are several ways to help reduce it which we will talk you through below.

Causes and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

There is often no single cause of high blood pressure and therefore it is really important to check your blood pressure readings regularly. A number of factors can combine to raise blood pressure, and high blood pressure tends to run in families. It is not a disease of a nervous, anxious person or someone with a stressful lifestyle – though these factors can sometimes impact a reading.

In some rare cases, where a person has very high blood pressure, they can experience symptoms including:

  • A persistent headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Shortness of breath

Measuring Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, even if it is not high. Watching your blood pressure while you are pregnant reduces your risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension. This can lead to a serious condition called pre-eclampsia which harms the placenta (the organ that links the baby’s blood supply to the mother’s).

Haven pharmacies offer blood pressure tests which only take a couple of minutes. We are always on hand to offer advice and measure your blood pressure.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure is medically known as hypotension. On its own, low blood pressure does not always cause symptoms. If you have low blood pressure, and you do not have any symptoms, you do not require treatment.

Causes and Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure within certain parameters is considered good. However, GPs will look out for symptoms of low blood pressure that may cause concern. These symptoms which can occur when standing up from a seated or lying position or after eating include:

  • Dizziness or light headedness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration and unusual thirst
  • Lack of concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue

Measuring Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure checks are available in your local Haven Pharmacy, GPs and health clinics. If you have one high reading, it does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. Blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day and night. Therefore, you will need to measure your blood pressure on numerous occasions over a certain period of time. You can purchase a home testing monitor from your Haven pharmacy which will allow you to take readings when you are relaxed throughout the day and night.

“The more blood pressure readings you have, the more accurate your diagnosis will be, particularly as blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day and night”


Treating Blood Pressure

There are a few key steps that we can all do to prevent high blood pressure:

  1. Know your blood pressure
  2. Aim for a healthy weight
  3. Reduce salt intake and processed food
  4. Eat more fruit and vegetables
  5. Drink less alcohol and caffeine rich drinks such as tea, coffee and soft drinks
  6. Increase exercise
  7. Relaxation therapies such as yoga, meditation and stress management
  8. Don’t smoke – smoking greatly increases your risk of heart and lung disease

Medication is also available for high blood pressure, this should be discussed with your GP.

How Haven Can Help

At Haven pharmacy, we are dedicated to improve the health and well-being of people within our local communities. We are independent with shared goals for the future of Ireland’s health. Drop into your local Haven Pharmacy to discuss blood pressure or to pick up a home blood pressure monitor.


What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs when more bone is naturally lost than replaced. This results in bones becoming more fragile and therefore breaks more easily. Osteoporosis is when bones are more porous and it affects 1 in 5 men and 1 in 2 women.

Signs & Symptoms

Often there are no signs or symptoms prior to a person having a broken bone. A DXA scan of your spine and hips is the best method for diagnosing osteoporosis and is highly recommended if you are at risk.

Risk Factors

  • Menopause
  • Genetics
  • Steroids
  • Most treatments for cancer
  • Coeliac disease
  • Anorexia/bulimia
  • Many medications such as Warfarin and thyroxine
  • Low calcium and vitamin intake
  • Physiological or psychological stress
  • Smoking and excess alcohol


Ensure to take the daily-recommended amount of Calcium and Vitamin D3, essential nutrients for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Calcium is found in foods such as dairy products, bread, nuts, oily fish, and dark green vegetables. Vitamin D3 can be gained from 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a day or foods such as oily fish, dairy products, and foods fortified with Vitamin D.

It is essential that calcium is taken in conjunction with Vitamin D3 as vitamin D3 is required to absorb calcium.

Weight-bearing exercise is essential at all ages to maintain and increase bone density and strength. Examples of weight bearing activities include dancing, walking, running, soccer, tennis, soccer, stair climbing, and weight training.

Ask Your Haven Pharmacist

There are a range of treatments available from your Haven Pharmacy to help with bone health. Please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven Pharmacist if you would like advice on which treatment is best suited to your needs.


Cervical Cancer Prevention – Get the Facts

As it’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, we try to explain in simple terms a little more about cervical cancer, the symptoms and causes. From the outset, it’s important to emphasise that there is no 100% effective method to prevent cervical cancer and therefore it is crucial that women continue to have regular cervical smear tests.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina). Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. Therefore it is vital that we educate ourselves and our children around prevention, vaccinations and testing.


As noted, cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages. If you do have symptoms, the most common is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, in between periods or after the menopause. Abnormal bleeding doesn’t mean that you definitely have cervical cancer, but it should be investigated by your GP as soon as possible. If your GP thinks you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist within two weeks.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a very common virus that can be passed on through any type of sexual contact with a man or a woman. There are more than 100 different types of HPV, many of which are harmless. However, some types of HPV can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix, which can eventually lead to cervical cancer.

Two strains of the HPV virus (HPV 16 and HPV 18) are known to be responsible for 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. These types of HPV infection don’t have any symptoms, so many women won’t realise they have the infection. However, it’s important to be aware that these infections are relatively common and most women who have them don’t develop cervical cancer.

Can I Prevent Cervical Cancer?

There are many ways in which you can lessen your risk of contracting cervical cancer, however, taking these precautions cannot fully protect you and it is pivotal that you continue to get cervical checks on a regular basis once you have become sexually active.

Most cases of cervical cancer are linked to an infection with certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can be spread through unprotected sex, so using a condom can reduce your risk of developing the infection. However, the virus isn’t just passed on through penetrative sex – it can be transmitted during other types of sexual contact, such as skin-to-skin contact between genital areas and by using sex toys.

Over the course of many years, the cells lining the surface of the cervix undergo a series of changes. In rare cases, these precancerous cells can become cancerous. However, cell changes in the cervix can be detected at a very early stage and treatment can reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing. An abnormal cervical screening test doesn’t mean you definitely have cancer. Most abnormal results are caused by an infection or the presence of treatable precancerous cells, rather than cancer itself.

The HPV vaccine works in the same way as other vaccines. The body reacts by making special proteins, called antibodies, which help the immune system fight and clear the HPV infection so it can’t cause cancer. The vaccine works best for girls and boys who have not been exposed to the virus through sexual activity although HPV vaccine can also be given to adults up to 26 years of age. In Ireland, the HPV vaccine is offered free of charge to all girls in their 1st year of second level school. The vaccine is given through injection into the upper part of the arm in two doses, six months apart, via a school-based programme. However, in specific instances some girls will be invited to special HSE clinics for their vaccines.

The vaccine is recommended by

  • the World Health Organization
  • the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • the National Immunisation Advisory Committee

You can reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer by not smoking. People who smoke are less able to get rid of the HPV infection from the body, which can develop into cancer. For more information and advice on giving up smoking, see our blog: Never Quit Quitting

If I Have Had the HPV Vaccine, Do I Still Need to Get Tested?

YES! The vaccine does not protect you against all types of HPV. The vaccine targets the main HPV types. If you have been exposed to the virus already, the vaccine may not protect you. It reduces your risk of cervical cancer but does not remove it. So, it is important that all women, aged 25 to 60, continue to have regular cervical smear tests.

Can the Vaccine Be Given to Boys?

Yes – HPV vaccines have also been shown to be effective in preventing infection in men. This is not recommended as part of the school programme in Ireland at present. If you wish to get your son vaccinated you will need to pay for the vaccine and the administration of the vaccine privately with your doctor.

The vaccination of teenage boys increases the preventative effects of the vaccine against other cancers, such as anal cancer, where HPV infection can be associated and also prevents HPV-vaccinated boys passing the infection to unvaccinated partners.

Getting Tested

In Ireland, the Government launched a national cervical screening programme in 2008 called CervicalCheck. This programme provides free smear tests to women aged 25-60. For more details about this service in your area, call 1800 45 45 55, visit or contact your local GP.

Sources of Information: The Irish Cancer Society and The NHS UK

For more information, you can contact the Irish Cancer Society on Freephone 1800 200 700 or visit

Cystitis and UTI’s

Cystitis is a common lower urinary tract infection (UTI). It is inflammation of the bladder or urethra and is more common in women than men. It is usually mild and resolves within 5 to 7 days without treatment with antibiotics. Cystitis can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, therefore our pharmacists would highly recommend that actions are taken to address the infection as soon as it presents itself.


There are a range of over the counter remedies available from your Haven pharmacy to help treat cystitis. Please speak to one of our trained advisers or ask your Haven pharmacist for advice on which treatment is best suited to your needs. Some of our pharmacies can carry out a urinary test which could save you time and money at your GP. Contact your local Haven for more details.


What are the Causes of Cystitis?

The most common cause of cystitis is bacterial infection. If bacteria reach the bladder, they multiply and irritate the bladder causing the symptoms of cystitis. A bacterial infection can be caused by not emptying the bladder completely. This is particularly common during pregnancy.

Less commonly, cystitis may occur as a reaction to certain drugs, radiation therapy or potential irritants, such as feminine hygiene spray, spermicidal jellies or long-term use of a catheter.


What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Pain, burning or stinging sensation on urination

  • A strong and persistent urge to urinate
  • Dark, cloudy, strong smelling urine
  • Pain low down in your tummy
  • Feeling a little unwell


These symptoms can be easily confused with other conditions so if it is the first time you are experiencing them, it may be advisable to consult with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

Seek advice from your Haven pharmacist in the following situations:

  • You are unsure if you have cystitis or not
  • Blood in the urine
  • Severe symptoms such as pain in your side
  • Fever
  • No improvement within a few days
  • Frequently recurring cystitis
  • You are a man or a pregnant woman with symptoms of cystitis


cystitis drink lots of water

The symptoms of mild cystitis usually clear up within a week without treatment. Drinking lots of water can help you to flush the infection out of your system.


Manage the Condition:

  • Take over the counter pain medication to ease the discomfort (ask your Haven Pharmacist first)
  • Drink plenty of water; 6 to 8 glasses per day might help.
  • Use a hot water bottle to ease pain and help inflammation.
  • Do not have sexual intercourse until cystitis has cleared up as this can make symptoms worse.


Preventing Cystitis:

  • Do not use perfumed soap, gels or talcum powder around your intimate area.
  • Have a shower rather than a bath.
  • Go to the toilet as soon as you need to urinate and ensure your bladder is completely emptied.
  • Always wipe your bottom from front to back after going to the toilet.
  • Stay well hydrated as drinking plenty of fluids will help to stop bacteria multiplying in the bladder.



Constipation is a common complaint. It occurs when bowel motions become harder or drier than normal and are difficult to pass or when you are having fewer bowel movements than your regular pattern.

Bowel habit is very much an individual pattern and there is a large amount of variance. For some people, a daily bowel movement is normal for others it may be every couple of days. Bowel habit is dependent on many factors including, diet, exercise, age and gender.

Haven pharmacists have put together some valuable information for you about the symptoms of constipation, how to treat it and when it is advisable to speak to your pharmacist or GP. Your local Haven pharmacist is always on hand to discuss any health concern you may have, drop in any time.

What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?

If you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions you may be constipated:

  • Do you often have fewer than three bowel movements in a week?
  • Are your stools often hard and dry, or small and hard?
  • Are you experiencing pain when passing stools?
  • Do you experience blood in your stools?

Symptoms of constipation include:

  • Straining with possible pain and difficulty passing
  • Stomach discomfort and bloating
  • Hard stools – specks of bright blood
  • Children may be irritable and have a decreased appetite
  • Less frequent bowel movements than your usual

With recurring constipation, the regular straining may cause people to develop haemorrhoids (piles).

What Causes Constipation?

Lack of fibre

  • Fibre is necessary to maintain a healthy bowel habit. The fibre helps lubricate the bowel by absorbing water and keeping the stool soft and easy to pass. Eating refined foods or processed foods can also lead to a low fibre diet and result in constipation

Lack of fluids

  • If you are dehydrated you will find it more difficult to pass stools as they are drier and harder. Babies are also at risk of constipation when they transfer to a solid diet or if they receive poorly prepared formula.

Lack of exercise

  • Immobility is a major cause of constipation (especially in the elderly). Sedentary lifestyles or changes in mobility due to illness or injury can result in a change in bowel habit. Even sitting for long periods of time such as flying long haul flights can result in constipation.


  • Medicine-induced constipation can be caused by the following: antidepressants, anti-Parkinson’s drugs, antipsychotics antihypertensive’s, pain killers (codeine), iron, epilepsy medicines, diuretics and antacids containing aluminium and calcium.


  • Hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause constipation. This is especially common in the third trimester.

Emotional distress

  • Worry, stress and depression can often cause constipation. For many people their digestive system is heavily influenced by their emotional states and in situations of high anxiety gut motility can be significantly altered.


  • Some medical conditions such as depression, bowel cancers, haemorrhoids (piles), diabetes and hypothyroidism can cause constipation.

Potty training

  • Children can become constipated during potty training due to anxiety and stress. In this time of change it is important to be supportive to your child and not put too much pressure on them to pass a bowel movement

How Can You Prevent Constipation?

Increase your fibre intake

  • The recommended intake of fibre is 30g per day. This can be found in whole grain cereals, breads, pasta and brown rice. Nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables are also a dietary necessity for a healthy bowel habit.

Increase your fluid intake

  • The recommended daily fluid intake is 1.5 litre or 6-8 glasses of water. Increase the water intake of breast fed and bottle fed babies for a short time until the constipation is gone

Increase your exercise

  • Regular exercise is important for a healthy body and a healthy digestive system. For the elderly or unwell this may be gentle exercise such as regular walking.

Don’t delay your bowel movements

  • By responding to “the call of nature” and trying to go to the toilet around the same time every day you can try to regulate your bowel motions – but it’s important to avoid straining.

Avoid caffeine – why?

  • Coffee can actually make stools harder to pass because it is a diuretic, so it draws liquid out of stools. If you are constipated, avoid coffee and other diuretics such as alcohol and caffeinated tea and cola.

What is the Treatment for Constipation?


Laxatives can be habit forming if taken regularly. Therefore, they should only be taken for short-term relief of constipation. Ask your Haven Pharmacist for advice on what is best for you. Laxatives should not be used for weight loss purposes and abuse can result in serious medical problems.

When Should You See a Doctor About Your Constipation?

  • If you see blood in stool – tarry, dark red or black
  • If you have constipation for seven days or longer – for no obvious cause
  • If your constipation coincides with weight and appetite loss
  • If you have pain on passing causing you to suppress reflex
  • If you are aged over 40 years old with sudden change in bowel habits -with no obvious cause
  • If you suspect depression