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  Newsletter, Autumn 2009  

Welcome to our newsletter centre.

We are delighted to bring you the first in a series of newsletters which will contain articles and advice on health issues relevant to all of us. In the first edition we have covered the importance of having a healthy, happy lifestyle, information about Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Swine Flu, checking your cholesterol levels, a guide to keeping your back healthy and protecting your skin.


Have a healthier, happier lifestyle

Studies are showing that the majority of illnesses and diseases can be successfully treated if discovered early. In fact many common medical complaints can be prevented or cured if diagnosed early enough. Healthy living and having a healthy lifestyle is a major contributor to good health.

There are clear links between fatal and disabling illnesses and the way we live our lives. In addition, people are surviving longer and this means that many of the lifestyle choices we make now, will have a major impact on our quality of life in later years.

Heart disease and stroke are the major diseases in modern Ireland, accounting for over 40% of all deaths. Identifying lifestyle changes such as taking more exercise, improving your diet and checking your general health can have a major impact on the risk of heart disease and stroke. These are important issues for everyone as apart from their impact on disease, they can improve our general feeling of wellbeing and zest for life.

Cancer is another serious disease in Ireland and prevention services are improving such as BreastCheck (www.breastcheck.ie) and the national cervical screening programme (www.cancerscreening.ie).

The best time to pick up good habits is when we are young. Children can be given a good start in life by establishing good dietary and exercise habits from an early age.

We recommend that people of all ages avail of their GP services not just when they are ill, but for advice on preventive health.

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Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (Swine Flu)
Updated: 25th August 2009
Information regarding pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (swine flu)
is being updated on a daily basis so we advise you to be
aware of the updates issued by the following websites:


www.hpsc.ie - Health Protection Surveillance Centre
www.hse.ie - Health Service Executive
http://www.hse.ie/eng/swineflu/faq - Advice for the public
http://www.hse.ie/eng/swineflu/ECI - Educational & Childcare Information
http://www.hse.ie/eng/swineflu/bcm - Advice for employers
www.dohc.ie - Department of Health & Children
www.swineflu.ie - schools can download useful posters and get information
in various languages
www.cdc.gov - Centre for Disease Control & Prevention
who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en - World Health Organisation

The key message for schools is that you understand what Pandemic H1N1 2009 (swine flu) is and how is it recognized. Influenza A (HINI) is a type of flu virus. In the past this virus affected pigs and only occasionally affected people who had close contact with pigs. The virus has now changed and can spread easily from person to person.

The Influenza A (HINI) is now called Pandemic (HINI) 2009 because people all over the world are being affected by it.

In most cases the symptoms of Pandemic (HINI) 2009 are similar to the symptoms of regular flu. They include:
Temperature over 38 C / 100/4 F that begins suddenly and some of the following:
• Dry cough
• Sore throat
• Muscle aches & pains
• Headache
• Runny nose
• Severe weakness and fatigue
• Vomiting / diarrhea (in some cases)

For the latest updates for schools, college and centres of education click here click here »
If you require more information you can call the HSE 24hr freephone 1800 94 11 00.



Take good care of your back

Most people, around 80% will have back pain at some stage during their lives.
Even if you are not currently experiencing back discomfort there are a number of things you can do to take care of your back and prevent back pain:

Be active
Regular physical activity will help keep your back strong and flexible. Aim for 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity, most days of the week. Walking, swimming, gentle jogging, yoga and cycling are some physical activities you might enjoy. Build physical activity into your day, example: use the stairs instead of the lift. Specific exercises that strengthen your abdominal (stomach) and back muscles can help prevent back pain.

Maintain a good posture
Remember poor posture can strain ligaments in your back so it is important that you maintain a good posture when:

  • Sitting – sit well back into the chair, do not sit for long periods and your feet should be flat resting on the floor.
  • Driving – sit well into your car seat as it should support your lower back, sit a comfortable distance from the foot pedals and steering wheel and if you are driving long distances take regular breaks.
  • At work – try to arrange your work so that you get a balance of sitting and moving around. If sitting at a desk make sure you have plenty of leg room under your desk. Arrange your desk space so that the things you use most are close to hand. When using a computer make sure the screen is directly in front of you. Use a document holder when working from documents. Do not prop the telephone between your neck and shoulder – use a headset.
  • Lifting any object – before you lift you should think about and plan how you are going to lift. Here are the basic rules for safely lifting any object:
    • Lift only what you are able to lift safely.
    • Get help when you need it.
    • Use available equipment (e.g. mechanical lifts, trolley)
    • Bend your hips and knees so that your legs, and not your back, do the work.
    • Keep a firm grip on the load.
    • Keep the load close to your body.
    • When turning, move your feet instead of your body.
    • For more information check the manual handling guidelines.

Most back pain is caused by muscle, ligament or joint sprain. This can cause discomfort and stiffness.
Occasionally back pain may be a sign of another illness. You must talk to your GP if you experience back pain and any of the following; difficulty passing urine, numbness in the genital or back passage area, numbness, pins and needles or weakness in both legs or unsteadiness on your feet.

Source: The Back Care Book – a guide to keeping your back healthy, Health Service Executive.

For more information contact the:
Health & Safety Authority www.hsa.ie
Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists www.iscp.ie



Healthy Cholesterol for a Happy Heart

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. You need a certain amount of cholesterol for all your body cells and to produce important hormones. However, if there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it sticks to the inner lining of your artery or blood vessels.
As a result of this build-up on the artery walls, your arteries become narrowed. This process is called hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. If an artery supplying the heart muscle becomes blocked completely, the heart muscle becomes damaged. This is known as a heart attack.
Having high cholesterol levels in your blood is one of the risk factors which increases your chances of getting heart disease.

Other risk factors include:
high blood pressure
being over weight
not being active
stress that you cannot control
your family history and your age

What is cholesterol measured?
Cholesterol can be measured by your doctor who either knows your family history or will take details of your family history. Ideally your cholesterol result should fall within the following range:

Total cholesterol

No greater than 5 mmol/l


No greater than 3 mmol/l


Greater than 1


No greater than 2

There are two main types of cholesterol – HDL cholesterol (high density lippprotein) , LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein).

HDL cholesterol is called good cholesterol or healthy cholesterol because it mops up cholesterol left behind in your arteries and carries it to the liver where it is broken down and passed out of the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can protect you against getting heart disease. Regular physical activity and exercise can help increase your HDL level.

LDL cholesterol travels from the liver through the arteries to other parts of the body. LDL is called bad cholesterol because it sticks to the walls in your arteries – making them narrow. This reduces the blood supply to your heart or brain. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise your LDL cholesterol

Triglycerides are another type of fat found in your blood. Too much triglycerides in your blood can increase your chances of getting heart disease.

You can lower your cholesterol by:

  • Get down to a healthy weight – being overweight means your heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body.
  • Eat oily fish twice a week.
  • Eat more fruit & vegetables.
  • Eat more wholegrain cereals and breads, plenty of jacket potatoes, rice and pasta.
  • Choose lean meats. Trim fat off meat and skin off chicken. Drain oil from cooked dishes containing minced meat.
  • Choose low fat dairy products.
  • Choose low fat spreads made from sunflower oil or olive oil.
  • Choose less foods from the top shelf of the food pyramid.
  • Use low fat healthy ways of cooking, like grilling or oven baking instead of frying

Sample Menu

  • High fibre cereal with low fat milk
  • Wholemeal bread or toast with a thin layer of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated spread
  • Fruit juice or fresh fruit
  • Tea or coffee


  • Fruit or wholemeal bread or a scone
  • Tea, coffee, water or a diet drink


  • Large serving of salad or cooked vegetables
  • Small serving of low fat cheese, egg, lean meat, poultry, sardines or salmon
  • Wholemeal bread or roll
  • Low fat yoghurt or glass of low fat milk
  • Fresh fruit
  • Tea, coffee or water


  • Fresh fruit
  • Tea, coffee or diet drink

Main meal

  • Large serving of salad or cooked vegetables
  • Moderate serving of fish (preferably oily), poultry, lean meat or low fat vegetarian alternatives
  • Potato, rice or pasta
  • Glass of low fat milk
  • Fresh fruit, cooked fruit, tinned fruit in its own juice, fruit based desert or low fat milk pudding
  • Tea or coffee


  • Tea or water
  • Wholemeal bread or a scone

If you are concerned about your level of cholesterol ask your GP to check it for you.
Source: Irish Heart Foundation
For more information contact www.irishheart.ie



Have fun and be sunsmart

More and more of us are taking care of our
skin not just in the sun but also in the wind & rain.
Everyone who spends time outdoors is at risk
of skin damage – not just those who sunbathe.


Here are some key facts:

  • Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer in Ireland among men & women.
  • There are approximately 5600 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in Ireland every year.
  • One in every six men and one in every six women will develop skin cancer by the age of 74 years.
  • 80-90% of skin cancers are caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and can be prevented.
  • About 80-85% of UV rays can pass through clouds so you need to take care on cloudy days too.
  • Damage to the skin by the sun is permanent.

How does the sun damage your skin?
The sun produces ultraviolet radiation (UV) and two types reach the earth’s surface – UVA and UVB. Both are know to cause skin cancer.
UVA – over exposure results in early ageing and skin cancer.
UVB – is the most harmful, causing burning and skin cancer.
There are two types of skin cancer: non melanoma and malignant melanoma.

Non melanoma skin cancer
This type is very common and is very curable. Look out for:

  • A new growth or sore that does not heal within four weeks.
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab or bleed.
  • Constant skin ulcers that are not explained by other causes.

Malignant skin cancer
This is the most serious type of skin cancer but it is also the most rare. It most often appears as a changing mole or freckle. If it is discovered and treated early many cases can be cured. Look out for:

  • Changes in the colour, shape or size of moles or freckles.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Cover up – wear a hat so as to protect the head and neck areas. Wear a close weaved shirt or t-shirt.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (spf) of 15 or higher – make sure it has UVA and UVB protection. Reapply every two – three hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Seek shade – avoid being in the sun between 11am and 3pm. Use sun umbrellas especially if you are in sunnier and hotter climates.

Severe sunburn in childhood increases the risk of developing skin cancer in later life.

  • The skin of a child is very sensitive to the sun’s rays. All children, whether they tan easy or not, should always be protected.
  • Babies under 6 months should be protected from the sun at all times. Ideally they should be kept in the shade. Sunscreen should only be used if necessary and you should do a patch test before using it.
For more information contact your GP or the Irish Cancer Society (www.cancer.ie).


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Cork Road,
Co. Waterford
X91 DH9W
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Ray McSharry Road,
Garden Hill,
F91 X054
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