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Archive for the ‘Plain City Health’ Category

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. By Our Student Pharmacist, Adam Storc.

glaucoma vision

With hindsight being 2020 (especially in 2021), January marks the beginning of National Glaucoma Awareness Month so we here at Plain City Druggist thought that it might be helpful to discuss just what glaucoma is and how to watch out for early signs that you might be developing it.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the slow loss of vision caused by damage to the optic nerve situated at the back of your eye. More specifically, open-angle glaucoma is the most common type in the United States and is most often caused by increased eye pressure damaging your optic nerve. Currently, glaucoma is not curable, but early treatment with medication and/or surgery can help prevent further damage and loss of sight.

Glaucoma Signs and Symptoms:

  • Loss of peripheral (or side) vision, most often the area closest to your nose or the outer edges of your vision
  • Untreated glaucoma can lead to blindness

Who is Most at Risk?

  • Patients over the age of 60
  • African American or Hispanic patients over the age of 40
  • Patients with a family history of glaucoma

Prevention and Treatment:

Because glaucoma is a disease that gets worse over time and the damage done to your sight is irreversible, prevention and early treatment are the key to stopping the damage from glaucoma before it causes sight loss or blindness because once the damage is done, it cannot be undone.

Glaucoma can be difficult to notice for many patients because it happens slowly and starts at the edges of the vision, so it is important to have regular eye exams which can detect early glaucoma and help treat it before more permanent damage is done.

If an eye doctor detects glaucoma, usually through a dilated eye exam, there are a few different treatment options to protect your eyes. These include:

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe daily eye drops, such as latanoprost and/or timolol, to lower the pressure in your eye or reduce the fluid build-up. These medications may not make you feel any differently, but are important to take regularly since they will prevent future damage to your eyes.
  • Laser therapy: You may also qualify for a quick and simple laser treatment to help drain the fluid from your eyes. The treatment can be done on one or both eyes while at the eye doctor’s office and most patients recover on the same day as the procedure. It may take 4-6 weeks to work, however, and does not work for everyone, so consult your eye doctor to see if laser therapy is an option for you.
  • Surgery: Your doctor may recommend traditional surgery if medications or lasers fail to reduce the pressure in your eye(s). This option is least common and has the longest recovery time.

In conclusion, make 2021 a healthier year by getting a routine eye exam and maybe you can avoid adding eye drops to your list of medications in the new year.

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The DASH Diet. By Our Student Pharmacist, Sam Berens.

We are now about two weeks into the new year and many of us are looking for a good New Year’s resolution to start the year off right.  After this crazy year, I think a lot of adults are looking to get back to a healthier lifestyle.  With around half of the adult population struggling with hypertension, this blog post could apply to a large portion of the community.

This post is designed to help provide tips for health benefits to your heart and overall wellbeing, while also giving you the opportunity to lose some weight.

It has been proven through research that by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, high blood pressure can be prevented and lowered, which has numerous health benefits.  This eating plan considers your age, gender, and activity levels to give you a daily calorie goal.  The DASH diet does not require any special foods or hard-to-follow recipes, which makes it easy to follow.

To find out the calories you should have each day, we need to determine your activity level.

Identify your physical activity level:

  • Sedentary – typically light physical activity that is a part of your day-to-day routine
  • Moderately active – physical activity equal to walking about 1 to 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 mph, plus light physical activity
  • Active – physical activity equal to walking more than 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 mph, plus light physical activity

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The calorie level that you fall into will help tell you how many servings of each food group to eat each day.  Choose the calorie goal that most closely matches your recommended daily calories on the DASH eating plan included here to see what is recommended that you eat each day.

One of the most important criteria for the DASH diet is limiting the daily sodium intake to 2,300 (about 1 teaspoon), which can be difficult due to all the processed foods that we are regularly provided.  To help reach this, aim for foods that contain 5% or less of the recommended daily value of sodium and try to avoid canned and frozen foods, which contain higher amounts of sodium.

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It can be difficult to change up your entire diet, so here are a few recommended suggestions to help you start the DASH diet:

  • Begin adding a serving of vegetables at lunch or dinner one day and add in fruit as a snack or during a meal.
  • Start buying only fat-free or low-fat milk products.
  • Include at least two vegetarian meals each week.
  • Limit lean meats to 6 ounces a day.
  • Begin increasing daily servings of vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and cooked dry beans.
  • Eat fruits or foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar and calories for snacks and desserts.
  • Use fresh, frozen or low sodium canned vegetables and fruits.

The DASH diet can help you prevent and control high blood pressure and help you lose weight. Start today and live a healthier life!

Reference: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/dash_brief.pdf

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What to Know About the Safety of the COVID-19 Vaccine. By Our Student Pharmacist, Sam Berens.

 

Safety of the COVID-19 vaccine has been an issue for many people. While I understand the fear, clinical trials were conducted that help evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Many thousands of study participants of varying demographics went through the trial to approve the COVID-19 vaccine. Even after the vaccine went public, there are vaccine safety monitoring systems that help watch for side effects, and if there is an unexpected side effect seen, experts quickly study it to find out if it is an actual safety concern. The constant monitoring is there to ensure that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh risks for the public.

There is also a new smartphone application called v-safe that helps to provide health check-ins after you receive the COVID-19 vaccination. This application allows you to quickly tell the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you have any side effects after getting the vaccine and depending on your answers, the CDC will promptly call you to get more information to keep you safe. V-safe also helps to remind you to get your second vaccine.

Reports have noted that some people have experienced allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. These reactions will likely not happen to most people and you will be asked multiple questions about allergic reactions to vaccine-related substances before receiving the vaccine to help rule out potential reactions.

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If you do have an allergic reaction, there will be medical professionals with you to provide rapid medical care. Those who receive the vaccine will be monitored for at least 15 minutes and those who have had an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past will be monitored for at least 30 minutes to assure the safety of everyone.

There are also reports of several common side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. None of these side effects are a concern to your health and safety. On the arm where you got the shot, there could be some pain and/or swelling near the injection site. To reduce pain and discomfort if this does happen to you, talk to us about using an over-the-counter pain reliever. It is also advised to apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area and/or exercise the arm.

Other side effects that could occur include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • headache

If you experience these side effects, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids.  These side effects should go within a few days if they do happen, so there is no need to worry.

Overall, the COVID-19 vaccine should not cause you any more stress than your recommended annual flu shot. We are here to provide you optimal healthcare and encourage everyone to get the vaccine.

And remember, we need about 70-80% of the population to receive the vaccine in order to protect those that can not or choose not to receive the vaccine, so we hope you will do your part to protect our community.

References: CDC.gov

Amazon or Your Local Pharmacy? By Our Student Pharmacist, Sandy Saleh.

During the holidays, it is very tempting to use online shopping for gifts due to the comfort and convenience of being able to stay in your home while purchases “magically” show up at your doorstep. COVID has also encouraged everyone to stay at home and use these services.

Convenience is always a plus in any type of setting, but convenience does come with downsides.

Prices may not always be what they appear due to shipping costs and other hidden fees.

Some websites like Amazon require a membership that they auto renew yearly with increased costs. It is also a hassle to get your money back for any returns that you might need to make, and returning items is a trip in itself.

These might not seem like too big of a deal, but purchasing items online also has a huge negative impact on your community.
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Small businesses and even other local shops help your local community grow. Most small businesses actually donate to your community often because these small businesses are usually owned by people who live in your area.

The business owners also pay the same taxes you do, allowing for more money to go to support your local schools, parks, fire and police departments. Amazon may charge you for taxes, but those taxes do not come back to your community.

Amazon is not all bad. There are plenty of items on the site that cannot be found locally and it’s worth using when there is not a source for a particular item in your area. Just check out your local shops first for common goods to help out your own community.

pharmacy indAmazon has also recently entered the pharmacy business promising customers lower costs on drugs. For the most part, prescription costs are actually fixed by your insurance company and there is a high chance that the prescription cost through Amazon is the same prescription cost at your local pharmacy.

Amazon requires an actual prescription sent to them before they can give you any drug costs without insurance. They offer two day prescription delivery with other purchases which may sound appealing, but most local pharmacies offer same day delivery!

While Amazon allows you to speak to a pharmacist, the interaction is over the phone and nothing beats speaking to a pharmacist in person for all your healthcare needs.

Local pharmacies also offer in person services like vaccines, blood pressure monitoring, and sugar measurements that can help the pharmacist view your health and medications at a personal level. Amazon claims they offer drug cost transparency, but you can always ask your local pharmacist those same questions.

Shopping and getting prescriptions in your own community benefits you, as well!

Using the same local pharmacy allows a patient to get to know their pharmacist. Knowing the pharmacist allows for higher quality healthcare. There is so much a pharmacist can do for a patient including speaking to the patient’s doctor to get any drug changes that are needed and helping monitor chronic healthcare needs.

When your pharmacist gets to know you well, it is easier for them to resolve any problems you might run in to on prescriptions. That goes for shopping at local stores as well! Getting to know your local community members adds to your network when you need any help with day to day things.

Before shopping online, make sure to check out your community businesses first! Most of them also deliver or ship directly to you.

 

Forget to Take Your Meds? Here are some Tips that Can Help. By Our Student Pharmacist, Sarwar Ghani.

What is medication adherence?

Medication adherence and medication compliance are two terms that we often hear about in healthcare.

Adherence usually refers to filling a new prescription or refilling prescriptions on time. Compliance means taking the medications regularly as prescribed. The terms, however, are often used interchangeably. To be adherent/compliant means that the patient is taking their medication regularly and as prescribed.

Medication adherence is a very important part of managing chronic conditions.

Why is medication adherence important?

Research has shown that improving medication adherence may have a greater influence on the health of our population than in the discovery of any new therapy. Treatment of a chronic disease requires long term treatment with medications. While these medications are effective to help with the disease progression, adherence is crucial to get their full benefit.

Studies have shown that almost 50% of adults in the US are non-adherent to medication and over 10% of hospital and nursing home admissions are due to non-adherence to medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. An article published in 2018 states that non-adherence can account for up to 50% of treatment failures or around 125,000 deaths and up to 25% of hospitalizations each year in the United States.

A report from the World Health Organization states, “Medicines will not be effective if patients do not follow prescribed treatment, yet in developed countries only 50% of patients who suffer from chronic diseases adhere to treatment recommendations. In developing countries, when taken together with poor access to health care, lack of appropriate diagnosis and limited access to medicines, poor adherence is threatening to render futile any effort to tackle chronic conditions.”

Poor adherence can result in avoidable consequences such as:

  • reduced functional abilities and quality of life
  • unnecessary disease progression
  • additional medical costs
  • increased physician visits

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What is the reason for non-adherence?

A survey conducted in 2019 identified the following as top reasons for medication non-adherence:

  • access to a pharmacy
  • price of medications
  • ability to track refills
  • fear of side effects
  • belief that the medication is not beneficial
  • patient has “too many pills” to take

Adherence is a complex issue. There are a lot of external factors that can impact medication adherence. Ideally, any patient who is adherent to their medication 80% or more is considered to be adherent.

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How to improve medication adherence?

Given the complex nature of the problem, there is no one correct answer to this question. Each patient may be facing a different issue which is preventing them from medication adherence. Following are some options that can be utilized to help with adherence.

  • Talk to your health care provider. If you are worried about side effects or the costs of your medications or if you feel like the frequency of the dosing is challenging for you, discuss your concerns with your doctor or pharmacist. Your healthcare team may be able to provide coupons or switch you to other agents that may be better suited for you.
  • Use reminder tools to help you remember. If you have a lot of pills to take at different times throughout the day or generally forget to take your medication, you would benefit from using a reminder tool. Some commonly used methods are:
    • setting an alarm for each time you need to take a medication.
    • keeping your pill bottles in areas where you are usually at during those times.
    • using a pill box to have your medications sorted by the time of the day.
  • Keep an updated list of medications with the dosing instruction. Most pharmacies now offer medication reconciliation. Utilize this service to obtain an updated list of your medications. You can use the list to make sure you are taking all the medications you are prescribed. Take the list with you to every doctor’s appointment and request the doctor’s office provide you with an updated list if they change anything.
  • Get all you medications at one pharmacy. Using one pharmacy will help with your adherence and also allow the pharmacist to better understand your medication regimen to provide a better service. You can also use the pharmacy’s medication synchronization program so that you make the least possible trips to pick up your medications.

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These are just some options that can be utilized to help with medication adherence. If you are struggling with your medication regimen, it is highly recommended that you share your concerns with your doctor or pharmacist to figure out a reasonable solution to help ease your concerns and also improve the management of your condition.

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27079345/

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/are-you-taking-medication-prescribed

https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/medication-adherence-the-elephant-in-the-room

https://blog.cureatr.com/medication-adherence-vs-compliance-4-ways-they-differ

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6645a2.htm

https://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_report/en/