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The Man Manual - men's health made easy (in print)
The NHS is under pressure. In the winter, more than ever.
In winter 2017, hospitals were urged to delay non-urgent elective care (which could include a diagnosis, treatment or procedure) until after 31 January 2018 to free up capacity for the sickest patients. (Cancer operations and time-critical procedures were still to go ahead as planned.)
The NHS National Emergency Pressures Panel say ‘calling 111 is often a quicker and more convenient way of obtaining clinical assessment and advice in non-emergencies and allows staff in A&E to focus on the sickest patients.’
GPs see more than a million patients a day across the UK. The Royal College of GPs (RCGPs) says that while demand has increased by 16% in the last seven years, the number of GPs has not risen in line. The RCGPs has a snappily named mantra: ‘three before GP’. They suggest that, before making a GP appointment, you could try:
There are four things you can do yourself:
Certainly worth trying. They'll save the time involved in getting a GP appointment and save you from going to the surgery: a popular meeting place, along with public transport, for cold and flu viruses.
You can buy cough and cold medicines from pharmacies or supermarkets. A pharmacist can advise on what’s best for you.
Be careful not to take cough and cold medicines if you’re also taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets - taken together it’s easy to take more than the recommended dose.
Check very carefully which medicines are OK for children, babies, pregnant women and for any other conditions you may have such as asthma.
The NHS says ‘there’s little evidence that supplements (such as vitamin c, zinc, echinacea or garlic) prevent colds or speed up recovery’.
Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections. In other words, they’re useless against a cold. Both viruses and bacteria are microbes but they’re completely different, in the same way as chimps and chaffinches are both animals.
The NHS says see your GP if:
It’s not easy but
Also not easy because the symptoms (blocked nose, sore throat, headaches, cough, sneezing, temperature, muscle ache, tiredness) are much the same. The NHS says:
If in doubt, call 111.
Dont forget that the groups of people at most risk of the complications from flu (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) can have a free flu vaccination. These groups include people who:
Well, for centuries studies have shown that female mice have better immune responses than males.
More recently, Dr Kyle Sue of Memorial University, Newfoundland in Canada, found some evidence that adult men have a higher risk of hospital admission and have higher rates of flu-related death compared with women in the same age groups. There is also evidence of men suffering more from ‘viral respiratory illness’ (ie colds and flu) than women because they have a less robust immune system.
Dr Sue concludes that the idea behind ‘man flu’ that men are making a fuss about nothing may be unfair. She said: ‘men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women.’
Now give me a hot toddy.
Date of last review 09/01/18
Date of next review 09/01/21