Farmers with Parkinson’s – UCC wants to hear from you

There is an estimated 9,000 people in Ireland with Parkinson’s disease (PD), but it isn’t known what their experience of accessing health services is like. Are rural people losing out?

With the numbers having Parkinson’s set to double over the next 30 years because of our ageing population researchers at UCC’s Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation are trying to find out more about this subject so that deficiencies in our health services can be identified and improvements planned for the future.

If you have Parkinson’s, therefore, they are asking you to get in touch.

Dr Emma O’Shea is a post-graduate researcher on the project led by Consultant Geriatrician and lecturer Dr Suzanne Timmons and funded by the Health Research Board (HRB).

“We knew from all the stakeholders – doctors, the Parkinson’s Association and more – that we need to think about the future,” Emma says. “The prevalence of Parkinson’s is going to go up significantly but at the moment we know that the area is under-resourced and not working as it should for everyone in an equitable way.

“We are trying to understand the range of experiences of people with PD in Ireland and how they experience trying to access any sort of help or support when they first recognise any symptoms.”

“Topics of interest include how long it took to get a diagnosis and what the experience of being told of your diagnosis was like. We also want to know about the ongoing management of the illness eg is medication working and if people can avail of between-time review appointments with consultants if this isn’t the case.”

For this research UCC is seeking a large sample of different types of people with PD – different ages, younger onset, older onset and from specific groups including farmers.

“We would like to talk to farmers because research in this area is showing that there may be certain risks for people who work with things like pesticides,” she says.

The survey has been designed in consultation with people who have Parkinson’s Disease. “All questions therefore have a practical purpose.”

To take part in the survey see:

Paper copies of the survey are also available by post or a researcher can telephone you to complete it over the phone if preferred.

Telephone: 086-035 4526


Ask yourself: ‘Could it be sepsis?’

Any infection has the potential to become sepsis – a medical emergency – and because it can be confused with other conditions it can often be difficult to diagnose.

That’s why the HSE is highlighting the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of sepsis. One in five people who develop sepsis will die but with early recognition and treatment this risk will be reduced.

Sepsis can develop from any infection and can affect anyone, but it is more common in the very young, the elderly, people with pre-existing medical conditions or those with a weakened immune system.

Because sepsis is difficult to diagnose it can be easily confused with other conditions early on unfortunately.

Dr Martina Healy, national clinical lead, HSE Sepsis Programme says: “Sepsis evolves over time and the pace of its development depends on the patient’s general health status, their genetic response to infection and the characteristics of the infection.

Thus, the patient’s characteristics (eg age, existing medical conditions and medications) represent only one aspect of the pattern. The body’s response and the causing bug also play a part on the clinical course of the illness,” Dr Healy said.

The most commonly reported symptoms of sepsis include:

  • Slurred speech, confusion, excessive drowsiness.
  • Excessive sleepiness or drowsiness, confusion.
  • Pain or discomfort in the muscles or joints, passing very little or no urine.
  • Severe breathlessness, a racing heart, shivering, fever, feeling very cold.
  • The signs

    Skin changes like pale, cold, discoloured skin or a rash that won’t fade when pressed on

    In children the signs to look out for include:

  • Abnormally cold to the touch.
  • Looks mottled, bluish or pale.
  • Breathing very fast.
  • Is unusually sleepy and difficult to wake.
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it.
  • Having fits or convulsions.
  • Also in children under five:

  • Not feeding.
  • Vomiting repeatedly.
  • Has not had a wet nappy in last 12 hours.
  • Any infection has the potential to become sepsis. Awareness of symptoms is therefore key to reducing fatalities.

    There are a number of videos on the HSE website featuring advice and stories of children who developed sepsis.

    Host a virtual coffee morning for the Irish Cancer Society

    The Irish Cancer Society, supported by Centra, is calling on the public to show their support for breast cancer patients during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October.

    We are all encouraged to host a virtual Cups Against Breast Cancer coffee morning for the Irish Cancer Society this October to provide much-needed funds for cancer patients. Around 3,300 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and the Irish Cancer Society provides free services to these patients such as transport to chemotherapy appointments, advice and information via its Freephone 1800 200 700 Cancer Support Line, 13 hospital Daffodil Centres nationwide as well as end-of-life night nursing in the home where required.

    The charity is reliant on support from the public to keep these crucial services going at this difficult time, and people can show theirs by visiting and signing up to host a virtual fundraising coffee morning.

    Don’t forget to buy your little blue man emblem

    Prostate health is something that men shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about, says comedian and cancer survivor, Des Bishop.

    “When I got testicular cancer, I really thought that it could never be something that would happen to me,” he says. “You really do think it’s never going to be you until it’s you, that’s why it’s so important for men over 50 to be aware of prostate cancer and speak to their GP about PSA testing.”

    When detected early, prostate cancer is very treatable with five year survival rates at 93% or more. If you are experiencing:

  • Frequency passing urine.
  • Getting up at night time to go to the toilet.
  • Pain when passing urine.
  • Difficulty passing urine.
  • Your flow has become weak or intermittent.
  • You see blood in your urine or semen at any time that is otherwise unexplained, please see your GP without delay.
  • There is still time to buy your Little Blue Man emblem, promoted during the Blue September awareness campaign. It is being sold to help encourage the conversation about men’s health and raise funds to support those on a cancer journey.

    The Stand Up for Your Prostate pin is available to buy for just €3 on

    New podcast to support IBD community

    Research reveals high levels of mental health issues due to Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). The Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (ISCC) reported a 300% increase in calls to its helpline during COVID-19 – key concerns include cocooning, accessing healthcare appointments, and managing mental health.

    A new podcast Gutcast has therefore been launched by the ISCC in partnership with Janssen Sciences Ireland UC.

    It’s in response to this research and the need for accessible supports for stress, anxiety and depression, all of which are being compounded by COVID-19.

    Gutcast has been developed to provide practical advice and information for people living with IBD in a digital format that can be easily accessed during and after the pandemic. See

    Did you know:

    People over 65 are being urged to have a stethoscope examination at least once a year.

  • Travel Medical Bureau clinics are offering COVID-19 antibody tests with a Travel Clearance Certificate at a cost of €180. They must be done 72 hours before travel as requested by some airlines. See
  • Every 49 seconds someone contacts the Samaritans in Ireland. The helpline number is 116 123.
  • Lloyd Pharmacy’s new two-year charity partner is AWARE.
  • The heart charity CROÍ is urging people over 65 to have a stethoscope examination at least once a year to increase awareness of heart valve disease see
  • The Asthma Society is calling for a nationwide smoky fuel ban.
  • A UCC student, Mark O’Sullivan has scooped the top prize at Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards 2020 with his pocket-size Neurobell invention that aims to diagnoses abnormal brain activity faster and with greater accuracy in newborns.
  • Top tip

    To rest your eyes from screen work follow the 20:20:20 rule: look up from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

    Don’t forget vaccinations

    A Vaccines Saves Lives video-based campaign has been launched by a leading Trinity scientist to focus parents’ minds on the importance of continuing to vaccinate their children as per the HSE Childhood Immunisation Schedule. This is in light of one in four infant vaccine appointments being delayed by one month or more due to COVID-19 restrictions and parental concerns.

    Dr Rachel McLoughlin, a mother herself, produced the motivational series of videos to illustrate the importance of vaccinations. The series is supported by the Health Research Board and hosted on the Trinity College Dublin and the HSEIreland YouTube channels for viewing and sharing online.