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Archive for the ‘Plain City Health’ Category

November–National Diabetes Awareness Month. By Our Student Pharmacist, Andy Myers.

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Excessive thirst, frequent urination, cracked feet, and tingling in the hands and feet are just a few signs and symptoms of diabetes. Diabetes has become so prevalent in our society that we often forget just how serious of a disease it is.

Diabetes is ranked in the top ten leading causes of death in the United States; it costs $327 billion dollars in medical expenses in 2017; and roughly 100 million U.S. adults now live with diabetes or prediabetes. Despite all of these statistics, significant strides have been taken to lessen the burden of diabetes on individuals.

Pharmacists can help

Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare provider. On most days, you can find a pharmacy near you where you can talk to someone who has studied medicine for 6-8 years, and sometimes more. Pharmacists are the medication experts, but more than that they are members of your community. Diabetes is about connecting you with the support you need to make the lifestyle changes that are important to YOU, and pharmacists are more than happy to assist you in your journey.

Dietary changes

A key step in any diabetics path to living a happier, healthier life is considering how their eating habits may have impacted their disease.  While people suffering from diabetes come in all shapes and sizes, diabetes will have an impact on how they move forward with their diet.  Pharmacists are not dieticians, but they have studied healthy eating habits and how to implement changes. Feel free to ask your pharmacist how to live healthier in just a few small steps.

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Testing

An important aspect for all patients with diabetes is going to be using diabetes testing supplies to monitor blood sugar throughout the day. These tests can be daunting and hard to interpret.  Pharmacists are trained to read these results and, oftentimes in physician offices, a pharmacist will meet with patients to help with their insulin doses based on these readings.  That’s right, a pharmacist in some practices is scheduling appointments with patients to monitor their test results and adjust their medicines.

Pharmacists are diabetes experts too!

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Immunizations

Did you know that being a diabetic increases your likelihood of contracting other diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations? Since diabetes affects almost every part of the body, there is a higher chance of getting sick in patients with diabetes than without. If you are a patient with diabetes, check with your pharmacist or doctor to make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations. All patients should get their annual flu shot, but this is even more important for diabetic patients. Additionally, patients suffering from diabetes should make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations for pneumonia, hepatitis B, shingles, and Tdap.

Come by Happy Druggist Pharmacy

Diabetes can be a scary diagnosis. At Happy Druggist Pharmacy, we want to help you conquer diabetes. We offer free blood glucose screenings and support groups that will allow you to get the testing supplies you need to monitor your diabetes.  We would love to help you on your journey to healthiness.

Dietary Supplements. By Our Student Pharmacist, Alexander Schlater.

drug_supplement

What is the difference between the two bottles above?

Well, according to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one is a drug and one is a food.

That’s right, vitamins, herbals, and other products that you probably consider medicine are actually considered dietary supplements. What does that mean for you as a consumer? It means you might need to do a little more homework before purchasing these products. You see, dietary supplements are still regulated by the FDA, but they are held to a different standard.

Drug manufacturers have to conduct rigorous studies on a new drug, proving it is both safe and effective before it can go to market. And, if the FDA is not satisfied with the results, they can require further studies or deny the new drug entirely.

Dietary supplements, on the other hand, need only be proven safe, and the FDA does not have to approve the safety analysis ahead of time. So for most reputable companies, you can usually trust the product is safe to take at the recommended dose for a healthy adult. However, there have been cases of less reputable companies selling products that were dangerous, misbranded, and even contained illegal drugs. Always be wary of any suspicious products, particularly those sold online. Even with trusted products, they may not be safe for all individuals.

Here are some things to look out for:

Dietary supplements can be dangerous at high doses.

Supplements may not be considered drugs, but consume enough of anything and it can be dangerous. High doses of iron supplements, for example, could cause severe abdominal pain and vomiting, or even shock or death at high enough doses. Never take more than the recommended dose of a supplement. If you have a health condition, even the recommended dose may not be safe. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if a new supplement is safe for you as an individual.

Even natural products can be dangerous. 

Some people are under the misguided notion that natural equals safe. But there are plenty of things in nature that can kill you: leaves, flowers, fruits, mushrooms, etc. Just because a supplement is natural doesn’t mean it is safe. That is why there are safety trials. Ask your pharmacist to learn more about a particular supplement’s possible risks and side effects.

Dietary supplements can interact with your medications.

Depending on the interaction, some supplements could reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, or some could increase your likelihood of experiencing unwanted side effects. These interactions can be identified by your pharmacist, but only if they know you are taking them. Be sure to tell your pharmacist about any supplements you take so they can screen for interactions.

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Dietary supplements do not have to be proven effective and are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. 

Marketers will try to get around this with such taglines as “Immune Support” or “Promotes a Healthy Heart,” but that doesn’t mean the supplements necessarily work.

A point of advice, the one trying to sell you a product will always claim their product works. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a particular supplement has been well studied and what the findings were.

Never use a dietary supplement in place of a medication your doctor prescribed you.

If the supplement actually worked better, your doctor would have prescribed it instead. You might think that supplements are safer than prescription drugs, but this is not necessarily true, and letting a condition such as high blood pressure go untreated or undertreated can be very dangerous.

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Dietary supplements can be an important part of health care, but they are often overhyped. A well-balanced, healthy diet should always be your first line for getting your vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Supplements should be just that… supplements, and they should not be used to replace foods or medicines.

Do your homework with supplements, don’t believe everything you hear, and when in doubt, ask your friendly neighborhood pharmacist.

Don’t Say No to the Flu Shot. By Our Student Pharmacist, Alexander Schlater.

pharmacy

It’s that time of year again. The evenings are cool, the leaves are changing colors, the grocery stores are peddling pumpkin spice flavored ranch dressing, and your doctor/pharmacist keeps asking if they can stick you with a flu shot.

I’m sure you’ve heard all of the reasons you should say yes, so let’s change it up a little.

Here are the reasons you shouldn’t say no.

Don’t say it is too inconvenient.

Sure, scheduling a doctor’s appointment during business hours can be challenging. But pharmacies are everywhere with many open weekends and well into the evening. You do not need an appointment to get a flu shot at a pharmacy. If you are insured, the flu shot is usually free. Your pharmacist can bill, prepare, and administer a flu shot in about the same amount of time it would take to have a prescription filled.

Bring the whole family. Most states allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to children, though age cutoffs will vary by state and insurance policies.

For the state of Ohio, pharmacists can give flu shots to children as young as seven.

Don’t say it isn’t effective.

The flu shot is not a perfect vaccine, that is no secret. The effectiveness of the flu shot can vary from person to person and from year to year, but, in general, it is estimated to reduce your risk of illness by about half.

Think of it this way: getting a free flu shot at your pharmacy down the street just once a year could cut your risk in half of spending several days in bed, feeling miserable, missing work, and spending money on doctor’s visits and medications. It seems like a no brainer, right? And yet last year, less than half of adults got a flu shot.

Don’t say you don’t need one.

“But I don’t get the flu shot and I’ve never gotten the flu,” you say.

“Not yet,” I respond.

Because anyone can get the flu; young, old, sickly, healthy, in a box, with a fox. Just because you haven’t gotten it before does not mean this won’t be the unlucky year.

Also, the flu shot protects more than just you. The more people who get the shot, the more protected everyone will be. You can’t get the flu unless you come into contact with the virus, and the less people who are getting sick with it, the less people who could inadvertently get you infected.

vaccine_worldDon’t say it made you sick last time.

This statement may just be the bane of every healthcare worker alive. Inactivated flu shots absolutely cannot give you the flu. They do, however, trick your body into thinking you have the flu. In fact, that is how they work. Having a mild sickness-like reaction to a flu shot means it is working and your body is making antibodies that can recognize a live virus later on. This reaction may be more pronounced if it is your first time getting the flu shot.

Don’t say it isn’t for you.

Nearly everyone should get the flu shot. In fact, the only people who should definitively not get one, are those who have had a severe reaction to one in the past, and those cases are less than one in a million.

If you are sick, wait until you feel better… then get a flu shot.

If you recently had a vaccine… get a flu shot. Most flu shots are inactive and do not have to be separated from other vaccines; that only applies to live vaccines.

If you are allergic to eggs… you should still get a flu shot. Some flu shots are produced using chicken eggs, However, the actual presence of egg protein in the vaccine is minimal. In fact, they have done studies giving flu shots to people with egg allergies and found that reactions were unlikely. If you have a mild egg allergy, i.e. getting hives, you should still get a flu shot. If you have a more severe allergy, you should still get a shot, but get it in a doctor’s office so they can monitor you.

In summary… 

Don’t say no to the flu shot.

Surviving Cough and Cold Season with High Blood Pressure or Diabetes. By Our Student Pharmacist, Alexander Schlater.

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So you’ve got high blood pressure and diabetes, and now, on top of everything else, you’ve got a cold.

You head to your neighborhood pharmacy to pick up some medicine for your incessant cough and pounding headache. As you navigate the aisles scanning a hundred different boxes, all claiming to provide maximum relief, you wonder which is right for you. You also remember an article you read on the Internet, that some cough and cold products can be dangerous if you have high blood pressure or diabetes. You see a box that says for high blood pressure, but that price tag can’t be right, can it? Luckily, your friendly pharmacist notices you are troubled and comes over to assist. You detail your predicament and they happily explain everything you need to know about choosing cough and cold products if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.

First of all, don’t be intimidated by the mountain of choices on the shelf. Most cough and cold products use the same handful of ingredients in different combinations under different brand names. If you ask a pharmacist about a product, the first thing they will do is flip the box over to see what the active ingredients are, and you should too. All too often people will choose a product with a familiar brand name without knowing what they are actually getting. Some products will specifically say they are safe with high blood pressure or diabetes, but many products that don’t say this are still perfectly safe. Don’t pay a premium for the same ingredients with a fancy label.

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If you have high blood pressure:

If you have high blood pressure, but your blood pressure is well controlled by taking blood pressure medication, you may be okay to use cough and cold products, especially for short term use, but check with your doctor.

Check the label for these active ingredients that can raise your blood pressure:

Use caution taking products containing NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. These are used to treat pain, fever, and swelling and may be sold alone or in combination products used for cough and cold or flu. These can make high blood pressure worse especially at higher doses.

Although aspirin is considered an NSAID, at low doses it can actually help protect your heart. If your doctor prescribed or recommended daily aspirin for heart health, keep taking it as directed.

As an alternative you can take acetaminophen. It has the same effect on reducing pain and fever, but won’t affect your blood pressure.

Use caution taking nasal decongestants.

These come in two main types, pills or nasal sprays. The pills contain either the ingredient pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. Pseudoephedrine is the one sold behind the pharmacy counter. Both can increase your blood pressure. The nasal sprays contain either the ingredient oxymetazoline or phenylephrine (the same one as in the pill).

As an alternative you can use an intranasal steroid such as fluticasone, triamcinolone, or budesonide. These can help with nasal congestion without affecting your blood pressure, and, if you have allergies, they will help with those too.

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If you have diabetes:

As with high blood pressure, if your diabetes is well controlled with medications, these products may be suitable for short term use.

Use caution taking nasal decongestants. The same ones that can raise your blood pressure can raise your blood sugar. These include pills containing the ingredients pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, and the nasal sprays containing the ingredients phenylephrine and oxymetazoline.

Use caution with liquid, chewable, and lozenge medications.

These products often contain sweeteners which may increase your blood sugar. Since sweeteners are inactive ingredients, they might be harder to identify from the label. When in doubt, check with your pharmacist. If possible, opt for a pill that is swallowed. Many products also have sugar free varieties available.

As you can see, there really aren’t that many products that you need to avoid. Don’t be intimidated by all the different brand names and sensational claims. Check your medication label for the active ingredients and know what you are taking. And rest assured, if you’re ever unsure of what is best to take, your pharmacist always has your back. All you have to do is ask.

Vaping. By Our Student Pharmacist, Barry Shen.

Vaping

What is Vaping:

Vaping is a form of smoking from an electronic cigarette, vaporizer, or hookah. Vaping was originally advertised by cigarette companies as an alternative “safer” way to smoke for those attempting to quit. This promotion is misleading since vaping is not FDA approved as an aid for quitting smoking.

The very companies promoting the use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products are the same ones selling regular cigarettes which shows an obvious conflict of interest. For example, Juul, one of the largest companies for electronic cigarettes, is owned by Altria which is the same company that produces Marlboro cigarettes.  Recently, Juul announced it will suspend all advertising of their vaping products with their CEO Kevin Burns stepping down from his position.

Is it safer than smoking cigarettes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaping is considered “less harmful” compared to smoking a regular cigarette. However, it should be noted that just because a product isn’t as harmful as the original doesn’t mean it is safe to use. While there aren’t as many chemicals in electronic cigarettes, they still contain harmful products such as nicotine, lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents. In adolescents, these chemicals have the additional harm of stunting their learning and memory development.

Pod components

How do they work?

Electronic cigarettes are composed of a battery, a container holding the solution, a heater, and a mouthpiece. When in use, the solution, which typically contains nicotine, is heated into an aerosol that can then be inhaled.

 Types of Vapes

There are many different types of devices used for vaping sold by several brands. Some of the largest companies selling electronic cigarettes are Juul, Markten, and VUSE.

Originally, the first generation electronic cigarettes resembled normal cigarettes with a white body and tan mouthpiece. Over time, their designs diverged from the traditional cigarette appearance into more aesthetically pleasing shapes such as pens and USB drives. Flavors like mango and strawberries have also been added. Aside from nicotine, patients have also reported vaping THC and CBD with their devices.

Yearn Juul

Who vapes?

There are increasing reports of lung injury and deaths correlating with the use of vaping products especially among teens. To make matters more frightening, these companies are coming out with products that come in a variety of appealing colors, shapes, and flavors. One example is Juul’s UNWELL YEARN Pods. The shape they come in greatly resembles a USB stick. When in use, they admit no odors or any visible smoke. Because of this, teens are able to sneak these products into the middle of class to use while fooling their teachers into thinking they are just a kid who has a habit of nibbling on their USB.

According to the CDC, there are nine reported deaths in the US so far with the cause being related to vaping. The State of Ohio has taken steps to prevent these tobacco products from getting into the hands of children by increasing the age restriction of being able to purchase from 18 to 21. These are all steps in the right direction to protect our youths from the harmful effects of vaping.

References:

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon Generalpdf icon[PDF – 8.47MB]. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2016. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  2. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/business/juul-ceo-resigns/index.html
  3. https://csnews.com/ohio-governor-signs-tobacco-21-measure-law

Image references:

  1. https://www.elementvape.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/
  2. https://www.kingcounty.gov/tobacco/juul
  3. https://i0.wp.com/www.nationalreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/juul-vaping.jpg?resize=1024%2C597&ssl=1