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Alcohol is a depressant and can affect the way your brain functions, so it’s important to take a measured approach to how much alcohol you drink regularly. Alcohol may give you a temporary ‘high’, but if you don’t drink sensibly, or you drink heavily over a long period of time, you may be at risk of developing mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression.

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It’s not possible to be precise about how much is safe for individual men and women to drink. Current guidelines, however, recommend not regularly drinking more than three or four units a day for men and two or three units a day for women. Although ‘Regularly’ means every day or most days of the week, it’s a good idea to have at least two alcohol-free days a week so you don’t go over the limits. So over a week, men shouldn’t have more than 21 units and women shouldn’t have more than 14 units.

This doesn’t mean you can save up all the ‘allowance’ for a weekend binge. A drinking binge is generally defined as drinking double the daily recommended units in one session.

A large 250ml glass of standard strength wine (13% ABV) can be as much as three units, while a pint of standard strength lager (4% ABV) is more than two units. But don’t ‘save up’ your allowance for a one-night binge as this has a bad effect on your liver, which will leave you feeling worse too.

Is it safe to drink alcohol and drive?
No. Alcohol use slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, which are all skills needed to drive a car safely.  The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment.

How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
Drinking is a problem if it causes trouble in your work, relationships, in school, in social activities, or in how you think and feel. If you are concerned that either you or someone in your family might have a drinking problem, consult your health care provider.

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Travel Sickness

Travel, or motion, sickness is a condition where people feel sick, vomit or feel dizzy when travelling.

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Travel sickness can be reduced or even prevented by taking certain medicines before travelling.

Travel sickness can happen during any form of travel but common examples include car or sea travel. You can also get it on train journeys or planes as well as on fairground rides and swings. You can even get it when you aren’t moving at all, such as when taking part in virtual reality games in amusement parks.

Symptoms of travel sickness

If you have travel sickness you may have several symptoms, including:

  • feeling sick
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • a headache
  • sweating
  • looking pale
  • rapid breathing
  • drowsiness

Your symptoms will get better when the motion stops

Causes of travel sickness

The exact reasons why you may develop travel sickness aren’t fully understood at present. However, research suggests that it’s caused by movements when travelling, such as tilting and shaking, which can confuse your brain.

Normally, your vestibular system, which is located in your inner ear, keeps track of your body, head and eye movements. This helps you to change position and control your balance. However, during travel, the motion your vestibular system senses doesn’t match what you see. This conflict between the senses is thought to cause travel sickness.

Anyone can get travel sickness and no one knows why some people are more sensitive than others. People who are at higher risk of getting it include:

  • children between the age of 2 and 12
  • women – especially when pregnant
  • people who get migraines

Treatment of travel sickness

There are many over-the-counter medicines available from a pharmacy.

Medicines

  1. Hyoscine hydrobromide

Hyoscine hydrobromide is one of the most effective medicines for preventing travel sickness. It works by blocking the confusing nerve signals from your vestibular system. You can buy hyoscine tablets (eg buscopan, bispanol) over-the-counter at a pharmacy. You need to take them about 30 minutes before you travel and their effect lasts for about six hours.

Hyoscine may cause side-effects such as a dry mouth, drowsiness, blurry vision and dizziness.

  1. Antihistamines

Antihistamines (eg cetirizine and cyclizine) can help reduce travel sickness. You need to take antihistamines about two hours before you travel. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness.

Complementary therapies

  1. Acupressure

Some people find that wearing bands that apply pressure onto your wrist – at an acupuncture point called P6 – can help with travel sickness.

  1. Ginger

Ginger is a traditional herbal remedy for travel sickness.

Prevention of travel sickness

As well as the methods listed under our treatment section, there are several things you can do to help prevent travel sickness.

  • Your position can affect your chances of getting travel sickness – wherever possible, drive a car instead of being a passenger, sit in the front seat of a car or bus, sit over the wing in a plane, or sit in the centre of a ship or on the upper deck.
  • Keep your eyes fixed on the horizon.
  • Keep your head still.
  • Don’t read – try listening to story tapes instead.
  • Open a window to let fresh air in.
  • Don’t smoke before or while travelling.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before or while travelling.
  • Try to distract yourself – play travel games or listen to music.

Close The Gap – World AIDS Day

CLOSE THE GAP

HIV SYMPTOMS

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Are there any early symptoms of HIV?
Around seven to ten days after HIV infection takes place, symptoms can occur which is the result of the body reacting to HIV infection clinically referred to as ‘seroconversion’).

The most common symptoms of recent HIV infection are severe flu-like symptoms, including a sore throat and fever, and a rash on the chest. Other symptoms can include fatigue, nausea and diarrhea.

Around 70-90% of people recently infected with HIV experience these symptoms, and they are unusual in otherwise healthy people so should indicate the need for an HIV test if they occur within six weeks of sex without a condom (especially with a new or casual partner).

After two to three weeks these symptoms will disappear, and even if you see a doctor they may fail to recognize the signs of early HIV infection. A person with HIV may then live for many years without any further symptoms or indications that they are HIV positive.

What should I do if I experience these symptoms?
If you experience these symptoms of early HIV infection and you have recently put yourself at risk (had sex without a condom or shared injecting needles or drug equipment) then you should have an HIV test.

Are there any other symptoms of HIV infection?
The second stage of HIV infection is the ‘asymptomatic’ stage, and as the name suggests there are generally no symptoms, often lasting for as long as ten years.
The third stage of HIV infection is the symptomatic stage, where the body’s immune system has become so damaged that it becomes susceptible to a range of ‘opportunistic’ infections that would normally be prevented by the body’s natural defenses (‘opportunistic’ means the infections take advantage of the weakened immune system in a way they wouldn’t normally be able to in an otherwise healthy person). These infections include bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and blood poisoning, fungal diseases such as oral thrush, and viral diseases.

An AIDS diagnosis takes place at such a late stage of infection when one or more of the most commonly experienced illnesses linked to HIV occur (known as an AIDS-defining illness).

Highly effective HIV medication will prevent the HIV infection from damaging the immune system so severely and can stop opportunistic infections or AIDS-defining illnesses.

If I don’t have any symptoms, can I assume I don’t have HIV?
No. If you have put yourself at risk, then you should still get tested for HIV and other STIs regardless of whether you experience symptoms.