237 episodes

Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.

Inside Health BBC

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.4, 60 Ratings

Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.

    Shielding; Pandemic Lexicon; Southampton Hospital; Doctor rejects NHS Superhero Tag

    Shielding; Pandemic Lexicon; Southampton Hospital; Doctor rejects NHS Superhero Tag

    Tanya has rheumatoid arthritis, a compromised immune system and heart problems. Getting the virus is a risk she cannot take and this is the tenth week that she's been isolating at home with her husband and teenage daughter. But how long will this last and will she have to self isolate in her own home away from her family for the foreseeable future, if her daughter goes back to school? Tanya talks to Claudia about the impact of the pandemic on her life and says why those in the shielding group must not be forgotten.

    The arrival of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the human population has popularised vocabulary that was previously the preserve of scientists and medics. In just a matter of weeks, phrases like the R Number, Herd Immunity, Case Fatality Rate and All Cause Mortality have become part of everyday language. A new pandemic lexicon has emerged. Inside Health regular Dr Margaret McCartney and Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, discuss the meanings of these very precise descriptions and reveal their personal bugbears, the misuse of such terms.

    And in her final visit for this series to University Hospital Southampton, Inside Health's Erika Wright, talks again to Trevor Smith, Divisional Director for Medicine, about the enormous challenges ahead as the hospital adapts to living with Covid-19. And she talks about the Banksy art work currently hanging at the hospital which reveals a Super Nurse displacing the traditional comic book superheroes, Batman and Spiderman.

    Healthcare workers have been lionised as heroes, putting themselves on the front line, risking their own lives, to save others. It's a sentiment which troubles some. Dr Michael FitzPatrick, a gastroenterologist in Oxford and Co-chair of the Royal College of Physicians Trainees Committee, describes why heroes are almost entirely the wrong comparators for healthcare workers.


    Producer: Fiona Hill

    Clips used in programme:

    Batman theme by Danny Elfman (composer) from Batman (1989) Copyright Warner Bros.
    Avengers Theme by Alan Sivestri (composer) from The Avengers copyright Disney
    Clip from Infinity War , Joe Russo, Anthony Russo (Directors) Copyright Disney
    Clip from Justice League by Zac Snyder and Joss Whedon (Directors) Copyright Warner Bros
    Clip from Iron Man by Jon Favreau (director) copyright Disney
    Clip from Avengers Endgame by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo (directors). Copyright Disney

    • 27 min
    Longest Stay Covid-19 Patient; Health Inequalities; Agoraphobia; Covid-19 Testing

    Longest Stay Covid-19 Patient; Health Inequalities; Agoraphobia; Covid-19 Testing

    Claudia Hammond on the longest known stay for a Briton with COVID-19 in intensive care. A month ago Respiratory Physiotherapist Gemma Bartlett at University Hospital Southampton highlighted the case to Inside Health. At that stage the patient was at day 28: now Erika Wright catches up with Gemma again for a good news update on the patient who is at a staggering 58 days on a ventilator and has been speaking for 3 weeks. There are many unknowns about COVID-19 but one aspect that is not disputed is how the virus has laid bare pre-existing health inequalities. It does not effect us all in the same way and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes are at a higher risk of poorer outcomes if they get the virus. Linda Bauld from Edinburgh University and Chair in Behavioural Research at Cancer Research UK says this is the time to reset the health inequalities clock. And Laura Bartley, who began having severe symptoms of agoraphobia five years ago, explains her experience of lockdown. Plus resident sceptic GP Margaret McCartney explains her concerns about the current Covid-19 testing strategy.

    • 28 min
    Acute Kidney Injury with Covid-19; Passive Immunisation; Online GPs; face mask interactions

    Acute Kidney Injury with Covid-19; Passive Immunisation; Online GPs; face mask interactions

    There are a number of complications following infection with Covid-19 that doctors are continuing to find in hospitals. One of the most significant is an acute kidney injury or AKI which can come alongside the disease and NICE has just published rapid guidance to help healthcare staff on the Covid frontline who are not kidney specialists. Inside Health’s Erika Wright has been following staff at Southampton General Hospital during the coronavirus outbreak and meets Kirsty Armstrong, Clinical Lead for Renal Services, to discuss managing kidneys and Covid.

    Could injecting blood donated from a patient who has recovered from Covid 19 into someone who is ill help the recipient recover too? It’s a potentially viable treatment with a long history, known as convalescent plasma therapy, and trials of this technique against Covid are beginning around the world. We hear from Jeff Henderson, Professor of Medicine at Washington University in St Louis, on progress in the world’s largest trial of this passive immunisation against the virus in the US, and from James Gill, Honorary Clinical Lecturer at Warwick Medical School, who’s been following the latest game-changing refinement of this therapy.

    Just as the rest of us have been getting better at zoom meetings and remembering to unmute ourselves when we want to speak, so have GPs who are now getting rather good at having online consultations. Will this change the way we “go to the doctor” forever or is there sometimes no substitute for face to face contact? Dr Margaret McCartney gives a GP’s insights.

    As more people begin to wear face masks what kind of impact does it have on communication when a person’s mouth is covered up and it’s hard to tell whether someone is happy or cross? Claudia discusses this question with George Hu, a clinical psychologist in Shanghai where masks have now become ubiquitous, and Alexander Todorov, Professor of Psychology at Princeton University and author of the book “Face Value : The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions”. Are we more versatile in interpreting a masked person’s mood or intentions than we think?

    Producer: Adrian Washbourne

    • 28 min
    Diabetes & Covid-19; Southampton Critical Care; Antigen Tests; Cytokine Storm

    Diabetes & Covid-19; Southampton Critical Care; Antigen Tests; Cytokine Storm

    Evidence from China, Italy, the USA and now the UK shows categorically that people with diabetes can get seriously ill if they're infected with the new coronavirus. Researchers are trying to untangle the risks for Type 1 and Type 2 but so far, diabetes isn't included in the government's high risk patient group. NHS England's National Specialty Advisor, Professor Partha Kar, tells Claudia Hammond that he believes an individual risk calculator which will enable people to work out their own risk, and so shield themselves accordingly, will be the best way forwards. In the meantime, Dr Kar says, glucose control is essential and people should check their ketone levels as soon as they start to feel unwell. BBC Radio Science Unit producer Beth and her husband Andy (who has Type 1 diabetes) describe to Claudia their experience of Andy getting very ill with Covid-19. They discovered ketone levels appeared at much lower blood glucose levels than normal, something that Dr Kar says appears to be a feature of Covid-19 infection.

    Erika Wright is back at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Clinical lead and consultant in critical care, Dr Sanjay Gupta, talks about success giving critically ill patients oxygen using non-invasive ventilation: CPAP - continuous positive airway pressure. He also describes reorganising the hospital's critical care into four sections: patients positive for Covid, negative for Covid, those waiting for test results and those who test negative but are symptoms positive. Nationally, he tells Erika, those who falsely test negative, is between 5-10%.

    And Inside Health contributor Dr Margaret McCartney delves into the accuracy of antigen swab tests (the test that tells you whether you have the virus or not). False negatives, test results that report the person doesn't have the virus when in fact they do, have serious implications for health care professionals, who might return to work on the basis of a mistaken result. Caution is advised, Dr McCartney advises, when symptoms contradict the test result.

    A cytokine storm is a variant on a hyperactive immune reaction, where the body thinks its own tissues are invaders. Cytokines are small proteins that trigger more immune activity or less. In a cytokine storm the cytokines rage through the bloodstream, throwing our immune system out of balance and leading to severe illness and even death. This hyper inflammation has been seen in Covid-19 patients and Dr Jessica Manson, consultant rheumatologist at University College London Hospitals and co-chair of the national group of hyper inflammation doctors, tells Claudia what is and isn't known about how to treat cytokine storms in patients with coronavirus.

    Producer: Fiona Hill

    • 27 min
    Smoking vs Covid-19; non-urgent treatments; loneliness surveys; Southampton update, covid and the law.

    Smoking vs Covid-19; non-urgent treatments; loneliness surveys; Southampton update, covid and the law.

    It's well established that the best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit. Smoking contributes to many of the underlying conditions that undermine recovery from coronavirus and it is pretty clear that a coronavirus patient who smokes will likely have a worse outcome than one who doesn't. The FDA in the US recently went so far as to suggest smoking might increase the risk of contracting the virus at all. Nevertheless, existing data coming from various studies of patients around the world appear to show smaller numbers of smokers amongst the hospitalized cases than might be expected from local smoking populations. There are fewer smokers than there should be in the data. But why?

    As the University of Edinburgh and CRUK's Prof Linda Bauld tells Claudia, there may be several simple reasons for this, such as data gathering - that patients' smoking status is going unrecorded or unverified. But a study last week from France goes so far as to suggest that nicotine itself, know to disrupt some of the receptors viruses use to enter cells, may be conferring some kind of a protection. It is just a hypothesis, but while the dangers of smoking tobacco still stand, studies on Covid-19 patients using nicotine patches might be worthwhile. And if you are trying to quit, nicotine replacement therapy might be an even better idea just now than was thought.

    Inside Health's resident GP Dr Margaret McCartney talks of her concerns for NHS non-urgent treatments being side-lined under the current virus squeeze, and some of her hopes for the future. Professor Pamela Qualter and Dr Margarita Panayioutou describe why lockdown is an important time to do more psychological research into the effects of loneliness and other responses while we have the chance.

    And in this week's update from Southampton General, where Inside Science's Erika Wright has been speaking to frontline health workers every week, Mr Robert Wheeler, a surgeon and clinical law expert muses on some of the legal aspects of our coronavirus response.

    • 27 min
    Southampton update; health anxiety; death certifications; fast-track drug screening

    Southampton update; health anxiety; death certifications; fast-track drug screening

    Every week we’re heading to Southampton General Hospital, where we’ve heard a lot about the doctors and nurses doing amazing work. But this week Erika Wright has been talking to Gemma Blanchett who does a job you might not even associate with the virus or with intensive care – and that’s physiotherapy. Gemma is a respiratory physiotherapist who has the joy of watching some recover with her extraordinary help.

    Recovery is going to be a long haul for some and can even take time for those who’ve had the virus with mild symptoms at home. So what do we know about how long a complete recovery takes? James Gill GP and Honorary Clinical Lecturer at Warwick Medical School discusses the latest insights.

    For people who have already found themselves worrying excessively about their health or who have an obsessive compulsive disorder related to hand washing, this is a particularly difficult time. With all of us now on the look-out for symptoms, Claudia Hammond speaks to Jo Daniels, a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at Bath University who specialises in health anxiety, and David Adam, author of the Man Who Couldn’t Stop – an intimate account of the power of obsessional thoughts.

    There’s been a lot of discussion about how to get accurate numbers for the people who have died from the virus outside hospital and one issue that’s been raised is whether doctors are wary of putting Covid-19 on a death certificate, when there’s been so little testing in the community. GP Margaret McCartney examines the current dilemmas.

    Amidst a host of trials to find effective treatments against Covid19, are there existing drugs which no one has thought of yet? We hear from Dr Lindsay Broadbent whose team at Queens University are testing more than a thousand drugs on human lung cells infected with Covid19 in the lab, to see what might work for both mild and more severe infection.

    Producer Adrian Washbourne

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
60 Ratings

60 Ratings

MMR1267 ,

Fascinating, insightful, informative

The three episodes looking at the effects of the first 1000 days of life on long-term health should be compulsory listening for anyone considering starting a family.

Moreover, our governments should listen too, as the information put forward would be the sensible place to start when formulating any public health policy.

Casper19 ,

Interesting and insightful

An excellent series!

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