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Archive for the ‘Plain City Health’ Category

Best Ways to Keep Skin Protected From the Sun. By Our Student Pharmacist, Hannah Hagar.


With warmer and sunnier days ahead of us, it’s important to keep in mind the positive and negative side effects of sun exposure. While getting sun can increase vitamin D levels and creates opportunities for outdoor physical activities, it can also lead to skin damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause sunburns and sometimes lead to skin cancer, called melanoma. The 5-year relative survival for melanoma of the skin is 93.5%, as reported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Although traditionally melanoma has a good prognosis, UV rays can also cause premature aging to the skin.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent skin damage with sunscreens and other strategies.


Prevention Strategies:

Some strategies include:

  • staying in the shade
  • wearing long sleeved clothing
  • protecting your face and eyes with hats and sunglasses

Additionally, the use of sunscreen can help when used in combination to these strategies. The effectiveness of sunscreen is determined by SPF, which stands for sun protection factor. This compares the amount of UV radiation required to result in a sunburn when wearing sunscreen versus not wearing sunscreen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 at a minimum.

It is important to have protection against UVA because those rays can be damaging to skin and increase aging of the skin. UVB rays are stronger than UVA rays and can cause sunburns and skin cancer. Therefore, broad spectrum sunscreens are a must; however, there does not seem to be much of a benefit in wearing an SPF greater than 50. The graph attached shows the fraction of UV lights that are blocked at increasing ranges of SPF, with the difference between SPF 30 and 50 being only 1.3% more rays blocked.


Types of Sunscreen:

There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.

Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV radiation and contain chemicals such as avobenzone, octocrytene, and oxybenzone.

Physical sunscreens are preferred, because they reflect UV radiation. They are often zinc and titanium oxide-based products and can be more difficult to rub into the skin.

There are also lip balms that contain SPF to protect lips from getting dried out or burned. It’s important to note that although sun protection is most thought of during hot and sunny days, UV rays are a threat any time the sun is out, even when it’s cloudy. The UV index can change throughout the days and seasons, but sunscreen should really be applied during any time outdoors.

How to Apply Sunscreen:

  • Use around 1 ounce (shot glass) and apply at least 15 minutes before going outside.
  • Rub in thoroughly to all bare skin (don’t forget places like neck, ears, and feet).
  • Reapply at least every two hours or more frequently if sweating or in water.
  • Check expiration dates and throw away if more than three years old.

Iron Deficiency Anemia. By Our Student Pharmacist, Ike Nnyamah.


What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is a condition in which your body cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells. This occurs because your body does not have enough iron to make hemoglobin, a key component in your red blood cells that carries oxygen. Without enough hemoglobin it is difficult for the organs in your body to get the necessary amount of oxygen.

What causes Iron Deficiency Anemia?

The major reasons why IDA occurs is due to:

  • blood loss
  • lack of enough iron in your diet
  • your body’s inability to absorb the iron in your food

Blood loss is the most common way for people to develop iron-deficiency anemia.

Common causes of blood loss include:

  • Frequent blood donations
  • Bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract due colon cancer, ulcers, or the long-term use of aspirin or NSAIDS
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Excessive diagnostic blood testing
  • Hemodialysis


Insufficient iron in your diet can also lead to anemia.

Iron sources from meat are more easily absorbed by the body.

Vegetarians are more likely to suffer from a lack of iron as the iron from plant sources is not as easily absorbed.

Good sources of iron include:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Spinach
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Dark leafy greens

iron sources

Certain foods may decrease your ability to absorb iron such as foods high in calcium or tannates found in tea. However, consumption of these foods alone is unlikely to be the main cause of iron deficiency.

There are several conditions that can cause reduced absorption:

  • Intestinal disorders like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or Crohn’s disease
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Bariatric surgery

What are symptoms of anemia?

  • Fatigue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale skin
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Headache
  • Pica (eating objects not typically seen as food like clay, dirt, or wallpaper)
  • Pagophagia (craving for ice which is specific for iron deficiency anemia)
  • Brittle or spoon like nails

How is the condition diagnosed?

In order to diagnose IDA, your doctor will run tests to determine the size of your red blood cells, how much hemoglobin is available in your body, and the amount of iron in your body. Additionally, your doctor may conduct a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, and or an ultrasound to determine any sources of bleeding.

IDA treatment

Iron deficiency anemia is treated by correcting the underlying condition causing your iron deficiency.

Additionally, your provider my prescribe iron supplements to increase the iron stores in your body.

When taking iron supplements remember to try and take the tablets on an empty stomach, and to space them from your antacids to improve absorption. However, the supplements may cause an upset stomach, and constipation which may be fixed by taking the supplements with food and taking a stool softener respectively. Your stools may also turn black, but this is not a harmful side effect. Once iron supplementation begins, patients generally begin to see symptom improvement within a week, but may be on supplementation for a few months to fully replenish the body’s iron stores.




Manage Diabetes Through Lifestyle Modifications. By Our Student Pharmacist, Isatu Kamara.

As November comes to a close, so does National Diabetes Month. Diabetes, however, is a condition that must be managed year-round. If you or a loved one has diabetes, it is important to understand how the condition is best managed to prevent further progression of the disease.

Type 2 diabetes may be managed with oral medications, but may also require insulin injections. In this post, instead of focusing on the medications used to treat diabetes, I will be discussing what you can do to manage type 2 diabetes through lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise.



One of the easiest ways to create healthy meals is to follow the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Plate Method. By using this method, you can create a balanced meal of vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein without having to do any weighing or calculations. Here’s how to put together your plate:

  1. Find a reasonably sized plate, not too big or too small. A plate that is about 9 inches across is recommended.
  2. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and lower in carbohydrates, so they won’t raise blood sugar much.


  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Leafy greens like kale or collards
  • Salad greens like lettuce, spinach, or arugula
  1. Fill one quarter of the other half of your plate with lean protein foods. Lean proteins are lower in fat and saturated fat than other sources of protein.


  • Chicken, turkey, or eggs
  • Fish like salmon, tuna, or tilapia
  • Shellfish like shrimp, lobster, or scallops
  • Lean beef or pork cuts
  • Cheese

Plant-based examples:

  • Beans, lentils, or hummus
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  1. Fill the last quarter of your plate with carbohydrates. Foods high in carbohydrates have the greatest effect on raising blood sugar so limiting these foods to a quarter of a plate can help prevent blood sugar spikes after meals.


  • Whole grains like brown rice, bulgur, oats/oatmeal, or quinoa
  • Starchy vegetables like green peas, plantain, potato or sweet potato
  • Beans and legumes
  • Fruits
  • Dairy products like milk/milk substitutes and yogurt
  1. For your beverage choose water or a low-calorie drink. Water is the best option because it has no calories or carbohydrates, so it won’t affect your blood sugar.

Other options include:

  • Unsweetened tea or coffee
  • Sparkling or flavored water with no sugar
  • Diet soda



Try adding physical activity to your daily routine. Physical activity lowers your blood sugar levels and can help you lose weight. If you aren’t used to physical exercise here is a resource to help you get started safely. Generally, the goal is to incorporate 20-25 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day to total at least 150 minutes a week.

Some examples of moderate-intensity physical activity are:

  • Walking briskly
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling

You should always talk to your doctor or diabetes educator before starting a new exercise program and let them know if you have any questions or concerns with your routine.

If not properly treated, diabetes can lead to serious problems like, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, nerve pain and amputation. It is important to make healthy lifestyle choices to manage your diabetes and follow up regularly with your health care providers.


  1. Get active! Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html. Published May 6, 2021. Accessed November 8, 2022.
  1. Managing diabetes with diet and exercise. Commonwealth Care Alliance. https://www.commonwealthcarealliance.org/living-well-at-home/how-to-manage-diabetes-with-diet-and-exercise/. Published October 18, 2021. Accessed November 8, 2022.
  1. Patient education: Patient education: Type 2 diabetes (The Basics). UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/type-2-diabetes-the-basics. Published January 21, 2021. Accessed November 8, 2022.
  1. What is the diabetes plate method? Diabetes Food Hub. https://www.diabetesfoodhub.org/articles/what-is-the-diabetes-plate-method.html. Published February 1, 2020. Accessed November 8, 2022.

National GERD Awareness Week. By Our Student Pharmacist, Isatu Kamara.

You may not know it but November 20-26 is National GERD Awareness Week.

This national awareness week began in 1999 and during this time the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) places an emphasis on encouraging people with symptoms of GERD to seek treatment.

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and it affects about 20% of the population. If you have never heard of GERD, you may be suffering from it without knowing. Without treatment it is possible for GERD to lead to serious health conditions over time, so it is important to educate yourself on the condition so you can recognize symptoms in yourself and loved ones.

What is the difference between acid reflux and GERD?

Acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD are often used interchangeably, but it is important to understand the differences between them.

Acid reflux is when stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Heartburn is the feeling associated with acid reflux and it presents as a mild burning sensation in the mid-chest. Heartburn often occurs after meals or when lying down.

Nearly everyone will experience acid reflux at some point in life. When acid reflux causes bothersome symptoms or causes damage to the body, it is classified as GERD, or chronic acid reflux. If you experience acid reflux more than twice a week for several weeks and are experiencing symptoms despite taking medication, you may have developed GERD.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

  • Heartburn- burning sensation in the chest
  • Regurgitation- acid and undigested food backflow into the throat or mouth
  • Feeling of food stuck in the throat
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Raspy voice
  • Sore throat
  • Unexplained cough
  • Nausea or vomiting

How do I know I’m experiencing heartburn and not having a heart attack?

Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling or pain in the chest that can move up to the neck and throat area. A heart attack can cause pain in the arms, neck, and jaw.

Symptoms of a heart attack also include:

  • shortness of breath
  • sweating, nausea
  • dizziness
  • extreme fatigue
  • anxiety

If you are experiencing chest pain that is accompanied by any of these symptoms, call for medical attention immediately.

 prilosecHow is GERD treated?

The most common over-the-counter (OTC) medications used to relieve symptoms of GERD are:

Antacids: provide quick relief of symptoms by neutralizing stomach acid. Examples: Maalox, Tums, Mylanta

H-2 receptor blockers: prevent symptoms by decreasing acid production. Examples: Pepcid, Tagamet (Zantac was removed from the market in 2020 due to cancer risk. If you still have this medication at home please stop taking it and throw any left-over medication away.)

Proton pump inhibitors: stronger class of medication that prevents symptoms by reducing stomach acid production. Examples: Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid

If you are having any of the symptoms of GERD and they are interfering with your daily life, reach out to your provider to discuss treatment options. If your symptoms are not controlled with OTC medications your doctor may prescribe you a medication or recommend surgery.


  1. GERD Awareness Week – November 23-29. National Today. https://nationaltoday.com/gerd-awareness-week/. Published March 26, 2021. Accessed November 7, 2022.
  1. Heartburn, Acid Reflux, or GERD: What’s the Difference? Pfizer. https://www.pfizer.com/news/articles/heartburn_acid_reflux_or_gerd_what_s_the_difference. Accessed November 7, 2022.
  1. Patient education: Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease in adults (The Basics). UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acid-reflux-and-gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-in-adults-the-basics. Published January 21, 2021. Accessed November 7, 2022.

Honor Lung Cancer Awareness Month by Quitting Smoking. By Our Student Pharmacist, Isatu Kamara.


November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The next most common causes of cancer death are colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancer; lung cancer is still responsible for more deaths than the three combined. The best thing one can do to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking or to continue to abstain from smoking if you are not a smoker.

For individuals who have smoked, you may benefit from a lung cancer screening. A CT scan is recommended for those who are 50 to 80 years old and have a 20 pack-year history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Pack-year refers to the average amount of packs of cigarettes smoked per day for one year.

Lung cancer screening also has its own risks, so it is only recommended for those that are high risk of developing lung cancer due to age and smoking history. Talk to your health care provider to find out if screening is recommended for you.

Aside from the reduced lung cancer risk, quitting smoking has a wide range of health benefits. It lowers the risk of heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure, infection, stomach issues, and osteoporosis.

Quitting smoking may be easier said than done for some people, but there are support and resources available. It is possible to stop smoking without any help, but with help the chances of being successful with quitting improve greatly.

Here are some steps to get started with quitting:

  • Discuss the decision to stop smoking with your primary care physician or local pharmacist.
  • Pick the date you want to quit.
  • Tell your family and friends that you plan on quitting.
  • Make a plan and account for challenges you may face, like cravings.
  • Remove cigarettes from your home and car.
  • When your quit date arrives, follow your plan and follow up with your health care providers.

There are over-the-counter medications to help you stop smoking, like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). As you may know, nicotine is the main addictive substance in tobacco. When you try to quit smoking, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal due to your body not getting nicotine anymore. Nicotine replacement therapy helps with the physical withdrawal symptoms of quitting.

NRT comes in different forms including skin patches, gum, and lozenges.

While NRT helps with the physical symptoms, you may need to attend counseling or support groups to help with the emotional aspects of quitting. There are also prescription-only medication options that may work for you.

When you are ready to quit, talk to your primary care physician or pharmacist about the options that are available for you. Also, make sure that they have an accurate list of your medications and are aware of all of your medical conditions.

Make the decision to quit smoking today!

For help quitting, visit smokefree.gov, call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW (784-8669), or text “QUIT” to 47848.


  1. Lung Cancer Awareness Feature. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/lungcancer/index.htm. Published October 20, 2022. Accessed November 7, 2022.
  1. Lung Cancer Awareness month. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). https://www.aacr.org/patients-caregivers/awareness-months/lung-cancer-awareness-month/. Published November 1, 2022. Accessed November 7, 2022.
  1. Nicotine replacement therapy to help you quit tobacco. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking/nicotine-replacement-therapy.html. Published August 2, 2021. Accessed November 7, 2022.
  1. Patient education: Quitting smoking (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/quitting-smoking-beyond-the-basics. Published January 21, 2021. Accessed November 7, 2022.