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Heartburn Awareness Week returns to Kerry for second year

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Dr Ciara Kelly.

WITH one in three Irish people suffering from heartburn once a week or more, Dr Ciara Kelly is once again encouraging people to consult their local pharmacist on how best to manage symptoms, reminding the nation that heartburn is something that can be effectively treated.

The pharmacist should be the first choice for advice, as many heartburn cases can be solved without a visit to the GP. We are in the middle of National Heartburn Awareness Week which highlights a condition that affects over half of the population.

After a successful inaugural Heartburn Awareness Week in 2015, this October the nation is being advised to be mindful of the condition and its lifestyle effects, and to seek more information from their pharmacist if suffering regularly from heartburn symptoms.

New research conducted in 2016 as part of Heartburn Awareness Week has shown that a significant 78% of heartburn sufferers find it has a negative impact on their lifestyle. When looking at the impact it can have on daily life, 49% find it disturbs sleep, 39% admit it limits their food choices while a quarter admit that heartburn disrupts their day, highlighting how much it affects sufferers’ daily lives. Almost one third (29%) feel physical pain as a result of the condition, with one in 10 stating it negatively impacts their social lives or relationships, yet many are still unaware of the variety of treatments available in pharmacies.

Heartburn occurs when gastric acid flows back from the stomach into the oesophagus when the lower oesophageal sphincter does not close tightly. Unlike the stomach, the oesophagus does not have a protective lining and is sensitive to the acid which burns its walls, causing that painful burning feeling.

Dr Ciara Kelly, MD, explains, “Heartburn is a relatively common condition that is not always a cause for concern. However, frequent heartburn is something that can have a serious impact on day-to-day life and should be dealt with in an effective manner. If you are suffering from heartburn more than once a week, my recommendation is to discuss your symptoms with your local pharmacist to ensure you are benefitting from the appropriate treatment.”

Research has shown that a quarter of sufferers feel they have to remember to bring antacids with them at all times. Antacids are still the most popular OTC medicine for heartburn, however for frequent heartburn proton pumps inhibitors (PPIs) such as esomeprazole (only available in pharmacy) or H2 blockers may be more suitable. H2 blockers and proton-pump inhibitors reduce the production of acid in the stomach rather than simply neutralising existing acid.

Dr Kelly continues, “Heartburn can be quite a debilitating ailment and can worsen if not treated properly. While there are a number of ‘trigger foods’ that can make it worse, it is not something always caused by dietary choices, however they can help alleviate it. It is however something that can affect our lifestyles, cause embarrassment, limit the foods we can enjoy and even affect our relationships or social life. In addition, over time, the backflow of acid can cause damage to the lining of the oesophagus and can cause serious medical conditions. For this reason, during Heartburn Awareness Week we are encouraging people to consider their symptoms and to seek more information from their pharmacist.”

In addition to speaking with pharmacists, Dr Kelly advises those suffering with heartburn symptoms to:

· Keep a food diary and listen to your body. Pay heed to what causes your heartburn to flare up, monitor and avoid these foods
· Don’t eat late at night before you’re about to go to bed, having a full stomach before you lie down will increase acid backflow and put pressure on digestion
· Avoid spicy foods that affect your stomach balance, especially anything with lots of chilli
· Consciously add acid-neutralising foods to the diet, such as almond milk, bananas, ginger, porridge
· Keep your alcohol intake within recommended limits (17 units for a man, 11 units for a woman per week, or less!)
· Reduce your tea and coffee intake, again especially before you go to bed
 


 
Above: Dr Ciara Kelly.

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Possible return to campus for college students

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

The announcement by the Department of Education this week, that the Leaving Cert results will be issued on Friday, September 3, was followed by confirmation from the Central Applications Office that CAO Round 1 offers will be issued online, four days later on Tuesday, September 7 at 2pm.

This is about three weeks later than normal, although it is earlier than the 2020 dates. Coinciding with the release of these dates comes the news from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, that it is the priority of Government to get college students back on campus for the 2021/2022 academic year. Because of the later issue of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers, this means that First Year students will start college a couple of weeks later than those who are returning to college in Second, Third and Fourth Year.

From the point of social distancing, the staggered start may be an advantage, as we will still be living with certain restrictions due to COVID-19. There are a number of contributing factors what will influence a safe and successful return to the college campus for students according to Minister Harris. They include the roll-out and take-up of vaccinations in the college-age cohort by September, the use of rapid testing on campus which has been run as a pilot in several universities this year, and a varied approach to face-to-face lectures. It is hoped that smaller classes, practicals and tutorials can be operated as before with social distancing while the larger lectures may need to be facilitated using a blended approach. It is also felt that if cafés, restaurants and bars are open everywhere else, there is no reason why they can’t open on campus. This of course is all based on vaccinations and public health guidelines.

ACCOMMODATION

A big concern for First Year students following the announcements is the fact that they will be looking for accommodation later than all other students. This is an issue every single year because when CAO offers are issued, many students get offers for colleges in locations where they have not secured accommodation. Naturally it is of particular concern to rural students and mirrors a greater societal shortage of accommodation. Minister Harris has also stated that he is bringing a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks to implement legislation which means that the owners of purpose-built student accommodation will only be allowed to charge rents a month in advance rather than insisting on payment of rent for half of the college year, something which has put enormous strain on students and their families over the years.
So, while any kind of certainty surrounding a return to ‘normal’ college life isn’t possible, it is both hopeful and exciting for new and returning college students to be able to look forward to the next college year with the prospect of getting to enjoy a real college experience and all that has to offer.

WEBINAR

I will be hosting a free webinar for Leaving Cert parents on June 16 at 7pm on ‘How to help your son/daughter with CAO Change of Mind and other career options’ ahead of the CAO deadline on July 1. 

To register see links on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @mycareerplan or email me on info@mycareerplan.ie. 

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Deadline for health and well-being fest fast approaching

Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching. This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10. Organised by an interagency […]

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Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching.

This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Organised by an interagency steering group, the key focus of the Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest is to promote mental health and well-being in Kerry through a fun and interactive programme of events.

“The Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest aims to create awareness of, and schedule events that empower people to engage with the Five Ways to Well-being – Connect | Give | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Be Active – as well as raising awareness of the available supports and services in the county,” Chair of the Steering Committee, Donagh Hennebry, said.

“The Fest has a wide reach across Kerry and we want to continue to build on its success in 2021. But we can’t do this without you! We are inviting anyone who is interested in helping us achieve our goal, by hosting an event(s) during #KerryMHWFest, to register online as soon as possible.”

The organising committee is a collaboration between Connecting for Life Kerry, Healthy Kerry, Kerry County Council, the HSE, NEWKD, SKDP, Kerry Mental Health Association, Jigsaw Kerry, Munster Technological University/Kerry, and Kerry Volunteer Centre.

To register your interest to host an event for the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, visit www.healthykerry.ie before close of business on Friday, June 25.

For more information about registration, promotion, or the Fest in general, please contact the interagency steering group at: kerrymhwfest20@gmail.com.

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Free and subsidised higher education courses for Kerry

  11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry. The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in […]

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11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry.

The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in Retail Food Service Operations and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioeconomy with Business.

Over 10,000 places are available across both programmes nationwide in 2021.

Springboard+ provides free courses for people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill. Now in its 10th year, over 75,000 people have benefited from Springboard+ to date.

Courses under the HCI Pillar 1 programme are aimed at graduates and offer incentivised places for them to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course. The programmes are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”.

Helpline

Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on www.springboardcourses.ie. Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

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