The Health section of the BCCH website
is sponsored by FirstMed Centers.
Allergy at a Glance
While spring bursts forth with a profusion of nature at its most wonderful, for allergy sufferers it means pollen from trees, grass, grain, and weeds, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, itchy red eyes, a runny or stuffy nose, and serious investment in tissue supplies. A variety of tests now exist to diagnose allergic conditions such as the skin scratch test or blood tests.
For detailed information about symptoms, control tips, treatment options and a pollen calendar, please visit this page.
Ticks are small spider-like insects that feed by inserting their mouths into the skin of a host and slowly taking in blood. During the feeding process they can transmit infections through their saliva. The tick´s saliva also has a numbing effect and so the bite can go unnoticed. In Central Europe two most common diseases transmitted by ticks are Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme Disease.
Ticks are most commonly found in forests and woodland areas especially where there is heavy undergrowth. There is a small risk that ticks may be present in your garden. Those at highest risk are those who go walking or camping in wooded areas and all those who consume unpasteurised dairy products.
To find out more about ticks and how to prevent these diseases, please click here.
Love your Heart
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the western world. Screening before symptoms develop gives the chance to identify those at high risk and prevent disease through lifestyle change and targeted treatments.
Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute events that are mainly caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart or brain. The most common reason for this is a build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels that supply the aforementioned organs. The major causes of cardiovascular disease are tobacco use, physical inactivity, stress and unhealthy diet.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol level being the result of those fatty deposits can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won't know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.
• Blood pressure. Regular blood pressure screenings start in childhood. Adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every year. You may need more-frequent checks if your numbers aren't ideal or if you have other risk factors for heart disease. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury.
• Cholesterol levels. Adults should have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years starting at age 20. You may need more frequent testing if your numbers aren't optimal or if you have other risk factors for heart disease. Some children may need their blood cholesterol tested if they have a strong family history of heart disease.
• Diabetes screening. Since diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, you may want to consider being screened for diabetes. Talk to your doctor about when you should have a fasting blood sugar test to check for diabetes. Depending on your risk factors, such as being overweight or a family history of diabetes, your doctor may recommend first testing you for diabetes sometime between ages 30 and 45, and then retesting every one to three years.
Know your numbers! Click here for more.
Flu vaccines 2012-2013
Influenza vaccines contain non-living, inactivated versions of the flu virus. Although it is not possible to catch the flu from this inactivated vaccine, latent other pathogens in the body may emerge due to the immunological changes as a result of receiving the vaccine, which the patient may feel has caused flu-like symptoms.
In the 2012-2013 flu season, a new trivalent (3-component) inactivated vaccine has been introduced. The recommended influenza A (H1N1) and B(H3N2) strains are chosen by committees at the World Health Organization and EMA based on which strains were most common in the previous flu season. For the 2012- 2013 season, the recommended blend of vaccine is different from previous vaccines.
To read more about the vaccines and FirstMed's related services, please click here.
Physicals for kids
Opinions vary regarding how often your school-age child should have a complete physical. As a minimum, most pediatricans recommend a well-child exam before your child enters kindergarten and before entering high school. An additional examination is usually required for participation in a school sport.
Regular physicals are a great way to protect your child’s future health. They offer the chance to:
- Keep your child safe and healthy
- Learn if a disease or condition is affecting your child
- Learn about health issues faced by school age children and adolescents
- Discuss health topics you might feel uncomfortable to discuss face to face with your child
- Check on your child’s vaccination status
- Teach your adolescent to take responsibility for their future health
More on the topic can be found here.
The importance of Vitamin D
In the past, lovers of sunshine have been warned on numerous occasions about limiting the hours of tanning and protecting themselves from the damaging rays of the sun. Though the results of the anti-sun campaign are promising, there is an unexpected side effect to the crusade against skin cancer: apparently our body does not get enough of the ever so important Vitamin D.
In the past few years, researchers have established that Vitamin D – synthesized from the rays of the sun and found in few foods – plays an important part in the prevention of many more illnesses than previously thought.
Please click here to read more.
Many of us experience this state of low energy and weariness with the arrival of spring that is commonly known as spring fatigue or spring fever. However, it is not categorised as a diagnosed illness and its causes have not yet been fully determeined.
What are the reasons?
- According to some experts, hormone balance may play a role. This theory suggests that the body’s serotonin (aka. the happiness hormone) reserves empty out throughout the winter, because its production heavily depends on daylight. This leads to many feeling exhausted.
- Vitamin deficiency. The decline in our vitamin D reserves can also be attributed to low hours of sunshine. Besides this, the vitamin level of fruits and vegetable available in the winter are not equal to those we consume in the spring and summer, which could also lead to a vitamin deficient state.
How can we cure it?
Since spring fever is not an illness, it is not surprising that there is currently no medical treatment available to cure it. However, by introducing some minor changes, the period of exhaustion can greatly be reduced.
- Your eating habit is very important: try to achieve a diet, where one-third of your consumption comes from fresh vegetables or fruit.
- Exercise more! Any movement will do and it’s especially good to go outdoors thus you can help your vitamin D reserves fill up as well.
- Consume a lot of water – about 1.5 to 2 liters per day – and drink herbal tea every day for a few weeks.
- Cold showers are very refreshing. Start your day by gradually decreasing the temperature of the water!
- Other effective solutions against fatigue include sauna, massage, a few drops of refreshing essential oil in your home or taking a scented bath at the end of the day.
If all the above does not make you feel better, be sure to have yourself screened by your physician. Such a test can reveal illnesses with similar symptoms such as thyroid diseases, chronic vitamin D deficiency or anemia.
Fight the flu!
There are so many things to enjoy about this time of year, what with the autumn leaves flying around in the wind, and the spirit of Christmas slowly coming to life again. And as for the stuff that’s less great about the chilly season – here’s some advice.
Influenza vs. the common cold
Both illnesses are caused by viruses, and neither is treated with antibiotics. Symptoms are similar, including a runny nose, a sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. But generally, flu symptoms are much more severe. You might get stuck with a temperature of up to 40 C and a headache for a few days, followed by weakness and fatigue along with a cough that can go on for awhile. Influenza is also very contagious, spread through the air by droplets released with sneezing and coughing. Lovely. As with the common cold, you can also catch it by touching a contaminated surface and then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth.
There are a few things you can do to try and escape that nasty virus. Try getting a yearly flu shot by mid-December. It’ll provide you with 90% protection from the Influenza A and B strains, and even if you do still get the flu, the symptoms are generally less severe, and don’t last as long. Another thing you can try is just being ultra-hygienic and washing your hands all the time. If possible, you should also avoid crowds and being in closed spaces with ill people. And if it’s you who’s sick, make sure you cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid crowds, use disposable tissues and wash your
hands frequently to avoid spreading the virus.
November Deal at FirstMed
FirstMed want to do more than just give some advice though. Visit them for a flu shot in November, and you will only pay for the vaccine! Call them for an appointment for you and your family, and take a look at their website for more info on the flu and their services.
How much do you know about…?
Although breast cancer is among the most frequent types of malignant tumors, if discovered early and treated right, it can have a 5-year survival rate of 98 percent. Take our quiz to learn a little bit more about this disease on the occasion of International Breast Cancer Awareness Month by finding the number out of the six that does not fit in any of the five statements; and do not forget to regularly check your breast for early signs of this devastating disease, which already caused perhaps evitable sadness for so many families.
Numbers: 1, 2, 20, 32, 50, 75
A) A woman’s risk of breast cancer will increase approximately ...... times if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
B) About ...... per cent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
C) Although all women are at risk, a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. More than 80 percent of women with breast cancer are over age ...... at the time of diagnosis. Women younger than 30 or in their thirties account for less than 5 per cent of the cases.
D) Komen, one of the largest and best-funded breast cancer organisations in the world, recommends all women have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at ......, and every year starting at 40.
E) In about ...... percent of the diagnosed cases breast cancer patients are men.