October Health Awareness

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Quit smoking this Stoptober

Stop smoking this Stoptober and start doing so much more.

Giving up smoking is one of the best things you'll ever do for your health. There are lots of other benefits too, and they start almost immediately.

It's never too late to quit, so join the thousands of people stopping smoking this October. Let's do this!

Ways to quit

Many people try to quit smoking with willpower alone, but it's much easier with the right help. There are lots of support options available, so try a combination that works for you.

Click here to read up on stop smoking aids, to find your local stop smoking service and to access your free personal quit plan.

What happens when you quit?

The sooner you quit, the sooner you'll notice changes to your body and health. Look at what happens when you quit for good.

After 20 minutes

Check your pulse rate, it will already be starting to return to normal.

After 8 hours

Your oxygen levels are recovering, and the harmful carbon monoxide level in your blood will have reduced by half.

After 48 hours

All carbon monoxide is flushed out. Your lungs are clearing out mucus and your senses of taste and smell are improving.

After 72 hours

If you notice that breathing feels easier, it's because your bronchial tubes have started to relax. Also your energy will be increasing.

After 2 to 12 weeks

Blood will be pumping through to your heart and muscles much better because your circulation will have improved.

After 3 to 9 months

Any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases by up to 10%.

After 1 year

Great news! Your risk of heart attack will have halved compared with a smoker's.

After 10 years

More great news! Your risk of death from lung cancer will have halved compared with a smoker's.

Flu

Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill. It's important to get the flu vaccine if you're advised to.

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

  • a sudden high temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.

How to treat flu yourself

To help you get better more quickly:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)

Antibiotics

GPs do not recommend antibiotics for flu because they will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.

How to avoid spreading the flu

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You're more likely to give it to others in the first 5 days.

Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

To reduce the risk of spreading flu:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It's offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu.

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn or early winter before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.

Flu vaccination is important because:

  • more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill
  • getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses

If you've had COVID-19, it's safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.

Who can have the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who'll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • frontline health or social care workers

Where to get the flu vaccine

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:

  • your GP surgery
  • a pharmacy offering the service
  • your midwifery service if you're pregnant
  • a hospital appointment

Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer.

About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There's a good chance of recovery if it's detected at an early stage.

For this reason, it's vital that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always have any changes examined by a GP.

In rare cases, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer. Find out more about breast cancer in men.

Symptoms of breast cancer

Breast cancer can have several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.

Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it's always best to have them checked by a doctor.

You should also see a GP if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.

Find out more about the symptoms of breast cancer.

Diagnosing breast cancer

After examining your breasts, a GP may refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This might include breast screening (mammography) or taking a small sample of breast tissue to be examined under a microscope (a biopsy).

Find out more about how breast cancer is diagnosed.

Published: Oct 1, 2021