It could be said that part of the magic of Christmas is that an indulgence pass is allowed and health matters are temporarily shelved as we cater to our heart’s desire of food, fun and festive tipples.
A New Year often signals a more focused look at our general health with diets and gym memberships hitting a high as we start a new year. Spotting and acting on unusual symptoms early, and understanding the medical care you’re entitled to, is as important as maintaining regular exercise and a balanced five-a-day diet.
Noticing any prolonged and unusual changes in our bodies and promptly seeking medical attention can make all the difference to the long term prognosis. For those making New Year’s resolutions, early detection, diagnosis and timely treatment should be included in relation to our health.
Serious conditions such as cancer and diabetes are never far from the headlines. How do you avoid becoming another statistic if you are susceptible to either disease due to a family history or other factors that increase your personal risk?
Having awareness of some key facts, and knowing the health care you are entitled to can go some way in minimising the risk of avoidable complications and injuries.
What do you need to know about cancer?
• There are 200 different types of cancer
• According to Cancer Research UK, 42% of cancer cases could have been prevented
• In the UK, one patient is diagnosed with cancer every 2 minutes
• The most common types of the disease are breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer which account for 53% of all new cancers in this country
• Half of all cancer cases are diagnosed in patients over the age of 70
The sooner cancer is detected and treated, the higher the survival rate. The NHS provides a list of some common cancer symptoms to be aware of, a few of these are listed below:
Common cancer related symptoms
• Unexplained bleeding
• Significant weight loss
• Unusual swelling or lumps
• Persistent bloating or coughs
• Sores or ulcers that won’t heal
• Changes in toilet habits
• A new mole or changes in the general appearance of an existing mole
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued updated cancer referral guidance to health professionals in 2015. Depending on the considered severity of the symptoms presented, its recommended referral timelines range from 48 hours for very urgent cases to two weeks.
What do you need to know about the importance of eye and foot health in diabetics?
• Patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes are particularly vulnerable to developing diabetic retinopathy, which if not detected early and correctly treated, can lead to blindness
• Diabetic retinopathy accounts for seven per cent of those registered blind in England and Wales
• According to Diabetes UK, within 20 years of diagnosis, nearly all type 1 and almost 60 per cent of type 2 diabetics have some degree of retinopathy
• Diabetics also have a 50 per cent increased risk of developing glaucoma and are three times more likely to develop cataracts
Diabetics aged 12 and over should have an annual eye test which should involve checking the back of the eyes. Eye symptoms which should prompt medical attention include:
• Shapes or floaters in the patient’s vision
• Blurred vision
• Sudden vision loss
• Diabetes is the leading non-traumatic cause of amputations in the UK according to Diabetes UK
• The charity also reports that there are as many as 20 diabetes related amputations every single day in England alone
• In 80% of these cases, the condition started with a preventable, and treatable, foot ulcer
• Experts say that 4 out of 5 diabetes related amputations could have been avoided
The NHS provides the following advice to help diabetics maintain the health of their feet in order to avoid developing a foot ulcer:
• Visit a podiatrist at least once a year and have corns or hard skin treated
• Keep feet clean and free from infection
• Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes to avoid getting corns, calluses, ulcers or nail problems
• Never walk barefoot to avoid getting cuts or bruises
• Avoid crossing legs when sitting as this could restrict blood circulation
• Cut or files toenails regularly
Committing to your health as we start afresh with a new year can help ensure a positive 12 months to come.
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