Gallstones are a common condition affecting 1 in 10 people. Although generally harmless, gallstones can be extremely uncomfortable.

After overindulging at Christmas, many people turn to fasting in order to help them shed those excess pounds. However, this can squeeze and place pressure onto the gallbladder.

If you are looking to keep your gallbladder healthy this January, below you’ll discover some great tips you can follow.

Avoid skipping meals

Every time you eat, your gallbladder releases bile in order to help break down food. If you skip meals, bile juices can build up which in turn cause the cholesterol levels in the gallbladder to increase. Over time, this can lead to the development of gallstones and worse, increase your risk of pancreatitis and gallbladder cancer.

While it may be tempting to skip meals to try and lose weight this January, doing so could increase your risk of gallbladder troubles.

Eat the right foods

Keeping the gallbladder healthy is all about eating the right foods. Opting for whole grains is a great way to boost gallbladder health as they contain lots of rough fibre. This is needed to lower the cholesterol and flush bile out of the system.

You’ll also want to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. These are packed full of important nutrients and vitamins which aid in gallbladder health. They also contain high levels of fibre and water, keeping you feeling fuller for longer while aiding the digestive system. Avoid eating fried foods as these are much harder for the gallbladder to help digest.

Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is also key to a healthy gallbladder. Did you know that a recent study revealed those who are obese are three times more likely to develop gallstones? While you may think crash diets and skipping meals would be good for maintaining a healthy weight, they can actually increase the risk of gallstones.

In order to maintain a healthy weight, it is best to eat a balanced diet, including the foods mentioned earlier. You should also partake in regular exercise.

Keep yourself hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for gallbladder health. The average adult needs around eight glasses of water each day. If you aren’t getting as much water as you need, it can cause trouble for the gallbladder.

Water is used to prevent a buildup of bile, and to help empty it. So, if you aren’t drinking enough water, you’re going to be at an increased risk of both gallstones and gallbladder cancer.

These are some ideas for you to try and keep your gallbladder healthy. If you are suffering with gallstones, it is best to seek treatment to have them removed and to ensure that nothing more serious is going on.

January is the time most people focus on ramping up their workout routine. However, for those living with a hernia, they need to be careful not to aggravate the condition.

Working out when you have a hernia can be both painful and dangerous. Here, we’ll look at whether it is safe to exercise with a hernia, and the key things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Is it safe to exercise with a hernia?

While caution should be taken, it can be safe to exercise with a hernia. However, there are certain exercises that should be avoided. Understanding which exercises you should avoid is key to working out safely.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it is advisable to work out under the guidance of an accredited physiotherapist or qualified personal trainer. They will be able to show you which exercises are safe.

Generally speaking, the following exercises should be avoided:

  • Crunches and other core exercises
  • Contact sports
  • Heavy lifting exercises

The above exercises can put extra pressure onto the abdomen, causing the hernia to worsen. So, it’s important to focus on exercises that produce low intra-abdominal pressure.

Understanding the different types of hernias

Another thing that affects the exercise you should do is the type of hernia you have. There are six main types but the most common is the Inguinal hernia. It is estimated that around 25% of men will suffer from this type of hernia in their lifetime. It occurs in the groin area.

Femoral hernias are less common and mostly develop in women. They also occur in the groin and they can be a cause for concern due to the high chances of bowel strangulation. Exercising with this type of hernia can be dangerous so it is advised patients undergo surgery to remove it before partaking in a workout routine.

It is important to establish what type of hernia you are dealing with before you come up with an exercise plan.

Tips for working out with a hernia

There are some tips you can follow to ensure your safety when exercising with a hernia. Avoiding the exercises mentioned earlier is the first thing to remember. The main exercises you should focus on include things like aerobic exercise, glute bridges and postural strengthening exercises.

Making sure you don’t overdo it is also essential. You should take it easier on yourself until the hernia has been repaired.

Unfortunately, there is always a risk that hernias will worsen when you start working out. Therefore, it is advised that patients seek treatment for their hernia prior to heavy exercise. This is the only way to guarantee your safety.

Book a consultation today to see which treatment plan would be best to eliminate your hernia.

The unprecedented nationwide lockdown has seen many patients facing a long wait for their hernia surgery. As we move into winter, both COVID-19 and winter-related illnesses are set to contribute towards an even bigger backlogs of patients.

The trouble is hernias don’t just disappear by themselves. Leaving a hernia untreated can cause it to grow and worsen over time. Therefore, patients who are experiencing delays in their treatment might want to consider going private.

Here, you will discover why going private could be key to getting a hernia treated quickly, and why it matters.

How long are NHS waiting lists?

At the moment, there are significant backlogs in the NHS. Initially, routine and non-urgent appointments were delayed for three months. This was to allow the NHS to focus on COVID patients. However, even prior to the pandemic, the NHS had a backlog of 4.4 million patients on waiting lists. Around 730,000 of these patients had already been waiting for more than 18 weeks.

Hernia treatment is mostly classified as non-urgent surgery. Unless the hernia has developed complications, patients are still struggling to get the treatment they need.

Can I have my operation privately?

If you are concerned about the long waiting lists, it is possible to undergo your hernia operation privately. You may be surprised to find that it isn’t as expensive as you might think either.

Undergoing the procedure at a private hospital can also be much safer during the pandemic. This is because private hospitals have fewer patients coming in at any one time and because there are generally no emergency admissions.

Smaller hospitals are better able to protect their patients and premises from the virus, enabling treatments to be carried out safely.

You will also find that private hospitals aren’t facing the same level of backlog as the NHS. So, if surgery is needed quickly, a private hospital will have the capacity to handle it.

What can happen if I ignore my hernia?

While delaying your hernia operation for a few months isn’t a major issue, there are times you shouldn’t ignore seeking treatment.
If your hernia grows in size or becomes more painful, you should seek advice from a specialist. They will be able to determine whether surgery is needed.

When left untreated, a number of complications can occur. The hernia could cause an obstruction, or it could end up cutting off the blood supply to the area. This would be potentially life-threatening, making it extremely important to undergo surgery to remove the hernia.

Put simply, ignoring your hernia could end up causing you a lot more pain and stress than seeking treatment. So, although you may face extensive waiting times for a hernia operation through the NHS, it is possible to undergo the surgery at a private hospital.

Book a consultation today to arrange your hernia surgery with Mr Alan Woodward.

Do you often take your phone with you to the toilet? If so, you could be putting yourself at an increased risk of developing haemorrhoids according to a leading Professor of gastroenterology.

Approximately four out of five people admit to taking their phones to the toilet. However, as Professor Chris Berney, an Australian Gastroenterologist warns, it could be driving an increase in haemorrhoids in younger patients.

Here, we’ll look at why taking your phone to the toilet can increase your risk of haemorrhoids.

How can taking your phone to the toilet increase the risk?

Taking your phone to the toilet might seem like an innocent thing to do. However, experts believe it is contributing towards the development of haemorrhoids in younger patients.

There have been numerous studies over the years which have shown taking your phone to the toilet increases the risk of haemorrhoids. It is believed to be linked with spending longer periods of time on the toilet. Your phone acts as a distraction, meaning you’ll spend more time on the loo with it than without it.

The average person is said to spend between twenty minutes and half an hour on the toilet when they have their smartphone with them. So, it isn’t the use of the smartphone itself that increases the risk, it’s the longer period of time spent on the toilet that is the problem.

How are haemorrhoids treated?

Haemorrhoids can be treated in a number of ways. For smaller, milder haemorrhoids, creams, injections and banding can all help to clear them up. However, if the haemorrhoids are larger, surgery may be the only treatment option suitable.

There are some things you can do at home to reduce symptoms and help to clear up mild haemorrhoids quickly. These include drinking plenty of water, eating fibre-rich foods, and exercising regularly.

Everything you need to know about haemorrhoid surgery

If you do require haemorrhoid surgery, it can understandably be daunting. There are several newer techniques which are less painful than traditional haemorrhoidectomy. They can be performed without general anaesthesia and include thermal ablation (Raphaelo technique) ligation and stapling.

Excisional haemorrhoidectomy involves dissecting the haemorrhoid off the anal muscles and leaves sensitive open wounds. It is used much less frequently these days. This should therefore help to avoid complications such as anal narrowing and anal fissure (split) which might require further surgery.

So, if you take your phone to the toilet with you, you might want to pay attention to how much time you spend there. If you want to avoid developing haemorrhoids, it’s a good idea to spend less than 3 minutes on the toilet, being careful not to over-strain.

For more information about treating haemorrhoids, you can speak in confidence by booking a consultation with Alan Woodward on 03000 204 734.

There are a lot of different types of hernias a patient can develop over their lifetime. The most common are known as an inguinal hernias.

Although inguinal hernias are not usually life threatening, they can affect your quality of life.

Here, we will look at the most frequently asked questions about this common type of hernia, and why many patients are choosing to have them dealt with privately.

What are inguinal hernias?

An inguinal hernia is a type of groin hernia, experienced by around 27% of men and 3% of women. They are mainly found on the right groin and they are essentially due to defects in the abdominal wall muscles.

These types of hernias may appear as a lump or swelling within the groin, which may or may not be painful.

What are the causes and symptoms of inguinal hernias?

The majority of inguinal hernias are thought to be caused by age. The older you get, the more likely you are to experience a hernia of some kind. This is because the muscles of the abdomen tend to weaken with age.

They occur when a part of the bowel, or fatty tissue, poke through in the groin. They may appear suddenly and can be brought on by strain placed upon the abdomen. This can happen if you have constipation or if you push a heavy load.

Around two-thirds of those who develop inguinal hernias will experience symptoms. These include pain and discomfort, and increased swelling during the day.

When might surgery be required?

Not all inguinal hernias require surgery, however if yours is painful or if it is growing, an operation will be advised. You may also need to undergo surgery if you experience any complications. These include strangulation, in which a part of the bowel gets trapped and has its blood supply cut off, and obstruction.

Although surgery to remove the hernia will prevent these complications, there is a low risk it may come back after the procedure.

What happens during inguinal hernia surgery?

There are two methods of inguinal hernia surgery which can be performed. You can either undergo open or laparoscopic surgery.

The open method allows the surgeon to make a cut and directly access the hernia, enabling them to push it back into the abdomen.

The laparoscopic method on the other hand, involves making a number of smaller cuts through which instruments are placed to repair the hernia from within the abdomen. Laparoscopic repair is associated with a quicker recovery but is not suitable for all hernias.

How long will it take to recover?

You will usually return home the same day of the surgery. You will be provided specialist aftercare instructions from the surgeon that you should follow. It takes around six weeks to make a full recovery from the operation and you should take a couple of weeks off work.

Inguinal hernias aren’t usually serious, but they will need surgery if they enlarge or cause discomfort.

Book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward today to determine whether surgery might be needed.

I hope this message finds you well in these difficult times.

The past few days have seen a number of announcements which may help us to envisage what an exit from lockdown looks like. We now know that there is evidence of passing through the peak of the pandemic, albeit a flat one, and that there is still capacity within our health service. Exit from the lockdown will only occur when there is a sustained reduction in hospital admissions and deaths. But there is now a feeling that things are under control and the exit can be planned.

It is clear that social distancing will need to be in place for at least a year and during this time there will be extensive testing, tracing and isolation. This means that we will be hoping to contain the spread of infection while a vaccine or effective treatments are developed. In the meantime, life will be full of stops and starts as we gradually reopen businesses and amenities which will predispose us to a greater risk of infection.


As widespread testing is rolled out, people who are found to be positive for Covid 19 will be isolated for up to 2 weeks. As will anyone that they have contacted and in this way outbreaks of infection should be contained. By this method, it is anticipated that a second wave will be prevented which is critical as the winter approaches and the normal influenza season takes hold.

There will be no mass gatherings for the foreseeable future, including sporting events or conferences of any kind and international travel is unlikely to resume this year to any great extent

Businesses may well have to change the working week in order to enable social distancing  and prevention of a twice a day rush hour. This may mean a 7 day working week with workers being asked to spread their shifts and days through the week. This will enable the economy to get going whilst keeping Covid under control.

Schools may reopen but pupils will be attending in such a way as to reduce class sizes and protect teachers from infection. Inevitably, life will be much slower for some time to come.


The health service is doing an incredible job of treating Covid patients. However, there is a wider impact on other non Covid patients who have not gained access to medical care in the same way. There is an accumulating backlog of around 2,000,000 patients who will need to be prioritised in the coming months. This will be a significant challenge and will inevitably result in a change in the way we see patients in the future. The increase in remote consultations which is taking place will become a permanent legacy of the Covid pandemic. Medicine has yet to work out how this will play out in terms of assessing patients clinically prior to instigating treatments.

The link between the NHS and the private sector will be sustained. A balance will need to be struck in order that private medicine can develop whilst at the same time nurturing the NHS until Covid 19 is defeated.  Longer waiting times will be the new norm not just in the NHS but also in the private sector.

Stay safe.

As we approach the peak of the coronavirus infection in the UK, it has become clear that admissions to hospital for other conditions such as abdominal pain have declined. Whilst it is imperative to avoid travel at this critical time, it is also necessary that we seek appropriate help for abdominal pain during the pandemic in order to avoid late presentation of surgical conditions.  The majority of general surgical admissions to hospital in normal circumstances are due to the following:

  • nonspecific abdominal pain

  • gallstones

  • appendicitis

  • bowel dysfunction including constipation

  • diverticulitis

Whilst this list is not exhaustive, it accounts for 80% of the conditions which are normally seen on a daily basis by the surgical team.


The site of abdominal pain often gives a clue as  to the organ from which the pain is arising. For example, gallstones usually present with pain in the upper abdomen, and this pain may travel through to the back or to the right side under the ribs. Appendicitis virtually always presents with pain in the right side of the lower abdomen, sometimes starting initially around the belly button.

Diverticulitis is an inflammation of the colon and is sometimes referred to as left sided appendicitis since the pain is typically on the left side of the lower abdomen.

Constipation, when severe, can cause significant abdominal pain and usually presents with cramping pain across the whole of the lower abdomen. Non specific abdominal pain is so called because there is usually no underlying serous problem and because it can mimic the other causes of abdominal pain.


Contact your GP or call 111 if:

  • abdominal pain persists for more than a few hours and gradually or suddenly increases in severity

  • pain is associated with tenderness to touch

  • the pain is associated with an elevated temperature

  • there is abdominal distension

  • there are associated symptoms including burning when passing urine, your body shaking uncontrollably, heavy rectal bleeding, persistent vomiting or uncontrollable diarrhoea


During this pandemic, every effort is being made to avoid hospital admission and so GPs will only send you in if it is deemed absolutely necessary. It is highly likely that you would then be seen by a consultant surgeon whose main aim is to decide if you need surgery.

Most patients are not being admitted for observation currently and so you should expect that you will be sent home with reassurance painkillers, possibly laxatives or even antibiotics.

CT scanning is being widely used to help diagnosis and to determine whether patients require surgery or outpatient observation. If you are diagnosed with uncomplicated appendicitis, you may be treated with antibiotics and early regular review in outpatients rather than surgery.

The majority of patients with gallstones can be managed with painkillers and those with infected gallstones will require antibiotics. Inflammation of the pancreas due to gallstones (pancreatitis) may require hospitalisation as in a few cases this can be life threatening. This significant move away from operative treatment is designed to minimise your chances of contracting Covid 19 whilst on hospital premises.


Many of these conditions are influenced by lifestyle and it is therefore imperative that whilst we are at home for prolonged periods, we maintain our hydration with at least 8 glasses of water per day. It is essential to eat a healthy diet including 8 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, a low saturated fat intake and avoiding excessive alcohol intake. If possible, it is sensible to be active for an hour a day which can be as simple as going for a walk.

In spite of living a healthy lifestyle, surgical problems may still develop and it is important that you seek a medical opinion. Your local hospital is equipped to deal with emergency surgical issues as well as coping with Covid 19 admissions.

Look after yourselves.

Stay safe


The latest measures from government are welcome and will definitely save lives in the long run. It is imperative that we all adhere to this as the NHS for the predicted rise in hospital admissions. The private sector has linked up with the NHS and made available its staff, equipment and capacity at this crucial time. It is an absolute priority that all available resources are utilised to save lives and we are all involved in doing that. With the cancellation of all routine clinics and procedures, many patients are finding it difficult to obtain an expert opinion and so doctors are moving towards virtual consultations, either via telephone or videoconferencing.  

Therefore, I am pleased to be able to announce that from Monday 30th March, Alan Woodward Surgical Group will be offering private consultations via telephone and videoconferencing for patients with abdominal pain, bowel problems and hernias

To book an appointment email Karen at or call 07969043507

Stay safe.

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