Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Healthy holidays

Everytime we go on holiday, there's always a big checklist of things to do and things to remember - and it's probably one of the reasons why many of us get a little bit stressy in the run-up to a trip abroad. And depending on how much of a compulsive list-maker you tend to be, it can seem like a neverending series of check-boxes.

Of course beyond the relevant print offs for the flight, and your passport, nothing's really essential, is it? Well despite our conscientiousness in making sure that we've cancelled the newspaper delivery and packed the mosquito repellant, it seems that many of us often forget one thing that truly is essential - and that's travel insurance.

In 2011, the Telegraph reported that four in ten holidays were uninsured, while earlier this year the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) stated that this has since risen to 24%. That's an awful lot of people without medical cover.

There are various possible reasons for the lessening uptake of travel cover. One reason that's been put forward is that the stringency of the rules surrounding selling it has meant fewer outlets offering it. ABTA's study also found that some people forego it in the belief that it's too expensive - and the number who cite expense has risen since 2011.

Another reason cited was the belief among some travellers that the European Health Insurance Card is equivalent to medical cover when in fact it only covers the basics and doesn't extend to repatriation costs. Incidentally, medical repatriation for those not covered isn't cheap - this BBC article from March 2013 reports that "air ambulances cost between £15,000 and £30,000 depending on the length of the flight". Amazingly, one of the other reasons given by people travelling uninsured was the mistaken belief that the UK government would pay for their treatment if they fell ill or had an accident.

One thing to remember regarding travel insurance is that when you get a quote online it's often on the assumption that you're registered with a GP - so make sure you know your small print before heading off.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dental health and general health (and PMI)

Of all the healthy habits that we kind of do on autopilot, looking after our teeth must be one of the most automatic. After all, brushing is something that we do late at night be fore bed when we're sleepy, and agin in the morning when we may also be a little bit half asleep, I know I am every day between the alarm going off and being halfway to work!

Toothbrushing is of course only part of dental health - along with making sure to avoid too many sugary foods. It's not actually the sugar in sugary foods that causes teeth to rot but the acid produced when bacteria feed on the sugar. This is why it's better to have a sweet or two with a meal than to eat sweets all day. it's about reducing your exposure to sugar. Then there are other foods that are tooth- healthy such as milk and cheese which provide the calcium required for healthy strong bones and teeth.

Oral health goes beyond just the teeth too, with the periodontal tissues and structures being important too. And while there's not (yet?) a proven causal link between gum health and heart health, it's definitely better to have healthy gums. The belief surrounding the link between bad gums and an unhealthy heart is that it may be to do with lifestyle factors that have detrimental effects on both. In other words, rather than than them being causally linked, healthy living keeps both in better shape.

This week the health insurance company AXA PPP healthcare are holding a dental health chat live with their resident expert. Click link here for details of the question and answer session which is open to all and you can ask anything on the general topic of dental health.