What is Hay fever?

Medically known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, hay fever is a respiratory system disorder and common allergic reaction to pollen, with over 15 million sufferers in the UK alone. "...Over 15 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever..." Pollen is the fine powder produced by trees, grass, flowers and plants to fertilise other plants. When these tiny particles come into contact with the cells that line your mouth, nose, eyes and throat, they can irritate them and trigger the release of histamine which is an allergic reaction.

Hay Fever Symptoms can include:

  • frequent sneezing

  • Runny or blocked nose

  • Itchy, red or watery eyes

  • An itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears

  • Cough, caused by postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose)

Although less common, you may also experience

  • The loss of your sense of smell

  • Facial pain (caused by blocked sinuses)

  • Headaches

  • Earache

  • Tiredness and fatigue

Depending upon the kind of pollen you're allergic to, you may notice symptoms at different times:

  • Tree pollen causes hay fever from March to early May

  • Grass produce pollen from late May to earlyAugust

  • Other plants can become your enemies as late as October

...While some symptoms may be less common and not as mild, they can interfere with your daily lives and activities such as work and school and disrupt your sleep...

Why does my hay fever sometimes get worse?

Hay fever symptoms are likely to worsen if the pollen count is higher.  Weather conditions affect hay fever symptoms as warmer sunshine causes more pollen to be released and higher wind conditions cause the pollen to be carried in the air further and faster.  On days in which the wind is low, it’s not as hot or days when it’s wet and rainy; your symptoms will improve as there is less pollen in the air.

Does everybody get hay fever?

No, but hay fever is likely to affect those with a family history of allergies particularly eczema or asthma.

What can I take to help with my hay fever?

If you suffer from any of the hay fever symptoms there is nothing to worry about as in most cases, you can get medication over the counter where you can also speak with a pharmacist who can advise on treatments for you or your children. If you struggle more than most however, and can’t control your hay fever symptoms with over the counter treatment then speak with your GP who can advise you further or other treatments.  

...Histamine is a substance released by the body in allergic conditions...

Treatments for hay fever symptoms include:

Antihistamines

Antihistamines treat hay fever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it thinks it is under attack. This prevents the symptoms of the allergic reaction from occurring. Antihistamines are usually very effective at treating watery eyes, itching and sneezing but may not be as effective when it comes to clearing a blocked nose. Over the counter Antihistamines include Benadryl, Zirtec and Clarityn. Dr Yasmin Conway advises that antihistamines can cause drowsiness and this is particularly the case with chlorphenamine (Piriton). The newer antihistamines cause less of this effect. If you suffer this side effect yuou should not take the medication if you are driving or operating potentially dangerous machinery.

Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays e.g. Beconase

If you suffer more with nasal symptoms, nasal sprays may be better for you as they have anti-inflammatory effect. When pollen triggers your allergic reaction, the inside of your nose becomes inflamed; corticosteroid can reduce the inflammation and help prevent the symptoms of hay fever. Theses sprays also tend to easy eye symptoms, although it is not clear how. Dr Yasmin Conway advises that it takes several days for these sprays to have a full effect. It can take up to 3 weeks in some cases so it is best to start to use them a few weeks before the hay fever season starts, if you are a regular sufferer. Remember to use the spray each day if you are a hay fever sufferer.

Decongestant Nasal Sprays e.g. Otrivin

Many hay fever sufferers will have nasal symptoms which include a blocked nose. Nasal decongestant sprays can help alleviate a blocked nose as they reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose which helps open the in the nasal passage making it easier to breath. These can only be used for 5 days continually so are  best for people suffering intermittent rather than daily symptoms.

Eye Drops e.g. Opticrom

Eye Drops are available from you pharmacist to treat symptoms affecting your eyes such as itchiness, redness, and watering. These eye drops also contain antihistamine to help reduce the inflammation in your eyes, which will relieve the symptoms.

Grazax

This is a course of tablets containing grass pollen extracts. It is a form of immunotherapy exposing you to small amounts of the substance you are allergic to in order to reduce the allergy. Normally a specialist would initiate this treatment as the specific allergy must first be diagnosed with a positive skin prick test or blood test.

Tips for avoiding pollen:

The pollen count is generally given with weather forecasts. A high pollen count is above 50. During this time, it may help to:

  • Stay indoors with windows closed as much as possible

  • Avoid areas where grass is being cut and avoid large grassy areas

  • Consider wearing wrap-around sunglasses outdoors and even a pollen filter for your car

  • After being outside it is also worth washing your hair and showering

 

Don't let hay fever ruin your summer! Speak with your GP or book an appointment today on 020 7638 2999

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition caused through the build-up of scar tissue to the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects your nerve cells, in the brain and/or spinal cord.  This damage slows down and blocks the messages between your brain and body resulting in the in the loss of muscle control, vision, balance, and sensation leaving many sufferers feeling numbness, pins & needles and tightness in the chest. MS affects around 100,000 people in the UK, with diagnosis being made to people between the ages of 20 – 40; it affects approximately three times more women than it does men. No one knows what causes Multiple sclerosis but we do know that sufferers are not born with it.  

Are there different types of MS?

Yes. MS has four primary forms. The most common form is called -

Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS).

People with this form of MS tend to have attacks of which the symptoms then fade either partially or completely. This form of MS affects approximately 85% - 90% of sufferers. Other forms include -

Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS)

Progresses slowly yet steadily from the beginning. Symptoms stay at the same level of intensity without decreasing, and there are no remission periods. Sufferers of PPMS tend to experience a continuous worsening of their condition.

Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)

The form that follows RRMS. SPMS sufferers worsen from relapses without tending to recover leading to the build-up of disability. On average, around 65% of people with relapsing remitting MS will develop secondary progressive MS 15 years after being diagnosed.

Progressive-Relapsing

Progressive-Relapsing is a relatively rare form of MS. People experience their condition as steadily worsening, yet also experience clear relapses in the form of acute flare-ups. In some cases, there is no recovery from these flare-ups, although in other cases there is recovery. The difference between progressive-relapsing MS and relapsing-remitting MS is that in the former type, the periods between relapses involve continuing progression of the disease.

What are the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

Symptoms of MS can vary from person to person and can even change over time. The most common early symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased coordination
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Blurred or Double vision

As the disease progresses, symptoms can further develop causing muscle spasm, difficulty controlling urination, or problems with cognition. MS is usually a mild disease but in some cases people can lose the ability to write, speak or even walk.

What are the stages of Multiple Sclerosis?

MS affects everyone differently so there is no way of identifying the particular stages a sufferer will go through.  Some symptoms of MS in people can be far more severe than in others. Some may be mild, brief, or long lasting and can appear in various combinations.

What are the tests for Multiple Sclerosis?

There is no single test for MS. Doctors use a medical history, physical exam, neurological exam, MRI, and other tests to diagnose it. There is also no cure for MS, but medicines may slow it down and help control symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy may also help.   MS can be a challenging and frustrating condition to live with but new treatments over the past 20 years have considerably improved the quality of life of people with the disease. If you’re worried or want to speak with someone about MS you should speak with your GP who will be able to give you further advice.  

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, rectal cancer, or bowel cancer, is a cancer from uncontrolled cell growth in the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine), or in the appendix. It is most common in people over the age of 45 with one in 18 people in the UK developing bowel cancer at some point in their lives. It is more easily and successfully treated if diagnosed in its early stages.

The Causes

The exact causes are not known although certain factors make the cancer more likely:

  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of fibre, fruit and vegetables in your diet as well as processed red meats
  • Previous cases of colorectal cancer, chronic bowel inflammation (e.g. ulcerative colitis) or adenomatous polyp.

The bowel forms part of our intestines and is divided into two parts, the small bowel and the large bowel. The large bowel is made up of the colon and rectum with cancer occurring in either of these areas.

The Symptoms

  • Blood or mucus in the stools (although blood is often from piles)
  • Anaemia
  • Diarrhoea or constipation lasting longer than normal
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of weight
  • Fatigue

Often these symptoms are similar to a number of other minor conditions but if you do have any of these symptoms you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis is made by a variety of tests including the appearance of the stools, a rectal examination, a faecal occult blood test, a barium X-ray, colonoscopy and a biopsy. The faecal occult blood test (which looks for traces of blood in the stools) is not by itself sufficient to produce a diagnosis of bowel cancer but is a popular and effective first step in the diagnostic process.

Treatment

If bowel cancer is diagnosed, in about 60% of cases surgery will be required to remove the malignant section of the bowel. The earlier the disease is detected the better the chances of successful treatment. Regular screens improve the chances of detecting the disease at any early stage.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with approximately 48,000 women contracting breast cancer in Britain each year. The majority of breast cancer cases affect woman over 50, but younger women, and in rare cases, men, can also get breast cancer.

The primary risk factors for breast cancer are women and those of an older age. Other potential risk factors include –

  • Lack of childbearing or breastfeeding
  • Higher hormone levels
  • Diet and obesity
  • Family history of breast cancer

Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms but the first noticeable symptom is typically a lump that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue (although most breast lumps are not cancerous) or thickening of the tissue itself.  More than 80% of breast cancer cases are discovered when the woman feels a lump which can be located in lymph nodes in the armpit. Lumps aren't the only sign of breast cancer, however, and early detection can save your life.

There are several types of breast cancer which can develop in different areas of the breast. Often, breast cancer is divided into two types –

  • Non-invasive breast cancer which is found in the ducts of the breast and has not developed the ability to spread outside the breast.
  • Invasive breast cancer which has the ability to spread outside the breast.

The earliest signs of breast cancers are detected by a mammogram which creates an image of the breast by passing X-rays through its tissue at a very low dose. Mammogram can detect tumours before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection. Annual mammograms are a necessity and should be routine for all women over 40 but all adult women should also carry out a breast self-examination at least once a month.

Self-examinations should be carried out in the shower, in front of a mirror and lying down where you can familiarise yourself with the look and feel of your breasts.

If you find a lump you shouldn't panic, schedule an appointment with your doctor or for further information call Dr Kelly’s on 020 7638 2999.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 16 million people have Alzheimer's disease and although it develops differently for every individual, there are many common symptoms. There is no cure for the disease which sadly worsens as it progresses, eventually leading to death. Early symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related' concerns or manifestations of stress. In the early stages, the most common symptom is a difficulty in remembering recent events. Other symptoms can include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or at work.
  • Confusion with time.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • A withdrawal from work or social activities.
  • Changes in mood and personality. 

When Alzheimer's is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with tests that evaluate behavior and thinking abilities. Unfortunately, there is no simple, reliable test for diagnosing the disease, so the diagnosis is usually based on ruling out other conditions first. If your GP suspects Alzheimer’s, they can often carry out a brain scan which includes:

  • Computerised axial tomography (CT or CAT) scans  are a way of taking pictures of the brain using X-rays and a computer.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans create an image of the brain using radio signals produced by the body in response to the effects of a very strong magnet contained within the scanner.
  • Single photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) scans look at the blood flow through the brain, rather than at the structure of the brain. 

If you’re worried about your health and think you or someone else close to you may have Alzheimer's you should visit and speak with your GP.