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NOVEMBER

3 National Children’s Day
3 Nov-3 Dec Disability Rights Awareness Month
4-10 National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Week
8 World Radiography Day
12-18 World Antibiotic Awareness Week
14 World Diabetes Day
17 World Prematurity Day
25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
25 Nov-10 Dec 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children

2018-09-27T15:44:02+00:00

Caring Communities

Those living with breast cancer face a lot of uncertainty and fear that can be hard to talk about, even with close friends and family. If you’ve received a breast cancer diagnosis, one of the best places to seek counselling and understanding is with a local support group. These groups may meet online or face-to-face.

Joining a support group gives you a chance to interact with others who have a real understanding of what you’re going through. Here, group members are encouraged to share their stories, their struggles and their triumphs. This support can help you to feel reassured and less alone when you’re facing such a serious medical challenge.

2018-09-27T15:18:28+00:00

Consumer Tip

If you’re trying to stretch your budget that little bit further, these smart shopping tips will help to prevent you from overspending at the grocery store.

  • Supermarkets often put the priciest products on the eye-level shelves. Take time to go through the different brands on the higher and lower shelves, to get the best price.
  • Don’t go shopping while you’re hungry; you’re more likely to spend more on food, and to buy extra snacks.
  • Clean out your fridge and pantry cupboard once a month, and use up what you have before buying more.
  • Be sure to take your shopping list with you, so you know exactly what you need and don’t end up making unnecessary purchases.
2018-09-27T15:27:56+00:00

Common Questions about Male Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer is a disease we don’t often hear about, but knowing the facts could save your life. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an important time to highlight the dangers of breast cancer in men as well as women.

Breast Cancer Occurs in Men Too

Many people wonder: Men don’t have breasts, so how can they get breast cancer? In fact, men do possess a small amount of breast tissue, concentrated on the chest wall in the area directly behind each nipple. The difference is that the hormones in girls’ and women’s bodies stimulate this tissue to grow into full breasts at puberty. Boy’s and men’s bodies don’t produce as much of these hormones, so their breast tissue typically stays flat and small.

As with breast cancer in women, cancer of the male breast is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells of the breast tissue.

Breast cancer in men is a rare, and less than 1% of all breast cancer cases occur in men. The risk is higher for those with a family history of breast cancer (especially with a BRCA2 mutation), for those receiving radiotherapy, especially to the chest area, and for those taking hormonal medicines high in oestrogen. Obesity, high alcohol consumption and liver damage are also risk factors.

Early Diagnosis Saves Lives

Unlike women, men are not routinely screened for breast cancer. This means that when it is detected, it tends to be more advanced. An early diagnosis could make all the difference. Men should be encouraged to seek medical attention if they notice significant changes in their breast tissue, just as the women in their lives would do.

Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer

Here are some common warning signs to watch out for:

  • A lump in the chest area
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm
  • Nipple pain
  • Changes in the appearance of the nipple
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Sores on the nipple or areola

Prognosis and Treatment

The course of treatment will depend on a number of factors, and will be determined by the patient’s healthcare providers. It may include lymph node surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or chemotherapy.

Because men have less breast tissue than women, it is more common for male breast cancer to have spread beyond the breast area by the time it’s identified. This is another reason why timely diagnosis is so important.

Men who are coping with breast cancer face a different environment to women coping with the disease. Misinformation and stigma can add to the physical and emotional stresses already affecting the patient. Informing and educating more men about the risk male breast cancer will help to clear up the misconceptions, and promote timely medical intervention.

 

Sources

Male Breast Cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/type /male_bc?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu8DOmd2w3QIVSLHtCh2mdANoEAAYASAAEgJCr_D_BwE

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html

2018-09-28T06:50:59+00:00

Understanding Emotional Trauma and its Effects

Trauma, specifically emotional trauma, is something we often hear mentioned when it comes to the topic of mental health. What does trauma actually mean, and what effect does it have on our wellbeing?

Defining Trauma

“Trauma” can refer either to a serious physical injury, or to a psychologically damaging experience that has a lasting mental effect. Often, but not always, the two (physical harm and psychological harm) go hand in hand.

The official psychiatric definition of trauma is “any sudden and potentially life-threatening event”, or in other words, “an event outside normal human experience”. It’s a deeply shocking event that most people never expect to experience in their day-to-day lives.

Different Types of Trauma

Some people experience a single traumatic event, while others are exposed to a string of repeated traumas over a prolonged period of time.

Some examples of one-time trauma include:

  • Natural disasters (earthquake, flooding, hurricane)
  • Violent crime (assault, hijacking, robbery)
  • Accidents (car, taxi, airplane, train)
  • Serious medical procedures
  • Fires
  • Bereavement
  • Divorce

Some examples of prolonged or repeated trauma include:

  • Life in a warzone
  • Abuse at the hands of a parent or spouse
  • Life as a prison inmate
  • Life as a refugee
  • Hostage situations

How does Trauma Affect People?

Different people may respond slightly differently to emotional trauma, depending on the ways they find to help them cope with their experiences. Some may feel a sense of extreme insecurity which keeps them in a highly anxious state. Others experience numbness and denial, which is a protective mechanism that helps to reduce the immediate fear. Many experience memory disturbances, confusion and feelings of unreality. Sudden bouts of panic, anger or tearfulness are also common responses to trauma.

Often, there is a deep feeling of shame attached to emotional trauma. The survivor replays the event over in their heads and dwells on what they could have done differently, or blames themselves for the experience. Those who survive a disaster or accident where others died also struggle with feelings of survivor’s guilt.

The effects of trauma can show up in physical ways too, with the extreme emotional disturbances causing headaches, gastrointestinal problems, or low immunity (which leaves one vulnerable to common illnesses).

One-time trauma and prolonged trauma have many of the same immediate effects. However, prolonged trauma re-occurs whenever the traumatic experience is repeated.

The long-term effects include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), as well as depression and anxiety.

Healing from Trauma

If you’re feeling the effects of a traumatic event, here are a few constructive ways to start the journey to healing:

  • First and foremost, seek professional counselling to help you process the experience.
  • Join a support group for people who have survived similar experiences.
  • Talk about the event and your feelings with loved ones you can trust.
  • Write out your feelings in a journal or personal diary.
  • Look after yourself physically. Stick to a regular routine of healthy eating, sleep and productive work.
  • Give yourself extra time to accomplish your tasks.
  • Learn relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises or meditation.
  • Get regular exercise and spend time outdoors, in a place where you feel safe.
  • Be kind and compassionate to yourself as you work through your feelings.

Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day, if you want to discuss any aspect of emotional trauma, or ask for guidance on available resources.

 

 

Sources

Trauma – How is it Defined? Retrieved from: http://www.healing-waters.co.uk/trauma-how-is-it-defined/

Traumatic Stress: Dealing with Trauma After a Disaster or Disturbing Event. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/traumatic-stress.htm

 

2018-09-28T06:56:45+00:00

Simple Steps for Improved Mental Health

Mental health is a state of wellbeing that helps you to cope with the stresses of everyday life, and empowers you to work towards achieving your full potential. Sometimes, keeping a clear head and a healthy mind can be easier said than done. Life does throw unexpected challenges at us every day, after all. Fortunately, there are a few good habits you can cultivate to protect and improve your mental health.

  1. Better Nutrition for Body & Mind

Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to function properly. Eating right improves your mental state as well as your physical health. Low levels of certain nutrients (such as B-vitamins) lead to issues like depressed or anxious moods.

Make sure you eat a balanced diet, and cut out junk food wherever you can. You might also want to speak to your GP or pharmacist about the best nutritional supplements you can take to make up for any nutrients that are lacking.

  1. Less Clutter = Less Stress

If you’re clearing the junk out of your fridge and pantry, now is also a good time to take stock of the clutter in the rest of your house (and office) too. Your surroundings can influence your moods. Clutter breeds dust and dirt in your home, which is bad news for your health. It also has a negative effect on your mood and mental state.

It’s time to adopt a “less is more” mentality. Go through your closets and donate the items you haven’t worn in a year. Sell or donate old books, toys, appliances and even furniture. Commit to only keeping things in your home that are useful or beautiful. You’ll feel much lighter and freer after giving your personal environment a spring-clean.

  1. Mindfulness as a Stress-Buster

Whether it’s at work or at home, the stress and strain of daily life can take its toll if you don’t manage it properly.

Practising mindfulness helps to keep stress levels in check. It’s a great way to calm your thoughts and prevent yourself from panicking. Meditation or simple breathing exercises can help you to relax and focus when things feel like they’re spinning out of control.

  1. Connecting, Caring, Sharing

Looking inwards and focusing on the moment at hand are great mindful practices. However, it’s important to avoid becoming inwardly focused, or you can get wrapped up in your own worries and lose perspective. Connecting with others can help you to maintain a positive balance and focus outside of yourself. Spend quality time with your family and friends, or volunteer at a local charity. Talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling, and avoid bottling things up for too long.

  1. Positive Influences

Surround yourself with good people who inspire and encourage you. Just like you’ll feel healthier after cutting out junk food, you’ll also feel better after cutting out unhealthy relationships and habits. Too much time browsing your phone? Too many nights spent working overtime at the office? Too many negative people on your social media feed? Start by stepping away from these stresses, and you’ll soon feel more energised and positive.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, make your wellbeing a priority and start putting these helpful new habits into practice.

 

Sources

Ten Things you can do for Your Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.uhs.umich.edu/tenthings

How to Look After your Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health

 

2018-09-27T15:36:51+00:00

OCTOBER

1-31 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month
1 International Day of Older Persons
3-5 Rotary Family Health Day Outreach Campaign
9-15 National Nutrition Week
10 World Mental Health Day
11 World Sight Day
12 World Arthritis Day
12-20 World Bone and Joint Week
13 International Day for Disaster Reduction
13 World Hospice and Palliative Care Day
14-20 National Case Management Week
15 Global Handwashing Day
15-19 School Health Week
15-19 National Obesity Week
16 World Food Day
16 World Spine Day
17 World Trauma Day
20 National Down Syndrome Day
20 World Osteoporosis Day
20-26 International Lead Poisoning Prevention
Week 21 Global Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Day
24 World Polio Day
28 Oct to 3 Nov National Stroke Week
29 World Stroke Day

2018-09-27T15:48:53+00:00

Five Smart Heart Health Tips

September is Heart Health Awareness Month, a time of year dedicated to educating people about cardiovascular disease, and highlighting the importance of a healthy lifestyle. We all know that a balanced diet and regular exercise go a long way towards protecting our heart’s health. But there are also some less obvious ways you can take care of your heart.

This September, start making some of these smart lifestyle changes to improve your heart’s wellbeing and enjoy better overall health.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

We all love the idea of a cat nap or a lie-in, but did you know that getting a bit more sleep can help your heart as well? Too many late nights really take a toll on your cardiovascular system (not to mention your brain and your mood).

Studies have shown that getting too little sleep causes disruptions in our biological rhythms and can exacerbate underlying health conditions. This leads to higher blood pressure and inflammation, increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep most nights, for optimal heart health.

  1. Avoid Second-hand Smoke

It should go without saying that if you’re a smoker, the kindest thing you can do for your heart is to kick the habit. Smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease. However, it’s important to know that second-hand smoke is dangerous too.

The chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke lead to the build-up of plaque in the arteries. This affects non-smokers as well as smokers, and those with high blood pressure or cholesterol are at even greater risk. According to the American Heart Association, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke contributes to approximately 34,000 premature heart disease-related deaths a year.

If you’re a non-smoker, try to limit your exposure to smoke (at work, at home or out and about) as much as possible.

  1. Cut your Salt Consumption

Salt seems pretty innocent compared to the big culprits like cigarettes, but too much of it in your diet can also impact your heart health. A salt-heavy diet raises your blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

For healthy blood pressure levels, try to reduce the amount of table salt you use in your cooking. Watch out for ready-made foods and fast foods with high salt content, and choose low-sodium options when you can. As a guideline, adults should eat less than 6g (one teaspoon) of salt a day in total.

  1. Take Care of your Teeth

Yes, as strange as it sounds, good dental hygiene is linked to good heart health. People with gum disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. The bacteria that cause gum disease can move into the bloodstream and increase markers for inflammation in the blood vessels. This pushes up the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist for a check-up and cleaning every six months. This will keep your teeth in tip-top condition, and will also protect your heart.

  1. Take Time Out to Meditate

Stress is another big factor that damages heart health, so taking time to de-stress can have big benefits. Meditation helps to calm the mind, but it also has some great physical effects, like slowing the heartbeat, and lowering blood pressure levels. If you’re under strain, taking a few minutes a day to meditate can work wonders for your stress levels, and help to take some pressure off your heart.

Better heart health means better quality of life, and longer years spent enjoying time with your loved ones. It’s never too early to start taking better care of your heart!

 

Sources

American Heart Association – Quit Smoking/ Tobacco. Retrieved from: http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking-tobacco

5 Things to Do Daily to Keep Your Heart Healthy. Retrieved from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-things-to-do-daily-to-keep-your-heart-healthy/

Top 10 Healthy Heart Tips. Retrieved from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/

Meditation May Help Heart Health… And It Definitely Won’t Hurt. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/meditation-may-help-heart-health-and-it-definitely-wont-hurt#4

 

2018-08-31T08:15:32+00:00

How Human Touch Improves Our Health

We can all relate to the need for human touch. Whether you’re hugging your best friend, kissing your little one goodnight, or snuggling up with your partner, that loving physical connection is just so comforting. It might surprise you to learn that touch isn’t just good for your emotional state; it can actually improve your physical health too.

Our Need for Connection

Humans and other primates are born with the need for physical contact. Newborn babies cling to their caregivers in those critical first few weeks and months. This helps them to bond, and also provides them with sensory stimulation which promotes healthy development. Medical studies have shown how touch stimulates brain activity in newborns, and gentle physical contact from parents and caregivers can even give premature babies a better chance of survival.

This need for positive, loving human touch continues as children grow up, and stays with us into adulthood.

Did you know? Neurologists have found that physical touch is processed by the reward centre of the central nervous system, and this explains why we have such a strong emotional response to it.

Touch Releases “Happy Hormones”

When we hold or hug a loved one, our bodies release oxytocin, a “feel-good” hormone. Oxytocin is a powerful neurotransmitter that plays a big role in human bonding, between parents and babies, romantic partners, and friends. An oxytocin surge increases feelings of trust, love and positivity. It lifts the mood, and even has natural pain-relieving properties.

Physical touch also increases our levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These substances help to regulate the mood, and ease feelings of stress and anxiety.

Touch is Good for the Heart 

Some studies have also linked human touch to health benefits like lower blood pressure, slower heart rate and better immune system function. Bonding regularly through touch can actually help us stay healthier and even live longer.

Many of us take it for granted that human touch is a part of our daily lives. Not everyone is so lucky, however. People who are isolated (such as the elderly and those with critical illness) can experience touch deprivation, which has a big negative impact on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

As medical and scientific research into the power of human touch continues, more and more people are learning to appreciate just how important and beneficial it can be.

 

 

Sources

Touch in Infancy is Important for Healthy Brain Development. Retrieved from: https://theconversation.com/touch-in-infancy-is-important-for-healthy-brain-development-74864

The Loving Touch is Critical for Premature Infants. Retrieved from: https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/the-loving-touch-is-critical-for-premature-infants

The 3 Biggest Advantages of Human Touch May Surprise You. Retrieved from: https://www.plushcare.com/blog/advantages-of-human-touch-hugs/

2018-08-31T08:16:28+00:00

Heart Attack or Stroke: Know the Signs

A heart attack or stroke can have devastating consequences if it isn’t diagnosed and treated in time. Living a healthy lifestyle plays a big role in preventing heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, but that sadly doesn’t guarantee they won’t happen. Knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for can help you catch these major medical issues early, which could save a life.

Heart Health Awareness Month is a good time to reflect on your own wellbeing, and that of your loved ones. Be aware of risk factors that could contribute to a stroke or heart attack, and be prepared to call your local emergency response number if you spot any tell-tale symptoms.

Did you know? More than 70% of cardiac and breathing emergencies happen at home, when a family member is present and available to help a patient. This is good news, provided the family member knows what to look for and how to respond.

According to the American Heart Association and the Heart Foundation, these are the key signs to watch out for:

Heart Attack Warning Signs

  • Discomfort, pain or a “squeezing” sensation in the chest (the centre of the chest, between the breasts or behind the breastbone)
  • Discomfort or pain spreading to other areas of the upper body (arms, the back, neck, jaw)
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden overwhelming anxiety, dizziness or light-headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Sudden weakness or fatigue

It’s important to note that while chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack, different patients can present with different symptoms. Women are more likely than men to experience the other common symptoms, like shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain. In some cases, women and diabetic people can experience a heart attack with no chest pain at all.

While some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most start slowly. The sooner you’re able to identify a heart attack and seek medical attention, the better.

Stroke Warning Signs

A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain. It’s usually not painful, which means patients often ignore or dismiss their symptoms.

Sings of a stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg (usually on one side of the body)
  • Mental confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden vision problems
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, trouble walking
  • Sudden, severe headache

An easy way to diagnose a stroke is to remember the word FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to seek medical help.

If you, a loved one, a friend or a colleague start experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, seek immediate medical attention. Call your local emergency services and arrange for an ambulance to come as soon as possible.

 

Sources

Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms. Retrieved from: https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/heart-attack-and-stroke-symptoms

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. Retrieved from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack

Signs of a Stroke. Retrieved from: http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/recognise-a-stroke/

Signs of a Heart Attack. Retrieved from: http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/signs-of-a-heart-attack/

 

 

2018-08-31T08:17:46+00:00
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