My Health: Hannah Miley, 23, Olympic swimmer
'Like many elite sportspeople, I have asthma, a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Exercise is great for opening up your airways but obviously you have to manage the asthma well. I was 17 when it was diagnosed. I was trying to swim quickly in a training session and I started struggling to breathe and was making lots of noise. I’d been having problems since I was 12 – when I was running others could hear me wheezing about ten metres away. No one advised me to get tested then as it didn’t affect me when I was doing normal things. It happens when I exercise because that’s when my body needs a bigger uptake of oxygen.
I also have an allergy to house-dust mites – I still wake up coughing if I sleep in a dusty room – and to grass, so this time of year is more difficult as I get hay fever.
I wasn’t going to let asthma stop me swimming. So I had to get it under control and not let it affect my performance. I use a combined inhaler in the morning to reduce the likelihood of an attack and carry it with me in case. My swimming has improved because I can manage it so well now. The amounts of steroid in the inhaler are so small that it’s no problem for the routine drug tests I have to undergo.
I am sometimes afraid of enclosed spaces. If I start to panic and feel I might have an attack, I breathe slowly and rhythmically. That calms me and brings my heart rate down. I breathe in through my nose and very slowly out through my mouth. I close my eyes and visualise orange as I inhale and blue on the exhalation. A recent Asthma UK (www.asthma.org.uk) survey showed that only 30 per cent of diagnosed asthmatics use their inhalers correctly.
I get monitored every two months, however busy I am, to make sure everything is in order. So I am supporting the new Boots UK in-store asthma support programme. Boots UK pharmacists, who have received special training, can check if a person’s asthma is well managed and if they are using their inhaler properly. They also give advice on how to control asthma symptoms and seasonal impact, such as my allergy to grass and subsequent hay fever.
Some stores are open round the clock and you don’t have to make an appointment, so it is flexible and accessible. There is also online support at www.webmd.boots.com/asthma.
I still get little attacks occasionally – particularly if someone tickles me too much! But I really want other people with asthma to know that if you control it well, it needn't control your life.'
3 OF THE BEST: SKIN CALMERS
For cold sores Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends lemon balm, which has been shown to combat and heal cold sores in two to four days. To avoid contamination, apply with a fresh cotton bud each time. Granary Herbs Lemon Balm Cream/£8.50 for 60 ml - buy here.
For eczema in babies and children Steroid-free (but not natural) Dermalex Repair, developed by dermatologists, relieves itching and prevents new flare-ups. Dermalex Repair by Omega Pharma at www.amazon.co.uk/£24.99 for 100 g - buy here.
For psoriasis and eczema Argan Organics Healing Touch is a totally natural treatment cream with cardiospermum, anti-inflammatory herbs and argan oil, which has helped many sufferers (no product will suit everyone, sadly). £19.99 for 100 ml - buy here.
How do time lords protect their complexions from solar rays? The answer, I hear, is that BBC make-up artists working outside on Doctor Who apply Ultrasun Face 30 under foundation. This skincare-with-sun protection, which is non-greasy and water-resistant, lasts all day (depending on where the Tardis lands). Ultrasun Face 30 Anti-Ageing Formula/£19.95 for 50 ml - buy here.
Quick & Easy Toddler Recipes by Annabel Karmel, £9.99 (Ebury Press) - buy here. Our mummy tester was already an Annabel Karmel fan and had successfully followed Annabel’s two-week weaning plan for both her children, Gracie, three, and Theo, two. This new book proved just as popular. ‘It’s beautifully laid out with easy-to-follow recipes (some from previous books) and great tips for store-cupboard standbys and substitutions if your children are fussy eaters. Gracie and Theo loved helping with the sultana drop scones and we all polished off the easy but delicious mango and apricot chicken.’