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Health

Our greatest asset is our health and the wellbeing of our families and relationships. Expert writers keep you up to date with new developments in medicine and ideas on keeping fit, looking after your health as well as exploring how modern life affects you and yours.

Recent Articles

How to avoid diabetes

It's a condition which three million people in Britain already know they have – and an estimated 850,000 also have but are unaware of. It costs the NHS £1m an hour, a figure which doctors warn is set to rise, with disastrous results for an already overburdened service. Consequences for the individual are equally catastrophic, as a chronic, untreated condition can lead to blindness, amputations or kidney failure.

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Here's to better hearing

With people living longer, increasing numbers will spend half their lifetime suffering from hearing loss. The big question, according to David McAlpine, professor of auditory neuroscience and director of the Ear Institute at University College London, is how this will affect our cognition.  Research by a US gerontologist who looked at the hearing of a group of people in their sixties found that those with only mild hearing loss had less cognitive ability.

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Eating for a healthy heart

February is National Heart Month, drawing attention to the ways that you can prevent heart disease and its associated conditions. A healthy diet is one important way that you can help reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease and also stop you gaining weight, thereby reducing your risk of diabetesand highbloodpressure.It canalsohelploweryour cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of some cancers. Even if you already have a heart condition, a healthy diet can also benefit your heart.

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Look after your legs

I f tired and aching limbs are ignored and left untreated, they can lead to more serious problems such as varicose veins and painfully sore leg ulcers. Britain’s first female TV newsreader Angela Rippon, well-known for high- kicking her long legs on the Morecambe and Wise Show , is so concerned about the health of the nation’s lower limbs she is heading a campaign to encourage us to take better care of our pins.

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Foods After 50

ONCE WE progress past the age of 50, should we be choosing our food with more care? For a number of reasons, the answer is a definite ‘yes.’ For one thing, as we age our metabolisms slow down. That means we burn up fewer calories, so eating the same amount of food as we always did means we start to put on weight. Becoming overweight is a risk factor for a number of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and dementia, and it will also put more pressure on the joints.

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Staying Moblie

There are plenty of positives to getting older, but there are also downsides. Most of us have aches and pains and find some of the actions of daily living a challenge. We also often have older parents, family or friends who have even steeper challenges.

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Easing Pain for IBS sufferers

As well as agonising stomach cramps, bloating, nausea and constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can cause diarrhoea, meaning sufferers often have to find a loo urgently. Triggers include infections such as gastroenteritis and E-coli. Up to a third of those who get gastroenteritis will develop IBS.

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Ear Implant can Change Lives

Molly Berry loves chatting with her friends in the pub, and with her grandson on the phone.She enjoys listening to folk and rock music. The 63-year-old is also profoundly deaf. Molly (pictured above) is one of around 650 deaf or severely hard-of-hearing adults in the UK each year to benefit from a cochlear implant – a device which directly stimulates the auditory nerve. It has transformed her life.

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The 10 best health apps

This app is designed to show quickly and easily how much sugar is in food and drink. You just use the camera in your phone or tablet to scan the barcode on the product and it'll show how much sugar it contains per pack and per 100g. You can keep track of the last 10 products scanned, making it easy to compare items in the supermarket. It is early days for this app- for example, Heinz baked beans weren't listed, while tomato ketchup was- but as more products are added to the database the more useful it will become

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Easing Leg Cramp Agony

Leg cramps often strike suddenly in the middle of the night, not only jolting the sufferer awake, but his or her partner too. At first the excruciating pain takes your breath away, then it forces you to shout out, rudely rousing your partner from their slumbers too. It is not know for sure how common leg spasms are because most people do not bother to discuss them with their doctor. Incidence is associated with the ageing process, with 33 percent of the over-60s and more than half of the over-80s affected.

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Tooth Discolouration Why It Happens and What You Can Do About It

A recent study shows that the colour of your teeth is greatly affected by your eating habits.

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Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

While there's little you can do about your genetic make-up, and no way of halting the ageing process – the main cause of cancer – you can give yourself the best chance of keeping the disease at bay simply by being more physically active, watching your weight and quitting smoking.

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It’s never too late for sport

Some over-50s may be put off taking part in sport by the idea that it is a young person’s game, with worries of excess physicality and the general concern of injury stemming their desire to take up a new pastime. However, there are now more opportunities than ever to get into sporting activities in later life, with options encompassing choices for those who prefer team games, those who like life on two wheels and those who enjoy little more than a walk in the countryside.

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Nuts reduce risk of killer diseases

A study reported in BMC Medicine that looked at more than 800,000 participants has found that eating at least 20g of nuts a day can reduce risk of heart disease by 30%, cancer by 15%, bring a 40% reduction in diabetes and half the deaths from respiratory disease. The study's co-author, Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College London, said: "We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases. It's quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food."

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Online health: Click or Curse?

I’m lucky to have finished this article. I mean, considering I have Yellow Fever. The internet alerted me, when I googled in my symptoms of muscle soreness and headache. They’ve worn off, but the website warns that in Stage Two of the disease, “fever and other symptoms go away.” So there we are. I’m putting my affairs in order, prior to heart, liver and kidney problems. Cyberchondria

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The Age of Anxiety

Feeling anxious occasionally is perfectly normal, whether it;s before a major family event, a long ditance flight or meeting new people.When you suffer from an anxiety disorder, however, those feeling are far more overwhelmng.- and often hard to talk about or admit to. "Anxiety becomes a problem when you experuence everyday worries more intensely" says Lucy Lyus, information manager at the mental health charity Mind.

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Just Do It

Those of us past our athletic prime might have less use than hitherto for Nike products, but the company's slogan could have been tailor-made for the latest trend in managing depression. Behavioural Activation, rapidly gaining attention in psychological circle, involves scheduling pleasurable and responsible activities into our daily lives, and sticking to the schedule whether we feel like it or not. "Just do it" is the buzz phrase.

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It's all in the timing

"Time," woody Allen hopefully informs is. "is nature's way of preventing everything from happening at once." time also turns out to have an unexpectedly important influence on the effects of medicines. And understanding how to synchronise the time we take our medicines with our body's natural rhythms is opening the prospect of more effective , personalised health care, with fewer side-effects.

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The Hidden Signs of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease which convinces those suffering they don't want to get help. An addict becomes adept at concealing it- often it is those you least expect who are struggling, with the over 50s increasingly at risk. To raise awareness of how easily alcohol addiction can go unnoticed, Priory has developed an interactive story. Spotting a drinking problem Would you notice the hidden signs of addiction in your own home?

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Sweet dreams are made of this

Do you lie tossing and turning in bed at night, struggling to get some precious shut eye? Perhaps you're trying too hard to tempt the sandman. Or maybe you are indulging in a daytime nap at your desk or on the sofa and putting your bosy clock out of sync.

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Easing Migraine Misery

There are headaches- and then there are migraines. They are very different conditions, with the World Health Organisation describing migraines as one of the most disabling illnesses on earth. Every day there are an estimated 190,000 migraine attacks in the UK, where one in seven of the population suffers from them. For some they last 72 hours and occur on 15 days out of every 30.

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How will our care homes look in the future?

What this means, is that care homes need to use greater amounts of, and more intelligent, assistive technologies. This allows is to look forward at quite an early stage. We need care homes and their staff to create a supportable living environment for those who need the appropriate care from them, as patients can require everyday supervision. Emphasise quality

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Opening up hospice care

It can be hard to be a '24/7' carer for your nearest and dearest when they have a terminal illness and you're in your 70s yourself. The charity Hospice UK is aware of this and keen to offer support. In the 50 years since Dame Cicely Saunders established the first purpose built hospice in Sydenham,, south east London, to provide palliative care for those with terminal and life limiting conditions, the hospice movement has grown and become all embracing.

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Put eye health in the driving seat

A Herefordshire electronics engineer whose sight was saved thanks to a crucial referral bu Vision Express is urging others to give eye health the green light by getting a free eye test this month. Gerald Cook had been driving when he notices a worrying change in his vision in March this year. Knowing not to ignore it after his mum was diagnosed with glaucoma 25 years earlier the Ross-on-Wye resident made an appointment with his local optician where a detached retina was detected.

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Living with tinnitus

Imagine having a humming or whistling noise in your ears or head every hour of every day. Not only are the intrusive sounds a constant distraction during daylight hours, they can also make getting off to sleep at night a real problem. The condition is called tinnitus, after the Latin word for ringing, and is common among the over 60s because our ears get damaged naturally during the ageing process.

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Keeping fit indoors

Taking exercise, even if it is indoors, can help to keep us fit and well during the winter months, and often it is on the shoulders that a lot of tension and stress will rest, even if pain and discomfort is played out somewhere else in the bosy, perhaps in the arms or neck. All parts of the body are linked- some more closely than otheres.

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Colour me happy

Colour can lift our spirits or calm us down. It's definitely not something we should be frightened of using out homes. Sadly, though, too many of us worry about what other people will think to follow our hearts and choose a colour we really love. Karen Haller, based in London's Notting Hill, is one of only two applied colour psychologists in the UK. She says: "Don't worry about what other people think, because, if you do, you will lose focus.

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Flexible, Friendly, Fitness with FLexercise

Whether you're working, retired, cutting your hours or looking after the grandchildren, exercise don't need to be complicated and can be fitted into anyone's schedule- you just need to want to do it. The simplicity, effectiveness and fun group exercise like FLexercise continues to be one of the biggest fitness trends in the UK. Invest in yourself

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Keeping dementia at bay

A tidal wave of dementia is sweeping across the world, threatening to bankrupt national economies. It is now the most feared illness of old age and set to be the biggest killer of the 21st century. Already some 47 million people worldwide have the condition and, according to the Alzheimer's Society, this includes 850,000 in the UK. By 2025, the UK figure will have risen to more than a million.

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The secret killer in your home?

Each year a silent assassin claims 40 lives in England and Wales and is responsible for thousands of hospital visits. Most of us do not even suspect when he is lurking in our midst for the simple reason that while we have installed smoke and burglar alarms in our homes, we have not invested in ones that detect the presence of carbon monoxide (CO)- a gas toxic to humans that can lead to death within just a couple of hours. 

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Men, women and drugs

Most experimental drugs are tested only on men, and two thirds of illnesses affecting both sexes are likewise studied only in men. Yet men and women are different in more than the obvious ways. Although women are usually smaller than men, they receive the same dosage advice for most medicines, which can lead to a higher concentration of a drug in the system, particularly as men and women metabolise medicines at different rates.

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Tracking the hidden cancer

Fifteen people are diagnosed every day in the UK with multiple myeloma. In two months, three of them will be dead. A major problem is that this particular type of cancer, which causes bones to disintegrate, leads to kidney problems and impairs the immune system, has the longest route of all cancers to diagnosis, according to a 2016 National Cancer Patient Experience survey.  

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When you've got to go...

The television series, and the latest feature film, of Dad’s Army featured the elderly Private Godfrey, whose contribution to keeping Britain safe from the Nazi hordes was frequently interrupted by the need to answer the call of nature A source of humour it may be, but finding ourselves wanting to go to the loo more often is no joke What is overactive bladder?

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Facing up to phobias

Do you scream and freeze when you spot a spider and have to get someone to remove it> If you sense a cat is lurking outside your home or office, do you have to ask a family member or colleague to escort you indoors? Are you reluctant to leave the security of your own home, and does your intense dislike of being in a crowd mean you frequently refuse invitations to social gatherings? If you answered yes to any of these, you are not alone.

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How to keep your prostate healthy

IT IS a sobering thought that 90 per cent of men who reach the age of 80 will end up with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). The ‘benign’ bit doesn’t mean it’s actually good for you, just that it could be worse. Other not so benign prostate problems include prostatitis – an inflammation of the prostate gland – and prostate cancer, diagnosed in more than 40,000 men a year in the UK

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Vitamins: Gummies fill the gap

Fruit-flavoured vitamin gummies for children who don't eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables have been around for some time. But they are no longer just the preserve of children- they ae now available in adult formulations too. Introducing them for adults means that people with swallowing difficulties can now increase their levels of vitamin C and vitamin D and boost their immune system.

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Maximum energy, minimum effort

Some people make it look easy... 'It' being anything from running to climbing stairs, stacking shelves, even sitting at a desk.

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Hi-tech revolution for retirement

As a physiotherapist, I have seen first-hand the challenges we face in staying fit as we get older. Retirement can be a fantastic opportunity to engage with new hobbies and interests, but also to focus on staying well. Recently, technologies have emerged that are designed to aid those of retirement age in keeping fit, and when used properly they can make a real difference.

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How Stressed are you?

Constantly being bombarded by texts and emails, not to mention half-hourly news bulletins, many of us feel stressed and anxious most of the time. All this stress not only puts us at increased risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, it is also ruining our sex lives. A recent study found that more than half of Britons are far too stressed to enjoy regular sex with their partners, putting strain on their relationships and adding even more to their stress.

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When silence is not golden

Eleven million people in the UK- eight million of them over the age of 60- suffer from hearing loss, ye because it's not obvious it often goes unnoticed. But hearing impairment is linked to a greatly increased risk of trips and falls in older age, as well as increased incidence of illness (due to stress) and feelings of loneliness and isolation.

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B12: The overlooked vitamin

Veganuary, Meat Free Mondays and other high-profile campaigns to get us to cut down on the amount of animal protein we eat are aimed at improving our health It seems they are working, with 600,000 Britons now vegan, three million vegetarian, and almost three in ten describing themselves as meat-reducers.

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Stay active to stop 'senior moments'

Did you know your senior moments could be down to inactivity and that five 30 minute sessions of moderate exercise a week such as walking or swimming could reduce your risk of developing dementia? A study published in European Geriatric Medicine last year, involving 1400 men and women whose average age was 66, found those with the strongest muscles had the sharpest minds. What is good for your heart, it seems, is also good for your brain.

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Tackling extremes of pain

Peripheral neuropathy is one of those conditions that can creep up on you, with very mild symptoms disregarded for years, or it can suddenly spring on you in a few weeks, with very little warning. Symptoms include numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, burning, stabbing or shooting pain in those affected areas, and muscle weakness, especially in the feet.

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Spreading the Massage Messsage

Not only does a massage relieve stress, recent studies also show it to be an effective treatment for chronic back pain, it helps us to fight off infection by increasing our white blood cell count and it reduces the nausea experienced by women having breast cancer treatment.

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Health News: May

Women are to be offered the chance to carry out smear tests at home in a bid to cut the rates of cervical cancer. The pilot scheme will see some women given self-sampling kits in London and north-east England.  It comes as take-up of cervical screening hits a 20-year low, with concern that embarrassment could make some people miss tests.

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Hip op hope for cancer patients

Retired greengrocer Brian Barnard, who lives with his wife Christine in the Yorkshire village of Mapplewell, has myelodysplasia, a blood cancer where his body does not produce sufficient red blood cells. This means that for Brian any kind of operation carries an increased risk.

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Finding Fibre

When we were kids, most of us behaved as though all essential nutrients could be obtained from chocolate and ice cream. Part of growing up involves coming to terms with the fact that, regrettably, this is not so.

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Over-65s face ‘hidden’ scourge of malnutrition

Most of us associate malnutrition with poor African countries, not with the UK, the fifth biggest economy in the world. Statistics from the UK’s Malnutrition Task Force (MTF) suggest three million people in this country are suffering from malnutrition, with 1.3 million of them 65 and over. This figure could be much higher because many more are thought to be hidden away in their own homes.

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Tango and Yoga... on prescription

Imagine going to your GP and coming out with a prescription for a yoga class, ballroom dancing and a range of nature walks. Such an outcome might not be so far fetched in the near future and, for many people, might be just what's needed to supplement more conventional treatment.  What brings someone to their GP may not be a strictly medical issue. The underlying problem may be debt; it may be loneliness; it may be poor housing. And there's no tablet for any of those. 

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Current Issue

June 2019

Profile: Joan Baez

Special: D-Day 75th anniversary

Your Money and Your Rights

Retiring to the Coast: Finances

Train your brain

Soaking up vitamin sea

Do You Remember? The good life

Recipes: Summer Every Day

Embracing the pension freedoms

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