Health Articles


Collection of questions by you, answered by dearPHARMACIST

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Q&A's - Ask dearPHARMACIST

Q: My friend has told me I should drink a glass of red wine a day to help my heart condition. Is this a good idea?

A: The obsession for red wine came from the ‘French Paradox’. It seemed that despite the high saturated fats in their diet, there was less incidence of coronary heart disease. This has not been concluded. My best advice is to limit alcohol according to NHS guide lines. Click here for the information. The anti-oxidant in red wine that shows benefits is Resveratrol. This would be better taken as a supplement. It would take several bottles of red wine to give the correct amount that is protective to your heart.

Q: I am in a new relationship and find it embarrassing to sleep at his house. My problem is snoring. I feel that this may get in the way of the relationship. dearPHARMACIST is there anything I could do to stop snoring?

A: Snoring is very common. Usually about 35% of people will be affected by snoring to some degree. There are many factors to consider. Firstly it is important to understand what snoring is. Click here for more information. Several factors influence snoring; factors such as allergies, colds, enlarged tonsils, or being overweight. My advice is to lose weight if your BMI is higher than normal. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle help minimise snoring. Avoiding alcohol and a heavy meal close to bedtime; it’s recommended to leave at least 4 hours between your meal and going to sleep. Use an extra pillow to raise the head and by sleeping on your side rather than your back will help. Products that can help reduce the noise of snoring come in spray form, oral strips and nasal strips. These work by opening up the airways.

Q: I suffer every year with hay fever! I use a one a day hay fever tablet but I don't full relief. Is there anything else I can do?


A:  Hay fever affects individuals in various ways. The most common symptoms ares an itchy throat, sneezing, and streaming sore eyes. Most get away with using just one product, however some need a combination of products to get full relief. There are various treatments for hay fever, with the most common being one a day antihistamines. These are good, and do give relief. It's important to take these early in the morning before going outside. You can enhance the antihistamine effect by taking a high strength Vitamin C supplement daily. What helps many sufferers is using a steroid nasal spray daily with the antihistamines. If you suffer each year, these sprays can be initiated before the hay fever season, preventing you needing any combination support. A great tip is to smear some Vaseline around the nostrils, this works as a barrier preventing you inhaling in allergens. Another product that helps clear and wash through your sinuses is Sterimar Congestion Nasal Spray. This product is a must for all hay fever and sinus sufferers. It's used twice daily each day and works by clearing any allergens stuck in the mucous membranes that are irritating within that prolong your suffering. This sea water nasal wash is very effective and helps you breathe better. 

Q: dearPHARMACIST, I regularly have headaches at least once a week. My GP simply tells me its normal and to take over the counter painkillers. I try not to take too many of these painkillers, as I have heard they are addictive. I have a demanding life, and often struggle to balance work and family life. I don’t suffer with anything else, and don’t take any medication, apart from the painkillers bought from any place convenient.


A: Your GP is right that it is normal for some people to suffer like you, and that over the counter painkillers will help. What GPs tend not to do is explain which one to take and how. There is a large selection available with an array of prices. So how do we decide? Firstly, let me place your mind at rest, not all painkillers are addictive if taken correctly. Some over the counter products contain a codeine-based ingredient. These can be addictive if taken for more than 3 days in a row. Daily in-take of painkillers can cause a rebound effect to give a medication-induced headache. However, a lot of my clients who suffer headaches make the mistake of not taking a painkiller immediately on the on-set of a headache. Most delay this in the hope the headache goes away. This in fact will stop the painkiller having its full effect, and will also prolong, as well as, worsen the headache.  So the most important rule I tell my clients is to take a painkiller as soon as you get a headache. If you suffer regularly carry a small pack of them with you at all times.


Several things contribute to a tension headache. From your letter its clear that stress is a big trigger for you. It’s important to find time to relax, this will help your well-being, as well as, prevent your headaches. What most people don’t understand is that a tension headache is a muscular trigger. Sometimes stress, over work and bad posture can lead to tense muscles in the back, neck and shoulders. This in turn will cause a trigger tension headache. As this is a muscular inflammation, the best over the counter product for tension headaches is a painkiller with anti-inflammatory properties. The two anti-inflammatories available over the counter are Aspirin and Ibuprofen.


To prevent a tension headache getting worse it’s important to get a product that works quickly, and the sooner it’s taken the better the painkilling effect will be. As a pharmacist, my first line of treatment and recommendation is Ibuprofen Lysine. This form of Ibuprofen works promptly by quick absorption, allowing you not suffer any further. So don’t just buy regular Ibuprofen ask dearPHARMACIST for Ibuprofen Lysine.

Q: I have recently decided to get healthier but am not sure where to start. I am male, a smoker, slightly overweight and have just turned 40. Please can you direct me to how to become healthier?


A: Visiting dearPHARMACIST is a good starting point. Firstly, book yourself in with dearPHARMACIST for a stop smoking initial consultation. This will give you motivation and allow you to decide whether you are ready to quit. Joining the stop smoking programme makes you four times more likely to quit smoking! As you have just turned 40, it is worth booking yourself in at the pharmacy for a Health Check, this could be free depending on your eligibility; visit to check your eligibility. A health check involves going through some questions about you, your family history and well-being. A small sample of blood is taken to measure your cholesterol. Depending on the results and answers, guidance to improve your health will be given.  You’ve mentioned that you are slightly overweight; this, with your age and smoking history can increase your risk to Type 2 Diabetes. At the pharmacy, you can get a diabetes risk assessment done, and an action plan will be made up to help you minimise your risk. This will then be reviewed with weekly support. 

Q: I have noticed that my hair has been thinning recently. Most of my friends don't notice it until I show them my scalp. I'm only 26, is this normal? I have lost a lot of confidence, is there anything that can help me. I'm worried I won't have any hair when I'm 30!


A: Firstly, let me reassure you that you are not alone.  There are several reasons for hair loss. We must determine that there isn't anything underlining that is causing this. It's best to book in for a free consultation with dearPHARMACIST, who will go through your history. Cause for this can be medication side effects, extreme stress, poor nutrition and medical disorders. Often, it's hereditary hair loss. Here your genes and hormones shrink hair follicles and that's why they loose the ability to grow new hairs. Fortunately, there are some effective measures that will help prolong until the follicles are completely ineffective. You must take care and groom without causing damage. This is making sure you don't use harsh products, and using fortified shampoos and conditioners to strengthen the hair, as well as scalp. Make sure you are eating healthily and drinking at least 2 litres of water daily. There are supplements available to enhance nutritional needs for hair growth. Discuss this with dearPHARMACIST, who can tailor your needs individually. One of the most effective products available from dearPHARMACIST is Regaine. It's active ingredient, minoxidil, will increase the size of the hair follicles to improve thicker hair growth. The effects of this product is proven, but a daily routine must be adapted to get the full effect.  Book yourself in for an assessment where dearPHARMACIST can plan this regime with you. An expectation plan is drawn up so you're not disillusioned by instant hair growth. Most men see a result after 6 to 8 weeks. The worst thing to do is stop before 8 weeks. Book in today for a free consultation.

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