According to data 24% of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the recommended allowance and 27% of drinkers in Great Britain binge drink on their heaviest days (over 8 units for men and over 6 units for women). In England, there are an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers and only 18% of them are receiving help to help cut back.

In November we welcome Alcohol Awareness Week (15-21 November 2021) which is designed to raise awareness relating to drinking alcohol and encourage healthy drinking habits.

Post Lockdown Drinking

Experts warn that the added pressure of living in the recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased risk of unhealthy and excessive drinking with new concerns of people emerging from lockdown with new and harmful drinking habits.

The current Government guidance on safe drinking advises that men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you do reach this limit then drinking should also be spread out over 3 or more days. For an idea on unit measurements, 14 units are equivalent to 6 pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine.

Harmful Effects of Too Much Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can take a toll on our health. One harmful effect is inflammation of the liver also known as alcoholic hepatitis. If this is not addressed early this can also lead to scarring of the liver called cirrhosis which is a potentially fatal disease. It can also cause cardiac issues such as increased blood pressure and cause damage to the heart muscle.

Research shows that heavy alcohol consumption also has direct links to several cancers including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast, liver, colon and rectum.

Tips To Cut Back on Your Drinking

Here are a few simple tips for cutting down on alcohol consumption:

  • Before you start drinking, set sensible limits on both how much you are going to drink and how much you can spend. Make sure that you stick to it.
  • Speak up to your friends and family to let them know you are cutting down so that they can help to support you.
  • There are plenty of low and alcohol-free options available so why not try swapping your drink for something with a lower alcohol percentage.

If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s alcohol intake and need support, then get in touch with us at The Mayfair GP today.

The first Wednesday in November marks the celebration of National Stress Awareness Day. With the ongoing challenges faced in the world living through a global pandemic, it is easier than ever to find ourselves overwhelmed by stress on a daily basis.

However, this long term stress can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental health including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people felt so stressed last year that they felt they were unable to cope.

What is Stress in the Body?

To put it simply, stress is the overwhelming feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. When your body is faced with this challenge it reacts to this potential threat by entering a ‘flight or flight’ mode as it releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Meditation Linked to Reductions in Stress Levels

In order to tackle the issue of stress, effective methods are being discovered which help to reduce everyday stress in the long term.

By measuring cortisol levels in hair samples, a study has revealed the positive effects and reduction of stress following a mindfulness training programme. This training focuses on both cognitive and social skills through meditative gratitude and compassion practice.

Yoga for Everyday Stress

If you would prefer to take a more physical approach to de-stressing then yoga is a great option. Studies have shown that yoga has therapeutic effects that can help you manage stress, anxiety and depression.

Yoga uses a combination of breathing exercises, meditation and physical poses that provide a natural way to act against long-term, everyday stress. In addition to the benefits to mental health and well being, it also acts as a physical workout which in turn helps to release lots of positive feeling endorphins.

Optimal Health for a Lifetime

Here at The Mayfair GP we have a strong focus on avoiding preventable diseases and reversing some chronic diseases by incorporating a lifestyle medicine approach.

If you would like to find out more about how to incorporate changes into your daily life that will help with everyday stress then get in touch today to book a consultation.

November is also known to many as ‘Movember’, which is an opportunity to focus on men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide. There has been a lot of concern recently about a possible link between COVID and men’s sexual health. A recent study found that following a positive test for COVID, men may be six times more likely to develop brief or long term erectile dysfunction.

Although COVID is known to cause the most harm to the lungs, it is a systemic disease that can also affect the heart, kidneys, brain and other organs including the reproductive system. And those who have contracted the virus can often suffer long-lasting effects.

Post Virus Erectile Dysfunction

Ongoing research has revealed that a number of men who had previously been fit and healthy actually developed erectile dysfunction after having the COVID virus. In March 2021, research revealed direct links between the virus and erectile dysfunction in men.

One study collected penile tissue from patients who were recovered from symptomatic COVID infections but had subsequently developed severe erectile dysfunction. The evidence demonstrated the presence of the COVID virus in penile tissue long after the initial infection had passed.

COVID and Sexual Performance

Vascular integrity is necessary for erectile function which paired with endothelial damage (cells that line blood vessels) caused by COVID, is directly linked with poor sexual function. The damage the virus causes to endothelial cells which line the blood vessels and it is believed that this is the most likely explanation for the link to poor sexual performance.

Further studies also detail a number of post-infection issues which impact men’s sexual health including the inability to maintain an erection, damage to the testes, testicular pain or swelling, inability to achieve an orgasm, low testosterone levels and mental health issues.

The testicles can act as a hideout of the viral cells which cause COVID. This may help to explain why 11% of men who are hospitalised with COVID have suffered from testicular pain.

Are There Links to the COVID Vaccine?

No. There has been speculation that the COVID vaccine causes issues such as swollen testicles and impotence, however, scientists believe it is important for individuals to understand that there are no links to suggest that the vaccine is linked to erectile function.

If you are concerned about your fertility or the impact of COVID on your sexual health, please contact us today to find out how we can help. Or if you or your partner is experiencing testicular pain, we can carry out a physical examination in the comfort of your own home.

Medication management is vitally important and ensures that your medication is taken effectively and safely. Here at The Mayfair GP, we can help you to manage your medications, as we understand that patients are often prescribed a whole host of different medications, often with different requirements. It can become difficult to keep on top of it all.

Understand Your Medications

One of the first things to do is to understand what medication you are taking, and why it has been suggested that you take it. It can be helpful to start by writing a list of all of your current medications including any vitamins or supplements that you take. This list can be kept as a reference list and is useful to bring to your healthcare appointments. Whilst you are doing this, it can also be useful to take note of any allergies or intolerances that you have.

Each medication issued from a pharmacy will be supplied with a patient information leaflet. This will detail any side effects the medication may cause, and advise the best time to take it. It will also include how the medication could be affected by other medications, food, or alcohol.

Plan Your Medication Times

If you are taking a number of different medications it can become difficult to keep track of what to take at certain times. Therefore, it can be helpful to write a simple guide to help you manage your medications.

You could include information such as:

  • what each medication is for
  • what time you need to take it
  • the dose you are required to take
  • when you need to re-order it

Pharmacies also offer medication blister packs which help you to take the correct tablets at the right time and on the right day.

Set Yourself Reminders

It can be helpful to set an alarm to remind you when to take certain medications or need to re-order your supplies. This could be on your phone or any other devices you feel comfortable using. You could also combine taking your medication along with other daily habits such as brushing your teeth which can be a helpful reminder.

We Can Help You To Manage Your Medications

We understand that things can get confusing, especially the more medication that you take. Making sure you have rapid and easy access to the medications that you need is an essential part of our service.

At The Mayfair GP, we offer a thorough and comprehensive consultation either at your own home, in the clinic, or via the telephone before then arranging individualised prescriptions to suit your needs.

Get in touch today to speak to one of our dedicated practitioners who can arrange the next steps and help you to manage your medications.

Since 2009 October has been celebrated as Menopause Awareness Month to raise the profile and education surrounding menopause and to promote the support options available for improving health and well being before, during and after this transitory stage of life.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural part of the ageing process and occurs when a woman stops menstruating and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. This usually happens for women between the ages of 45 and 55 years of age and is reflected by decreasing oestrogen levels within the body. It is this fall in oestrogen that stops the release of an egg and therefore the ability to get pregnant naturally.

In the UK, the average age of a woman reaching menopause is 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40 years old. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.

Usually, periods become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop completely. However, for some people, they can also stop suddenly.

Symptoms of Menopause

The range and severity of symptoms of menopause are wide-ranging due to the fact that oestrogen is a hormone that is utilised by many parts of the body.

The common symptoms of menopause include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood and anxiety, reduced sex drive and problems with memory and concentration.

These menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before menstruation stops and can often last around 4 years following the last period, although some women report experiencing these for much longer.

Menopause Treatment Options

Most women experiencing menopause will experience a range of menopausal symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be mild and easily treated by lifestyle changes but for others, treatment options are required.

Some treatment options include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), vaginal oestrogen treatments, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and the promotion of a healthy, balanced diet.

Supporting You Through Menopause

Here at The Mayfair GP, we understand that experiencing menopause can feel daunting as it can impact many aspects of your life. There are many options available which we can tailor to suit your individual needs.

Get in touch today to book an appointment at The Mayfair GP for an initial consultation where your individual needs would be discussed in order to determine the next available steps. This may include further testing, prescribing hormone replacement therapy or a referral to a Menopause Specialist. We are also able to continue established prescriptions of hormone replacement therapy from gynaecologists. With a strong background in Lifestyle Medicine, we can also help with lifestyle choice options.

Cancer Research UK has revealed that around 10,600 fewer patients in England started treatment for breast cancer between April 2020 and March 2021 compared with the same period the year before.

There is ongoing concern that this drop in numbers is unfortunately due to the public’s reluctance to seek medical advice and continue with their breast screening due to the COVID pandemic.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual campaign is about increasing awareness of the disease including the importance of breast screening, access, and treatment options available.

You can find more information about the campaign here.

Do Not Ignore the Signs of Cancer

Almost half of women in the UK are reported to not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer, the charity Breast Cancer Now has revealed.

1 in 10 women are reported to have never checked their breasts for new or unusual changes. In addition, only 19% of women check their breasts once every 6 months or less whilst only 13% check once a year or less.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers for women in the UK and Breast Cancer Now is making an urgent plea for all women to make checking their breasts a habit of a lifetime. By doing so, it will prompt individuals to understand their body and notice any signs which are abnormal which could lead to help with early diagnoses.

Self Check Your Breasts At Home

Research suggests that a large percentage of women are not checking their breasts for abnormalities regularly. They do not feel confident about what unusual changes are, and what they should be looking for. This is the case for almost 17% of women aged 45-54, which is the age when breast cancer risk increases significantly for women.

If you would like more information about how to carry out a quick, simple breast check at home then click here for NHS advice.

Can I Lower My Risk of Breast Cancer?

There is no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer but there are several things that you can do to reduce your risks such as maintaining a healthy weight, remaining physically active, and avoiding or limiting alcohol. Our GPs at The Mayfair GP can help you with lifestyle choices so that you can achieve your health goals, and lower your risk of breast cancer.

Book A Breast Screening

If you need a breast screening then get in touch today to book an appointment with one of our dedicated doctors at The Mayfair GP.

The month of September welcomes Urology Awareness Month, organised by The Urology Foundation. The aim is to raise awareness, break down stigma and encourage individuals to actively take care of their urology health.

Diseases and cancers of the kidneys, bladder, prostate and the male reproductive system are becoming more prevalent and it is estimated that 1 in 2 of us will be affected by a urology condition within our lifetime which can significantly impact the quality of life and sleep in particular.

Benign Prostate Enlargement (BPE) / Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Benign Prostate Enlargement (BPE) and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) are medical terms used to describe an enlarged prostate gland. This condition can affect how you pass urine.

Having an enlarged prostate gland is a common condition for men over the age of 50 and has been estimated to increase from 50% among men between the ages of 50 and 60 years old up to 90% for men older than 80 years of age.

In the UK more than 3 million men have lower tract symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.

What is the Prostate?

The prostate is a small gland, situated in the pelvis in between the penis and the bladder. Its position means that if the prostate becomes enlarged, it can place pressure on the urinary system. This increases your frequency of needing pee and can also cause difficulty in emptying your bladder completely. It can also cause difficulties in starting to pee.

Causes of an Enlarged Prostate

The cause of BPE and BPH are unknown but are believed to have links with the balance of hormones in the body as it naturally ages. Hormonal changes in older men may play a role in the enlargement of prostate glands thereby blocking the urethra, the tube which carries urine from the bladder and passes through the centre of prostate glands.

Treatment

The first line of treatment for benign prostate enlargement depends on the severity of the symptoms however these are often relieved by adopting healthy lifestyle choices. This includes reducing alcohol and fizzy drinks as these can irritate the bladder further. Also, limiting artificial sweeteners, exercising regularly and reducing fluid intake in the evening.

There are medications that can help relax muscles and shrink the prostate. Devices such as catheters can also be used if you have chronic urine retention, where you find it difficult to pass urine and empty your bladder.

Health Screening

Here at The Mayfair GP, we offer health screenings that can help to identify any possible health concerns at an early stage. If you are worried about your urinary symptoms please get in touch today to book an appointment.

Scientific studies are concerned over emerging data on the effects that long COVID is having on some children and warn that these issues are real and should not be ignored.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that 13% of under 11’s and around 15% of 12-16-year-old children have reported to be suffering from at least one symptom of COVID, five weeks after receiving a confirmed positive COVID-19 infection. Almost 500,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020.

The Stages of Long COVID in Children

Children are considered less likely to become infected with COVID, transmit the virus and require hospitalisation. But there are still increasing concerns that the infection has the possibility to cause complications for the health of many children in the longer term.

Long COVID is a patient-led term used to describe the long-lasting effects that the COVID-19 infection can lead to. You may hear the term broken down into three categories: acute COVID infection, ongoing Symptomatic COVID and Post COVID Syndrome. This depends on the length of time signs and symptoms occur.

Common Symptoms of Long COVID in Children

At present, an agreed clinical definition of long COVID within children is limited and continues to be the topic of many discussions. However, regularly reported signs and symptoms include ongoing feelings of nausea, stomach pains, extreme tiredness and headaches. And there could be up to 100 other symptoms including dizziness, seizure, hallucinations and testicular pain.

Many children who have had the virus are reporting that they continue to feel tired doing their daily activities like gentle walking. Also reported is an ongoing reduction in sense of taste and smell. In some cases, they can experience cardiovascular symptoms such as palpitations and dizziness.

In addition to this, it is important to remember that COVID can have a significant effect on a child’s mental health and wellbeing due to changes and fear of the unknown, increased anxiety and social isolation.

Specialist Paediatric Care

We understand that it can be difficult to differentiate between long COVID and post-viral fatigue which can occur after common infections such as the flu and glandular fever.

Here at The Mayfair GP we offer comprehensive paediatric care and are highly experienced at treating a range of childhood illnesses and chronic conditions. If you are concerned, please get in touch. We can also do home visits and can carry out COVID testing, or other health screenings if needed.

Migraine is a very common health condition, affecting around 1 in every 5 women and around 1 in every 15 men which usually begin in early adulthood.

The Migraine Trust is spreading the word about the need for better migraine healthcare and have launched their Migraine Awareness Week happening throughout 5th -11th  September.

What is a Migraine?

Typically a migraine is described as a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head which also brings sensory disturbances. Although there is no known cause, it is a severe and painful long term health condition that can result in episodes known as migraine attacks.

In addition to head pain, migraine attacks can also cause whole-body experiences. These can include problems with vision and sensitivity to light, increased fatigue and sensations of nausea with vomiting.

Stages of a Migraine Attack

Although they can be complex, having a good understanding of migraines can be helpful. By spotting the phases of migraine attacks, individuals can spot the warning signs and be better prepared.

Migraines can be difficult to predict however once they usually follow a pattern made up of four well-defined stages:

  1. Pre Headache: This first stage is often signalled by feeling tired, excessive yawning, food cravings, feeling irritable, stiffness along with feeling thirsty and passing increased amounts of urine.
  2. Aura: This second stage includes a wide range of neurological symptoms including visual disturbances, numbness and pins and needles, weakness, dizziness and speech and hearing changes.
  3. Headache: At this point, it is likely that moderate to severe head pain typically described as throbbing has developed. This pain can often worsen with movement and can sometimes lead to nausea and vomiting.
  4. Resolution/Recovery: Symptoms of this final stage are similar to that of initial onset and can take anything between a few hours or days to fully recover.

Treating Migraines

Although it is not well understood what causes the abnormal brain activity related to migraines, there are certain triggers that are believed to have an impact such as stress, skipping meals, low blood sugar, alcohol, hormonal changes in women and environmental factors such as light and temperature.

Simple steps to take that could help include ensuring you are getting adequate amounts of good quality sleep, exercise regularly, reduce screen time, opt for healthy diet choices and work to reduce stress levels.

Lifestyle Medicine

Here at The Mayfair GP, we have a strong focus on lifestyle medicine. If you would like more information, guidance and support in dealing with painful headaches or migraines, please get in touch to book a consultation.

There is no doubt that type 2 diabetes and weight are intrinsically linked. If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you will know that eating a healthy diet and maintaining an exercise regime are key to managing your condition.

In fact, recent studies have shown that by returning to a healthy weight and – crucially – keeping the weight off, you can actually put your diabetes into remission. This means you could come off your medication because your body is able to manage its insulin levels all by itself.

Type 2 diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is present from birth, type 2 diabetes tends to appear later in life. It happens when the hormone insulin in your body stops working properly, leading to raised blood sugar levels.

While the symptoms of type 1 diabetes come on very quickly, with type 2 diabetes the onset is more gradual, meaning people often live with the condition for several years before being diagnosed.

There are several risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, including:

  • age of 45+
  • family history of type 2 diabetes
  • ethnicity
  • high blood pressure
  • being overweight

By far the most well-documented of these risk factors is being overweight, and whilst there’s not a huge amount you can do about your age, ethnicity or family history, controlling your weight can help to control your diabetes.

Achieve a healthy weight

It is always tempting to follow a diet that promises extreme weight loss in a short period, but if your aim is to lose weight and keep it off, slow and steady always wins the race.

Here at The Mayfair GP, we specialise in lifestyle medicine. We can offer practical guidance, tailored to your individual circumstances, on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. But here are a few key pointers that can work for everyone:

  • Follow an eating plan that works for you, that is low in saturated and trans fats, but contains all the major food groups, with a big focus on fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Eat three meals a day, with a small, healthy snack between meals if you’re hungry
  • Aim to do at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week. If you’re not used to an active lifestyle, start with a gentle stroll, and aim to increase the pace over time

A 30 minute walk whilst chatting to a friend can go much quicker than one spent alone and watching the clock! But if walking’s not for you, try cycling, swimming or maybe a team sport. There are plenty of activities to choose from, so keep looking until you find the one that’s right for you.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Because the symptoms tend not to come on so suddenly as type 1 diabetes, type 2 can be harder to spot. Here are some key things to look out for:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently, particularly at night
  • Being very thirsty
  • Feeling tired
  • Blurred eyesight
  • Itching
  • Increased appetite

If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, you might be concerned that have type 2 diabetes. But if you get in touch with The Mayfair GP, we can organise blood tests to ensure a speedy diagnosis.

For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us on 07568 369455.