Monday, 16 June 2014

Keep an eye on the pollen count

My hayfever is flaring up today. This isn't surprising as, according to the Met Office, the pollen count is currently high in many parts of the UK. You can check the pollen forecast here on the Met Office website.

Many people think hayfever is just a minor problem. But over the weekend, I discovered that many of my friends and family agree that troublesome hayfever symptoms can ruin a hot summer. While people without hayfever can enjoy outdoor activities without a worry, especially in the evenings when pollen levels are highest, those with hayfever often prefer to spend their time in the stuffy indoors, just to keep their symptoms at bay. At this time of year, there's an ongoing argument in many households around the country - windows open or windows closed?! It certainly happens in our house.

A recent report - the British Airborne Allergy Report - commissioned by air purification specialists Fellowes, in association with charity Allergy UK, revealed that hayfever is one of the most debilitating allergies, especially in children. Two-thirds of parents whose children suffer from hayfever, claim their youngsters' childhoods have been damaged as a result. One in eight parents say symptoms have made their child's life a misery or stopped them going to school, while one in 10 struggle to leave the house during the summer months. Another nine percent say airborne allergies, like hayfever, have stopped their children pursuing hobbies and six percent regularly have to miss sports.

I notice this with my children - at this time of year, their noses are constantly full, their eyes are puffy and they are more tired than usual. I am sure this affects their concentration at school - not ideal as we are coming up to school exams for the eldest.

Don't get me wrong - I love a warm summer and 'al fresco' living. But with pollen levels at their highest  at the moment, I have to admit that I am looking forward to the autumn. Although then we get the cold and flu season - I guess we can't win!

Cancer - spotting the signs

According to research published last Wednesday in the British Journal of Cancer, around 35% of cancer patients waited too long to see their doctor about bleeding from their bottom, which is a possible sign of bowel cancer. Yet more than 90% of people made an appointment to see a doctor within three months if they had blood in their urine. Worrying, more than one in five cancer patients waited more than three months before visiting a doctor about their symptoms.

The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chances of survival. According to Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of early diagnosis, it's important that everyone is aware of the wide range of cancer symptoms and has the confidence to tell their doctor.

So what symptoms should you be looking out for?

First of all, it's essential to know your own body and spot anything that seems out of the ordinary for you. The 'for you' part is the key as everyone is different. If you notice any persistent or unexplained changes, see your doctor. Don't assume that any changes are simply a sign of getting older or, in the case of women, associated with the menopause.

Secondly, there are over 200 types of cancer that can cause many different symptoms. Cancer Research UK have listed the most important ones here.

And don't forget if you can't get an appointment with your doctor straight away, you can always ask a pharmacist for advice too.