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General Health

Most of us have a morning routine.

Some involve a mini heart attack, a frantic search for keys and a mad dash for the door.

Others include an invigorating shower, a leisurely breakfast and a brisk stroll to the Luas.

No matter which camp you fall into, a recent survey suggests you’d certainly be in the minority if your morning routine includes taking a folic acid tablet.

According to research conducted by safefood, 80 per cent of women check their social media as part of their routine while just 25 per cent include folic acid in theirs.

Commenting on the study’s findings, Dr Marian O’Reilly Chief Specialist in Nutrition with safefood said she was pleased by women’s focus on healthy breakfasts and regular dental hygiene, but stressed the importance of including folic acid in the morning routine.

“It’s great to see that over 70 per cent of Irish women report starting their day with a healthy breakfast and 95 per cent brush their teeth every morning. What we want women to do is to take on a new healthy habit – take a daily 400 microgram folic acid supplement – it’s even easier than brushing your teeth and takes only seconds to do.”

“Folic acid prevents most neural tube defects like spina bifida in the first few weeks of pregnancy at a time when most women are unaware they’re pregnant. With 50 per cent of all pregnancies unplanned, taking folic every morning gets you into a healthy habit, even if a baby is the last thing on your mind.”

Urging women to consider including the element in their daily routine, Dr. Aileen McGloin, Communications Manager, Digital and Health at safefood, said: “Almost half the women in our survey said the best way to create a new healthy habit is to be prepared.”

“With folic acid, keep it near your toothbrush, beside your bed or somewhere that will remind you to take it as part of your morning routine,“ she added. “Setting a reminder on your phone or committing to a new habit were also mentioned by women as successful ways to create a new habit.”


There are few among us who don't – on some level – know that we should be drinking more water.

And while we may chug a litre before, during and after a work-out or drink it by the bucket-load when we're hungover, not all of us are as judicious when it comes to staying hydrated on a day-to-day basis.

If you respond well to limits and like to know when you're hitting a target, then it might be worth considering your water intake in relation to your body weight.

Here's what you need to do:

Establish your weight in lbs and divide that figure in half. This figure is the number of ounces of water you need to consume per day.

And since we work in litres here, you should know that there are 33 ounces to every litre.

It's also important to note that this calculation is based on the body at rest which means when you're sitting at your desk or pottering around your house, but it's a good starting point, right?


Despite feeling confident in her body, mum-of-two, Roberta von Meding, recently revealed that she didn’t feel comfortable in it.

Having given birth to two children and suffered through pre eclampsia, oedema and severe diastasis recti, Roberta knows that her body is capable of enduring substantial trauma, but the aftermath of this has understandably left the 32-year-old in considerable discomfort.

The nature of diastasis recti means that Roberta’s stomach muscles have separated which ultimately puts excess strain on her neck and back leaving her unable to take part in certain physical activities.

While Roberta reveals she’s ‘the fittest she’s been’ in her life, she explains that she is unable to counteract the effects of the post-birth trauma.

“I still have the appearance of someone who is six or seven months pregnant if I have a big drink of water. My stomach just balloons out and no amount of sit-ups is going to fix it.”

Keen to reverse the effects of the post-birth trauma which includes the development of hernias in her abdomen, Roberta sought the advice of professionals, and ultimately chose to have an abdominoplasty in the Avoca Clinic.

“When I went to the Avoca Clinic for my first consultation, I was a little bit apprehensive, a little bit nervous” Roberta admitted. “But as soon as I walked in I felt very welcome, It almost felt like being in a beauty spa."

“I met my surgeon and he was wonderful. He listened to all my concerns, looked at my tummy and told me I was a perfect candidate for the surgery. He assured me he could sew up the hernias and give me a full muscle repair and tuck. He showed me previous patients’ ‘before and after’ surgery photos and that was very helpful.”

“The consultation lasted about half an hour, and you’re then given a two-week cooling-off period to let you process the information,” Roberta explains.

Using the following fortnight to compile a ‘lengthy list of questions’, Roberta returned for a second consultation with the surgeon. He went through her concerns before the mum-of-two decided to proceed with the surgery.

Roberta admitted that she was ‘a little bit nervous’ in the 30 minutes before her surgery, but felt comforted by the fact that she had all the information she needed in the run-up to the procedure.

In the hours following the surgery, the mum-of-two experienced some pain which was treated with morphine and sleep. The day after the surgery, Roberta said the discomfort had subsided hugely, explaining: “The pain level was a two or three. Nothing unbearable. Just on Difene and Paracetamol.”

Three days after her successful procedure, Roberta was back at home and said she experienced a little chestiness as a result of the anaesthetic and was walking ‘slightly hunched over’ as was to be expected. As the days passed, Roberta found that her sleep was improving and she said she was hugely excited to see the results of her surgery.

Six days post-op, Roberta was ‘feeling good’ and excited to have her second drain removed. Commenting on the removal of the first internal drain, Roberta said: ”The nurse lay me down and it felt like a gentle tugging feeling. It wasn’t actually that sore. It was manageable.”

Returning to the Avoca Clinic to have her dressing done, Roberta said she was thrilled with the results of her surgery.

“It was the first time actually seeing the scar and my new stomach and I’m so pleased. Very, very happy. It didn’t hurt getting the bandages off. Not a huge amount of sensation.” she explained.

Ten days post-op, Roberta said she was feeling ‘a lot more like herself", but admitted that having had her final drain removed, she'd be lying if she said it was a walk in the park.

“But once it was done, it was done,” she stressed. “Like an injection, very fast. A little bit sore, but fine.”

Almost a fortnight after her surgery, Roberta explains that she is still sleeping upright in her bed and urges potential candidates to consider this, but recommends placing pillows at strategic angles to alleviate discomfort.

Now looking to the future, she considered the next steps of her recovery.

“I would imagine I’ll keep wearing my compression stockings which are not that great considering it’s very hot out today with the mini heatwave for the Leaving Cert coming up! I’ll probably be told to keep the binder on for a few weeks as well,” she reasoned.

Roberta will be returning for a final consultation in the coming days, and we'll be sure to update you on her progress!


A cancer specialist at the University of Leicester has spoken out against a 'treatment' which involves the insertion of a cannula containing ozone gas into the vagina.

The procedure, which has been endorsed by alternative medicine business, Medical Wellness Associates in the United States, is said to benefit pelvic and labia pain while also aiding yeast, bacterial and viral infection.

According to the MWA, ozone gas is pumped into the vagina and purports to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal effects on unhealthy cells.

However, not everyone is convinced by the treatment, with Professor Martin Dyer questioning the validity of the claims that the gas can treat various vaginal infections, and potentially cure cancer.

"Ozone is one of the most powerful oxidising agents known to man, and people have been looking to exploit this very powerful antioxidant action right since its discovery. But it's never amounted to anything," he said.

"As with all charlatanism, it gives the claim that it cures everything," he added.

According to The Independent, the FDA have echoed Professor Dyer's stance on the matter, asserting that ozone is a “toxic gas with no known useful medical application.”


So, drying clothes indoors is pretty much the norm in this country. Our temperamental weather means there's little point in hanging our washing on the line and tumble dryers are far to expensive to run everyday (or at least that's what our mothers taught us).

However, it looks like we might need to find an alternative solution to our laundry-drying needs as new research has suggested that keeping wet clothes indoors could have a damaging effect on your health and your home.

Speaking to KisSpot, Dr Christine Cowie,  a senior researcher in Environmental Health with the University of New South Wales, said: "From a health perspective… many biological agents are found indoors and they usually thrive on dampness and inadequate ventilation."

"They have found that dampness itself has been a good indicator of risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms. There are other studies that show inhalation of fungal spores… are linked to allergic sensitisation and asthma."

So basically, damp air can contribute to the symptoms of allergies and asthma.

But, it's not all bad news, Dr Nick Osborne, Senior Lecturer at the University of NSW, explained the ways we can work to prevent any of theses issues arising.

“If you’re cooking remember to turn the extractor fan on", he told KidSpot. "Dry the dog off before you come inside and think about where you store your wet coats – put them on the veranda ’til they dry off.

"If it’s sunny get your washing out and make sure if you use a dryer that it’s vented to the outside. It all adds up".


Oh ladies, the trials and tribulations associated with allergy and allergy management are not for the fainthearted.

If you're one of those people who has mumbled 'don't mind me, just allergies' from a young age, you'll know that day-to-day life can be pretty tough.

From the onset of allergy season to your undisguised suspicion of household pets, suffering from allergies pretty much blows.

And it's highly likely all of the following things apply to you, but it's OK because we're here for you.

1. You sense household pets a mile off

For as long as you can remember, your parents have insisted that four-legged creatures, while beautiful, have the potential to kill you.

And understandably, you've regarded every household pet with an air of suspicion ever since.

You need only take one step down a friend's driveway to know that there's a furry creature lurking inside just waiting to send you into a sneezing fit.

2. You'd rather forget your phone than your pack of tissues

There are some points throughout the year when the only thing you care about is your proximity to tissues.

You have strategically placed boxes and packets around your home, car and workspace, and woe betide anyone who thinks they can use them for anything except an explosive sneezing fit.

Oh, and you know you're in a particularly bad way when you'd rather soldier through the day without your phone rather than your tissues.

3. You wish the Bono 'I wear sunglasses inside' look worked for everyone

At the height of an allergy attack, you can look like you've done three rounds with an Olympic boxer, right?

And the only way to avoid concerned looks and well-intentioned remarks is to wear the biggest pair of shades you have.

Except people who wear shades inside are… well… we all know what they are.

4. You feel the oh-so-familiar 'itch' coming for days

Whether it's a build up of dust in your home or the onset of summer, your body has a way of telling you that you're in for a world of discomfort in the coming days.

And it generally comes in the form of a niggling itch which manifests itself into a full-body spasm when you come into close contact with a trigger.

Why must it feel like every potential pollutant has a personal vendetta against you?

5. You hate the term 'bless you' because at this stage, you know you're not

They mean well and they assume you'll appreciate it, but there comes a point in your day when the term 'bless you' loses all meaning.

After your 80th eye-watering sneeze of the morning, the last thing you feel is blessed.

And no amount of well-meaning acknowledgements will convince you otherwise.

6. You fantasise about a pristine home devoid of dust and other allergens

While other people fantasise about holidays and time off, your daydreams generally involve dust-free floors and pristine rooms.

This allergy-free zone may sound like a stretch, but with the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link, it can actually become a  reality.

They might have begun by engineering vacuums that capture the pollutants found on floors and surfaces, but now they've turned our attention to those in the air. As pollution increases, technology has sought to counter it, and that's where this incredible fan comes in.

7. You can't enjoy freshly cut grass like the other humans

Ask most people what they adore about summer, and the smell of freshly cut grass will rate pretty high.

And that's because these people aren't attacked by it.

You long for the day when the smell of freshly-cut grass doesn't leave you bent double and wheezing while frantically searching for your emergency pack of tissues.


Brought to you by

dyson pure hot+cool™ link automatically purifies to remove gases and 99.97% of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.3 microns.


In my early twenties, I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering how other people managed to make it through the day without needing to take a nap.

I marvelled at friends and family members who rose at 7am and went to bed at 11pm, and didn't once feel the need to rest their chin against their chest and sleep.

And sleep, and sleep, and sleep.

At about 24, I started noticing that no matter how much sleep I got, I struggled to function at the same level as other people. At the time I was completing an MA and working a part-time job, so I was assured that it was just my busy lifestyle that left me feeling this way.

But I was certain there was more to it. I constantly felt like I was treading through treacle, I struggled to concentrate and my lethargy made me feel like I weighed a thousand tonnes and was moving through the world at a glacial pace.

There were times when I slept in toilet cubicles in college (and yes, it is as grim as it sounds), because I knew I wouldn't make it through my next class without getting even a few moments sleep, and I didn't want to be seen drooling down myself in crowded common areas.

Did these ill-advised bathroom breaks ever help? Not really, but I was desperately trying to deal with my exhaustion without it interfering too drastically with my studies or social life.

Oh, and then there was the constant cold and the inexplicable weight gain.

No matter how many layers I wore, I was permanently cold.

It actually felt like the coldness had permeated my skeleton – seeped into my bones. ​Carrying a hot water bottle everywhere I went was like using a plaster for an axe wound, it covered the surface but did nothing for the turmoil beneath.

My weight, which is something I've always needed to keep an eye on, began to creep up, and between the spike on the scales and the constant exhaustion, I was…well… a mess.

After a much-needed trip to the doctors, I was given a blood test and diagnosed with hypothyroidism which means I have an under-active thyroid.

The thyroid is a gland in the neck, which regulates and controls your metabolism, and mine wasn't producing enough of the hormone needed to do that, which resulted in 12 months of toilet naps, sparse eyebrows and full-body shivers.

Being told that my symptoms made sense and I wasn't just lazy, unfit, and greedy was so reassuring, while being prescribed daily medication which regulated the production of hormones was like being coaxed into the light.

My energy levels increased almost immediately, and my sense of lethargy all but disappeared.

I was encouraged to avoid sugar as my weight has a tendency to spike if I even pass a bakery, and while I certainly keep it in mind, I have an insatiable sweet tooth and don't always adhere as strictly to the advice as I should.

I do, however, know when my metabolism has had enough of my rule-bending, and I do my utmost to rein it in.

Five years on, I have good days, bad days and days when I'd step over my own mother for sliver of chocolate, but isn't that normal?

For me, keeping active is vital for controlling the condition, as it not only increases my energy levels naturally, it also stops me reaching for junk food because I refuse to undo the merits of a gym session for three minutes of chocolatey, nutty, biscuity… sorry, where was I?

While hypothryroidism is a very common condition, and easily managed with a prescribed level of daily medication, the effect it has when it goes untreated can be detrimental to a person's physical and emotional wellbeing.

If you're concerned that you may be suffering from the condition, a quick blood test with your GP will go a long way towards identifying the reason for your symptoms.

So, step yourself out of that toilet cubicle and schedule an appointment with your practitioner ASAP.



We all know knowledge is power, but there’s one thing about retaining information, and another about putting this information into practice, right?

For as long as most of us can remember we’ve been warned about the dangers of sun exposure, and yet a worrying number of Irish women still leave themselves vulnerable to skin damage by neglecting to apply sun protection.

Interestingly, 77% of Irish women agree their face is the biggest area of concern for premature ageing, and yet just one quarter of Irish women only use sun protection while abroad.

Considering that 80% of a person’s annual UV exposure happens in day to day life not on holiday, the findings established in The City Sun Report, which was conducted by Garnier Ambre Solaire, are a huge cause for concern.

So, why are we failing to get proactive on this front?

Well, 27 per cent of women admitted annoyance with the sticky feeling while 12 per cent said the fear of it ruining their make-up resulted in non-application.

Determined to counteract this issue, Garnie Amber Solaire have created a product which is designed to provide UVA and UVB protection with a lightweight skin feel, and can easily be applied either under or over makeup whilst on-the-go. 

The Sensitive Advanced Protecting and Hydrating Face Mist has been given the thumbs up by Harley Street’s Dr Justine Kluk.

“With so many women in Ireland fighting premature ageing, one of the simplest ways to make a positive change to your skin is to apply a face mist with SPF50, UVB protection and UVA protection in the morning and regularly throughout the day as part of your daily beauty routine.”

If you’re serious about protecting your face against the sun (whether abroad or not), you can pick this product up in pharmacies, grocery stores and Penney’s stores nationwide for just €15.00


We've all fallen upon a pack of painkillers in the throes of a vicious hangover and thanked the universe for their existence, but according to recent research it's worth remembering that they don't come without their own risks.

Drawing a link between cardiac arrest and regular use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), researchers from Finland, Germany and Canada warned doctors to communicate the risks associated with the medication before prescribing them after conducting analysis of previous studies and establishing that data relating to 450,000 individuals showed that 61,460 of them had suffered a heart attack. 

The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, illustrated the risk pattern, with authors stating that there was "a rapid onset of risk" for heart attack within the first week of use while risk was highest during the first month of taking the painkillers.

Delving further still, researchers established that taking a high dose between 8 and 30 days was 'particularly harmful' while individuals who routinely take celecoxib, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen and rofecoxib were between 24 and 58 per cent more vulnerable to the onset of a heart attack.

Commenting on their findings, the authors explained: "Compared with non-use of NSAIDs in the preceding year, we documented that current use of all studied NSAIDs, including naproxen, was associated with an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction."

"Given that the onset of risk of acute myocardial infarction occurred in the first week and appeared greatest in the first month of treatment with higher doses, prescribers should consider weighing the risks and benefits of NSAIDs before instituting treatment, particularly for higher dose," they added.

"Whether you are being prescribed painkillers like ibuprofen, or buying them over the counter, people must be made aware of the risk and alternative medication should be considered where appropriate," surmised Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.

Eager to assuage the fears of the public, John Smith of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain explained that the research wouldn't apply to those on lower dosages.

"People taking over-the-counter NSAIDs should not be concerned by this research if they are taking the medicine occasionally for short periods and according to the on-pack instructions."

It should be noted that high doses were considered in excess of 1,200mg a day of ibuprofen, 750mg a day of naproxen and 25mg a day of rofecoxib.


Lena Dunham has never made any secret of the medical conditions which have plagued her for most of her life.

While making a name for herself in the entertainment industry and spearheading one of the most successful television shows in recent years, the 30-year-old has lived with anxiety and endometriosis.

And media outlets who wouldn’t be aware of this aspect of Lena’s life are few and far between.

So, when Us Weekly ran a feature on the star and used her recent weight loss as a platform to provide so-called diet tips, Lena, unsurprisingly, wasted no time highlighting the inaccuracy of their coverage.

Taking to Instagram to share an image of the cover, Lena, who was recently hospitalised, provided her followers with a more accurate representation of her ‘weight loss journey’.


20 slimdown diet tips! 1. anxiety disorder * 2. resultant constant nausea 3. an election that reveals the true depths of American misogyny 4. constant sweaty dreams of dystopian future 5. abdominal adhesions pinning ovary below uterus * 6. baseless but still harrowing threats to physical safety online and through smail mail 7. watching institutions you love from Planned Parenthood to PBS be threatened by cartoon mustache-twirling villains 8. finally realizing superheroes aren't real (specifically the X-Factor, really thought they'd handle this) 9. marching your ass off 10. a quiet rage that replaces need for food with need for revenge 11. sleeping 19 hours a day 12. realizing that even the liberal media wants dem clicks no matter whut 13. worrying ceaselessly about the health and safety of women you know and women you don't 14. realizing who ya real friends are 15. having to switch from Uber to Lyft (lots of calories burned trying to understand a new app, then even more trying to understand if the conflict was resolved) 16. bladder spasms, urinary frequency and urgency * 17. having your phone number leaked and violent images texted to your phone by randos under names like VERYFATCHUCKYBOY@creepz.com 18. keeping your back arched against the wind 19. um, who the fuck cares? 20. I have no tips I give no tips I don't want to be on this cover cuz it's diametrically opposed to everything I've fought my whole career for and it's not a compliment to me because it's not an achievement thanx * Star indicates a pre-existing condition

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Including but not limited to anxiety, abdominal adhesions, bladder spasms and intense distress over various elements of her private life, Lena ensured Us Weekly that her weight loss is not something to aspire towards nor is she in any position to offer ‘motivation’ to the female demographic.

“I have no tips. I give no tips,” she wrote.

“I don't want to be on this cover cuz it's diametrically opposed to everything I've fought my whole career for and it's not a compliment to me because it's not an achievement thanx ,” (sic)

Like Cosmopolitan’s astonishing decision to frame a story about cancer with a clickbait headline about weight loss, US Weekly conveniently decided to forget that Lena has a medical background which can impact on her weight and appearance.

Instead of running coverage on Lena’s courage and strength in the face of ill health, US Weekly appeared to think their female demographic would be more inclined to open the magazine if they splashed some weightloss tips on the cover.

Like Cosmo, Us Weekly wrongly assumed they could disguise poor physical and mental health with some handy tips on trimming down and toning up.

And like Cosmo, they were wrong.


For almost three decades, society has been fascinated by the concept of cosmetic surgery.

And while much attention is focussed on the final result, we’re less familiar with the process each woman goes through in order to address the area of her body she feels would benefit from augmentation.

Thankfully, hugely popular personal trainer, Siobhan O'Hagan, has been candid about her breast augmentation surgery thereby allowing thousands of women a better insight into a process which many a year contemplate.

As a dedicated personal trainer with thousands of devoted followers, you would be forgiven for thinking that Siobhan was positively brimming with confidence, but this simply wasn't the case.

While she undoubtedly personified the term 'FitFam', the Dubliner wasn't fully content with her appearance, saying: "I was getting leaner and leaner but at the same time I didn’t feel very feminine."

"I just wanted to put on a bikini or sports bra and not have to stuff them with padding," she explained.

Interestingly, Siobhan's concerns about her breast size materialised long before she embarked on the health and fitness journey she has documented extensively on Instagram and Snapchat.

Revealing that she approached The Avoca Clinic two years before dedicating herself to fitness goals, Siobhan explained that her first visit made her realise that augmentation was a step for her future, not her present.

"I took the money that I was going to spend on that breast augmentation, and ended up spending it on a personal training course. It just wasn’t the right time but everything happens for a reason," she explains.

But after establishing herself as one of Ireland's top fitness and nutrition gurus, Siobhan decided July 2016 was the right time to revisit her interest in augmentation as she no longer wanted to 'fix' her body, but instead celebrate her choices.

"It was so different when I was going in this time for my consultation," she admitted.

"I was so happy with my body and it really wasn’t something I was doing to fix myself, it was just something I wanted. I didn’t see any negative reasons and I’m delighted with it.”

Going from a 34A to A 34C, Siobhan is elated by the results of her augmentation.

"I get so many emails from women, who’ve gone into the Avoca Clinic and they’re really excited about it. They never really have a proper question for me, but I love being able to tell them just do it, it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made."

Combining her dedication to heath and fitness with the service provided by The Avoca Clinic, Siobhan admits she's never been happier.

"I feel like I’m boasting if I go on about how happy I am, and how well everything worked out!" she admits.