Sally Nugent concerned as BBC health editor sounds ill
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Someone in the UK is looking up NHS health advice on heartburn and acid reflux every 13 seconds, according to the latest NHS data. The health service warned thousands seek help for the uncomfortable health concern over the Christmas period. There are an estimated 13,200 visits to the website’s guidance page on Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone – equivalent to one view every 13 seconds.
This comes as many Britons prepare for the holiday festivities this year against the backdrop of strikes across the public sector, including NHS nurses and ambulance drivers.
Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid traveling up towards the throat.
The symptoms include a burning sensation in the middle of your chest, a sour taste in your mouth, a persistent cough or hiccups, a hoarse voice, bad breath, as well as bloating and feeling sick.
The NHS has warned that heartburn can often be caused or worsened by certain food and drinks such as coffee, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate, and fatty or spicy foods – some of which many expect to enjoy during a traditional Christmas.
Health experts claim wearing clothes that constrict your stomach, such as tight belts or trousers, can also make you more prone to heartburn.
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Other causes include being overweight, smoking, pregnancy, stress and anxiety, an increase in medicine, hormones, and hernias.
Pharmacists often recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease heartburn symptoms.
According to the latest NHS data, following concerns about heartburn, worried Britons are also searching for advice on diarrhoea and vomiting over the Christmas holidays (11,600 in total).
Alongside this, there were also an estimated 11,000 visits to the stomach ache advice page, while a whopping 9,300 viewed the guidance on food poisoning across the 48 hours between Christmas and Boxing Day.
The NHS website gets around 27 million visits each week.
Tips for looking after your gut health over Christmas
Robert Cleary, NHS Digital’s content director for the NHS website, said: “The NHS website is available every day of the year for anyone who needs it, including during the festive season.
“The site provides information and advice on a wide range of conditions, from heartburn to mental health, in easy-to-understand language.
“Our section on staying well in winter also includes useful tips on how to keep healthy during the colder months.”
If you’re worried about any of your symptoms, you should book in with your GP or visit NHS 111.
In the event of an emergency, always call 999 or visit your nearest A&E department.
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Meanwhile, UK health experts had warned people who feel unwell with flu-like symptoms should stay at home over the festive break.
Hospital admissions for flu are continuing to surge, according to data for England from the UK Health Security Agency.
The highest levels of flu are seen in people 85 years old and over and children under the age of five.
Speaking on the BBC’s Today on Friday, Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said: “If you have got symptoms – runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache and you feel flu-like – then please do stay at home.
“You don’t know if the person sitting next to you or in the shop might have an underlying cancer or other susceptibilities.”
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