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Patients were unable to book GP appointments up to five million times in October

PATIENTS were unable to book GP appointments up to five million times last month, according to an analysis.

The Labour Party said one in seven phone calls cannot get a consultation with a doctor.


Patients were unable to book GP appointments up to five million times in October, according to an analysis[/caption]

With almost 32million appointments in October, it suggests as many as 5.2m calls did not get a slot.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said: “Patients are finding it impossible to get a GP appointment when they need one.

“I’m really worried that among those patients unable to get an appointment, there could be serious conditions going undiagnosed until it’s too late.”

The NHS Patient Survey this year found 13.8 per cent of people were not offered or refused a GP appointment last time they phoned for one.

The top reasons were that there were no suitable times available or practices were not taking advance bookings.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and their teams are working flat out to deliver the care and services our patients need.

“We delivered a record 36.1 million consultations in October, almost 40 per cent of these on the day they were booked, more than 80 per cent within two weeks and more than 71 per cent in person.

“Accessing our services isn’t the fault of GP teams, it’s a consequence of an underfunded and understaffed service working under unsustainable pressures.”

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From fertility at 35 to a nasty skin rash… Dr Zoe Williams answers your health queries

WINTER is well and truly here and the days are getting shorter and shorter.

Feeling a bit blue about the lack of sunlight is perfectly normal.

Dr Zoe Williams answers some common questions sent in by readers

We can all feel a little sluggish at this time of year, and hopping out of bed in the morning can feel gruelling.

We should all be taking a vitamin D supplement, as our bodies are unable to make this in the winter months, so we risk becoming deficient.

Vitamin D is important for the immune system and muscle and bone health.

However, if you’re feeling very fatigued or helpless, are lacking interest in things you usually enjoy, are withdrawing from socialising (despite party season) and suffering persistent low mood, it might not just be seasonal blues you are dealing with.

These are signs of depression.

Please make an appointment to speak to your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks.

Here are just a few of the questions Sun Health readers asked me this week…

Q) I’M 35 and don’t want to have kids yet – but I do want them eventually.

What can I take or do to get my body ready?

A) This is great, you’re forward planning, and the good news is there’s lots you can do.

While I don’t know what your lifestyle is like right now, there are maybe the more obvious things you can do: stop smoking, and aim towards a healthy weight if you can.

And there are less obvious things too.

We know that stress and high blood pressure can affect fertility so have a look at things like your work-life balance to manage stress and make sure your blood pressure has been checked.

Are you dealing with chronic levels of stress at work or at home?

If so, have a think about how you can adjust things.

There are studies which suggest depression and poor mental health can affect the regulation of the luteinising hormone that helps regulate ovulation, so if you’re struggling with mental health, speak to your GP or self-refer for talking ­therapy.

And it’s not just women — it’s important that men optimise their health too.

Research shows heavy smoking is associated with a decreased sperm count, and excess alcohol is associated with increased numbers of abnormal sperm.

It’s a good idea to start taking folic acid and vitamin D prior to conceiving too, which will help ensure you are not ­deficient in these and therefore support your body to grow a healthy foetus.

Start limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and make sure you are exercising regularly, as these are not only helpful in preparing your body for pregnancy, but establishing important habits that will then be easier to maintain when you are pregnant.

And if you are not using hormonal ­contraception you can start to get in tune with your body, track your cycle using an app, and start to notice the signs of ­ovulation — the best indicator is changes to cervical secretions, or vaginal discharge.

Most couples get pregnant within a year with regular sex.

Don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t happen instantly.

Q) WHEN will I know I need HRT and how do I go about getting it?

A) This is a great question and one which will have a different answer for each and every individual.

Some women have severe menopausal symptoms but do not take HRT through choice or because there are unacceptable risks.

We commonly see this in women who have, or have previously had, breast cancer.

Other women choose to take HRT purely for preventative purposes, to protect against osteoporosis and heart disease.

So, each individual requires an assessment of the risks versus the benefits, combined with the person’s preferences.

For most women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause that are negatively impacting their quality of life, the benefits of HRT or hormone replacement therapy, will outweigh the risks.

HRT will help to relieve most menopausal symptoms, but when you consider there are 34 recognised menopausal symptoms, you could have lots or just a few.

I see women all the time who come in with a symptom who are shocked to find out it could be menopause or peri-menopause related.

Symptoms range from ones you’ve most likely heard about; hot flushes, irregular periods, night sweats and mood swings, to ones you might not be as familiar with; vaginal dryness, memory lapses, insomnia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, brain fog, pins and needles, a burning mouth, electric shocks (yes, you read that right), itchiness, joint pain, muscle tension, sore breasts, headaches, food sensitivities, bloating, thinning hair, brittle nails, ­bladder incontinence, allergies and loss of sexual desire.

It’s an extensive list so have a think about each one in turn.

Have you been forgetful for a while but put it down to having lots on your plate?

Have you been anxious or worried but thought it was because you’ve got a lot going on at work?

Lots of women cope with symptoms for a long time because they creep up gradually, so I’d suggest keeping a log or diary and making an appointment with your GP.

Is it rosacea or just a rash?

Q) I HAVE very dry skin on my forehead.

I’ve tried Vaseline, Doublebase and Neutrogena but nothing seems to work.

My GP said it’s rosacea but someone I work with said you don’t just get it in one place – it normally affects your cheeks and chin too.

Can you advise?

A)Rosacea usually occurs on the mid-face,  nose, and cheeks, but it can also occur on the forehead and chin.

However, there are other things that could cause dry skin in this area too, including irritant eczema – from cosmetics for ­example – and a condition called ­seborrhoeic dermatitis, which is caused by a yeast organism.

Your GP can assess more closely, ask more questions and examine you too see which is more likely.

Even the location on the forehead would give clues, for example if the rash was predominantly in the centre of the forehead this might make ­rosacea more likely, whereas if the rash is worse around the eyebrows and hairline, this might point more towards seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Rosacea is more prevalent in women than men and most commonly first appears when people are in their 30s or 40s.

The earliest symptom tends to be flushing, but as time goes on the redness persists.

Sometimes there are acne-like spots and in rare cases more serious complications like inflammation to the eye or increasing bulk to the soft tissues of the nose.

If your GP thinks it is rosacea then it’s worth treating it as such.

There are many different treatments and the best one will depend on your symptoms.

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Dreams of dementia cure closer than ever as scientists make key breakthrough

DREAMS of a cure for dementia are closer than ever thanks to breakthrough trial results confirmed last week.

There are an estimated 900,000 people in the UK living with dementia and there is no cure or effective treatment.


Breakthrough trial results confirmed last week that dreams of dementia cure are getting closer[/caption]

The main cause is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for two in three cases. In September, scientists proved for the first time that they can tackle it using a drug designed to clear damaging protein clumps from the brain.

The drug, named Lecanemab, reduced progression of dementia by 27 per cent over 18 months.

It is the first proof that using drugs to clear the clumps — made up of a protein named ­amyloid — can slow the disease.

Although this is not a cure, the discovery gives a huge boost to hopes for future treatments.

Dr Mark Mintun, vice-president of brain diseases at US pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly told Sun Health: “This is a new era in Alzheimer’s disease . . .  we’re going in the right direction.”

Vicious cycle

It was Professor John Hardy, a scientist at University College London, who 30 years ago came up with the theory of how the build-up of amyloid protein ­triggers ­Alzheimer’s.

His team suggested sticky lumps of the protein start a vicious cycle, in which the immune system makes the brain damage worse.

It was Professor John Hardy, a scientist at University College London, who 30 years ago came up with the theory of how the build-up of amyloid protein ­triggers ­Alzheimer’s.

His team suggested sticky lumps of the protein start a vicious cycle, in which the immune system makes the brain damage worse.

Speaking in November, Professor Hardy called this “a historic moment”.

The biggest success of 2022 — and arguably decades of dementia research — was the Lecanemab trial, revealed by manufacturers Eisai and Biogen.

Eli Lilly’s drug, Donanemab, also showed in a trial that it was able to partly clear amyloid ­protein from the brain.

That study, presented at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference in San Francisco last week, revealed 37.9 per cent of patients had “clearance” of the protein after six months.

On average, scans showed the drug removed two thirds of the amyloid in the subjects’ brains.

A larger trial, set to end next summer, hopes to prove this will prevent the patients’ symptoms of dementia, as Lecanemab did. But this effect is not a given, and other, very similar amyloid-busting drugs have failed.

Dame Barbara died in 2020, six years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
PA:Press Association

One made by Roche, was one of this year’s biggest disappointments.
Trials found small reductions in amyloid and brain decline, but the company said they were “not statistically significant”. Despite coming so close to success, Roche has now abandoned the drug.

Millions of people in the UK and worldwide are forced to watch their loved ones decline, knowing doctors can do nothing.

Destruction of vital nerves in the brain means patients suffer memory loss, confusion, physical disabilities, personality changes, mental health problems and eventually death.

Although trial successes bring hope, the benefits of first-generation drugs are likely to be small.

Dr Mintun said: “For example, if we had a 32 per cent slowing of disease that could mean, over an 18-month ­period, the person has saved six months of progression.

“So whatever they would have stopped being able to do over the next six months, they will still be able to do.

There may also be serious side-effects, such as increased risk of stroke or brain swelling. At least two patients in the trial of the successful drug Lecanemab have died, including a 65-year-old woman of stroke. An 80-year-old reportedly died in June.

Getting access to the new ­therapies will not be easy either.

Professor John Hardy said he hoped the first patients in the UK will gain access to Lecanemab by the end of next year but they will probably be private patients, as the drugs are expected to be very expensive because they have cost so much to develop.

UK experts fear the NHS is not geared up to prescribe a completely new type of drug to such a large group of patients.

More stretched

Also, the medicines will work best if they are given in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s, ­ideally before symptoms begin.

But these patients are extremely difficult to diagnose, because testing for the condition is expensive and complicated — at a time when the NHS is more stretched than ever.

There are also more than 300,000 people with other types of dementia, which the drugs are not designed for.

The Department of Health and Social Care last week confirmed its commitment to the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia ­Mission taskforce, while Boris Johnson’s government committed to doubling dementia research funding to £160million per year by 2025.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The road to an anti-amyloid treatment has been a long one.

“We hope that this drug will make it to patients, but it won’t be suitable for everyone with Alzheimer’s. It’s only a first step on the journey towards a cure.”

The big-name drigs of 2021/22

LECANEMAB: Successful trial, reduced cognitive decline by 27 per cent.

Made by Eisai And Biogen.

ADUCANUMAB: Approved in the US but rejected in Europe.

Studies found it reduced amyloid but did not prove it reduced cognitive decline.

Made by Biogen.

DONANEMAB: In trials now.

Recent study showed it clears amyloid better than aducanumab.

Made by Eli Lilly

GANTENERUMAB: Trial showed small reductions in amyloid and brain decline but they were “not significant”.

Studies abandoned.

Made by Roche

‘Bittersweet news for me and my dad’

CLARE O’Reilly, 43, from Plymouth, is hopeful for the future, despite the fact that dad Mick, 75, from Solihull, West Mids, is living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

She says: “It’s bittersweet news because it’s too late for my dad, there’s only one way his condition is going to go, but the thought my three children may have hope should I ever be diagnosed is some thing I’m incredibly grateful for.”

Clare O’Reilly

Although Clare worries for her dad Mick who was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s, she is hopeful that if she gets Alzheimer’s she may be treated[/caption]

Mick says: “Knowing if Clare gets ­Alzheimer’s she could get treatment is nothing short of miraculous.

“It’s a lonely diagnosis. I wouldn’t want her to have the thoughts I’ve had, and the confusion.”

How to spot the early signs

THERE are around 200 ­subtypes of dementia and each one can affect people differently.

Several key early symptoms can show up before diagnosis and usually come on gradually and may worsen over time.

According to the NHS, these include:

  • Memory loss.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, like getting confused over change or not being able to follow a recipe.
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word.
  • Being confused about the time.
  • Mood changes.

It’s easy to miss the signs yourself. If you or a loved one notice symptoms, see your GP.

‘I’m at high-risk so this gives me hope’

SOPHIA HUSBANDS, 43, from ­Windsor, Berks, who runs a wellness brand, fears she will develop ­Alzheimer’s after her parents were both diagnosed.

Her father died, aged 75, and her mother lives with the condition.


Sophia fears she will develop ­Alzheimer’s after her parents were both diagnosed[/caption]

Sophia says: “You feel as if you are losing someone, even though they are still alive. Mum is only 78 and her health is declining.

“I’d love for there to be better treatments for her but I worry about my own future too.

“I’m probably at high risk, given that both my parents have been diagnosed.

“It’s great to know so many treatments are being discovered and so many trials are being done.

“It gives me hope.”

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My son only ate beige food for eight years – but he’s now tucking into fruit after we tried something drastic

A BOY who only ate beige foods for eight years is now tucking into fruit thanks to hypnosis.

Noah Young, nine, even suffered stunted growth due to his restrictive diet.


Noah Young, pictured with mum Caroline, only ate beige foods but is now tucking into fruit thanks to hypnosis[/caption]

His breakfast consisted of dry cereal, toast or pancakes, while lunch and dinners were mainly plain pasta, chips, chicken nuggets or pizza.

Eating something new or different made him gag.

Mum Caroline said: “He was sent home from school for being sick after they made him eat carrots.

“He used to have pasta with sauce but then just wanted it plain. Everything was plain.

“Trying to get him to eat anything good was a challenge, he would be crying and gagging.

“When it started getting bad, we noticed he wasn’t growing.

“We were trying to find someone to deal with it.

“I was worried he wasn’t going to develop.”

Noah’s eating habits began to change at 18 months.

Doctors had dismissed him as a fussy eater, so Caroline sought help from hypnotherapist David Kilmurry.

He diagnosed avoidant restrictive food intake disorder and within one session had Noah trying new foods.

David said: “We did some footballing-focused hypnotism where he saw himself with his team-mates enjoying a hearty pre-match meal.”

Mum-of-three Caroline, from Derby, who works in social media, is delighted.

She added: “Noah’s tried 22 types of food now.

“It’s mainly fruit, but it’s really good progress.

“He hasn’t been sick since.

“He realises these foods are not going to hurt him.”


Caroline recalled how on one occasion Noah was sent home from school for being sick after they made him eat carrots[/caption]


Doctors dismissed Noah as a fussy eater, so Caroline sought help from hypnotherapist David Kilmurry[/caption]


Mum-of-three Caroline, who works in social media, is delighted at Noah’s new diet[/caption]

Football News Health News News Health Schools

Eighth child dies of Strep A as cases of bacterial infection continue to rise

A PRIMARY school pupil has become the eighth child to die after being diagnosed with Strep A.

The youngster’s death was confirmed by the headteacher at their school, Morelands Primary in Waterlooville, Hampshire.

The child was a pupil at Morelands Primary school in Hampshire

Headmistress Alison Syred-Paul said: “Very tragically, we have learned of the death in recent days of a child who attended our school, who was also diagnosed with an invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infection.

“We are absolutely devastated by the loss of one of our young pupils and offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the child’s family at this extremely sad time.”

She added: “As a precaution, we have also been raising awareness amongst parents, carers and our school community of the signs and symptoms of Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infections, and what to do if a child develops these, including invasive Group A Streptococcal (iGAS) infection.”

The school is listed as having 328 pupils.

Eight children are now known to have died from the illness which usually only causes a mild sore throat and temperature — but in extreme cases can lead to a life-threatening infection.

The other deaths were almost all children of primary school age.

They include Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, four, from High Wycombe, Bucks, and Hanna Roap, seven, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan.

The pandemic lockdown is being blamed for the outbreak because children were shuttered away — creating a lower immunity to infections.

The UK Health Security Agency said the last time there was an intensive period of Strep A infection was in 2017-18, with four deaths in England in the equivalent time frame.

The Sun’s Dr Jeff Foster said Strep A is one of the most common bugs doctors see in kids every year, but that it is currently surging.

He said: “It is commonly found in children under ten and is spread by droplets and close contact — through spit, sneezing, coughing and touching infected surfaces. It’s the same way you would get a common cold.

“You can get mild cases where children have a temperature and a sore throat. If it becomes scarlet fever they would get a rash, which looks like sandpaper, around four or five days after the temperature starts, and red flushing cheeks.

“This year’s is not a new variant. It’s the post-Covid effect as kids were not exposed to bugs for two years.”

Dr Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, added: “It is important parents are on the lookout for symptoms — and see a doctor as quickly as possible so we can stop the infection becoming serious.”

In response to the outbreak, Downing Street said it can “fully understand” that parents are concerned by rising Strep A cases, but stressed the NHS is “well prepared” for such situations.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year compared to usual.

“The bacteria we know causes a mild infection which is easily treated with antibiotics and in rare circumstances it can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness.

“It is still uncommon but it’s important parents are on the lookout for symptoms.

“But the NHS is well prepared to deal with situations like this, working with the UK Health Security Agency.”

He said any parents who are concerned should contact the NHS.

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, aged four, also fell victim to the infection
Hannah Roap, aged seven, is another of the victims

The four signs of Strep A you need to know

With a resurgence in illnesses caused by the infection it’s important to know what to look out for.
There are four key signs of Group Strep A to watch out for, according to the NHS. These are:

  1. A fever (meaning a high temperature above 38°C)
  2. Severe muscle aches
  3. Localised muscle tenderness
  4. Redness at the site of a wound

Q&A with Sun’ Dr Jeff Foster

Q) What is Strep A?

A) Group A Streptococcus is the name of a bacteria which can cause different infections and is commonly found in children under the age of ten.

Every year doctors will see a lot of children with suspected Strep A. You can get mild cases where you might not even know what it is because they would just have a temperature and a sore throat.

It can become scarlet fever which you can spot if your children develops a rash. It looks like sandpaper and develops around four or five days after the temperature starts.

The child would also get red flushing cheeks.

Q) What is invasive Group A Strep or iGAS?

A) In very rare cases the bacteria can get invade parts of the body including the blood, muscles or lungs.

Early signs and symptoms of such disease include a high fever, severe muscle aches, pain in one area of the body, redness at the site of a wound and vomiting or diarrhoea.

Q) How does it spread?

A) It is spread by droplets and close contact — through your spit, sneezing, coughing and touching infected surfaces.

It is passed on in the same way as a common cold.

Q) Why has there been such an increase in cases?

A) It is believed to be because during Covid lockdowns young children were not mixing which would usually help to build up the immune system.

If you are constantly exposed to a little bit of Group A Strep and similar bacteria then your immune system would be ready and would nail it when it comes back into contact.

Q) How is it treated?

A) Scarlet fever and impetigo, which are both caused by Strep A, can be treated with antibiotics.

Mild cases which cause a sore throat or a high temperature will usually clear up on their own.

Dementia Diet Food Football News Health News News Health

Eating highly processed food could up your risk of dementia, scientists warn

EATING highly processed foods could put you at risk of cognitive decline, experts have warned.

Cognitive decline or impairment is a condition whereby someone will struggle with their memory or thinking.


The experts in Brazil said that little is known about the association with cognitive issue and diet[/caption]

In the UK it’s estimated that up to 20 per cent of people suffer with this, Alzheimer’s UK states.

While cognitive decline doesn’t always mean you have dementia, the charity said that a person with the condition is more likely to go on to develop it.

Previous studies have linked ultra processed foods to issues such as cardiovascular disease and obesity.

But the experts in Brazil said that little is known about the association with cognitive issues.

Read more on dementia


Second Alzheimer’s drug raises hope of new dawn in treatment of dementia


World-first dementia drug hailed ‘game-changer’ that could stop disease

The researchers said that healthy eating habits have been linked to increased brain volume and decreased risk of cognitive decline over time.

Ultra-processed foods (UPF) refers to items such as pizza, ham, sausages, crips and biscuits.

The experts found that those who got a ‘higher percentage’ of their daily energy from these types of foods were more likely to suffer with cognitive decline in a eight year period.

Study author, Prof Natalia Gomes Gonçalves said: “Despite the small effect size of the association between UPF consumption and cognitive decline, our findings are meaningful to cognitive health.

“Limiting UPF consumption, particularly in middle-aged adults, may be an efficient form to prevent cognitive decline.”

Writing in JAMA Neurology, the experts said they analysed data in waves.

This was between 2008 to 2017 and 2021 to May 2022.

The experts explained that age was a factor adding that those younger than 60, with a UPF consumption greater that 19.9 per cent showed ‘a faster cognitive decline compared to those with less than 19.9 per cent’.

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella terms, used to describe the deterioration of a person’s brain function.

Dementia is when mental deterioration is severe enough to interfere with someone’s daily life.

It causes problems with thinking, reasoning and memory – as these are the areas in the brain that become damaged by the disease.

There are currently 944,000 people with dementia in the UK, more than ever before, and this number is projected to increase, says Alzheimer’s Research UK.

But many more have not yet received a diagnosis, and don’t know they are living with the illness.

There are lots of different types of dementia, with each one associated with a particular type of brain cell damage.

Dementia can be split into two main groups, but some conditions fall into both categories:

  • Cortical, which causes severe memory loss (like that seen in Alzheimer’s).
  • Sub-cortical, which affects thinking speed and activity (as seen with Parkinson’s disease).

The other most common form of dementia, after Alzheimer’s, is vascular dementia. Both are rare in young people aged under 65 years old.

This refers to the percentage of daily calories taken up by this food group.

The experts added that they declined 28 per cent faster than those who did not eat lots of UPFs.

“Additionally, the percentage of daily energy from UPF was associated with cognitive decline in participants with a low healthy diet score, whereas there was no association in those with a high healthy diet score,” the experts added.

A study published in June 2022 also found that ultra-processed foods can significantly increase your risk of developing dementia.

As part of the study, researchers followed the dietary habits of 72,083 people from the UK over the age of 55 for 10 years.

At the start of the study none of the participants had dementia.

However, by the end of the 10 years 518 people had been diagnosed with the cognitive disease.

Participants who had eaten more ultra-processed food per day over the 10 year period had a higher chance of developing dementia than those who had eaten less, the study revealed.

Researchers found that for every 10 per cent increase in someone’s daily intake of ultra-processed foods, they had a 25 per cent higher risk of dementia.

However, experts have said processed foods might not be the problem.

Dr Duane Mellor, Registered Dietitian and Senior Teaching Fellow, Aston Medical School, Aston University said: “It may be more the case they were eating less minimalist processed foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and pulses.

“So, it does not really change how we should try to eat to maintain good brain function and cognition, as we should try to eat less foods which are high in added sugar, salt and fat (which would includes many of the foods classified as being ultra processed) while eating more in terms of both quantity and variety of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and pulses which are known to be beneficial for both our cognitive and overall health.”

Prof Gunter Kuhnle, Professor of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Reading added that diet is one of several factors that can affect cognitive function.

“It is important to understand the relationship in order to make recommendations.

“However, such recommendations need to be based on robust data, taking into consideration risks and benefits and further implications, for example the cost of different foods and the respective impact on health.

“The current study does not provide strong evidence for a relationship between estimated ultra-processed food intake and cognitive function,” Prof Kuhnle said.

Football News Health News News Health Weather

Urgent weather warning to millions as plummeting temperatures put vulnerable at high risk

BRITS with underlying health conditions have been urged to heat their homes as temperatures are set to plummet.

Freezing conditions are predicted to hit the UK between 6pm on Wednesday and 9am on Monday December 12, according to the Met office.

Temperatures are set to fall as low as -4C in some areas by Friday.

Dr Agostinho Sousa of the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA) said: “Cold weather can have serious consequences for health, and older people and those with heart or lung conditions can be particularly at risk.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should heat your home to a temperature that is comfortable for you.

“Try to heat the rooms you use most, such as the living and bedroom, to at least 18°C if you can, and keep your bedroom windows closed at night.”

Over 2.2million Brits are are considered to be clinically vulnerable, according to the NHS.

This comes as energy bills in the UK have soared in recent months, in part because the war in Ukraine has reduced supplies of Russian gas.

Some doctors across the country can now write prescriptions to give Brits with respiratory conditions free energy bills as part of a new health trial.

How to keep your home warm this winter

Kevin Pratt, energy expert at Forbes Advisor – a trusted destination for unbiased personal finance guidance, news and review – revealed his top tips to help families keep their homes warm without using the heating

Block draughts

Cold air coming into your home equals warm air going out. Kevin advised families to block draughts around doors and windows as well as letterbox and keyholes to keep the chill at bay

Upgrade your windows

You can also upgrade your windows to keep the heat in and this doesn’t need to cost a fortune either, it can be an easy DIY job.

Energy expert Kevin shared: “Double- or even triple-glazing is a brilliant way to keep out the cold and to retain warmth in your home. 

“If you don’t have it, consider a DIY solution where you use a hair-dryer to stick plastic film inside your windows – there are kits online for around £20.”

Wrap up

A super easy way to keep warm at home is to simply wear warmer clothes.

This will delay you putting on the heating, with the specialist adding: “Think layers. And remember that, if your feet are cold,  you’ll feel cold all over – so invest in thermal socks and a decent pair of slippers.”

A chimney balloon

If you have an open, decorative fireplace, a lot of heat will be escaping up the chimney. 

Kevin revealed you can put a stop to this and keep your home warm – all without turning the heating on. 

He explained that a chimney balloon – which essentially plugs the passage – can be purchased for around £15 – £25. But, whatever you do, don’t light a fire without removing it first!

The idea is that the scheme will prevent people from getting ill from cold and needing hospital treatment.

Forecasters said that air from the Arctic will spread south across the nation, with very cold and frosty nights expected from the middle of the week.

The warning said that there is a 90 per cent probability of severe cold weather and icy conditions in the specified period.

Temperatures are set to fall as low as -4C in some areas by Friday.


Coronavirus Football News Health motherhood News News Health

More than 400 cases of Strep A reported in Scots children as parents warned to look out for symptoms

More than 400 cases of the potentially life-threatening Streptococcal infection in Scots children have been reported in the past two weeks, health authorities revealed yesterday.

There have been no reported deaths in Scotland but five children in England and one in Wales have died from bacterial infection caused by the invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

There has been five deaths in England and one death in Wales
There has been five deaths in England and one death in Wales

Group A strep bacteria can cause many different infections, including impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat, but health chiefs say the vast majority of cases are mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

Epidemiologist Dr Jim McMenamin, head of health protection at Public Health Scotland, said: “Over the last couple of weeks we have respectively seen 207 and 230 cases, which is very similar to what we have seen reported in the 2017/18 season but just an awful lot earlier than we might have seen in the past.”

He added that Covid restrictions over the past two years meant many children had not encountered the Streptococcal infections that are now beginning to be reported.

The father of a four-year-old girl on a ventilator with a Strep A infection said yesterday she was fighting for her life.

Camila Rose Burns was given an inhaler and sent home from hospital on November 26 after complaining of chest pain but her condition quickly deteriorated and a day later she was admitted to Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Her dad, Dean, said: “It’s heartbreaking. They put her to sleep and she’s been on a ventilator ever since, keeping her alive. It’s the worst thing that can ever happen to anybody.”

Professor Beate Kampmann, a paediatrician, said there had been three times as much scarlet fever this year than was seen pre-pandemic.

“It starts off with a high fever, very sore throat and very red tongue, which has this sort of papillae – eventually developing a rash which feels a bit like sandpaper,” she told Radio 4 yesterday.

“The rash starts in the elbows and behind the neck. It tends to then peel after about 10 days because the disease is caused by a toxin that is produced by this bacterium.”

Virologist Dr Chris Smith said the rise in Strep A infections could be due to a drop in immunity following the pandemic.

He told the BBC: “What has changed is that younger people have been through three years, almost, of relative isolation from each other.

“They haven’t caught the normal infections at the normal rates and at the normal times that children of that age bracket would have done.

“So, we wonder whether it is that we are seeing a big rash of cases all at once.”

Devi Sridhar, professor of public health at Edinburgh University and a Scottish Government adviser, said on Twitter: “Being closely monitored – no clear reason emerging yet and I’d prefer not to guess.

“We need data and expert analysis of this data before pointing to why this is happening and how best to manage the response.”

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the number of cases this year was higher than usual due to high amounts of circulating bacteria and social mixing.

Dr Colin Brown, UKHSA deputy director, said: “We are seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year than usual.

“The bacteria usually causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics.

“In very rare circumstances this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness called invasive Group A strep. This is still uncommon.

“However, it is important parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious.”

He told parents to speak to a doctor if their child was feeding or eating much less than normal, had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more, or showed other signs of dehydration.

They should also seek help if their baby is under three months and has a temperature of 38˚C, or is older than three months and has a temperature of 39˚C or higher.

Other red flags are if the child is very tired or irritable.

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Cancer (disease) Football News Health News News Health

The cancer symptoms you might spot when you go for a pee – and 6 other signs to act on

THERE are around 10,300 new cases of bladder cancer every year in the UK, equating to around 28 cases each day.

It’s the eleventh most common cancer in the country, so it’s key that you know the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Getty – Contributor

If you experience blood in your urine or you have a change in toilet habits then it could be a sign of bladder cancer[/caption]

Experts at Cancer Research UK said one of the main symptoms of the illness is noticeable when you pee.

Medics explained: “The main symptom of bladder cancer is blood in your urine. This is the same for both men and women.

“Bladder cancer can also cause problems with passing urine.”

They added that doctors refer to blood in the urine as haematuria (pronounced heem-at-you-ree-ah).

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You might see blood in your pee which will usually look bright red.

In some cases it might be such small amounts that you can’t see it and other times it might not be there at all, they said.

The bleeding is not usually painful, but if you experience this you should always speak to your GP, the medics said.

It’s useful to be specific when relaying your symptoms, and the experts said you should tell them if there is blood when you first start to urinate and if the urine is mixed with all the urine you pass.

It’s also helpful for them to know whether or not you have any pain when you pass the urine with the blood.

While blood in your urine is the main sign, the experts said you should also lookout for these six symptoms.

  1. passing urine very often (frequency)
  2. passing urine very suddenly (urgency)
  3. pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  4. weight loss for no reason
  5. pain in your back, lower tummy or bones
  6. feeling tired and unwell.

They explained that the final three may occur if the cancer is advanced or has spread to other parts of the body.

In men, it’s also important to note that prostate cancer can cause urinary symptoms.

It’s important to note that experiencing these symptoms won’t always mean you have cancer.

For example, the experts said that they might also be a sign of a urine infection.

This might be the case, particularly if you do not have blood in your urine, they said.

“For men, the symptoms could be caused by an enlarged prostate gland. 

“Tell your doctor straight away if you have these symptoms. If you have an infection, it can usually be treated quickly with antibiotics.

“And it is always best to check for cancer as early as possible so that it can be diagnosed while it is easier to treat,” they added.

Coronavirus Football News Health motherhood News News Health

Everything you need to know about invasive group A Strep after 6 kids die

AT least six children have died and others are fighting for their lives in hospital after contracting Group A Strep.

The highly infectious bacteria is sweeping across the UK, causing a spike in the number of scarlet fever cases.


Scarlet fever cases remain higher than normal[/caption]

What is Strep A?

Group A Streptococcus, also known as Group A Strep or Strep A, are bacteria that can cause many different infections.

They are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and some people have no symptoms.

Infections caused by Strep A range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.

They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, the bacteria can cause life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

How are Strep A bacteria spread?

The bacteria are spread by contact with an infected person or by contact with infected skin lesions.

Bacteria can be passed from person to person by close touch, such as kissing or skin contact.

The risk of spread is greatest when somebody is ill, such as when people have strep throat or an infected wound.

What is invasive Group A Streptococcal disease?

Invasive Group A Strep disease is a potentially life-threatening infection in which the bacteria have invaded parts of the body, such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.

Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the “flesh-eating disease” and can occur if a wound gets infected.

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly progressing infection causing low blood pressure/shock and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs.

This type of toxic shock has a high death rate.

Can these illnesses be treated?

Strep A infections such as scarlet fever and impetigo are treated with antibiotics.

After a full 24 hours of antibiotics, people are generally thought to no longer be contagious.

Anyone thought to have invasive Group A Streptococcal disease should seek medical help immediately.

Antibiotics, other drugs and intensive medical attention are likely to be needed.

What are the symptoms?

Impetigo is a skin infection which starts with red sores or blisters that then burst, leaving crusty, golden patches.

The infection can be treated with antibiotics.

Scarlet fever symptoms are often flu-like, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands.

A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later, starting on the chest and stomach and then spreading.

A white coating also appears on the tongue which peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps (often called “strawberry tongue”).

Signs of necrotising fasciitis include fever (a high temperature above 38C), severe pain and swelling, and redness at the wound site.

Early signs and symptoms of toxic shock may include fever, dizziness, confusion, low blood pressure, rash and abdominal pain.

When should I see a doctor?

Strep throat is different from a regular sore throat and the pain can come on very quickly.

Symptoms include pain when swallowing, fever, and red and swollen tonsils – sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus.

The NHS recommends people see their GP if a sore throat does not improve after a week, if they are worried or if they have a high temperature, or feel hot and shivery.

People with weakened immune systems, such as those having chemotherapy, should also see a doctor.

When it comes to your child, you should contact NHS 111 or your GP if:

  • Your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • Your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • Your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
  • Your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • Your child is very tired or irritable

When should I call 999?

The UK Health Security Agency says it is vital that parents trust their instincts, and seek help if their child seems seriously unwell.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • Your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • There are pauses when your child breathes
  • Your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • Your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake

Who has been affected so far?

At least six children in England and Wales have died after being diagnosed.

This includes four-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, who passed away at his home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on November 14.

His mum Shabana Kousar told Bucks Free Press: “He had a very close bond with his dad.

“He was his best friend and went everywhere with him. He just wanted to be with him.”

Little Hanna Roap died within 24 hours of becoming ill, leaving behind her devastated family in Wales on November 25.

Her parents said their hearts have been “broken into a million pieces” by the tragic loss of their “beautiful, bubbly, funny” girl.

And two youngsters at primary schools in London – one in West Ealing and another in nearby Pitshanger – have also died or been hospitalised.

Camila Rose Burns, four, is fighting for life on a ventilator at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Her devastated dad Dean said his family is “praying for a miracle”.

He told Sky News: “She needs to live, she’s such a special little girl.

“I can still hear her singing… it’s too much.”

Sky News

Camila Rose Burns is fighting for life on a ventilator at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital[/caption]

Muhammad Ibrahim Ali died at home in Buckinghamshire after contracting Strep A

Hanna Roap, in Wales, passed away within 24 hours of becoming ill[/caption]

What is causing the rise?

Infections among young children are four times above average.

There have been 2.3 cases per 100,000 children aged one to four this year, compared to an average of 0.5 pre-pandemic, according to the UKHSA.

In children aged five to nine, there have been 1.1 cases per 100,000 compared with a pre-pandemic average of 0.3.

Experts fear a lack of socialising among children during the Covid pandemic may have caused a drop in population immunity.

Currently, there is no evidence that a new strain is circulating.

How can I reduce my risk?

The best thing you can do is follow basic hygiene practices like washing your hands thoroughly, particularly when using bathrooms.

GP and TV doctor Dr Rachel Ward said: “Regular handwashing is very important to reduce spread and minimising close contact with those who have an infection.

“Pregnant women and those undergoing gynae procedures are advised to wash your hands before and after using the toilet.”

Remember the ‘catch it, kill it, bin advice’, and always throw away used tissues and wash your hands afterwards.

HIGH ALERT: Symptoms of invasive Strep A

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) – is also known as Streptococcus pyogenes – and is a bacteria that can cause mild illnesses like sore throats and skin infections, including tonsillitis cellulitis, impetigo and scarlet fever.

In rare cases, the bacteria can trigger the life-threatening illness, invasive group A Strep disease.

Guidance from the NHS states that there are four key signs of invasive disease:

  1. fever (a high temperature above 38°C (100.4°F)
  2. severe muscle aches
  3. localised muscle tenderness
  4. redness at the site of a wound

Invasive disease happens when the bacteria break through the body’s immune defences.

It can happen if you’re already ill or have a weakened immune system.

Two of the most severe examples of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and toxic shock syndrome.

You’re at increased risk of Group Strep A invasive disease if you:

  • are in close contact with someone who has the disease
  • are over the age of 65
  • are diabetic, have heart disease or cancer
  • have recently had chickenpox
  • have HIV
  • use some steroids or intravenous drugs, according to the NHS.

Group Strep A bacteria can also cause scarlet fever, which can be serious if it’s not treated with antibiotics.