Health news for January

New year new you
If you have started a New Year’s Resolution only to have broken it shortly after, you’re not alone. With many people deciding the new year is a good time to try to change their habits, one of the big reasons for not continuing is that the change is too great. On average, a change becomes a habit after 66 days, so try to make your changes achievable over the long term. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/realistic-new-years-resolutions

Jam card
If you haven’t heard of the JAM card before, it might be a good idea to become familiar with it. JAM stands for “Just a minute”. It’s a card that can be carried by people who may need additional time and understanding. There is a physical card, or you can show it using the app, and it is a discrete and easy way to explain what you need. https://jamcard.org

Sugar awareness
Increased sugar intake is linked to negative health outcomes. Many people underestimate the amount of sugar they consume due to the impact of added sugar in many food and drink products. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar

Thyroid awareness
If you have an under-active thyroid, you may experience tiredness, weight gain or depression. This condition is more common in women, but can occur in both men and women at any age. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/underactive-thyroid-hypothyroidism/

An over-active thyroid can cause symptoms such as mood swings, tiredness and weight loss. If you are experiencing these, or other symptoms of over-active thyroid, you should seek an appointment with your GP. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/overactive-thyroid-hyperthyroidism/

Park runs
While COVID-19 is still an issue for us, exercise outdoors is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy. The risk of Covid transmission is massively reduced in the open air. https://www.parkrun.org.uk

Blood donation

Blood donors are urgently needed. If you haven’t donated before, or not for a while, please consider doing so if you can. Blood donation saves lives. You could make a real difference. https://www.blood.co.uk

If you or a member of your family have ever needed a blood transfusion, you’ll know how important it is that there is blood available when you need it. NHS Blood Donation needs almost 400 new donors every day to meet demand. If you haven’t given blood before, could you? https://www.blood.co.uk/who-can-give-blood/

Pertussis
Most young babies who contract whooping cough will end up being admitted to hospital. Being vaccinated while pregnant will help protect your baby from whooping cough until they are old enough to receive their own vaccination at 8 weeks. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/whooping-cough-vaccination/

Wash hands
If you think you know exactly how to wash your hands, you might want to take a look at this. You might be surprised just how many germs could be left on your hands after your regular trip to the loo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs4U_Ll0KAw

Baby and child first aid
Would you know how to give first aid to a baby or child in an emergency? The British Red Cross has advice for parents and carers on how to administer essential first aid. https://www.redcross.org.uk/first-aid/learn-first-aid-for-babies-and-children

Birth defect prevention

If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, you should think about diet and supplementation before you try to conceive. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/vitamins-supplements-and-nutrition/

Men’s wellbeing

January can be a difficult month for many. Men in particular may find it difficult to talk about their problems. If you’re worried about someone, let them know they can talk and you will listen without judgement. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/m/men-and-mental-health

In 2019 Time to Change found that only a quarter of men would openly tell their male friends if they were struggling with their mental health. It’s time to change that narrative. https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-stigma/ask-twice/supporting-men

STIs

The festive season can lead to unexpected sexual encounters. Unprotected sex can lead to STIs. If you notice symptoms, you should get checked for an STI. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sexually-transmitted-infections-stis/

Young carers
If you’re a young carer, you should not be carrying out the same level of caring responsibilities as an adult carer does. You can request an assessment to ensure you get the right support to continue with your education. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/socia…s-for-carers/being-a-young-carer-your-rights/

If you’re a young carer, some of the challenges in your life will be things your friends don’t understand. If you need support, Young Minds have some suggestions that could help you. https://www.youngminds.org.uk/young-person/coping-with-life/young-carers/

Drug abuse
If you’ve been abusing drugs, it can have a significant effect on your life. The NHS can help you to recover from drug addiction. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/drug-addiction-getting-help/

If you are struggling with drug addiction, Narcotics Anonymous meetings are facilitated by recovering addicts who really understand the challenges you face. https://ukna.org

Flu vaccination
While COVID-19 is the disease that everyone is talking about, don’t forget that flu can be serious. If you haven’t had your flu vaccination yet and you are eligible, you can still have it at your GP surgery. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/

Pneumonia vaccination
You’ll be offered a pneumococcal vaccination at several points in your life. Vaccination can help to prevent you becoming unwell with pneumonia. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pneumococcal-vaccination/

Winter fuel
If you were born on or before 26 September 1955, you may be eligible for a winter fuel payment. If you are eligible you should receive your payment automatically, but in some circumstances, you may need to claim. Excess winter deaths were almost three times as high in the coldest 25% of housing than in the warmest 25% of housing. https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, or you’re on a low income, you could get a discount to apply to your energy bills. In a year where fuel prices are rising, even if you haven’t received this before, it’s worth checking if you are eligible. This won’t affect other payments such as Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment. https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

Staying warm
If you need to stay warm without turning up your heating, some of the tips here should help you to get cosy. Warming soups and dressing in layers are easy ways to keep warm without breaking the bank. https://www.thespruce.com/ways-to-keep-warm-without-turning-up-the-heat-1388206

Dry January (1-31 January)
Many of us drink more during the festive season than we do for the rest of the year. To give your liver a chance to recover, and improve your overall health, why not think about doing Dry January this year? https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january

Paget’s Disease (11th January)
Paget’s disease is a bone condition that is relatively common in older people. It can cause pain in bones and joints, or shooting pains and numbness in the body. It can also be symptomless, only being discovered when undergoing tests for other reasons. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pagets-disease-bone/

Samaritans Brew Monday (17 January)

As humans, it seems like listening should be easy. Being a good listener isn’t always as easy as it first appears. If someone you know needs to talk, being able to listen well might make the difference to what they say. https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/campaign/brew-monday/

Blue Monday (17 January)
While Blue Monday might have more to do with selling holidays than anything else, it’s a good time to raise general awareness around mental health. Mental health issues can occur year-round, and the last two years have been more challenging than most for many people. Make this year the year you focus on your mental wellbeing. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/what-does-blue-monday-mean-our-mental-health

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (17-23 January 2021)

One in four people who are eligible for cervical screening don’t attend. Cervical screening is vital in the fight against cervical cancer. https://www.jostrust.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/cervical-cancer-prevention-week

Cervical smears are now checked for the HPV virus first. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by persistent HPV infection, so checking for HPV first makes sense and allows patients to be monitored more closely. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/changes-to-cervical-cancer-screening

If you have been invited to have a cervical screening, but haven’t yet booked, please make an appointment as soon as possible. Cervical screening can help to identify changes that can lead to cervical cancer. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/

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