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checking for duplicate records/slow write to mysql database

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I have a little mysql database that is taking in data from a php input form. What is happening is users are inputing data more than once, creating duplicates. I think its happening because they are getting impatient waiting for the "submission completed" page to display,and they are hitting the submit button a second time.
What is the best way to eliminate duplicate entries?

My second question is regarding the time it takes to update the database. It used to take about 10 seconds to update the data from my php form. (Its only text) It now takes about 30 to 45 sec. Could there be a issue with the database now that it has gotten a little bigger that is causing access to slow? It has about 175 records, all of which are text only. (about 12 fields) When I display the contents ofthe database on a webpage it updates in about 5 to 7 seconds, so it seems the slowdown occurs only when I write to the database. I recall that Access had a database optimize function that reduced the size of the file. Perhaps I have to do something like that with mysql to speed it up?

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