Can you mix the Covid vaccines?

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There are three coronavirus vaccines which have been approved for mass distribution in the UK. More than four million people have now received their first dose of the vaccine, with more than 450,000 having been given their second dose as well. But with three different vaccines available – can you mix the vaccines and is it safe to do so?

The UK was the first nation in the world to approve the use of a coronavirus vaccine.

As of January 18, 4,062,501 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, with 452,301 having received their second dose as well.

Speaking from Downing Street on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know the pain that this disease causes – and I’m determined to do everything we possibly can to defeat it, and I know that is what you want too.

“And our vaccine delivery plan is absolutely at the core of this, it is our way out. It’s also the biggest medical deployment in British history and it’s one of the biggest civilian operations that this country’s ever undertaken.

“Our approach is, of course, to save as many lives as possible – as quickly as possible and to reduce the pressure on the NHS.”

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The Health Secretary outlined the UK is on track to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.

These groups currently account for 88 percent of Covid-related deaths reported in Britain.

From Monday, all those aged above 70 and those under 70 who are clinically extremely vulnerable will begin to be invited for vaccination.

Mr Hancock said: “We’re doing this because it’s the best way both to maximise the pace of the rollout and deliver according to the clinical prioritisation.

“All with the goal of saving as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible and reducing the pressures on the NHS.”

Can you mix the vaccines?

There are three different types of vaccine currently available in the UK.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which requires storing at temperatures close to -75C, was the first to be approved in the UK.

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab uses a technology known as mRNA which introduces a messenger sequence which contains the generic instructions for the vaccinated person’s own cells to produce the antigens and generate an immune response.

The final data on this vaccine showed it offers 95 percent protection against the virus after two doses, with a 94 percent effectiveness among adults over the age of 65.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca was the second vaccine to be approved in the UK and it works by smuggling the coronavirus gene into human cells to make the spike protein which the immune system builds up a response to if the real virus enters the body.

The Oxford trial found after two doses, the vaccine was 62 percent effective, but later when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose efficacy rose to 90 percent.

The Moderna vaccine is the latest vaccine to be introduced and it uses the same mRNA technology as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Moderna’s response indicates 94.5 percent effectiveness but said trials are ongoing and these final figures may change.

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The official guidance outlines everyone should receive the same vaccine for both doses.

However, in very rare circumstances, if only one vaccine is available or it is unknown which particular vaccine was used for the first dose, a different vaccine can be used.

The Government guidance reads: “JCVI advises that the second vaccine dose should be with the same vaccine as for the first dose.

“Switching between vaccines or missing the second dose is not advised as this may affect the duration of protection.”

Different vaccines will not be mixed in the same dose.

Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE, told The BMJ that “every effort should be made to give [patients] the same vaccine, but where this is not possible it is better to give a second dose of another vaccine than not at all.”

The UK has been the first country to announce it is prepared to mix and match the vaccines in limited circumstances.

NHS England has been keen to stress people can be given a different second dose from the first when absolutely necessary.

However, the United States in particular, has been critical of this approach.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the authorised Covid-19 vaccines “are not interchangeable” and that “the safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated. Both doses of the series should be completed with the same product.”

Dr Ramsay’s comments were repeated in a press briefing involving Professor Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Commission of Human Medicines expert working group.

Professor Pirmohamed said: “We’re not advising mixing different doses of the vaccines because we don’t have any data on that.

“Our advice is that if you have the Pfizer vaccine as a first dose, the second dose should also be the Pfizer vaccine.

“If you have the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose, the second dose should also be the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Trials are currently underway where people receive different vaccines at different times to see how effective it is.

Public Health England said because all the available vaccines are based on the spike protein, it is likely the second dose will help to boost the response to the first dose, even if it is a different vaccine.

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Lockdown sleep: Why can’t I sleep? An experts tips to a great night’s sleep

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A study from the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Centre for Population Change at Southampton University has found that the number of Brits suffering sleep loss caused by worrying rose from one in six to one in four as a direct result of the pandemic, so it’s no wonder we are all exhausted during the day. Express.co.uk chatted to the in-house Sleep Expert at Emma, Dr Verena Senn, to find out how to get a great night’s sleep during lockdown.

Why can’t I sleep?

According to Dr Senn, the number one reason we’re all feeling so tired during the day is because of poor sleep quality.

Interrupted sleep or lack of sleep is probably caused by loneliness and lack of social interaction.

Dr Senn explained being lonely can “lead to higher levels of stress” and this then triggers a spike in the hormone cortisol.

The sleep expert said: “Cortisol is known for being part of our fight-or-flight response, keeping us alert and ready whilst high levels are in our systems.”

So with cortisol spiking, this can create trouble for those wanting to fall asleep and can also “increase the likelihood of having an interrupted sleep.”

Dr Senn also revealed loneliness can contribute to feeling stressed, or anxious explaining: “We’re also beginning to understand that the brain and body perceive loneliness and social isolation as a serious threat, similar to how our bodies react to any harmful external factor.

“It seems that loneliness puts us on high alert, which interferes with our bodies ability to wind down and relax.”

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How to sleep

The solution to a sleepless night caused by loneliness is to up your levels of social interaction.

Dr Senn said: “Make sure you take time out each day for some form of social interaction. Those living alone should look to meet people at least once a week, as well as carving time out for those important calls.

“Yes, Zoom fatigue is real, but so too is the danger of a lack of social interaction and humans’ brains are literally wired to connect.”

She also added there are some brilliant UK initiatives and organisations to help support those who are suffering with loneliness, including Tackling Youth Loneliness, Campaign to End Loneliness, WaveLength and The CO-OP Foundation’s Belong. The NHS also provides a portal complete with resources to help anyone suffering from loneliness, social isolation and those currently shielding.”

There are a number of other things you can do to improve your sleep quality.

Dr Senn said it is important to de-stress in the evening to ensure we start the next day fresh and break the cycle.

Don’t stress

If you’re finding it difficult to sleep, you shouldn’t get worked up about it.

Dr Senn explained: “If you cannot get to sleep at night due to stress, try not to fret over it too much. Doing so will only increase your stress levels, increase your cortisol and activate your sympathetic nervous system, continuing that never-ending cycle. Just know that you will drift off eventually.”

Read

Don’t lay there with your eyes clenched shut if you’re wide awake, try and distract yourself in order to doze off.

Dr Senn said: “If you feel you’re too focused on getting to sleep, take yourself out of your room and read a book, but make sure you keep the light dim and it’s a physical copy, otherwise blue light emitted from your e-reader will suppress the production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.

“Also, you don’t want to read anything too gripping, but enough to take your mind off of things.”

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Listen

You don’t have to read something, you could always just listen to something mildly distracting.

Dr Senn said: “This varies from person to person, but it could be low white noise, an audiobook read by a soothing voice or even some relaxing music.

“For many, something that they have listened to many times before is enough to distract their focus from their thoughts, but not too thrilling to keep them wide-awake.

“But no matter what, take stock in the fact that you will eventually drift off, ready for whatever the world has to throw at you.”

Meditate

Whether you’re an avid meditator or hate the idea of it, you should give it a go if you’re really struggling to sleep.

Dr Senn said: “Guided meditation has been proven to help positively impact sleep issues, lowering the heart rate by activating the parasympathetic nervous system – the counterpart of our fight or flight response – and is an age-old technique to help relax the mind and body.

“Of course, meditation isn’t a fix-all, rapid solution; you can’t meditate minutes before bed and expect to doze off.”

Temperature

No matter how cold it is outside, never let your home overheat before bedtime.

Dr Senn explained: “As tempting as it may be to sleep in a snug warm room, it’s actually counterintuitive.

“Cooling our bodies down at the end of the day is a key part of winding our bodies down for sleep. Our body core temperature fluctuates throughout the day, peaking in the afternoon and through the early morning hours.

“The optimal bedroom temperature is around 15.5-19°C, so keep that thermostat down or off. I’d suggest setting a timer to heat up your home for when you wake up; helping you not only sleep better, but also saving money on your energy bills.”

Snacks

What you eat can determine how well you sleep, and there are a few foods that will help you fall asleep more quickly.

Dr Senn said: “It may sound odd at first, but there are foods which can actually lull you into a deeper, more restful sleep: among these are eggs, kiwis and nuts.

“That’s because these protein-rich foods contain a small amount of an amazing amino acid known as tryptophan.

“Tryptophan is a precursor of other important molecules in your body, including melatonin- the sleep-inducing hormone.

“By helping your body to produce more melatonin, tryptophan can help you better regulate your circadian rhythm (our internal clock), helping you in dozing off into a well-needed rest.

“If that wasn’t enough, foods rich in tryptophan can also help your body regulate its core temperature; an important factor considering our temperature needs to drop roughly 1-2C to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

“A few kiwis or a handful of peanuts in the evening will help your body produce melatonin; but make sure you don’t eat too close to bedtime as the later you eat, the harder it is on your body to digest!”

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Hair loss treatment: Apple cider vinegar restores the PH balance to increase hair growth

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Hair loss is a problem that many men and women face today. According to recent studies, hair loss is found in as many as 70 percent of men, and in women, who are considered less likely to have this problem. Statistics show otherwise with about 30 percent of women face or will face hair loss later on in life. However, in women, hair loss usually does not end with total baldness, as is the case with men. Apple cider vinegar has become extremely popular for a number of health reasons and could be one of the best treatments to help increase hair growth.

In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, pH levels in shampoos and how it can affect hair growth and breakage was investigated.

The study noted: “Dermatologists most frequently prescribe shampoos for the treatment of hair shed and scalp disorders.

“Prescription of hair care products is often focused on improving scalp hair density, whereas the over-the-counter products focus on hair damage prevention.

“Alkaline pH may increase the negative electrical charge of the hair fibre surface and, therefore, increase friction between the fibres and this may lead to cuticle damage and fibre breakage.”

As ACV has a high acidity, it could help maintain the pH balance, thus making hair smoother, stronger, and increasing hair growth.

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Medical News Today added: “Some advocates claim that apple cider vinegar deserves a place in everyone’s hair care routine, thanks to its powers to relieve a variety of scalp conditions, including flaking, dandruff, and psoriasis.

“Others have said it can boost hair growth.

“Hair has an ideal pH level of between four and five, but many commercial shampoos may disrupt this.

“Because apple cider vinegar has a high acidity, it follows that it could help maintain the pH balance, thus making hair smoother, stronger, and shinier.”

Adding apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your hair care routine “will help keep your scalp healthy by warding off bacteria and keeping a balanced pH level,” said Dr Debra Jaliman.

She added: “This will stimulate hair growth.

“ACV gently exfoliates the scalp which in turn will promote hair growth and healthier hair.”

“Of course, any hair loss concerns you might have should be discussed with your doctor or dermatologist, but having a cheap, natural tool in your arsenal can’t hurt, as well.”

How to use

An apple cider vinegar wash can be made very simply, said Healthline.

The site advised the simple steps to use apple cider vinegar to increase hair growth which include:

  • Mix a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water.

  • After shampooing and conditioning, pour the mixture over your hair evenly, working into your scalp.

  • Let it sit for a couple of minutes.

  • Rinse it out.

  • More conventional treatments

    According to the NHS, finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.

    Male pattern baldness is a permanent type of hair loss that usually runs in the family.

    It is worth noting that finasteride and minoxidil come with drawbacks to consider first.

    As the NHS explains, these treatments:

  • Don’t work for everyone

  • Only work for as long as they’re used

  • Aren’t available on the NHS

  • Can be expensive.

  • Also, minoxidil can be used to treat female pattern baldness but women shouldn’t use finasteride, warns the health body.

    Source: Read Full Article

    Olly Alexander health: It’s A Sin star opens up about his mental health struggles

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    An advocate for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), Olly Alexander is the celebrity who has gained thousands of fans, not only for his music, but also for his openness about mental health.

    “The likelihood is that you or someone you know closely will suffer from a mental health condition in your lifetime,” he told The Guardian’s Owen Jones.

    “It’s like any other part of your body – your mental health gets sick, and it needs treatment.”

    As a teenager, Olly would self harm, he told Alastair Campbell for GQ Magazine.

    At the same time, he also developed an eating disorder – bulimia, which lasted for seven years.

    The 30-year-old takes daily medication (sertraline) to manage his symptoms of depression.

    Am I depressed?

    The charity Rethink Mental Illness defined depression as a “long-lasting low mood disorder”.

    A common mental health condition, affecting one in 10 people, treatment and support is available.

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    Based on the NHS recommendation, people should talk to their GP if they’re experiencing symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day for over two weeks.

    Symptoms of depression include:

    • Low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry
    • Having less energy to do certain things
    • Losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy
    • Loss of concentration
    • Becoming tired more easily
    • Disturbed sleep and losing your appetite
    • Feeling less good about yourself (loss of self-confidence)
    • Feeling guilty or worthless.

    Experiencing a low mood can also lead to:

    • Feeling less pleasure from things
    • Feeling more agitated
    • Losing interest in sex
    • Finding your thoughts and movements slow down
    • Having thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

    Anyone struggling with their mental health are encouraged to call the Samaritans free helpline on 116 123.

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    There’s also a Samaritans Self-Help app available, where you can document how you’re feeling, and get recommendations on how to help yourself cope, feel better and stay safe.

    If you go to speak with a doctor about your feelings of depression, they should enquire about any possible causes of depression.

    Sometimes, feelings of depression can be triggered by stressful events in your life.

    Examples include divorce, redundancy, furlough, financial difficulties, and/or death of a loved one.

    Reactive depression is different from an adjustment disorder, whereby symptoms of depression can follow a major change in your life.

    This can include separation from people, retirement or migrating to a new area.

    “Having problems with your thyroid or having low levels of Vitamin B12 may also be linked to experiencing symptoms of depression,” said the charity.

    Lifestyle factors can also increase a person’s risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.

    This can include not exercising, being under or overweight, and having fewer social relationships.

    Evidence also suggests that drinking alcohol regularly or missing alcohol can put a person at greater risk of depression.

    Other health conditions, such as diabetes and cancer can also coincide with feelings of depression.

    Treatments for depression

    Talking therapies are available for free on the NHS, however private healthcare providers can also offer help and support.

    “The type of therapy you are offered will depend on the cause of your symptoms and their severity,” said Rethink Mental Illness.

    Olly Alexander will be starring on BBC One’s The Graham Norton Show, on Friday January 8 at 10:45pm.

    Source: Read Full Article

    Type 2 diabetes symptoms: The ‘big three’ – polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia

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    Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health complications when left untreated, so spotting signs of condition is vital. The condition often linked to poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity, causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease, nerve damage and kidney damage.

    The symptoms of diabetes can be reduced to three major factors, according to Diabetes.co.uk.

    In the case of type 1 diabetes, these symptoms can develop quickly, but with type 2 diabetes, the symptoms can be subtler and develop slower.

    The three big signs, says the site, are polydipsia, polyuria and polyphasic.

    Polydipsia is the term given to excessive thirst. The site explains: “We all get thirsty at various times during the day. Adequate daily intake of water (several glasses) is very important as water is essential for many bodily functions, including regulating body temperature and removing waste.

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    “However, if you feel thirsty all the time or your thirst is stronger than usual and continues even after you drink, it can be a sign that not all is well inside your body.”

    Polyuria is where the body urinates more than usual. The site states: “Polyuria is defined as the frequent passage of large volumes of urine – more than three litres a day compared to the normal daily urine output in adults of about one to two litres.

    “It is one of the main symptoms of diabetes (both type 1 and type 2 diabetes) and can lead to severe dehydration, which if left untreated can affect kidney function.”

    Polyphagia is the term used to describe excessive hunger. The site explains: “An increase in hunger is usually a response to normal things such as intensive exercise or other strenuous activity, but polyphagia can also be the result of more severe issues such as depression or stress.”

    It’s important to note these aren’t the only symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

    Other symptoms are listed by the NHS as:

    • Feeling very tired
    • Losing weight without trying to
    • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
    • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
    • Blurred vision

    Being aware of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes may also help you be more aware of symptoms.

    The health body says you’re more at risk of developing the condition if you:

    • Are over 40 (or 25 for south Asian people)
    • Have a close relative with diabetes (such as a parent, brother or sister)
    • Are overweight or obese
    • Are of Asian, African-Caribbean or black African origin (even if you were born in the UK)

    There are three simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to Diabetes UK. These are:

    • Eating well
    • Moving more
    • Getting support to lose weight if you need to.

    Certain foods should be limited, such as sugar, fat and salt.

    Experts also recommend eating a wide range of foods, including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta, and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

    Adults are recommended to do 2.5 hours of activity a week.

    And losing weight, if you’re overweight, will not only make it easier for your body to lower your blood sugar level, but can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol. 

    Source: Read Full Article

    How to live longer: Drinking both tea and coffee every day could boost your longevity

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    While most people categorise themselves as either a coffee or tea person, a study published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care showed it could benefit your health and even boost longevity, by being both. A team of researchers from Japan analysed the effects of green tea and coffee consumption among nearly 5,000 diabetic adults.

    They observed the risks of premature death were the lowest among participants who drink both four cups of tea and two cups of coffee every day.

    The benefits of drinking tea and coffee daily in moderation are well-known.

    The drinks have been shown to regulate weight, optimise your metabolism and to boost brain health.

    But the new study is one of the first to look at the health effects on diabetics who consume both drinks daily.

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    As part of the study, which ran over five years, the researchers provided questionnaires to the participants who had enrolled in The Fukuoka Diabetes Registry.

    The questions involved diet and lifestyle topics, including how much participants exercised, whether they smoked, how much they slept, and how much green tea and coffee they consumed on a daily basis.

    By the end of the study, 309 participants had died.

    The study concluded those who’d rank one cup of green tea everyday had a 15 percent lower chance of early death, and those who drank two to three cups had a 27 percent lower chance.

    Drinking four cups had a 40 percent lower chance of early death.

    When it came to coffee, drinking one cup per day was observed to have a 19 percent lower chance of death, and those drinking two cups of coffee per day were linked with 41 percent lower odds of early death.

    The people with the lowest odds of early death were those who’d rank four cups of green tea and two cups of coffee every day.

    The researchers conceded: “We found that higher green tea and coffee consumption was significantly associated with decreased all-cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes.”

    They noted the findings account for other lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices.

    “This association remained significant after adjusting for potential confounders: the impact of each beverage on mortality was independent,” they added.

    British Heart Foundation (BHF) dietician Victoria Taylor says drinking four or five cups of tea or coffee a day “should be fine for most people”, particularly when it comes to heart health.

    She says: “Research shows that this level of caffeine intake shouldn’t be detrimental to your heart health, affect your cholesterol levels or heart rhythm.

    “Although drinking coffee has been shown to increase blood pressure, this effect is usually temporary and is minimised over time if you drink caffeinated drinks regularly.

    “Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and can experience palpitations.

    “If this is you, then it’s sensible to avoid caffeine.

    “Remember that caffeine is found in quite a few sources including: tea, green tea, coffee, energy drinks, cola and chocolate.”

    Source: Read Full Article

    High blood pressure: How to check your reading is healthy at home without equipment

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    For a person living with high blood pressure if left untreated life-threatening risks can ensue including heart disease and strokes. With most of the UK under strict lockdown, popping down to your GP to measure your blood pressure is not feasible. How can you ensure your reading is at a healthy level when at home?

    Blood pressure readings provide clues about the amount of work one’s heart is doing in order to pump blood through the arteries.

    The exact cause of why some people may have higher blood pressure than others is unknown.

    There are numerous factors that play a role in developing high blood pressure and these include being a smoker, being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, too much salt in the diet, drinking too much alcohol, not dealing with stress well, older age and genetics.

    Regardless of what caused the blood pressure to creep up, knowing exactly what your number is and taking the appropriate measures to lower that reading if too high, is imperative.

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    According to Blood Pressure Nutrition, you could get an approximate systolic blood pressure reading without a blood pressure cuff.

    To do this one would need to find their pulse along their left arm. You’re looking for a radial pulse, which is below the thumb and above the wrist.

    If you can feel the pulse without difficulty, your systolic blood pressure is at least 80mmHg.

    In general, a normal blood pressure is considered anything less than 120/80. 

    Blood pressure is a very individualised vital sign reading, which means it can be very difficult for each person.

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    Blood pressure readings largely depend on a person’s gender, age, weight, and any medical conditions.

    There are also many useful apps available that can a person track your blood pressure results.

    This can be helpful in identifying patterns in blood pressure.

    These apps can help one to quickly and easily track their blood pressure readings.

    Measuring blood pressure regularly on the same area can help most accurately to track readings and ensure they are at healthy levels.

    The British Heart Foundation added: “Your blood pressure should be below 140 / 90.

    “If you have heart and circulatory disease or diabetes and kidney disease, then your blood pressure should be below 130 / 80.

    “Systolic is the first or top number which represents the highest level that your blood pressure reaches when your heart contracts and pumps blood though your arteries.

    “High blood pressure significantly increases the risk of coronary heart disease and kidney disease.”

    The health site also recommends the following five steps when it comes to ensuring readings are healthy and accurate which include:

    Ask your doctor: If your doctor asks you to measure your blood pressure at home or to wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor in order to diagnose hypertension, they will provide a monitor that you can borrow for a set period of time.

    Buy a monitor with an upper cuff: If you are buying a home blood pressure monitor, choose one that measures your blood pressure at your upper arm, not your wrist or finger. The cheapest ones start from £10 and are available in most local pharmacies and larger supermarkets.

    Make sure the cuff is the right size for your arm: Make sure you have the right cuff size for your arm. It should wrap snugly around your upper arm, with just enough space to slide two fingertips underneath. Most home blood pressure monitors will come with a medium-sized cuff. If your upper arm is particularly larger or smaller than average, you may need to buy a different sized cuff separately.

    Make sure it’s UK approved: If you are buying a blood pressure monitor, make sure it is approved for use in the UK. To make sure your monitor is accurate, choose one that has been listed as validated for accuracy by the British and Irish Hypertension Society (BIHS). This means that the digital monitor has gone through a series of tests to make sure it gives results that you and your doctor can trust.

    Make sure you get it serviced every two years: It needs to be regularly serviced and calibrated to make sure it is accurate – generally, at least once every two years. This usually involves sending it back to the manufacturer, who will probably charge a fee for this. If this option is too complicated or expensive it may be easier and cheaper to buy a new monitor.

    Source: Read Full Article

    New Covid symptoms: What is the new coronavirus symptom?

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    Coronavirus cases have surged in recent weeks following the discovery of a new variant which is thought to be 70 percent more transmissible. Swathes of the country have been put under harsh restrictions over the Christmas period, and now the emergence of a strange new symptom has people talking about the wide-ranging effects of this terrible disease.

    More than 30,000 new cases were reported across the UK on Sunday, with another 316 deaths.

    However, the true numbers are likely to be higher as some parts of the UK are not reporting data over Christmas.

    Doctors in Scotland and Wales have warned the NHS is close to being overrun by the number of cases in hospitals currently, with one NHS Trust in Wales forced to put a call out on social media to help from local medical students.

    Some ambulance crews in London had to wait six hours before they could hand over patients due to a shortage of beds.

    Now, a new symptom of coronavirus has become a discussion point as many report a strange new symptom.

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    What are the new symptoms of coronavirus?

    Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, namely the nose and throat.

    The most common symptoms – a continuous, dry cough, loss of taste and smell, and a high temperature – have all been ingrained into our psyches throughout the pandemic.

    But new anecdotal and research-based evidence is emerging of a new symptom possibly related to the loss of taste and smell.

    Individuals suffering from the virus long-term have reported being able to smell horrible odours constantly, like sulphur, fish, burnt toast or sickly sweet smells.

    This is called Parosmia; when your senses are distorted.

    Healthline.com describes it as: “If you have parosmia, you may experience a loss of scent intensity, meaning you can’t detect the full range of the scents around you.

    “Sometimes parosmia causes things you encounter every day to seem like they have a strong, disagreeable odour.”

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    Nirmal Kumar, an ear, nose and throat surgeon and professor at Edge Hill University Medical School, was among the first people to identify it in coronavirus sufferers.

    He said: “This morning I saw two patients with parosmia.

    “One said they could smell fish in place of any other scent, and the other can smell burning when there is no smoke around.”

    “Both are healthcare workers, and we think there is increased incidence in young people and also in healthcare workers because of exposure to the virus in hospitals.

    “For some people, it is really upsetting them.”

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    Best way to cure a hangover: Six ways to get rid of your symptoms quick

    Lorraine: Dr Hilary shares his 'hangover cure'

    Hangover cures are generally a myth, according to the NHS, but there are things you can to avoid one and to ease symptoms the next day. Fizzy drinks are a popular hangover cure, but according to Hird, who’s also cofounder of ViDrate, fizzy drinks are actually a bad idea.

    He said: “Don’t drink non-alcoholic fizzy drinks, instead of water to try and fight off the hangover. Fizzy drinks actually increase the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol – so will make your hangover worse.

    “Same with carbonated alcohol such as prosecco and champagne – the carbon dioxide speeds up your alcohol intake meaning you get drunker faster, resulting in a worse hangover.”

    Hird offers five other tips for easing your hangover symptoms quickly.

    Replace lost electrolytes

    Electrolytes are key to hydration, said Hird. He explained: “They replenish your body with the minerals you need to retain fluids and expel toxins, meaning they’re one of the most effective remedies for a hangover, especially when combined with plenty of water.”

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    Avoid coffee

    While coffee may seem a quick and easy pick-me-up, Hird advises against it.

    He warned: “Reaching for a cup of coffee on a hangover might seem like a good idea, but the caffeine dehydrates you further – making your hangover even worse.”

    Have a power nap

    Sleep is one of the best hangover remedies but when you’ve been drinking the alcohol disturbs your restorative sleep, according to Hird.

    He said: “Try and schedule in a power nap the next day, or if you don’t have time make sure you get an early night so your body can recover.”

    Exercise

    Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when your head is pounding. But you could reap the benefits after.

    Hird advised: “Even a short walk or jog will make you feel better due to the fresh air and endorphins released by physical activity.”

    Ginger

    If your stomach is unsettled and you keep getting waves of nausea then ginger is a great remedy.

    Hird explained: “Ginger helps reduce inflammation and helps settle your stomach.

    “Why not try adding it to a smoothie, the extra fruit and vegetables will also help replace the nutrients lost. Another idea is to add ginger to hot water, lemon and honey. The sugar in the honey will also help re-balance your low blood sugar levels.”

    There is one way you can avoid a hangover completely and that is not to drink.

    UK guidelines advise men and women don’t drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis and for drinking to be spread out over three or more days.

    But if you choose to drink, Hird offers some recommendations to keep your hangover to a minimum.

    Hydrate before drinking

    “Dehydration is the main cause of feeling hungover, alongside vitamin depletion and excessively putting toxins into your body,” said Hird.

    He added: “By staying hydrated before drinking you’re giving your body a head start. You’re supposed to drink 6-8 glasses of water everyday – so this gives you an idea of how much you should be drinking to stay hydrated.”

    Make sure you eat

    “This is an obvious one, but one many people ignore,” said Hird. “Don’t start drinking on an empty stomach as this makes your body absorb the alcohol quicker. By eating a well-balanced meal before a night out, you slow down the body’s alcohol absorption rate.”

    Drink water with your alcohol

    Alcohol is a diuretic, which stimulates your kidneys to produce urine, meaning it makes you lose more water than you take on board.

    Hird explained: “Basically you pee more than you drink, which means you are dehydrating yourself and with that you also lose some of the body’s electrolytes. Drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic drink keeps you hydrated and helps you retain some water, minerals and vitamins.”

    Don’t drink too much water

    “Don’t chug multiple glasses of water before bed as this might do more harm than good,” warned Hird. Drinking water in excess means you’ll need to go to the toilet and can mess up your sleeping pattern.

    He advised: “Drink one glass of water before bed and keep another on your bedside table for when you wake up with a banging head and dry mouth.”

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    Covid vaccine: Can you get immunity from one vaccine dose?

    Vaccine: Robert Jenrick addresses government’s ‘priority’

    Covid vaccination started in the UK this month, as a 90-year-old woman from Coventry became the first person to receive the Pfizer jab two weeks ago. Her dose was the first administered in the western world, but, at the time, was just an initial injection. Health workers administer two doses to recipients as a matter of protocol, but Tony Blair recently questioned the approach.

    Can you get immunity from one vaccine dose?

    Ministers have pressed ahead with plans to vaccinate people twice so far, and have now administered the Pfizer jab to more than 100,000 people.

    At this rate, providing the vaccine to everyone in the UK could take until 2022, according to experts, prompting questions about whether it is necessary to administer both doses.

    But recent suggestions from former PM Tony Blair for health authorities to pursue such a policy have earned him a prompt rebuke.

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    Writing in the Independent, the ex-Labour Prime Minister wrote about “radically accelerating” the Covid vaccination programme by supplying everyone with just one dose of the as of yet unreleased Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

    He said they should couple it with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to have everyone immune by February.

    Mr Blair said: “We should consider using all the available doses in January as first doses, that is, not keeping back half for second doses.

    “Then, as more production is rolled out, we will have enough for the second dose.”

    “Thirty million Johnson and Johnson vaccines – which is a one-dose vaccine – should also be with us by end of January.”

    He added: “We should aim to use them all in February.”

    Scientists have quickly dismissed Mr Blair’s plans, stating the current tack is the most effective way to establish immunity.

    Speaking in Parliament’s Commons science and technology committee hearing today, Nervtag member Professor Wendy Barclay said more research would be needed before the Government considered using up all of its initial doses first.

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    Professor Barclay said: “I think that the issue with that (Mr Blair’s suggestion) is that the vaccine is on the basis of being given two doses, and the efficacy is on that basis.

    “To change at that point, one would have to see a lot more analysis coming out from perhaps the clinical trial data.”

    Graham Stringer, a Labour committee member, suggested any change to the policy would be too “risky” to which Professor Barclay agreed.

    Currently, people will receive one initial dose, then another three weeks later.

    The first provides just over 50 percent effectiveness, while a follow-up nearly doubles this to 95 percent.

    Scientists have explained the first shot “primes” the immune system, while the second gives it more well-rounded training.

    Although the practice sounds unusual, it is a common approach taken by healthcare officials.

    Children need more than one dose of some childhood vaccines, including the two-dose MMR jab and five-dose Polio vaccine.

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