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Common Ailments


Information on causes, prevention and treatment for the main areas of health concern identified by the Yemeni community in Sandwell. Also contains links to other websites that you may find useful.

Although there are many health problems suffered by members of the Yemeni community, just as in most other minority ethnic communities and the population as a whole, consultation with the members of the Yemeni community (of all ages) have identified the following as particular areas of concern. 

Just click the links below to jump directly to the section devoted to that illness or ailment - you will find basic information on what the illness is and how it can be treated, plus links to sites and organisations where you can find much more detailed information:

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Acne

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Arthritis

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Asthma

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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HIV/AIDS

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Back Problems

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Coronary Heart Disease

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Diabetes

If the particular ailment that interests you is not listed above, then a good place to start looking for information would be the government's NHS Direct website.

Acne

What is it?

Acne is a condition of the skin, which causes spots, especially on the face, shoulders, and upper back. Acne tends to begin at puberty, and although most sufferers are over it within a few years, it may carry on for life.

What causes it?

The exact cause of acne is unknown, but doctors believe it results from several related factors. One important factor is rising male-type sex hormone levels. These hormones, called androgens, increase in both boys and girls during puberty and can cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Genetic factors may be important as severe acne tends to run in families. Irritants on the skin, such as cosmetics and oily creams, and emotional stress can make acne worse. In girls, the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle can also aggravate acne. A common misconception is that acne is caused by  eating too much fried or fatty food, or poor hygiene, but acne has nothing to do with diet.

Symptoms

Spots form in the glands of the skin that produce protective oils (sebaceous glands). The places where the spots usually occur are the face, shoulders, and upper back.

Acne may result in:

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Small spots which known as "blackheads" (or open comedones).

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Small spots which are white in colour, known as "whiteheads" (or closed comedones).

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These may become infected by a germ or bacterium (Propionibacterium acnes) which makes the spot inflamed, and results in a larger raised spot (papule), a spot filled with pus (pustule) or a hardened lump (nodule).

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The largest spots are more likely to leave lasting scars.


Some people are more at risk of developing an obvious or raised scar to any injury or cut. This reaction is known as keloid formation, and in people that have that tendency, there is more scarring as a result of acne.

Treatment

Acne can be categorised as mild to moderate, moderate to severe or severe. Treatment is therefore dependent on the severity of the condition.

Mild to moderate acne

Topical treatments are most commonly used. Comedonal acne responds well to topical retinoids (e.g. Retin-A, Isotrex) or benzoyl peroxide (e.g. Panoxyl). Comedonal and inflammatory acne respond well to azelaic acid (e.g. Skinoren). It is useful to start with lower strength. Side effects of most creams, solutions or gels include skin irritation, redness and peeling. If you reduce the frequency of application, these side effects often subside. Retinoids may increase skin sensitivity to sunlight and cause temporary pigmentation. Avoid contact with eyes, nostrils and broken skin. Retinoids must not be used during pregnancy. Alternatively, topical antibiotics can be used (e.g.Zineryt, Dalacin). Effective in mild to moderate inflammatory acne. Topical antibiotics can produce mild irritation and rarely sensitisation.

Moderate to severe acne

Oral antibiotics (tetracyclines, erythromycin, trimethoprim) Useful for inflammatory acne if topical preparations are ineffective or inappropriate. Concomitant anticomedonal treatment (e.g. with topical benzoyl peroxide) may be required. Maximum improvement usually occurs after 4-6 months. Possible side-effects: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, headache (discuss side-effects with nurse or doctor). All antibiotics can cause candida vaginal yeast infections in women. Tetracycline seems to be the antibiotic that most frequently has this side effect. All oral antibiotics can also lessen the effectiveness of birth control pills,

Hormone treatment - specific contraceptive pill (e.g. Dianette) are prescribe for women who also want to receive oral contraception. The effectiveness of the pills   should be judged after at least 3 months of use. Side-effects are same as for other combined contraceptive pills.

Severe acne

If acne is severe or if other treatments fail, referral to dermatologist is appropriate. Severe case of acne may require treatment with a powerful oral drug isotretinoin (Roaccutane).

Further help

Acne should never be dismissed as trivial - even mild cases can cause angst during teenage years. In most cases, thorough and persistent treatment will get good results.

The Acne Support Group
First Floor,
Howard House,
The Runway,
South Ruislip,
Middlesex
HA4 6SE

Tel: 020 8841 4747
Website: www.m2w3.com/acne
Youth website: www.stopspots.org

Arthritis

What is it?

Arthritis is not a single illness, but rather the name given to about 200 different conditions with similar symptoms affecting young and old alike. 

The two most common types of arthritis are:

1) Osteoarthritis

This form of arthritis is most common in the following risk groups:

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age - osteoarthritis is uncommon before the age of 40

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sex - osteoarthritis is more common in women

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weight - being overweight increases the risk of osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee

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injury - an injury, operation, earlier disease or repeated strain at a joint may lead to osteoarthritis later in life

What happens?

In osteoarthritis, the smooth cartilage that takes the strain in a normal joint becomes rough, brittle and weak. To compensate, the bone beneath thickens and spreads out, forming knobbly outgrowths.  The membrane surrounding the joint thickens and the fluid-filled space within it becomes smaller. This is often accompanied by severe inflammation.

As osteoarthritis gets worse, bits of cartilage may break away from the bone, causing the bone ends to rub together and the ligaments to become strained. This causes a lot of pain and changes the shape of the joint.

Osteoarthritis is most common in the hands, knees, hips and feet. Some people also develop it in the back and neck.

What does it feel like?

Osteoarthritis develops differently from person to person. The condition typically causes joints to become stiff and painful to move, but it doesn't usually cause symptoms outside the area of the joint.

It usually develops slowly and the changes can be so gradual that people hardly notice them. The condition usually settles down after a number of years and, although the joints may have a knobbly appearance, they may become less painful.

2) Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common disease affecting about one in 100 people. People of all ages have the condition, but it most commonly starts between the ages of 30 and 50. Three times as many women are affected as men.

What causes it?

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body's defence mechanisms go into action when there's no threat and start attacking the joints and sometimes other parts of the body. It's not yet known why the immune system acts in this way in some people.

What happens?

When rheumatoid arthritis set in, the joints become inflamed.  Inflammation sometimes becomes far worse - known as a 'flare-up' - when the joints become warm and red as blood flow to the area increases. The joint membranes produce extra fluid, causing swelling and a stretching of the ligaments around the joint. The result is a stiff, swollen and painful joint. Treating this inflammation as quickly as possible is vital because once joint damage has occurred it can't be reversed.

In a few cases, symptoms typical of rheumatoid arthritis come and go. These patients may have a different, but probably related, condition called palindromic rheumatism, which may be mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis. (There may also be other symptoms, such as certain skin rashes, which are not seen in rheumatoid arthritis.) Most importantly, the damage to bones or joints that occurs in rheumatoid arthritis is not seen in this condition. However, over time, as many as 50 per cent of patients will go on to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

What does it feel like?

Most people suffer from pain and stiffness that gets worse during flare-ups. Whereas in osteoarthritis morning stiffness wears off quickly, in rheumatoid and other forms of inflammatory arthritis it usually lasts more than 45 minutes. Many people find that the condition gives them flu-like symptoms and makes them tired, irritable or depressed.

Further Help

Arthritis Care
A UK charity and voluntary organisation that provides information and support for all types of arthritis

Arthritis Care,
18 Stephenson Way,
London
NW1 2HD

Tel: 020 7380 6500
Email: Info@arthritiscare.org.uk
Website  www.arthritiscare.org.uk/Home


National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS)
NRAS provides support and information for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, their families, friends and carers, and health professionals with an interest in Rheumatoid Arthritis

NRAS,
Unit B4 Westacott Business Centre,
Westacott Way,
Littlewick Green,
Maidenhead,
SL6 3RT

Tel:  0845 458 3969 (local rate) Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4.30pm

Email:   enquiries@rheumatoid.org.uk
Website:  www.rheumatoid.org.uk/index.php

 

 

Asthma

What is it?

Over 5.2 million people in the UK have asthma (about 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 8 children), and it can affect anyone, at any age, anywhere. It affects the small airways (bronchioles) that carry air in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma your airways can become inflamed, swollen and constricted (or narrowed), with excess mucus being produced.

An asthma 'attack' describes the symptoms of tightness in the chest, a wheezing or whistling noise in the chest, coughing and difficulty breathing that occur when the airways become narrowed, inflamed and blocked by plugs of mucus. An attack can occur suddenly. However, many people with asthma learn to recognise the warning symptoms - such as an itchy nose or itchy skin, dizziness or light-headedness, or an irritating cough - that herald an attack.  Learning the warning signs can often alert a sufferer in time to take preventive action.

Asthma is a chronic condition, which means attacks will occur over a long period of time. Although there are times when acute episodes strike asthmatics, most people can say there are long periods during which they suffer few, if any, symptoms.

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of asthma are:

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coughing

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wheezing

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shortness of breath

bullet a tight feeling in the chest

Asthma is becoming increasingly common in the developed world and is now the most common chronic condition in the west. Aspects of our modern environment such as air pollution, processed foods, and centrally heated, double-glazed houses (ideal breeding grounds for house dust mites) are thought to be contributing factors.

Treatment

Main treatments

There are two main treatments for asthma - preventers and relievers. These come in a variety of delivery devices called inhalers that enable you to breathe the medicine in through your mouth, directly into your lungs. The addition of a spacer device increases the medication delivered to the lungs.

Preventers

Preventers are designed to reduce swelling and inflammation in the airways and reduce mucus. This also reduces the sensitivity of the airways and so minimises potential damage.  The protective effect is built up gradually over a period of about a fortnight. Your medication must be taken daily to maintain protection, even if you are not experiencing symptoms. 

Relievers

Relievers are drugs that relax and open up the airways - medically known as bronchodilators - making it easier to breath. These are prescribed for the relief of asthma symptoms during an actual asthma attack, when peak flow readings are low and before exercise or activity to reduce the risk of an attack. Because these drugs do not reduce swelling and inflammation of airways, you may also need to take a preventer.

Inhaled medication

Most asthma treatments are inhaled. There are several different types of inhalers, but the main ones are aerosol-based (often called puffers) and dry powder inhalers.

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Puffers - the medication is mixed into a liquid and forced under pressure into a small aerosol canister. Once activated (usually by pushing down the canister), the liquid evaporates, leaving the active ingredient that you inhale. A measured dose of the drug is released every time the canister is pushed down. Both relievers and preventers can be given via a puffer.

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Dry powder inhalers - the drug that comes in dry powder form is contained in a capsule. When the device is activated, the capsule breaks and the powder may be inhaled. In some inhalers the powder is contained inside a disk or compartment.

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Spacers - because it can be hard to co-ordinate your breathing with an inhaler, you may be prescribed a spacer. This device allows more medication to enter your lungs than would be possible using inhaler alone. It's usually a large plastic chamber in two halves that click together with a mouthpiece at one end, and at the other, a hole where the inhaler is attached. The drug is released into the spacer chamber from the inhaler device, and then enters your body as you breathe in through the mouth-piece.

bullet Nebulisers - a machine in which air or oxygen is forced through the liquid form of a drug, creating a mist, which is then inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece. It's used to administer high doses of reliever in an emergency and sometimes for children who are too young to use an inhaler.

Dealing with an asthma attack

The most important thing to remember if you are suffering an asthma attack is don't panic.  Excessive stress can make the symptoms worse, so just remember that an asthma attack is easily handled so long as you follow a few simple rules:

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Remove yourself from any conditions or situations that trigger your asthma. Treatment is not as effective in the presence of a trigger.

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Take a couple of puffs of your reliever, using a spacer if you have one. Stay calm and relaxed and breathe slowly to reduce fatigue.

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Rest sitting up. It's harder to breathe lying down. Rest your hands on your knees to help support your back.

bullet Wait 5-10 minutes to see if the attack eases. If your breathing returns to normal, you can resume what you were doing. If the reliever has not taken effect within 15 minutes, call a doctor or ambulance. Carry on using the reliever until help arrives

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Never put off seeking medical help because of fear of making a fuss or being a nuisance.

Helping someone having an attack

If you're with someone who is having an asthma attack, try to stay calm. Make sure they take their reliever medicine. Listen to them, reassure them and encourage them to breathe slowly and deeply. If the person has a peak flow meter use this to monitor their condition.

Don't try to lie them down as this constricts the breathing passages. If the reliever has no effect after 10 minutes or if the peak flow meter falls to less than 50 per cent of the expected reading, you should call a doctor or ambulance immediately. You should also do this if the person becomes distressed or unable to speak properly.

Call for medical help immediately if:

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the person's symptoms worsen even after taking medication

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breathing becomes increasingly difficult, for example, the person is struggling to breathe and the chest and neck are depressed with each breath

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the person has difficulty walking or talking and has to stop what they are doing

bullet their lips, tongue or fingernails take on a blue or grey tinge

Further Help

National Asthma Campaign

Asthma UK is the charity dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the 5.2 million people in the UK whose lives are affected by asthma.

Summit House,
70 Wilson Street,
London,
EC2A 2DB

Tel:  08457 01 02 03, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Email:  info@asthma.org.uk
Website:  www.asthma.org.uk

 

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is it?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that becomes evident in some children in the preschool and early school years typically characterized by inability to pay attention and control focus on activities

What causes it?

It is understood, in part, to be the result of an imbalance of neurotransmitters (Chemical substance, such as acetylcholine or dopamine, that transmits nerve impulses in the brain). One of the main problems in ADHD seems to be that the brain fails to sort through the considerable amount of stimulation that we receive every minute of every day. The result is an individual that is easily distracted and unable to process information at a normal rate.

The syndrome remains controversial since, as yet, research has been unable to show consistent neurobiological differences between affected children and normal controls. There’s no simple screening test to identify those people carrying genes that might increase susceptibility to ADD/ADHD, and no prenatal screening available. Diagnosis is based on the identification of many of the symptoms listed below.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

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Impulsiveness: a child who acts quickly without considering the consequences;

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Hyperactivity: a person who can't sit still, walks, runs, or climbs around when others are seated, talks when others are talking;

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Inattention: an individual who daydreams or seems to be in another world, is sidetracked by what is going on around him or her.

Treatment

Part of the solution in treating ADHD is simply acknowledging that the symptoms constitute a recognized psychiatric disorder. That is often reassuring for children and parents who have found the situation mystifying and maddening. A Diagnosis should be made by formal testing by someone with experience of the condition, such as an educational psychologist.

Treatment may involve help with behaviour, stress management and educational support. Medication is prescribed to help children with the disorder to concentrate and be  less disruptive. Currently, the most effective form of treatment is with stimulant drugs, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), which improve a child's ability to focus and can help as many as 80 per cent of school-aged children with ADHD. Modification of diet helps some children, as can essential fatty acid supplements. Supporting the family is also important.

Further help

The AD/HD Family Support Group UK

1a High Street,
Dilton Marsh,
Westbury,
Wiltshire
BA13 4DL

Tel: 01793 813694
 

The Hyperactive Children's Support Group

71 Whyke Lane,
Chichester,
West Sussex
PO19 2LD

Tel: 01903 725 182 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm)
Website: www.hacsg.org.uk
 

The National Attention Disorder Information and Support Service

PO Box 340,
Edgware,
Middlesex
HA8 9HL

Tel: 020 8906 9068
Website: www.addiss.co.uk
 

DC Educational Services

A charity specialising in ADHD and other behavioural issues in children.

Tel: 020 7834 0033
Website: www.dcedservices.com
 

ADDNet

Tel: 020 8905 2013
Website: www.btinternet.com/~black.ice/addnet/
 

 

Auto immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

What is it?

HIV is a virus. Viruses infect the cells of living organisms and make new copies of themselves. A virus can damage the cells it copies itself in, which is one of the things that can make an infected person become ill. People can become infected with HIV from other people who already have it, and when they are infected they can then go on to infect other people. Basically, this is how HIV is spread.

Different viruses attack different parts of the body - some may attack the skin, others the lungs, and so on. The common cold is caused by a virus. What makes HIV so dangerous is that it attacks the body's immune system (which the body needs to fight other infections) - the very thing that would normally get rid of a virus.

As time goes by, a person who has been infected with HIV is likely to become ill more and more often until, usually several years after infection, they become ill with one of a number of particularly severe illnesses. It is at this point that they are said to have AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) - when they first become seriously ill, or when the number of immune system cells left in their body drops below a particular point. Different countries have slightly different ways of defining the point at which a person is said to have AIDS rather than HIV. AIDS  is an extremely serious condition, and at this stage the body has very little defence against any sort of infection.

How is HIV passed on?

HIV is found in the blood and the sexual fluids of an infected person, and in the breast milk of an infected woman. HIV transmission occurs when sufficient of these fluids get inside someone else's body. There are various ways a person can become infected with HIV.

Ways in which you can be infected with HIV:

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Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person
Sexual intercourse without a condom is risky, because the virus, which is present in an infected person's sexual fluids, can pass directly into the body of their partner. This is true for unprotected vaginal and anal sex.

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Contact with an infected person's blood
If sufficient blood from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person then it can pass on the virus.

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From mother to child
HIV can be transmitted from an infected woman to her baby during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. There are special drugs that can greatly reduce the chances of this happening, but they are unavailable in much of the developing world.

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Use of infected blood products
Many people in the past have been infected with HIV by the use of blood transfusions and blood products which were contaminated with the virus - in hospitals, for example. In much of the world this is no longer a risk, as blood donations are routinely tested.

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Injecting drugs
People who use illegal injected drugs are also vulnerable to HIV infection. In many parts of the world, often because it is illegal to possess them, injecting equipment or works are shared. A tiny amount of blood can transmit HIV, and can be injected directly into the bloodstream with the drugs

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It is NOT possible to become infected with HIV through:

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sharing crockery and cutlery

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insect / animal bites

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touching, hugging or shaking hands

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eating food prepared by someone with HIV

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toilet seats

Treatment

Many people think that there's a 'cure' for AIDS - which makes them feel safer, and perhaps take risks that they otherwise shouldn't. These people are wrong, though - there is still no cure for AIDS. There is antiretroviral medication which slows the progression from HIV to AIDS, and which can keep some people healthy for many years. In some cases, the antiretroviral medication seems to stop working after a number of years, but in other cases people can recover from AIDS and live with HIV for a very long time. But they have to take powerful medication every day of their lives, sometimes with very unpleasant side effects.

But there is still no way to cure HIV, and at the moment the only way to remain safe is not to become infected.

Further help

Birmingham HIV/AIDS Community Organisation - Freshwinds

This organisation provids a range of services for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS living locally. These services can include counselling, welfare, housing and benefits advice, complementary therapies, 1:1 support and drop-in services.

Tel:  0121 456 8100, Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm
Email:  office@freshwinds.org.uk
Website:  www.freshwinds.org.uk

 

AVERT

AVERT is an International HIV/AIDS charity containing information about HIV infection, testing, prevention and treatment.

AVERT,
4 Brighton Road,
Horsham,
West Sussex,
RH13 5BA

Email:  
info@avert.org
Websitewww.avert.org

 

National AIDS & Sexual Health Line

A 24-hour, free and confidential telephone service with advice about HIV/AIDS, sexual health, STD's, local services, clinics and support services. Translation services available for Arabic speakers (and speakers of other minority ethnic languages).

Freephone: 0800 567 123 (calls may be charged if made from mobile phones), 7 days a week, 24 hours a day
 

For treatment and testing:

Sandwell General Hospital Dartmouth Clinic GUM Department
Hallam Street,
West Bromwich,
B71 4HJ

Tel: 0121 580 0929
Tel: 0121 553 1831 Ext. 3094
Opening times: Monday 1.30pm to 7.30pm, Tuesday 9.00am to 12.30pm, Wednesday 1.30pm to 5pm, Thursday 9.00am to 12.30pm, 1.30pm to 5pm, Friday 8.30 to 2.00pm.
 

 

Back Problems

What is it?

Four in five adults will experience back pain. Yet, because the back is so complex, every sufferer needs individual treatment options - there is no such thing as a single ailment called "back pain".

What causes it?

Most back pain is caused by strains and minor injury rather than serious injury, and is often called 'simple back pain'. Although the pain often comes suddenly and can be triggered by a particular movement, the causes may have been building for some time.

Some of the commonest causes of stress and strain on the spine are:

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slouching in chairs

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driving in hunched positions

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standing badly

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lifting incorrectly

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sleeping on sagging mattresses

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being unfit, and

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generally overdoing it

Inactivity and the wrong sort of movement are usually at the root of 'simple back pain'. Inactivity makes the muscles go slack, and become unable to support the back properly. This means it is more vulnerable to damage when certain movements pull too much on one area of your back.

Usually the problem is due to a strain or tear to the muscles, tendons or ligaments around the lower spine. In turn, this can produce painful muscle tension and spasm. Even a minor problem can cause a lot of pain when you stand, bend or move around. Pain sometimes comes on suddenly, sometimes gradually, but usually it only lasts a few days or a week.

 

Prevention

Your body must stay active to be healthy. If your muscles, bones and tendons fall into disuse they'll start to grumble and groan - especially in an area as complex as the back. So keep them moving.

Gentle exercise can build strong back and stomach muscles to support your spine and maintain flexibility. Walking or cycling is easy to incorporate into your daily lifestyle. Swimming is particularly good for backs, because it strengthens your muscles while supporting your body with water - but some strokes may not suit you, so try and get professional advice.

 

Top tips: If you read nothing else, read this!

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Back pain can be caused by so many factors; run through your daily routine (sleep, work, transport - even play) and examine the amount of strain you place on your spine.

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Reduce your stress levels: stress can create muscle tension, causing a loss in flexibility that can lead to back pain. To reduce stress, try exercise, yoga, meditation, getting more sleep or listening to music.

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Stop smoking: smoking puts you at increased risk for back problems since your blood has trouble delivering oxygen to working tissues, making your back weaker.

 

Posture: Your posture has a great deal to do with your susceptibility to back pain:

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try to avoid rounding your back: imagine you are being lifted by a string fixed to the top of your head

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try to avoid hunching your shoulders and tensing your neck when stressed

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wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes - high heels put pressure on your lower back

 

Moving and lifting: Always follow these simple rules whenever you have to lift or move heavy objects:

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always look at alternatives to lifting - can you push or pull it?

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lift only what you can handle and get help if you need it

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bend your knees and keep your back straight and your feet apart when lifting

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avoid lifting and twisting at the same time

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always lift and carry close to your body

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bend your knees rather than your back when putting a load down

 

At home:  Here are a few points to consider to avoid common causes of back pain due to your everyday lifestyle:

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Don't stand with a bent back. Try and make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height.

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Don't stretch too far when painting or cleaning: use a stable chair or ladder rather than reaching.

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Don't bend over when cleaning the bath, dusting the skirting boards or reaching low shelves: squat or kneel instead.

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Upright vacuum cleaners are better for your back than the kind that needs to be dragged. Keep the vacuum close to your body, and use short sweeping movements backwards and forwards.

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Ensure there is easy access to each side of the bed so you don't have to stretch when making it. Kneel or squat to tuck in sheets and blankets.

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Rest every so often when doing a long job. Change position and stretch, or change tasks.

 

In bed:  Not many people realise that how (and where) you sleep can be one of the major causes of back pain.  This list might help you to work out whether or not this is true for you:

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If your mattress is sagging, it's time to consider getting a new one.

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If you have trouble sleeping, try lying on your back with a pillow under your knees, or sleeping on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between your knees.

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Your pillow should support your neck, but too many pillows can cause neck strain.

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Your bed should be a height which makes it easy to get into and out of. When getting in, sit on the edge, lower your body on to one elbow and shoulder and draw up your knees and then feet. Reverse the procedure to get out.

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If you're buying a bed, try those you are considering for as long as you can - with your sleeping partner (if you have one!). Your bed should allow ease of movement but mould to the contours of your body.

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Don't assume that a bed marked 'orthopaedic' is what you need - the word can sometimes be used as a marketing tool.

 

Treatment

Doctors make a distinction between acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain usually goes away quickly. It's useful, because it warns you of sources of harm and tells you to protect yourself while the body heals. Chronic pain can be just as unpleasant but lasts much longer. If you have pain in the same place for 12 weeks or more, it is likely to be classified as chronic pain. Because it lasts so long, it's of less value as a warning

Most people have acute pain, and common painkillers usually help if taken regularly and according to instructions.  The body also produces its own natural painkillers called endorphins. Exercise and treatments such as physiotherapy, manipulation and acupuncture, help increase the endorphins in your body.

Chronic pain is more difficult than acute pain to help and sometimes does not respond to treatments such as over-the-counter painkillers and physiotherapy alone. People with chronic pain often need specialist advice and support - and are sometimes referred by doctors and physiotherapists to pain clinics.

 

Further Help

 

BackCare

This independent national charity is dedicated to helping the millions of people in the UK who suffer from back pain and associated problems.

The Charity for Healthier Backs,
16 Elmtree Road,
Teddington, Middlesex,
TW11 8ST

Tel:
020 8977 5474
Website:  www.backcare-helpline.org/index2.php

 

British Chiropractic Association

Contains useful information on how to find a chiropractor in your local area, as well as general information on back pain and how a chiropractor could be useful.

The British Chiropractic Association
59 Castle Street,
Reading,
Berkshire,
RG1 7SN

Tel:  0118 950 5950
Website:  http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/

 

Coronary Heart Disease

What is it?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) happens when your arteries become narrowed by atherosclerosis. This causes a restriction in the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, particularly when you exert yourself and the demands of the heart muscle increase.

 

The overwhelming cause of coronary heart disease is a build-up of fatty materials within the walls of the arteries (the medical term for this is atherosclerosis).  This occurs when the inner lining of your artery walls becomes furred with a thick, porridge-like sludge made up of fatty deposits of cholesterol, cell waste and other substances. At the same time, the blood becomes more prone to clotting.

 

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

The main symptom of coronary heart disease is angina, caused by insufficient oxygen reaching your heart muscle because of a reduction in blood flow. Angina is a feeling of heaviness, tightness or pain in the middle of your chest that may extend to, or just affect, your arms, neck, jaw, face, back or abdomen.  Angina is most often experienced during exertion - for example if you run for a bus, play a game such as tennis or football, climb stairs or walk uphill. It may come on in cold weather, after a heavy meal or when you are feeling stressed. It can subside once you stop what you're doing or take medication.

Unfortunately, for many people, the first indication that something is wrong is a heart attack, or myocardial infarction. This happens when the blood supply to a part of the heart muscle is interrupted or stops, usually because of a blood clot in the coronary artery. The pain of a heart attack is often severe and may also be mistaken for indigestion. However, unlike angina the pain doesn't subside when you rest.

Other symptoms include sweating, light-headedness, nausea or breathlessness, which unlike angina, are not alleviated by rest.

 

Identifying symptoms

The following symptoms are by no means always due to coronary heart disease and could be harmless or caused by other medical conditions. However, if you experience any of them it's a good idea to make an appointment to see your doctor:

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Unusual breathlessness when doing light activity or at rest, or breathlessness that comes on suddenly.

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Angina - chest pain, heaviness or tightness in the chest that comes on during exertion, emotional stress and may spread to arms, neck, jaw, face, back or stomach.

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Palpitations - awareness of your heart beat or a feeling of having a rapid and unusually forceful heart beat, especially if they last for several hours or recur over several days and/or cause chest pain, breathlessness or dizziness.

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Fainting - although not always a serious symptom, fainting is due to insufficient oxygen reaching the brain which may be due to many reasons, so you should report it to your doctor.

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Fluid retention or puffiness - (oedema to use the medical term) is abnormal accumulation of fluid in tissues of the ankles, legs, lungs and abdomen, for example. Although usually perfectly normal, for example on a hot day, it can be a sign that the heart is not pumping as well as it should (heart failure).

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Bluish tinged fingernails or around lips - known medically as cyanosis - can be a result of too little oxygen in the blood.

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Fatigue is a common symptom that has numerous causes, including depression. It's always worth seeing the doctor if you feel unusually tired, especially if it's combined with symptoms that cannot be explained.

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Severe crushing chest pain that may come on at rest and may be accompanied by sweating, light-headedness, nausea or shortness of breath and lasts more than 15 minutes may be a heart attack. Seek medical help immediately by phoning 999 and asking for an ambulance. This will ensure prompt treatment and less damage to heart muscle may occur.

 

Preventing Coronary Heart Disease

Becoming more active and improving your diet can make a tremendous difference to your heart - taking more exercise helps reduce blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and boosts metabolism - all of which can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.

bullet Being active:  Being active is absolutely essential for a healthy heart - for the simple reason that your heart is a muscle. Even if you haven't been active for some time, your heart can become stronger, so that it is able to pump more efficiently giving you more stamina and greater energy.Becoming more active will also improve the ability of your body's tissues to extract oxygen from your blood, help you maintain healthy levels of blood fats and speed your metabolism. There are three types of exercise are needed in order to become fitter and healthier. These are aerobic (any kind of activity that increases your breathing rate and gets you breathing more deeply), resistance training (strength exercise which helps to make your muscles stronger, strengthens your bones and protects your joints from the risk of injury). and flexibility. All three are vital for all-round fitness. It is important that you visit your GP before you start any exercise programme.

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Not smoking:  One of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease is to stop smoking. Smokers younger than 50 are five times more likely than non-smokers to die of coronary heart disease. By stopping, you not only lower your risk of heart disease but also help reduce your risk of lung diseases such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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Good diet: The best diet for a healthy heart is rich in fruit and vegetables (at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day), fibre, unrefined carbohydrates such wholegrain cereals and root vegetables, and low in fatty, sugary foods.

 

Treatment

Coronary heart disease can frequently be controlled with drugs alone. However, if the blood vessels have become narrowed, or if drug treatment is unable to control symptoms, surgery may be needed to open up or replace the blocked arteries.  The key to success in controlling and treating the condition is that the treatment of coronary heart disease is not a "one cure fixes all" type of condition.  Coronary heart disease can only be treated effectively in consultation with your GP.

 

Further Help

 

The YCA has produced its own leaflet (in English) providing more details on coronary heart disease:

[Click on the PDF icon below to download]

 

British Heart Foundation

This is the UK's primary charity for fighting heart and circulatory disease.

Cannon House,
2255 Coventry Road,
Sheldon. Birmingham,
B26 3NX

Tel: 0121 722 8350

Heart Information Line: 08450 70 80 70 (available Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, a free service for those seeking information on heart health issues)

Email:  west@bhf.org.uk
Website: www.bhf.org.uk

 

Coronary Prevention Group

This is an organisation which is solely concerned with preventing heart disease. It has a user-friendly website (Healthnet) which contains more than 700 pages of health and lifestyle information.

2 Taviton Street,
London
WC1H 0BT

Tel: 020 7927 2125
Website: www.healthnet.org.uk

 

 

Diabetes

What is it?

If you suffer from diabetes (full name diabetes mellitus), then you have a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high. Your body gets its glucose from digestion of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, chapatis, yams and plantain, as well as directly from sugar and other sweet foods.

 

 

Our body regulates the amount of glucose in our blood by using a hormone (a chemical "control" produced by glands in your body) called insulin. It is a produced by a gland in your body called the pancreas, and helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel by the body.

 

Symptoms

If you suffer from diabetes, then your body has problems producing insulin, resulting in symptoms such as increased thirst, increased frequency of toilet visits (especially at night), weight loss (or gain), feeling tired all the time, and blurry vision.

 

Treatment

The specific treatment for diabetes depends very much on which type of diabetes you suffer from. There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: This is the most serious kind of diabetes, as it means that your body cannot produce any insulin at all. It usually appears before the age of 40, and is treated by insulin injections, careful control of diet, and a regular exercise programme.

Type 2 diabetes: This develops when your body can still produce insulin, but not enough to do the job of controlling blood glucose properly - this type of diabetes is most often linked with being overweight. This type of diabetes most often appears in people over the age of 40, but is increasingly being seen in children as young as 7 or 8 years of age and up. Type 2 diabetes can be easily managed by maintaining a sensible and healthy diet, coupled with a controlled weight loss promgramme and increased physical activity. Tablets and/or insulin may also be required in some cases.

The main aim of treatment of both types of diabetes is to achieve blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as near to normal as possible. This, together with a healthy lifestyle, will help to improve wellbeing and protect against long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.

 

Further Help

Everyone with diabetes should receive dietary information and support. So, if you haven’t already, ask your GP or healthcare team to refer you to a state registered dietician for specific dietary advice that takes your lifestyle and cultural preferences into account.  And if you suspect you may have diabetes, or if you find yourself feeling tired all the time or going to the toilet a lot at night, then see your GP and ask to be tested for diabetes.

 

Luckily, there are a lot of information and support groups out there:

 

The YCA has produced leaflets (in English and Arabic) providing further information on diabetes:

[Click on the PDF icon below to download]

English version:             Arabic version:

 

Diabetes UK (a UK-wide charity for people with diabetes)

Diabetes UK Central Office
Macleod House,
10 Parkway,
London
NW1 7AA

Tel:
020 7424 1000
Fax: 020 7424 1001
Email info@diabetes.org.uk
Website: www.diabetes.org.uk/home.htm

 

National Diabetes Support Team (the NHS group dedicated to providing diabetes support and guidance)

1st Floor,
St John's House,
30 East Street,
Leicester,
LE1 6NB

Tel:
0116 295 2000
Fax: 0116 295 2001
Email: ndstenquiries@diabetes.nhs.uk
Website:  www.diabetes.nhs.uk/

 

BBC Diabetes Health Site (not a separate organisation but a good source of information on diabetes)

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/diabetes/



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