Health: Trouble stopping smoking? Time to get help
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The coronavirus makes staying healthy more important than ever – and for smokers determined to quit smoking, PrivateDoc can offer assistance.
Everyone understands how difficult giving up smoking is, even at the best of times. Trying to give up during the coronavirus pandemic takes that to another level. While the social pressures that might arise when meeting friends for drinks may be reduced, that’s more than offset by the natural increase in anxiety – often elevated when stuck inside during the lockdowns.
This is why it’s only natural for those who are determined to give up to seek help when willpower and over-the-counter remedies don’t work. While clinics and medication are available on the NHS, getting a referral can take time – and quite naturally many people who’ve been told to stay home and protect the NHS are reluctant to approach their GP for this service during the pandemic.
This is where PrivateDoc can help. It’s not an online pharmacy but an online clinic, fully regulated by the Care Quality Commission and able to prescribe stronger medication than you can get over the chemist counter. It specialises in treatments for weight loss, hair loss, erectile disfunction and stopping smoking.
“Smoking-cessation treatment is available on the NHS,” says Dr Alexandra Phelan, medical director of PrivateDoc. “The trouble is that the clinics are rarely flexible and can be hard to access, especially for those of working age.”
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Whereas accessing the PrivateDoc service couldn’t be easier: simply go online and complete the detailed medical questionnaire – at any time that’s convenient for you. Every request for treatment is properly assessed by one of the team of doctors, but there’s no waiting for a GP appointment and then more waiting for a referral.
“The PrivateDoc doctors are very proud of the fact that we’re all GPs and we approach this clinic as if it was normal practice,” says Dr Phelan. “Even before Covid-19, GPs have been working more digitally and since the pandemic it has been the standard way of working.
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“It’s important to understand that PrivateDoc is an online clinic, not eCommerce: we are providing a medical consultation, not just selling a box of medicine,” she adds. “If something is flagged up in our consultation questionnaire, the process is dynamic so we can go back to the patient for more information.”
This is important because there are clear guidelines around the prescription medication used to help smokers quit. “The treatment we use, Champix, is exactly the same as would be prescribed through the NHS,” explains Dr Phelan. “It is contra-indicated with mental-health issues, so we have to take care before we can prescribe it – and as we’ve seen with the Covid lockdowns, there has been a spike in concern about people’s mental health.”
If treatment is prescribed, medicine is despatched rapidly from PrivateDoc’s fully regulated pharmacy. It is always sent in discrete packaging and will usually arrive within one to two working days. Then PrivateDoc follows up with patients to check they are able to use the medication correctly and aren’t experiencing side effects. “We support patients in their journey,” says Dr Phelan.
“As any ex-smoker can tell you, the cravings don’t just go away and stopping is difficult,” she adds. “We usually prescribe a 12-week course and patients will start taking Champix while still smoking and they’ll set a stop date – usually two weeks into the course. The dose will increase as the smoking stops.”
Studies have shown that smokers using Champix are more likely to quit than those using alternative non-prescription treatments, like nicotine patches or gum. Tests conducted by its manufacturer, Pfizer, show that those completing a full 12-week course are 10 times more likely to succeed in giving up than those doing just two weeks of treatment.
There are so many health benefits to giving up smoking. Blood circulation increases, boosting your immune system, and your lung capacity can gradually increase by upto 10pc. Stopping smoking gives more energy, reduces stress, increases fertility, the sense of taste and smell improve and skin looks younger. That’s before even thinking about how giving up reduces the risks of cancer, heart disease and bronchitis.
For more information about how PrivateDoc can help you stop smoking, click here.