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Archive for the ‘Plain City Health’ Category

Seasonal Allergies. By Our Student Pharmacist, Aaron Reed.

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Seasonal Allergy Basics

As the end of spring approaches and the summer heat begins to rise in Ohio, plants, trees, and flowers reach full bloom. This increase in plant growth also means drastic increases in the production of pollen. If you are one of the millions of individuals who suffer yearly from seasonal allergies, you have been suffering from what seems to be never ending sneezing, congestion, itchy and watery eyes, and many other bothersome symptoms.

Allergic rhinitis, or what is more commonly referred to as seasonal allergies or hay fever, can turn any day into a miserable one. Before deciding to stay inside for the rest of the summer, try these simple strategies to get your symptoms under control and get you back out the door doing the things you love to do!

Reducing Exposure

One of the best ways to overcome seasonal allergies is to reduce the amount of exposure to things that may trigger your allergy symptoms, also called allergens. Allergy symptoms can flare up when there is a lot of pollen in the air, with the most prevalent time being in the early morning. Avoiding outdoor activities in the early morning can help reduce your exposure to pollen. Local TV, radio, and weather stations forecast the predicted levels of pollen on a daily basis. Checking these levels should always be your first step before heading outdoors.

Other ways to reduce your pollen exposure are to stay indoors on dry, windy days, close doors and windows when pollen counts are high and use air conditioning when possible in your car and home.

If using central air conditioning in your home, make sure that high-efficiency filters are routinely changed to keep the indoor air clean.

Lastly, delegate outdoor tasks such as lawn mowing, weed pulling, and gardening which can severely stir up pollen around you. Thankfully as summer rolls around, so does the increase in summer storms which help to clear pollen from the air giving some symptoms relief after a good rain.

Allergies 2Best Over-the-counter (OTC) Remedies

If allergen avoidance isn’t efficient or not a viable option in your daily routine, there are several types of over-the-counter medications that are available to help ease your seasonal allergy symptoms. Any pharmacist possesses the expertise about these over-the-counter options and can help you find the medication best suited to relieve your symptoms.

Below are the best options to relieve even your worst allergy symptoms:

  • Nasal Corticosteroids – Nasal sprays such as Flonase, Nasacort, or Rhinocort are first-line treatment options to help reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies by reducing the body’s inflammatory response to allergens.
  • Oral antihistamines – the most common treatment for seasonal allergies. Medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra help to relieve the itching, sneezing, and runny nose symptoms. If one of these medications doesn’t work the best for you, try another. These medications are interchangeable and sometimes have different responses in different people.
  • Eye allergy relief – if you experience itchy, watery eyes in addition to your other allergy symptoms, OTC eye drops such as Zatidor or Pataday eye allergy relief are great options to reduce irritation.
  • Decongestants – These medications work to relieve the nasal pressure and congestion that can cause headaches or discomfort in addition to other allergy symptoms. They are commonly called Pseudoephed products. WARNING! Oral decongestants elevate blood pressure and are not appropriate for people with high blood pressure or certain heart conditions.
  • Combination medications – Oftentimes, medications are combined to include oral antihistamines and decongestants in one convenient dose. Products like Claritin-D, Allegra-D or Aleve-D cold and sinus offer these combination products. These are great pharmacist directed options available through the pharmacy to combat many allergy symptoms at once!
  • Non-medicated nasal irrigation – options such as Neti-Pot or other saline irrigation symptoms are great non-medication options to help rinse the sinuses of accumulated pollen and other allergens.

When OTC products are just not enough!

If you still seem to be suffering from seasonal allergies following allergen avoidance or pharmacist directed therapy, don’t give up! It may be time to visit your primary care doctor. If your allergies are bad enough, your physician is able to run skin or blood allergy tests to find out the exact cause of what is producing your symptoms. Identifying this specific allergen can help you develop a plan to avoid it.

For some people, however, even allergy testing and avoidance are not enough. If you think you are one of those people, referral to an allergy specialist can provide access to allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots) that help to reduce your body’s response to your specific trigger over time.

Always remember, relief is just a Happy Druggist away!

References:

 

HIV: The Basics. By Our Student Pharmacist, RJ Rosia.

What is HIV?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that can affect the immune system. This virus specifically attacks immune cells that help fight other infections. If left untreated, people can get very sick from such things like pneumonia or the common cold.

People who have HIV can take medications to stop the virus from replicating in the body and help the immune system to remain strong and live a healthy, normal life.

How can you get HIV?

HIV is mainly spread through someone who is infected having unprotected sex with someone else. The virus can be spread by any bodily fluid, such as blood or semen.

There are also other ways someone can be infected such as:

  • Blood transfusion from someone who has HIV.

  • Sharing of needles from someone who has HIV.

What are some of the symptoms of HIV?

The symptoms are very mild at first and might look like a common infection.

Some symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Muscle, joint pain

These symptoms last for about two weeks and most people might not even realize they are sick.

Some more serious symptoms can happen to people who are left untreated for a long time.

These symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain

  • Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea

  • Weight loss

Infected people can also get other serious infections, such as infections in the lungs, brain, eyes, and yeast infections in the mouth.

How do you test for HIV?

Testing for HIV nowadays is very easy and requires just a simple blood test that your local provider can do. These tests can be rapid often providing results within the same day.

There are also over-the-counter antibody tests available, however, these tests will only show a positive result if the person has been infected for over a month.

Should you get an HIV test?

Everyone should be tested at least once in their lifetime for HIV. HIV testing is a standard of care and a non-invasive procedure your doctor can provide.

People who have a higher chance of getting infected, such as males who have intercourse with other males, injection drug using individuals, and those who live in a high risk area, should be tested more than once a lifetime.

How can you prevent getting HIV?

There are medications currently available that you can take on a regular basis to help from getting infected with HIV. These medications, called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), can be prescribed by a doctor, and can be filled at any pharmacy. These medications greatly reduce the risk from contracting HIV from someone who might be infected and not adequately treated.

Currently, there are two medications available and they are taken just once daily. The medications should be covered under any insurance plan and if they are not, there are other ways to get them covered.

Should you be worried when someone tells you they are HIV positive?

No! Nowadays, if a person is taking their medication for HIV as prescribed, the level of virus in their body is so low that the virus is unlikely to spread to someone else. There have been extensive studies done on the risk of spreading the virus and found that if someone who previously has been diagnosed with HIV and is taking their medications appropriately, there is no chance they will spread it to their partner or someone who may be in contact with them.

The bottom line:

Undetectable=Untransmittable

Here is a great link to a handout summarizing all about HIV:

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/library/consumer-info-sheets/cdc-hiv-consumer-info-sheet-hiv-101.pdf

References:

https://hivrisk.cdc.gov/?id=featured-resources

https://hivrisk.cdc.gov/risk-estimator-tool/#

Picture References:

https://www.thewellproject.org/hiv-information/undetectable-equals-untransmittable-building-hope-and-ending-hiv-stigma

https://www.radianthealthcenters.org/lgbtq-medical-clinic/prep

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html

 

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. By Our Student Pharmacist, Laken Barnette.

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What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is a form of dementia, which is a general term for a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia as it accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases. Experts suggest that more than 5.8 million Americans have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and ranks as the third leading cause of death for older people. For most patients with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s but for some, symptoms can show up earlier in life.

What causes Alzheimer’s?

Scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes Alzheimer’s Disease in most people. A genetic mutation can be the cause in people with early-onset Alzheimer’s. But those who have late-onset, it could be a mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. It is believed that certain vascular and metabolic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity can put people at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. It is also likely that changes in the brain may begin a decade or more before symptoms appear.

So, what does Alzheimer’s disease do the brain?

Abnormal protein deposits begin to form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain. These plaques and tangles prevent once-healthy neurons from connecting with other neurons, which causes them to die. It is thought that many other complex brain changes play a role as well. Initially, the damage occurs in the memory centers of the brain. As more neurons die overtime, additional parts of the brain become more affected and begin to shrink.

Healthy Brain vs Severe Alzheimers

What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Usually, the first clinical sign of Alzheimer’s Disease is memory loss. Unfortunately, this is not a diagnosing symptom. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). While older people with MCI are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, not all do, and some can even go back to normal cognition. Researchers are currently studying certain biomarkers to detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and people who are at a greater risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

What are the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Early-stage Alzheimer’s

During early-stage Alzheimer’s, the patient may function independently. While this patient can still do normal daily activities, they might feel that they are having memory lapses. Symptoms might not be incredibly apparent at this stage, but family members and close friends might notice these changes.

Middle-stage Alzheimer’s

Middle-stage Alzheimer’s is usually the longest stage and can last for years. Symptoms become more pronounced. The patient may have negative changes in behavior and act in unexpected ways. Also, they may have trouble remembering personal history, experience changes in sleep patterns, and have an increased tendency to wander and become lost. In this stage, the patient can still participate in normal daily activities with assistance.

Late-stage Alzheimer’s

In the final stage of Alzheimer’s, dementia symptoms become severe. Patients eventually lose the ability to respond to their environment, carry on conversations, and control their movements. In the late-stage, patients need extensive care and supportive services.

Alzheimers-Infographic

While currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of the disease as there is treatment to slow the progression. An early diagnosis can allow patients to begin treatment early to preserve daily functioning for longer and open them up to opportunities to participate in clinical trials for new treatments for Alzheimer’s.

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. (2019, May 22). National Institute on Aging.

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet#treating

Stages of Alzheimer’s. (n.d.). Alzheimer’s Association. Retrieved May 17, 2021, from

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/stages

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? | CDC. (2020, October 26). Centers of Disease Control and

Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm

 

What to Do After You Have Received Your COVID Vaccine. By Our Student Pharmacist, Aricca Senkow.

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If you have received your COVID vaccine this means that you:

  • have a lesser risk of getting sick
  • will have milder symptoms if you do get sick
  • have lesser risk of hospitalization
  • will have a reduced duration of illness if you get sick

Once you have received your vaccine, you will be considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after the second dose with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, or two weeks after the single dose if you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

When those two weeks have passed after vaccination, you have a bit more flexibility in things you can do.

As of May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that individuals who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks or physically distance – whether indoors or outdoors in most circumstances.

The picture below is a great depiction of what things are safe with or without a mask depending on your vaccination status.

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There are a few caveats to this new recommendation.

For those individuals who have compromised immune systems or other heath concerns, they should talk to their doctor about what would be best for them.

Additionally, in certain places like hospitals, other healthcare settings, public transportation, and businesses, you may still be required to wear a mask. Try to check these policies before heading out so you are prepared. Luckily, most places will have free masks in case you forget yours.

If you are fully vaccinated and travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or to self-quarantine after travel.

Pay close attention, however, if you are traveling internationally. You do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it. You will still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the Unites States. You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel, but you do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

Continue to monitor your health, because, although fully vaccinated, you can still be a carrier for the virus. If you do develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.

It is important to remember that even if you are fully vaccinated, please do what is comfortable for you even if that means still wearing your mask when around others. Data from this past winter has shown that masking and physically distancing helped stopped the spread of other respiratory diseases such as the flu.

Regardless of your vaccination status, continue washing your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily. Avoid touching your face and eyes, as well. These common sense steps are the best way to prevent any illnesses from spreading.

Sources:

Edwards E, Bennett G, Alba M. Fully vaccinated? You can ditch the mask, CDC says. NBCNews.com. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/cdc-plans-drop-mask-requirements-fully-vaccinated-people-n1267249. Published May 13, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021.

Howley E. Here’s What’s Safe to Do After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine. U.S. News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/conditions/coronavirus-and-your-health/articles/whats-safe-after-covid-19-vaccine. Published March 19, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021.

What To Do Before, During And After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine? 1mg Capsules. https://www.1mg.com/articles/what-to-do-before-during-and-after-getting-your-covid-19-vaccine/. Published May 20, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021.

When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html. Published May 16, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021.

Wong W. Fauci says public is ‘misinterpreting’ latest CDC mask guidance. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fauci-says-public-is-misinterpreting-latest-cdc-mask-guidance/ar-AAKcgAl?ocid=msedgntp. Published May 20, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021.

 

Don’t Fry Day is Coming Up! By Our Student Pharmacist, Aricca Senkow.

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The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention designated the Friday before Memorial Day as Don’t Fry Day. This year it will fall on Friday, May 28.

Being cautious of your skin exposure should be an all year thing, but with the weather getting nicer, our amount of time in the sun is increasing!

We want to make sure you are educated to keep your skin safe this summer.

As stated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), exposure to the sun can cause sunburn, skin aging, (such as skin spots, wrinkles, or “leathery skin”), eye damage, and skin cancer, the most common of all cancers.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 80,422 people were diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

Each year about 4.3 million people are treated for basal cell cancer and squamous cell skin cancer in the United States.

Sun damage occurs when there is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sunburn is a type of skin damage caused by the sun. This damage can also happen in tanning beds, as well.

Within the UV radiation, there are two types: UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn, but both UVA and UVB rays contribute to skin cancer.

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What to look for when picking out the right sunscreen for you:

  • It is important to read the label. All sunscreens protect against the sun’s UVB rays, but those that are labeled “broad spectrum” will provide protection against UVA rays as well.
  • It is recommended to use broad spectrum sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) value of 15 or higher.
  • Some sunscreens claim to be “water resistance.” This means that they will provide about 40 to 80 minutes of the labeled SPF-level of protection while swimming or sweating. No sunscreen is completely waterproof or sweatproof.
  • Products that are labeled “sunblock” still need to be applied at least every two hours for protection.
  • Remember to check the expiration date on sunscreens before use.

Tips on how to properly apply sunscreen:

  • Apply sunscreen liberally to all uncovered skin, especially your nose, neck, hands, feet, ears, and lips (there are certain lip balms that offer SPF protection). Don’t forget those tricky areas! It is helpful if you can have someone who can help you reach those uncommon spots.
  • Reapply at least every two hours, and even more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating. Refer to the product label for specific application instructions.

Other tips to help protect your skin from sun damage:

  • Most weather apps provide the UV forecast for the day. This can let you know the UV index throughout the day so you can be properly prepared before heading out.
  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 am and 2 pm, as this is when the sun’s rays (UV index) are the most intense.
  • When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. If this isn’t practical, try to go for a dark colored t-shirt or cover-up. Also, a wet t-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one.
  • Hats are a great option. It is recommended to wear a hat with a brim that goes all the way around to protect your face, ears, and neck. With baseball caps, make sure to apply sunscreen to the ears and back of your neck as these areas are more exposed.
  • Sunglasses are also highly recommended to help protect your eyes from UV rays. Look for sunglasses labeled with UVA/UVB rating of 100% to get the most protection.

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Sources:

Don’t Fry Day. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/sunsafety/dont-fry-day. Published August 18, 2020. Accessed May 11, 2021.

Sun Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm. Published April 28, 2021. Accessed May 11, 2021.

Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun: From Sunscreen to Sunglasses. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/tips-stay-safe-sun-sunscreen-sunglasses Accessed May 11, 2021.