Avoiding Ill Health

There are steps you can take to help try and avoid ill health.



The NHS offers a range of screening tests to different sections of the population. Screening is a way of finding out if people are at higher risk of a health problem so that early treatment can be offered or information given to help them make informed decisions.

Pregnant women are offered the following types of screening:

•    screening for infectious diseases (hepatitis B, HIV, syphilis and immunity to rubella)  
•    screening for Down’s syndrome, Patau’s syndrome and Edwards’ syndrome  
•    screening for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia  
•    screening for physical abnormalities (mid-pregnancy scan)  

Screening for newborn babies:

•    a physical examination, which includes the eyes, heart, hips and testes
•    a hearing test
•    a blood spot test to check if the baby has any of nine rare conditions

Diabetic eye screening

From the age of 12, all people with diabetes are offered an annual diabetic eye test to check for early signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Cervical screening

Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every three years between the ages of 26 and 49, and every five years between the ages of 50 and 64.

Breast screening

Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women aged 70 and over can self-refer.

Bowel cancer screening

There are two types of screening for bowel cancer.
A home testing kit is offered to men and women aged 60 to 74.
Bowel scope screening uses a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end to look at the large bowel. It is offered to men and women at the age of 55 in some parts of England.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

AAA screening is offered to men in their 65th year to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms (a dangerous swelling in the aorta). Men over 65 can self-refer.


There is a full NHS immunisation programme covering you from before birth to old age, vaccines such as Pertussis for pregnant woman to protect their unborn child from whooping cough, to the annual flu vaccination for children, at risks adults and all over 65 are available and are there to prevent ill health. See which vaccination is available to you

Health Checks

Everyone between the ages of 40 and 74, who has not already been diagnosed with a chronic condition will be invited (once every five years) to have a check to assess their risk of developing a chronic condition/diabetes and will be given support and advice to help them reduce or manage that risk. You will be invited by your GP surgery, but if eligible you can arrange this yourself. Read more here...


Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers. That is why maintaining a healthy weight is so important: It helps you lower your risk for developing these problems, helps you feel good about yourself, and gives you more energy to enjoy life. See if you are a healthy weight.


The healthiest ways to drink alcohol are still not really healthy. Most people who have alcohol-related health problems aren’t alcoholics. They're simply people who have regularly drunk more than the recommended levels for some years.

There is no safe level of alcohol drinking, but the NHS recommends:

•    Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
•    Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day
•    If you've had a heavy drinking session, avoid alcohol for 48 hours

"Regularly" means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.
Regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits risks damaging your health.


Cigarette smoking is the greatest single cause of illness and premature death in the UK - about 100,000 people in the UK die each year due to smoking. Smoking-related deaths are mainly due to cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease, and the younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to die early from smoking. Smoking-related deaths are not quick deaths with several years of illness and distressing symptoms before you die. Don’t start but if you do it is never too late to stop. Read more here...

Hazardous Materials

At Home

If your house was built before 1970, it may have been built with materials that contain asbestos, mercury, or lead. Asbestos can be found in insulation, wiring, and roof or siding shingles. Mercury is frequently found in old thermostats and old light switches. Lead is sometimes found in old plumbing and paint.  If renovating always call an expert if you are unsure or concerned about these risks.

Many cleaning products give off fumes that you should not breathe in. Some can burn or irritate your skin and eyes. Most are poisonous if swallowed. To protect you and your family from harm:

  • Make sure the room you are cleaning is well ventilated with a fan or an open window

  • Store your cleaning products in a safe place where your children cannot reach them

  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers

  • Do not mix cleaning products with one another

  • Follow the directions on the containers

  • Clearly mark hazardous cleaners


In the Workplace

Ensure COSHH (Control measures to prevent or limit exposure to hazardous substances) are considered in your workplace by:

  • Using control equipment, e.g. total enclosure and partial enclosure

  • Controlling procedures, e.g. ways of working, supervision and training to reduce exposure, maintenance, examination and testing of control measures

  • Worker behaviour, making sure employees follow the control measures

  • Changing how often a task is undertaken, or when, or reducing the number of employees nearby, can make an improvement to exposure control