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What better way to start the new year than with a top-to-toe check-up? Here, Boots pharmacist Angela Chalmers offers her advice on those niggling wellbeing issues we never get round to fixing
‘I want to start an exercise regime, but I’m worried about the impact on my joints, as I’ve suffered from a dodgy knee in the past. What can I do to prevent injury this time?’
‘First off, the good news is that exercise can actually help strengthen joints in the long run!* Just start slowly, with low- to moderate-intensity activities that are easier on joints, such as walking, cycling and swimming.
Make sure your diet is packed with nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, as these can help keep bones and muscles healthy, all of which helps support joints. Dairy is the best-absorbed source of calcium, but you can also find it in green, leafy veg such as watercress and kale. If you feel you aren’t getting enough from your diet, talk to a pharmacist or dietitian.
Vitamin D is largely produced by the action of sunlight on the skin. But as we don’t get enough UVB light from the sun at this time of year, include oily fish (salmon, mackerel) and egg yolks in your diet. If joint pain persists, however, or becomes debilitating, see your GP.’
Help keep your vitamin D intake on track with Swisse High Strength Vitamin D3 25μg, £7.99/799 points (100 capsules). It can help support healthy bones, the absorption of calcium and muscle function.
‘My mum takes a lot of different medications and I’m worried she’s not coping well. Is there anyone she can talk to about managing her situation and how to stay on top of it all?’
‘Absolutely – she can go to her nearest Boots pharmacy and ask for a Medicines Check Up†. It’s a free NHS service for anyone taking two or more forms of medication for a long-term condition, and involves a private, informal consultation with the pharmacist to ensure they’re getting the best from their medication. This includes prescribed as well as over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Consultations usually last 10-15 minutes and your mum can ask the pharmacist questions about how and when her medicines should be taken, as well as discuss any concerns she has, including things to avoid or side effects she might be experiencing.’
‘I’ve recently developed rosacea. Is there anything I can do to calm my red skin?’
‘Rosacea is a facial rash characterised by redness, flushing and, in some cases, small red bumps and pus-filled spots. There’s no cure yet, but you should try to avoid the triggers. These include direct sunlight, alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine, and hot, cold or humid weather. It’s useful to keep a diary and jot down when your symptoms appear, as this can help you identify the triggers.
Your GP can prescribe medicines to help treat the red bumps and pustules that may accompany the condition. You can also get creams and gels from the pharmacy that strengthen the skin’s barrier – these can help with other visible symptoms of rosacea, such as redness.’
Apply a thin layer of Dermalex Rosacea Treatment, £18.99/1,899 points (30g), to the affected area morning and night to help soothe – it creates a protective barrier from external triggers that can upset rosacea-prone skin.
‘I’ve hit the menopause and my hot flushes are really debilitating – I get a red face and sweat patches on my clothes. What can I do to help make it more bearable?’
‘First of all, sort out your wardrobe. Try to avoid tight clothing, woolly jumpers and polo necks, and opt for cotton or silk materials. You can layer these lighter clothes on and off easily when you have a hot flush. Try to reduce stress (as much as you can) and cut back on alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods, as these can be triggers, too. And if you don’t already, try regular exercise – there’s proof that it can help ease the severity of hot flushes. If none of these work, talk to your GP about other options.’
‘My periods are really heavy and I feel tired all the time. Could I have an iron deficiency?’
‘You’ll need to see your GP for a proper diagnosis, but tiredness is a symptom of iron deficiency in women of child-bearing age, and heavy periods are one of the main causes. Try not to worry, though: the condition rarely causes long-term problems and is usually treated with iron supplements. You’ll need to be monitored every few months to check that your iron levels have returned to normal.
You can also ensure you’re getting the mineral from natural sources, too, so eat plenty of dark green, leafy veg, such as kale and watercress [four heaped tablespoons of cooked veg count as one portion], as well as nuts, dried fruit, beans and lentils. And make palm-sized servings of lean meat, tofu or fish part of your daily diet.’
No matter how big or small your health niggle, you can always speak to a Boots pharmacist in store. They can help answer your questions and offer expert advice, support and treatment options – and may just save you a trip to your GP. If you’d prefer to speak to someone in confidence, there are private consultation rooms in our in-store pharmacies. Head online to boots.com/storelocator to find your nearest Boots pharmacy.
*If you have a medical condition, consult your GP before undertaking a new exercise regime, and stop exercising if you feel uncomfortable.
†Available in England and Wales. Eligibility criteria apply. Subject to pharmacist availability.
Compiled by Charlotte Grant-West Photography Getty Images