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Archive for the ‘Plain City Health’ Category

Get Your Flu Vaccine So You Won’t Be Sick for the Holidays!

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It’s not too late to stop in the pharmacy and get a flu vaccine.

Flu season often starts in October and runs all the way in to May. Peak flu season is usually between December and February! So even if you are thinking it’s too late for the vaccine, it is not. In fact, since it takes about two weeks to develop the antibodies to fight off the flu, the sooner you come by, the sooner your body can begin working to fight off flu germs.

No one wants to be sick during the holiday season and one of the best defenses against that is getting a simple vaccine.

Sometimes, people say that the last time they received the flu vaccine, they became ill. The flu vaccines cannot give you the flu. However, if you have encountered the flu before getting your vaccine and then you are vaccinated, it may seem like there was a cause and effect relationship. The real reasoning behind this, however, is that it takes two weeks for your immune system to be able to fight off the flu. If you encounter the flu before then, your body is not ready with the necessary antibodies and you may become ill. But the flu vaccine was not the culprit.

Getting the flu vaccine saves lives. As the infograph above shows, in 2012-2013, the vaccine prevented 6.6 million flu-related illnesses and 79,000 hospitalizations!

If you have any questions about getting your flu vaccine, please ask to speak to Joe, Mark, Paul, Meghan, or any of our other pharmacists.

You can also gain more knowledge by reading several interesting articles on the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) web site:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm

For more information, visit the CDC’s Facebook page HERE.

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Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act Runs Until December 15.

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The open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, began on November 1 and runs through December 15. This is a shortened period of time than previously, so if you need healthcare, either to renew and change your plan or get it for the first time, please visit the Healthcare.gov web site as soon as possible. You can also get started by calling 1-800-318-2596.

Coverage, if you enroll, begins on January 1, 2018. If you fail to enroll before December 15, you will have to wait until next fall to take part in the ACA and your coverage will not begin until 2019.

If you are having trouble navigating the Healthcare.gov site and need help, you can go to localhelp.healthcare.gov and put in your zip code to find assistance near you.

For some really helpful information on the ACA, download the National Women’s Law Center’s healthcare tool kit HERE.

There is also information about the five most common questions concerning the Affordable Care Act at this easy to follow web site from The New York Times. Read it HERE.

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Vote NO on Issue 2!!

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The Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA) is urging their pharmacist members to get the word out and tell their patients and community members to vote NO on Issue 2.

Pharmacy groups are not the only ones who are opposed to Issue 2, however. Doctors and nurses are also concerned that the ballot issue could increase the prices of medications for most Ohioans while also limiting the access to medications for people with lower incomes who use Medicaid. The Ohio Nurses Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, and nearly 60 total healthcare and professional groups are also opposing this initiative.

Even The Columbus Dispatch is advising their readers to vote NO.

So what is Issue 2 and why should you vote NO?

Issue 2, which is labelled as the “Ohio Drug Price Relief Act” is a deceptive drug pricing ballot initiative which, according to OPA, would “prohibit Ohio’s state government from paying any more for prescription drugs than the lowest price paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).”

While it may seem like a good idea for the state of Ohio to only pay as much as the VA for medicine and, therefore, save money, there are a number of reasons why it is not.

  • There is no guarantee that pharmaceutical companies will continue to give the VA huge rebates and price breaks. Instead, they could just decide to increase the costs for the VA if this initiative passes and costs would skyrocket for everyone.
  • To make up for their losses in giving price breaks to the state of Ohio, pharmaceutical companies could raise prices for everyone else except the VA and the state as they are not required to charge the same prices to everyone. Therefore, the government would get a benefit, but working Ohioans would end up paying more.
  • The VA has their own formulary of medications that they use in order to receive rebates from drug companies. Certain medications are excluded from this list. Using the VA formulary could restrict access to certain medicines for patients covered by the state if those medications are not on the VA’s formulary.
  • The costs would not be lowered for Ohioans who receive their insurance through private insurance and are not covered by state programs.
  • The costs for Medicare recipients will not be lowered. Medicare is a federal program, not a state program, so this is not covered under this ballot initiative.

Visit the “Vote No on Issue 2” website HERE to find out more.

Read the list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Issue 2 HERE.

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A Short Guide to Everything You Need to Know About the “Flu.” By Our September Student Pharmacist, Chris Santos.

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What is the Influenza virus or “flu”?

The “flu” is a highly contagious virus that infects our respiratory system—nose, throat, and lungs.

A person experiencing an influenza infection may have:

  • fever/chills
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • headache
  • runny or stuffy nose

These symptoms begin one to four days (average two days) after you are exposed to the virus.

How common is the “flu” virus infection?

  • Each year between October and February, the influenza virus infects approximately 5% to 20% of the United States population.

Who has the highest rate of “flu” infection?

  • Infants and young children have the highest rates of an influenza infection. An influenza infection is the leading cause of office and emergency department visits by infants and young children.

Who has the highest risk for complication, hospitalization, and death?

  • Adults aged 65 and older are at the highest risk for complications, hospitalization, and death.

How can I become infected with the “flu” virus?

  • The influenza virus spreads most commonly to those in close contact with an infected person who is sneezing or coughing. Although less common, the virus can also spread when a person touches an infected surface or object and then touches their mouth, eyes, or nose.

How do I prevent a “flu” virus infection?

  • The most important step you can take to prevent a “flu” infection is to get a flu shot. Even if you get the flu shot, you will experience fewer symptoms if you are infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends frequent hand washes and staying away from those infected as additional prevention strategies. 

How long am I contagious with the “flu” infection?

  • You can spread the “flu” virus one day before experiencing “flu” like symptoms and five to seven days after becoming sick. Younger children and adults with a weaken immune system can spread the virus for a longer period.

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What should I know about flu vaccine?

  • The flu vaccine exposes your body to a dead virus strain to build your immune response.
  • Each year, scientists change the “flu” virus strain in the vaccine to predict the most prevalent virus.
  • The flu vaccine does not contain a live virus and it cannot cause you to experience symptoms of the flu.
  • It takes two weeks for your body to fully develop protection against the flu virus. You can get the flu within these two weeks, as you haven’t developed full protection—the full protection lasts the entire flu season.
  • The vaccine cannot provide protection against a flu virus not covered by the vaccine. Even though the strain may not exactly match, it can still offer you some protection.
  • Thimerosal, a preservative for the “flu” vaccine, does not cause any harm. Flu vaccines without a thimerosal preservative are available.

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Who should not get the flu vaccine?

  • If you have any severe allergic reactions to any components of the flu vaccine, please discuss this with you doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome, please discuss this with your doctor.
  • If you are not feeling well, your pharmacist may ask you to come back another date when you are feeling better to get the vaccine.

What are some reactions to the flu vaccine?

  • Patients are most likely to experience injection site reaction of pain, redness, swelling, and soreness.
  • Other possible side effects include: hoarseness, cough, fever, aches, headache, itching, or fatigue.
  • To help manage local site reactions, apply cold compresses. You can also take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to help.
  • If local site reactions worsen after three days or last longer than seven days, you should see your primary care physician.

These side effects occur immediately after the shot and last about one to two days.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.html

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm

http://www.open-pharmacy-research.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/pharmacist-giving-flu-shot.jpg

https://media2.s-nbcnews.com/i/newscms/2017_37/1282102/flu-vaccine-and-misarriages-today-tease-170913_8ef927cd65f9f91b90aca569965992dc.jpg

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Get a Good Night’s Sleep. By Our September Student Pharmacist, Chris Santos.

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Can you remember the last time you had a great night of sleep?

If you can’t, you are not alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, from a 2016 study, that more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep is associated with increasing your risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and frequent mental distress. Insufficient sleep is linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviors.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends sleeping for these hours considering your age:

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Insomnia is a medical condition described as unsatisfactory sleep that impacts daytime functioning AND causes difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep. Insomnia can be caused by medical disorders, medications, work shifts, life stressors, anxiety, and poor sleeping habits.

Before considering over-the-counter (OTC) medications to help improve your sleep insomnia, we recommend improving sleeping habits and sleep hygiene first.

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 Improve sleep hygiene:

  • Keep a routine of sleep/wake times.
  • Create a good sleep environment (cool, dark, quiet bedroom with good bedding and, sadly, no pets–which is very hard for some people to limit their pets’ access to the bed).
  • Stop caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the evening.
  • Exercise within 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Adjust eating and drinking times. 

Sleep habits:

  • We recommend leaving the bedroom to engage in quiet activities and returning when sleepy. If you cannot to fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of going to bed, get back up and don’t force yourself to try to fall asleep.
  • It is a good idea to avoid electronic device usage one hour before your planned bedtime and limit the bedroom for sleep only.

Over-the-counter options for treating insomnia include diphendydramine, doxylamine, and melatonin.

Diphenhydramine:

  • Indicated: for individuals 12 years and older (unless directed by your physician).
  • Offers relief of occasional sleeplessness.
  • Dosing: 50 mg of capsule, tablet, or liquid form once daily before bed.
  • Side effects: dry mouth, nose, eyes, as well as blurry vision, urinary hesitancy, and constipation.
  • Not recommend: Age >65, see your primary care physician.

We recommend diphenhydramine to be limited to no more than a 10-day use (unless directed by your primary care physician). Try diphenhydramine for 2-3 days, than take one night “off” to see if the symptoms have resolved.

Doxylamine:

  • Indicated: for individuals 12 years and older (unless directed by your physician).
  • Offers relief of occasional sleeplessness.
  • Dosing: 25mg once daily 30 minutes before bed.
  • Side effects: dry mouth, nose, eyes, as well as blurry vision, urinary hesitancy, and constipation.
  • Not recommended: Age>65, see your primary care physician.

We recommend doxylamine to be limited to no more than a 10-day use (unless directed by your primary care physician). Try doxylamine for 2-3 days, than take one night “off” to see if the symptoms resolved. 

Use caution with combination products labeled “PM,” as these most likely contain diphenhydramine or doxylamine.

Melatonin:

  • Indicated: for individuals 12 years and older (unless directed by your physician).
  • Offers relief of occasional sleeplessness.
  • Dosing: 3-5 mg given 3 to 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Side effects: fatigue, dizziness, headache, irritability.

Melatonin is also approved for jet lag—a sleeping disorder caused by traveling between multiple time zones quickly.

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Skip over-the-counter self-treatment options and see a primary care physician if you are experiencing:

  • Chronic insomnia (defined as greater than three weeks).
  • Frequent nocturnal awakenings.
  • Insomnia due to psychiatric or medical disorders.
  • No improvement or continued symptoms after ten days of self-care.

References: 

http://techland.time.com/2011/03/07/need-a-good-nights-sleep-turn-off-your-devices/

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html

http://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%2815%2900015-7/fulltext

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

image: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cant-sleep-cognitive-behavior-therapy-may-help-insomnia/

image: https://www.helpguide.org/home-pages/sleep.htm

image: https://www.helpguide.org/home-pages/sleep.htm