newspaper with Health News headline

Danger of Fentanyl found in counterfeit and illicit drugs

fentanyl deaths warning posterThere is a growing problem in the United States and Canada which is likely to become more of an issue in the UK and Europe: Fentanyl overdose.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic (manufactured) opioid and is the most potent opioid available for medical treatment. Used to relieve pain in cancer patients, it is 50-100 times stronger than morphine, and usually administered in the form of patches or lozenges. Fentanyl is also used in certain emergency situations when stopping a patients breathing, where medics need to take over the breathing for the patient. Read in full

The social media that’s good for your health

health social networks

Which websites do you tend to hang out on? Chances are you often find yourself jumping from one social media site to the next – a recent report states that Britons spend an average of about 1 hour and 20 minutes on social media networks per day, which accounts for a significant percentage of the time we spend online as a whole.

Whether on your laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone, as you scroll through your feed you often see health-related posts. People post updates on their weight loss journey, their battle with an illness, or even ask their friends and followers questions about a health condition.

But the normal venues may not be the most relevant outlets for health-related conditions. You may want to migrate over to a health-focused social network to get specific answers to your questions and support from others experiencing the same health issues. Read in full

UK prices for morning after pill: is there an alternative?


morning after pill prices headlines

News articles over the weekend (7-8 May 2016) revealed that women in the UK are paying an astonishing five times more for the morning after pill than those in other European countries.

Experts have also expressed outrage at the hoops that must be jumped through to get the drug, calling on the government to make it available off the shelf, as well as reduce the price. Unlike in France, Scandinavia, and the United States, the pill is not available without a consultation; women are required to undergo a consultation and discuss their sex lives with a pharmacist or doctor in order to access the time-sensitive emergency contraception.

High costs and a difficult process to obtain the morning after pill have resulted in what Anne Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service calls a framework that is “insulting, expensive and does not meet women’s needs”, according to The Independent. Read in full

Antibiotic Guardianship

Antibiotic Guardian logo

Antibiotic resistance is one of our biggest threats

It is already happening and is just as great an issue as climate change and world hunger. To slow resistance we need to cut overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Read in full

NHS Eatwell Guide 2016

NHS Eatwell Guide 2016The Department of Health has released the new Eatwell Guide that shows the different types of food we should eat – and in what proportions – to have a healthy, balanced diet.

The guide says a healthy diet should now include more fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates.

Sugary soft drinks have been removed entirely from the new guide and foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar have been moved off the plate to a corner of the image, reflecting advice that they are not an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Indigestion pills not conclusively linked to Alzheimer’s

Despite a recent study linking acid indigestion tablets to increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, patients should continue to take prescribed proton pump inhibitor drugs (PPIs), such as Omeprazole.

daily mail

Medications like Omeprazole and Ranitidine work by suppressing the amount of stomach acid, treating heartburn and stomach ulcers, and are widely used throughout the UK. However a recent Daily Mail article cites research by the German Study on Aging, Cognition and Dementia in Primary Care Patients, linking the taking of PPIs with a 44% higher chance of developing dementia. Read in full

Travelling and the Zika virus

zika virus travel adviceZika, or ZIKV, has dominated the international news of late, with dramatic photos of people with conjunctivitis, skin rashes and, more alarmingly still, babies with misshapen heads. The virus, once believed to cause only minor illness, has now been closely linked with the birth defects microcephaly and anencephaly and the neurological condition Guillain Barré syndrome.

Zika is currently being studied by research teams around the world, and new evidence continues to emerge regarding its effects. For that reason, if you are concerned about the virus it is important to continue consulting the latest information for any recent developments. Updated travel guidelines can be found here. Read in full

Do hay fever tablets raise risk of dementia?

hay fever tablets dementia

Alarming headlines in several UK newspapers and news websites this week (27 January 2015) claiming a US study concluded common hay fever tablets available over the counter raise the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

While there are significant findings in the study, the news reporting was not entirely accurate according to NHS Choices. Much of the reporting failed to highlight the study focus was on prescribed medicine for over 65s only; some brand name drugs contain different ingredients in the US to the UK; and other limitations of the study findings.

Although some of the drugs can be bought over the counter, the study only included prescribed medicines which have an anticholinergic effect, including some antihistamines, antidepressants and drugs for an overactive bladder, and concludes those over 65s taking the highest levels of anticholinergic prescribed medicines were at a higher risk of developing dementia compared with those not taking any.

Some of the medicine brands also contain different ingredients in the UK than the US: Benadryl and Piriteze do not contain ingredients identified in the study as causes of concern. Read in full