From asthma to meningitis – the bumper family health guide which could be difference between life and death
WHEN the worst strikes, knowing what to do and who to contact can be the difference between life and death.
But not all of us have the information we need in a crisis. Our Sun Health reader poll revealed more than a fifth of you want to know more about when to seek medical help.
As our January Health Kick series draws to a close, Lynsey Hope has compiled the ultimate A-Z guide to conditions and topics that could affect you, and the steps you should take.
ASTHMA symptoms can include wheezing, breathlessness, tight chest and coughing.
Triggers include allergies, smoke, pollution and exercise.
If untreated, it can cause serious lung infections such as pneumonia. A daily inhaler can help prevent symptoms.
BACK PAIN affects 80 per cent of us during our lifetime. Those who stay active usually recover more quickly.
Seek help if your child is under six or reports severe or worsening back pain.
Also get help if pain is accompanied by high temperature, unexplained weight loss, trouble walking, weakness in the legs and arms, bowel or bladder problems.
COUGHS and COVID are rife. Rest and drink plenty of fluids. Hot lemon and honey may help anyone over the age of one.
See a GP if: Your cough lasts more than three weeks, you have chest pain or unexplained weight loss, the side of your neck feels swollen and painful, you struggle to breathe, or have a weakened immune system.
Call your GP urgently if you cough up blood.
A new, continuous cough, high temperature and loss/change to sense of smell or taste, could be Covid.
Stay home and avoid contact with others until you feel better or don’t have a temperature.
DIABETES causes a person’s blood sugar to spike. Type 1 diabetes is where the body’s immune system attacks cells that produce insulin.
With type 2, the body doesn’t produce enough, or react to, insulin.
See a doctor if you feel very thirsty, are peeing more than usual or experience unexplained weight loss, regular thrush, blurred vision or slow-healing wounds.
Exercise, healthy eating and maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the risk of type 2.
EATING DISORDERS most commonly affect 13 to 17-year-olds.
Signs include: Dramatic weight loss, lying about how much they’ve eaten, going to the bathroom after eating, excessive exercising, avoiding eating with others, having strict habits around food, being withdrawn, wearing baggy clothes to hide weight loss.
Speak to a GP or contact the charity Beat on 0808 801 0677.
FIRST AID given before emergency services arrive could help prevent thousands of deaths, health experts believe.
If someone is injured, make the situation safe. If necessary, call 999 and carry out basic first aid, from checking their airways to stopping bleeding and keeping them warm.
Visit St John Ambulance for “how to” videos, at sja.org.uk.
GROUP STREP A infections are usually mild, and treatable with antibiotics.
Signs include flu-like symptoms, sore throat, a rash that feels like sandpaper, scabs and sores, pain and swelling, muscle aches and vomiting.
Rarely, the infection becomes invasive, causing life-threatening conditions such as sepsis.
This winter, 36 children in the UK have died from invasive Strep A.
Speak to a GP or call 111 if your child begins to feel worse, is eating and peeing less than normal, is under three months and has a temperature of 38C or is three to six months and has a temperature of 39C or above.
HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE causes a sore throat, high temperature and lack of appetite.
Sufferers may develop mouth ulcers, raised spots on the hands and feet and sometimes on the thighs and bottom.
It usually gets better on its own in seven to ten days with pain relief. Stay hydrated and eat soft foods such as yoghurt. Avoid acidic drinks (fruit juice) and hot, spicy food.
INFLUENZA, or flu, may cause a sudden high temperature, body aches, fatigue, a dry cough, sore throat, headaches, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, diarrhoea or tummy pain, and feeling or being sick.
Children may also suffer ear pain and be less active. Cut risk by washing hands with warm, soapy water, and get your flu vaccine.
Rest, sleep, keep warm, stay hydrated and take painkillers to lower your temperature and ease the pain.
JABS can protect against many illnesses. At eight weeks, babies are offered the 6-in-1 rotavirus and meningitis B vaccine.
Aged one, they can get the MMR vaccination, and later their 4-in-1 pre-school booster.
Children aged two to ten are offered a flu jab and 12 to 13-year-olds the HPV one.
The final jab for children is the 3-in-1 teenage booster at 14.
Adults aged 50-plus are eligible for the flu vaccine, a pneumococcal vaccine at 65 and a shingles jab at 70.
KNEE PAIN affects one in five of us but should ease after a few days. Avoid standing for a long time, ice your knee for 20 minutes every two to three hours and take painkillers to ease symptoms.
See a GP if it doesn’t improve in a few weeks or if your knee locks, painfully clicks or gives way.
Call 111 if you cannot move or put weight on it, or if you have also got a high temperature and feel hot and shivery. This might signal infection.
LICE and nits leave your head feeling itchy and are very common in young children.
Check everyone in the house by using a nit comb. Wash hair with ordinary shampoo, apply lots of conditioner and comb from the roots to the tips.
MENINGITIS infects the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord.
It can cause life-threatening blood-poisoning and sepsis and permanently damage the brain or nerves if not treated quickly.
Children and young adults are most commonly affected.
Symptoms will often develop suddenly and include fever, sickness, headache, a rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it, a stiff neck, aversion to bright lights, drowsiness and seizures. Call 999 or go to A&E immediately.
NOROVIRUS causes sickness and diarrhoea but it usually goes away within 48 hours.
The symptoms include sickness, diarrhoea, high temperature, headache and achy limbs.
Wash hands frequently with soap and water to stop it spreading.
Rest, remain hydrated and stay off school/work for at least two days after symptoms stop.
OBESITY affects one in four adults here and one in five children aged ten to 11.
It can lead to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers, as well as day-to-day problems such as breathlessness, snoring, low confidence and back pain.
A GP can advise about weight-loss programmes, and exercise such as walking, jogging and swimming.
PREGNANCY is an exciting time, but you should book to see your GP/midwife as soon as you find out you are expecting.
They will offer ultrasound scans and antenatal screening tests to find out the baby’s health and risk of Down’s syndrome.
Pregnant women should take folic acid until the 12th week, as well as daily vitamin D.
QUITTING smoking is good for both physical and mental wellbeing.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death but vaping, nicotine patches and local Stop Smoking groups can help you quit.
After one year, your heart attack risk will have halved and, after ten, your risk of death from lung cancer is half that of a smoker.
RASHES can be caused by every-thing from slapped-cheek syndrome to scarlet fever and are usually nothing to worry about.
But if your child has a rash, is unwell and has any of the following symptoms, call 999 or go to A&E: A stiff neck, bothered by light, confusion, high temperature, difficulty breathing, a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin and does not fade if you press a glass on it, or skin, lips or tongue look-ing pale, blue, grey or blotchy.
SEPSIS happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs.
Call 999 or go to A&E if your young child has: Blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue, a rash that doesn’t fade when you roll a glass over it, difficulty breathing — you may notice grunting noises — a weak, high-pitched cry that is unusual, not responding like they normally do or do not seem interested in feeding or normal activities, being sleepier than normal or difficult to wake.
Adults or older children might also act confused, slur speech or not make sense.
TOOTHACHE can be avoided if you attend regular dental check-ups, cut down on sugary drinks and foods and brush your teeth twice a day.
See a dentist if your toothache lasts more than two days, pain-killers don’t help, or you have a high temperature or a swollen cheek/jaw.
Go to A&E if the area around your eye or neck is swollen or neck swelling makes it difficult to breathe, swallow or speak.
UTIs, or urinary tract infections, cause a burning sensation when you pee.
You may wee more often, and your pee may be cloudy, dark or have a strong smell.
Children may also appear generally unwell, wet themselves or be sick.
See a GP if you have UTI symptoms for the first time, are pregnant, your child has symptoms or you are a man with symptoms.
Take paracetamol, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid sex.
If you have a very high or low temperature, are confused or drowsy, have back or tummy pain or spot blood in your pee, contact your GP because it may be a kidney infection.
VIRUSES can cause a range of illnesses including bronchitis, chickenpox, glandular fever, measles, mumps, rubella, shingles and tonsillitis.
Often you spread the infection before you even feel unwell.
Chickenpox mostly affects kids, with an itchy, spotty rash that usually gets better in two weeks.
Stay off school/work until the spots have scabbed, usually five days after they appear.
Keep hydrated, take paracetamol and cooling creams, which are available from a pharmacy.
Do not use ibuprofen for chickenpox unless advised by a doctor, because it may cause skin infections.
WARTS and verrucas are small lumps that can take months, even years, to go away on their own.
Warts feel firm and rough and can appear on palms, knuckles, knees and fingers.
Verrucas appear on feet and show as tiny black dots under hard skin.
They are caused by a virus and can spread to other people from contaminated surfaces or close skin contact.
Wash your hands after touching one, and do not share towels, flannels, socks or shoes.
Creams, plasters and sprays from your pharmacist may all help.
X-RAYS check bones for breaks and fractures.
You will be asked to lie on a table or stand against a flat surface and you won’t feel a thing.
People fear this exposes them to radiation — but the part of your body being examined will only be exposed to a low level, for a fraction of a second.
YEAST infections such as thrush are common in men and women.
In women, symptoms include white vaginal discharge, itching and irritation, or soreness or stinging during sex or while peeing.
Men may experience irritation, burning and redness around the penis and under the foreskin, white discharge and an unpleasant smell.
Antifungal medicine usually helps clear it in seven to 14 days.
ZZZZ is for children’s sleep problems. Establish a bedtime routine: Bath, pyjamas, a story then bed. Avoid screens for an hour beforehand.
If the kids become distressed, gradually get them used to you not being in the room.
Avoid getting into bed with them and sit close by instead.
After a few days, increase the distance between you until they no longer need you to fall asleep.
Local parent support groups, health visitors and your GP can all help you.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/7264656/bumper-health-guide-every-family-needs-a-to-z/ From asthma to meningitis – the bumper family health guide which could be difference between life and death