Category: Health

Students: Are you sure that’s freshers’ flu and not meningitis?

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A young woman sits with a book and notebook on her lap holding her head while other students drink coffe and smile in the background

© Steve Debenport

 

The new academic term is a time for meeting fresh faces, getting to grips with new timetables… and freshers’ flu. But are you sure that’s what your flu-like symptoms are?

Students sometimes miss the signs of a much more serious illness known as meningitis because its symptoms are similar to that of freshers’ flu – the collective coughs, fevers and viruses caught during your first few weeks at university.

Meningitis is rare – but can be life threatening. Students are at more risk of it because they often live in close proximity to one another.

So if you’re heading to university this month, make sure you know the signs.

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The health and social care crisis: Joyce’s story

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Joyce Hall with a Red Cross volunteer who helped her regain her independence after she broke her arm Joyce waited an agonising two days before going to hospital with a badly broken arm. She couldn’t just go to the hospital – she had her younger brother to think about.

As the sole carer for Lenny, who has epilepsy and learning difficulties, she was worried about leaving him alone. He was unable to do everyday tasks like getting dressed and feeding himself.

But after two days of pain she had little choice.

The British Red Cross met Joyce for the first time when she was discharged from the hospital and referred to our support at home service.

We were able to help her not just through her recovery, but find more support for her and Lenny from other services in the long-term too.

But with six consecutive years of budget cuts and an increasing demand on health and social care services, the system in England has become unsustainable. The care people like Joyce and Lenny need, is at risk.

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Child safety, Afghan style

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Three girls play as they pump water from a well

In the UK, keeping children safe means babyproofing your home or teaching youngsters to look both ways before crossing the road.

In Afghanistan, it could mean stopping children dying from diseases picked up from human waste.

More than just a nuisance

For most people in Britain, diarrhoea is a nuisance that can be easily treated. If a child is very badly affected, care is always available.

But in some countries, diarrhoea is life threatening.

Nearly 1.3 million children under five die from diarrhoea worldwide, making it the second most common cause of child deaths.

In fact, over half of these deaths occur in just five countries. Afghanistan is one of them.

What makes this even sadder is that children’s lives could be saved if communities had clean water, toilets and hand-washing facilities.

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Wheels of recovery: how a wheelchair helped mend a broken ice-skater

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Julie with her broken leg in a cast

When Julie Maxwell left hospital after weeks of being treated for a badly broken leg, she was keen to get home. But she dreaded being confined to the sofa.

The primary school secretary from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland had been on a trip to the Big Apple with her friend Zara-lee.

But her decision to skate around the famous ice rink at New York’s Rockefeller Centre just one last time had shattered Julie’s holiday – and leg – to pieces.

Fortunately going home was not as bad as Julie had imagined – all because of a little help from a wheelchair.

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Home from hospital: time for change

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Raymond Attrell with Anna Holecz

Raymond Attrell with British Red Cross support worker Anna Holecz.

The day you get the OK to return home after being in hospital, should be a really good day. So why are some people afraid to go home?

You’ve recovered. You should be feeling better, positive and confident that you can cope with life at home – with whatever support you have arranged.

But a report has revealed that’s not always the case. Vulnerable patients, often frail or elderly, are being sent home from hospital too early – afraid and with little support.

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Why you have to call 999 the moment you suspect a stroke

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If you suspect stroke, call 999

We live in an era that values speed. These days you can have almost super-fast anything – from broadband to noodle soup.

It’s important to be speedy within the world of first aid too – especially when it comes to treating someone for stroke.

One stroke happens every three minutes and 27 seconds in the UK*. That’s about the same time it takes to microwave popcorn.

The good news is we can all very easily help someone having a stroke.

You just need to be able to spot it and call 999. Fast.

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Happy birthday Nishan: one family’s story of courage and strength in Nepal

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Dolma holds Nishan next to a neighbour carrying hay on her head

Little Nishan is nearly ready to walk. “Then our lives will become even more hectic,” his mother Dolma says, with a smile.

Laughing together, Dolma and Nishan seem like any happy mother and baby. But standing with Dolma in the ruins of the family home, Nishan can’t know the danger he has been in during his short life.

This time last year, Dolma was only ten days away from giving birth.

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From hospital to home sweet home

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Kathleen and Derek Parsons sat down in their home

Kathleen and Derek Parsons

A bad fall is enough to leave anyone feeling vulnerable and shaken. The British Red Cross can’t catch you as you fall – unless one of our staff or volunteers just happens to be at the right place at the right time! But we can help you pick up the pieces afterwards.

When Derek Parsons stumbled in his garden, he smashed his glasses, broke his hearing aid and ended up with a bleeding cut around his left eye.

Without his ‘eyes and ears’, the 83-year-old was understandably shaken. His wife and son gave him comfort as he waited for an ambulance to arrive.

Later at Poole hospital in Dorset, Derek ended up needing 15 stitches and was kept in overnight. Fortunately he hadn’t broken his eye socket as feared, so was free to go home the next day.

Except Derek had no way of getting home. His wife Kathleen doesn’t drive and his adult sons were either tied up at work or looking after children.

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