As a travel nurse based in London, I was concerned to hear the recent warning from health officials about the spread of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus in several parts of the country. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed three cases of TBE virus in patients in Yorkshire, Norfolk, and on the border of Hampshire and Dorset. Further tests on ticks across the country have found that the disease, which was commonly found in parts of Europe and Asia until now, is now present in the UK. The experts have warned that it is unlikely that TBE virus will disappear, so it’s essential to establish a surveillance program.
Public health officials say the risk is low, but it’s essential for walkers to take precautions and seek medical help if they fall ill after being bitten, especially if by a tick.
As a clinic that specialises in travel, we are used to urging everyone to take precautions to protect themselves from tick bites anyway, but this news reinforces the importance of doing this at home as well as when travelling abroad. It is essential to cover your ankles and legs, apply insect repellent, and check clothes and your body for ticks, particularly when visiting areas with long grass such as woods, moorlands, and parks.
In most cases the TBE virus typically causes mild flu-like symptoms, but it can also lead to severe infection in the central nervous system resulting in meningitis or encephalitis a high fever with headache, neck stiffness, confusion, or reduced consciousness, and long-term impairment.
As a travel nurse, I think it is really important to educate people about the symptoms of TBE to encourage them to seek medical help immediately if they experience any of these symptoms, but also to emphasise the fact that infections are preventable.
Ticks are becoming more common in parts of the UK, mainly due to increasing deer numbers. They live in undergrowth and latch on to humans when they walk through long grass. It is thought infected ticks may have arrived in the UK via migrating birds. Scientists had suspected the virus had arrived in the UK in 2019, following a couple of cases, but complexities involved in testing meant these could not be confirmed.
It’s crucial to emphasise the significance of vaccination for individuals who are considered of a higher risk. You are much more likely to catch TBE if you work outdoors or if you enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, dog-walking, countryside rambling and even jogging. Children playing outside may be especially vulnerable.
Vaccines can provide protection, and as there is currently no known cure for tick-borne encephalitis virus, those individuals who would be considered at higher risk are advised to be vaccinated as a precaution.
It’s worth noting that a vaccine is used routinely in areas of high incidence in Europe, and its advisable to consider vaccination for individuals with outdoor occupations in regions where the virus is prevalent.
For the general public the risk of contracting TBE is relatively low. Therefore, it’s essential to educate people about TBE and encourage them to take precautions to protect themselves from tick bites, particularly when travelling to areas where the virus is found.
Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic
For further reading, more news coverage can be found here:
SPRING IS UPON US!
A time of longer days, shorter nights, flowers in bloom, and warmer weather allowing us to spend much more time enjoying the great outdoors.
This year, March 26th marks the start of British Summer Time when the clock springs forward 1 hour, increasing daylight, prolonging our evenings and our transition to Summer begins.
Spring is the time of year when we emerge from our winter hibernation and seek more time in the fresh air, the outdoors, in nature and with friends and family.
There are so many health benefits that Spring has on our physical and mental well-being.
But in what ways specifically is Spring good for our health?
1. Spring makes us feel more energised
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the warm sunshine on our skin after a long, cold winter.
This small act of nature, in general, makes us feel more upbeat and positive and can quite literally give us a “spring in our step!”. Exposure to natural light is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused with a more optimistic outlook to life.
With sunlight and sunshine increasing, spring is a natural positive energiser.
2. Spring weather encourages us to be more active
With the weather improving and the temperature rising it encourages us to get outdoors and be more active. That doesn’t mean we’re all inspired to run a marathon, but time outdoors is good for your physical and mental health.
Time in the fresh air can really help you to switch off from your daily stresses, reduce your blood pressure and improve your mood.
Spring encourages us to take up a new sport, go out for walks and spend more time being active.
3. Spring sunshine tops up our vitamin D
Getting enough vitamin D is essential for the typical growth and development of our bones, teeth and muscle health, as well as improving our resistance to certain diseases.
Extra daylight gives you more time to spend outside and soak up the nutrients from the sunshine. In Spring and Summer, most people are able to make all the vitamin D they need from the sunlight on their skin without the need for supplements.
4. Spring encourages us to clean our home
Spring is the perfect time of year to air out our homes, clean out the grime that has built up over the winter and make a fresh, clean start.
There are many health benefits to giving your house a deep spring clean, such as:
- Reducing your risk of allergies and asthma from the accumulation of dust or pet dander.
- By removing germs and bacteria, especially from hard-to-reach places, you are reducing your risk of getting sick in general.
- Visual clutter leads to mental clutter; so, doing a big tidy-up should see improvements in your mental health and even increase your productivity.
Is it time to spring clean your health?
Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in the blood and plays an important role in our bodies. However, high levels of cholesterol can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Unfortunately, cholesterol is often referred to as a “silent killer” as there are usually no symptoms and the first indication that something is wrong may be a heart attack. That’s why it’s important to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly.
Instant cholesterol testing only requires a short nurse appointment that provides you with both the test and the results during the same appointment. This type of testing makes it easy and convenient for people to understand their cholesterol levels and take steps to keep them under control.
Statistics from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) show that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United Kingdom, accounting for around 26% of all deaths. The most common type of CVD is coronary heart disease, which is caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries leading to the heart. High cholesterol levels can contribute to the formation of these fatty deposits.
By knowing your cholesterol numbers through instant testing, you can understand your risk of developing CVD and take the necessary steps to keep your levels under control. NICE recommends that all adults in the UK should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years, or more frequently if they are at increased risk of CVD. Those at increased risk include people with a family history of CVD, smokers, people with high blood pressure, and people with diabetes.
To keep your cholesterol levels under control, it is important to make changes to your diet. This includes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and reducing your intake of saturated and trans fats. You should also aim to maintain a healthy weight and be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day.
If lifestyle changes are not enough, medication may be required. The most common type of cholesterol-lowering medication is statins, which work by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver. Statins are widely used in the UK and are safe and effective.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recently released updated guidelines on the use of statins, which now recommend that they can be considered for people at a lower risk threshold.
In conclusion, instant cholesterol testing provides an easy and convenient way to understand your cholesterol levels and take steps to keep them under control. Regular testing is important for everyone in the UK, especially those who are at increased risk of CVD. By knowing your numbers, making changes to your diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active, you can help keep your cholesterol levels in the healthy range and reduce your risk of developing serious health problems.
Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic:
As a private healthcare clinic, our goal is to provide the best protection against pneumonia for our patients. One of the key tools in this fight is the pneumococcal vaccine. One of the latest advancements in this area is the Apexxnar vaccine. This 20-valent vaccine provides protection against 20 different serotypes of the pneumococcal bacteria, offering a more comprehensive defence against pneumonia.
We understand that choosing the right vaccine can be complex and that different patients may require different solutions. That’s why we recommend speaking with one of our healthcare providers to determine which vaccine, including Apexxnar, is best for you. They will consider risk factors such as your age, underlying health conditions, and previous vaccinations, to ensure you receive the most effective protection against pneumonia.
At Fleet St. Clinic, we believe in the power of prevention, and that the right vaccine can make all the difference. So, if you’re looking for the best defence against pneumonia, consider talking to us about the Apexxnar vaccine today.
Information about Pneumonia:
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Cough: A persistent cough that produces mucus or phlegm is a common symptom of pneumonia. The cough may be dry or productive, and the mucus or phlegm may be green, yellow, or rust-coloured.
- Fever: Pneumonia often causes a high fever, which may be accompanied by chills and sweats.
- Shortness of breath: Pneumonia can cause difficulty breathing, especially during physical activity. The shortness of breath may be accompanied by chest pain or tightness.
- Fatigue: Pneumonia can cause extreme tiredness and weakness, making it difficult to carry out normal daily activities.
- Muscle aches: Pneumonia can cause muscle aches and joint pain, which may be mistaken for the flu.
- Chest pain: Pneumonia can cause chest pain, especially when breathing deeply or coughing.
- Nausea and vomiting: Some people with pneumonia may experience nausea and vomiting, especially if the infection is caused by a type of bacteria known as Legionella.
- Confusion or disorientation: Pneumonia can cause confusion or disorientation, especially in older adults and people with underlying health conditions.
It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, as pneumonia can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
More information on pneumonia.
Who is considered “high-risk”?
Individuals considered to be at high risk for hospitalisation due to pneumonia include the elderly, young children, people with weakened immune systems (including people who have had their spleen removed), and individuals with underlying health conditions such as chronic heart or lung diseases, diabetes, and liver or kidney problems.
At the Fleet St. Clinic, we also regard anyone who has had a previous significant episode of pneumonia as likely to benefit from being vaccinated.
When is the best time for a pneumonia vaccine?
The best time to vaccinate against pneumonia depends on various factors such as the type of vaccine, the individual’s age, and underlying health conditions.
The pneumonia vaccine is not the same as the flu vaccine, as it doesn’t need to be given at a certain time of year.
For the pneumococcal vaccine, it is generally recommended to receive the vaccine once in a lifetime for most adults. Some individuals may need a booster shot, and this is determined by a healthcare provider such as a doctor or nurse.
How to book an appointment?
Booking an appointment is easy. If you are on the go, you can book online through our online booking system, pre-payment is required.
Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic:
Is there such a thing as testing too early for STIs?
Yes, in fact, if you test too soon after exposure to an STI aka during the “window period”, you may not get an accurate result.
The ‘window period’ is the length of time it can take between catching an infection and when it will show in a test. It’s important to note that if you are tested earlier than the “window period”, some tests may not detect the STI, even though an individual is infected.
The timing of STI testing after potential exposure varies depending on the specific infection. In general, it is best to wait until a sufficient amount of time has passed for the infection to be detectable, but not so long that the infection has already caused damage.
The “window period” for common STIs:
– Antibody tests can be taken 4 weeks after exposure, whilst instant antibody tests are suitable for use 90 days post contact. Early detection RNA tests can be taken from 10 days after potential exposure. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise which test is most suitable for you.
– Antibody tests for syphilis can be detected 12-weeks after a suspected exposure. Symptoms can appear before this so those with symptoms shouldn’t delay testing, as alternative tests can be taken to diagnose.
If you have been exposed to an STI and are concerned about potential infection, it is recommended to have a sexual health consultation at the earliest opportunity. Your healthcare professional will be able to discuss your risk factors, and then advise the appropriate time interval for tests based on the type of test being used. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which test is right for you, and when to get tested. They will discuss this with you during your sexual health consultation.
It is important to note that some STIs, such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), can have no symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. Regular STI testing is the only way to diagnose and treat an infection early, which can prevent complications and reduce the risk of transmission to others.
If you have been sexually active and have concerns about potential STI exposure, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider. They can help you determine the best course of action, including when to get tested and which tests to have.
What STIs can we test for?
Fleet St. Clinic offers testing and treatment for several different STIs including:
– HPV – Genital Warts
Additional tests for symptomatic patients include:
Rapid results are available for most of our STI checks meaning we can provide you with answers on the same day as your tests. Most swabs are analysed within our onsite laboratory so we can provide you with answers as soon as possible.
Remove unnecessary worry by selecting our fastest turnaround times. These vary for each type of STI, so discuss this with your nurse or doctor during your sexual health consultation.
How regularly should I be getting tested?
Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an important part of maintaining sexual health. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to when to get tested, as the frequency and timing of STI testing depend on several factors, including:
1. Sexual behaviour: Individuals who engage in higher-risk sexual behaviours, such as unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, or sexual contact with someone who has an STI, should get tested more frequently.
2. Personal health history: Individuals who have a history of STIs or other health conditions that affect sexual health should get tested more frequently.
3. Age: Young people and older adults may be at higher risk for STIs and should consider getting tested more often.
4. Pregnancy: Pregnant women should be tested for STIs during their first prenatal visit, as well as any other time during their pregnancy as recommended by their healthcare provider.
It is also important to note that some STIs can have no symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. Regular STI testing is the only way to diagnose and treat an infection early, which can prevent complications and reduce the risk of transmission to others.
Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic:
Cases of Strep A infections amongst children are on the rise and tragically at least 9 children are known to have died in the UK as a result.
What is Strep A?
Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a common bacteria. Lots of us carry it in our throats and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness. However, GAS does cause a number of infections, some mild and some more serious.
Strep A causes infections in the skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract. It’s responsible for infections such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo and cellulitis among others.
Strep A Infections are not common but it is important for parents to lookout for symptoms and consult a GP as soon as possible for early diagnosis and treatment. Strep A infections are treatable if caught early.
Symptoms of Strep A
The first symptoms to appear are fever, chills, muscle aches and sore throat with difficulty swallowing.
Later, a rash may develop and the tongue may become red and inflamed. There may be pus on the tonsils which can be seen as white exudates. The disease affects the neck as well as it becomes tender due to the enlargement of the lymph nodes.
Small children may also present with headaches and abdominal pain in addition to the above symptoms, plus even nausea and vomiting.
How does the disease spread?
School children are in the close contact with each other and hence, they are more likely to spread the disease. In the past, GPs have been advised not to prescribe antibiotics if avoidable.
Strep A needs treatment with Penicillin or an alternative antibiotic in the case of penicillin allergy.
Children with strep A must stay at home until recovered to avoid spreading the bacteria.
How can you protect your child
It is very important for carers to stay vigilant and lookout for any symptoms that their child might have. If there is any suspicion of Strep A, make sure that the child is treated with antibiotics or an alternative just to be safe.
To limit the risk of infection, parents must not send children to school with tonsillitis, so that the spread of the disease can be reduced.
If your child develops symptoms:
- consult your GP for proper medical advice
- do not leave it until your child is seriously unwell to get treatment
Call 999 or go to A&E for emergency help if your child:
- develops difficulty breathing
- pauses between breaths
- will not wake or stay awake
- their skin, tongue or lips change colour to blue
The number of cases can be reduced if proper care is taken for Strep A and its symptoms.
We are a family friendly health clinic – if your child needs to see a GP – book online.
Dr Belinda Griffith’s comments in the UK news:
Cutting back on alcohol can be a really effective way to improve your health, boost your energy, loose weight and save money.
In 2016, the Chief Medical Officers in the UK reduced the recommended amount of alcohol you should consume a week due to concerns about the risk of cancer. New research confirmed that even drinking a small amount of alcohol per week can cause an increase in risk of cancer.
From then onwards, it has been recommended that men and women have the same weekly intake of units per week. According to the UK low risk drinking guidelines, you should drink no more than 14 units a week, make sure you have several drink-free days, and never binge drink.
What does 14 units of alcohol look like?
Because alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, units are a way to tell how strong your drink is. 14 units is equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or six medium (175ml) glasses of average strength wine.
It’s safest for both men and women to drink no more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days with several drink-free days, and no bingeing.
Your risk of death from long term illness, accident or injury, is increased if you ‘binge drink’ 1 or more times a week.
How long does alcohol stay in your body:
On average, it takes about one hour for your body to break down one unit of alcohol. However, this can vary, depending on:
- Your weight
- Whether you’re male or female
- Your age
- How quickly or slowly your body turns food into energy (your metabolism)
- How much food you have eaten
What are the consequences of drinking too much alcohol:
- Low mood/mood swings
- Liver problems
- Heart problems
- Cancers (mouth, tongue, throat, oesophagus)
- Weight gain
- Poor sleep
- Blood pressure instability
What are the benefits to cutting down on alcohol?
- waking up in a better mood
- being less tired and more energetic throughout the day
- healthier looking skin
- saving some money
- lower your blood pressure
- lower the risk of diseases including cancer, stroke, hypertension and liver disease
- lower your cholesterol levels
- your memory will improve
- better quality of sleep
- help with weight management*
* Did you know? Alcoholic drinks are high in calories, so cutting back on the amount you drink can really help to reduce your calorie intake.
According to our GP & Occupation Health Physician, Dr Claire Braham;
“When you drink alcohol, you lose around 4 times as much fluid as you drink.
It is therefore easy to understand why dehydrated often occurs. Dehydration symptoms are much like your classic hangover symptoms and will include headache, nausea and fatigue. These symptoms will become present when you are about 2-percent dehydrated, which is about when you start to feel thirst.
Avoiding alcohol means better hydration and sleep which will reduce hangovers and headaches, reduce tiredness, reduce sickness, increase your concentration and improve your overall control over emotions and behaviour. This leads to more productivity, better decision making and overall less accidents, regrets and more enjoyment.
It is not advised to drink more than 14 units a week, which is the equivalent of 6 pints of beer. That converts to 1,092 calories in total and would need 109 minutes of running to burn off those additional consumed calories. Abstinence is an easy way to avoid festivity weight gain.
Nowadays it is very easy to cut down or cut out alcohol. There is a wide variety of alcohol-free beer, wine, prosecco, gin, vodka, whisky and other spirits available on the market. These include some which are vegan and gluten-free as well as often free from sugar and artificial sweeteners. So you can still enjoy a ‘drink’, without the alcohol and high-sugar but with health benefits.”
For further detail of how alcohol can have a negative impact on your health, head to drinkaware.co.uk for more information and advice on drinking.
If you have concerns about the amount of alcohol you are drinking or about your health you should speak to a GP. You can book an appointment online.
More information on our GP service can be found here.
With monkeypox cases being recorded in over 20 countries across the globe, people are becoming increasingly concerned about its spread and transmission.
Following 2 years of the Covid-19 pandemic, this outbreak has reignited the public’s fear and uncertainty of infectious diseases.
Whilst the media coverage of the monkeypox outbreak is alarming, we would like to reassure our patients that as it stands, the risk is still very minimal and vaccination is not advised as a precautionary measure. Whilst vaccines will undoubtedly be a key part of containing the outbreak, for now, only people who may have been exposed are being offered vaccination.
Our Medical Director & Travel Medicine Specialist, Dr Richard Dawood explains;
“Lots of people have been getting in touch with us to ask about a monkeypox vaccination, but this is not available privately. It is currently only being offered to anyone identified as a direct, close contact of a confirmed case deemed to be at sufficient risk.
The current outbreak does, however, highlight the need to think about your vaccine protection more generally, whether for travel or simply to protect your health and well-being, taking advantage of the best vaccines currently available.”
Your immune system naturally decreases with age and certain diseases are also more prevalent in older adults so there may be new vaccinations which are now suitable for you to consider for preventable diseases. Some health conditions can also weaken the body’s immune response, making you more vulnerable to infectious diseases, complications and hospitalisation. Therefore, it is important to ask your GP which vaccinations would be suitable for keeping you healthy.
– For more information on wellness vaccinations.
If you are travelling soon and haven’t had a travel consultation with a travel nurse, perhaps it is time to consider one. Travel nurses are experts in travel health and will advise which travel vaccinations & medications you should consider based on the risk of where you are travelling to and your itinerary once there.
– For more information on travel consultations.
To conclude, we’d like to dismiss a couple of dangerous myths about monkeypox that are unnecessarily scaremongering the public:
Myth 1: Monkeypox is as contagious as COVID-19 or smallpoxFact: Monkeypox is far less contagious compared to smallpox, measles, or COVID-19.
Myth 2: Monkeypox is a new virus.Fact: No, the monkeypox virus is not a novel virus. It’s a known virus and is generally seen in central and western African countries as localised outbreaks.
In summary, we, like the rest of the medical field, will be keeping a close eye on the progression of the Monkeypox outbreak and should our advice change based on new information, we will update this statement accordingly.
For more information on Monkeypox.
Weight loss has become a thriving industry and we’re bombarded constantly with unhealthy FAD diets, weight loss programmes, influencers selling teas and pills all promising to help us lose weight. Many of these are promoting quick fixes which are not advised by doctors or dieticians. It can be really hard to know what information to trust. To help navigate the sea of information (and misinformation!) surrounding weight loss, we have asked one of our GPs, Dr Belinda Griffiths, and our dietitian, Ruth Kander, their advice on how to lose weight safely and successfully.
Firstly, it is important to note that weight loss should be consistent and gradual as it can be dangerous to lose too much weight too quickly. Dr Griffiths suggests that “a safe weight loss is 1-2 lbs or 0.5-1kg per week… Greater weight loss than this per week can lead to malnutrition, exhaustion, increased risk of gout and gallstones.” There is also an increased risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with food which, in extreme circumstances, could lead to eating disorders.
Ruth added, “Losing weight gradually and at a healthy rate is key.” Remember, it’s all about consistency! Perseverance will amount to healthy lifestyle changes which will allow you to achieve your weight loss goal.
Don’t underestimate diet
Both Dr Griffiths and Ruth agree that diet is the most important factor when it comes to weight loss. As Ruth explains; “having a healthy balanced diet that is lower in calories than our body uses is a good way to start the weight loss journey. If we don’t reduce calorie intake, one won’t lose weight:.” – this is known as being in a calorie deficit. The amount of calories that will result in weight loss will vary from person to person and depend on the amount of exercise the individual does. In order to lose weight, you will need to burn more calories than are consumed and therefore restricting your calorie intake is the simplest way of losing weight.
Foods to focus on
Ruth recommends that “people should focus on a variety of foods when trying to lose weight”. While Dr Griffiths suggests, “focusing on a range of lean proteins (including meat and fish), vegetables, high fibre foods (such as quinoa, bran flakes etc) and fruit in moderation”. Vegetarians can substitute in lentils, nuts, beans and tofu instead of meat and fish. In general, high calorie foods such as fried food, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sugary drinks should be avoided.
Let’s get physical!
Although weight loss is still achievable without much exercise, incorporating exercise into your lifestyle will not only aid weight loss, but will generally improve your overall health. Any exercise is better than none whether it be tennis, swimming, or even walking, “whatever you are capable of, just do it!” is Dr Griffiths advice. Ideally, a combination of exercise is best for weight loss – this includes cardio / fat burning and resistance or weight training. Get those steps in! An easy way to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine is by aiming to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. This easy change can make a big difference and remember, as Dr Griffiths says “the more exercise you do, the greater calories are burned” – it’s as simple as that!
Don’t forget about NEAT movements!
NEAT (or Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) movement refers to the physical movement we do day-to-day that isn’t necessarily planned exercise and “encompasses the energy that we expend by simply living”.This includes the calories we burn breathing, eating, sleeping etc. Dr Griffiths suggests that “you can increase NEAT movement easily in your everyday life by making simple changes such as taking the stairs rather than the lift, by standing rather than sitting, by walking instead of taking the train/ bus/ tube or even by carrying bags rather than having items delivered”. It all adds up! These simple swaps will increase the number of calories you burn and help facilitate weight loss.
What to do when you plateau
The first stint of weight loss can make it seem a little too easy as you tend to lose weight more easily in the beginning, but a common issue lots of people face is when weight loss reaches a plateau. This is where you stop losing weight to the same extent you were before, or stop losing weight for a period of time. This can feel disheartening and more often than not, people tend to give up at this stage. Dr Griffiths states at this point “it is a case of persevering with calorie restriction and regular exercise and gradually weight loss will resume.” If it doesn’t, Ruth suggests “ looking at what you’re eating to see if anything has slipped”. She states “maybe you’re not taking into consideration extra calories here and there” but they all add up. See if there are any areas of your diet where you could be a little stricter, or consider starting or upping your exercise.
Sleep and Stress
A good night’s sleep and keeping your stress levels down will be your friend when it comes to weight loss. “In order to lose weight, you need to be in the correct frame of mind and life circumstances” says Ruth. Research has shown that you tend to eat more and make poorer food choices, including seeking comfort food, when you are sleep deprived. This is because not getting enough sleep “disrupts the hormones in your brain (Leptin and Ghrelin) that control appetite” says Dr Griffiths.
Stress can also play a part in weight loss as Dr Griffiths explains that “stress increases cortisol levels which increases gastric acid output and makes you feel anxious and hungry”. Ruth adds “there is also a theory that being stressed can limit weight loss in terms of hormonal activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis which can lead to the release of hormones that can limit weight loss”. Keeping it simple, “to lose weight, good sleep and minimal stress would be ideal”.
Trying to lose weight can seem complicated, confusing and difficult, but when you really break it down, the ingredients to losing weight successfully are actually very straightforward. If you stick to these simple rules and you are patient and consistent, the weight will come off and you will achieve your goals.
If you feel that you are doing everything right and you still aren’t losing weight, or are even putting weight on, there could be something else causing this. You may have an undiagnosed underlying medical condition and we’d advise you to visit your GP to make sure everything is well.
If you are feeling sad at the start of the year, don’t worry, you are not alone.
Although it comes around every year, we always seem to be caught off-guard by what has now commonly become known as “The January Blues”.
The January blues is another name for situational depression and is associated with the way we think and feel. Around this time of year, the weather is cold and gloomy, the days are shorter and the nights are longer, plus you may be experiencing post-Christmas exhaustion, debt and perhaps even dread going back to work.
Symptoms of the January blues are things such as low mood and sadness, lack of motivation, tiredness and low energy. These are all normal feelings, if temporary.
Most likely, your negative mood will be brought on by the anticlimax of reality after the exciting events of December & the New Year. Ever heard that old phrase, “don’t cry because it has ended, but smile because it happened”? Find comfort in knowing that you are absolutely not alone in feeling blue in January. In fact, many people in the UK feel especially down in January but the good news is that the January Blues are temporary and typically only last a couple of weeks. You don’t need to take any medication as your thoughts and feelings should naturally return to normal.
If it doesn’t and you are experiencing prolonged or worsening thoughts and feelings, you may actually have Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, which is different. SAD is clinical depression caused by a person’s biology. It is much longer-lasting, sometimes months on end and likely to occur every year in winter. You should see a doctor to discuss your symptoms as if you have SAD, a range of treatments are available to assist recovery. More information on SAD can be found here.
Remember, please be kind to yourself and know that you’re not alone.
For more information on our GP Services.
To book a GP appointment online, click here.
Most people experience fluctuations with their weight and it is common to gain weight naturally as we age. For the most part, diet changes, eating more or reducing exercise are the main causes for gaining weight. However, if a person gains weight in a short period of time for no reason, this could be the sign of an undiagnosed, underlying health condition. There are several conditions and circumstances that are known to cause weight gain, some of which can be serious and require medical attention.
Here are just some medical conditions which can cause sudden weight gain:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
This is a hormonal condition which affects the way a woman’s ovaries work. A common symptom of PCOS is weight gain, particularly around one’s middle. Weight gain is rarely the sole symptom, it is usually part of multiple symptoms including acne, excessive hair, irregular periods and/ or thinning hair. PCOS makes women less sensitive to insulin or cause insulin-resistance which can lead to weight gain and secondary conditions such as diabetes.
A common cause of unexplained weight gain in men and women comes from having an underactive thyroid. This is because when a thyroid is underactive it doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, which in turn affects your metabolism, slowing it down. Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed with a thyroid function test and if diagnosed, it can be easily treated with a replacement hormonal tablets.
This is a rare hormonal disorder which is caused by elevated levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is responsible for regulating metabolism and appetite, which means elevated levels can slow down your metabolism as well as increase hunger, both of which can cause weight gain.
Insomnia / chronic lack of sleep
Being sleep deprived can result in making poor food choices, including seeking unhealthy foods and eating more than usual. This is thought to be because a lack of sleep disrupts the hormones in the brain (Leptin and Ghrelin) that are responsible for appetite.
Certain medications affect metabolism which can cause weight gain and weight loss. Medications such as steroid medication can cause weight gain, bloating and swelling due to water retention.
This is a problem caused by an issue with the lymphatic system that causes an abnormal build-up of fat in the legs and sometimes the arms. This usually results in the upper body being generally a much smaller size compared to the lower half of the body but typically affects both sides of the body equally. This condition can also be painful and cause tenderness or heaviness in the limbs. Lipoedema mainly affects women and it is rare in men.
Chronic stress, depression and/ or anxiety
Mental health issues can sometimes cause people to turn to food as a coping mechanism, often triggering compulsive eating behaviours. Additionally, higher cortisol levels are often found in people with depression which is known to increase appetite and the motivation to eat. Antidepressant medication can also increase hunger as they interfere with serotonin levels – a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite.
Women going through the menopause often experience weight gain. Changing hormone levels affect the way the body stores fat and can cause women’s bodies to store, rather than burn, calories. Women also generally need less calories after the menopause, and so, if you do not adjust your calorie intake, you are likely to put on weight.
During PMS (premenstrual syndrome), progesterone levels surge and dip which are known to increase appetite (the cause of which are unknown). PMS can also cause weight gain as a result of water retention.
While many of these causes are rare, they are possible and anyone experiencing unexplained weight gain should visit their GP to rule out anything that may require medical care or treatment. It’s always best to be on the safe side! And if everything is normal, your GP can provide you with tips and advice on how to manage your weight gain.
If you are experiencing unexplained or sudden weight gain, or think you might be displaying symptoms of the conditions mentioned above, please book a GP appointment today.
Sleep is one of our greatest allies when it comes to health and wellbeing. It is associated with a number of health benefits which can have a huge positive impact on our daily lives.
Conversely, a lack of sleep can be detrimental – research has even found that not getting enough sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication!
Dr Belinda Griffiths discusses some of the mental and physical health benefits of getting a good night’s sleep.
During sleep, your body releases cytokines, which are essential for the regulation of the immune system. Cytokines are required in increased amounts when you are attacked by a pathogen (when you’re ill) or under stress. The level of cytokines increases during sleep, and therefore lack of sleep hinders the body’s ability to fight infections. This is also the reason why the body tends to sleep more while suffering from an infection.
When you’re well-rested, you’re less hungry. Being sleep deprived disrupts the hormones in your brain (Leptin and Ghrelin) that control appetite.
With those out of balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy foods goes way down. And when you’re tired, you’re less likely to want to get up and move your body. Together, it’s a recipe for putting on the pounds!
If your sport requires quick bursts of energy, like wrestling or weightlifting, sleep loss may not affect you as much as endurance sports like running, swimming, and biking. But you’re not doing yourself any favours. Besides robbing you of your energy and time for muscle repair, lack of sleep saps your motivation, which is what gets you across the finish line. You’ll face a harder mental and physical challenge – and see slower reaction times. Proper rest sets you up for your best performance.
When you’re tired, you can have difficulty recalling information. That’s because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory. Without sufficient sleep, the brain finds it difficult to focus and take in new information in the first place and then doesn’t have enough time to properly store information as short-term memories. Sleep helps enable you to retain memories and store information.
Sleep also allows for your mind to rest, repair and rebuild, the same way it does for your body. As you sleep, your brain begins to organise and process all the information you’ve taken in during the day. It converts these short-term memories into long-term memories – this helps you to learn.
Not sleeping properly can mean that both your body and brain don’t function properly the next day. It can impair your attention span, concentration, strategic thinking, risk assessment, reaction times and problem-solving skills. This is particularly important if you have a big decision to make, are driving, or are operating heavy machinery. So, getting plenty of sleep can help you stay sharp and focused all day long.
Another thing your brain does while you sleep is process your emotions. Your mind needs this time in order to recognise and react in the right way. When you cut that short, you tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones. Lack of sleep can cause bad temper and anxiety, so the better you sleep, the better your ability to stay calm, controlled and reasonable.
Chronic lack of sleep can also raise your chance of having a mood disorder. One large study found that people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression, and the odds of having anxiety or panic disorders are even greater.
A refreshing slumber helps you hit the reset button on a bad day, improve your outlook on life, and be better prepared to meet the challenges of the next day.
While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour cycle. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and strokes. Therefore, it is important to keep your blood pressure down.
Poor sleep and pain mutually reinforce each other. Sleep deprivation increases pain sensitivity and reduces pain tolerance. Therefore, something will feel more painful when you’re tired.
It is clear that sleep is an essential part of helping us stay physically and mentally healthy. What better excuse to have a few extra hours of sleep a day!
If have any concerns about your health, book a GP appointment today.
We are hoping you and your family are keeping safe and healthy.
We want to reassure you that we are committed to looking after your health during these trying times.
We have every intention of remaining open so you can access all of our services, however, we have had to make some necessary changes to adapt to the current circumstance.
Temporary Opening Hours:
We have made the difficult decision to temporarily adjust our opening hours. Starting Monday 23rd March, for the foreseeable future, the clinic will be open 9:00am – 5:30pm for face-to-face appointments – we may be able to facilitate virtual clinic appointments outside of these hours.
Virtual Clinic Offerings:
With many of you now working from home outside of London, it makes sense to adapt our services to meet your new needs.
You’ll be able to access a lot of our services through our virtual clinic from Monday 23rd March:
- GP appointments
- Travel consultation for health advice only
- Repeat prescriptions
We are confident that this will not affect the quality of service that we will continue to supply to you.
We are running a reduce service for optical appointments. We advise you call our front of house team on +44 20 7353 5678 to make any appointments or alterations.
Booking An Appointment:
To protect the health and wellness of our patients and our team, we’ve decided to turn off online bookings for the time being. Rest assured you can still book appointments, however, this now needs to be done through our friendly reception team on +44 20 7353 5678 to determine if a face-to-face appointment or virtual consultation is required. Due to reduced availability, a deposit is required for all appointments.
Getting in touch:
Due to these unprecedented circumstances, we’re experiencing an increase in phone calls so you may have noticed our call waiting times have been slightly longer than usual. Our reception team are working at full capacity to offer reassurance and to book your appointments, however, please do not hesitate to email us if the phone line is too busy. We will answer all enquiries we receive.
Prescriptions for Medicines & Contact Lenses:
Please note, you can place orders for repeat prescriptions and contact lenses in advance via email here.
Outline your medicine needs and/ or your contact lens prescription and you can either pick your prescription up from the clinic or we can dispense these directly to you via the post.
We would kindly like to remind you that you must not come to the clinic if you are suffering from any of the symptoms below:
- Running nose
- Sore throat
- High temperature
- Shortness of breath
We are not offering testing for COVID-19 at our clinic but will be sure to keep you informed if this is to change.
Our commitment to our patient’s health and well-being remains our primary focus and we will continue to work safely and strategically during these unprecedented times. If there are any developments that impact these arrangements, we will notify you at the earliest possible opportunity.
Thank you for your support in keeping one another safe.
Exercise More – Get Outdoors
Today is National Fitness Day. September is a great time to redress the balance after summer holidays and make a new exercise plan. Time to get out and get moving!
Regular exercise has many benefits – a healthier heart, increased well-being, and a better quality of life. Research shows that if you exercise with friends, you are more likely to continue to keep fit, as the social environment encourages positive associations with the activity.
Exercising outdoors can contribute to this feeling of wellbeing. Organised outdoor exercise groups have grown in popularity recently, with a wide range of community-based activities across the country. A few of the more popular outdoor exercise activities are detailed here:
Park Run – Over 1 million Britons have taken part in Park Run – the Saturday morning 5k run in local parks across the country.
Project Awesome – A free community exercise group based in London, Bristol and Edinburgh, Project Awesome is based on high-energy, early morning exercise classes designed to kick-start your day.
Good Gym – For those who’d like to combine voluntary work with exercise, Good Gym enables you to meet like-minded people to run and work together on community projects in your local area.
British Military Fitness – Operating in parks across the UK, British military fitness classes are run by serving or former members of the armed forces with recognised fitness training qualifications. Classes are graded by ability group and are for members of the public. They are designed for all abilities, from those just starting to exercise who want to lose weight, to the already very fit.
Open Air Swimming – If you’re a keen swimmer, have you ever tried swimming outdoors? There are many reported benefits to open-air swimming, which can be enjoyed all year round even in the UK, with or without wetsuits. Check Wild Swim for your nearest open-air swimming site.
Getting Fit with Fleet Street Clinic
Our podiatrists can offer advice on appropriate footwear for exercise and our dietician and osteopath can work with you to support your exercise regime, ensuring a holistic approach to achieving a long-term, healthier you.
The health of both our planet and its people is, without doubt, one of the most important issues of our time. Maintaining healthy wellbeing has been in the public eye for some time now, particularly the topic of how to achieve good mental health. Chinese medical thought and acupuncture treatment can help us understand what we can do to help ourselves to achieve and maintain good health. Its teachings encourage us to inhabit our body, to connect to and to nourish our physical self and the physical world around us. This physical basis provides the root of our mental and emotional well-being.
A holistic treatment
Where Western Scientific Medicine has gone down the microscope to discover the minutiae workings of the human body (cells, biochemicals, genes), the understandings of Chinese Medicine, developed over thousands of years, have focused on how the body systems work together. It observes a person in their environment, their lifestyle, their posture… to understand the causes of ill-health, and the symptoms that arise to alert us to this. The whole body-mind is considered, and treated, to bring us back to good health and well-being.
A leap of faith for our Western minds
Acupuncture is a leap of faith for our Western minds. The concepts on which it is based do not exist in Western thought. You can’t cut open the body and find the meridians which form the energetic framework of the human body, or the Qi (pronounced ‘chee’, meaning energy) which flows through this network to motivate our physiological processes. Similarly, you can’t cut open a light bulb and find electricity. Likewise, you cannot cut open a computer and find cyberspace. It doesn’t mean that these things don’t exist. Proof of their existence lies in their application and the same is true of acupuncture treatment. Only through experiencing acupuncture for yourself will you be able to judge its true value.
Acupuncture helps reduce stress
Acupuncture is often described as incredibly relaxing, regardless of what a person seeks treatment for. Furthermore, most patients report an improvement in energy levels, sleep and a feeling of general well-being.
Acupuncture helps calm the nervous system. As a result, it helps switch off the ‘Fight-Flight’ stress response. Fuelled by adrenaline to keep us alert and primed for action, the stress response helps us to achieve. It is a useful tool for success. If the stress reaction is prolonged and not switched off, problems start to arise.
Heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises .. it is perhaps not surprising that stress-related ailments are estimated to account for 75-90% of all doctor’s visits. By calming the body and promoting parasympathetic activity, Acupuncture helps improve circulation and reduce general muscle tension. This enhances all body functions not concerned with immediate survival – immunity, digestion, fertility, rest, recovery, repair. Generally speaking, the results note an overall feeling of relaxation and well-being.
Acupuncture helps manage day-to-day ailments
Our Acupuncturist, Diane, has 25 years experience in Chinese Medicine. She treats a wide variety of day-to-day ailments. Including headaches, IBS, anxiety, infertility. As well as the musculoskeletal pain, which acupuncture is most famous for. Why not book an appointment today to see how acupuncture can help you improve your health and well-being?
If you think you could benefit from acupuncture, you can book your appointment online.
By Diane Timewell | Acupuncturist | July 2019
Bowel Cancer in the UK
The beginning of April marked the start of Bowel Cancer Awareness month. Bowel cancer is very treatable and one of the most common cancers in the UK.
40,000 cases are diagnosed every year. 1 in every 20 people will develop bowel cancer in their life time.
Symptoms of bowel cancer are often ones that you may find difficult to talk about or explain to your doctor. Nobody enjoys an uncomfortable conversation, especially when it comes to being candidly honest about something so private but the earlier it’s diagnosed, the greater the chance of survival is. It’s difficult, but let’s talk about it.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your bowel movements
- A change in your bowel habits that lasts three weeks or longer
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or a lump in your stomach
AM I AT RISK OF BOWEL CANCER?
Currently we do not know what causes this cancer. We have been able to identify some factors that can increase your risk of getting the disease:
- Aged over 50
- A strong family history of bowel cancer
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of exercise and being inactive
- Longstanding inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
HOW CAN I HELP PREVENT BOWEL CANCER?
There is no way to 100% prevent bowel cancer unfortunately. Things like family history, you cannot change.
However, there are some ways you can help yourself as recommended by the NHS.
- Improve your diet – eat less processed foods and red meat, eat more fish and fibre
- It is recommended that adults exercise for at least 2.5 hours a week
- Making sure you are a ‘healthy’ weight
- Stop smoking
- Cut down on alcohol
You can read all about these tips here on the NHS website.
GET SCREENED FOR BOWEL CANCER
If you are concerned about possible symptoms and are not eligible for NHS screening (aged between 60 – 74 and registered with a GP), you can make an appointment to speak with one of our experienced GPs (male or female GP’s).
Do you often find yourself trawling through Instagram just before going to bed? Waking up and checking your emails before you even have a shower or a coffee? Former Facebook chief marketing officer Randi Zuckerberg hit the nail on the head when she said that people need to understand that while “the phone is an amazing tool, we own our devices, they don’t own us.” It’s time for your digital detox.
The average smartphone user checks their phone 221 times a day. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a digital detox as “a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.”
By periodically unplugging, you can start reclaiming real life experiences rather than living in a virtual world. So how can we get this started?
Appreciate the silence – We have become so accustomed to filling every spare moment with digital noise. Try hitting reset on your brain from time to time and take a few moments to just let your mind wander. Be comfortable with silence, slow down and be present in the moment without the glow of a screen.
Kick technology out of the bedroom – Give yourself a technology curfew and when you say “lights out” actually mean it. Harvard researchers have found that technological devices such as phones, tablets and laptops can disrupt melatonin production, sleep quality and mood. To avoid temptation, banish your devices from the bedroom and try using an old fashioned alarm clock!
Socialise in the real world – Let’s face it, how many of the people you follow on your social media are actually your close friends? At 1am when you are struggling to sleep, do you really need to look at pictures of what they ate for lunch? Whilst social media can have its uses and be a positive influence, it can have a negative effect on our wellbeing as a result of comparing our lives to those carefully edited for show.
Hit the pause button – Be conscious of how often you check your phone – next time you go to reach for technology, hit the metaphorical pause button. Take a breath and think about what you are going to get out of it. Is there a more meaningful and productive way to spend your time, such as going for a walk and getting some fresh air and movement instead?
We get 525,600 precious minutes a year, how you choose to spend them is up to you.
“If it doesn’t add to your life it doesn’t belong in your life”