Collins Avenue Medical Center,
138 Collins Avenue,
Dublin 9.

Tel : 8328692 | Email:

Blue September 2014

Blue September is an initiative that was developed in New Zealand in 2008 by the countries Prostate Cancer Foundation to increase awareness about male cancers.  The initiative has since spread to Australia and the UK and this year it is being widely publicised in Ireland.

The main idea is to increase public awareness about male cancers and to encourage men to go to their doctor for screening tests or if they might develop any symptoms that suggest they may have a diagnosis of cancer.

The statistics are stark in that 1in 3 men will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage of their life and the earlier they present to their GP for diagnosis and treatment the better the chance of cure.  We also know that men in general are not good at going to see their doctor with health problems and we want to change this behaviour.

So don’t put your health on hold, come and see me today.

The big 4 cancers in males are – Prostate, Testicular, Bowel and Lung.  Below I have outlined some symptoms which could suggest each diagnosis.  The men’s health alliance has a good website and gives good information on symptoms of male cancers and self examination techniques.

Testicular Cancer – Most common cancer in 15-34 year old men, 172 men diagnosed per year in Ireland. 


  • Lump in testes
  • Swelling in scrotum
  • Pain in groin/abdomen/ back

Prostate Cancer – 1 in 8 men develop prostate cancer, more common if a close relative has had it.


  • Pain passing urine
  • Difficulty – increased frequency passing urine
  • Blood in urine

Men should come for screening for prostate cancer every 2 years over the age of 50 years.

Bowel Cancer – 2nd most common cancer in men, most cases present over the age of 75 years.


  • Abdominal pain
  • Change in bowel habit .i.e. constipation, diarrhoea, weight loss, blood in bowel motions or a feeling of incomplete emptying of bowel.

Lung Cancer – 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in men, 1261 cases in Ireland per year.


  • Cough lasting more than 2 weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite -weight loss


For more information check out the websites



Alcohol-The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In moderate amounts, alcohol can add to the fun of an occasion and help relax.  However, there are many forms of excessive drinking that cause substantial risk or harm to an individual, family or society.

Historically in Ireland we are at risk of hazardous or harmful drinking.  Out attitudes and our culture predispose us to it and now we have access to alcohol that is cheaper in real terms than ever before.

So, it is time once again to look at alcohol and educate ourselves and perhaps look at our attitudes towards alcohol. 

To start we will ask and answer some basic questions.

What is a standard drink?

In Ireland, a standard drink has about 10 grams of pure alcohol in it, such as:

  • 100mls of wine 12.5%
  • A half pint of normal beer
  • An alcopop 275ml bottle
  • A pub measure of spirits

How many drinks in a 750ml bottle of wine 12.4%

A bottle of wine @ 12.5% contains 7 standard drinks.

What about alcohol units?

One unit of alcohol = one standard drink

What is a safe (low risk) alcohol intake?

There are various ways to answer this

  • No more than 2 standard drinks a day
  • No more than 5 days a week, with 2 non drinking days per week


  • Up to 11 standard drinks in a week for women
  • Up to 17 standard drinks in a week for men

What is the contribution of alcohol to weight gain?

Alcohol is not an essential nutrient, so in fact all alcohol calories are empty calories, therefore can be a major factor in weight gain.

Did you know?

  • 200 calories = 1 pint of larger
  • 170 calories = 1 pint of stout
  • 210 calories = 1 pint of cider
  • 130 calories = medium glass of wine (175mls)
  • 80 calories = measure of spirits

So, to burn off a pint of larger you would need to:

  • Walk for 50 minutes
  • Swim for 30 minutes
  • Dance for 35 minutes
  • Play golf for 1hour 20 minutes
  • Do aerobics for 32 minutes

If this has short article has sparked off some questions, please do let us know.  We will try to answer individual questions by email.

Also you can check out some useful links



Hay Fever

Hay Fever is a problem at this time of year, it begins for some as early as late March and probably peaks in July and then drops off dramatically.

Hay Fever comes in 3 waves

  • Tree Pollen – late March to mid May
  • Grass Pollen – mid May to July
  • Weed Pollen – June to September



  • Sneezing, nasal congestion, clear running nose
  • Eye itchiness, redness & excess tears
  • Clear mucous can cause a cough
  • Loss of sense of smell and occasionally taste
  • In severe cases nose bleeds can occur



  • Avoidance of allergies is the most helpful .i.e. staying away from freshly cut grass.
  • Using the air conditioning system in your car, keeping the widows closed.
  • Holidaying by the sea, sea breezes are excellent.
  • Use nasal and eye rinses that wash the allergens away.                                                         (Speak with your local pharmacist)


  •  Antihistamines

These are generally freely available over the counter.  They have rapid onset of action and are most effective in reducing itch, sneezing and the runny nose.  These are good for “as required use” if your hay fever is not a daily nuisance. They do not relieve your stuffed nose.  Speak to your pharmacist for agent that would best suit your symptoms.

  • Nasal Spray

The most effective agent for nasal congestion is intranasal corticosteroids; these can be used where antihistamines don’t work.

There is an agent of this type that is sold over the counter, otherwise the most effective formulas are available by prescription.

In the past depot steroids were used, however these are now not vogue due to their association with thinning of the bone i.e. osteoporosis

  • Eye Preparations

For the itchy eyes and excess tear production there are eye preparations that contain antihistamines and there is a combination of over the counter products and prescription only products.  Another eye agent that is useful and is sold over the counter is sodium cromogylcate/Opticrom 


Practical Advice

So, the plan should be if you are aware when you get your hay fever symptoms you should start treatment that is effective for you approximately 2 weeks prior to this, with which ever agent combats your particular set of symptoms.

For most sufferers of hay fever this management plan helps to get through the season.  Undoubtedly hay fever has a huge impact on quality of life, however then it disappears until the next season. So being prepared is key.

If you have tried all over the counter remedies without success you should make an appointment with your doctor who will be able to help.


Long Term Care

In extreme cases where the hay fever/rhinitis is really bothersome to combat once and for all a specialist referral for consideration of immuno therapy may be in order.  This is therapy that involves many visits to a specialist in allergy and takes 3 years.  This treatment is expensive but successful.



June – Travel Vaccines

The holiday season is upon us and along with the usual packing and preparations it is important to take time to consider any health issues you may encounter while travelling.

Do you need travel vaccinations? – whether heading off back packing for a year or travelling to Egypt for a week you need to consider if your travel vaccinations are up to date. If this is your first time bear in mind that some vaccination programmes can take up to six weeks to complete so please make your appointment plenty of time.

We offer a full range of common single dose travel vaccines such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Diphtheria/Polio/Tetanus and also Hepatitis B, a series of vaccinations which may be required for longer trips. We are also a registered Centre for Yellow Fever. As well as vaccination during your pre-travel consultation our nurse or doctor can also advise you regarding malaria prophylaxis, water and food safety, traveller’s diarrhoea, insect bites and sun protection while you are away.

Even if staying close to home it is important to attend for a check up, particularly if you or your children require repeat prescriptions or medical certification for insurance purposes before setting off.

Enjoy the holiday season!




April - Get Active!

The evenings are stretching out and for many, training for the Woman’s Mini Marathon is getting under way.  If you haven’t yet dusted off your runners there is no better time to get active.

We should all get at least 30 minutes physical activity most days of the week, on top of our usual daily chores.  Walking is a great way to start, swimming provides exercise while protecting sore hips, knees or backs and heavy housework and gardening count too!

Variety is the key to sustaining exercise habits so why not take up a new activity today.  At this time of year there is one more term of classes before the break for the summer.  So do check out your local communities / parish centres or websites to see what classes are on offer.


There is new evidence that demonstrates that even if you are overweight but active, that improves your health outcomes immensely.  So, do not let the fact that you are overweight cloud your views on the benefits of becoming a little fitter.  It is in small steps that there is progress, one begins to enjoy exercise and the “feel good factor” encourages us to do a little more.

As the summer looms improving your activity level will have the added impact on your children.  We are all aware that children who are active are easier to deal with, happier in themselves and as a result there is more happiness in your life.


Men’s Health

To all the Men out there – when was the last time your body had its own ‘NCT’? If you have not had a check up for some time, have noticed a new symptom that you may have been ignoring or simply want to get fitter this year, why not start into spring with a check up by your doctor.

Women in Ireland are still outliving their male counterparts by a whopping 5 years. Part of the reason is they are more pro-active about visiting the doctor when they have a health worry.

Naturally some men can find attending the doctor with certain symptoms embarrassing such as problems with passing urine or changes in their bowels but these are the very things that need to been seen early so that in most cases simple tests or reassurance can be provided.

Men continue to suffer from more heart disease than women and our busy, stressful lives can often leave little time for healthy eating or exercise. There are lots of simple things that you can do to lower your risk of developing heart disease in the future. Most of these relate to making small changes to your lifestyle, eating and exercise habits which can have health benefits for all the family. If you don’t know where to start why not see your doctor for advice.                           

 Men can find talking about stress, feelings of depression or loneliness difficult – however a problem shared is truly a problem halved and a visit to your GP can be the simplest starting point to readdress the balance in your life.


Alzheimers/Dementia – support for carers

Are you caring for a loved one with dementia? The fantastic and often unseen work of thousands of carers in Ireland allow many of those suffering with dementia to live at home for as long as possible in with dignity in a caring and supportive environment.

This however can be draining both physically and emotionally for their carers who often have feel they have no one themselves to turn to when things become too much to bear.

Please do not hesitate to see your GP should you need help and support in this role or if you have concerns that you or a loved one may be showing symptoms of forgetfulness or behaviour that is out of character.

There are many community and medical supports available of which you may be unaware and can be organised through your GP or Primary care team. Also, information and support can be accessed via the Alzheimer Society of Ireland which has links to many home services, respite and local support groups that carers can access

 Care of the Elderly

At this time of year it is especially important to think of our elderly friends and neighbours.
Winter can be long and lonely even for those with family around. Elderly people require warmth and regular hot meals to keep safe during the colder months and may need support to get their groceries or medication when inclement weather or ice may make it difficult to brave the outdoors.

Many older people have a fear of falling if they venture out leaving them isolated in their homes and so may miss their usual company and routine.
Should you or a loved one need extra help or support from the many community services available please to not hesitate to contact your doctor or Public Health nurse for advice.
Prepare well for the winter including an early health check-up and ensure that all vaccinations including the annual influenza vaccine are up to date.

When at home keep heating on, always wear warm layer. Get up and walk around the house at least every hour for a few minutes to keep circulation going and muscles strong. Have regular warm drinks and meals.

The following websites have lots of helpful information and useful contacts








Age                                 Health Check

2 Weeks                          Check-up with GP (under combined care scheme)

6 Weeks                          Examination with GP (under combined care scheme)

2 Months                        Vaccination with Practice nurse

3 Months                        Developmental check, Local Health Centre

4 Months                        Vaccination with Practice Nurse

6 Months                        Vaccination with Practice Nurse

7-9 Months                     Developmental Check, Local Health Centre

12 Months                      Vaccination with Practice Nurse

13 Months                      Vaccination with Practice Nurse

18 Months                      Developmental Check, Local Health Centre

2 Years                           Developmental Check, Local Health Centre

3 Years                           Developmental Check, Local Health Centre

5 years                           School Booster Vaccinations with Practice Nurse



Men’s Health

We have recently done a publicity campaign for Men’s Health Week in mid June and I would like to keep the message going over the summer months.

Unfortunately statistics would say that we are not as good at looking after our health as our wives, sisters and mothers.  Many explanations have been proposed for this from the flawed male characteristics of the stoic hunter gatherer who feels that going to get a health check is a sign of weakness, to the highly stressed executive who’s planning to get a check up “once things calm down in the office”.  We all do it – put things on the long finger, but this does not change the harsh realities.

  1. Irish men die, on average almost 5 years younger than women.
  2. Men have higher death rates than women for all leading causes of death.
  3. Poor lifestyles are responsible for a high proportion of chronic disease.
  4. Late presentation to health services leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable.

 Taking responsibility for our health is the first step towards altering these statistics.  Simple lifestyle alterations can reap huge rewards in terms of promoting wellbeing and avoiding potentially premature death.

Stopping smoking, healthier eating and regular exercise offers more benefit than any medications in avoiding heart disease and stroke.  Check out for information on healthy eating.

I run a Men’s Health Clinic in Collins Avenue which is aimed at 40 plus men who are interested in prolonging good health.  We focus on major men’s health issues including healthy lifestyle, stress, cardiovascular health and preventable cancer screening, as well as any specific health concerns men may have.  We offer screening bloods including cholesterol and prostate screening if appropriate.  Depending on the findings we will offer follow up as you put lifestyle interventions in place.

There’s never a better time to look after your health than right now.

                                                                                                         Dr. Kerry O’Connell

Mental Health

Many people find that the approaching cold winter evenings signify a difficult time of year for their mental health. Symptoms of depression, anxiety or difficulties with isolation or addiction can occur to anyone at any time of their life and it is often difficult to know where to turn. Bullying, bereavement, loss of a job or coping with relationships or sexuality can all leave us feeling unable to cope. You may feel alone, embarrassed or that no one else could understand what you are going through – and therefore that no one can help.

Remember that up to 25% of people in Ireland will experience mental ill-health at some stage in their lives – that’s one in four people. With a problem that common you are certainly not alone. However a real barrier does remain in people feeling they can tell others of their problems without fear of being looked on differently by family, friends or employers.

So where can you start?

 First of all look after your own mental health. Stay active, build relationships and interests, talk about your feelings and take time out from work to relax. Avoid using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with life’s stresses.

Look out for your friends and family. Be aware of signs that someone may be in difficulty such as withdrawing from their social life of friends, irritable or unpredictable behaviour or moods, physical changes such as loss of energy, appetite or poor sleep.

If you or a loved one needs help – talk to someone you trust, see your GP or counsellor. Reach out to one of the many support agencies working for mental health in Ireland – information and links can be found at , ,

In case of emergency or crisis – please contact your GP, GP out-of- hours service, Emergency department or  The Samaritans  (1850 609090) (01 601 0000) or