Croup usually affects younger children between the ages of six months and three years old and causes inflammation of the windpipe, the airways to the lungs and the larynx. It can cause the sufferer to have a hoarse voice and is characterised by a distinctive barking cough; it can also cause problems with the respiratory system and make breathing hard.
Croup can be easily diagnosed by your local GP and is usually treated at home, although if your child’s symptoms are severe and they are finding it hard to breathe it is recommended that you take them to your nearest A&E department.
Croup is commonly caused by a viral infection; up to 80% of cases are triggered by the parainfluenza virus, but in some cases croup can be caused by an allergic reaction.
In the majority of cases, croup will get better in a matter of days without any special treatment, but it is recommended that you sit your child upright and comfort them if they are distressed as crying can cause the symptoms to worsen.
In more severe cases, the patient may be treated with steroids to reduce the inflammation in the throat.
Croup tends to affect more boys than girls, and it is possible that a child can experience coup more than once during their childhood.
Croup is spread in much the same way as a common cold, unless the condition is caused by an allergic reaction and is therefore hard to prevent. The best defence against the condition is to have good hygiene practises such and washing your hands and wiping down surfaces with a multi-surface cleaner.
Child’s routine vaccinations also help protect against croup including the MMR jab and the 5-in-1 vaccine.
In a recent study which was carried out by the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine has unsurprisingly revealed something that many parents have tried to tell their offspring time and again, that smoking the drug marijuana has serious implications for them in later life. It is well known that the problem usually starts in youth and it is then when the brain is developing. Clearly it is in adolescence which is the period of development when marijuana use can take its biggest toll.
Marijuana is also an addictive drug and the longer that a person uses the drug, the more difficult it becomes to come off it. This of course is controversial, but the so is smoking cigarettes which are also addictive. People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using, their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful.
Of course many of us can use substances or become engaged in activities without any significant problems. Some people, however, may experience damaging psychological as well as physical effects should this, what is at this stage is a habit, becomes an addiction. This is very often referred to as being dependent and this can lead to becoming tolerant to this, leading to the person needing more regular amounts of whatever they are addicted to; withdrawal from this now becomes difficult and unpleasant. So the parental just say no, is still the best advice.
Picture: Dave H
Whether you have short or long hair, you’ll need to use a hairbrush at some point to keep your locks under control and in good condition. It can be pretty confusing to be faced with several different types of hairbrush in the shop though, from ones that look normal to things with no handle and bristles all over the place.
A paddle hair brush is one which is wide and flat looking. They’re good for any type of hair, but are best used to detangle tough hair and to smooth it out, as they cause the hair cuticles to lie flat.
A radial or round hair brush is one which has a cylindrical shape with bristles all around the head of the brush. There are several different types of these brushes made from different materials including timber and ceramic, with either natural or nylon bristles. They are great for getting curls in your hair using a hairdryer. Some have vent holes on the barrel to allow the heat to circulate more easily, creating more volume.
If you have very thick and coarse hair, you’ll want a basic crush with wide spaced nylon bristles; ones with dense bristles have trouble moving through the hair. One with balls on the ends of the bristles make sure that they are gentle on your hair.
Picture: Wolfgang Lonien
One of the great success stories over the last few years has been the dramatic improvement in the rate of survival for men who are diagnosed with testicular cancer. Now around 96% of men who contract the cancer survive it, completely cured of the disease, forty years ago fewer than 70% survived.
The success has been put down to breakthrough research at Cancer Research UK that developed the drug cisplatin and it is this that is used for this cancer as well as some other such as bladder, lung and ovarian cancers. It is a chemotherapy drug and is a clear success and a shining example of what research can do. Cancer Research UK hopes to bring forward the day when they are able to beat all types of cancer.
Each year around 2,300 new cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed in the UK and it is unlike many other cancers which strike at a relatively young age and it is the most common cancer in men aged 15 to 49. The symptoms of the disease are usually detected by feeling a small pea sized lump on the testicle in the early stages of the problem, not all lumps are cancer but they should always be checked out.
Everyone learns differently with differing results, and revision is, by definition, a re-learning process. Information that has already been taught is read, checked or used again in a way that helps it sink in to the brain.
Many students develop some form of individual note taking which can be adapted for revision. As you read, make a summary that captures the content of a paragraph with a couple of words that are meaningful to you. This process is about summarising the information sensibly, so if the paragraph contains lots of useful information, you will find yourself using several short lines of notes.
Hand drawn spider diagrams or mind maps can be very useful here if a student is a visual learner.
Reading out loud and recording information
Many students learn better when they hear information, rather than seeing it written down. If this is the case for you, read sections of your text book into a voice recorder and play it back, or even summarise the text out loud or into the recorder. In fact, if you choose this method, it’s best not to just read word for word because it’s easy to fall into a trance without taking in information; better to listen passively and perhaps take notes.
Good essays rely on good understanding
These methods can also work during contact time with teachers and lecturers. At university, many courses have lectures as a core learning style and teach degree essay examples. Students who learn best by listening are at an advantage here. However, those who can take notes should not be disadvantaged at all.
Food Poisoning is a common illness and is caused by eating contaminated food; it usually lasts for 1 to 3 days after eating the contaminated food. Most people get better without any medication by simply resting, drinking lots of water and eating easily digestible food.
The symptoms of food poisoning include:
• Stomach pain
There are certain foods that are more vulnerable to contamination and are the most common for causing food poisoning, these are:
• Poultry and raw meat
• Ready to eat foods such as sliced meats, pre-packed sandwiches and soft cheeses
• Dairy products such as milk and eggs
Treating food poisoning
Most people who suffer from food poisoning recover in a few days without medication. Here are some of the things you can do to relieve the symptoms:
• Drink plenty of water
• Eat easily digestible food until the symptoms are gone
• Rest, your body will recover quicker if you take some time off
Food poisoning can sometimes have more serious effects on a person, especially if they have a weakened immune system or are more vulnerable to infections. You should contact your GP if you have any of the following symptoms:
• Vomiting for more than two days
• Not being able to keep liquids down for 24 hours at a time
• Diarrhoea that lasts for more than three days
• A high temperature or fever
Constipation can affect people of all ages and is a common condition that means that you are unable to pass stools (poo) and have trouble emptying your bowel completely. Most people only experience constipation for a few days, but for some it can be a long-term condition that causes discomfit and pain.
The causes of constipation
It is often difficult to identify the cause of constipation and there are many different factors involved, such as:
• Not consuming enough fibre in your diet
• A change to your daily routine, i.e. changing your eating habits
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Ignoring the urge to go to the toilet
• Anxiety or depression
• Medication side effects
Most people can treat constipation themselves by making simple changes to their diet such as eating more fibre and drinking fluids regularly. An oral laxative may also be used to help empty the bowel, and although an effective treatment it can still take up to 2 months to re-establish a regular bowel movement.
If these changes do not help and the condition persists then contact your local GP.
Picture: Alexander Ekman
Back pain is a condition most people will suffer from at least once in their lives. Bad posture is a common cause and can be triggered by lifting incorrectly, slumping in a chair or making awkward movements while bending. The condition is not generally serious, although it may take several months for the symptoms to completely disappear. Symptoms include aching, tension or stiffness. The most effective treatment is to take painkillers and keep mobile. A daily walk is good for the back and hot or cold compressions may also relieve pain. Compression packs are available from local chemists, but a hot water bottle and bag of frozen vegetables will do the same job.
‘Back pain’ is a generic term that covers any pain felt from the neck down to the hips. Most commonly pains are felt in the lower back, but other specific types of backache include slipped disc, sciatica, ankylosing spondylitis, frozen shoulder, whiplash and neck pain.
Many sufferers visit a private physiotherapist or osteopath immediately, although this type of manual therapy is on offer from the NHS, but may take longer to access. Other treatments include exercise classes and acupuncture.
It is not usually necessary to seek medical help with back pain, but there are some ‘red flag’ symptoms; for example, high fever, weight loss, leg pain, chest pain, loss of bladder/bowel control and numbness. If the back pain is accompanied by any of these symptoms, seek medical advice without delay.
Finally, research has shown that people who stay positive experience more rapid signs of recovery.
The flu virus debilitates people to varying degrees every year; however, there are various ways in which it can be avoided, as well as ways to make a speedy recover should the seasonal virus be contracted.
Get a flu vaccination
Visit a doctor, clinic or pharmacy for a seasonal flu vaccination – it takes just minutes and is effective from two to three weeks after the injection. Having a vaccination annually is vital, as flu viruses are constantly evolving.
Wash hands regularly or use sanitising gel
Good hand hygiene is key to avoiding the flu. Germs can live for a short period on various everyday items, including door handles, lift buttons, telephones, and even pens and pencils. Washing your hands at several intervals during the day can help you to avoid contracting the flu. If this is not a feasible option, carry a convenient-sized hand sanitiser.
Get adequate sleep
For the immune system to ward off an attack and for the body to be less susceptible to flu viruses, an adult should have an average of between six and eight hours of sleep per day. Not getting enough rest leaves the body vulnerable.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
In order to meet the body’s daily vitamin, mineral, fibre and antioxidant needs, it is advisable to consume at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Having a balanced meal strengthens the immune system and helps to ward off the flu virus should it be contracted. Soups and juices in winter are convenient ways of adding these vital foods to your diet.
Take a multivitamin tablet daily
While all the vitamins and minerals the body needs can be obtained from a balanced diet, this is not always easy to ensure. Taking a multivitamin tablet to help meet the daily requirement should strengthen the body’s functioning and the immune system.
Doctors and managers of the NHS have stated that there must be changes made urgently to the way that A&E units are being run before the service collapses entirely.
The last decade has seen a huge rise in demand and attendance at A&E units, up to 50%. Despite the target waiting time being a maximum of four hours, many units were missing this target over the winter. There were reports of temporary waiting areas being set up in car parks and ambulances queuing outside to drop off emergency patients.
The NHS has concerns over whether current A&E units are equipped to deal with the increased demand. According to a review by the College of Emergency Medicine, there are shortages of middle-grade and senior doctors. It is recommended that there be around 10 to 16 consultants in A&E at any time, whereas the average is 7.4.
Not only is the lack of staff a problem, the review suggests that many patients are unnecessarily attending A&E when they could be seen in non-emergency circumstances. Figures suggest that between 15% and 30% of all patients visiting A&E do not need to be there.
Chris Hopson, FTN chief executive, said: “Unless we can make some really significant changes over the next six months I think it’s pretty clear the system is in danger of falling over next winter.”
Picture: Ralf Heß