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health tips

I was known as the cold sore kid in school for a reason. Every few months, I would have an enormous breakout that would last a week or so, that would always leave me feeling insecure and uncomfortable. As time went on, I developed some techniques to keep these at bay as much as I could.

Antivirals are great when necessary, but my GP informed me that overuse of these can cause us to become immune to medication such as Zovirax, so isn’t an ideal solution.

Therefore, natural routines and remedies can be carried out to stop the spread of this pesky virus. As this time of year is always particularly bad for those who carry the virus, I thought I’d share my tips on how to keep cold sores at bay:

Bin ALL your lip balms

I know it seems like a waste, but cross-contamination is a real problem when it comes to cold sores. Wash out your lip balm containers and recycle them. Then, invest in ONE very good SPF lip balm.

Never ever share this lip balm and never ever apply it directly to your lips. Use hand sanitiser or alcohol wipes to clean your fingertip before you apply. You can also give the applicator a wipe down with alcohol when you use it to further prevent cross-contamination. Make sure that you use this lip balm as much as possible, and never let your lips get dry.

Take a high dose of Lysine Supplements

Lysine is a natural amino acid that targets the herpes simplex virus which causes cold sores. Get down to your chemist and purchase a large jar of 500mg tablets. Take two of these each day with food and eventually, you should see results. Routine is key here so you must make sure you take them every day in order for them to work. I even named my morning alarm Lysine to remind myself to take them with my breakfast!

Carry alcohol in your bag

I mean sterilising alcohol, of course. Alcohol wipes or a little bottle of sterilising fluid will also do the trick. When you eat out or drink in bars and pubs, make sure to rub the rim of your glass, mug or bottle you are drinking from. This will cover all bases because the alcohol will kill any bacteria or virus that is present and lower the risk of you picking up something.

Carry Zovirax in your bag

Purchase Zovirax anti-cold sore cream or another brand of cream that contains aciclovir or penciclovir. Buy the tube and not the pump as you can get more out of it. ALWAYS have the tiny tube on your person. Whenever you feel the teeny tiniest tingle on your lips, apply- again with a sterilised fingertip. You can also use an alcohol wipe to clean the tip of the tube after each use.

Keep your hands clean

If you really want to be rid of cold sores for the festive season, you need to be on the ball when it comes to hand washing. We touch our faces and mouths CONSTANTLY during the day. This causes a virus like herpes simplex to spread like wildfire. Washing your hands or using hand sanitiser will break the viral cycle and reduce your chances of getting cold sores.

I know this seems like a lot to think about. However, you will soon be able to enjoy the silly season without having that constant cold sore worry!

Source: hse.ie, sona.ie

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A healthy heart is a long-term investment.

According to Irishheart.ie, the nation’s heart and stroke charity, ‘more than 9,000 people lost their lives in 2016 to cardiovascular disease with almost half dying from heart disease.’

‘Cardiovascular disease includes all diseases of the heart and circulation but most commonly it refers to coronary heart disease (angina, heart attack), stroke and other blood vessel diseases.

‘According to the Vital Statistics Annual Report 2016 from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), there were a total of 9,237 deaths attributed to diseases of the circulatory system or cardiovascular disease in 2016, of which 4,768 were men and 4,469 were women.’

This number is unnecessarily high. With the support and research carried out by organisations like Irish Heart, there is no reason not to be educated and take active steps to ensure your heart’s health, for your future. We have compiled some of our top tips for ways to look after your heart every day. These small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.

Exercise

Having a high BMI can increase your chances of experiencing diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all risk factors in heart disease. Excess weight around the stomach is especially dangerous. Not being active on a regular basis increases your risk of stroke by 50%, according to Irish Heart.

Heart Ireland have adapted their healthy community exercise programme to make it Covid-friendly, by creating the Slí na Sláinte programme, which encourages people to walk more and get more health benefits from their walking. The programme brings together groups of people interested in getting more exercise for the sake of their health and maps out walking routes, creates community and sets challenges for members, making getting healthy a sociable and accessible activity.

Quit smoking

Obvious, but difficult. The effects of smoking on your body can lead to lung disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. The build-up of plaque and hardened arteries puts the heart under increased pressure, raising chances of experiencing hypertension causing a stroke.

If the first try didn’t work out, there’s nothing to stop you from trying again – most people’s first tries at this don’t stick. Try gradually cutting down, reducing your intake every few days, rather than quitting entirely cold turkey at the get-go.

Get a good night’s sleep

Adults require 7-9 hours of quality sleep in order to keep their bodies functioning as efficiently as possible.

Good sleep refreshes the body’s cells. Not getting enough sleep could be due to stress factors in your life or a poor diet. Check out our article here on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Reduce stress

Easier said than done, right?

It’s not so much about reducing stresses in your life – because if there was a way to do that, we’d all be doing it. It’s much more so about how you handle the stress in your life. Constantly battling anxiety about every misstep and misfortune that comes your way is not sustainable.

Stress takes a physical toll on your body as well as mental. We can come to lean on unhealthy crutches as coping mechanisms, such as food or alcohol. Instead, try to make room in your life for safer, healthier options for reducing stress. Yoga, meditations and exercise all release stress-reducing hormones and when practised regularly, can drastically reduce our panicked reaction at the first signs of stress.

Hydrate!

We cannot over-emphasise the importance of a high water intake for your overall health. Dehydration thickens the blood meaning the heart has to work that bit harder to pump it throughout your body.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight, so dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening conditions such as heart attack or heat stroke

 Upping your water intake to the recommended 11 cups (2.7 litres) for women and 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) for men can make all the difference!

Diet

Your dietary choices affect blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure causes your blood vessels to lose their elasticity. The stiffening and narrowing of arteries can result in a blockage or clot forming. There are two main types of cholesterol – HDL or good cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol mops up the cholesterol left behind in your arteries and carries it to the liver where it is broken down. Bad cholesterol sticks to the walls in your arteries making them narrow.

A diet high in salt increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Eating foods high in saturated fats (butter, hard margarine, lard, cream, fatty meat, cakes, biscuits and chocolates) can raise your cholesterol levels.

So cut back a little on the salt on your dinner. Check the level of salt and fat in some of your regular go-tos and see if you can switch them out for something with slightly lower levels. Our diets have become so saturated with salt that we need an unnecessary amount to ‘really taste it’. In reality, our taste buds have just gotten used to that level, so a normal amount of salt tastes bland to us. Reducing will feel bland at first, but eventually your taste buds will adjust, and your heart will thank you for it!

Sources; Irish Heart, Absolute Health, The Heart Foundation

 

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