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Posts Tagged ‘diabetes’

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


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.


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.


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.

Diabetes: Don’t Sugar Coat It! By Our June Student Pharmacist, Brittany Roy.

According to 2010 statistics taken from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), Diabetes Mellitus was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and affected approximately 25.8 million Americans. This number increased to 29.1 million in 2012 and has continued to rise. Because of the long-term complications that can result from diabetes, it is important that patients are educated about what the disease is and how to recognize symptoms so that they know when to seek help from their doctor.

So let’s start by talking about what exactly is happening in the body when you have diabetes.

Insulin and sugar overview

Your body is entirely made up of individual working units called “cells.” These cells make up your skin, bones, blood, and organs that are responsible for keeping you alive. In order for the cells of your body to function properly, they need energy in the form of sugar. The food that you eat is changed into a type of sugar called “glucose,” which then travels in your blood stream to all of the different cells in your body to be utilized as energy. However, in order for this sugar to move from your blood into the cells, your body needs insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas. You can think of insulin as the “key” that unlocks the cells and allows glucose to enter.

In patients with Diabetes Mellitus, their body is either unable to produce enough insulin (most commonly associated with Type 1) or unable to properly utilize the insulin that it produces (Type 2). Because of this, cells remain “locked” and glucose (sugar) is unable to get in. This results in patients having too much glucose in their bloodstream (referred to as “hyperglycemia”) and not enough in their cells.

Consistently high blood glucose levels can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, and heart, and can also cause nerve damage. High glucose levels can also lead to slow wound healing, vision loss, kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks, numbness or tingling in your extremities or, in severe circumstances, amputation of extremities.

diabetes-symptomsIncluded is a diagram that shows symptoms associated with high levels of blood glucose. It is important to contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms so that you can be tested for diabetes.

While there is currently no cure for diabetes, proper control can help to reduce the chances of developing some of these complications. Most people will eventually end up having to use insulin injections in order to control their blood glucose levels. However, in addition to medication use, good control can also be achieved by lifestyle modifications involving proper nutrition and regular exercise.

This is a very brief overview of diabetes–it is simply too broad of a topic with too much information to include in one short blog post.

However, I hope that you at least now have a better understanding of what diabetes is and how to recognize it. For further questions, simply ask your doctor or pharmacist! Or you can check out the American Diabetes Association’s website. They have a ton of detailed and valuable information available in patient-friendly terms. Just follow the link: www.diabetes.org