In the same week that Boris Johnson appears to be in the lead to become our next Prime Minister and half of the UK was flooded from the rain, find out all the latest health updates in our latest health news roundup.
Spending 2 hours outdoors can improve your health & happiness
New research from the University of Exeter (studying 20,000 people in the UK) has shown that spending just two hours outdoors with nature can boost your health and happiness. Up to 59% of people who participated in this study felt healthier and 23% were likely to feel more satisfied than those who never ventured outdoors.
The benefits of visiting a park, forest or on the beach are comparable to those achieved through exercise, researchers say.
Should universities warn student’s parents in a mental health crisis?
Up to two-thirds of students support universities being able to warn parents if students have a mental health crisis, an annual survey suggests. Suicide rates among students and mental health issues have become an increasing concern for universities in recent years.
The 2019 survey showed continuing concerns about students’ well-being – with just 18% saying they were happy, 17% saying their life was “worthwhile” and only 16% having low levels of anxiety.
Can you cut your car journey to help your respiratory health?
Leading Specialist Consultant Dr Ben Marshall has stated that healthcare professionals should encourage people to travel by foot to help improve their respiratory health.
With around 40,000 deaths a year in the UK linked to air pollution and associated health problems costing some £20 billion annually, he has suggested that we should be encouraged as a society to walk or cycle more.
Are you at risk of a tattoo or piercing infection?
Health experts have warned about the dangers of tattoos and piercings leading to infections. Currently, anyone in the UK can set up a parlour and offer procedures without proper training, a report from the Royal Society for Public Health states, and the NHS agrees, stating higher standards were long overdue.
British Heart Week 2019 takes place from 7th to 15th June. To mark this event we offer a round up of all our heart health articles. From performing CPR to keeping your blood pressure in check, to dealing with a heart attack whilst on our own, to crucial screening to avoid heart attack in the young. We have informative videos to watch plus the latest app to let you know where to locate your nearest potentially life-saving defibrillator. Let’s start looking after our hearts.
Heart attacks and cardiac arrests and how to survive
In the UK there are over 200,000 hospital visits each year
due to heart attacks: that’s 1 every 3 minutes. However, the outlook for
surviving heart attacks and recovery is improving. In the 1960’s more than 7
out of 10 heart attacks in the UK were fatal. These days at least 7 out of 10
people survive. In fact, there are an estimated 1 million people alive in the
UK today who have survived a heart attack.
How to manage having a heart attack when you are on
According to the British Heart Foundation, someone is taken
to hospital in the UK with a heart attack every three minutes. However, many
people will be on their own when they have a heart attack. It is vital to know
how to help yourself if you are alone and think you’re having a heart attack.
Follow our instructions from recognising the warning signs and ignoring urban
Why defibrillators are so important and how to use
With around 30,000 people each year suffering a sudden
cardiac arrest it is imperative that bystanders know how to respond. A cardiac
arrest can affect anyone at any time – from young children at school, to adults
when they’re at home, work or out in public places. Without the correct
treatment, cardiac arrests are often fatal with The British Heart Foundation’s
figures revealing that only one in ten victims survive. However, the chance of
surviving a cardiac arrest jumps from 6% to 74% if the casualty is in a
shockable rhythm and a defibrillator is deployed within 3 minutes, so it is
important you know how to use one.
In a recent survey from the British Heart Foundation, they
found that 1 in 3 adults would not know how to help someone if they were
unconscious and not breathing. 96% of them would call an ambulance, but the
vast majority would not have a clue to help whilst waiting for the ambulance to
The UK survival rates radically lag behind the rest of
Europe. It is hoped that adding first aid to the curriculum in English Schools
will help. However, the key development is that more people undertake some form
of practical or online first aid training and are able to start CPR as soon as
possible if someone collapses and stops breathing.
CPR is one of the key areas of first aid that many people
are still confused by. What does it
mean? How do you do it? When is it needed? As a first aid trainer and trained nurse, I
know just how vital those first minutes can be, so here’s a quick rundown of
everything you need to know about how to give CPR to a baby or child who isn’t
High blood pressure or hypertension is often an underlying
condition, closely associated with serious health issues such as heart attacks.
It affects an estimated 17 million people in the UK. What exactly is high blood
pressure and what causes it? Plus how to reduce high blood pressure, and consequently
reduce the risk of having a heart attack.
Sudden heart attacks in the young and the simple
screening to avoid them
Shocking statistics reveal that heart attacks are not a
preserve of the old. Every week in the UK, 12 seemingly fit and healthy young
people, aged 35 years and under, die from Young Sudden Cardiac Death. In 80% of
these cases there were no symptoms. A simple free screening can however flag up
any cardiac abnormalities and conditions which could lead to sudden cardiac
death. The majority of those tested receive the all clear. However one in 300
tested by the screening programme will be flagged as having a potentially
life-threatening condition. The conditions can then be treated either with
lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
Award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs –
Please visit our site and learn more about our practical and online courses. It
is vital to keep your skills current and refreshed.
It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated
Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical
emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036
for more information about our courses.
First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated
first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical,
health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to
your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance
and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is
not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on
One in 15 people in the UK have diabetes. This includes one
million people who have Type 2 but
haven’t yet been diagnosed. In the UK, someone is diagnosed with diabetes
every two minutes.
According to the
World Health Organization (WHO), there are around 422 million people are living
with diabetes worldwide. Between 1980 and 2016 the number of people with
The rise is partly attributed to increases in the number of
people who are overweight – including an increase in obesity – and in a lack of
The largest numbers of people with diabetes were estimated
for the South East Asia and Western Pacific Regions, accounting for
approximately half the diabetics in the world.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of diabetes in the
world. There are 1.6 million deaths directly attributed to diabetes each year.
The majority of these deaths happen in low and middle-income countries.
What is it?
Diabetes is a chronic condition where someone is unable to
adequately regulate their blood glucose levels. The body produces the hormone
insulin which helps the body burn off sugars. If someone’s body has problems
with insulin production, they will develop diabetes. If glucose can’t get into
your cells, it begins to build up in your blood.
Having too much glucose in your blood causes many different
Diabetes is caused by insufficient insulin or ineffective
insulin. There are two main types – Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 can occur in any age group but is most commonly
diagnosed in children. It is not generally linked to lifestyle or weight but affects
insulin production. Type 1 diabetics usually control their diabetes with
injections of insulin
Type 2 Diabetes
This is the more widespread type. It tends to develop later
in life, and is often linked to obesity. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body
is unable to make enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not
work properly (known as insulin resistance). Type 2 Diabetes is controlled by
diet, exercise or oral medication – or a combination of all 3.
In fact, it has been suggested that it is possible that Type
2 diabetes can be prevented: by 30
minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet
can seriously reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Some patients are diagnosed as being pre-diabetic, or having
insulin resistance. Often this diagnosis can be reversed with lifestyle
changes, modifying the diet, exercising and losing weight.
Diabetes can also occur in pregnant ladies – gestational
diabetes. This usually resolves post birth.
In the short term this build-up of glucose leads to diabetes
symptoms, like having to wee a lot.
In fact, the term ‘diabetes’ which was coined by The Greek
physician Aretaeus of Cappodocia (81-133 A.D) translates as “flowing
through” in Greek. In ancient times, doctors would test for diabetes by
tasting urine to see if it was sweet.
Other symptoms include being really thirsty, and feeling
extremely tired. You can also lose weight, be more prone to infections like thrush
or suffer from slow healing wounds.
Over a longer time and left untreated the high glucose
levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, eyes, feet and kidneys.
Diabetes is an important cause of blindess, amputation, kidney failure, vision
loss, nerve damage, heart attack and stroke.
With diabetes, early detection, diagnosis and intervention
is key. The longer a person lives with undiagnosed diabetes the more serious
their health outcomes are likely to be. Happily, with the right treatment and
care, many people with diabetes live a healthy life.
First aid treatment
for diabetes is more likely to be necessary for low blood sugar levels than
high. This is because high blood sugar levels usually build over a few days or
weeks, whereas low levels can come on very fast. Blood sugar can drop very
quickly if the person has missed a meal or done any strenuous exercise.
Blood glucose levels can drop very fast if someone who is
diabetic has skipped a meal, taken a lot of exercise, if they are ill, or have
given themselves too much insulin. If this is not treated quickly they can
rapidly start to lose consciousness and fall into a diabetic coma. This can be
Signs and symptoms
May be aggressive
Could appear slightly confused or drunk
They are pale, cold, shaky and sweaty
They have shallow, rapid breathing and a fast,
They could have seizures.
Sit them down and give them a sugary drink, or glucose
sweets (not a diet drink).
If they begin to feel better, give more drinks
and some food, particularly biscuits or bread to sustain their blood sugar – a
jam sandwich is great.
If they don’t feel better within 10 minutes or
they begin to get worse phone the emergency services.
If they lose consciousness but are breathing,
put into the recovery position and phone the emergency services.
If they stop breathing, prepare to give CPR.
Do not attempt to give an unconscious casualty anything to
eat or drink.
Never give them insulin as this will further lower their
blood sugar and could kill them.
If hypoglycaemia was
not the problem and you gave a sugary drink, you are highly unlikely to have
made anything worse. If you had misdiagnosed and their levels were high not low
(extremely unlikely), the glucose you have given them is tiny compared with
that in their blood. If they do not feel better once you have given the sugary
drink – always contact their diabetes nurse specialist or doctor for advice and
encourage them to get checked.
Even if someone appears to have recovered, ensure they
receive urgent medical advice. This is particularly important at night, as
insulin will still be active in the blood stream while they are asleep and the
blood sugar levels will therefore drop again and they could drift from sleeping
High Blood Sugar
if you are looking after someone who develops weight loss, excessive urination,
thirst and tiredness, these could be symptoms of hyperglycaemia or an
indication of Diabetes and they should visit their family doctor as a matter of
Phone for an
ambulance: if they deteriorate quickly and begin to get drowsy, their
breath smells of pear drops, and they start to lose consciousness.
Hyperglycaemic State (HHS) is a serious condition that can occur in people
with diagnosed Type 2 diabetes who
experience very high blood glucose levels (often over 40mmol/l). It can develop
over a course of weeks through a combination of illness (such as infection) and
Stopping diabetes medication during illness (such as
swallowing difficulties or nausea) can contribute, but blood glucose often
rises despite the usual diabetes medication, due to the effect of other
hormones the body produces during illness.
disorientation and, in later stages, drowsiness
and a gradual loss of consciousness
HHS is a potentially
Hospital treatment for HHS aims to correct dehydration and
bring blood glucose down to an acceptable level by giving replacement fluid and
insulin by an intravenous drip.
It does not usually lead to the presence of ketones in the
urine, as occurs in diabetic ketoacidosis(DKA), which is why it was previously
referred to as HONK (hyperglycaemic hyperosmolar non-ketotic coma).
Ketones develop when the blood glucose level is high due to
lack of insulin which is needed to allow glucose to enter the cells for energy.
Because people with Type 2 diabetes may still be producing
some insulin, ketones may not be created.
How you can help:
Encourage the diabetic person to take their
diabetes medication, even if they feel unwell and can’t eat
If they monitor their blood glucose, they may
need to test more frequently
They should contact their healthcare team if
their blood glucose levels remain high (>15mmol/l)
They should drink plenty of unsweetened fluids
If they can’t eat, replace meals with snacks and
drinks, containing carbohydrate
Suggest they contact their Diabetes Nurse
Specialist for advice if they are unwell
We include diabetes on most of our courses and run
specialist courses covering this subject too. Please join one of our practical
or online first aid courses and learn more about this and so many other life
It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated
Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical
emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036
for more information about our courses.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
It is highly recommended that you attend a practical or
online first aid course to learn how to help in a medical emergency.
First Aid for Life and onlinefirstaid.com provides this
information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical
advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made,
or actions taken based on this information. The best way to be prepared for
action in an emergency is to attend a practical first aid course.
For more information please visit: www.firstaidforlife.org.uk or contact
email@example.com 0208 675 4036
Coughing is a natural reflux that helps keep your airways clear. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at some of the common causes of a lingering cough. While having a cough is quite normal and usually nothing to worry about, you should see a GP if you’ve had a cough for longer than three weeks.
Could it be cold or flu?
Have you experienced cold or flu-like symptoms recently? This could be the source of your pesky cough. A cough is a symptom of a cold which can persist after other symptoms have passed. This cough could be dry or chesty. Chesty coughs are characterised by the phlegm you produce when you cough. Other cold symptoms include sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat. Coughs are also a common symptom of the flu. The difference between a cold and the flu, however, is that contracting the flu is more abrupt and symptoms can also include aches, fever, chills and headaches.
Could it be a chest infection?
A persistent cough can be a tell-tale sign of a chest infection. Chest infections are a form of respiratory infections that affect the windpipe and lungs. They are caused by an inflammation in the lungs which results in a build-up of fluid and mucus. The main types of chest infections are bronchitis and pneumonia. Besides a persistent cough, other symptoms can include breathlessness, chest pains, rapid heartbeat and fever. For more information about the signs and symptoms of a chest infection, I’ve written an in-depth chest infection guide for Medicspot.
Could it be smoking?
Amongst other consequences of continuous tobacco use is the development of a ‘smoker’s cough’. Long-term smoking can damage your cilia – the tiny hair-like structures that help clear toxins out of your body. This results in a build-up of toxins and mucus, causing a persistent cough. If you are a smoker, you can spot ‘smoker’s cough’ if it lasts more than 3 weeks. Quitting smoking won’t just clear up your cough, it can also have a wide range of health benefits. Speak with your pharmacist for helpful advice on how you can kick the habit.
Could it be asthma?
The root of your cough could be asthma, a chronic condition that affects as many as 5.4 million people in the UK. Asthma can cause breathing difficulties when the airway constricts due to triggers like exercise, cold air, allergens and infections. Triggers can vary depending on the individual. Frequent and non-productive coughing – especially at night – could be a sign of asthma. For more signs and symptoms of asthma, you can read my asthma guide for Medicspot.
Could it be tonsillitis?
Is your cough accompanied by a sore throat, fever and trouble swallowing? Tonsillitis could be to blame. Tonsillitis can be a viral or bacterial infection that leads to the inflammation of the tonsils. A myriad of symptoms, including coughing and a sore throat, can be caused by tonsilitis. Having a sore throat in the absence of a cough however, actually makes the diagnosis of bacterial tonsillitis more likely. If your sore throat persists for more than 48 hours, it is recommended to see your GP. For more information on tonsillitis, Dr Yogeswaran has written a tonsillitis guide which covers everything from signs and symptoms to treatment and prevention.
Could it be laryngitis?
If you feel like you’re losing your voice, laryngitis could be causing your cough. Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx or voice box that causes the throat to be irritated and swollen. It can come on suddenly following a cold, overexertion of the vocal cords, smoking, gastroesophageal reflux disease or throat infection. A persistent, irritating cough is characteristic of laryngitis. Other symptoms include: a hoarse or lost voice, sore throat and pain when swallowing. Dr Faiza Khalid has written a helpful laryngitis guide to help you better understand the signs, symptoms and prevention methods.
Coughing can also be caused by a number of other health conditions that aren’t listed here. If you have been coughing for three weeks or more, you should speak with a GP.
Having a regular sleep pattern can keep metabolic syndrome at bay
Having a regular sleep schedule could be protective of metabolic health. A new study has shown that when a person has a regular pattern of going to bed and waking up, there is a lower chance of developing risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome.
Risk factors include; high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol. The researchers in the latest study looked at the relationship between variability of sleep pattern and the development of metabolic risk factors in 2,003 people aged between 45 and 84 years old.
Researchers have stated that Doctors and the public are at odds over the symptoms of constipation, leaving some people without the advice or treatment they need. A recent study found that medics believe infrequent bowel movements are an important sign whereas less than a third of the public does. The King’s College London team said a new definition for constipation was needed, based on the experiences of patients.
Employers should encourage staff to exercise at lunchtime – as health officials say it will benefit them and their workforce too. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has issued guidance on how to get Britons fitter and leaner, saying an active lifestyle boosts physical and mental health – and can cut down on sick days caused by illness, stress, depression and anxiety.
In the mid 90s a team of researchers from a private healthcare company in America made a startling discovery. They asked over 17,000 people about their experiences of abuse and trauma in childhood, and followed them over 15 years. They called what they were measuring Adverse Childhood Experiences (or ACEs) and included trauma directly affecting a child, like abuse or neglect, as well as trauma affecting the environment, like witnessing domestic violence.
The people they studied were not from disadvantaged communities; they had jobs, college degrees and good healthcare. What they found changed our understanding of the impact of trauma.
For one thing, ACEs were much more common than anyone had imagined. More than two thirds of people had at least one ACE and over 10% had four or more.
Having a history of ACEs was strongly linked to the 10 leading causes of death in the US. For example, a person with four or more ACEs had two and half times the risk of getting a respiratory disease like COPD, were four times more likely to get depression and seven times more likely to be an alcoholic compared to a person with no ACEs. A person with seven or more ACEs had triple the risk of lung cancer and three and half times the risk of ischemic heart disease.
A person with six ACEs was likely to die twenty years earlier than someone with no ACEs.
The more ACEs you experienced as a child, the more likely you are to take risks with your health: smoke, drink and take illegal substances. But even when you control for lifestyle choices, the risks are still much higher the more ACEs you’ve experienced.
Scientists believe that the relationship between ACEs and health problems later in life is linked to our automatic response to danger. When you’re exposed to a threat your body prepares itself to deal with danger; known as the fight, flight or freeze response, your heart rate increases, your pupils dilate and your body is flooded with adrenalin and cortisol. After the danger has passed, your body and all the stress hormones return to their normal state. Scientists believe that repeated triggering of this threat response in childhood causes tissue damage, inflammation and wear and tear on the body. It changes immune system functioning and even determines the way the brain develops so that parts associated with decision making and problem solving are underdeveloped whilst those parts responsible for emotional regulation are overactive.
If you have a high score it shouldn’t feel hopeless. We’re beginning to understand more about the things that make someone resilient and there are things you can do to help.
Learn to meditate. The brain has plasticity, which means the more you use certain parts, the more they develop. Regular meditation practice can help you respond to stress without automatically triggering the fight or flight mechanisms.
Seek support to help you cope with the trauma. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member can help. Visit the NAPAC and the NSPCC for more advice and support.
Have you missed the latest health news this week (27-31 May)? Don’t miss out, catch up on all the health headlines now.
GP surgery closures in UK hit all-time high
An investigation by the medical website Pulse has found 138 surgeries closed in 2018, compared with 18 in 2013. Data released by 186 out of 217 clinical commissioning groups and health boards in a freedom of information request suggest that GP surgery closures across the UK have reached an all-time high, affecting an estimated half a million patients last year.
Smaller surgeries, serving 5,000 or less were the worst affected in 2018, accounting for 86% of closures.
Scientists have suggested that ultra-processed foods, such as chicken nuggets, ice cream and breakfast cereals have been linked to early death and poor health.
Two studies in France and Spain showed that those eating more ultra-processed food had worse heart health and risked cardiovascular disease. Find out more about the studies
Are dating apps users more likely to have unhealthy attitudes to weight?
A US study based on 1,700 adults has revealed that those who use dating apps may be at risk of using unhealthy habits to control their weight.
Vomiting, laxative use and fasting were the most common in the study, but researchers insist a direct link couldn’t be made at this stage and that further research was needed to confirm the relationship between using apps and weight control.
Chief medical officer considers taxing unhealthy food
England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies says she is considering recommending a tax on unhealthy food, including added sugar in baby food and high-calorie food such as pizza and cakes.
She hopes this will help persuade parents to buy more fresh fruit and vegetables, as she has been asked to urgently review what can be done to meet the government’s target of halving childhood obesity by 2030.
Sepsis is responsible for 52,000 deaths in the UK each year.
A distressing 250,000 people contract the condition, which can have life
changing implications; such as amputations, internal organ failure and brain
has sepsis been in the news?
early, the outcome from sepsis is good. It is the delay in treatment that can lead to spiralling of the condition
resulting in multi-organ failure and potential death. The Sepsis Trust claims
that improved national awareness could save as many as 14,000 lives a year.
early symptoms are often easy to miss and often there is a delay in Emergency
Services, GPs and hospital staff recognising the condition. This delay has
major implications and often the window of opportunity when antibiotics can
treat the sepsis, is missed.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis arises due to the body’s abnormal response to an
infection. The immune system usually works to fight any germs (such as
bacteria, viruses and fungi) and infection in the body. However, for reasons
that are not fully understood, sepsis results in the immune system going into
overdrive and attacking health organs and other tissues.
What damage does it
This inflammation causes injury to the body’s tissues and
organs. The initial, localised infection spreads into the blood stream and is
circulated around the body spreading and increasing the damage. This life-threatening breakdown in circulation can
lead to organs all over the body being affected, including the brain, lungs,
heart, skin and kidneys.
What has septicaemia
got to do with it?
Sepsis is sometimes referred to as septicaemia or blood
poisoning. However, septicaemia is an old, now defunct term
which implied there was something we could measure in the blood which indicated
sepsis – this is not the case. Sepsis is
the preferred and more accurate term for the condition.
What causes sepsis?
Sepsis can be triggered by an infection
in any part of the body. The most common causes of sepsis are the following;
Pneumonia (or a chest infection),
Intra-abdominal infections (such as a burst ulcer
or hole in the bowel),
Skin infections (an infected cut or bite),
A wound from trauma or surgery,
Soft tissue infections (a leg ulcer for example).
Most cases are caused by common
bacteria which wouldn’t normally induce illness. Trauma is responsible for 2-3%
of reported cases.
Is it linked with meningitis?
Meningitis causes less than 1% of adult
cases of sepsis. However, it is the cause in around 10% of cases in children.
Whilst most cases of meningitis are
viral and therefore not life-threatening (or sepsis-inducing), a minority are
bacterial infections and can lead to sepsis. Both conditions are serious and so
it is important to be able to recognise common early signs and symptoms.
What is sepsis in more detail?
Sepsis is a massive reaction that
damages blood flow all over the body. The immune system releases chemicals causing
tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to leak fluid into the surrounding tissues. This
causes inflammation which can ultimately lead to reduced blood flow to vital
organs and organ damage.
The chemicals damage the capillary walls, which leak even
more, causing dangerously low blood pressure. Blood clots try to repair the
damage, but many break loose, causing blockages and further impairing blood
flow to tissues.
If the cellular metabolism is damaged
in this way and blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels, the amount of
blood and oxygen reaching the body’s organs is reduced and prevents them
functioning properly. This is known as septic shock.
What needs to be improved nationally?
College of Nursing held a conference in May 2019 in which they stressed the
need for an urgent dissemination of a national Paediatric Early Warning Score
to improve identification of the signs of sepsis in children. Currently,
between 1000 and 4000 children die each year from the condition. An adult
symptoms checklist is already used by the NHS, but trusts use individual
systems for children which results in an inconsistent and unreliable approach
A symptoms checklist
for adults already exists but NHS trusts often use their own systems for
children. The children’s checklist would help medics spot when a youngster is
Other signs, such as urination, skin colour and rash.
The Sepsis Trust claim
that patients presenting early being around half as likely to die than those presenting late. This emphasises
the importance of awareness.
deteriorates in children far quicker, and therefore it is particularly
important for those in childcaring positions to be fully informed of the signs
What would I feel like if I had sepsis?
Flu-like symptoms are common,
Chest infection or gastroenteritis type symptoms,
Feverish and shivering – although sepsis can cause an abnormally
high or low temperature.
Feeling extremely unwell.
In more extreme cases,
you may experience:
Disorientation and confusion,
Nausea and vomiting,
Cold, clammy, pale or mottled skin.
Lethargic behaviour and fatigue,
Mottled, bluish or pale skin,
Fits or convulsions,
Failure to pass urine,
A rash that doesn’t fade when
pressed – NEVER wait for a rash, it is often a very late sign and may not show
Any baby or child under 5 years old who is not
feeding, vomiting repeatedly or hasn’t had a wee or wet nappy for 12 hours,
might have sepsis.
do I need to remember?
If you think you have these symptoms, or feel that
something isn’t right, seek urgent medical advice (e.g. call NHS 111 or go into
hospital). It is vital that you trust your instincts and get help to fight the
infection as fast as possible.
Written by Emma
Hammett for First Aid for Life
aid training tailored to your needs – Please visit our site and learn more
about our practical and online courses. It is vital to keep your skills current
First Aid for Life is
a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers
are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who
will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at
our venue or yours.
First Aid for life
provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute
for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any
diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.
carers are a lifeline to those they look after and are of huge benefit to
society as a whole. A staggering 7 million of us in the UK are carers and so
the relief to NHS services is truly incalculable.
carers and enabling them to care effectively and lovingly is vital. Our home
carers are our forgotten workforce and the mainstay of many people in society.
It is incredibly important to ensure that our carers are themselves cared for;
their wellbeing is fundamental to ensuring they can continue to sustain the
lives of some of the most vulnerable in our communities.
Who counts as a carer?
may well be a carer without realising it.
a carer does not necessarily mean you are caring for someone twenty-four hours
a day. You may be doing less hours but still being of critical support to
following criteria can help you recognise your role. According to the NHS, if
you perform any of the following, you are technically a carer:
looking after someone because they are ill, elderly or disabled.
helping someone with washing, dressing or taking medicines.
with shopping, cleaning and laundry.
someone to pay bills and organise finances.
emotional support by sitting together to keep them company or watching over
someone if they can’t be left alone.
carers are often under-recognised and suffer many hardships, often including loneliness,
is worrying for the health of the seven million of us who care. On top of this,
there is also a dreadful knock on effect harming the vulnerable people they
care for. Ill physical or mental wellbeing in a carer can – understandably – lead
to neglect of the person requiring care. In extreme cases, elder or other types
of abuse occur.
It is clear that carers
require far more help than they currently receive. The facts are stark:
of carers are entitled to financial state support yet don’t claim it.
of carers suffer mental ill health due to their caring role.
[For more information about the difficulties
of caring, and to read a personal care story, do have a read of our article Challenges facing carers.]
Key strains for carers and
ways to help:
Physical respite (taking
(governmental and charitable).
Emotional support (helping
the carer’s wellbeing).
Charities that can help.
not underestimate the restorative power of taking a break from your caring
duties especially – but not only – if you are living with the cared-for person.
65% of older carers (aged
60-94) have long-term health problems or disabilities themselves. Scarily, one third of
these carers say they have actually cancelled treatment or an operation
themselves because of their caring responsibilities.
allows the carer to take much-needed time off. It can prevent exhaustion and illness in the
carer. It can be hard for a carer to do this. But it’s crucial that carers look
after their own health too. This means occasionally prioritising your own needs
and trying to avoid stress or guilt whilst doing so.
time to oneself and indeed, time off for holidays, are not luxuries but an
essential component of the working year.
respite could be for a few hours or even a few days. The cared-for person could
have a professional carer with them during your absence, or they might enter a
care home temporarily.
possibilities to consider:
Homecare with a paid
Short stay in a care
Friends or family
covering you for a short time.
A respite holiday.
NHS Advice on receiving
council-aided carer respite
assessment will then need to be conducted on your own needs as a carer, as well
as the person you’re looking after.
local council may fund your respite, but even if you are willing to pay
yourself, the assessment is useful in determining what type of care is best
needed for your cared-for person. To request an assessment, contact your local
council or carers’ centre.
assessment will involve someone from the council (or associated organisation)
asking you questions about how you’re coping with caring (physically, mentally)
and how caring has affected your work, free time and relationships. This
assessment is mostly done face to face and lasts around an hour.
To prepare for the
assessment, bring your:
GP name, address & phone number.
Contact details of anyone coming with you.
The details of the person you care for
(including NHS number if possible).
During, give as much detail as possible about how your life has
been affected by caring. The NHS has provisions to help and can do so best if
it has all the information possible.
A carer’s assessment could result
in a recommendation of the following:
carer to take a break from caring whilst someone else fills in.
help with taxi fares if the carer doesn’t drive.
gardening and housework help.
about benefits for carers.
the carer with links to local support groups.
Other respite options
Day care centres:
are often run by councils, or local charities. These offer people a chance to
socialise and enjoy some activities such as teas or arts and crafts. It can
give the carer a break for a day.
which offer these services include Age UK
and Contact the Elderly.
Paying for care
carers are staff who are either live-in carers (providing 24 hour support) or
regular carers (one day a week, or four times a day etc.).
to find a carer:
council’s directory of homecare agencies (check their website).
list of local homecare agencies and national homecare organisations.
Homecare Association’s list of approved homecare agencies.
Trust’s homecare services.
UK offers some homecare services for paying clients.
you feel able to ask them, getting friends or family to stay with the cared-for
person for a bit can be a wonderful (and free) way to get a break. Make sure they have all the information about
the cared-for person with them before this takes place. It might be best to
have a shorter, trial run of a few hours before committing to a longer break.
will allow you, the carer and the cared-for person to predict any difficulties
and create a friendly rapport.
Charities offering respite
following charities offer supportive holidays for free or at a discounted rate
for carers and the cared-for. You may like to make further inquiries with them.
for dementia patients and their carers).
holidays for elderly or disabled people).
has planned breaks or grants and can help low income families referred by a
social worker, GP, health visitor or charity.
grants low income families with disabled children holidays.
Sitting services: temporary
services are either free or significantly cheaper than others. Contact your
local carers service,
Self-payment for respite care: you can
help the person who needs care find the financial means to pay for this. This
could be done through:
Benefits (Attendance Allowance)
There’s no way
around it; caring is hugely expensive. Respite care costs £700-800 a week or up
to £1500 for staying in a care home or having a live-in carer.
This is worth considering as a staggering 35% of carers are not claiming for benefits they are entitled to!
If you care for at least 35 hours a week and are over the age of
16, you may well be entitled to Carer’s Allowance which would provide you with
£64.60 per week. This is true even if
you are not related to and/or do not live with the person you are caring for.
Visit the government website, talk to
your local GP or council, or ring one of the helplines listed below to get
further advice & guidance on this. Make sure you receive what the
government wants to give you.
Relocating practical tasks can help
you save time and conserve some of your much-needed energy. The internet could
be a huge helping hand here. You might like to consider doing the following:
An online food shop – these will save your
time and energy. You can even schedule repeat orders weekly or monthly.
Order repeat prescriptions using NHS services.
Although, you will want to speak to your GP before doing so, and do not rush
into using an online pharmacy service, as these could prove risky as we
describe in our report here.
Use an app called ‘Jointly’, run by Carers UK,
which helps you stay connected you’re your friends and family. https://www.jointlyapp.com/
The charity Marie Curie has a
wonderfully extensive page with details on wellbeing of carers to help with practical
aspects of care such as how to help someone go to the toilet. It is a wealth of
useful and under-shared information:
Being a carer is stressful: you are
responsible not only for your own wellbeing, but the livelihood of another
vulnerable individual. Carers UK have a page that can help you to manage your
stress levels – mindfulness, meditation, respite and exercise are all
Healthy eating can also do wonders in
this field. Staying in contact with friends and family, or going to local
community events will give you time out and hopefully some conversational
therapy time, too! Don’t be afraid to let others know of the difficulties you
face as a carer. So many of us have had caring experience that others are bound
to sympathise directly. Even if they haven’t, they will want to hear and
relieve some of your burden for you.
Some carers feel pressure not to
complain about their position, because they may feel lucky in comparison to the
unwell person they are caring for. But it is absolutely normal to find caring
extremely taxing. Find support in others if you can.
Carers should consider counselling if
they feel especially stressed, depressed or overburdened. It’s a good idea to
make sure your GP is aware of your caring duties and the potential for it to
affect your wellbeing.
If you have Carer’s Allowance, or
assist in caring for an elderly person, you will qualify for a free flu jab
each Winter. It is strongly recommended that you take this opportunity to
prevent you or the cared-for person developing an illness.
in case of an emergency
It is important to
think about who you could contact if an emergency prevented you from caring for
the looked after person.
A relative, friend
or neighbour would be ideal. It would be sensible to approach this person and
agree the arrangements with them.
Have access to the
property (door keys, or knowing the code to a safe).
relationship with the looked after person or have met them, in order to
understand the care required for a short while.
Have a set of
notes (electronic or a physical copy) about what to do. This could include
medication information as well as any other essential caring information.
that have specific help for carers
There are more of these than you might
have thought. They offer services from phonelines (listed below), social
events, financial support and more. The charity may have a local branch in your
area for you to contact.
All UK employees are legally
guaranteed a 20-minute break per 6 hour shift they work.
You may not see it this way, but
caring is a job and therefore carers should be taking regular breaks of some
The best way to make sure you don’t
skip a break is to embed it in your schedule. Plan some time to relax and get
away from your role at least once a week. Making this part of your routine will
help ingrain the habit and decrease the chances that you neglect this time much
needed to look after yourself.
Some suggestions are:
Weekly exercise class, such as gentle yoga.
Weekly coffee date with friends.
Scheduled time each evening to relax with a
book or watch television.
Whatever you choose to do, providing
you prioritise yourself in these moments – doing something enjoyable (a hobby
or spending time with friends) or simply de-stressing alone – you will benefit
from the relaxation and maintain your ability to care well.
of a debrief
Professional councillors, medical
staff and many others have ‘debrief’ sessions in which they can speak with
colleagues about stressful conversations they have had in their jobs.
Find someone, a professional, charity
volunteer or friend with whom you can share your daily experiences with
someone. Even if you don’t think you need this, it is of great help to have
someone who knows what you are going through and who could be of support to you
if it became necessary. Speaking about your caring experiences with an exterior
person can help you see your situation in a more objective manner.
If you are feeling isolated, remember
help exists to be used. From face to face local guidance (both governmental and
charity run) to the numerous telephone help lines, these exist to help people
Don’t underestimate the value of your
work and please feel entitled to make use of the resources designed to help you.
In doing so, you’re looking after
yourself and safeguarding the person you care for.
Written by Emma
Hammett, CEO of First Aid for Life
First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not
in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not
responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this
information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to
understand what to do in a medical emergency.
a first aid course now – the skills you learn could equip you with the
knowledge to save your child’s life! https://www.firstaidforlife.org.uk
Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning fully regulated and Ofqual approved
first aid training company. www.onlinefirstaid.com are the leading UK
online first aid training providers to allow you to learn these vital skills
when it suits you
“Mindful eating is eating with intention while paying attention.” – Katie Konersman RD, CDE
If you are present in the digestive health community or simply into diets, you might have heard of something called the Low-FODMAP Diet. The diets abbreviation stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. The fancy names simply refer to a collection of food molecules that can be poorly absorbed in some people. The low-FODMAP diet has increasingly became acknowledged by the masses. Like all diets, what are truths, falsehoods, and risks it may hold?
In the 90s, the term ‘“low-FODMAP,” did not exist. Doctors were recommending a diet in fewer shorter-chain carbohydrates, including lactose, fructose, sorbitol, and fructans. Such carbohydrates have been known to cause gastrointestinal issues. In the early 2000s, the term low-FODMAP arose in a hypothesis paper testifying that foods that contained short-chain carbohydrates were poorly digested. Indigestion would active the GI tracts nervous system and result in IBS like symptoms. The hypothesis was grasped by researchers and soon enough became a recommended diet for those who experience chronic digestive problems.
Not an IBS Healing Diet
Every diet portrays its self like the end-all-be-all solution to your IBS. The low-FODMAP diet may come across like this by the way some dietitians play it up. To take into consideration, several individuals have received relief from this diet, but it does not work for everyone. Low-FODMAP was created to decrease IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. 80% of IBS cases are from microbiome disturbances such as SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth). Although low-FODMAP foods reduce feeding bad bacteria in the gut, it is almost impossible to completely starve the bacteria from following the low-FODMAP. It is claimed that an overload of the bacteria, for example, candida, will thrive off of sugars. The statement is true, especially when consuming lactose, fructose, sorbitol, and fructans. It should be known that candida will feed off of any sugar natural or not. Not consuming any sugars is unrealistic in the mass majority of people. The overall purpose of the low-FODMAP diet is to reduce feeding overgrown bad bacteria to help with digestion. To help SIBO induced IBS, antibiotics are the route to go as well as your own personalized diet.
Dietary therapy is an adequate solution for a digestive condition. Like some therapies, a backlash may occur. In spite of the low-FODMAP diet is extremely beneficial to one’s journey with IBS, several IBS patients have followed this diet for years and still experience symptoms. How so?
One hypothesis is, the diet itself in longer-term usage is nutritionally restrictive. Cutting out foods high in micronutrients like gluten, dairy, some nuts, and veggies, are taking away patients main sources of vital vitamins for good health. To prevent this from happening, follow the guidelines of the low-FODMAP diet. Patients should only follow the diet for 2-6 weeks at most. After this time period, people should reintroduce moderate/high-FODMAP foods back into their diet and reduce known problem foods.
To continue on, FODMAP foods are high in pre-biotics, which feed your gut bacteria. Highly restricting them can result in starvation of your good bacteria. You can take a probiotic (good bacteria supplement), but you may be simply giving your body what it does not need. When it comes to the low-FODMAP diet and using its tools correctly, remember to do both steps in the diet (eliminating and reintroducing phase) as well as eating enough macro and micronutrients to support overall digestive health.
The low-FODMAP diet is a revolutionary step in the right direction when it comes to healing yourself from a functional perspective. The diet can be healthy and beneficial if done in the right way and circumstances. If you find yourself still experiencing IBS like symptoms after following the diet, don’t worry, there are more options! Personally, I followed the diet close to perfect and my digestive issues were still prominent in my daily life. My next step was to get food sensitivity tested. I am highly prone to inflammation when I consume oats and almonds, but according to the low-FODMAp diet, these foods are perfectly safe. I could have only known this if I got tested. Another action was seeing a functional GI doctor. Physicians like these are more compassionate when it comes to IBS related issues and want to find the cause rather than mask symptoms. All in all, do not worry if the low-FODMAP diet did not work for you or the next claimed “gut healing diet”. You call the shots for your health and any type of recovery is a journey.
The low-FODMAP diet is shown to help patients who suffer from chronic long-term digestive issues. The diet is a basic layout for possible high inflammation foods and may not be suitable for all. Abuse with the diet is prevalent in people who do not follow it’s intended length. This may elude to nutritional deficiencies and other GI issues. It is important to talk with your healthcare provider about how your diet may affect your IBS.