Eye test: Third of adults ADMIT being overdue for an examination

More than half (59 per cent) do not know what the pupil does and 42 per cent have no idea of the purpose of the retina.

The research, by online optical retailer Vision Direct, found two of the most common eye conditions were also a source of confusion.

Almost 1.8 million (4 per cent) believe hyperopia, far-sightedness, was a region in ancient Egypt while a similar number (4 per cent) thought presbyopia, short-sightedness, was a blockbuster sci-fi movie.

Well over 2 million adults (4 per cent) also wrongly claimed that epidexipteryx, a bird-like dinosaur, was an eye condition.

One in 20 (4 per cent) incorrectly believe that taraxacum - the Latin name for a dandelion - was a sight-affecting ailment. 

Our lack of knowledge when it comes to eye health isn't helped by irregular eye tests.

Of the 2,000 people asked, one in seven (14 per cent) haven't had a check-up in the last five years despite NHS guidelines recommending an eye test at least every two years.

The survey, to mark World Glaucoma Week (11-18 March) also found that many are unable to name common eye conditions.

The condition, of which around 480,000 are living with, means the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, has become damaged.

While there are no symptoms to begin with, it can develop over many years affecting peripheral vision first. 

If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to loss of vision.

Only 41 per cent could identify astigmatism as an eye-related condition.

While just a third (36 per cent) knew that macular degeneration affected sight.

Brendan O'Brien, of Vision Direct, said “It doesn't surprise us that many people are unable to name the most common eye conditions.

“However, in some cases, this lack of knowledge could be causing them to put off getting their eyes tested regularly.

“Getting your eyes checked is the only way to spot and manage these common conditions and getting to them earlier is vital.”

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UK weather WARNING: Freezing conditions and snow could trigger symptoms of deadly illness

Temperatures in Britain have taken a sharp dip this week and officials have warned the elderly and those with health conditions take extra care.

Bone-chilling winds sweep in from the Russian Arctic and snowfall has been almost constant in many parts of the country.

While the wintery weather conditions have sparked excitement among some people, the cold blast could trigger or worsen symptoms of certain illnesses and health conditions.

The NHS lists the illnesses and ailments common during cold weather, including influenza.

Flu can be a major killer of vulnerable people - people aged 65 andover, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are particularly at risk during winter weather.

This year, Aussie flu, the H3N2 strain of the flu virus, has been causing havoc in Britain, causing a number of deaths and hundreds of hospitalisations.

Symptoms are similar to those caused by normal flu but more severe, and include a sudden fever, aching body and loss of appetite.

The NHS says the best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab or flu nasal spray for children aged two to 17.

The health body says: “The flu vaccine gives good protection against flu and lasts for one year.

“If you are over 65 or have a long term health condition, you are also eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which provides protection against pneumonia.”

Its top tip is to find out if you’re at risk of getting flu by asking your GP.

If you’re in a high-risk group, you should see your GP to get the vaccination.

The extreme winter weather, nicknamed ‘Beast from the East’, could also trigger symptoms of potentially dangerous condition hypothermia.

What causes hypothermia?

Hypothermia occurs when your body gets too cold and your temperature drops below 35C.

It can be caused by:

Inadequate clothing in cold weather

Falling into cold water

Getting cold in wet clothes

Living in a cold house

Being very tired and cold

How should you treat hypothermia? 

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Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms? This 28p supplement could help ease joint pain

Arthritis affects around 10 million people, young and old, in the UK.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, and symptoms include inflammation in and around the joints, warm, red skin over the affected joint, and weakness and muscle wasting.

While there is no cure, there are ways proven to ease pain and other symptoms in the form of supplements.

Scientific evidence has been carried out to suggest borage seed oil can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Borage seed oil, also known as starflower oil, is made from the seeds of the borage plant, a herb native to the Mediterranean region but grown in other countries, including the UK.

But how does it help improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

According to Arthritis Research, borage seed oil contains very high levels of two types of polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acids, 20 to 26 per centgamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and linolenic acid (LA, which your body converts to GLA).

The charity explains: “GLA is an essential fatty acid that’s important for maintaining a joint’s cell structure and function. Your body converts it into hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which regulate your immune system and fight joint inflammation.

“GLA might also suppress inflammatory responses by directly acting on some inflammatory cells.”

Borage seed oil, or starflower oil, is available to buy over the counter from pharmacies and health food shops in the from of capsules or bottled oil.

Starflower oil is available from Holland & Barrett - 50 capsules are £13.99.

Eating certain foods has also been proven to help ease joint pain.

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Cough - 10p a day supplements could relieve dry and chesty symptoms

Coughs usually go away by themselves within three weeks, according to the NHS.

The best way to get rid of a cough is to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and drink hot lemon with honey, it said.

A pharmacist can usually give you advice for treating a cough.

But, marshmallow root supplements could help to relieve signs of the condition, studies have claimed.

“For anyone suffering from a sore throat, cough or cold, marshmallow root can be taken orally to reduce pain, swelling and congestion,” said nutritionist Dr Josh Axe.

“Its antitussive properties and mucilage abilities allow it to decrease irritation of the throat, reduce swelling in the lymph nodes, speed up healing time and reduce aggravating dry coughing.

“This is exactly the reason that marshmallow extract is added to many cough syrups and throat lozenges.

“It’s one of the most effective natural cough remedies.”

Marshmallow root supplements could also suppress the urge to cough, studies revealed.

Try combining the supplements with other anti-inflammatory and antibacterial herbs for the best effect, said the nutritionist.

You could also treat a cough by taking some cough syrups and lozenges.

While they don’t work to get rid of the cough, they may help to suppress some of the symptoms.

See a GP if your cough has lasted longer than three weeks, the NHS advised.

Chest pain or unexplained weight loss are also signs that you should see a doctor about your cough.

Most coughs are caused by a cold or the flu virus.

You’re more at risk of developing a cough if you suffer from heartburn, allergies, or infections like bronchitis

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The magic vitamin that'll give you back your glow

AT THIS time of year getting enough vitamin C in your diet is essential for good health and boosting the immune system to help fight winter colds and flu. Getting enough vitamin C in your diet is essential for good health and boosting the immune system

The magic vitamin that'll give you back your glow

Dementia diet - avoid these five foods to PREVENT Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia is the name given to a group of symptoms linked to a loss of brain function, according to the NHS.

The condition affects the way a patient speaks, thinks, feels and behaves.

Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mood changes, and difficulty finding the right words.

You could lower your risk of dementia by avoiding certain foods. The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) could help to prevent the condition, studies have claimed.

“The MIND diet is designed to prevent dementia and loss of brain function as you age,” said medical website Healthline.

“It combines the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet to create a dietary pattern that focuses specifically on brain health.

“Research has shown that following the MIND diet even a moderate amount is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The MIND diet encourages limiting your consumption of butter and margarine, cheese, red meat, fried food, pastries and sweets because they contain large amounts of saturated fat and trans fat.”

You should eat less than one tablespoon of butter or margarine a day, the diet suggests.

Limit your cheese consumption to less than once a week, and no more than three servings of red meat per week. That includes all beef, pork and lamb, as well as any products made from the meats.

Fried food should be avoided, with less than one serving per week.

Also, cut back on pastries and sweets, including most of the “processed junk food”. Eat these foods no more than four times a week.

There’s no certain way to prevent dementia, but some lifestyle changes can help to lower your risk of the condition.

Those most at risk of dementia are the elderly, and those with lower levels of education, the NHS said.

A diet high in saturated fat, salt and sugar can increase your risk of dementia.

Regular exercise may help to prevent a neurodegenerative condition, it added.

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Type 2 diabetes: Supplements containing this enzyme could help manage condition's symptoms

Supplementation with the co-enzyme Ubiquinone Q10 can “significantly improve” blood sugar control in Type 2 diabetics, as well as helping sufferers who take statins or have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to an article in The British Journal of Diabetes.

The study comes in the wake of figures showing diabetes as the fastest growing health crisis in the UK with the number of sufferers doubling to 3.7 million in the last 20 years with a further 12.3 million at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The co-enzyme Ubiquinone Q10 is a vitamin-like substance which plays a vital role in the body’s energy supply mechanism, acting alongside enzymes converting fats and sugars into energy.

Heart and skeletal muscles have the highest energy requirements of all tissues and are particularly reliant on adequate supplies of Q10 as a result.

Ubiquinone Q10 is also an antioxidant, protecting cells from the potentially damaging effects of toxic free radicals, but production of Ubiquinone Q10 in the body declines with age and Type 2 diabetics are often found to have lower levels of the substance.

The British Journal of Diabetes piece on Ubiquinone Q10 and diabetes pointed to a number of different clinical studies which showed how Type 2 diabetes sufferers who took Ubiquinone Q10 supplements of between 100mg and 200mg a day over a two to three-month period saw their conditions improve.

The results included:

  • Significantly improved long-term blood sugar and blood pressure control 1
  • Significantly reduced glycated haemoglobon (HbA1c) levels, thereby reducing the risk of developing diabetes-related complications 2
  • Significantly improved fasting plasma glucose levels (a blood sugar level several hours after eating)

Dr David Mantle, author of the study in The British Journal of Diabetes, said: “The body of evidence pointing to the potentially beneficial effects of Ubiquinone Q10 supplements for Type 2 diabetes sufferers is substantial.

“As the article outlines, controlled clinical trials have shown significant benefits in blood sugar control and vascular function for Type 2 diabetics who have taken Ubiquinone Q10 on a regular basis.

“Ubiquinone Q10 is also generally well tolerated with no serious adverse effects reported in long-term use and its safety has also been documented in over 200 randomised controlled trials in a wide range of disorders.

“Taken together, these results are certainly something worth considering by Type 2 diabetes sufferers and healthcare professionals involved in treating and managing the condition.”

Dr Mantle, who is also a medical adviser at Pharma Nord UK, said for Q10 supplementation to be effective, it needs to be absorbed by the body – what is known as bioavailability.

For this he recommends Pharma Nord’s Bio-Quinone Q10.

The NHS recommends that if you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes you should eat healthily, take regular exercise and carry out regular blood test to ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced.

As type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, medication may eventually be required, usually in the form of tablets.

If you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes you should avoid eating this snack with your breakfast.

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Piles: This common cold symptom increases your chances of haemorrhoids - are you at risk?

Piles, also known as haemorrhoids, are swollen blood vessels that are found inside or around the anus, according to the NHS.

Symptoms of piles include bleeding after passing a stool, and having an itchy bottom.

Having a mucus discharge after passing a stool may also be a sign of piles.

You could be more likely to develop haemorrhoids if you’re suffering a cough.

“There are certain situations that increase the chance of piles developing,” said medical website Patient.info.

“Possible causes of piles include heavy lifting or a persistent [chronic] cough.

“Some people may inherit a weakness of the wall of the veins in the anal region.

“The tissues in the lining of the anus may become less supportive as we become older.”

Most coughs are caused by a cold or flu virus.

The risk of becoming infected by a virus increases during cold weather.

That means coughs are more likely during freezing temperatures, and therefore haemorrhoids.

You could also be more likely to develop piles if you’re constipated, overweight or are pregnant.

See your GP if you have persistent symptoms of haemorrhoids, the NHS said.

The symptoms usually clear up by themselves. Alternatively, see a pharmacist for simple treatments that are available over-the-counter.

Some people with haemorrhoids are embarrassed to see their GP about piles.

But, doctors are very used to diagnosing and treating haemorrhoids, the NHS advised.

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Diabetes diet - AVOID eating this snack with your breakfast or risk high blood sugar

Diabetes type 2 affects about 4.6 million people in the UK.

The condition is caused by the pancreas not producing enough of the hormone insulin.

Without insulin, sugar in the blood isn’t converted into energy, causing high blood sugar.

Eating fruit-flavoured yogurts could spike your blood sugar, and should be avoided.

“Plain yogurt can be a good option for people with diabetes,” said nutritionist Franziska Spritzler.

“However, fruit-flavoured varieties are a very different story.

“Flavoured yogurts are typically made from non-fat or low-fat milk and loaded with carbs and sugar.

“In fact, a one-cup [245-gram] serving of fruit-flavoured yogurt may contain 47 grams of sugar, meaning nearly 81 per cent of its calories come from sugar.”

White bread, pasta and rice should also be avoided by diabetes patients.

They’re carbohydrate-rich, processed foods that could significantly raise blood sugar levels in type 1 and 2 diabetes patients.

Some fruit juices are packed full of sugar, and can have a similar effect on blood sugar as soft drinks, said Spritzler.

Other foods to avoid include honey, dried fruit, chips, and packaged snack foods.

You can prevent developing diabetes by eating a healthy, balanced diet, according to the NHS.

If you’re overweight, losing weight could help to lower your risk of the condition.

Diabetes patients are up to five times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

The condition is also responsible for most cases of kidney failure and lower limb amputation, other than accidents.

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Daily dose of aspirin "beats diabetes and heart disease"

DAILY aspirin can help people with potentially deadly Type 2 diabetes and heart failure to live longer, research suggests. About four million Britons have diabetes, with 90 per cent suffering from Type 2.

High blood pressure WARNING: Dr Hilary claims cold weather increases risk of heart attacks

This week’s freezing temperatures could cause high blood pressure, Dr Hilary Jones said on Lorraine, this morning.

Doctors have issued health warnings over the cold weather, and heart attacks are more common in snowy conditions.

Blood becomes thicker in cold conditions, which increases the blood pressure, Dr Hilary said.

The public must take care and look after themselves during the cold weather, he added.

“There are health hazards at the moment,” said Dr Hilary.

“Heart attacks are more common in cold weather. You see more people shovelling snow from their driveways.

“The blood becomes thicker, blood pressure becomes higher.”

“People with asthma, when they exercise in cold air, it can trigger an attack.

“They need to be very careful about wrapping up warm and putting a scarf over their mouth to warm the air.”

The cold weather can trigger certain health conditions, according to the NHS.

Colds, sore throats and norovirus are all more common during freezing temperatures.

The best way to prevent heart attacks in cold weather is to stay warm in your home.

Heat the main rooms you sue to at least 18 degrees Celsius, and use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed, the NHS added.

High blood pressure affects more than 25 per cent of all UK adults.

The condition increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes.

The only way to find out if your blood pressure is too high is to have it checked.

All adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.

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Nuts may hold key to beating colon cancer

Tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and pecans. Peanuts are legumes.

The study followed 826 participants in a clinical trial for six-and-a-half years after they were treated with surgery and chemotherapy.

Those who regularly consumed at least two one-ounce servings of nuts each week showed a 42 per cent improvement in disease-free survival and a 57 per cent improvement in overall survival.

Senior author Professor Charles Fuchs, director of Yale Cancer Centre in the US, said: “Further analysis revealed that disease-free survival increased by 46 per cent among the sub-group of nut consumers who ate tree nuts rather than peanuts.”

Healthy Lead author Dr Temidayo Fadelu, a postdoctoral fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the US, said: “These findings are in keeping with several other observational studies that indicate that a slew of healthy behaviours, including increased physical activity, keeping a healthy weight, and lower intake of sugar and sweetened beverages – improve colon cancer outcomes.

“The results highlight the importance of emphasising dietary and lifestyle factors in colon cancer survival.”

The researchers said the study also highlighted connections between biological mechanisms that worsen disease – not just in colon cancer, but in certain chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes.

Many previous studies have reported that nuts, among other health benefits, may help to reduce insulin resistance, a condition in which the body has difficulty processing the hormone.

Insulin resistance leads to unhealthy levels of sugar in the blood and is often a predecessor to Type 2 diabetes and related illnesses.

Earlier research among patients with colon cancer has revealed worse outcomes among those with lifestyle factors that heighten insulin resistance, such as obesity, lack of exercise, and a diet with high levels of carbohydrates that quickly raise levels of blood sugar.

Prof Fuchs said: “These studies support the hypothesis that behaviours that make you less insulin resistant – including eating nuts – seem to improve outcomes in colon cancer.

“However, we don’t know yet what exactly about nuts is beneficial.”

He said nuts also might play a positive role by satisfying hunger with less intake of carbohydrates or other foods associated with poor outcomes.

Dr Fuchs acknowledged patients may not be eating nuts owing to concerns about high fat content.

For example, a one-ounce serving of 24 almonds holds about 200 calories, including half a ounce of fat.

But he said: “People ask me if increasing nut consumption will lead to obesity. But what’s really interesting is that in our studies, and across scientific literature in general, regular consumers of nuts tend to be leaner.”

The study findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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