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How to Self Care with Coeliac Disease

By Vicki Mongague, the Free From Fairy

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects 1 in 100 people in the UK. My daughter was diagnosed with it just before her third birthday.

Symptoms are very varied ranging from diarrhoea, constipation and or wind to tiredness, mouth ulcers, depression and repeated miscarriages.

Diagnosis is made through a blood test and, if positive, subsequent biopsy. In practice my understanding is that this does not always happen. People are being diagnosed with coeliac disease from a positive blood test alone, by their GP.

In order to test for coeliac disease people should be eating food containing gluten at least twice a day for six weeks before the tests. This is up until the point that the biopsy has been taken, even if a positive blood test has been received.

The only way to manage the condition is to follow a very strict gluten free diet. Even trace amounts of gluten can make those with coeliac disease ill.

Once diagnosed, people are often told to avoid gluten but given very little additional support. This can make following the gluten free diet stressful and difficult.

Often people are diagnosed almost by accident.

They may have visited their GP with some symptoms, had blood taken and then received a positive result for coeliac disease. They may have none of the obvious gastrointestinal coeliac symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, nausea etc. Subsequently it can be very difficult to follow a gluten free diet because there are no obvious consequences to eating gluten.

However, it’s vitally important for anyone diagnosed with coeliac disease to follow a strict gluten free diet.

Read more here.

Men and Self Care

By Peter Baker, Director, Global Action on Men’s Health.

Men’s health has generally been overlooked in the self care field, especially from a global perspective. A new report from Global Action on Men’s Health, Who Self-Cares Wins: A global perspective on men and self-care, aims to fill that gap.

The report busts the myth that men are invariably self-destructive risk-takers – globally, most men do enough physical activity to benefit their health and do not smoke or drink alcohol – but sets out very clearly where there is room for improvement.

In 2016, average global life expectancy for men lagged behind women’s by four years and there was not a single country where men lived longer than women. Genetics account for 1-2 years of the ‘sex gap’ and the remaining deficit is in large part due to men’s health practices, including risk-taking behaviours and under-use of services.

Around half of the sex difference in all-cause mortality in Europe is due to smoking and around one fifth is due to alcohol consumption. Globally, about 45% of male deaths are due to health behaviours, according to Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation data.

An analysis of men’s health practices utilising the International Self-Care Foundation’s ‘Seven Pillars’ of self-care reveals the scale of the problem. Men generally have lower health literacy levels than women. Male mental health problems are under-diagnosed, because men are less likely to contact health services for help and often present their mental distress differently from women.

About a quarter of men globally are too sedentary with inactivity levels in men highest in the high-income countries. Men generally have less healthy diets than women with lower consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and whole grains. Adult men are more than five times more likely to smoke than adult women and well over a third of men drank alcohol compared to a quarter of women.

Read more here.

Improving Your Self Care Routine

By Emily Liptak, Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Centre.

Before we can take on the job of taking care of others, it’s important we take care of ourselves everyday. Whether it be mentally or physically, knowing what’s going on around us and being in tune with our environment will help us better understand our own health and what to look out for. Below we can look at the many components to self care, and a few practices we can add to our daily routines.

Eat

Eating whatever you want won’t be enough to lead a happy and healthy life. Paying attention to the food you are putting into your body is important in making sure you are on a healthy path and giving your body what it needs to function properly. It affects our energy levels and performance. If you go longer than five hours without eating your body will slow down and not function at its potential. It will also impact your thought process and you may notice you aren’t thinking as clearly as usual. Because of low glucose levels your body will experience fatigue, low energy, and even headaches.

Read more.

selwyn

Health literacy – still the missing link to better wellness.

By Dr Selwyn Hodge, Self Care Forum Co-chair 

 

Many of us sometimes use the expression ‘Look after yourself’ when taking our leave from someone; but to be really helpful, we should consider whether they actually have the capacity or willingness to do so.

As we progress from being babies, through school and teenage years, into adulthood, it is to be hoped that we all have the opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and determination to look after ourselves effectively, since this is a key characteristic shared by most other living organisms. However, all the evidence suggests that too many people don’t and can’t.

While we all respond naturally to life’s fundamental needs of eating and drinking, and react to painful stimuli etc., we are not necessarily that good at protecting our own health and looking after our bodies’ wellbeing.

Given the relatively advanced state of medical science today, it is worrying therefore that self-care in the UK is often less well established now than it was several decades ago.

Why is this? Well, although this response won’t be very popular, primarily because of the provision of universal healthcare, free at the point of access, which has led the majority of us to assume that we don’t need to worry over much about protecting our health, since, if we have any problems with our bodies, we can go and see somebody for a solution.

This idealistic situation would perhaps be a reasonable state of affairs, if we restricted any visits to a GP or to A&E to just serious or life threatening conditions, but, in fact, the evidence strongly suggests that many of the visits that do take place are for largely trivial matters, which we could quickly address ourselves through simple treatments and a basic knowledge of first aid.

Read more. 

Compassion Fatigue – Why Carers Need To Care For Themselves As Well

by Helen Turner, a freelance writer and mother with a background in health, she finds it important to write about issues that could help facilitate change in people’s lives for the better.

Caring for others is a complex business. It can be tough physically, it’s often tough logistically, and it’s always tough emotionally. While it’s often rewarding, and brings with it a tenderness and an understanding of humanity on a level which others may never experience, it is also a complicated task, emotionally speaking. The mix of love, guilt, frustration, hope, anger, joy, and despair experienced by many carers can take a huge toll, leading to ‘burnout’ and a whole host of associated problems. When you’re caring for someone else, it is doubly important that you also practice self-care. Unfortunately, the nature of caring means that we often think that we have to be completely ‘selfless’ when caring for others, and we feel guilty about catering to our own needs. In fact, caring for yourself will help you to care for others more effectively and more compassionately, whereas being ‘selfless’ will lead to stress, anger, and burnout.

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