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Grow your own Vitamin D

Grow your own vitamin D. Make the most of today's sunshine and grow your own vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, immune systems and happy minds. We make it on our skin in response to sunshine but, living in the UK, we don't get enough sun to make the amount we need.

The advice from Public Health England is that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D, particularly during autumn and winter to protect musculoskeletal health.

Vitamin D is also available in a few food sources such as oily fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified cereals although, it's difficult to get enough. 
However.... putting mushrooms out in the sunshine is a great way to boost their vitamin d content. Mushrooms con­tain ergosterol, a precursor that is converted into vitamin d when exposed to UV radia­tion; pretty much the same way as how skin makes vitamin d after sun exposure.

Most supermarket-bought mush­rooms are grown inside so they usually have negligible amounts of vitamin D but, putting them out in the sun for 60 minutes will boost their levels. 
The form of vitamin D produced in mush­rooms is D2 rather than D3. It was thought that D2 was less potent and bioavail­able in the body than D3 but more recent research has found it can be as effective as D3 in boosting the biologically active form of the vitamin in the body. So, put your mushrooms out in the sun, gill side up, for an hour and have your daily dose of vitamin D for tea. Failing that, you can now buy vitamin d rich mushrooms in Tesco and M&S for just £1

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Update about Meningitis B vaccination - Update July 2016
  • We now have the Meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero, in stock.
  • We have recently recruited a very experienced practice nurse, June Oakley, to increase the vaccine appointment availability which is necessary to manage the great demand for this vaccine.
  • For those on the waiting list - we are in the process of contacting those on our waiting list  If you have yet to hear from us then please feel free to contact us by phone or email.
  • If you are not on the waiting list but are interested in the Meningitis B vaccination then please contact us by phone or email.

For your further information about Bexsero - the vaccination currently costs £140 per dose at the practice (the high cost is related to the fact that it is a relatively new vaccination which is being produced by one manufacturer who are setting their prices high).  The vaccination schedule varies according to the age of the child: -

  • 6 - 11 months old: 2 doses 2 months apart, booster at least 2 months after the primary series in the 2nd year of life.
  • 12-23 months old: 2 doses 2 months apart, booster 12-23 months after the primary series
  • 2 - 10 years old: 2 doses 2 months apart
  • Over 11 years old: 2 doses 1 month apart.

Our vaccinations are either given by one of our GPs, or our very experienced Practice Nurse.  

During the vaccination appointment the clinician will fully explain all the details and possible side effects of the vaccination, and there is time to ask any questions that you may have.  There is no additional charge for this service, or vaccine administration fee, so you will only pay the quoted cost per dose of the vaccine.  We also include any follow up advice that is necessary should you be concerned about any post-vaccination reaction.

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HPV – Risks and Vaccination explained

Human papilloma Virus (HPV) is the name given to a very common group of viruses, with over 100 different types.  These can be divided into so called low risk or high risk types – with high risk types being associated with cancer, and low risk types causing warts and verrucas.  The most well known link is with cervical cancer - in 99% of cases, cervical cancer occurs as a result of a history of infection with high risk types of HPV.  With cervical cancer as the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide, it was clearly an important breakthrough to develop a vaccine against HPV which can save many lives. There are also links between high risk HPV infection with other less common cancers such as mouth & oropharyngeal cancers, vaginal & vulval cancers, penile cancer and anal cancer.  

It is thought that around half the population will be infected with HPV at some time in their life, though in most cases the virus does no harm as the immune system clears the infection – it is when the virus persists that it can cause problems. It is easily spread through sexual activity.

There is an HPV vaccine called Gardasil which protects against HPV types 16 & 18 which cause 70% of cervical cancer and the majority of other HPV associated cancers, and also types 9 & 26 which cause 90% of genital warts.  Gardasil is a safe, highly effective vaccination, licenced for boys and girls from aged 9 years.  Common side effects are pain/redness at the injection site, fever and headaches.  It is a course of either 2 or 3 injections over a 6 month period.  

Gardasil is part of the NHS immunisation schedule for girls aged 12-13 years.  If the vaccination is missed girls can have the vaccine on the NHS up to the age of 18 years, or privately if older.  It is still important for women to continue with regular cervical smears whether they are vaccinated or not.

Notably in the USA Gardasil is also recommended for boys aged 9 – 26 years.  Currently in the UK, Gardasil is only available privately to boys and men.  There have been calls for this to be changed, as HPV is linked to several types of cancers that effect men too, with vaccination also preventing genital warts, and protecting their partners from the associated risks. 

A full range of vaccinations including Gardasil are available at The Private GP Clinic, Sevenoaksplease do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment:  01732 835212


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How to Succeed with your New Year’s Resolutions 

Making and sticking to your New Year's resolutions

As we welcome in 2015, many of us will be making the customary New Year’s resolutions in the hope of improving ourselves in the coming year.  This time last year, a YouGov survey looked at what were the most popular resolutions in England, and the vast majority were health related as the poll showed: -

  • 51% aimed to do more exercise or improve fitness
  • 47% aimed to lose weight
  • 41% wanted to improve their diet
  • 14% resolved to give up smoking
  • 12% aimed to cut down on alcohol

Clearly, people are recognising the importance of looking after their health, and are keen to take the right steps to a healthier lifestyle.  But the tough part is sticking to these resolutions – how can we make these goals last to achieve long term change?

A Professor of Psychology called John Norcross, has spent many years studying how people make successful lasting change, such as our most popular New Year’s resolutions.  Here are some of the strategies he suggests: -

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What is hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the most important preventable rick factor for premature death worldwide. Hypertension now affects one billion people worldwide, killing nine million people every year. It is responsible for at least 45% of deaths due to heart disease, and 51% of deaths due to stroke.

Put simply, blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries.  A blood pressure reading has two numbers – the first number is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart contracts (systole); the second is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats (diastole). Hypertension is diagnosed if blood pressure at rest is persistently equal to or over 140/90 mmHg.

How do you know if you’ve got hypertension?

Most hypertensive people have no symptoms at all, and as such hypertension can be a silent killer.

It is important for everybody to know their blood pressure reading, and this can be measured simply at your doctor’s surgery. Early detection of hypertension is key to minimising the many associated health risks of the condition.

How can you prevent hypertension?

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Eat yourself Happy... Nutritional advice from Sevenoaks private GP clinic

Nutritional advice from Kate Shilland at Sevenoaks private GP clinic

We often find ourselves reaching for bread, cakes and stodge when we’re feeling low but these quick fix choices only end up making us feel worse.

The good news is that the right nutritional choices will eat away those winter blues before they eat away at us. What we eat plays a crucial role in how we feel, both physically and emotionally. Whilst no single food can transform your mood on its own, eating a varied and nutritious range of foods can have a big impact on how we feel. Here are some of the best choices to keep you smiling your way through winter….

  • Oily fish - As well as being a great source of vitamin D, oily fish have a long list of health benefits, one of which being their anti-depressant properties, try salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines 2-3 times per week.
  • Turkey - one of the best dietary sources of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that our bodies convert to mood-enhancing serotonin.
  • Other sources include: bananas, peanuts, dried dates, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas and mozzarella cheese
  • Nuts and Seeds - provide us with mood boosting selenium as well as omega 3 and 6 fats, e.g. Brazil nuts, flax or chia seeds, and walnuts - sprinkle onto your breakfast cereal, salads and stir-fries
  • Vitamin D - egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified breakfast cereals, oily fish
  • Fruit and Vegetables- packed with health and mind boosting vitamins and minerals. Try to include them in every meal and snack to help increase your intake
  • Carbohydrates - opt for low GI carbohydrates that maintain steady blood glucose levels such as granary bread, oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, home made popcorn and rice cakes
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Posted by on in Private GP Sevenoaks
Shingles Vacination: The Facts

Protect yourself from shingles

Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters, that is caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus, (varicella zoster virus). Other symptoms may include tiredness, headache and fever. The rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and can be intensely painful and itchy. In some cases, severe pain continues long after the rash resolves, this is called Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN). Rarely, shingles spreads to infect other organs causing complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and in extreme cases it can be fatal. Both the risk of developing shingles and its severity increases with age.

A vaccine for shingles, Zostavax, was licensed in 2006, following the Shingles Prevention Study. This clinical trial assessed the efficacy of one dose of Zostavax in nearly 40,000 adults aged 60 yrs and over.  It found that in the 60 - 69 yr old group Zostavax reduced the incidence of shingles by 64%, and in the 70 yr plus group Zostavax reduced the incidence of shingles by 38%. Also the overall incidence of PHN was reduced by 66.5%. In other words, Zostavax significantly reduces your chance of developing shingles, although its effectiveness does decrease with increasing age. In those that do develop shingles post-vaccination, the symptoms may be milder and the illness shorter.

In the UK, Zostavax is now available on the NHS but only at specific ages – patients are eligible for the vaccine during the year after they turn 70 years old, and then not again until the year they turn 79 years old, (from 1st Sept until 31st Aug of those years). Notably, in the USA, the recommendation is that all adults 60 years and older should get the shingles vaccine.

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Meningitis B is an aggressive type of bacterial meningitis that infects the membranes which surround the brain and spinal cord. It is a serious condition, which is most common in children under five years old, particularly babies under one year. Around 1,800 people contract Meningitis B each year, and of these one in ten dies. Many others suffer devastating consequences including brain damage, amputations and hearing loss.

Although vaccinations for other types of Meningitis have been available for some time, it was only in January 2013 that Bexsero, the first vaccine protecting against Meningitis B, was licensed for use. This followed trials involving 8,000 people that found the vaccine to be safe, well tolerated, and to provide 70-80% protection against Meningitis B.

In the UK, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises the government on vaccinations. Initially in 2013, they ruled that Bexsero, although available privately, should not be introduced in the NHS on cost effectiveness grounds. Many of us in the medical community, and I’m sure many parents too, were greatly concerned about this decision, and there followed a campaign calling for the JCVI to reconsider.

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It is always important to think about health preparations for travel in good time for your holidays, a fact recently highlighted by new figures showing that imported malaria infections have increased by 9% last year in the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) published statistics recently showing that confirmed Malaria cases in the UK have risen form 1,378 in 2012, to 1,501 cases in 2013, representing a significant rise. Dr Jane Jones, from PHE, said:

“The proportion of cases who have not taken appropriate antimalarials remain high.”

Malaria remains a major health risk in many areas with a tropical climate. It is a common disease spread through bites of mosquitoes infected with the plasmodium parasite. There are different strains of this parasite, and in 2013 79% of the UK’s malaria cases were caused by the more severe Plasmodium falciparum, compared with 73% in 2012.

Malaria is a serious infection which can be fatal. However, when antimalarial medication is taken correctly, malaria is almost completely preventable. There are a range of antimalarial drugs available, but some are not effective in certain areas of the world, so you should always obtain up-to-date advice before you travel.

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People’s daily intake of ‘free sugars’ should be slashed by half so that it makes up around 5% of daily calorie intake, according to new recommendations from a government advisory group.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recently published their draft report on the health effects of carbohydrates, including sugar, following an extensive review of research. The report found that a higher sugar intake was associated with weight gain and obesity, and in turn a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.

Not surprisingly, there was also an associated increase in tooth decay. The term ‘free sugar’ refers to table sugar, the sugar added to food and drinks, and natural sugar in honey, syrups, and fruit juices. A 5% free sugar level equates to around 25g or 6 teaspoons a day for a woman, and 35g or 7 teaspoons a day for a man. A typical adult would reach the 5% sugar threshold by drinking just one can of soft drink a day.

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