Multiple Sclerosis – Just Diagnosed?

Multiple Sclerosis

Healthybites article on Multiple Sclerosis (MS), is a basic outline of the disease.  However, there are links to sites that can offer more in-depth information on the illness.

Multiple Sclerosis is a demyelinating disease that affects the central nervous system, brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The brain and spinal cord send signals to each other for body and brain functions. The body’s defence system attacks the myelin the fatty substance that protects the nerve fibres. When the myelin becomes damaged, this causes the tissue to become scarred.

It is mostly younger people who develop the disease but older people can get MS.  More women than men have the disease. There are four different stages of MS.

Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Patients will have an attack on any part of the body or brain, resulting in a full recovery or partial recovery. Most MS cases are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

This is a slow deterioration of neurological functions from the beginning. How the disease progresses will vary and will stabilise with temporary improvement.

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Secondary progressive MS sets in after the first phase of relapsing-remitting MS when the disease gradually deteriorates.

Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

This is the rare type of the disease. The patient will slowly deteriorate from the start of being diagnosed, and the disease will continue to develop without any remissions. Patients with more severe multiple sclerosis are at risk of developing osteoporosis and pressure sores.

What are the Symptoms?

There are many symptoms here is  a list of the most common ones:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness
  • Balance and co-ordination problems
  • Bowel and Bladder Dysfunctions
  • Vision Impairment
  • Dizziness and Vertigo
  • Pain
  • Emotional Mood Swings, Sexual Problems and Depression

Symptoms Less Common:

  • Headaches
  • Itching
  • Swallowing
  • Hearing Loss
  • Seizures
  • Respiration and Breathing Problems
How is Multiple Sclerosis Treated?

Drugs control most symptoms of the disease. Self-help is encouraged along with physiotherapy, counselling, and occupational therapy.  Diet and exercise are other benefits.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Most patients with milder forms of MS will manage to look after themselves.

It is the more advanced stage when matters need more consideration.  The doctor plays a vital role in helping the advanced patient to live as independently as is possible.

The home may need some alternations to accommodate particular needs, such as a ground floor toilet and bathroom. There is also the chair lift to consider.  If you own your home, selling then buying a bungalow or ground floor flat would be other options. The local council can also give more suitable accommodation for tenants with MS.

Joining a support group of the MS Society and getting involved with the disease itself is beneficial. Fund-raising for future research is another option.

Click here for another support help group.  There are many of these groups on the internet it all comes down to an individual’s personal choice.

© Health Bite January 2012

Heart Health – Keep Your Heart Happy


What Job Does the Heart Perform?

It is the most important internal organ.   It has the job of pumping blood around the body, supplying the body’s cells with oxygen and nutrients. The heart requires its own supply of oxygen and nutrients. The blood supply generates from the coronary arteries, found on the outside of the heart.

What Causes a Heart Attack

Coronary heart disease is normally the cause of a heart attack. Coronary heart disease occurs when either one or several coronary arteries have become narrowed through a build-up of fatty deposits in the artery walls, medically termed as atheroma. The fatty areas in the arterial wall are referred to as plaque, and if this plaque should crack, a blood clot appears and tries to restore the damaged wall.

An attack happens when suddenly there is no supply of blood to the muscle, this causes severe pain or a feeling of discomfort in the chest area. Other symptoms include pain spreading to the left or right arms, neck and jaw. There could be a shortness of breath and a feeling of nausea.

When an attack happens, treatment is urgently needed to get a supply of blood circulating again in the damaged area of the muscle, and this will hopefully reduce further permanent damage to the heart.

What About Treatments  

Some treatments include primary angioplasty. This unblocks the coronary artery.  Thrombolysis means the patient is given ‘clot-busting’ medication to dissolve the clot. This is not a suitable solution for some heart attacks and in that case, primary angioplasty or alternative medication or treatment is given.

Treatment all depends on how severe the heart condition is and sometimes a transplant is necessary to keep the patient alive.

How to Help Avoid Heart Problems

Prevention is better than cure. However, some people are born with heart defects and sometimes they do not become clear straight away. Looking after ourselves can help prevent heart problem occurring.

Keep your weight reasonable; it is not always overweight people, but some underweight people can suffer from heart problems.  Stop smoking.   This habit can cause heart damage, leading to a heart attack, and cause cancers to develop. Keeping the cholesterol level below 4 mmol and the blood pressure around 130/80 mm Hg.

Some sort of exercise is essential, even if it is just a brisk walk every day or a cycle ride. Swimming and dancing are excellent ways to exercise. There is no need for expensive gym fees, even doing the garden is another way to work out.

Your diet should include fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholemeal bread and the type that contain seeds, lean meats and oily fish. If fish is something that is undesirable, a fish-oil supplement is available by prescription from you G.P and you can buy them from health stores and supermarkets.  Do not consume large portions of dairy produce.  And, don’t overindulge in sugary foods.  Drink alcohol sensibly.


If you think someone is having a heart attack dial 999 immediately, stay calm, you will be given help over the phone until the ambulance arrives and the paramedics will then take over.

Be good to your heart and enjoy life!

Healthybite January 2015

Food Hygiene – Handle Food Safely

Food Hygiene

It is important to handle food safely to lower the risk of becoming ill with food poisonings such as Salmonella, E-coli,  or  Campylobacter.  

It all begins with hand washing. The hand’s house many types of bacteria, some are more tolerable and friendly than others.

There are different types of food hazards to consider:
  • Allergenic– food allergy to certain types of food, such as shellfish, nuts, eggs or dairy products.  There could be an intolerance to gluten – coeliac disease (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), or a dairy intolerance.
  • Microbial – bacteria, virus, moulds and yeast.  Bacteria is everywhere.  It is found in food, in the air, in dust particles, on people, equipment, pests, soil, water and food waste.
  • Chemical Pesticide – residues on raw vegetables and fruit, cleaning chemicals, plants that are poisonous such as wild mushrooms.  Bait used to kill pests.
  • Physical –  Jewellery (especially watches and bracelets).  Hair, fingernails, broken glass, pieces of bone or shell, dust and dirt, plasters, bits of string, droppings from pests or dead bodies.

Food Hygiene

Bacteria like E-coli and Campylobacter is found naturally in animal intestines and the environment.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), is an airborne bacterium and is found in the ears, nose, throat and skin.  It lives in large quantities in the intestine.

Bacteria multiplies in 10-20 minutes.  One bacterium becomes two,  two become four and the multiplication carries on. Bacteria needs time, warmth, moisture and nutrients (food) to grow. The danger temperatures for bacteria is 5 degrees centigrade to 63 degrees centigrade.  The ideal temperature for bacteria growth is 37 degrees centigrade (the normal body temperature).

Mould and yeast are visible bacteria,  you can see them on bread or cheese. If mould is visible, discard the entire food item, because although it is not visible four slices down in the loaf of bread, the bacteria is present and growing in the entire food product.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning, makes the sufferer feel extremely ill.  The symptoms are stomach pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Young babies, nursing mothers and pregnant women, and the elderly are in a high-risk class of becoming seriously ill with food poisoning. People who have been seriously ill and patients who are receiving treatment, such as chemotherapy are other high-risk types.

Food Allergies/Intolerance

Food Allergies/Intolerance can cause serious problems for the person who suffers from a particular food allergy or intolerance.  Peanuts, eggs, mustard, dairy, or gluten intolerance such as celiac disease, (which is an autoimmune disease), celery, crustaceans (crab or lobster),  fish and shellfish. Sesame seeds and lupin seeds can cause an allergy. Some preservatives like sulfur dioxide and sulphites can cause an allergic reaction.

Food Packaging

All food packaging has to highlight any allergies present in the ingredients.  Some allergies are more serious than others, and symptoms can range from mild to moderate, to life-threatening anaphylaxis.  The symptoms of anaphylaxis are swelling of the tongue, lips and throat, dizziness and breathing difficulties, the condition requires urgent medical attention.

Handle Food Safely
  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food.  Wear a clean or disposable apron.
  • Tie long hair back.
  • If wearing false nails, or nail polish, put on disposable gloves.
  • Remove wrist jewellery and stone rings, (these carry more bacteria).
  • Wipe down the chopping board or worktop with an anti-bacterial chemical.
  • Wash raw vegetables, salad foods and fruit, to remove any pesticide particles.
  • Clean as you go along.
  • Remove food waste to the bin tied up in sacks or old carrier bags.  Make sure the lid is firmly shut, this helps to keep vermin at bay.
  • When finished preparing/cooking, sanitise the work surfaces and chopping boards and store utensils in clean cupboards and draws.


  • Finally, wash your hands!



Like all fridge foods cheese, milk, sandwich meats, fresh raw meats, butter, fish, tomatoes, and salad foods, need to be kept at a certain cool temperature.   Keeping foods chilled removes the warmth that bacteria requires to grow.


Remember the danger temperature for bacteria to grow is 5 degrees centigrade to 63 degrees centigrade.   

Store refrigerated food at 5 degrees centigrade or below. Food taken from the fridge will begin to grow bacteria in around two hours.  In the summer months when the temperature is warmer or very hot, bacteria can start to form sooner.  If food is left out in a very warm room in colder months this would have the same effect as the summer months.  

Store frozen food at 18 degrees centigrade or below.

Keep hot food at a temperature of 63 degrees centigrade.


Cooking destroys the bacteria already present in raw meats, vegetables, fruits and, fish the heat destroys the risk.     Meats (especially poultry) need to be cooked through and no pink remaining, use a probe to test it.   Frozen ready meals cooked straight from the freezer need to be piping hot before eating.  Always defrost foods to the manufacturer’s instructions.  

Cover Foods Up

Keep foods covered up when preparing from pest invasions such as flies (especially in the summer months) and other insects.  There are dome food protectors that can keep food hygienically safe.

Use By/Best Before Dates

Use By/Best Before Dates –  any foods that are not consumed by the use by date need discarding.    Foods that have a best before date means the food will taste better before that date.

Reduce the risk of becoming ill from food bacteria and handle food safely.


© Healthy Bite July 2015

Flu Season – Get the Vaccination


The flu vaccination is offered to all vulnerable people who are at risk of developing a more severe secondary illness should they catch the flu.

Those at risk include:
  • People over the age of 65.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Those employed as a carer.
  • People who are in long-stay residential care homes.
  • People who are very ill who are suffering from a chronic illness.

The vaccination does not stop someone from getting the flu, but the symptoms are not as severe.

Flu Symptoms
  • Sudden fever with a temperature of 38c or above.
  • A headache and dry, chesty cough.
  • Chills tiredness and weakness.
  • Joint pain and muscle ache.
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting (tummy pain).
  • Blocked or a runny nose and sore throat.
  • Sneezing.
  • Difficulty in sleeping and lack of appetite.
It is important to keep the temperature down!  

Anyone who has become infected will show symptoms very quickly within 1 to 3 days.  The common cold develops gradually, usually a sore throat and runny nose.  Flu can progress into a more serious illness such as bronchitis and pneumonia.  These conditions are life-threatening in the frail, elderly and people who are seriously ill.  People who are asthmatic will suffer more and so will those who have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).   Diabetics need to watch their sugar levels if they catch the flu.   Patients with type 1 diabetes are at risk of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (a lack of insulin in the body) which is extremely dangerous.

People with flu are unable to function as normal and should stay home until the symptoms begin to ease.  Drink plenty of warm fluids to prevent dehydration and take medication to lower the temperature, ease aches, pains and headaches.   Staying home will help to prevent the flu spreading to other people.

Anyone who feels they could be at risk should visit their health centre for advice.

© Healthy Bite October 2015