We know it’s autumn when the weather turns cold and wet and doctors start urging us to be prepared for winter. This year is no different.
The annual drive to vaccinate the vulnerable against flu has commenced today. Are you planning on getting your flu jab and if not why not?
True ‘flu (influenza) as opposed to a cold, is a very unpleasant illness, especially for those that are vulnerable: the elderly, they very young, pregnant women and those with pre existing illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. It is extremely contagious. For these individuals the risk of developing complications such as pneumonia is significantly higher than those who are not so vulnerable. Those who are are front line health care workers are also at risk of both catching the disease and passing it on to others.
Each year many are admitted to hospital with the condition and it can take a while to fully recover. We forget that ‘flu can kill.
This year for the first time, four year olds are being offered the vaccine along with two and three year olds, as a means of combating the spread of the disease. If you’re worried about giving a child an injection, it is given as a nasal spray for young children.
The chief medical officer for Britain is urging all those who are offered the injection to visit their GP practice early in the season to ensure that they are fully protected as winter approaches.
For more information see:
Good news for schools!
New regulations have just been issued regarding the use of reliever asthma inhalers in schools.
From 1st October 2014 the Human Medicines (Amendment) (No2) Regulations 2014 will allow schools to hold a spare emergency asthma inhaler for use in emergencies.
These inhalers can only be used by children for whom parental consent has already been given to use an emergency inhaler and who normally carry an inhaler to school as they have been diagnosed with asthma or have been prescribed a reliever inhaler.
It can be used if the pupils prescribed inhaler is not available (for example because it is empty or broken).
Head teachers can purchase the salbutamol inhalers for the treatment of acute asthma attacks from pharmaceutical suppliers. Suppliers will need a signed request from the head stating the quantity of inhalers required and for what purpose. They will also need to purchase spare spacer devices to help administer the drug.
For full information see the Government’s Guidance Document on the Use of Emergency Inhalers in Schools
June 2012: We are delighted to announce that we have launched a new course: “Managing Medicines in Schools“.
This course is aimed at staff working with children who may be expected to administer medication to them. It gives an overview of some of the legal implications and practical issues surrounding the administration of medication to children as well as covering asthma, diabetes and epilepsy and the medications used for these conditions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: