Diabetes Week 12 – 18th June

Almost 2.8 million people in the UK live with some form of diabetes. It is one of the most common illnesses that affect people and perhaps one of the most misunderstood. In addition around a million people are estimated to have the condition but are as yet undiagnosed.

This week is National Diabetes week and the UK charity Diabetes UK is trying to raise the profile of the work that they do in helping us to understand the condition more clearly. They have discovered that nearly a million people with the condition are too embarrassed or scared to let close friends and colleagues know in case they are stigmatised or bullied at school or work. The issue was raised in this week’s Prime Minister’s Question Time by the Adrian Sanders, MP for Torbay, who is helping with the campaign, encouraging those with diabetes to speak out more about the condition and what it is like to live with.

It is an issue that all of us should be aware of, as with increasing levels of obesity, lack of physical activity and poor diets, many of us are putting our long term health at risk, running the very real possibility of developing the condition as we go through life.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition which causes problems with controlling the level of sugar in our blood. There are two main types; Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetics typically do not produce any of the hormone insulin which is needed to utilise the sugar in our blood and turn it into usable fuel for our bodies. It typically begins in childhood or early adulthood and accounts for about 5-10 % of all cases of diabetes. It is not caused by poor diet and lifestyle factors.

Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for around 80 – 85% of all cases, develops later in life and is heavily influenced by diet, and physical activity. Being overweight significantly increases your chances of developing diabetes.  Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet are known risk factors for developing diabetes.

Either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, if left untreated, can have serious implications on the long-term health of sufferers.  If you suspect that you may be affected by diabetes, you should contact your GP.

Risk factors in developing Diabetes

Your genetic make-up has a large influence on your chances of developing either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.  If you have a strong family history of diabetes, your risk increases significantly.

Obesity is becoming a global issue with knock on effects on healthcare. Approximately one in five adults in the UK is overweight and this is increasing steadily.  Diabetes and it’s associated complications are costly to treat and with an ever increasing population that is ageing and becoming more unhealthy the cost to the NHS is huge.

A report out this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association has also suggested that watching too much television can also contribute to a 20% higher risk of developing the disease.  However, it is important to note that this is more likely down to the fact that those who watch television for more than two hours per day are also more likely to snack on unhealthy foods and participate in less physical activity.  It is likely that this, rather than television itself, is the true cause of this relationship.

Reducing the Risk

Small changes in the way we live our lives, losing weight, eating healthily and exercising can do much to prevent us developing diabetes.

Don’t Suffer in Silence

For those that already have the condition, ensure that all around you know about it so that if you become unwell they can help you. You never know, telling others about it may help someone else get the treatment they need or prevent another person developing the disease.

Further information

Recognising and treating a hypoglycaemic attack is covered in the 3 day first aid at work course. For more details see our First Aid at Work syllabus page.

Woman suffering from hayfever causing sneezing

Colds, Hay fever and Asthma

Have you developed an irritating dry cough?  Do you feel generally run down?  Or perhaps you feel like you may be starting a summer cold.

It may be that the symptoms that you are experiencing are not in fact those of a cold, but asthma or hay fever or even both of these conditions combined.

There has been a lot of coverage in the news recently about the seemingly sudden increase in the numbers of adults developing the symptoms of both hay fever and asthma.  Approximately 5.4 million people in the UK suffer with asthma, that is, 1 in 5 of us.  Reasons for this increase in sufferers are not entirely clear with a variety of theories postulated from increase in pollution, to modern lifestyles and excessive sanitation interfering with our immune responses.

Many of us may not realise that our irritating little cough may indeed be a symptom of asthma, which can be life threatening if not recognised and treated.

The recent spells of good dry weather has brought on the grass pollen season earlier than usual and this has overlapped with the tree pollen season which began in early March. This, coupled with the spell of smog a few weeks ago has left many people struggling to breathe effectively.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition caused by the muscles in the air passages going into spasm in response to irritation (known as trigger). This causes the air passages to narrow.  Additionally, the lining of these passages becomes inflamed and start to swell and also produces a lot of sticky mucus.  This causes a sensation of tightness in the chest, accompanied by breathlessness, a dry irritating cough and wheeze.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever can be an extremely unpleasant condition.  While it isn’t life threatening it is uncomfortable to have continually streaming nose and eyes and an itchy sore throat. It can cause headaches and a feeling of being generally unwell and listless.  Hay fever or seasonal rhinitis to give it its proper name, is caused by allergies to pollen or spores.  Hay fever symptoms include: itchy streaming eyes, sore throat and sneezing, itchy, blocked or runny nose.

Managing Asthma and Hay fever

If you are suffering from these symptoms it may be worthwhile having a chat to your GP or practice nurse to get advice on any treatments. Asthma needs to be formally diagnosed so that treatment plans can be put in place and progress monitored effectively.

Hay fever however, can often be managed by using over the counter anti-histamine tablets and nasal sprays.  Your local pharmacist may also be able to advise you on what is best for you.  General advice is to keep windows and doors closed during early morning and late evening when pollen levels rise, and to dry washing indoors, so that clothes do not become contaminated with pollen.  Wearing sunglasses  can help to avoid eye irritation.

Acute asthma attacks

Asthma UK have issued the following guidelines which are suitable for both children and adults and are the recommended steps to follow in an asthma attack:

  1. Take one to two puffs of your reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately.
  2. Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths.
  3. If you do not start to feel better, take two puffs of your reliever inhaler (one puff at a time) every two minutes. You can take up to ten puffs.
  4. If you do not feel better after taking your inhaler as above, or if you are worried at any time, call 999.
  5. If an ambulance does not arrive within 10 minutes and you are still feeling unwell, repeat step 3.
  6. If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, you still need to see a doctor or asthma nurse within 24 hours.

Further Information:

Holidays and Celebrations – Arranging a Street Party

April is upon us and we have a glut of Bank holidays approaching with Easter, the Royal Wedding and May Day all just around the corner. Not much time for work between the end of this week and May 2nd, especially if you are fortunate enough to take holiday in the three working days between bank holidays.

Royal Wedding

Many of you may be planning a street party or some such event to celebrate the impending nuptials of Prince William and Catherine Middleton but are being put off doing so by worries about “health and safety”.

The Health and Safety Executive are keen to point out that when it comes to parties and celebrations there is no obligation under health and safety law at all. In fact they have produced a Royal Wedding Myth of the month to dispel any would be kill-joys from claiming “health and safety” issues prevent them from celebrating.

All that is needed is a good dose of old fashioned common sense. Clearly, if you live on a busy road with lots of traffic and children coming to the party some thought needs to be given to the risks involved. However there is a wealth of information available to help you plan your celebration from your local council. Ask their advice about road closures etc.

So, bring on the bunting, trestle tables and party food! Have a super time, and show that we really know how to throw a good party.


Spring is in the Air – Gardening Safety

We all have sheds and garages that are crammed full of stuff and bits of things we might need in the future. Over the winter more stuff just gets piled in and perhaps now it’s time to tidy it up.

But before you embark on your gardening/shed clearing this weekend, bear in mind that 1 in 5 of all accidents happen in the garden.

Cuts, bruises, and more…

Each year, many people arrive at A&E departments with injuries ranging from the minor sprains, cuts and blisters to the more severe bleed, broken bones and amputations, caused by  accidents in and around the home and garden.

Don’t forget to check your equipment

Taking some time to check your equipment and safe storage of things such as weedkillers, adhesives and solvents could prevent nasty things happening. Most of these are common sense and really don’t take much time out of our busy days to deal with. Lets face it, a few minutes spent checking and maintaining equipment and clearing out the shed/garage may save time in A& E later.

RoSPA Checklist

Helpfully, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have produced a checklist to help householders think about safety issues in the home and garden:


Ladders should be checked before using them to ensure they are in good repair and that they are placed at a safe angle (1in 4). It is almost incredible to think that people would climb up a ladder where the rungs were worn, but they do!


Always follow manufacturer’s instructions when using weed killers, and never transfer chemicals to alternative containers that could confuse and lead to poisoning.

Sharp Tools:

Maintain sharp tools and remember to put them away tidily after to use to prevent injury, particularly to children.


Keep paths and steps level, stable and clear of any moss that might cause slips trips and falls.
Provide safety rails and barriers to changes in garden levels.


Site bonfires well away from fences, sheds and trees, and keep children away from them too.

Adhering to theses simple rules makes gardening safer for everyone concerned, so that you can enjoy your time in the garden and make the most of any fine weather.

Happy Gardening!



Get Fit… but warm up first!

So, the sun is shining, and I am starting to think about spending more time out and about.   If you are anything like me, winter has been a good excuse to avoid going running, far too cold!

Build up slowly

If you haven’t exercised for a long time you’ll need to start slowly with walking 3 times a week, and gradually build up to jogging, before going out for a serious run.  Before embarking on training sessions it is essential to ensure that you’ve warmed up muscles properly. The last thing you need is to injure yourself before you’ve begun.

Warming up

The most common causes of exercise related injuries are strains and sprains due to inadequate preparation. Stretching out well before starting to exercise is key to avoiding injury, but cooling down afterwards is just as important.  Ensuring you are adequately hydrated is also crucial. The first week of any new exercise plan is the one where injury is most likely.

Sprains and Strains

In the event that muscles do get strained, remember the following:

You’ll have to pay the PRICE and avoid further HARM.

PRICE stands for:

  • -Protect the the part from further injury
  • R – Rest the injury
  • IC – Ice- apply a cold pack to the area to reduce bruising and swelling for a minimum of 10 minutes.  Then allow the skin to come back up to temperature before reapplying if necessary. Always wrap the ice pack in a cloth so the ice doesn’t come in direct contact with the skin. This action will help with pain control.
  • E – Elevate the injured part to reduce the swelling.

Avoid further harm

Make sure you avoid further harm by:

  • not applying heat, as this will cause the bleeding and bruising to get worse for at least 72 hours.  After that time a little heat may help soothe matters.
  • Avoid alcohol as this may increase bleeding
  • Avoid Running or other forms of exercise for a few days.
  • Avoid Massage for at least 72 hours as it may cause more damage to the area.

Visit our FAQ pages for more information on sprains and strains.

Is it ever too early to learn? Teaching Children First Aid

Is it ever too early to learn?

Accidents happen regularly, particularly in homes and schools and usually adults are about to help deal with the situation and take charge.

But what happens if it is the adult who is injured, and children are the only ones around able to respond? Can children effectively assess a situation and deal with it appropriately?

If taught the right skills, could children as young as 4 or 5 help?

Mummy’s little helper

There are often reports in the news of toddlers and small children who save their parents lives by calling for emergency service help and who open airways by putting their parent in the recovery position. So should small children be taught very basic first aid skills?

A recent study

A recent study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine, suggested that children in Norway as young as 4 or 5 have been taught to perform first aid effectively, following training in the “5 finger rule”. Moreover that they can remember these skills up to 2 months later, correctly calling for help and putting a casualty into the recovery position, having managed their airway effectively.

The five finger rule

  1. Look at the person
  2. Talk to the person
  3. Touch them and try to wake them up
  4. Call emergency services
  5. Stay with the person and give comfort.

The study taught the children the five finger rule and how to prevent an airway being blocked by vomit by putting the casualty in the recovery position  and calling for help. The children were then asked to help someone who had fallen off their bike and was not moving. Using team work the children managed the situation properly. Two months later they could still work out if someone was unconscious or sleeping and whether they were breathing.


The study concluded that small children are able to help in emergency situations and should be taught some very rudimentary skills from an early age, perhaps during preschool and foundation stages of schooling, as they may be the only ones available to help.

From my own perspective as someone who first learnt first aid at a young age, I think teaching children first aid from a young age is invaluable. Many children learn skills very easily and have an innate compassion and desire to help others that should be fostered. Would it be too much trouble to teach a few lessons in first aid? You never know, it might be your life that a child saves.

Further reading