Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eye care for children

Eye care for children
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You can start taking care of your child's eyesight from a very early age.

At what age can a child have an eye examination?

Children are screened for eye problems within a few weeks of birth, and then either shortly before or soon after they start school at the age of four. If you have any concerns in between these tests, or if there are members of your family with eye problems, you can talk to your doctor or have your child's sight tested by a local optometrist or eye doctor.

Remember - the earlier a problem is found, the more effectively it can be treated.

How long should a sight test take?

This can vary. Healthy children will take about 20 to 30 minutes to test. If the child needs to have eye drops put into their eyes (to make the pupils bigger and easier to test) then you should allow longer as the drops need to take effect.

Will it be the same as an adult eye test?

Older children are usually tested in the same way as adults. For younger children and older children for whom adult tests are not appropriate, there are special tests.

Are children's eye tests free?

Children under 16, and full time students under the age of 19, are entitled to free eye tests on the NHS.

What if my child needs glasses?

Children who have been tested on the NHS will get a voucher to help towards the cost of glasses. Children can choose from a wide variety of frames, which are practical as well as fashionable. Plastic lenses are recommended for children, which are lighter and safer than glass.

Eyes care for children
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What happens if a child breaks or loses their glasses?

Children under the age of 16 are automatically covered for loss or damage of their glasses on the NHS. You can go to any optician who does NHS eye tests and get a repair or replacement form (GOS 4). You will be asked to make a statement about what happened, and the optician will give you a voucher to help with the cost. If you go to a different optician from the one who provided the glasses in the first place, you will need to take a copy of the original spectacle prescription with you.

Children aged 16 and over are only entitled to help if the loss or damage of their glasses was caused by a disability. Your optician can tell you how get help.

Can children wear contact lenses?

Children can be fitted with contact lenses and your optometrist will be able to advise you. It is the child's decision whether or not to wear contact lenses, and they will only be provided if the child wants them. Children must also be able to put the lenses in and out themselves, and understand fully the need to look after them properly.

Taking care of your sexual health

Taking care of your sexual health
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It's important to take care of your sexual health and, if you have children, evidence shows that it's good to talk about sex and relationships. Young people who talk openly about sex with their parents tend to delay having sex and are more likely to use contraception when they do.

Both men and women need to look after their sexual health and take time to understand the issues that surround contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). For instance there are some STIs, such as Chlamydia, that you could be carrying without having any symptoms. This infection can affect fertility, so it's important to make use of the sexual health services available for free on the NHS.

To find out more, the NHS Direct website has a frequently asked questions page that covers issues from contraception and smear tests, to STIs and sex therapy.

You can also talk to your doctor or nurse at your GP surgery or Family Planning Clinic. Surgeries often hold family planning sessions or clinics for young people - both are aimed at creating an atmosphere where people can talk openly about sex and relationship issues.

Talking about sex with your children

Talking about sex with your children
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The best way to start talking about sex is to:

* start when your child is small, encourage them to ask questions and answer them simply
* make talking about sex a part of everyday life, not just a one-off talk and keep the conversation going as they get older
* try to introduce the topic before your child reaches puberty, waiting until then can make it awkward
* ask your child what they think about different situations to find out how much they know already - you can then give them answers and advice that they can understand
* use everyday media to start conversations - soaps, adverts, TV programmes, magazines - then you can talk about other people which is sometimes easier to start with
* use books, leaflets and websites (including those listed below) if you need information or ideas for how to start talking
* recognise that, as your child grows, they need privacy and may not always want to talk to you
* talk about the importance of considering the feelings of others in relationships, and not just the biology
* try to be open-minded and keep talking, even if you are shocked by your teenager's attitudes and values
* talk to other parents about how they answer difficult questions and discuss difficult issues

Eating healthily is not hard

Eating healthily is not hard
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Eating healthily is not hard to do and the benefits are well worth the effort.
Why is healthy eating important?

In adults, healthy eating can help you manage your weight and will improve your overall feeling of well-being; it can also reduce your risk of developing illness and serious disease.

The right balance of foods will give your child all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. It also helps to educate them to eat healthily and can reduce the risk of serious diseases later in life.
What is a healthy diet?

A healthy diet contains:

* plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals, potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes - look for higher fibre versions where possible (eg wholemeal bread or pasta)
* at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables daily
* moderate amounts of dairy products (or alternatives) - look for low fat versions where possible
* moderate amount of meat, fish or alternatives such as eggs, beans, peas and lentils - look for lower fat versions where possible
* the occasional treat (foods that are higher in fat, salt and/or added sugar should only be eaten in moderation)
* little salt - always read the label

Healthy diets for babies and children

Eating healthily yourself is one of the best ways to encourage your child to develop healthy eating habits. Healthy eating needn't be expensive. In fact, basing meals on starchy foods and fruit and vegetables, and aiming to eat less fat, salt and added sugar, can actually work out cheaper.

Babies and children under five have different diet requirements. For more information follow the coming posts on health blog.

* Healthy eating for babies;
* Healthy eating for breastfeeding.

Children and young people aged 5-16 can get tailored information on healthy eating from the coming posts on health blog:

* Healthy eating for young people (young people's section);
* Welltown website for ages 5-7;
* Galaxy-H website for ages 7-11;
* Life Bytes website for ages 11-14;
* Mind, Body and Soul website for ages 14-16.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Physical fitness

Physical fitness
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Physical fitness is used in two close meanings: general fitness (a state of health and well-being) and specific fitness (a task-oriented definition based on the ability to perform specific aspects of sports or occupations).

Physical fitness is the capacity of the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and muscles to function at optimum efficiency. In previous years, fitness was defined as the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue. Automation, increased leisure time, and changes in lifestyles following the industrial revolution meant this criterion was no longer sufficient. Optimum efficiency is the key. Physical fitness is now defined as the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.

Physical fitness is the result of regular exercise, proper diet and nutrition, and proper rest for physical recovery within the parameters allowed by the genome.

Many sources also cite mental and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three sub-sections which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Hence, one may be physically fit but may still suffer from a mental illness or have emotional problems. The "ideal triangle" is balanced in all areas. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging...