If you’re a man, read this….it just might lengthen your life!

Men’s health

Many men do not look after their own health very well. They tend to avoid or delay regular health checks and their health is often poorer than that of women the same age. Men can often improve their health with changes to diet, exercise and other lifestyle habits.

Some health issues

Bowel cancer – more common in men than women. Risk increases over the age of 50 years.

Depression – depression affects men a lot and they are more likely to suicide than women. Men often do not recognise the symptoms of depression and so do not seek help.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) – ED, or impotence, means being unable to get and/or keep an erection that allows sexual intercourse. ED is common, but most men do not like to talk about it with their doctor. Some medical conditions can lead to ED (e.g. diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, Parkinson’s disease). Drinking too much alcohol, smoking, stress and some medicines can also cause ED. If you would like to talk to someone in Zimbabwe about this we suggest the Men’s Health Clinic.

Heart disease – men are more likely to die from heart disease than women. Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and overweight, which are more common in men.

Low testosterone – testosterone is a male sex hormone. A low testosterone level can be caused by disorders of the testes or pituitary gland, or other health problems (e.g. obesity).

Testosterone levels also fall as men age. Symptoms of low testosterone include being tired, feeling irritable and less sex drive.

Male pattern hair loss (baldness) – causes some men great distress.

Prostate disease – more common in older men. The three main prostate problems are:

  • benign prostatic hyperplasia/ hypertrophy (BPH) – the prostate gland gets bigger and affects urine flow
  • prostate cancer
  • prostatitis – prostate becomes sore and swollen, usually due to infection.

Testicular cancer – more common in younger men, but can occur at any age. May cause a hard lump, swelling or pain in a testicle.

Some lifestyle issues

Alcohol – more men than women drink harmful amounts of alcohol,  which increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, sexual problems, depression, accidents and violence.

Being overweight –increases their risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis and some cancers.

Smoking – more men than women smoke and die from smoking-related illnesses (e.g. cancer, heart disease, airways disease).

Physical activity – many men do not get enough exercise. Regular exercise helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and control weight. It can also help relieve stress, improve sleep and improve feelings of wellbeing.

Self care

A number of health issues are more common in men than women. This may be due to the way men deal with health and lifestyle issues. Of course some health issues only affect men.

Have health checks and tests – ask a doctor.

Important

Seek medical advice and a full health check, if you:

  • are over 40 years of age
  • are overweight
  • notice changes in bowel habit or urine flow
  • notice a lump or change in either testicle
  • are experiencing ED
  • feel stressed
  • plan to start exercising.

 

Your Self Care Pharmacy:

Utano Pharmacies Shop 3 & 4, Hughes House 22 Park Street HARARE ZIMBABWE

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Stop that Hay Fever from getting up your nose this summer!

Hay fever is a term used to refer to allergic rhinitis. It is commonly caused by seasonal exposure to pollen. Allergic rhinitis can cause significant irritation and interference in a person’s daily activities, and considerably reduce quality of life.

According to The Patriot (July 2015), ” Doctors say most people ignore a sneeze or cough, thinking it’s nothing, but if they experience itching along with it, they probably have allergies. An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that is harmless to most people. But for those with an allergy, the body’s immune system treats the substance (called an allergen) as an invader and overreacts, causing symptoms that can range from annoying to serious or life threatening conditions.”

Allergic rhinitis is one of the most common chronic respiratory conditions in Zimbabwe as the change over from Winter to Summer brings about windy weather conditions which carry many hay fever triggers in the air such as pollen and dust-mites.

Research has shown that most people inherit the tendency to suffer from hay fever. If one parent has allergic rhinitis, their child has about a 30% chance of experiencing hay fever. If both parents are sufferers, then the risk shoots up to about 70%.

The signs and symptoms of hay fever develop as the result of the body’s immune response. Substances, which would ordinarily cause no reaction in most people, may cause a severe allergic reaction in those who are hypersensitive to them.

At this time of year the most likely trigger factors (or allergens) include pollen and other windblown substances. But people can experience hay fever at any time. Another common trigger factor is exposure to dust mites. These microscopic animals live in their millions in pillows, sheets, blankets, curtains and carpets. With the huge range of places where dust might be found, it should be no surprise that many people sneeze and wheeze from breathing in dust mites. Similar year-round (or perennial) signs and symptoms can be caused by animal dander – the dead skin cells from our pets, especially that of cats. In addition, mould spores which are often found around the house, can cause allergic rhinitis.

Another problem is exposure to cigarette smoke, which may increase sensitivity to allergies and consequently lead to a greater likelihood of developing hay fever.

Finally, occupational hazards such as working with wood dust, seed dust, textile dust, rubber latex, some chemicals and certain foods and spices, may also increase the likelihood of becoming a hay fever sufferer.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Avoiding known trigger factors is the best way to avoid hay fever, but that is not always possible. Hay fever can be very well managed with medicines, many of which are now available without a prescription.

When medicine is required, the product choice will depend largely on the severity and frequency of signs and symptoms. For example, mild symptoms which occur for less than four days a week, or less than four weeks at a time, often respond well to oral antihistamines available over-the-counter from your pharmacy.

Staff in your local pharmacy can assist with the selection of the most appropriate product(s). If the hay fever is really getting up your nose this summer, come in and visit is at Utano Pharmacy. We are here for you and your health! Live better today.

What you should know about Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your breathing system. People who suffer from asthma often have the following symptoms,

  • Wheezing– This is similar to a high pitched sound. This noise only occurs when breathing. It indicates that the airways in your breathing system are inflamed or narrowing.
  • Breathlessness– What happens here is that you often feel like you have run out of breath or that it feels difficult to breathe. This again, shows that there is a problem with your breathing system.
  • Tightening of the chest- This can feel like there is a lot of pressure on your chest, it can even feel painful. Chest tightening can feel scary, because it is commonly known as a sign of serious conditions like heart failure.
  • Night-time or early morning coughing

No one knows why anyone gets asthma, and it has no cure. If someone in your family has asthma, you may find that it’s more likely that you may suffer from it. If you have asthma you may from time to time have sudden worsening of the symptoms described above. We call this an asthma attack. Sometimes this can feel very frightening.

These attacks are often triggered by a variety of things that irritate your airways through breathing them in the air. These can be pesticides, cleaning agents with strong or powerful chemical agents that smell a lot, dust mites, rising damp and others. We call these asthma triggers. If you can learn what particular irritants trigger your asthma you can control your asthma by avoiding those triggers while taking the right treatments.

While asthma can feel scary, it can be managed. In order to manage it well, you need to be aware of the following:

  • What are the warning signs of an asthma attack
  • Identifying the triggers of an asthma attack
  • Listening to what your healthcare professional tells you to do

It is possible to live with asthma and to live well. When you control your asthma:

  • you won’t have symptoms like wheezing or coughing
  • you’ll sleep better
  • you won’t miss work or school
  • you can take part in all physical activities, and
  • you won’t have to go to the hospital.

Why don’t you try it? Visit our friendly pharmacist and consult with us on how to manage your asthma better. Live better today.

Hay Fever and What You Need to Know

Hay fever is a term used to refer to allergic rhinitis. It is commonly caused by seasonal exposure to pollen. Allergic rhinitis can cause significant irritation and interference in a person’s daily activities, and considerably reduce quality of life.

Research has shown that most people inherit the tendency to suffer from hay fever. If one parent has allergic rhinitis, their child has about a 30% chance of experiencing hay fever. If both parents are sufferers, then the risk shoots up to about 70%.

The signs and symptoms of hay fever develop as the result of the body’s immune response. Substances, which would ordinarily cause no reaction in most people, may cause a severe allergic reaction in those who are hypersensitive to them.

Hay fever is an unpleasant condition that affects a large number of people. How much hay fever patients suffer strongly depends on the weather conditions. Wind strength and direction, precipitation and temperature are all factors that influence the amount of distress. At this time of year the most likely trigger factors (or allergens) include pollen and other windblown substances.

But people can experience hay fever at any time. Another common trigger factor is exposure to dust mites. These microscopic animals live in their millions in pillows, sheets, blankets, doonas, curtains and carpets. With the huge range of places where dust might be found, it should be no surprise that many people sneeze and wheeze from breathing in dust mites. Similar year-round (or perennial) signs and symptoms can be caused by animal dander – the dead skin cells from our pets, especially that of cats. In addition, mould spores which are often found around the house, can cause allergic rhinitis.

Another problem is exposure to cigarette smoke, which may increase sensitivity to allergies and consequently lead to a greater likelihood of developing hay fever.

Finally, occupational hazards such as working with wood dust, seed dust, textile dust, rubber latex, some chemicals and certain foods and spices, may also increase the likelihood of becoming a hay fever sufferer.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Avoiding known trigger factors is the best way to avoid hay fever, but that is not always possible. Hay fever can be very well managed with medicines, many of which are now available without a prescription.

If signs and symptoms persist or adversely affect sleep/work, school or leisure activities, then sometimes a stronger product is needed and intranasal corticosteroid sprays  may be helpful. If very itchy eyes are a concern, anti-allergy eye drops should be considered. An antihistamine spray  may be used when the nose is ‘constantly dripping like a tap’.

When medicine is required, the product choice will depend largely on the severity and frequency of signs and symptoms. For example, mild symptoms which occur for less than four days a week, or less than four weeks at a time, often respond well to oral antihistamines available over-the-counter from your pharmacy.

You and Your Skin: Cold Sores

An embarrassing skin condition likely to crop up during winter is cold sores. Cold sores are small, blistering sores that occur in or around the mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores are a common infection that can be managed with medicines and other treatments available from a pharmacist.

There are two types of the herpes simplex virus, called type 1 and type 2. Cold sores are usually caused by herpes simplex type 1. Once you have a herpes simplex virus it stays in your body for life. It may cause a cold sore (or other symptoms) at first, but then it mostly lies ‘asleep’ (dormant) in your nerve cells. From time to time the virus can ‘wake-up’ (re-activate) and cause a cold sore. Cold sores usually first occur in childhood. They are commonly passed on by skin contact such as a kiss from a family member who has a cold sore.

Triggers for cold sores

Some triggers that can re-activate the virus to cause a cold sore are sunlight, dry lips, damage to the lip or skin area, stress, tiredness, hormone changes (e.g. menstruation) and illness (e.g. a cold)

Signs and symptoms

Most cold sores occur on or next to the lips. Sometimes they occur on the nose, on the chin or in the mouth. A person usually gets their cold sores in the same area each time. There are usually four main stages of a cold sore:

  • Tingle – a tingling, burning or itching feeling around the lips or nose, from a few hours to 48 hours before the cold sore appears.
  • Blisters – a red, painful lump appears which turns into small, painful, fluid-filled blisters. The blisters may last a few days.
  • Weeping – the blisters burst and fluid weeps out. The virus can easily be spread to other people at this stage.
  • Scab – the cold sore dries up, and forms a scab, which can be itchy and painful. Without treatment, cold sores usually take 7–10 days to heal. They usually do not leave a scar.

Treatment

There are a number of different ways to treat cold sores. Different stages and symptoms of a cold sore may need different treatments. Ask a pharmacist, doctor or nurse for advice. Anti-viral medicines (e.g. aciclovir, famciclovir, penciclovir) Anti-viral medicines fight the herpes simplex virus. You can get anti-viral cold sore creams and tablets from a pharmacist without a prescription.

Self-care

  • Try to find and avoid things that trigger your cold sores.
  • Follow the instructions carefully when using cold sore medicines.
  • Do not get cold sore product in your eyes or inside your mouth.
  • Do not break blisters or ‘pick’ a scab, as this will slow healing and increase the risk of bacterial infection.
  • Hold an ice-cold compress on the cold sore – it may reduce the pain.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen on your lips and face when in the sun.
  • Learn and use relaxation techniques to reduce stress.
  • Have a healthy diet. Eat a variety of vegetables, fruit, wholegrain foods, nuts and seeds every day. Limit foods high in fat, sugar or salt.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes on all or most days of the week. Stop cold sores spreading While you have a cold sore:
  • Do not touch your cold sore except when applying a cold sore product.
  • Do not let other people touch your cold sore, or your saliva (e.g. from kissing, hugging or sex).
  • Do not touch your (or anyone else’s) eyes or genitals after touching your cold sore.
  • Do not share cold sore cream with others.’
  • Do not share eating or drinking utensils, toothbrushes, towels, face cloths, razors or lipstick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often, especially before and after touching your cold sore.

Important

Avoid close contact with others while you have a cold sore. In particular, herpes simplex infection can be dangerous for babies, people with eczema or burns, people with a weakened immune system and pregnant women. Get medical advice if you:

  • have a cold sore that has not healed after 14 days
  • have a severe cold sore
  • have sores that spread rapidly or are widespread
  • get cold sores more than 3 times a year
  • also have a fever
  • also have another illness
  • take a medicine or have a medical condition which weakens your immune system
  • get a painful, red, watery eye that is sensitive to light – herpes simplex virus can cause a very serious eye infection
  • get sores in the genital area.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

You and Your Skin This Winter: Chronic Skin Conditions

The most common chronic skin conditions we know of are Eczema and Dermatitis. Eczema and dermatitis are two general terms which mean very much the same thing – inflammation of the skin.  Medically speaking there are two major forms of eczema:  contact eczema and atopic eczema.

As the name suggests contact eczema results from direct contact with an irritant substance, often a chemical substance such as detergent, shampoo, cosmetics or the metal in jewellery.  Redness, minor swelling, oozing and itching might all be features of contact eczema.

The cause of atopic eczema is not so easy to define.  It tends to occur in families and is more likely to affect people who also have asthma or hay fever.  Atopic eczema may be made worse by stress.  Sometimes, it may be itchy, red and inflamed with small weeping blisters; sometimes it may be dry and scaly, usually in the creases of the elbows, knees and wrists.

If you have a chronic skin condition such as eczema or dermatitis, avoid the use of soaps altogether.  Instead use soap substitutes – creams such as aqueous or the specially formulated Cetaphil and other products. A visit to your local pharmacy can help you identify what treatment or daily self-care routine you can employ to manage these conditions.

For skin which is extra sensitive to chemicals, cotton gloves should be used next to the skin, and then rubber or vinyl gloves over the top, when washing or doing work around the house.   Once the rash is under control, the application of a barrier cream will help prevent its recurrence.

The winter season also can cause chronic conditions to be more aggressive during this dry and cold season. For instance, the commonly occurring skin condition known as psoriasis tends to be more problematic in winter when the itchy, inflamed patches of skin can become painful and bleed. Whilst psoriasis can’t be cured, it can be effectively managed in most cases, and a new prescription product for the especially annoying scalp psoriasis is now available.

Careful exposure to sunlight (but definitely not sunburn) can sometimes improve psoriasis. However, this treatment needs to be administered under the guidance of a qualified health professional.

 Of course skin rashes can occur as a result of any number of different causes.  The rash needs to be correctly diagnosed so that the cause is identified and if possible removed, and the right treatment used

At Utano, we believe good health starts with a single choice to live better every day. Arm yourself with knowledge and come in and meet our friendly team who will be able to get you and your winter skin care kit ready to go in no time. If you suffer from more serious skin conditions check out our next blog on skincare and come in and see our pharmacist. We are ready to answer any of your questions anytime.

You and Your Skin This Winter: Day to Day Care

Winter is usually quite a dry season in Zimbabwe. The cold weather encourages us to spend too much time in a hot bath or shower, and the harsh soaps we use further strip away the natural layer of protective oils. Even those vitamin D sessions basking in the sun during 11:00 am to 15:00pm have adverse effects when the right precautions aren’t taken. Then our fan or bar heaters as well wood fires can also increase the dryness in the air and also affect your skin. The result is skin which much more easily becomes itchy, red and inflamed.

Of course we should not overlook that skin problems can also be a sign of more serious conditions which do require thorough investigations led by a qualified health professional. But most skin problems often result from or are made worse by, lack of care and attention.

So then what is an example or more serious conditions?

  • Childhood infections like measles and chickenpox
  • Skin allergies from contact with various substances
  • Chronic skin conditions such as Eczema and Dermatitis (Both these terms mean the same thing- inflammation of the skin) or Psoriasis

Of course skin rashes can occur as a result of any number of different causes.  The rash needs to be correctly diagnosed so that the cause is identified and if possible removed, and the right treatment used.

So then what are the skin problems that occur from lack of care and attention in winter time?

  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Chapped lips
  • Rough and Cracked heels
  • Dry hands
  • Scaly Elbows

All of these are caused by a lack of adequate moisture to your skin. Remember, your skin is the largest organ of your body AND you’re the average adult is made up of 55 – 75% water. In our efforts to generate heat during the winter, the moisture the skin needs and the hydration the body needs can be adversely affected if measures to replenish are not taken.

So what can you do?

  1. Hydrate- Drinking more water doesn’t necessarily moisturise your skin but it’s important to stay hydrated in winter to maintain your body’s balance
  2. Moisturise skin- Moisturising starts from the shower or bath.
    1. Remember excessive heat can cause skin problems, so you want to keep your baths short and temperatures below piping hot to about warm.
    2. You can add, a few drops of natural oils such as avocado oil or olive oil/ a cup of whole milk/ or oatmeal to your bath to help soothe your skin. Products like in shower moisturisers are also a good route here.
    3. You should aim to massage into your skin your skin cream or lotion within three minutes of getting out of the shower or bath as massaging damp skin holds more moisture. Go smooth and be thorough.
  3. Focus on your feet daily
    1. Aim to scrub or exfoliate your heels and soles of your feet once a week
    2. Wear cotton instead of woollen socks to bed at night. Wool socks can cause your feet to get too warm.
    3. Rub a good glycerine such cream in your heels every night before bed. Then pop on your cotton socks and hit the sack!
  4. Lip Balm and Hand Lotion- Lips can get very cracked in winter, and your hands have the thinnest skin so these two need special care:
    1. Keep a lip balm handy and dab some Vaseline on your lips for extra attention during the winter
    2. While you are wiping your hands with sanitizer to ward of germs this winter season, also carry a hand lotion and keep your hands soft smooth.

At Utano, we believe good health starts with a single choice to live better every day. Arm yourself with knowledge and come in and meet our friendly team who will be able to get you and your winter skin care kit ready to go in no time. If you suffer from more serious skin conditions check out our next blog on skincare and come in and see our pharmacist. We are ready to answer any of your questions anytime.