Health Matters December

  • Viruses & Bacteria (Covid & Flu versus Strep A)
  • Stirkes
  • Children’s Bikes
  • True or False Game!

This is the time of year for Viruses and Bacteria; but what’s the difference? Well Bacteria are single-celled organisms that produce their own energy and can reproduce on their own, whilst a virus is not a living organism and can only grow and reproduce in the cells of a host.

So what? Well I’ve talked about “Twindemics” for the last two months but now it’s a TRIPLEDEMIC! We have three very active illnesses around at the moment – Covid and Flu are both Viruses but Strep A is a Bacteria!

1. Covid & Flu  –  let’s cover the Covid numbers locally. Do you remember we had  that new high peak on July 15th – 2,829 per 100,000? And on NOV 7th we beat it with 3,135; well it dropped to 613 on DEC 3rd but has now risen to 2,967; in fact, the number of people with Covid in St Albans rose by 40% in the last week alone!

And the numbers in hospital are down on last month’s figure

  • In the Lister they’re down from 40 to 35; and
  • In Watford from 51 to 23

Flu is the second part of the Twindemic and it’s well and truly here – the current rate of flu in St Albans is 3.6 times the prevalence of Covid! And, both Covid and Flu are especially prevalent among children under 15. Many families are going to find themselves cooking dinner and tending to sick children on Christmas Day!

2. Strikes – We have both nurses and ambulances on strike; but locally, our East of England Ambulance Service isn’t striking at the moment and the Herts Community Trust is the only service locally impacted by the nurses’ strike. Let’s hope these strikes are resolved very soon. For goodness sake get round the table and TALK!

3. Bikes Wanted – now I’m having Christmas Dinner with my daughter and she’s involved with a charity that collects children’s bikes, renovates them, and takes them into schools in deprived areas in Hertfordshire to teach kids to ride bikes. The charity – Herts Disability Sports Foundation – will check the bikes over and then provide them, along with a helmet and other safety gear to any child who really wants to learn but doesn’t have a bike. Over the last three months they have worked with 603 children in Hertfordshire and have given away 53 bikes – but they need 160 more! So if you know anyone that is getting a bike for Christmas and doesn’t know what to do with the old one there’s a Local Charity that has the answer!

Any bikes, whatever the condition, for children between 8 and 12 are needed – just take them to the St Albans Cycle Club on Cottonmill Lane (just past Sopwell House); Mat and his team will check them over and ensure they are put to excellent use! And I’ll get a good Christmas Dinner!

4. Strep A – this is the third illness of the tripledemic;  Group A streptococcus, also known as ‘Strep A’, is a common bacterium which causes a range of infections including scarlet fever, tonsillitis, impetigo and cellulitis. These infections are usually mild. They are spread through coughs and sneezes or from a wound. An extreme form of the streptococcus bacterium, commonly referred to as ‘invasive group  A streptococcus, or ‘iGAS’ for short, can be fatal.

Given that the streptococcus bacterium is circulating quite widely in St Albans , and most symptoms are common with Flu, and Covid ……. What should you do if you’re concerned?

The common symptoms of Strep A are

* Flu like symptoms – high temperature, swollen glands, or an aching body
* sore throat
* a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper
* scabs and sores
* pain and swelling
* severe muscle aches
* nausea and vomiting

You know better than anyone else what your child is usually like, so you’ll know when something is seriously wrong. If your child does not seem to be seriously ill, you can usually look after them at home. They should feel better in a few days.

If they’re uncomfortable, you can give them children’s paracetamol or children’s ibuprofen. Check the leaflet to make sure the medicine is suitable for your child and to see how much to give them. A pharmacist can give you advice about how to ease your child’s symptoms and whether you need to see a doctor.

Get an urgent GP Appointment or call 111 if:

* your child is unwell and is getting worse
* your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
* your child has fewer wet nappies than usual or is peeing less than usual, or shows other signs of dehydration
* your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is 3 to 6 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
* your child is very tired or irritable

But if you’re concerned then it’s 999 or straight to A&E; you should do this if:

* your child is having difficulty breathing – they may make grunting noises, or you may notice their tummy sucking under their ribs
* there are pauses when your child breathes
* your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue or grey – on black or brown skin this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
* your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake

5. True or False

5.1. Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day! It’s False! Research shows that counting glasses is really not necessary and you’re far better off just drinking what you feel you need. There are occasions where drinking more water is really needed – such as if your urine is dark or we’re having a heatwave – but in the main listen to your body and don’t be preoccupied by counting!

5.2 . Eggs are Good for your Heart! – it’s True! Omelette lovers, rejoice. Eating an egg or two a day doesn’t raise the risk of heart disease in healthy people. What’s more, eggs have nutrients, like omega-3s, that may lower the risk of heart disease.

5.3. Green Mucus means an Infection! – It’s False! Studies show that green or yellow mucus is slightly more common in certain bacterial infections. But it’s not a sure sign that you have one or that you need antibiotics. A sinus infection can cause clear mucus, and a common cold can turn it green.

5.4. Cracking Joints Causes Arthritis – It’s FALSE –  The noise results from a gas bubble that forms between the bones and “pops.” If you enjoy doing it, keep on. Studies show it doesn’t cause or play a role in arthritis. If you feel regular or severe pain when you do it, see your doctor.

5.5. We lose most body heat through our head – it’s only TRUE if our head is completely uncovered whilst the rest of our body is fully protected with thermals!

Alan Bellinger
21st December  2022

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and very well engaged with all things related to Health & Social Care within the Community. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to ensure a great patient experience, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 65 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.

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